Before I began my Whole30 Experience I scoured the internet for more information. I read books, studied recipes, and spent countless hours reading and watching videos about other people's experiences.
I stalked people on Instagram, and posted a million things on Facebook. I researched and agonized and worried and stressed... because let's face it - there is a lot of stuff out there and the general consensus seems to be that "it sucks!!! (but it is worth it.)"
The more I posted and the more I read, the more I saw a few common
excuses myths keep popping up. Since I have now been there and done that, I wanted to debunk a couple of these for anyone who is contemplating their own Whole30 Journey.
1 - It is so HARD.
The one thing that kept coming up in all of my searching was how "hard" it was. The Whole30 crew addresses this by saying things like "fighting cancer is hard - not putting creamer in your coffee is not hard." But I want to bring even more to that - because for me it was different. If you read and watch everything that is out there - it will have you scared to even try. Had my friend Jen not been so persistent and challenging, I probably could have talked myself out of even giving it a shot, based on how "hard" everyone said it was.
Mine was not hard. Mine didn't even suck that bad. In fact most everyone that has joined our Whole30 Facebook Group has said it hasn't been near as hard as they thought it would be - and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we simply do not focus on the bad - instead we laugh and share the good. You can absolutely choose to focus on the headache you may get the first day... or you can get excited that it is working. You can whine and complain about getting tired, or you can realize how badly you have fueled your body in the past that you are "hungover."
Everyone is different. You can not compare someone else's experience to know how yours will be. The standard "schedule" that even Whole30.com put out wasn't even my experience. Yes I was tired the first day or two - but that was about it. I didn't have a "Kill All The Things" Day until Day 15 - and that I think had more to do with hormones than eating.
Point is - it isn't that hard. AND you will get more of what you focus on. So focus on good.
2 - My Partner won't do it.
So....?! Why does that have any bearing on anything? Look, I used to smoke - my exhusband and I both did. I quit. He didn't. Did it suck to be around him while he still smoked? Of course it did. But I knew it was what was best for me, and now 7+ years later I know it was still one of the absolute best things I have ever done for myself. It took will power, dedication, and determination... sound familiar?
Saying you are not going to better your health because someone else isn't is like saying you are not going to repair your car cause the guy next to you is broken down. It doesn't make any sense. What someone else does should have absolutely no bearing on you. Fact: you do not need someone to do this with you. Fact: you do not even need anyone's approval. Fact: your partner will probably come around anyway when they see how well it works for you.
I did not change my family's diet or routine at all when I began my Whole30 journey. If dinner was something I couldn't eat - I made myself something else. Or if dinner was chicken and rice with veggies... I just simply did not put rice on my plate. They eat fried chicken - I bake mine. They want pasta, I eat spaghetti squash. They saw me making changes and began wanting to "taste" mine... what has happened is the whole family has now begun eating better. Leftovers seem to be more of the "not allowed" stuff and I can't keep veggies in my house for the life of me.
Only YOU control what you ACTUALLY put in to your mouth. Not everyone in your house has to be Whole30 for you to succeed. I open the cabinets every day and have everything from long grain wild rice (my favorite) to popcorn to kidney beans... and every day I choose to not eat them. My family does, but I do not. I disagree with the whole "clean everything out" routine that most diet books tell you to do... instead I stare temptation straight in the face and celebrate that food has no control over me anymore. THAT is Whole30.
3 - I am going to starve to death.
The irony here is that you are actually eating yourself to death if you are eating all of the crappy foods that your body can not handle. But even if that wasn't the case - you are still not going to "starve." Table the drama. Seriously. "I can't give up cheese!" "OMG Bread!?!" "WHAT WILL I EAT!!?"
Whole30 isn't about not eating - its about eating what is right for your body. Seriously, you are going to "starve" without your pasta? Really? In the words of Mark Twain - "If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got." If you continue to eat foods you know make you fat/lethargic/grouchy/sick - then guess what will happen? You will ALWAYS be fat/lethargic/grumpy/sick. Is that what you WANT? Because it is what you are choosing every time you put food in your mouth that you know makes you that way.
