How the Whole30 Will Actually Make You Feel

Exhausted, invigorated, svelte, or underwhelmed... six Whole30 participants weigh in (figuratively)
Exhausted, invigorated, svelte, or underwhelmed… six Whole30 participants weigh in (figuratively)

I’m just wrapping up day 23 and feeling pretty darn good. I don’t have tiger blood pulsing through my veins yet, but I think I’ve definitely bumped up from sloth blood to squirrel blood. Every day I have a little more spring in my step and tonight, I am going to bed at 9pm. 9 – 10 hours of sleep couldn’t hurt, right?

So this week, I wanted to focus on my amazing pals who joined me in this Whole30 bizniz. I’m not sure they all knew what they were getting into (full disclosure: me neither!) and they’ve all been troopers. I asked them each a few questions about how their Whole30 is going, what’s working & what’s not. In general, it seems we’ve all been really into the food, but are feeling a little meh on the “results” thus far.

Hopefully things will get kicked into gear in these last seven days. I have faith!

My three favorite things: Twins games, hotdogs and the beyonce.
My three favorite things: Twins games, hotdogs and the beyonce.

Molly // 31-years-old // Founding Fraidy Cat @ Hey Eleanor; Food Writer // Minneapolis

Why did you want to do the Whole30? 

I’ve had food issues all my life. I’d say I feel “sick” after eating probably five times a week. I wanted to get to the bottom of that, plus I was really unsure I could handle the restrictiveness of something like Whole30, given my profession and general love of food.

Best thing about it? Worst? 

I love cooking and the food is delicious. AND I’ve only felt sick after eating one time in the last 20-some days (I think too many onions in the Rogan Josh recipe… next time, I’ll dial it back). The worst is the planning, but that’s getting easier as I build my pantry and stock my freezer. Oh, and I miss wine and cream in my coffee.

What things have surprised you about your Whole30? 

Once I made it through week one, I hardly ever feel deprived of anything.

We’re a little over 3 weeks in. How do you feel? Be honest.

Physically, I feel light as a feather (not from a weight standpoint necessarily, but my body feels light in general). My tummy issues are gone, though I wish I had a little more energy. Someone told me I look “amazing” and “really healthy” today, which made me happy. I should also add that though I feel pretty good physically, I am mentally feeling a little down in the dumps. I don’t know why, because I am happy with everything in my life right now. It’s kind of weird. Maybe it’s just the lack of energy?

Who wouldn't want this for breakfast?!
Who wouldn’t want this for breakfast?!

What about Whole30 do you think you’ll continue (if anything)? 

I think I’ll continue menu planning W30-style for the week, and definitely breakfasts. I’ll also be more mindful at restaurants. Like, do I really need fries or am I just ordering them because it seems like the thing to do.

Favorite recipe so far: 

I just made this mashup recipe on Sunday. It’s the brining technique from Well Fed + Martha Stewart’s roast lemon chicken recipe. Even if you’re not eating paleo, everyone should have a roast chicken recipe in their repertoire.

A tip/trick that has helped you: 

Tupperware. Always having healthy snacks around. Costco.

What results/changes have you noticed, if any? 

My thighs look smaller, my face feels thinner and my tummy feels the best it’s ever felt.

Would you recommend Whole30 to friends/family strangers? 

Yes.

First thing you’re going to eat on Day 31: 

I think I’ll still keep it pretty Paleo, but I might put some cream in my coffee (though I will say quality coffee requires no cream) and pair a nice glass of red vino with my W30 dinner.

I get to marry this guy!
I get to marry this guy!

Josh // 31-years-old // My beyonce; Mechanical Engineer // Minneapolis

Why did you want to do the Whole30?

Because my lovely fiancée wanted to do it. But seriously, as a healthy challenge and a way to drive additional self-awareness to what I’m eating.

Best thing about it? Worst?

Best thing is discovering how sweet an apple or some berries can taste. Worst is Friday nights with no beer, being invited out for meals/beers and having to turn it down, and having to explain the whole thing to my co-workers.

What things have surprised you about your Whole30?

How ridiculously easy it is to change home cooked meals into Whole30 compliant meals.

We’re a little over 3 weeks in. How do you feel? Be honest.

Eh. Fine.

What about Whole30 do you think you’ll continue (if anything)?

The minor modifications on home-cooked meals such as sweet potatoes, cauliflower rice, etc.

