My Imperfect Whole 30: What I Ate and Learned While on the Whole 30

My Imperfect Whole 30

In August I decided to do my first Whole 30. (See next section for more detailed explanation of the program) I got my mom and sister to do it with me and announced it on instagram, as one does. Okay, so I started the Whole 30 with the best of intentions. I read the “this is not hard” speech.  I really, really wanted to be committed and I was……….but then life happened.

I’m not sad or guilty about “failing” my Whole 30.  Life happens. Weddings happen. Couples nights happen.

My imperfect whole 30

If I was truly committed the minute I had an off plan food I would be back to Day 1 and restarting. But you guys, I know myself. That kind of extreme action would only make me want to “rebel” and dive headfirst into a vat of ice cream. Instead, I owned my choices and restarted the next meal.

In the 30 days I improved my eating habits, I lost weight, I (mostly) felt better and even though I had some off plan eating it didn’t affect me a ton. I don’t struggle with a lot of food sensitivities. I always feel better when I eat less dairy, sugar, and soda, I know this. I just need to implement my knowledge in a sustainable day to day fashion.

So FOR ME my imperfect Whole 30 was perfection. I did my best and didn’t inconvenience people or starve when I couldn’t eat perfectly.


What is the Whole 30?

In case you need to catch up you can go the Whole 30 site to read all about the philosophy and rules behind the Whole 30. You can also get the books It Starts with Food or The Whole 30 for a more in-depth dive into all of the nuts and bolts, but the basics (and lots of great recipes) are all available online. Essentially it is eating real, whole, non-inflammatory, unprocessed foods for 30 days straight. This means no sugar, no grains, no alcohol, no dairy, no legumes, no weird ingredients. No crap.

It also tries to reset unhealthy food habits like comfort eating, continuous snacking, mindless eating, and overall lack of power over your food choices. (This was the biggest and most beneficial part of the Whole 30 for me. I also really enjoyed reading Food Freedom Forever for a deeper dive into the emotional aspects of eating.)

Whole 30 Tips

These tips helped me make good choices on the Whole 30!

Whole 30 lunch idea

  • Meal prep all the things. Seriously you will not get by just “winging it”! Meal prep was the best thing I did for myself on the Whole 30! I normally prepped some ground beef, a shredded chicken meal (This buffalo chicken is freaking amazing!), some baked sweet potatoes, cut up veggies, and a couple snack options.
  • Meal plan like crazy. This goes along with meal prep, but I needed to plan out ALL my meals (including lunch which I tend more to do on the fly)
  • Stick with your standbys. Instead of making all new to us meals I thought about how I could make some of our regular favorites Whole 30 compliant. For example, turkey chili for the family, but I ate mine without beans. Buffalo chicken bowls, but I ate mine with green peppers and minced squash. Spaghetti, but mine with zucchini noodles. Beef vegetable soup. Steak. Grilled chicken. Hamburgers without the bun. Taco salad.
  • Get a few cookbooks. I bought Nom Nom Paleo’s cookbook and checked out this Whole 30 cookbook from the library to give me some more ideas and meal variety. Even just looking through the pages gave me reminders that I could do this and there was lots of good food out there to try!
  • Google is your friend. Sometimes people ask dumb questions and you probably aren’t the first, so google that stuff! Seriously! Just type “Whole 30 lasagna” in and get your answer or “is ______ Whole 30 complaint?” MOST questions have already been asked and by googling you can find the answers, many on the Whole 30 forums.
  • You do you. I have a weird aversion to eggs. It’s longstanding. I do not like them Sam I am. Not liking eggs makes Whole 30 breakfast a real struggle. I made smoothies with complaint ingredients although technically smoothies aren’t allowed on the Whole 30. I think especially deciding beforehand about these choices will set you up for success. Don’t rewrite the program, but small tweaks like this didn’t affect my success and I think overall set me up for long term success.
  • Keep up your exercise routine. Days 3-5 were pretty rough so I took a break from my exercise routine…one that lasted the whole month! ???? Working out did make me crave carbs more, but I wish I had not taken a break from working out completely. Exercising is SO good for my mental health alone!
  • Get support! This times 1000! You need supportive people around you and doing Whole 30 with you! I was so blessed that my mom and sister both did the Whole 30 with me and we encouraged and kept each other accountable.

Family in Chicago in front of the bean statue

Whole 30 Results

I lost 5 pounds and 4 inches during August while I was doing Whole 30. I have continued losing weight this month too by implementing some Whole 30 pieces into my “eating norms”. I felt like I had great energy, although a few nights I struggled with insomnia. I also used to wake up every morning with pretty intense lower back pain, but that lessened significantly during the Whole 30.

Will I do it again?

Yes, but not for awhile. I’d like to do another one in January! There are a lot of people that do one then (New Years Resolutions and all!) too so it will be great to have that additional support! But working out consistently and eating in a way that nourishes my body is one way I way I’m chasing vibrance. It’s not always perfect, but I’m still running after it.

Have you done a Whole 30? 

Do you have any questions about my experience? 

Imperfect Whole 30 - My experience having an "messed up" Whole 30: My tips and how I pressed on

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