Why I Decided to Try the Whole30 (& How I Got Friends to Join Me!)

Tater tot hotdish... NOT Whole30 compliant. 
Tater tot hotdish… NOT Whole30 compliant.

Some people run marathons. Others sign on for 10-day juice cleanses. I even know people who’ve lived in the Boundary Waters for a month without much more than a canoe, Nalgene bottle and a fishing pole. There’s a type of person who finds enjoyment in suffering.

I am not one of these people.

However, due to a confluence of many events (starting Crossfit, getting married, my Hey Eleanor lifestyle, constant stomach aches/headaches), I decided it was time to radically overhaul my diet… at least temporarily. After a ton of internetting, I selected the Whole30— essentially a strict, 30-day Paleo diet that limits you to only whole foods (like meats, some fats, eggs, veggies and fruits) and restricts all grains, dairy, alcohol, soy, sugar and more.

Why would a person subject themselves to such an eating plan? A few reasons. Melissa & Dallas Hartwig, the couple who created the plan, claim Whole30ers experience these results:

  • Increased energy levels
  • Pain relief
  • Weight loss
  • Healed skin issues (from acne to eczema), digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or fertility issues that medication hasn’t helped
  • A metabolism reset, plus relief of systemic inflammation
  • Changed perspective about food, taste, eating habits and cravings.
  • Changed emotional relationship with food.

I am all about those things! And I had always wanted to get to the bottom of my food sensitivities (which I fear are substantial). But after reading their Official Rules, I wasn’t so sure it was for me, and it really didn’t have much to do with the list of things I could and could not eat.

I was afraid to do the Whole30 alone.

Not that doing it by myself sounded so awful. At certain points in my life, I could’ve probably done it… like when I lived alone. These days, I live with the beyonce. We eat dinner together almost every night. If he’s not onboard, that presents a lot of obstacles– for example, being surrounded by tempting Girl Scout cookies, pizza and beer (sorry, Josh, I know that’s what you like to eat). Plus, it’s more fun eating together and cooking together and grocery shopping together.

Then, there is the social aspect. Would I have to be the person who had to explain why I’m not drinking (for the billionth time, I am not pregnant!)? Or why I’m not chowing down chicken wings at happy hour? Would I have to bring my own food to parties? Would I just skip parties all together? No beer, no wine, no cocktails, no mocktails, no Diet Coke. NOT EVEN cream in my coffee. How would I even hang out with friends without it getting too weird? And what about people I have never met? “Oh yeah, I remember that weird girl who brought her own pample-mousse La Croix to Callie’s birthday party… and her own weird snacks… and actually packed them all up and brought them with her when she left?”

Taking it a step further, I pride myself on not being a picky eater at all. Was I going to be that annoying person who grills a waiter on every single itty-bitty ingredient in every dish? Talk about a pain in the ass! Totally embarrassing.

Through January and February, I hemmed an hawed about whether or not I’d tackle this challenge. And then something really obvious occurred to me.

Why not ask Josh if he’d do the Whole30 with me?

He said yes, and not even that reluctantly. Turns out, like me, he’d always wanted to try something like this but had never had the balls to commit. Hmmm. That prompted me to take yet another obvious step.

I asked my friends if they wanted to do the Whole30, too.

I crafted an email explaining the eating plan and sent it to 12 people. Much to my surprise, six of them said they were game!

With that, we picked a start date (March 10), scoured the Internet for recipes and meal planned like crazy. We shared Costco goods, cleaned out our pantries and fridges. It was actually really fun.

Fridge, post Whole30 purge...
Fridge, post Whole30 purge…
All stocked up on Whole30 crud. Let's get this party started!
All stocked up on Whole30 crud. Let’s get this party started!

We even celebrated “Fat Sunday” the day before our we officially kicked off our thirty days of culinary madness. Even just in the planning stages, I could tell doing this with a group is the way to go. Lots of enthusiasm & support.

We
We “won” (yuck!) shots in Lyndale Taphouse’s trivia on Fat Sunday. Normally, we’d leave ’em alone. Not on Fat Sunday! Cheers to one of my W30 compadres, Liz!

