It Starts With Food: My Whole30 Journey

Whole30 Manifesto

Whole30 Manifesto

I had been teetering between 170-180 pounds for awhile now, months actually. Even with exercising three-four times a week and “eating right” I was still in the 170 range and not losing weight. I’ve had people ask “well how much weight do you want to lose”, or “where is it going to come from?” or, my favorite, “don’t get too skinny now!” LOL. Skinny is definitely NOT the goal but the goal is to be healthy and happy.

After losing my grandmother on Mother’s Day I began stress eating like CRAZY! I’m an emotional eater and I’ve always had an unhealthy relationship with food. Eating just to eat because I saw something I wanted, continuing to eat even after being full because the food was good, or coping by eating terrible food to attempt to make me feel better. Over time my relationship with food got better but every now and then I would revert back to that place. Dealing with the death of my grandmother surely sent me back there. It got to the point where I was buying packs of ice cream bars on a Sunday and the box would be gone by Wednesday. I’d then head to the store to buy more on Thursday. I wasn’t meal-prepping so I was eating out pretty much every day and didn’t really care.

Once I researched recipes, it became easier to make varying dishes even though I was using the same meat and seafood.

Once I researched recipes, it became easier to make varying dishes even though I was using the same meat and seafood.

That was until I stepped on the scale to see that I had gained about 10 pounds from May until July and it showed. Underneath my clothes, I looked as if I was in my first trimester of a pregnancy. My waistline expanded my clothes were a tad bit tighter than I remembered. Having ZERO energy, being tired and sluggish all the time, and being EXTREMELY moody, I knew I needed to detox and cleanse my body. I knew I needed to do something that would last more than 21 days and wouldn’t restrict my eating to the point that I was always hungry. So I took to my Facebook and asked for some recommendations for good cleanses or detoxes and Whole30 was mentioned a few times.

Upon my initial research of Whole30 I shot down the idea of even being able to complete the program and found something similar called the Paleo diet. I originally decided that I would do Paleo because it was similar, but not as strict. But if we’re being honest, I was so far gone that strict was what I needed. It wasn’t until I received encouragement from my friend who had just completed Whole30 that I decided that I would complete Whole30 and transition into Paleo.

Even in the early stages of preparing to start, I had some fear that I wouldn’t stick with the program. I thought I would eventually cheat. Until I read the blog post from the same friend who encouraged me to start. You can read the post for yourself here, but this quote definitely stepped on my toes and made me mentally get my ish together.

You can do anything you make up in your mind to do and learning how to tell your flesh to sit down and shut up and do what you’ve made up in your mind to do is one of the most powerful lessons you can learn and will transcend to other areas in your life. And from a food perspective, your food shouldn’t run your life. An inability to say no to something unhealthy clearly demonstrates your food having power over you! And let’s be real, if you can let a doughnut defeat you, there shouldn’t be any wonder why you’re being defeated in other areas in your life…

So “what is Whole30?” 

The first dish I made on Whole30 was this breakfast casserole that I cut into squares throughout the week.

The first dish I made on Whole30 was this breakfast casserole that I cut into squares throughout the week.

I’m glad you asked. Basically, on Whole30 you eat only meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or  no ingredients listed at all because they’re natural and unprocessed. And saying no to everything else including added sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, and dairy. Read all the official program rules here.

Wait, what?

It’s really not as bad as it sounds once you get going with the program and get the hang of making sure to read your labels, doing your research, and constantly cooking. If you know you are going out or going to an event that will require you to eat while doing Whole30 read the menu before you to ensure there will be Whole30 compatible dishes or eat before you go.

A good recommendation before starting Whole30 is to set GOALS for the program. Mine are listed below.

  • Total weight below 170
  • STICK WITH IT! NO CHEATING!
  • Find new recipes to keep in rotation.
  • Increase energy.
  • Kick sugar habit!

Did you achieve these goals?

