Hey there! I decided to do something a little different this week – I just started my third round of the Whole30 Challenge yesterday, and got to thinking maybe I would share some tips in case you were thinking of doing it too. I really recommend it! It is tough for sure, but so worth it, especially if you are searching for a more healthy lifestyle. (If you aren’t sure what the Whole30 Challenge is, check it out here).
Here are my 5 Tips for Rocking the Whole30 Challenge!
- Have a “Why” – With every challenging decision in your life, no matter how big or small, its important to have a “Why” – your meaningful reason for going in. If you go about things willy-nilly with no reason at all, chances are you won’t stick to it when it gets hard; a good “Why” will motivate you to stick it out. My “Why” this time around is that here in the Mid-Atlantic, the seasons have changed and it is starting to get cold. I don’t like cold and I don’t like winter, and so I eat. I make cozy homemade baked goods and bread and drink hot cocoa and slowly pack on the winter pounds. I have lately felt like I am just now making progress with my postpartum workouts/fitness and I don’t want to totally put myself back at square one over a good batch of bread. I have already found myself starting to comfort eat and doing less at the gym since the light started changing — that’s not the person I want to be, and I know that going into the holidays with that mentality will be disastrous. “Just one more slice of pie, I swear….”. I am also having a hard time with postpartum acne, and have recently had a headache for about a month. I am having lots of joint pain and trouble sleeping. I’ve just started another round of the detox regiment that was recommended for my MTHFR mutation and so I decided to go whole hog….or Whole30…and do it right! Healthy habits make me a more healthy mama! So, establish your “Why” and make it important, because you will rely on that motivation. Whether its losing that stubborn belly weight, setting a healthy example for your kids, breaking your sugar habit, or reevaluating your eating habits….whatever it is, make sure you have a “why”.
- Prepare – Since the kids started eating solid foods, I usually set aside every Sunday afternoon to prep healthy foods for them for the week, so now I do the same for myself. I think healthy food is just as tasty as processed, quick stuff, but when the hangries hit and you don’t have anything ready to go, it’s a tough situation! I get ahead of that by making up containers of cauliflower rice, cooked chicken, almond butter, baked egg cups with broccoli and spinach, almond flour for quick “baking”, and anything else that strikes my fancy – then when that “Oh MAN, I am hungry” moment hits, I’m able to make a healthy, and tasty, choice! It takes some time, but it is totally worth the time to plan ahead and prepare for your week, or even for the next few days. Prep something for every craving that you may get – savory, salty, sweet…that way you’re never left staring into the pantry wondering what is “allowed” and will fill that sweet/salty/tangy hole in your stomach. Also, I prepared this past Sunday by putting away the things that would be tempting for me – I will leave you to guess where the wine went, but most things I put in the freezer, or on top shelves in the pantry so I wasn’t staring temptation in the face every morning. I had to leave some things out for hubby and the kids, but what was “mine” and not allowed, I hid….no need to test myself unnecessarily. ‘Round about day 15, my willpower is a little shaky, and I’m woman enough to admit that ; )
- Understand the Science – The challenge is designed to purge your body of chemicals,gluten, sugar and any other allergens or things that may be causing inflammation in your body (evidenced by acne, headaches, bloating, digestive issues, etc.). Knowing that your body is detoxing helps you make sense of the cravings or feelings of withdrawal you may be having. Look up the specifics of what your body is going through to help you understand and stay on course! Sugar especially is a tough one – it is hidden even in our “healthy” store bought foods, like dried fruits and granola. Its in things you wouldn’t expect, like that seasoned pork loin you picked up last week, or your go-to jar of marinara. Sugar is one of the most addictive substances we have access to, and it’s a tough one to beat! Once your brain and body get used to that sugar high, it just takes more and more to reach it. I have gotten into the habit of reading ingredient labels to avoid the enriched products that are bad for me with MTHFR, and contain dairy or eggs for curly girl, and now as I do, I am noticing more and more that sugar is added into EVERYTHING. Take a peek for yourself and see what you are actually eating on the regular, and look for healthier options.
- Don’t Underestimate the Mental Game – The first time I did this, I got about halfway through and seriously would have traded my left pinkie toe for a brownie or a big bowl of pasta!!….Now, I know that a brownie or pasta are not the devil, but I was disappointed in myself that I was spending THAT much time thinking about those foods when I had such delicious, healthy, natural food around me to choose from. In my times since then I remember that at least 75% of the battle is in our minds – food cannot control you, and we are blessed to be able to have the opportunity to make healthy choices. I am a foodie and have been my whole life, but when it comes down to it, I just remember that food is simply fuel. I think of those around the world that would be grateful for what we have and tell myself to suck it up and stop complaining that I am having options to choose from and can choose to eat healthy foods. I am doing this for my better health, and I am blessed to have the choice! This is what we call a “first-world problem” and I think we can handle it.
- Think Outside the Box – Sweet potatoes for breakfast? Cauliflower for quiche crust? Roasted garlic and olive oil instead of butter? Try some new things! Some of the craziest sounding combinations have turned out to be my favorites! Food is versatile, and God created some amazing flavors and textures that we can use beyond what we are used to. Experiment and enjoy and think outside your typical food- box. You may be surprised at what you find you enjoy!!
My third go-round has me excited to reset before winter really sets in and refocus on being more healthy and making better choices. It is amazing to me how I can do so well for such a long time, and then slowly but surely, unhealthy habits start creeping back in cookie by cookie, extra slice of pizza by extra slice. I know that I feel my best when I eat whole foods and keep my diet healthy and my workouts tough. I know that with MTHFR, processed foods with enriched ingredients are poison to my body, but I have “just one” here and there because of a bad day, a gifted treat, or something too tempting, and before you know it, I have terrible acne, a month-long headache, and am not sleeping. It’s time to purge, detox and be my best self again!
Now, of course, you know I had to have a spiritual application to this too – I couldn’t let you go without that! I was writing this out in my head and was like “Oh, this works for spiritual stuff too!” Just like that sugar or junk food starts to creep back into my diet and start to control me, we can let sin so slowly creep into our lives and slowly get us addicted – whether its worldly shows that are compromising your values, music that is dishonoring to God or to others, small signs of disrespect to your husband, moments of impatience or even anger with your kids….these things are so small that you don’t even realize them in the moment, but before you know it, your spiritual life is poisoned and full of junk and not as healthy as it needs to be.
So, hop on the crazy train and do a Whole30 challenge with me! It will change the way you think about food, it will change the way you think about yourself, and it will start you off with some more healthy habits. While you’re at it, take a look at the rest of your life too and do some de-toxing if you need to – let’s start this winter, holiday, happy-merry-joyful season the best we can! Good luck! Let me know what works for you!