What you want is irrelevant. What you have chosen is at hand. ~Dr Spock
There is actually a lot more food on the "allowed" list than the "not allowed" list - however most of those allowed foods we do not focus on. I whined about "no dairy" for weeks - because I was the girl who had milk for breakfast, cheese for lunch and a yogurt before bed. I remember my parents saying it would be more cost effective for them to just buy a cow with all that they spent on milk. However since I completed my first Whole30, I have had dairy twice... and both times I got sick as a dog. And while I was on Whole30 I replaced my milk with ice water, my cheese with chicken salad and my yogurt with salted watermelon. Not only did I not miss dairy a single time, I felt better, felt fuller longer, and woke up feeling great - not hungover and sleepy.
My advice to not "starve" is to not make that many changes. I didn't trying to make a whole bunch of crazy out-of-the-ordinary recipes that I might or might not like. I did not want to risk not liking the new recipe and ending up at the drive thru so I didn't eat the furniture. I cooked all of the same meals - leaving out the things that were not Whole30 compliant. Easy.
4 - It's So Expensive!
No it isn't. Well, wait - it may be at first. But then it isn't. Yes, healthy food is generally higher priced than processed filler filled junk (sadly) but when you compare the quantity to the price - it really balances out. See, when you start eating the RIGHT food, you do not need as much - because your body isn't having to work in overtime to find enough nutrients from the junk to run properly. With Whole30 I eat three meals a day - and then normally a snack at night or mid afternoon. Even when I was "eating clean" I would eat 5 or 6 times a day - literally grazing all day long.
If your typical snack is a bag of Cheetos and a soda ($2-ish, right?) then your Whole30 snack of a handful of raw cashews and a water is actually cheaper. Add in an apple and it is STILL cheaper. If your dinner is normally baked chicken with mashed potatoes and green beans - all you have to do is replace the mashed potatoes with another compliant veggie - like carrots - it costs almost the exact same.
Whole30 mayo is WAY cheaper than anything you are going to get in the store - as is every other condiment. Plus when you deduct what you will be saving on food that isn't serving your body right (hello Starbucks!) you will actually be able to save money and use it for better food.... or for new blue jeans, 'cause you are going to need those too.
5 - There is Just.No.Way.
Whole30 is ONE.HUNDRED.PERCENT mental. One hundred percent. You have to be ready to commit to it like your life depended on it - because if you do not, you will fail. You will fail and then you will beat yourself up with all of that negative self talk that you have probably been doing to yourself for years. If you are NOT 100% committed - do not even bother. Why set yourself up for failure again?
This year when I went to Kennedy Space Center they have the quote "Failure Is Not An Option" on everything. I have heard it before, but on that trip it became my mantra - and of course that was long before I had any idea what Whole30 was. I have applied that to everything in my life since that trip - and Whole30 is no exception.
Also the saying "If you think you can, or you think you can't - you are RIGHT." This is so true with Whole30. I knew when I started that failure was not an option, and that I was GOING to "suffer through" 30 days because I COULD. It was 30 days - 90 meals - it is NOT forever. Tory Johnson's book "The Shift" she talks about the mental "shift" you have to make in order to succeed. If you are stuck in "there is just no way I can do that" - then you are absolutely right. Don't bother. If, however you are in the "yikes, I know I can do this... it may be tough but I am GOING to finish" - THEN and ONLY THEN will you succeed.
Since I began my Whole30 Lifestyle I have gotten tons of questions, tons of comments, and tons of cheers. I have also heard dozens of excuses. None of them are valid. NONE of them. They are the lies that we tell ourselves to justify why we do not change. Change is hard - it's leaving your comfort zone. But there will come a time when you are DONE - when you realize that you are NOT comfortable in your own skin. When your comfort zone becomes your place of sadness. When you are DONE hiding behind people in pictures - or avoiding the camera all together. When you are DONE hating Summer because that means bathing suit season. When you are DONE beating yourself up before, during, and after every meal you know sucks. When you are DONE hating your body, and yourself.
When that moment happens you realize you CAN in fact live without bread for 30 days. You CAN in fact break your addiction to soda. You CAN in fact change your life in 30 days - as cliche as it sounds. When that moment happens, you realize your excuses are irrelevant, and you BECOME Whole30.