Over the next month, I’ll be sharing the highs, lows, recipes and challenges we’ve faced through our Whole30 challenge.

If you have any suggestions, please feel free to comment your face off below.

* * *

Spoiler alert: We already did the entire Whole30. Here’s how our group felt during the process, plus our before and after pics!

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Comments (44)

  • courtney 3 years ago Reply

    i’m so glad you’re doing this, too! i don’t have a huge social network right near me (my friends and i are spread across the globe), so having a group of online participants is great support :] i’ll keep checking in and listening to the GFY podcast to hear your reviews!

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Yay! I’m currently on Day 8 (what about you?) and am finally feeling like a real person again! I’ll be sharing a few recipes and tips here. If you stumble upon anything awesome, let me know!

    courtney 3 years ago

    oops, just saw this. i’m now on day ten (huzzah! started a week after you) and am feeling soooo much better. my non-dessert-hangover mornings are way more pleasant :]

    look forward to seeing your recipe makeovers! my boyfriend and i really dug on some turkey burgers last week on whopping salads. making cauliflower rice and using coconut aminos for a modified stir fry was also a big hit! (& he’s not even doing the whole30– a good challenge to make my food yummy enough for nonparticipants to enjoy!) nomnomnom.

  • Melissa Harwtig 3 years ago Reply

    ROCK ON, SISTER.

    Everyone is nervious to do the Whole30. Most are downright scared. Changing your relationship with food is no easy task, and I’m so happy you’re so honestly voicing your process. Sharing on the Whole30 FB page… I’m sure you’ll get some additional support from us over there, too!

    Melissa

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Thanks for sharing with everyone, MH! Oh, and it’s going to get way more honest. Just you wait… 😉

  • Liz Dean 3 years ago Reply

    I found your blog through facebook. I’ve done two rounds of the whole30 and it’s a life changer for sure. I still struggle with food, but it has drastically changed the way I look at, cook and fuel my body. I feel SO much better now than I did when I was in my 20’s! Honestly, I took it one day at a time and when I really started feeling good (about day 8-9), I reminded myself that I always want to feel this good, inside and out! You can do it!
    lizdeanski.wordpress.com

  • Dusty 3 years ago Reply

    I started on March 10th too. I had all the same reservations about my hubby and friends. But I am going it alone on this one. My hubby is very supportive of me but my home is still full of non-compliant foods. I figure if I can do this successfully in that environment while still cooking for a non-paleo family I will never again be able to claim I am not in control of my food choices, good or bad. It’s tough, but certainly doable, as I am proving. Good for you and your network of support!

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Agreed. I had to go to a crazy pastry food event on Day 4. It was like getting sober in a liquor store… only possible if you really want it! I managed to get by on water & coffee (and smelling A LOT of donuts, cheesecakes and cookies).

  • Kim Curry 3 years ago Reply

    Yay! I’m doing my first Whole30 alone over here too, so it’s great that you got your husband and friends on board! I have found a great group of people in the Whole30 forum and we created a Facebook group, where we share recipes and check in with each other. It’s been a lifesaver! Let me know if you’d like to join 🙂 I’m about a week ahead of you – Day 15!

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Sure– would love to check out your FB group. Send me the info!

  • Ellen 3 years ago Reply

    I started on March 10 too. This is my 3rd Whole 30 and my first doing it alone. I like it though. It’s so much easier to say "no thanks, I’m doing this thing" than to battle your inner voice about wanting something …. I love your blog! You’re going to ROCK this thing and all your girlfriends and dude too!

  • Jodi 3 years ago Reply

    I am on Day 29 and so thrilled to have accomplished this without one slip! My partner and I feel awesome…and we did it together and that helped with the fear. Good luck Lady…get creative with your cooking.

  • Kristen 3 years ago Reply

    How are you finding it so far? How are you feeling?
    I am on day 8 too, and feeling a bit frustrated after spending an hour trying to make mayo so I could mix it with tuna for tomorrow’s lunch:)

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Oh, I ROYALLY screwed up my first mayo attempt… and broke my food processor… and cut my finger. I cried a lot during the first week (more on that later). I am feeling great on Day 8, but most of my friends are still feeling sluggish. LMK how you feel in a day or two.

