Friday, February 7

Featured Whole30'er: Jennifer E.

Why did you decide to do a Whole30?

I decided to take on the Whole30 challenge for a multitude of reasons:
  1. The idea came from my fiance. He asked if I'd be willing to eat healthier with him for a month.  Although I had some hesitation and difficulty with "scheduling 30 days of healthy eating", he convinced me that we could still manage it. I'm so glad he did. It's brought nothing but healthy food into my life and a large amount of quality time with the man I love. We share hours of planning, shopping, communicating, cooking and eating with one another. And I've really enjoyed that part of Whole30.  The next time he asks me to do this- I won't hesitate. I will simply say: "Yes! I'd love to, when do you want to start?"
  2. I secretly love and enjoy challenges of all kinds, be it career goals, physical health goals, educational goals, financial goals or spiritual goals, I'm always up for setting new goals and creating a plan to meet them. I love having goals and challenges in my life.
  3. I have a fiance! Which also means I have a wedding and a honeymoon coming up... and oh yeah- a lifetime of love, joy and happiness ahead of me. I want to be ready for it all- and that means I want to be healthy for it all.
  4. In honor of my grandmother- I watched her fight stage 4 cancer for eight months. She passed away a day before I started Whole30. Recognizing that I have only so much time on this earth to love, I don't want to waste it. I realize that taking care of my physical fitness will allow me to do what I love most- spend precious time with my friends and family.

What's been the hardest part?

The mental component. Planning healthy meals is mental work.  Collecting recipes, buying groceries, and having a meal map for a future that is ever changing can be difficult. It's hard to know which produce will "go bad" quickly and which ones won't. Some meals need to be made sooner than others depending on what the quality of the produce you find at the grocery is that week. Planning with so many variables is mentally exhausting. The biggest challenge I've had is constantly trying to plan ahead. My "frugalista" self wants to buy the right amount and ensure the groceries I purchase do not go bad. For those of you considering the Whole30 challenge - please do not care about the money you spend on healthy food. I know it's tough. Trust me. But all of the healthy food you purchase is an investment to your health, even the produce that goes bad. At least you had it in your fridge as a healthy option at some point!

The social life-aspect can be frustrating. I can't tell you how hard it is to have a social life with those friends and family not on Whole30. It's tough for them to realize how very little support they can actually give you when they aren't doing it themselves. It's not their fault.  They don't really know how to support you. Just know going into a Whole30 that there will be some uncomfortable instances and situations while managing your current social life on such a strict eating regimen. I realize now how much of my social life before Whole30 revolved around food and alcohol. In addition to good food, I now want my social life to revolve around a healthy lifestyle and quality conversation with those I care about most.  

What's been the best part?

Physically, I feel amazing. I have never felt this comfortable with my appearance nor have I ever felt more in control of my gut in years. I look great in my clothes. There's no more upset stomach, bloating, awkward gas or unexpected urges to run to the restroom. None of it. I'm so sorry to get into the gritty details, but let me tell you: the physical results (especially internally) are the main reason you should do this challenge.   

Hunger and cravings. I am no longer a slave to my food; my cravings are gone, and my stomach is under control. I eat healthy food and I stay full!! Before Whole30, I was eating/snacking all day at 7:30, 10:00 11:30 3:30, 6:30 and sometimes 9:00! I mean every 2-3 hours my stomach was asking for more food! Likely because I wasn't giving my body what it really needed...real food!

On Whole30, I eat at 7:30, 12:30 & 6:30. and I mostly stay full between meals! I can focus on work and not worry about where my next snack is. Whole30 has simplified my life at work. I can refuse temptations of cookies and candy without a problem. Even at 3:00 or 3:30 in the afternoon! 

Another big change is the snacking that I do on Whole30; if I don't eat a big enough protein portion at brekfast or lunch, I do find I get a bit hungry throughout the day. But on Whole30 I now snack on something healthy and effective (avocado, nuts, sliced turkey wrapped asparagus with mustard or a green salad with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette) and voila! Hunger gone. No mood swings, no future hunger pains, and no large change in blood sugar. Ergo, no bad repercussions for what I've put in my mouth!

Advice for anyone doing one in the future?

Buddy System. Please don't do this alone. Try to have an accountability partner. It's much more manageable and fun to do Whole30 with a person you trust to see it through with you.  Having someone to help find recipes, grocery shop, cook and eat all the yummy food you make is wonderful. At minimum, find someone online to confide in and share your experiences while doing the Whole30 challenge.

Freeze It. If I could do this over (and I will!) I will utilize internet resources for meal ideas, obtain necessary kitchen tools/supplies, and other helpful tips way in advance of the challenge.  I would go ahead and prepare, cook and freeze multiple meals before starting Day 1. Often times, I would have very much appreciated a brainless night of just good quality Whole30 food that's "ready to go."  I'd love for it all to be prepped in the freezer, so that I could just take the Tupperware out and thaw/heat for 5-10 minutes and voila! Dinner is ready. A few days off of cooking would be very nice. So although I hit a "cooking prep and planning" wall, please know there is a better way to dig under, walk around or climb over this wall. Prep meals in advance. You will thank yourself later. I promise.

Deal Buster. Remember, quality and cost often go hand in hand. If you buy those tomatoes on sale- they are likely ready to turn on you, so don't buy too many! Otherwise you won't be able to eat those buy 1 get 1 cherry tomatoes fast enough, and you'll haven't actually gotten a good deal at all! When counting your pennies, buy quality meat first, then fruits and veggies where you eat the outer layer. After that quality fats.  Although you may be a "frugalista" like me, don't stress over rotten mangoes, bad tomatoes, or wilted lettuce. Even spoiled good food is an investment to your health. Don't eat it. Just know that it was a healthy option to eat at some point. And learn from your mistakes. Buy less or go to the grocery store more frequently.

In closing, Whole30 is not a money scam or fad. It's logical. It includes a huge list of wonderful foods that keeps your system full, nourishes your body, and helps you live a physically active and healthy lifestyle. It makes sense. I will incorporate Whole30 meals into my regular diet for years to come. I recognize now that healthy food means healthy body. Healthy body means healthy work, play and rest. Healthy food will let me go to more birthday parties, funerals and weddings for years to come. And right now, that's all I really want.

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