Chocolate chili, topped with loads of avocado and cilantro.  
Chocolate chili, topped with loads of avocado and cilantro.

Favorite recipe so far:

Chocolate chili

A tip/trick that has helped you:

Tupperware. Keeping almonds/sugar snap peas/apples around at all times.

What results/changes have you noticed, if any?

Lost some weight, probably. (Note: He also hasn’t had heartburn or tummy issues since we started. Personally, I think that’s a win. – Molly)

Would you recommend Whole30 to friends/family strangers?

Yes.

First thing you’re going to eat on Day 31:

Well, FIRST I’ll probably just eat the same whole 30 compliant breakfast I was eating before and during whole 30 (and will continue to eat, for the most part). But after that, some pizza and a beer sounds AMAZING. Oh, and a puppy tail from Isles Buns is near the top of the list, too.

Liz's Whole30 goal: to get those legs back for the love of plastic Jesus! 
Liz’s Whole30 goal: to get those legs back for the love of plastic Jesus!

Liz // 31-years-old // Fashion Editor; My Dog’s Fairy Godmother //Minneapolis

Why did you want to do the Whole30? 

There were numerous reasons: inklings of food sensitivities have been creeping up, the “relationship 15” I had gained since July (we eat a lot of pizza), my friends were doing it, but above all…I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.

Best thing about it? Worst? 

Best: I feel lighter, not just in a weight way but in a “even after eating a lot I don’t feel weighed down and gross” way. Worst: the week of migraines I got over days 7-14.

What things have surprised you about your Whole30? 

That I am a good cook! Prior to this, I was a lazy cook….not wanting to take the time to prep and make good things. And that what we’ve called “compliant food” can taste REALLY good. And that I don’t really hate leftovers.

We’re a little over 3 weeks in. How do you feel? Be honest.

Ok. I don’t think I know what this tiger’s blood is all about. Don’t get me wrong, my energy is different and I am not getting the afternoon crashes, but I wouldn’t describe the way I’M feeling as a tiger. To be honest, I feel that what I’ve read about the Whole 30 oversold it a little, and while I feel good….I am feeling a little disappointed.

What about Whole30 do you think you’ll continue (if anything)? 

I think that I will try to keep cooking “compliant” while at home, but be less concerned when going out.

Favorite recipe so far: 

Annie D’Souza’s Paleo Potsticker Meatballs over a kale salad with goyza dressing. Boyfriend said, “This is like restaurant quality shit.” High praises from him. And he’s asking for me to make them again before this is all over.

A tip/trick that has helped you.

Although juicing/smoothies  isn’t really following the rules, I had to bring back my morning “green drink”  (a Nutribullet blend of kale, carrots, celery, ginger, beets, berries and mango) during week 2. I am not a huge fan of breakfast, and was sick of trying to choke down eggs and veggies every morning. Also, I have self-diagnosed my migraines as blood sugar related, so I upped my fruit intake and started eating more sweet potatoes…the headaches disappeared quickly.

What results/changes have you noticed, if any? 

Like I said above, my energy is improved and steadier throughout the day. I see a difference in my mental clarity and I feel about 10 lbs thinner…excited to jump on a scale.

Liz claims this even tasted better the next day... high praise from a person who claims to
Liz claims this even tasted better the next day… high praise from a person who claims to “despise” leftovers.

Would you recommend Whole30 to friends/family strangers? 

I would, but I would give a more honest take on the process than what I read going into it. It was a great physical challenge on many levels and proved how strong my willpower really is. I mean, I have had meals next to my boyfriend eating pizza, while I was eating compliant pad thai (also a FAVE and the only picture I took of my dinners) and was not tempted to sneak a bite. Full disclosure: I took a slice and smelled it for a while…I’ve been smelling the “illegal” food a lot.

First thing you’re going to eat on Day 31: 

I’ll probably ease into the day, but planning on PIZZA, with a glass of wine for my first non-compliant dinner.

Maggie & Kev // 31-year-old & 40-something-year-old // Cohabitating Couple; DIY Addicts // St. Paul

Why did you want to do the Whole30?

M: ‘Cause it was a challenge!

K: To get healthy again & to see if I could.

Best thing about it? Worst?

M: The best is cooking, and the worst is that my digestion is still weird! Too many trips to grocery store! So much planning.