    Tim 3 years ago

    Buy a stick blender – mine came with a blending cup. Add an egg and 5oz of your chosen oil (I think avocado oil is generally considered to be the best option but you can Google around on pros and cons of different ones). Add whatever else you would like (I just use a dash of salt) and whir away. You’ll be done in seconds, literally.

    molly mogren 3 years ago

    Oh– i actually already have an immersion blender. Will try that. thx!

  • Chapin 3 years ago Reply

    I’m on Day 1 – of the first time doing a Whole30, so I’ll be following this with great, GREAT interest…

  • Samuel T. Gaines 3 years ago Reply

    Hey 🙂

    As someone who has lost 100lbs (without the Whole 30), workout religiously, and take good care of myself in general…I find that being on the program has really made me look at my unhealthy relationship with food and I am seeing a change in myself. I have had a reward/punishment/guilt association with food for years and it wasn’t until I did this (Started 12 days ago) that I am now seeing food as enjoyable, sustaining, and just plain fuel without the emotional baggage. Also I feel better than I have in ages, sleep better, my skin looks amazing, and I just feel good about life! Youre going to love this.

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    YAY! And good for you! It’s crazy to really examine the role food plays in your life. I’m learning a lot about myself through the W30… including quite a bit that is non-diet related. Excited to put together some recap posts to see if other people have come to similar conclusions.

  • Jen 3 years ago Reply

    I’m doing something very similar to the Whole30 with my gym. I’m on day 12 and I’m bummed because I’m not noticing a change…. someone please tell me that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!!

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Keep at it! It can take a little longer than you think to start feeling the good juju. Let me know how you feel in a few days. I’m curious. Also, what’s different about your eating plan?

  • Kate 3 years ago Reply

    Way to go! You can stick with this. I’m officially on Day 1. I’ve spent the past couple weeks doing research, shopping, and gathering recipes and I’m really excited to see the results. I want to follow along with your journey since you’re a week ahead of me so I can see what’s in store. Thanks for sharing!

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    I just finished week one and it was no picnic. I’m now on day 8 and feel like a million bucks. My main advice is to do nice things for yourself– like blast great music in your car (or at home), light a fancy candle when you’re getting ready in the morning, skip a hard workout and watch some dirty tv. Those small things saved me.

  • Paula 3 years ago Reply

    My husband and I did Whole30 in January. On day twelve we went out for a salad. The waitress came over to the table and placed down a beautiful warm loaf of bread. Our mouths were hung open, as she walked away. We spent the next five minutes debating on whether we should just eat it and order a glass of wine, or have her take it away. We had her take it away. This was a pivotal moment. We both knew then, that we had this. I highly recommend this program! Thanks to Whole30 and CrossFit, I am changing my life in so many positive ways!

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Good for you! It’s so funny– I have had a few instances where someone is just trying to be nice (ie bringing me a cookie or treat) and I’m immediately like, "screw you!" (in my head, not aloud). I have yet to venture to a restaurant and am a little afraid to unleash my dietary needs on an unsuspecting waiter/waitress. I’m sure it’ll happen in the next few days. Hope I have your will power.

  • Susheela 3 years ago Reply

    🙂 Try coconut cream in your coffee…I probably won’t go back to 1/2 and 1/2 (I’m a week in to Whole 30 and feeling good!)

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Question– do you mean just the unsweetened stuff from the can? Been trying it and am so-so. I’ve decided just getting great coffee that’s brewed well is working best for me 🙂

  • Sarah Nill 3 years ago Reply

    I’m telling you, it’s all about the soy. It’s the devil for us with sensitive tummies. If you enjoy the results, you might consider eliminating soy & lactose on a regular basis. Or, go to a good allergist. They can help you pinpoint troubles.
    Soy = soy lecithin, the protein used as fillers in processed everything. Not the sauce.

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    YES! I can’t believe I actually bought into that phooey that soy = healthy for many years. WTF.