YES! And THEN some. Doing Whole30 has been one of the best decisions I’ve made recently regarding my physical health and I have no regrets. The first week was ROUGH. I was extremely tired, more tired than I have been lately and I was very sluggish. A LOT of gas was passed. Ew. My face broke out. My allergies flared up like crazy. I had weird stomach pains that felt like menstrual cramps and stomach upset got together and had a child. And I just wasn’t feeling it. The first time I made a salad and had to opt to dress it in olive oil instead of buttermilk ranch really hurt my heart. LOL.

Midway into the first week I woke up with more energy than I’ve had in awhile, and the craziness of the first half of the week passed on and it was pretty much smooth-sailing from there.

This ended up being the worst, but ultimately best, time to do this because I missed out on A LOT of binging opportunities LOL. There were not one, but TWO ice cream socials at work, birthday cake, two open bars, wedding cake, fancy wedding hors d’oeuvres, brunch, and a bridal shower. Had I not been doing Whole30 I probably would’ve enjoyed too much of that ice cream, too many drinks filled with empty calories, and plenty of cake and fattening food.

Okay, all that sounds good, but did you cheat at least once?

Well, not exactly. I only broke two of the program rules during my 30 days.

  • Fruit juice as an ingredient only. I had two glasses of orange juice before I realized that you’re not allowed to drink fruit juice, even if it’s all natural.
  • I stepped on the scale before the end of the program. When I was moving and unpacked my scale about two weeks in I couldn’t help myself… I HAD to know how it was going so far.

Besides those two, I stuck with the program.

A few of the different "quick meals" I made during the 30 days.

A few of the different “quick meals” I made during the 30 days.

So onto my RESULTS. They were AMAZING! I was shocked myself.

  • I went from 179 to 159.
  • My starting measurements were 39-35-44.5 and my ending measurements were 36-31-42.
  • My starting dress size was a 10 and my ending dress size was a 6.
  • I learned to eat a lot slower. I seriously used to eat like I was running a marathon and had to be the first to finish, but with Whole30 I’ve learned to slooooow dooooown.

So did you work out?

During the first week I did because I was in a kickboxing challenge. BUT I don’t recommend going hard during the first week because you’re body is going through enough changes and you’re probably already really tired. After the first week I did not work out one bit. The only movement I got in was moving apartments and lunchtime walks. Other than that, my results were mainly just from changing my eating.

Okay, so what now?

The week after I finished Whole30, I began to transition into Paleo but I allowed myself some flexibility since I was busy and traveling to New York. That was a big mistake. My stomach hurt BAD and I felt sick. It was really an eye-opener to how processed and unhealthy food really affects the body. I am now Paleo long-term. I’m not giving myself a time limit because although I’ve come so far, I still have far to go when it comes to my body goals. I will, however, allow myself exceptions to Paleo OCCASIONALLY!

  • When eating out and there are no Paleo options
  • One glass of wine or cocktail when out at an event won’t hurt. I will not buy any alcohol to keep in my home (that isn’t already there lol I currently have two bottles to finish eventually)
  • Occasional non Paleo-approved dessert, again I will NOT buy any to keep in my home but I am allowed to treat myself when out or attending a party or special event. I found that was my biggest temptation early on was attending parties or being at events where things I couldn’t eat was being served and it drove me crazy.

Interested in starting? Here are some of my TIPS before you begin.

  • You DON’T have to purchase anything. Buying their recipe book will help but I found all my recipes on Pinterest, Google, and they have a Whole30Recipes Instagram page. 
  • PREPARE! Trust me, this is nothing that you can up and decide to start tomorrow. It took me two weeks from the time I said I was going to do it until the time I actually started.
  • Remember to plan your meals weekly. If you have parties, travel, or events that may interfere with Whole30 be sure to plan accordingly. Cook meals to go and/or check the menu before you leave! Here’s my spreadsheet of meals that I cooked. 
  • Decide before you start that you will stick with it and won’t cheat. No cheat days, cheat meals, or cheat snacks allowed.
  • Make use of the Whole30 official site. There is TONS of information including pdf grocery shopping lists and forums for discussions.
  • Know that Whole30 is NOT starving yourself. You can eat healthy portions and amounts of food, just NO bad food!
  • Find accountability! Whether it’s someone or a group of people doing it with you, or a friend to check in with to make sure you’re staying on top of things. Don’t go into alone because you probably will cheat.