K: Agree that the food is the best, but mealtime can be inconvenient

What things have surprised you about your Whole30?

M: The massive internet following. I guess I was in the dark on popularity!

K: How easily I assimilated to it.

We’re a little over 3 weeks in. How do you feel?

M: Not much different. The mornings are better and I gained a breakfast habit which I like. I’m hungry all the time. Dislike.

K: I feel good, pretty good. I seem to wake up early. I’m tired at night, earlier than before.

What about Whole30 do you think you’ll continue (if anything)?

M: Breakfast. And I want to continue cooking Whole30-style at home!

K: New eating habits (and hopefully continued Whole30 leftovers for lunch).

Mags said this is the sweet potato quiche, but I say it's art. 
Mags said this is the sweet potato quiche, but I say it’s art.

Favorite recipe so far? 

M: The pad Thai and sweet potato quiche.

K: Egg bake with chorizo (note: they made their own chorizo by seasoning the beef, FYI. – Molly)

A tip/trick that has helped you:

M: Cauliflower “rice.”

K: Sunflower seeds (in shell). Is that even legal?

What results/changes have you noticed, if any?

M: Getting up early is easy.

K: I wake up earlier and have noticeably lost weight.

Would you recommend Whole30 to friends/family strangers

M: Yeah, worth it just to realize what’s in your food. Creates great awareness.

K: Sure, it’s been really interesting.

First thing you’re going to eat on Day 31: 

M: A yogurt with my new ‘regular’ whole 30 b’fast.

K: Probably a hard boiled egg with guac and hot sauce. Later, I’ll probably go for a beer and a sandwich.

Hil-bill at the Beer Dabbler. Ugh, remind me why beer isn't Whole30-approved?
Hil-bill at the Beer Dabbler. Ugh, remind me why beer isn’t Whole30-approved?

Hilary // 27-ish // Estudiante de Law; Basketball Freak // Minneapolis

Why did you want to do the Whole30?

I didn’t know if I could actually stay away from cheese and bread and alcohol for a month, but turns out I can! Normally, I am guided completely by cravings so I often eat fast food and I feel helpless in my choices. Because I eat crap food often (i.e. Taco Johns and Little Caesar’s pizza), I tend to over-eat and then feel disgusting afterwards. I thought that the Whole30 could help me to change my tastes a bit (i.e. making a choice to order the roasted chicken instead of the four cheese macaroni), and to cut down on my cravings. Also, I thought that I would probably lose some weight if I wasn’t drinking, eating candy or pizza.

Best thing about Whole30? 

I love to cook, so it has pushed me to cook more, and to cook different things.

Worst?

I’ve absolutely hated some of the ‘cool’ recipes I’ve tried (cauliflower hummus, and tahini dressing, just to name two. Maybe it means I don’t like tahini?) and as a single participant at my house, I made too much sometimes and had to throw food away. Also, so many f#$%&*g dishes. Thank god I have a dishwasher, I could never have done this in my old apartment.

What things have surprised you about your Whole30?

That I actually do have power over my cravings. I feel like my self-control has never been better. I believe in myself as far as being capable of making better choices.

We’re a little over 3 weeks in. How do you feel? Be honest.

I don’t really feel any different. I am sorta bored by a lot of the food. I sleep a lot and I am still the same level tired in a day-to-day basis. Not so much life-changing, as a change in perspective.

What about Whole30 do you think you’ll continue (if anything)?

I don’t think that I will be buying some processed foods anymore, like Wheat Thins, or crackers or potato chips. I just don’t feel that interested. Also, prepping one or two things for lunches is a great habit I hope to keep up.

Hilary's deviled eggs with avocado!
Hilary’s deviled eggs with avocado!

Favorite recipe so far:

Eggs, any preparation, but especially with a little mayo as egg salad, or a deviled egg (great addition to salads).

A tip/trick that has helped you:

theclothesmakethegirl.com. I used her week by week planning guide for the first couple weeks, until I got a better understanding of what to buy for the week.

Also her mayo instructions were super important because I used mayo for all kinds of sauces and dressings. I made mayo the first couple times in my (crappy) food processor, but I noticed that Melissa mentioned that if you have an immersion blender to just use that, and when I did I got the fluffiest mayo, with the least effort.

What results/changes have you noticed, if any?

