Whole 30 Recap

This weekend marked the official end to my Whole 30 challenge I started on January 2nd. I honestly can’t believe I made it 30 days with no slip ups!!!! I’m proud to say:


I thought it would be a good idea to share my feelings and experiences with the Whole 30 for anyone interested in doing it. First of all, you need to read the book It Starts with Food. Otherwise, the whole point of doing the Whole 30 is kind of lost on you. I did a review of this book last year when I attempted my first Whole 30.


Why did I do the Whole 30?

When I first decided I wanted to do the Whole 30 it was during Christmas when I knew I had strayed far too much to the “paleo treat” side with the holidays. I thought about doing another Sugar Detox but then the Whole 30 came to mind, and I decided to do that. The rules are similar but I like how I can still have fruit on the Whole 30. After all, fruit isn’t bad for you. And the Whole 30 teaches you how to eat fruit responsibly. The Whole 30 also includes guidelines that help you begin to repair your relationship with food.

What was the hardest part?

The hardest part was being able to identify if I was in the correct mindset to do this type of challenge. The last year for me has been one of ups and downs in terms of coming to a balance with my diet. Last year when I did it, I stressed out about “missing out” and “depriving myself”. I also had events planned like a concert during my Whole 30 so obviously when went to the concert I wanted to have fun and not worry about food. This time around, I was more mentally prepared. I knew I wanted to do this and slipping up wasn’t an option. I suggest if you become obsessive about food too easily and stress when things are restricted, you wait until you’re at a better place to do this. Instead of seeing this as a challenge where I was going to be restrictive, I saw it as an opportunity to maximize my health and nourish my body the way it needed to be nourished.

Another factor that came into play was the expense. I know I’ve talked about prioritizing diet over other things but eating this way IS expensive. You are supposed to be eating a significant amount of protein at every meal. I only get high quality protein that is expensive, so I really had to get creative or I would end up not eating enough and be too hungry (snacking isn’t allowed). I found things like compliant canned tuna and sardines really  helpful!!


Great brand of sardines!! (affiliate link)















Also, I like my beer and wine on the weekends. It was missed!

What was the easiest?

Ummmmm eating absolutely delicious food all day long. Like I said, I didn’t come into this feeling like I was going to be deprived. And I didn’t. I tried new recipes, I got creative, and I made sure everything that went into my mouth was delicious. This makes it easy! You don’t last 30 days on this diet by eating a chicken breast with steamed broccoli every day. I found great ways to spice up dinner sides by roasting vegetables and adding lots of spices. I didn’t feel the need to go off plan at all. I planned ahead if I knew I was going to be out and just didn’t consider eating off plan an option. Like I said you have to be in the right mindset.

Paleo Mexican Feast

Delicious Mexican night….yeah I feel so deprived. NOT


Why can’t you make “paleo treats” on the Whole 30?

IMG_2878[1]Paleo Almond Flour Pancakes

If a Paleo pancake= 2 eggs and a banana, and those are approved ingredients, why can’t I have it? Again- it’s about mindset. Basically anything you Paleo-ize isn’t going to be as good as the real thing- so why even tease yourself? While I haven’t eaten ‘non-paleo’ pancakes in over a year, I decided to abide by this restriction. I really do tend to get seduced by all of the Paleo treats on blogs and Pinterest…….and while they may look good and taste delicious, the reality is that they’re not necessarily healthy! It’s important to remember just because you make Paleo cookies doesn’t mean you can eat 12 of them with no guilt- which I may or may not have done over the holidays. Even though I see many delicious Paleo treats pop up everyday, after my Whole 30 I am going to save them for special occasions- not just make them on the weekend just because. Plus almond flour and Paleo baking supplies are expensive.

Did I lose weight?

I have no idea if I lost weight because I haven’t weighed myself since before the challenge, but I don’t think so. I ate mostly Paleo before this challenge so it’s not like I was cutting out major things like grains and processed food. Most people who lose weight on the challenge are the ones who are making the transition from the Standard American Diet to whole foods. I actually ate MORE food while on this challenge than I normally would, so it doesn’t make sense for me to gain weight. Weight isn’t the only indicator of health (see question below).

What benefits do I see after doing the Whole 30?

I don’t think I lost weight but I definitely was killing it in the gym with weights by week 3 and 4. I probably gained weight because I’ve been lifting as well. Week three I literally felt invincible- had outrageous amounts of energy and was sleeping like a baby. It’s hard to explain but I just felt AMAZING. Think of the rush you get when you have your first cup of coffee in the morning- I felt like that all the time. Like I could accomplish anything. Weird, huh? I would definitely attribute my good mood and reduced anxiety to my food choices, which may surprise some people.My body also experienced other normal, monthly events that are a true indicator of female health that it hadn’t experienced in over 5 months. That is probably the thing I’m the most happy about. Sorry about the TMI. That and the fact that I honestly felt like the Whole 30 is a great way to evaluate your relationship with food. Oh yeah- and constant sugar cravings are completely gone when you eliminate it. It’s great. I was able to go every single day at least 6 hours between meals and not feel a thing.

How does a super-restrictive diet repair your relationship with food? Wouldn’t it be the opposite??