The official Whole30 site has a great step-by-step starting guide to read also! 
Want to know more about my personal Whole30 journey? Feel free to comment below or use the contact tab!

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26 Comments

  1. Reply

    Latrece

    August 25, 2016

    YAS ASH!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m so super duper proud of you for sticking it though and making healthy choices for your life!!! You better be out here continuing to inspire folks!!! Love you!😘

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      August 25, 2016

      Thank you love!!!

  2. Reply

    Tandra

    August 25, 2016

    This is a great journey you’re on. Thanks for sharing it and keep up the good work.

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      August 25, 2016

      Thank youu!!

  3. Reply

    Keishona

    August 27, 2016

    I know I’m already small but I want to start eating healthier!!!! Girl we had this conversation & I haven’t started yet lol

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      August 27, 2016

      You got this girl! Small doesn’t equal healthy!

  4. Reply

    Queendom (@moriahloveleigh)

    October 6, 2016

    I’m Proud of you! So hapiegh I got to see you take steps in making your dreams come true. It serves as an inspirational light for a lifetime. Thank you Sis. #BlackGirlsReign

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      October 6, 2016

      Thank you so much Mo! <3

  5. Reply

    Tyler

    December 15, 2016

    Thats’s amazing congratulations!!! I might to do do more research on this topic and join you !

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      December 15, 2016

      Thanks! My next round starts January 9th!

  6. Reply

    Tanya Barnett (@RealWifeCoach)

    December 15, 2016

    Congrats!!! Interesting! I’m doing a 30 day detox challenge and it sounds similar but we have no meat at all. After one week I’ve lost 4lbs.

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      December 16, 2016

      That’s great! Keep it up, your body will thank you for it!

  7. Reply

    naetorious

    December 16, 2016

    Amazing! I really need to begin a healthier eating lifestyle. This is encouraging!

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      December 16, 2016

      Thank you! And it’s never too late to start incorporating small changes to your diet.

  8. Reply

    everydayeyecandy

    December 16, 2016

    That’s amazing! Congratulations! I tried it once this year and barely made it to the end! I might try it again next year!

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      December 16, 2016

      It’s definitely hard, but worth it! I’ll be starting another round January 9th.

  9. Reply

    T. Espinoza

    December 16, 2016

    Thanks! This is super detailed! I’ve been wondering what whole 30 was. It doesn’t sound too hard… Just don’t eat garbage lol

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      December 16, 2016

      Pretty much! lol Thanks, I tried to be as detailed as possible because so many people asked me about it, especially after seeing my results!

  10. Reply

    Mimi Green

    December 16, 2016

    I don’t want to lose any weight but I know my diet is terrible. I’m trying to get my life in order so I can focus on meal planning. That keeps me eating healthy.

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      December 16, 2016

      Planning/prepping at the beginning of the week and then maybe again in the middle of the week helps.

  11. Reply

    everythingcurvyandchic

    December 16, 2016

    this is so helpful, especially as we go into the new year with or new goals

  12. Reply

    Jonna

    December 17, 2016

    I think I’ve considered this before, but I really prefer eating plant-based so I was having a hard time getting the protein amount my doctor recommended and staying within the calorie limits. I see a weight loss physician so I try not to break the rules. But I think I can incorporate the whole 30 and still stick to his restrictions. I’m at 170 and if I can lose 20 lbs in 30 days I’ll do whatever! I might try this starting Monday.

  13. Reply

    Ty

    December 18, 2016

    That’s so good. I have to do better. A lot better. Thanks for the tips and ideas.

  14. Reply

    Eva

    December 22, 2016

    This is great! Congratulations! I have a lot of work to do in the new year, but I’m definitely not going to stress about it too much. I am looking forward to getting healthier, moving more, and eating better.

  15. Reply

    MUAKimPorter

    December 23, 2016

    Whole30 sounds like a good way to kickstart a healthy lifestyle. I am happy you found something that works for you. I think I can do Paleo. It doesn’t sound too bad.

  16. Reply

    Kiwi

    December 23, 2016

    I saw people doing the whole30 challenge! This is interesting I may look into it I love food so much but I do need to portion control better.

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