A few weeks ago Ben and I went on a trip to Melbourne so he could complete a training course for work and so that we could scope out the neighborhoods we might be interested in moving to later this year. What we got when we left was a certificate of completion of his course, a neighborhood we both LOVE, and the realization that in the past year and a half we have gained weight and lost muscle. Don’t you hate when you look at photos and see the difference those 10lbs make?
Despite my best efforts to continue my yoga and pilates practice, Ben’s attempt to walk more at work, and a joint effort to cook with more veggies, neither one of us would consider ourselves healthy; packages of chips make their way into our pantry far too often, and ice cream or dessert is consumed almost daily. The processed and sugary foods clearly do nothing to our expanding waistlines, or to counter that stereotype that when a couple moves in together or gets married they put on weight. Despite our tighter pants we both think each other looks great, but feel that we could use a little (or a lot of) work on ourselves.
The inspiration to go on a paleo diet started not with our pictures, but almost 2 months ago when my mom was told by her doctor that she needed to take a medication for an illness and that she would have to essentially sign her life away as the medication had a few crazy side effects that could be fatal. Not wanting to die – obviously – my mom decided to fill the prescription, put it on the highest shelf in the cabinet (just in case), and then completely change her eating habits (hello paleo – and no starchy foods) and not look back. As of day 43 of her diet they symptoms that would shake her up every day were gone and she had lost 13lbs. That number continues to grow each week! My mom became an inspiration to us. She was feeling better, eating delicious foods, and is so happy she has no plans to return to her old way of eating or using that medication.
I also should interject that as I am typing this on Day 2 of our 30 day challenge I just watched the documentary Fed Up, and if I hadn’t started the Whole30 yesterday I would have started it this week anyway. That movie will give you the kick in the butt you might need to rid your pantry of sugary and processed foods. If I ever feel like giving up during the next 30 days I will rewatch that movie.
Selecting the Right Program
A few weeks ago I shared with you the I Quit Sugar program in my Friday Favorites, Ben and I were so excited about the possibilities and that yummy foods we would get to eat on this program. It is also based in Australia so we felt this could only benefit us as some health foods aren’t found as commonly Down Under as they are in America. Unfortunately what we realized was that for us just cutting the sugar was not going to be enough. We were looking for a program that would not only cut the sugar, but cut out gluten, dairy, and legumes as well. What we wanted was a paleo diet.
While there were some paleo friendly meals in the IQS sample week, there were not enough, and we found our beginner selves wondering how we would be able to substitute ingredients in almost every recipe. The I Quit Sugar sample recipes seemed to have cheese, other forms of dairy, or beans as a major component in most recipes. We needed a simpler plan that wouldn’t require us to substitute major ingredients every night.
What is the Whole30
The Whole30 program is like pressing the restart button on your metabolism. The rules are simple, NO: sugar, grains, alcohol, dairy, legumes, MSG’s, and baked goods of any kind, including those made with “approved” ingredients like paleo cakes and cookies. That last statement is probably the hardest one for Ben and I to swallow. In fact when I told him that we would not be allowed to have cakes, muffins, or junk of any kind even paleo approved he responded by saying, “pumpkin bread isn’t cake though, we can make an exception.” Oh boy, even with a partner this is going to be hard I thought. And here’s the big kicker, if we slip up for one day and eat anything not approved, the 30 days start over. There are no cheat days, no special occasion meals, no junk food, no snacks, and no pumpkin bread.
At the end of 30 days you can slowly reintroduce the items you have completely cut, continue the Whole30 to a 45 or 90 day program, stick to a paleo diet, or just make some yummy pumpkin bread, gluten free of course. Our plan is to make gluten free pumpkin bread and stick to a paleo diet.
Prepping for the Whole30
To get us started with the Whole30 plan I ordered two cookbooks: The Paleo Kitchen: Finding Primal Joy in Modern Cooking and Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans. When my mom decided to change her eating habits she was convinced that all she would be able to consume was lettuce and water. I took her to the bookstore because I wanted to show her that there was so much more to paleo than just vegetables and water, and wanted her to feel confident she had the tools to be successful in this lifestyle change once I returned to Australia two weeks later. The first cookbook I picked out was The Paleo Kitchen; I am really into food photography and the photos on the cover were enough to say, ‘Andrea pick me up!’ The Paleo Kitchen is packed full of packed full of beautiful paleo friendly meals (many Whole30 approved) as well as several pages describing what paleo is, shopping and food storage tips, and a guide for dining out based on cuisine. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I regretted not getting the cookbook for myself before leaving America so I knew it was the right book to order when starting our new paleo journey in Australia.
The other book I purchased was Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans. Nom Nom Paleo is the blog I continually looked to for recipes for my mom and the reviews for their cookbook were overwhelmingly positive; most websites claimed it was the best paleo cookbook of the year! The positive reviews and the fact that 100 recipes from the book qualified as a Whole30 approved recipes convinced me that this was another book we needed to add to our collection.
With the two books in hand Ben and I sat down and planned our first week of meals which includes Prosciutto Wrapped Frittata Muffins, Taj Mahal Chicken Curry, a one-pot Tuscan Chicken that we have made before with a few substitutions, and other yummies. From there we headed to not one, but three different grocery stores to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies, meats, and lots of coconut products. What we were surprised to learn as we hunted the shelves for organic and natural products was that they are incredibly hard to find. Almost everything we found had added sugar, soy, or preservatives. There were even things like applesauce who’s first ingredient was sugar! We found almost everything we needed from the three stores, but had to get creative on a few things and head to the baby food section for pureed fruit that were untouched by sugars or chemicals.
Clearing out the Cabinets
We live in a share house with 2 other boys (both brothers) and have a giant pantry with 6 shelves, 3 for Ben and I and 3 for them, same with the refrigerator. After completing our first Whole30 shop up we had the great fortune to tackle the pantry. I should have taken some before and after photos so you could see the complete overhaul those shelves took. We cleared the shelves of anything that may have a trace of gluten, sugar, and soy… and all of Ben’s cans of baked beans to fill them with oils, coconuts products, fresh veggies, and spices. We put all our non perishables in reusable grocery bags, and saved one bag for items we can eat on a paleo diet but not Whole30 like honey. We agreed to revisit our bags after 30 days to see what we want to hold on to.
The most intimate thing I think I will ever do with my boyfriend is step on a scale and have him take my body measurements, but that’s exactly what we did the night before we started the challenge. There is one other SUPER important thing to tell you about the Whole30, you step on the scale twice during the challenge. Once before you start, and once after the 30 days. The reason behind this is simple, if one day you lose 3 pounds and 3 days later still weigh the same you may feel discouraged and give up the program. The goal of Whole30 is not to lose weight (although that may come with it) but to reset your body, and feel great.
Resources for Whole30
Throughout our Whole30 journey we will look to these websites in addition to our cookbooks as resources, guidance, support, and for meal planning help.
Nom Nom Paleo
Cloths Make The Girl
The Pineapple Cake Paleo Pinterest Board
Dates, Plans, and Everything Else
We jump started our original start date of October to September 15th as we were fed up with not feeling great and looking crummy. As of today we are on Day 2 of 30 and have found our meals to be yummy, colorful, and filling. All the research I’ve been doing into Whole30 and paleo eating has made me super excited and I’ve already started planning meals for next week. You can follow our Wole30 journey on instagram, facebook, or by lovin’ the blog.
Have you thought of doing a Whole30? Have you tried it?
I’d love to hear your experience.