On the Whole 30 there is a template to follow- meat, veggies and fat. Sometimes fruit. There is no negotiating. There is no “well I don’t need to eat that” or “I could get away with only eating this”. Last year I think really messed me up because I was trying to stay a certain size for my wedding dress and it was REALLY stressful. I was always worrying about eating too much and gaining weight. This year with some of the pressure off I knew that I needed to feed my body more- there were obvious signs (see above) that it wasn’t healthy to be that skinny. Although I looked great (actually some people told me I looked too thin), it was exhausting my body and mind to maintain. Last year when I got into Paleo it was for the wrong reasons, but I’m so grateful for what it’s brought me. I have been learning to live with the fact that health isn’t about weight but it’s about nourishing your body and giving it what it needs. I think the Whole 30 does just that. And the good thing is that the template is non-negotiable. So I eat what I’m supposed to eat and all of the fighting inside my mind stays silent. That’s that- protein, veggies and fat and fruit 2X a day. There’s no more to think about. Melissa Joulwan put it the best when she said “food becomes both more important and less important.”

Ribbet collageOkay, the pic on the left is May 2013 when I was probably at my smallest…and on the right was at Christmas. So it doesn’t look like that big of a difference but I feel way healthier now. HA… not too many people put “before and after” pictures up where they’ve gained weight in the after…however I feel that I look unhealthily thin in the left one.

What will I eat now that I’m done?

No, I’m not going to go on a pizza-beer-ice cream binge the day after putting all this hard work in. There is a re-introduction plan where you first eat some non-gluten grains and see how you feel. Then if you want you can reintroduce dairy, grains, legumes, etc. I really don’t plan on straying from this way of eating from here on out. I see no reason to. In the book they talk about how after the 30 days you won’t want to go back to eating the other way- and it’s true. No desire. Yes- I do desire a beer every now and then on the weekends. So that probably may happen. And I bought some non-GMO gluten free corn chips to try out too. I don’t need to eat dairy- no desire what so ever. The one thing I WOULD honestly like to try out and see if it affects me is oatmeal. Oatmeal and peanut butter are probably the two top things I miss the most. Another thing is I’m going to limit the Paleo treats I choose to make, no matter how delicious they look on blogs. I might make one just to celebrate being done and that’s it. 

Congrats for reading this whole blog post! If you do decide to do the Whole 30- I am more than happy to answer any questions!!

Have you ever done the Whole 30?

What benefits/drawbacks did you experience?

What scares you the most about doing a Whole 30?


*Full Disclosure- some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you buy the product through my link, I receive some compensation. However every link I put up is a product I truly believe in and have used myself.



10 thoughts on “Whole 30 Recap

  1. Alex @ therunwithin

    I think the biggest take away when I did it was more regular periods, like freaking on the dot, and a happier digestive system. it is why I still keep primarily 90/10 following whole 30/paleo. It makes my body happy. I am also thankful for the challenge because it transformed what I eat – I buy no processed foods now (aka save money and my body is way happier). I couldn’t believe what I was eating before like fake meat, crystal light like it was my job and diet soda.
    Alex @ therunwithin recently posted…What I don’t say.My Profile

  2. Susannah

    Hi Andrea, what a great post! I also did my first Whole30 last year in Jan. and another one this Jan. It was so much easier this time around, even though I mentally prepared myself for the first one, it was still hard and I missed dairy, sugar and alcohol a lot. This year was smooth sailing. I missed alcohol, but not dairy and my sugar cravings dropped after a few days. I was astonished by that because Dec. was a really out of control month in regards to sugar.
    I can’t see any drawbacks although cooking so much was a bit tiring at the end. And I cook every day as it is. And our grocery bill did go up some.
    As for benefits, having my brain quiet down and being able to stop thinking about sugar is wonderful. My skin has been very clear this month, a persistent pain in the muscle below one elbow seems to be gone as well as some hip and leg pain. My energy is definitely up. I really kicked up my exercising this month with no problems.
    I did weigh myself at the start and finish; I lost 8 pounds and some inches. Half of that is water weight, I’m sure, but I will take a 4 pound fat loss.
    I’m planning do the Whole30 in June and again in Sept. These are months where I won’t be traveling or having any celebrations or visitors so that works best for me to do a Whole30.
    Take care!

    1. Andrea @ PencilsandPancakes Post author

      That’s a good idea to plan Whole 30’s around when you know you won’t be traveling!!

  3. Diane @ Life of Di.

    Wow! Congrats on completing the Whole30 πŸ™‚ That really took some discipline and dedication! Do you think it’d be possible to complete the Whole30 on a mostly vegetarian diet? I’ll eat eggs and fish (on occasion) but I’m not sure if I could make it through the entire thirty days without eating beef, chicken, and pork? Thoughts?
    Diane @ Life of Di. recently posted…Little Life Updates: January 2014.My Profile

    1. Andrea @ PencilsandPancakes Post author

      Technically it CAN be done. But the template for each meal requires you to have a palm size source of protein. So you’d probably get pretty sick of fish and eggs! If you read the book, there is a section that addresses vegetarians. And on the forum online there is some support. So yes it’s possible but honestly I think it would be pretty hard.

    2. Madison @ Eating 4 Balance

      I first wanted to say congratulations Andrea! I am always amazed to hear when someone completes a Whole 30 because I know from watching family members try to eat healthier how much of a struggle it can be. So that you are such a beast when it comes to this… great job πŸ™‚

      And as for Diane… you should maybe check out the Whole 30 website for their suggestions: http://whole9life.com/?s=vegetarian They have a lot of great posts on it, and also an altered plan for vegetarians/vegans: http://whole9life.com/book/ISWF-Vegetarian-Shopping-List.pdf (<<< That pdf gives a list of what to eat/not eat). I've read some of the forums and those who do the adapted plan often have great success albeit not always as great as those doing the original Whole30.

      Just some food for thought. πŸ™‚ I hope both of you have a great day!
      Madison @ Eating 4 Balance recently posted…Basic Paleo WafflesMy Profile

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