Happy Sunday, friends! As some of you may know (especially if you follow me on social media), last week marked the end of my second Whole 30. For those unfamiliar with the Whole 30, it is a 30-day program designed to improve your health by eliminating some of the major problem foods: sugar/sweeteners, grains, dairy, legumes and various others.
I don’t claim to be an expert in nutrition, and in the past I have avoided discussing my journey to better health on this blog. However, in the past few months since I began experimenting with cleaner eating, I have had dramatic improvements in my skin, energy levels and mood that I never thought possible through diet alone. (I also managed to lose a lot of weight!) Because of my positive experiences with the program, friends have approached me with questions, so I decided to devote an entire Weekend Five to it!
Below are some of the lessons I’ve learned after completing the Whole 30 program twice. (I plan to do it again in June, if anyone is interested in joining me!)
The Weekend Five: Lessons Learned On The Whole 30
1. Read the ingredients.
When I started really reading the labels on my food, I was amazed at all of the hidden ingredients I found! For example, every jar of pickles in my local grocery store either contained corn syrup, yellow food dye or both. To fulfill my random pickle craving without compromising my diet with unnecessary ingredients, I drove out to a nearby health food store. They tasted just as good as any other pickles, except they wouldn’t make my skin break out the way that food dye does, and they wouldn’t give me a headache the way sugars often do. You’d be shocked at how easily the manufacturers sneak sweeteners into places we wouldn’t expect: sauces, chicken broth, etc. If you aren’t keeping a close eye on what is in your food, then you could be sabotaging your diet in the process! The fewer the ingredients, the better, because it generally means that your food is closer to the original source.
2. Do things the RIGHT way, not the quick way.
When I look back at some of the ridiculous ways I tried to lose weight in high school and early in college, I have to laugh. There are a lot of fad diets out there, and we’ve all tested them out. But as much as we like to complicate things, it’s really quite simple: cut out the junk food, eat healthier foods, watch your portions and exercise. Doing it the right way will lead to better habits and weight loss that sticks! Slow and steady wins the race.
3. Find ways to beat the excuses.
For the past few years, I wanted to lose weight through cleaner eating, but I always had my excuses: I can’t cook. I’m too busy to prepare meals. When I’m tired, I need my food to be quick to make.However, out of necessity during my Whole 30, I discovered snacks that were easy to make ahead of time, meals that didn’t require much preparation and pre-packaged foods like Lara Bars that were a better alternative to any other “nutrition” bar in the aisle. (Seriously, read the ingredients!) I also learned that washing some fruit or cracking open a hard boiled egg really didn’t add much time to my daily routine, and that my excuses were actually invalid. Figure out your excuses now and then figure out how you are going to beat them in the long run, so that they don’t beat you!
4. Weigh the pros and cons.
The next time you are having a craving, ask yourself: “Do I want 30 seconds of gratification, or do I want a lifetime of good health?” The program is only 30 days – to give into temptations early on is to cheat yourself! In the long run, you should allow yourself indulgences every once in a while, but remind yourself that there is a trade-off. Do I miss certain foods? Yes. I have even brought them in as an occasional treat now that my program is over. But I also know that, while delicious, some tempting foods will ultimately make me tired and grumpy, and will make my skin break out. Do I want to eat unlimited amounts of junk food, or do I want glowing skin and a body I’m proud of? The answer to that one is quite simple!
5. There are seven days in the week. Someday isn’t one of them.
Every day, there will be reasons not to start. Maybe you’re stressed out at work, or you’re afraid of what others might think. Forget those reasons. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to prepare (read, research, shop, gather ingredients) and then press play. Once I finally took action instead of making up excuses, I started to see success. Stop resolving to start “someday” and take your first steps today. (Tweet this!)
Readers, have you ever completed the Whole 30 or another clean eating program? What would you suggest to others considering it? What did you learn during the program?
Are you considering a program like this? What questions do you have about getting started?