The Whole30 Enchilada

After a summer of pizza from Alberto's, seasonal beers, and a trip to Texas (with margaritas, queso, and a LOT of birthday cake), healthy eating had kind of gone out the window. I've done Weight Watchers since 2009, and while it helped with portion control, and overall I like the program, I found that long-term it warped my idea of what was healthy (for example, I should have half a sweet potato rather than a Special K cereal bar, but points-wise it doesn't seem like a better decision). One day I decided to count the calories of what I'd eaten that day (when I was about two or three WW points over for the day) and discovered that I'd eaten around 1,100 calories.


I'm a fairly active person, and do a lot of walking in DC. I know that 1,100 calories is not enough even if I was chilling on the couch all day (if you're curious what that number is for you, look up "basal metabolic rate" or BMR--essentially the amount of calories your body needs to be alive and perform normal functions like breathing and going to the bathroom).

One thing I disliked about WW is the promotion of processed foods--the WW snack bars, ice cream bars, low-fat cheeses, etc. I tried to eat more "whole foods", but I was constantly going over my points for the day and thus the week.

So I decided to kick WW to the curb for a bit and focus on eating good, whole food. But where to start?

Enter the Whole30.

What is it?

A 30-day program focusing on whole foods--nothing processed or with ingredients you can't pronounce. It's an elimination diet, where you cut out some food groups for 30 days, and then slowly reintroduce them after the 30 days to find out how you react to them.

Breaking that down further:

  • You CAN eat: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables, and fruit
  • You CAN'T eat: grains, dairy, sugar (real or fake), alcohol
  • For 30 days.
I know what you're thinking--no alcohol for 30 days?!? But, I remember that when I'm running a half-marathon, I limit my drinking starting a month out, and cut alcohol completely two weeks out. I've turned down booze at happy hour, Thanksgiving, and tailgates. It's just two weeks more of that. And honestly, this summer was real hard on my liver. Being in a more social and drinking city combined with just getting older means I had some very rough mornings/whole days after (as in almost didn't make it to the White House for the Fourth of July--that's a once in a lifetime opportunity! Because of a hangover!)

Why am I doing it?

  • I love a challenge. And I promised myself a few new fall clothes at the end if I succeed.
  • Generally feeling better--as I've gotten older, I've noticed I have sensitivities or reactions after meals (like I get heartburn now? ugh). Rather than create a laundry list of ailments, let's just say I'm interested to see what in my diet might be causing minor, yet annoying, health issues. 
  • An excuse to cook more: I've always been a wimp in the kitchen, easily intimidated by too many ingredients or steps. But there are tons of recipes that will take me out of my comfort zone (slowly, I still love my crock pot) and make me more confident.
  • Snacking, oh the snacking: I sit right next to the kitchen in my office, so it's easy to grab a handful of pita chips, or finish off the iced animal crackers someone left behind. So much of that is ruled by boredom or cravings--not hunger. Whole30 discourages snacking (and honestly, the meals are so hearty that you shouldn't need a snack), so I'm hoping to get a healthier relationship with the snack bins (maybe no relationship at all?)
  • Weight loss: most people experience some sort of weight loss on Whole30, depending on how terrible your eating habits were before (I'll be honest, the people who lose double-digit pounds are the ones who ate McDonald's for three meals a day). The best shape I was in was when I attended a bootcamp three days a week (le sigh, I miss my bootcamp so much), yet I also weighed more than I had in a few years. So I'm not so concerned with the number on the scale, but it would be nice to see it drop a bit and get firmed up at the same time.
  • Energy: most people experience this wonderful surge of energy affectionately called "Tiger Blood". That'll be nice. 

So I'm in the middle of Day 7 right now. I'll post about this occasionally, but if you want to see my daily log and experience, I've been posting to this thread on the Whole9 forum (Omg, what a rabbit hole to fall down).

I'll share the recipes I've made thus far later this week. So far, everything has been tasty, and there's something awesome about eating SO MANY vegetables. You just feel like you're giving your body such good stuff.

If you stuck through this post 'til now, cheers! (without an alcoholic beverage, of course). Onward to Day 30!


  1. I completely agree with WW. A grilled cheese on "light bread," with processed yellow cheese and spray butter was "better" for you in terms of points than an avocado. Makes no sense and will probably lead to cancer.
    That is an awesome challenge. Good luck!


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