Wednesday, December 4

Featured Whole30'er: Samantha T.

Why did you decide to do a Whole30?

I was initially leery to do the Whole30 challenge because several of my friends struggled with eating disorders during college, and I did not want to let myself become obsessed with food or get wrapped up in a fad weight loss-focused diet. However, after seeing several trusted friends take on the challenge and reading more about the program itself, I realized that the Whole30 challenge really isn't about dieting as much as it is about allowing yourself to feel the true benefits of being good to your body. I am also really into yoga and was sick of unnecessarily powering through Saturday morning yoga classes with a hangover courtesy of the prior evening’s festivities. I am now on day 24 and haven't stepped on a scale at all during this challenge and have no idea how many inches I have lost, if any, but am experiencing so many more fulfilling benefits from changing my habits around the foods and beverages I consume.
What's been the hardest part?

The hardest part initially for me was revamping my pantry and making sure I always prepared for meals ahead of time, but with a Whole Foods right across from my office, I had it pretty made. I love my new weekend routine of hitting up the farmers' market on Saturdays and prepping meals for the week on Sundays. I've joined a produce co-op with my roommate and have discovered new delicious foods. I have also been able to more heavily incorporate cooking into my daily routine, which I love.
What's been the best part?

Hands down giving up alcohol and artificial sweetener. Although these were two things I originally hesitated to give up, their absence has been the most eye opening and rewarding. 
Alcohol: I would not describe myself as a party animal by any stretch of the imagination, but I am pretty social and go out most weekend nights, have brunch on weekend mornings and occasionally meet friends for happy hour during the week. These are things I look forward to, and maintaining relationships through these activities is important to me. I was terrified that committing to no alcohol for 30 days would instantly make me lame or that I would realize my confidence in social situations was actually liquid courage. This challenge made me realize the opposite. As obvious as it may seem, it was refreshing to feel in control during late nights out and empowering to know that I don't need alcohol to fuel my having fun in social settings. Giving up alcohol hasn't at all negatively impacted my social calendar, and the icing on the cake: I still feel great when I wake up the next morning.
Artificial sweetener: I definitely had a diet coke problem, and was a sucker for zero or low calorie options packed with artificial sweetener. Prior to the Whole30 challenge, I would "treat" myself to a diet coke every afternoon around 3pm from the free soda machine at my office to give myself a boost for the last stretch of the work day. Instead of feeling energized, I typically felt worse and would often combat a late afternoon headache either from not enough or too much caffeine. Eliminating this unsuccessful caffeine balancing act has been a game changer to my productivity level at work. It's also much easier to get more water in throughout the day when I am not focused on fitting in my soda fix. Because my energy is more sustained throughout the day as a result of the foods I am eating, I haven't even felt the need for that afternoon boost. In addition, getting rid of artificial sweetener has made me crave other sweets a lot less.

Advice for anyone doing one in the future?

Commit to doing it 100%. About six months ago, I "committed" to doing my own rendition of the Whole30 challenge with the addition of black beans, oats, goat cheese and alcohol on occasion... so basically not doing the challenge at all. That totally misses the point, and I lasted approximately two days. Anyone can try something out for 30 days, and habits that I thought I couldn't live without seem much less appealing now. I thought I would be counting down the days until I could have a margarita, but now don't really have the desire to return to any old habits on day 31.

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