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wellness 3 months ago

whole30 recap: what I learned, benefits, and fave recipes!

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Guys, I cannot even believe today is April 30 – my LAST day of whole30! Not gonna lie, there were several moments I doubted whether or not we’d make it here haha. In case you missed it, check out this post on why I decided to do whole30 in April (and more details on what whole30 is, resources etc).

Today I want to recap my entire whole30 experience with you guys – benefits I saw from it, what I learned, some of our favorite recipes and more!

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Whole30 during quarantine

A lot of you guys DM’d me when I threw out doing a whole30 during quarantine saying I was crazy to do it right now haha. The quarantine snack craving, the temptation to have wine every single night…those things are REAL. BUT, I have to say…I think doing whole30 during quarantine was 100x easier than it would have been if real life were in motion! We were faced with very little temptation to quit or cheat because we weren’t out at restaurants or social events. I think one of the hardest parts about doing whole30 is social events – getting together with friends and not being able to eat certain foods or eat at certain restaurants or drink…it’s just tricky. So honestly I attribute alot of our success to completing this whole30 to being in quarantine. So, if you are curious about how that went, I’d encourage you to go for it! Also the grocery situation was never an issue. I almost always did delivery from Whole Foods and thankfully our grocery stores were always well stocked!

Benefits of doing Whole30

Oh man, I could write a novel about all of the benefits I’ve experienced from completing a Whole30. Before I get into that list though, I want to quickly chat about why I did Whole30 in the first place – and some of my own weaknesses and goals. I wasn’t doing Whole30 to lose weight. Prior to doing Whole30, I was having a glass or two of wine almost every single night of the week. I was having some form of dessert (like, legit dessert ha not just a piece of chocolate. i would have ice cream sundae, cheesecake, brownies, etc) every single night after dinner. And was also having dessert after lunch everyday. My meals and snacks were typically healthy (and whole30-ish) already. So dessert and wine were really my weaknesses! I wanted to break the habit of feeling the need to pour a glass of wine every night, or have dessert every single night after dinner.

Another reason I wanted to do Whole30 was to teach my body to fuel up on real, whole, nutritious foods like avocados and chicken and fresh fruits and veggies and almonds and eggs, etc. Way too often during the work week I’m just “grabbing something on the go” like a protein bar or zapping a frozen breakfast sandwich in the microwave. Those things are fine here and there IMO but one of the reasons I wanted to do whole30 was to get in the habit of making real, full nutritious meals and snacks. I wanted THAT to be my norm and the “quick grab and go” things to just be an exception. I also wanted to work on filling up on whole nutritious foods in hopes that my body would understand it didn’t NEED an ice cream sundae after dinner every night!

(Those were just 2 of the many reasons I wanted to do Whole30 lol but let’s move onto the benefits)

Biggest benefits I experienced from completing a Whole30:

  • Glowing skin – so many of you guys have been messaging me saying how great my skin looks and that is definitely from whole30! When you cut out all processed foods and excess sugar and drink a ton of water…your skin will thank you for that, and glow!
  • Bye bye bloat – before Whole30, I felt bloated pretty often…probably from frequently consuming ice cream & desserts, wine, and coke zero haha. Michael and I both said even after 1 week into Whole30…we both noticed that we didn’t look or feel bloated at all – even at the end of the day, which has been really nice! So many times after a big Tex Mex dinner we both feel like “ugh I just need to go lay down” because you’re so stuffed and bloated. And that overly stuffed / bloated feeling has not happened at all for about 30 days now!
  • Stronger workouts – I have felt so much stronger in all of my workouts during whole30. I think because my body is using healthy fats (avocados, nuts etc) + good carbs (like sweet potatoes) to fuel me during workouts and it’s not being slugged down by excess sugar or alcohol. I’ve felt stronger, faster, and much more proficient in my workouts and that’s been really cool to see!
  • Muscle tone / definition – I’ve seen way more muscle tone and definition in my body this month than maybe ever before! This is from eating clean (whole30) and also starting to do more strength training workouts (as opposed to just cardio). But the combination of those two things has really allowed me to tone up and put on some muscle!
  • Meal planning / prepping – Every Sunday during Whole30 I would get out my Golden Coil notebook which has a section for meal planning and plan out what we would eat the following week (breakfast lunch and dinner). I would look up a bunch of recipes on Pinterest or flip through my cookbooks and write down new recipes for the week (and also designate which night(s) of the week we would order out!). From there, In the same notebook, I would make my grocery list and place my online order for Whole Foods to be delivered! I LOVED getting into a routine of planning out our meals and shopping ahead of time. This really helped us stay on track with eating healthy, and also helped us cook at home more vs get take out / get something delivered. I definitely want to keep up with this habit post whole30.
  • Increased ability to focus – I’m not sure why this happens when you do whole30 ha but I’ve heard a ton of people say they felt this way while doing whole30. Maybe somehow cutting our processed foods, junk food, excess sugar increases your ability to focus? Not sure lol I just know I have felt much more focused this month!
  • Increased energy – even though I have gotten the same amount of sleep as I usually do (about 6hrs per night. I know. Not enough. I need to work on that), I’ve had WAY more energy while on whole30 than I usually do! It’s been really nice to not feel the need to nap all the time and have energy to get through the day!
  • Empowerment – Michael and I both said one simple benefit of completing Whole30 is this sense of accomplishment. Kind of like crossing the finish line of a marathon like “Wow. I actually did it.” It’s really empowering and just makes you proud of yourself for sticking with it and being disciplined with your eating/drinking for 30 whole days!
  • Cooking at home more – during this whole30, I think we did take out (or doordash etc) one night per week, sometimes two. Other than that, we cooked every single night! This was such a great habit to get into and one that I hope continues beyond Whole30!
  • Mental / emotional health – I could write an entire separate blog post about this one but this was probably my biggest takeaway from doing Whole30. I feel like I’d subconsciously developed somewhat of a co-dependency on having dessert and/or wine every single night. Again, it’s not like I was drinking a whole bottle of wine lol but I would definitely enjoy a glass or two 5-7 nights a week. After going WITHOUT dessert / alcohol for 30 days…I realized how much I was depending on those things to help me “wind down” or “de-stress”. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wine and I can’t wait to enjoy a glass with Michael over dinner tomorrow lol. But these past 30 days I’ve learned to use other methods to help me wind down, unplug, destress. Go for a walk. Do a yoga class. Call my sister. Pray. Read a book. Put my phone away and do puzzles with Shiloh. Go for a run at the lake, etc. One of the biggest benefits I’ve experienced from doing Whole30 is realizing I do not need wine or dessert to cope with stress or anxiety! Those things are WONDERFUL things that I can’t wait to enjoy again…but, not what I should be looking to to find peace or fulfillment!