  • Lissa 3 years ago Reply

    Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan; incredible recipes or Make it Paleo by Bill Staley and Haley Mason. These folks along with Melissa and Dallas (and baby) become paleo buddies through facebook and their blogs and are a huge inspiration. Just tell Andrew to lay off the teasing about no bread or sugar; it is do-able!!!

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Ugh, my next post is about what a PITA (pita! ha) working in this office has been. You have no idea.

    Love the Well Fed cookbook. Will check out Make it Paleo… and btw, I am making paleo versions of Andrew’s recipes and will share here 🙂

  • Austina 3 years ago Reply

    I’m on day 12, I’m flying solo. It’s been a great experience so far. I’m going to a dinner party tonight and taking my food. Trying hard not to feel bad about that, but I’ll survive. I’m also a distance runner so it’s been interesting figuring out how to stay fueled during my long runs. Still can’t figure out a Gatorade substitute. I’m running a half marathon on April 5th, hopefully I’ll have it figured out by then.

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Have you tried coconut water? I’m sure you have… I dislike the taste for the most part, but it’s supposed to be awesome for staying hydrated. How about SmartWater??

  • Donna Gettings Apperson 3 years ago Reply

    Whole30 last May and have been trying to get the gumption up to do it again. I’ve stayed pretty much 90% paleo since then, but never felt better than when I eliminated all the ickies. Glad you have a group to do it with!

  • JessieRae 3 years ago Reply

    Read the whole30 timeline. It helps to explain things.

  • Erin 3 years ago Reply

    I started my Whole30 on the same exact day as you! I’m doing it all by my lonesome though, which means meal planning so that my husband can have a side of pasta, or potato. It hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. I bake him a regular potato, i make myself a sweet potato. I make shrimp and veggies, and I put his over pasta.

  • Ashley Mackay-Ratna 3 years ago Reply

    Way to go! I just finished my Whole30 1 week ago and am desperate to go back lol. Im glad you have such a great support system! I did mine solo. It was difficult but SO REWARDING! Stick with it, power through on days it feels impossible and don’t get frustrated when it comes to eating out! (that one was really hard for me)

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Hey Ashley– thanks for your encouragement! I just had my first restaurant meal yesterday and it was only SLIGHTLY, slightly embarrassing asking questions about everything. It’s funny… going out to eat has always been a great love of mine, but right now I much prefer what I make at home.

    You know you can always go back… 😉

  • Bethan Jones 3 years ago Reply

    I’m on day 8 too 🙂 I have a new found love for food, and am enjoying being creative in the kitchen! I feel quite good in myself, but lacking a bit of energy, which may have more to do with young children and lack of sleep! I enjoy feeling full, and knowing that it comes from having eaten healthy food is amazing! I’m doing it alone too, but making the hubby the same dinners, which he is enjoying too. I’ve also made changes to the children’s diet, and vow not to buy them any more junk snacks…my 3 year old has been very stubborn when it comes to eating fruit apart from grapes…this week he has had pineapple, Apple’s and tangerines!!!
    For anyone who is unsure as to start the whole 30….do it….what have you got to loose?!!!!

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Good for you! The thing about W30 is that it IS really restrictive, but the food you can eat is really good. So many excellent recipes. I think you could feed your family like this every day and they wouldn’t be the wiser. Best of luck.

  • Paige 3 years ago Reply

    The past week I’ve been nuts about sauteeing cabbage and kale (sometimes pees too) with a meat. Yesterday I added a mustard & apple cider vinegar dressing. Mmmmmm. I’ve never done Whole30 and don’t know the guidelines. I imagine it’s pretty close to my normal way of eating w/o the honey, fruit, & (certain) cheese. If allowed, juiced carrot, ginger, and bell pepper is a tasty treat. Anything juiced/smoothied is delicious in my book. I’m craving a big pile of leafy greens just thinking about it right now. Keep up your hard work!

  • Paige 3 years ago Reply

    Ha, peas! I don’t sautee pee.

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Paige, I was DYING when I read that. I knew what ya meant! You’re such a trailblazer… basically doing the whole30 before the whole30 was cool.

    Maybe one day i will crave leafy greens 😉 Just kidding, I actually love ’em. But I’m craving pizza right now…

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