When my trainer Grant first asked me to join a 30 day transformation challenge on the Whole 30/Paleo diet, I was skeptical at first. Despite having done some background reading when I first began training with Grant a year ago, and testing the waters a little here and there, I wasn’t sure I could dive into a month-long departure from dairy, grains, legumes, and alcohol. But after the reality of my holiday binging had set in, and knowing I had some big races to start training for, I signed up to begin the challenge on January 2.
Committing to anything for 30 days can seem daunting at first — heck, I haven’t been able to commit to running daily for a month, or doing pushups, much less giving up some major food groups. But as I saw throughout the process, it got easier with time, and now that it’s over, I kind of want to press that “Easy” button in my colleague’s office. So how was it, really? Here are some of the finer points of my 30 day challenge…and the not so great ones:
Why It Was Awesome
- I cook a lot already, but this challenge forced me to be even more creative and come up with even more recipes. I made more meals with meat in one month than I usually do in six months, I baked paleo muffins, made a delicious brisket in my oven, and tried different snacks.
- At restaurants, I tried new things because I couldn’t order sandwiches or items with cheese or beans. It also made me value vegetable dishes more.
- I felt empowered ordering water, tea, or coffee at bars, despite the weird looks the servers gave me. And I still had fun at happy hour.
- I lost weight — over 7 pounds. Weight loss was just one of the goals in this process, and my skinny jeans are now loose, and some dresses fit better than ever.
- I was held accountable by others, and I could hold others accountable. The entire group of us recruited by Grant shared recipes and tips and words of support in a Facebook group. I could text my friend Tammy to remind me not to have wine after a bad day, and I could send off quick pointers to someone who wasn’t sure what to order at a restaurant.
- There’s nothing like the pride I felt after saying “no” to cookies and cakes on the office counter, or for having water and salad at a sports bar on the night of the college football championship. Huzzah for willpower.
- I was getting bored of only having meat, veggies, and fruit. I missed Greek yogurt for breakfast, cheesesticks as a snack, and one of my favorite foods, peanut butter. There are just some non-paleo foods I will always continue to eat… it doesn’t make me feel bad, so I’ll keep them.
- See the notes about happy hours — there were times, I just wanted to have a glass of wine with friends.
- At the end, my cravings were back, spurred by emotional ups and downs in the last week. Also, I held strong for the entire 29 days – until the 30th day, when my uncle came into town, and I was invited to a big Louisiana Mardi Gras event, and there was no way I was passing up a taste of gumbo, and a drink to go with my beads and boiled shrimp and raw oysters. It wasn’t the worst cheat, but it was a cheat.
- Eating paleo gets expensive — meat and produce can get pricey, and eating quality meat and produce is even more expensive. Doing the Whole 30 challenge will take a bite from your wallet, so be prepared to spend more to see the benefits.
So what now? How do I keep the weight off, and keep my body in check? For me, I got out some of my big cravings this weekend, and I plan to move forward with an 80/20 outlook: 80 percent Whole 30, with 20 percent of the “cheats.” I welcome dairy and legumes back into my life, as well as wine, but grains will be sparing, as well as sweets. I know that cutting alcohol had a huge effect on how great I felt, so I will definitely be more smart about my intake. This isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t always meant to be a “forever” thing. But for me, I was proud that I could commit to something for 30 days. It tells me that there is potential for lots of other commitments to myself, whether it’s for my health, my head, or my heart.
Have you done the Whole 30 challenge? How did it go? Share in the comments!
See some of my paleo recipes here.