by Cristina

Whole 30 Challenge

November 8, 2012

You may have noticed my most recent twitter updates referring to my Whole30 Challenge. I’m currently on day 8 and doing really well. Initially I wasn’t sure wether or not I’d post about the challenge (giving myself an ‘out’ I guess) but I’ve decided to just write a little blurb about it today and then possibly update you on the progress. 

I dabbled in Paleo eating last year but nothing super strict. I didn’t give up my vices for it and just sort of incorporated Paleo meals into my routine and focused on protein and made a bunch of paleo deserts. This time around my Crossfit box decided to do a group challenge starting on November 1st and they invested in the Whole 30 Program to share with all of the members there. They also started a group on facebook for us doing the challenge so we could constantly chat and ask questions and lend each other support. That made me feel like I could really do this so I jumped in with both feet.

During this challenge there are no ‘cheat days’. It’s super strict clean eating for 30 days and it eliminates all sugar and sugar substitutes which are found in many surprising foods (deli meats, broth, canned goods). My hardest days where day one and two having to give up my Starbucks routine (sugar free sweeteners + milk), Coffee and milk and sweetener at home and Diet Pepsi. As you can see, my biggest vices are all liquid consumption taking place of real food. Although I cut out the real sugar many years ago and used only splenda/Stevia, I was just as addicted to those as some people are to sugar. I depended on my Starbucks latte to keep me satiated so that I could get through the day without thinking about what to eat. Of course I ate the occasional junk food but those are things I could take or leave. My biggest food crutch where those listed above and I feel like because of that habit my metabolism is tanked. 


I’m now pretty much used to and enjoy drinking my coffee black, or with a bit of coconut milk and I’m only drinking water. Cutting the dairy in the form of cheese was slightly tough but I was never all that crazy about those things – they were just filling calories. No breads, legumes or grains/pseudo grains. 

What I’ve noticed so far on day 8 is that I’m sleeping really, really well. I had some insomnia before and a lot of trouble falling asleep at bedtime but now it is instant. I also PR’d my Overhead Squats yesterday which used to be really weak thanks to a muscle weakness I have in my upper middle back. I went from doing 25lb OH squats  to doing 55lbs yesterday and that was not even my 1 rep max. I’m really excited to find out how high I can go with the Overheads now that I’ve gotten past that mental barrier. I also finally got my hand stand unassisted. I can completely get up into a hand stand now and I can hold it there for half a minute. Day 7 (yesterday) was really hard. I had some bloating through the night and I woke up with a major headache. For the rest of the day I felt tired and blaze and really, really dumb. I’m told by one of my trainers that thats the switch over from when your body just starts to figure out how to burn fat rather than burning sugar floating around my system. I’m pretty excited about that. I know on day 2 or 3 I experienced some ketosis but I don’t think this diet has put me in regular state ketosis.

Once I got rid of the sugar/sweetener dependency I’ve found this diet really quite easy. It’s not a huge adjustment from how I was preparing foods before hand – it’s just making sure you have a stocked fridge of ‘good’ ingredients that are part of the guidelines. I’m really enjoying my dark coffee with a touch of coconut milk. I’m snacking on coconut shavings and walnut butter (best thing ever) and Coconut Butter (OMG so decadent!) and drinking lots of tea. I’ve had to put aside a LOT of my favorite Davids Teas as they have flavoring and sweeteners added but I found some that have nothing added – like my favorite Mothers Helper Tea. I’m generally avoiding fruit since I really want to curb the sugar spikes and lose weight. I occasionally make a fruit smoothie with blueberries, matcha green tea, coconut milk and spinach and that is such a yummy treat but thats treated like an occasional dessert. Also, Lara Bars are legal and I have a bunch on hand for food emergencies but I’m avoiding having them since they are fruit and have natural sugar.

I know you are not supposed to be focused on the weight as this is a health focused eating plan and not a ‘weight loss diet’ but, weight loss is my goal. I so far haven’t lost weight but I’m hoping something will kick in soon and it will start coming off. Either way, at the end of this I want to continue eating this way and I don’t plan on re-introducing sugar/sweeteners with the exception of occasional treats (hello Holiday season!). I like the foods I’m eating and I like not having a ‘crutch’ and *having* to stop at Starbucks for my fix.

Some challenges to this diet have come up as they inevitably will. First one was a road trip to the US which would usually start off with a Starbucks and end up with eating lunch out somewhere on the road. I did have a Christmas Blend brewed coffee but I stayed away from my usual sugar free latte. We did stop for lunch but I knew the chain Chipotles has some options so I got the Carnitas with veggies and Guacamole. The next day was family dinner at my parents house which is a carb fest (paella) and appetizers galore and wine on tap. I had my mom grill me a steak but right before she put it on she sprinkled seasoning on it which I realized after reading the label that it had sugar in it (It’s everywhere!!!) so she rinsed it off in the sink and drizzled olive oil on it and it was all fine. She also made me a pile of steamed veggies. My meal was really good and satisfying but the dinner was  tough none the less as family dinners can be. A lot of attention was given to ‘the diet’ and it was a big conversation topic. I just wanted to eat my yummy food and enjoy the company and not debate about it or defend it but unfortunately that wasn’t how it went down (that Atkins diet really isn’t good for you you know! you are eating way too much protein!). I was also offered dessert several times which was annoying not because I felt deprived (I really wasn’t craving it) but I was annoyed about the lack of support. It was also suggested to me that I should be having four meal replacement drinks a day instead of eating food as that is the best way to lose weight. Sheesh!!! They mean well and I love them but my God, family dinners can bring out the kid in me. I succeeded that night avoiding all bad ingredients and I’m really proud of that. Having those challenges really showed me that It’s not that big a deal maintaining this diet for 30 days. I can choose to succumb for any number of reasons, or I can stick to what feels good. This challenge is really about resetting bad habits that I’ve clung to unnecessarily.

Anyways, I just thought I’d take a minute or two out of the Lululemon stuff and discuss what I’ve been tweeting about in more depth. If you’ve done this diet I’d love it if you could share in the comments what your experience has been with it. 

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