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Favorite recipes we made on Whole30

The majority of the recipes we made were either from The Defined Dish website or her cookbook! I also made a few recipes from the Whole30 fast + easy cookbook, so I highly recommend buying both of those if you’re going to do Whole30. From The Defined Dish cookbook, some of our favorites were:

  • Tuna cakes with lemony asparagus
  • Chicken tandoori burgers with okra fries
  • Thai basil beef

And then a few recipes you can access online that we loved:

Some of our go-to snacks:

  • Apple (or banana) and almond butter
  • Really almond butter on anything and everything lol. My fave is rxbar vanilla almond butter
  • Pimento chicken salad I linked above, with celery sticks
  • Hard boiled egg with handful of almonds
  • Larabar, if in a pinch!
  • Plantain chips and guacamole
  • Almonds, cashews, etc.
  • Dried fruit (dried mango and dried apricots were my faves)
  • Avocado with a lemon squeezed on top, sprinkled with sea salt!

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Helpful Whole30 resources + tips

  • DO IT WITH A BUDDY! I 100% could not have completed Whole30 without Michael doing it with me! When I was tempted to quit, he kept me going and visa versa! If you’re married, I’d highly encourage you to try and get your spouse on board so y’all can do it together. If you’re not married, see if you can get your sister mom friend etc to do it with you. Makes a WORLD of a difference
  • We also ordered Snap Kitchen for lunch almost every single day of Whole30 (starting around day 8) and it made a WORLD of a difference as far as meal prepping, planning, cooking, dishes etc. They have tons of Whole30 compliant meal options that taste delicious and they can be delivered right to your door! You literally just pop the meal in your microwave and that’s it. You can certainly complete a Whole30 without snap kitchen, but their meals made Whole30 SO MUCH EASIER. We attempted whole30 back in July, without using snap kitchen…and cooking every single meal, breakfast lunch and dinner, every single day, and doing the dishes after, can become quite daunting. So, snap kitchen helped alleviate that. If you want to try it out, use my code LAURENSIMS to get a discount!
  • Don’t let yourself get hungry / hangry. If you aren’t getting in enough calories, you’ll be super hungry and way more tempted to quit and binge on a box of goldfish haha. Make a conscious effort to fill yourself up on all your whole30 compliant foods and you’ll be less tempted to quit. The times I was most tempted to quit…I noticed if I’d just have a whole30 friendly snack, the temptation usually went away!
  • My whole30 pinterest board can also be a helpful resource for you! I’ve pinned tons of great recipes there! I also have a whole30 highlight on my instagram you can check out.
  • There are a lot of whole30 recipes that require “homemade mayo” or things like that which makes cooking take 10x longer. I am SO thankful I discovered Primal Kitchen because they have TONS of condiments / sauces / salad dressings that are all Whole30-approved! If you are one who really just wants to make your own mayo or salad dressing..more power to you sister haha. But I loved having Primal Kitchen’s sauces / dressings etc for our meals! So easy and added tons of flavor. You can find their stuff at almost any grocery store I believe.
  • JOURNAL! I know it might seem weird to journal about whole30 or food in general haha. But I journaled throughout the month to help remind myself of WHY I was doing this, the benefits I was already experiencing, or what had been challenging to me. Journaling really helped me stick with Whole30 for all 30 days because I felt very aware of what was tempting for me, why I was doing this, and taking note of the benefits I was already experiencing.

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WHEW. That was a lot of info haha but A LOT HAPPENS in an entire month of Whole30! TBH I could’ve made this into like 5 blog posts but not sure how interested you guys are in this lol. I know several of you completed this #whole30withLKS with me and I LOVED seeing you tag me in stories of the meals you were cooking or the sparkling water you were drinking haha. It really motivated me to keep going even when I wanted to quit…so thank you to everyone who joined me on this journey. I hope you found it as beneficial as I did!

Now…just a few more hours until I will be having a margarita for breakfast tomorrow lol. Kidding kidding. Or…am I?

xo Lauren

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