Not much. This is definitely the healthiest I have ever eaten. I don’t get as ravenously hungry because I am eating real, full meals. I may be a little thinner, but nothing like what seems to be touted by the website. But I definitely don’t feel crazy amazing or overly energetic.

Would you recommend Whole30 to friends/family strangers?

Eh? I am not sure. I feel like I could suggest parts of the program.  Eating more protein and vegetables has to be good for us. Cooking and prepping things for lunches is great.

First thing you’re going to eat on Day 31:

This.

* * *

Not really a spoiler alert, but we all successfully completed the Whole30, and were all pretty amazed with the results… even those of us who were a little skeptical. Check out the before & after pics here.

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Comments (13)

  • Caran Mollner 3 years ago Reply

    So proud of all of you. I’ve been following along with some of the recipes and my own journey into better health with my daughter Maggie. I haven’t done the Whole 30 but I think it’s awesome that the group of you did this together!! Even if you don’t continue with it 100%, I’m sure it’s made all of you more aware of what you eat and I’m sure it has brought you even closer as a group of great friends! Good luck with the last 7 days!!

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Thanks, Caran! It’s been more fun than tough, which I am so, so happy about. And per your facebook posts, I see you’ve been making some W30 recipes at home 😉

  • Paige 3 years ago Reply

    I loved Liz’s comment about smelling foods. When I first shifted to SCD I found smelling foods I couldn’t eat helped me finally stop cheating (and getting sick). Now that I’ve been eating an SCD/Paleo hybrid for about three years I only smell foods when I’m curious about something new that I can’t eat. Things I used to crave now just make me feel gross if I smell them. This has been such a fun challenge to watch all of you follow and I have new recipes to look into. Woo, good job Whole30 team!

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    What does SDC stand for again??

    I have smelled a few things, namely baked goods like donuts and cookies. I haven’t smelled much else though. I think if i my nose got too close to a pizza, I might take a bite. 😉

    Elizabeth Doyle 3 years ago Reply

    It has kept me sane. Seriously, I have been at kowalski’s standing in front of the donut case, just smelling.

  • Heather Wiggins Berger 3 years ago Reply

    Isles Buns! The best!

  • Angelica 3 years ago Reply

    LOL to smelling food. A coworker just put a red velvet cake on a table that sits right behind me and for the last 20 minutes I’ve been thinking how weird would I be if I cut myself a piece and just smelled it.

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    I say do it.

    What have you got to lose? Call it your Hey Eleanor moment of the day.

    Angelica 3 years ago Reply

    And I’m on Day 29.

    Elizabeth Doyle 3 years ago Reply

    WE are not above smelling anything. Week one, I even asked my coworker if I could smell his sandwich. He got it. He obliged.

  • Kitchydork 3 years ago Reply

    I’m on day 24, but on day 22 I broke down and ate pizza. I agree that this program was oversold on the internet. I have been weighing myself (I know, bad), but I’ve only lost 3 pounds!!! I feel like with all this effort, I should have lost ten by now.

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Totally understand your frustration! My advice (not that you are looking for it really) is to take that whole scale biz with a grain of salt.

    I haven’t weighed myself yet, and actually that is something Melissa (W30) talks about a lot in the book/online. The number on the scale isn’t always the best measure of progress. For example, since I started doing crossfit last summer, I’ve gained 10 pounds. I’m actually heavier than I have ever been in my life. BUT I am also the fittest I’ve been in a very long time. It’s a bit of a mind f#$&, but I have come to terms with it.

    I’ve mostly stopped measuring progress with the scale. Sometimes you don’t even lose any weight, you lose inches. With the W30, I used a three different markers to track my progress from beginning to end: weighed myself, measured my bust-waist-hips-thighs-arms-neck (yes, neck!), and took photos. It’ll be interesting to see what’s changed and how much.

    Oddly enough, I didn’t really "feel" many of the touted "magical" results of W30 until yesterday (my day 24). I think with any plan like this, everyone’s body reacts differently.

  • courtney 3 years ago Reply

    It’s so refreshing to hear people say they’re not feeling that Tiger Blood. I’m on day 23 and what I’ve realized more than anything through this is that I LOVE food. Cheese is not the devil. Wine is a delightful treat to have. I’m glad to test my willpower, but elimination diets just don’t seem to be for me. (Okay, okay I do feel really badass AND my clothes fit better, so there is that. But yeah, I miss well-rounded meals with ALL food groups.) Thanks for the honesty!

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