This time of year that brings so much joy to our lives also brings a huge struggle for some of us. While the holiday season is mostly about family, being thankful and giving to others, it is largely centered around delicious treats and home cooked meals. For me, southern food and sweets are a huge staple during the holiday season. Every year I have pretty much thrown in the towel and given into temptation by October. With the famous PSL and pumpkin beer season beginning I usually just spiral from there. It turns into Halloween candy, my birthday, our anniversary, Thanksgiving and then don’t even get me started on what December brings. By the time we reach the month of holiday parties and cookie exchanges I’ve already exceeded my fair share of splurging.
This year I decided to break that cycle and get ahead of the game.
I overheard some of my trusty mom friends talking about the Whole30 diet at my workout class and decided to do a little research myself. My first instinct was to say no to anything with the word “diet.” They tell you to avoid fad diets and pretty much anything that says diet in it because it is only something you do for a short time. As I read more about the Whole30 approach I realized that it was more than just a diet. It’s a way to change your eating, eliminate foods that could irritate you and overall it could change the way you approach your eating habits. Some of these were habits I didn’t even know I had.
What You Can’t Have on Whole30
To be honest, the list of “no” foods was startling at first. One of my first thoughts was “Who in the heck can go 30 days without alcohol and sugar!?” Also, one of the rules is that you can’t step on a scale or take body measurements during the 30 days. This was no problem for me since I’m already upset with the scale for what it said the last time I stepped on it! The NO list is as follows:
No added sugar, real or artificial. This includes honey, agave and anything else you might come up with that you deem as natural. Oh, and a huge news flash, there is sugar in everything. Completely unnecessary added sugar to things you don’t need it in.
No alcohol. This is not a joke ya’ll. You can’t even cook with the stuff!
No Grains, Legumes or Dairy. Seriously, no cheese. This was sort of a problem considering cheese is life.
No MSG, sulfites, carrageenan, baked goods, junk foods or treats. Even if the treats have approved ingredients you still have to avoid them!
What You Can Have
Food. Trust me, even if the list of NO just scared you, there are still foods you can eat.
What you can have are real whole foods. I ate fruits and vegetables I had never touched before. And, I cooked with Ghee and coconut oil. I had all kinds of meat and potatoes and most importantly, I was aware of what I was eating.
One combination I learned to love: sweet potatoes and veggies for breakfast. It gave me lasting energy and I found that I wasn’t hungry until lunch. A huge game changer for me.
The Daily Struggle
The first five days were downright hard. My head was pounding and I was starving. I kept a daily journal and on day five I wrote, “I actually woke up feeling okay today. I slept like a rock last night and have way more energy than I have before but my headache will not go away.” Which was true but it wouldn’t last. If I’m being completely honest here it wasn’t until day 12 that I finally started having consistent days of feeling good. The cravings diminished, my headache finally disappeared and I was in a groove of making it work. Once I hit day 15 I was full speed ahead. I felt amazing and was able to accomplish more in my day than I had in the previous months. Once the hump was over it was just maintenance and making it to day 30. The beginning was hard but the end was so worth it.
What I Took Away From After 30 Days
While yes I did lose weight it was not the drastic scale drop I was hoping for. I mostly lost inches (down 2 dress sizes, can I get an amen!) which to me shows the same result I was looking for. What I didn’t expect was to learn things about my eating habits that I never would have noticed before. When you stop doing everything the way you always do it then you’re able to see what the problem was. I honestly have a terrible relationship with food and doing this diet proved that to be true.
I was snacking ALL. DAY. LONG. I would take a snack in the car line, have a snack while I cleaned, eating WHILE I MADE DINNER. What kind of sense does that make? It doesn’t. It was unnecessary and I did not need the food. I learned that I could meal prep my breakfast and lunch so I have healthy choices ready for me to grab in a hurry. This is something I have continued to do even after the 30 days. It just makes sense. All I know is this is the healthiest I have ever felt. I feel fantastic and that’s something I don’t want to change.
So if one of your girlfriends starts talking about this crazy new diet. It might be worth looking up! Who knows, you could change your holiday weight gain this season before it even starts!