Audrey at Barking Mad! says
I think it's great that this has been so transformative (I'm pretty sure I just made that word up) and life-changing for you. Just eat real food, that's all. It is more mental than anything else - and that's where a lot of people have the hardest time . . . I know, I live this mental challenge every single day of my life. I'm really proud of you Lynsey!
it's so amazing how you broke it down. I need to read up more on it to see if this is something i want to try
I've been hearing more and more about Whole30 and I'm definitely interested. It's good to know it's not as tough as it sounds. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Very interesting! I've seen so much about Whole 30 and wondered what it was all about. Thanks for posting!
Rachel @RunningRachel says
Thank you for sharing this. I am SO wanting to do this... and all your 'excuses' shared are mine. No more excuses! 🙂
Cat Davis says
I've started taking a Whole30 approach to cooking dinners and for us, it truly is difficult. I've spent my whole life eating grains, dairy and tons of potatoes. Cutting those from meals has been awful ... but ... it forced me to try new things. I attempted to replace mashed potatoes with parsnip puree which didn't work out quite so well for the kids, but it was something new and different. That's a step forward for me.
Moscato Mom says
Actually potatoes - both white and sweet - are allowed now 🙂
Great post! I'm gearing up for another Whole30. I've done a few of them. They aren't hard... except days 3,4,5 but that's usually bc I haven't been strict paleo when I start them.
My spouse and kids are both not paleo, but they eat what I cook for dinner with no complaints.
Robin Gagnon says
I have been training myself to drink my coffee less sweet... to the point where most fruit tastes sweeter. I already use coconut milk in it. That may be as close as I can go on that front, but I am thinking of giving it a try next month.
I have been trying to use less sugar in my coffee as per my dentist. It sucks, doesn't taste as good.
This doesn't sound like a hard diet to follow, as I eliminate most of those foods and beverages from my diet anyways. 🙂
I am working towards this. Like I am still using store bought dressing ... I just have to let some things happen. I check ingredients. If there is cheese on something, I don't freak. After the first week, it became way easier.
We are working towards this. Since I became a SAHM, I have more time to cook real meals, and it's been a fun journey!
Chelle @ Oh Just Stop Already says
We've already tried Paleo so I don't think going Whole would kill us. I just would need to become a better planner with football, marching band, soccer, horseback lessons, and crossfit during the week. Because right now I'm a horrible messy planner.
This is the first time, I am hearing about this diet and I am guilty of telling myself many of these lies, especially it's so hard. I love food too much to give it up but you're right it's about making choices.
Liz Mays says
I'm definitely one of those who says they can't give up this or that. But you've done it and you're super inspiring!
Tiff @ Babes and Kids says
I like how you put it in perspective about what is hard. So many things in life are mental. Mind over matter!
You absolutely NAILED it here! I'm on Day 24 of my second Whole 30 since starting Paleo one year ago. I'm 40 and in the best shape of my life. I feel fantastic and know I've found the key to eating healthy consistently. Thank you for breaking this down into such an easy to explanation format. I wish everyone who struggles with eating right could experience a Whole 30. It really is eye opening and life changing.
The one thing that all these diets have in common, whether it's the gluten free, dairy free, grain free, etc., is that everyone who sticks to them lose weight. But there is no magical concoction going on here. It's that the reason they are losing weight is because they cannot eat sugar, chips, processed foods, fast foods...basically no junk. That is the part that makes people lose the weight. Not because they deleted 1, 2, or three food groups. Let's say there's a 200 lb woman who eats everything under the sun. All of a sudden you put her on a diet by telling her all this stuff she needs to avoid, including healthy things like beans and grains, it's the other stuff she's ditched that is making her lose the weight, not the grains and beans, etc. You can eat dairy, gluten grains, and still lose the weight. Just eat real food, not fast junk food. Eat smaller portions. And try to eliminate most of sugar. No pop etc. Think of this, Europeans, and Asians are overall healthier and more trim than most Americans, yet Italians eat pasta every day, and have bread with each meal..white no less. Asians, consume meat, rice, and dairy. Just ditch the junk, pop, you know what bad food is. You will lose weight. Don't eliminate food groups. Some of these foods are full of very healthy nutrients.