If February gets a catchy nickname like The Month of Love, then I vote that January deserves one too. There are so many fitting possibilities: The Month of Fighting for a Treadmill at the Gym or why not The Month of Failed Resolutions? Both would work, but my personal pick would be The Month of the Great Detox. I mean, I kid you not when I say my Instagram Feed has been a perpetual flood of healthy food pics, all of which lead me to believe that everyone I know spent the month January detoxing. And, since I never liked to be the odd one out, on January 1st I fell into formation, determined to knock out my first ever Whole 30!
I’m kind of surprised that it took me so long to get on board, being the health nut that I am. Truthfully known, I had seriously contemplated doing one last year, but I ultimately chickened out.
Thirty days without grains, gluten, any form of sugar, dairy, alcohol, legumes and many additives/preservatives.
Thirty days with no slip ups, no cheats.
Thirty days with no wiggle room.
Thirty days with no “Sex With Your Pants on Foods.”
And perhaps worst of all, thirty days with no chocolate. *Gulp*
I mean, seriously! No chocolate? I know I am capable of doing a lot of things, but I wasn’t convinced that swearing off chocolate for a month was one of those things. Heck, even if I knew deep down in side that I could give up chocolate, I was almost certain that I didn’t want to give up chocolate. A life without dark chocolate is just depressing.
Plus, I was hesitant to commit to 30 days because we travel a lot and that definitely makes doing a Whole 30 more complicated.
And, to top it all off, I knew I’d be getting lots of weird looks from my French entourage if I were to suddenly have a list of self-imposed non-negotiable dietary restrictions. After all, Americans have embraced Whole 30 with open arms, but the French definitely haven’t.
As a matter of fact, if you were to take a survey, I’m pretty sure that only about 6 out of 66 million French people would have a clue what Whole 30 is. And those 6 people would include my husband, children, and closest French friends.
So, yeh, I guess you could say I had lots of
legitimate reasons excuses for not trying a Whole 30!
The Thing That Tipped the Scale
Then, this past August, I took the plunge into a gluten-free, dairy-free, mutated grain-free diet as an additional, somewhat non-conventional way of treating my Multiple Sclerosis. And, much to my surprise, I adapted to this new way of eating relatively quickly and easily.
So, by the time December rolled around, I was super motivated and confident that I could rock a Whole 30. If I could give up gluten, mutated-grains, and dairy for the long haul, then I knew I could handle just about anything for just 30 days! Plus, I’ve been eating very minimal refined sugar for years, so that definitely gave me a leg up on many people.
*Full disclosure: I’ll admit that I was pretty intimidated at the idea of cutting out all natural sweeteners too – like honey and maple syrup – because I do a lot of paleo baking for my kids and their crumbs tend to find their way into my mouth 🙂
THE GOOD: 30 Days of Tiger Blood and Guiltless Weight Gain
I know that some people struggle through the first few weeks of Whole 30, but I can honestly say that I barely noticed the change in my diet and I definitely didn’t feel like I was suffering through any part of the process. I never felt gross, tired, or cranky like the Whole 30 timeline predicts. I had no slumps, no “kill all the things” days. I actually loved (almost) every minute of it. I felt in control, I felt proud of my choices, and quickly noticed a surge of energy, motivation, and mental clarity. I pretty much lived in the Tiger Blood phase, being and feeling awesome.
As far as the idea that Whole 30 = weight loss goes, when I told my family and friends I was going to do a Whole 30, they expressed concern. I’m tall and relatively thin and they were concerned that I’d lose weight, but I reassured them that I didn’t expect or even hope to lose any weight. Though I was aware that many people experience significant weight loss when completing a Whole 30, I also knew that my normal diet is very “clean” compared to the average person. Prior to starting my Whole 30, I suspected that the few additional changes I’d be making to my diet would not likely have any serious repercussions on my weight and I was right.
As a matter of fact, I am one of the few people who actually gained weight during my Whole 30. Yes, you read that right. I gained weight, 1.5 lbs to be exact. Now, I know that’s not much, but I also know that many people would be discouraged or even down right pissed to have given up every “unhealthy” food for a month only to gain weight. Though I was initially surprised to see that I had gained weight, my shock was quickly replaced with complete, guilt-free acceptance.
The way I see it, there are a couple of possible explanations:
- I also started doing BBG three times a week at the beginning of the year, so the weight gain could very well be an increase in muscle mass.
- I was weighing in at the very low end of the weight range for my height prior to Whole 30, so there’s a decent possibility that by eating only whole foods and increasing my intake of healthy fats, my body naturally settled into its healthy weight.
Call me crazy, but the fact that I gained weight while eating the healthiest I’ve ever eaten and while working out consistently was actually a great reminder of how dangerous scales are. Healthy isn’t about the number on the scale and my Whole 30 experience was proof of that!
THE BAD: From Bad Nails to Worse
I’ve always had bad nails. They have always grown at a normal rate, but they peel and are super thin. When I do occasionally get my nails done at a nail salon, the ladies almost always point out that my nails are paper thin, as if I hadn’t noticed.
It’s been like that as long as I can remember, despite a diet that includes very little processed food. I’ve taken vitamin supplements and Biotin off and on and never really noticed any major improvements, so I’ve just learned to deal with having poor nails.
I can honestly say that I didn’t even think about how Whole 30 would affect my nail quality, but had I given it any thought I would’ve expected to see improvement. You can imagine my surprise when, by the end of my Whole 30, every single fingernail was broken down to a nub, exposing a part of the nail bed.
Things had gone from bad to worse in just four weeks. When I noticed that my nails were clearly not benefiting from my Whole 30, a little Google search quickly confirmed that I was the outlier. Most people’s nails tend to improve with Whole 30. Why on earth did my nails get worse then?
I eat a veggie heavy diet, I drink bone broth daily, and I eat loads of eggs (they contain Biotin), but it seems that somehow during the course of my Whole 30 I managed to become deficient – or perhaps more deficient – in some vitamin or mineral. So, with that thought it mind, I’ve recently started taking a multivitamin again, as well as Brewer’s Yeast tablets (if you’re Celiac, be careful with Brewer’s Yeast because cross-contamination during cultivation is possible).
If anyone has any theories on why my nail health went down hill during my Whole 30, I’m all ears! I’m stumped.
THE UGLY: 30 Days of Non-stop Breakouts
Lots of people experience increased breakouts during the first half of Whole 30, but I experienced breakouts non-stop for the entire duration. While I did notice the appearance of black heads around my nose and chin (which I immediately treated and successfully remedied with this homemade mask), my breakouts were almost exclusively confined to my chin and jaw area, about an inch below the corners of my mouth.
Given the nature of the breakouts, I’d think it was due to diet-induced hormonal changes or increased nut and coconut intake. It could be that my acne was just the (prolonged) result of the detoxing. Either way, I have to admit that now that my first Whole 30 is over, I’m almost as excited about the fact that my face has cleared up as I am about stuffing my face with dark chocolate.
Keyword being almost:)
Have you ever done a Whole 30? Did you love it or hate it?
I’d love to hear a little about your experience with it! Feel free to share in the Comments section below.