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whole30 | day eleven


I told you I would write some updates here and there on whole30, so I thought I would check in now that I’m over 1/3 of the way through.  (In case you missed it, I shared my struggles with food and yo-yo dieting in THIS POST.)  If you’re not familiar with whole30, it’s an elimination diet that you commit to for 30 days.  No dairy.  No sugar.  No grains.  No alcohol.  No legumes.  No cheating.  No excuses.

While I think this diet can benefit just about anyone, I wouldn’t say it’s for everyone.  You have to really be ready to submit to their strict, black and white, no flexibility rules and you’ll learn quickly that it isn’t easy.  I chose this plan, because I really need strict boundaries.  I need to experience freedom within those boundaries before I can allow myself to make judgement calls about food.  It’s judgement calls that get me into trouble.  It’s the I’ve-been-amazing-this-week-so-I-can-take-the-weekends-off’s and the I’m-just-going-to-select-ONE-treat-for-myself-at-the-grocery-store’s and the it’s-just-a-small-handful-and-if-I-eat-it-quickly-when-no-one’s-looking-than-it-doesn’t-count’s and the don’t-the-weekends-start-on-Friday’s that derail my good intentions and best efforts.  Whole30 gives those clear boundaries without any grace for moments of indulgence and that often turn to diet-wrecking splurges.  That’s what I needed.

With all of the no-no foods on the list, I was left with fruit, veggies, meat, nuts and seeds.  That’s pretty much it.  Now, I have been a vegetarian for 2 1/2 years, so I had to give a lot of thought to this eating plan and if I could do it as a vegetarian or if I would start eating certain meats.  (They do have a vegetarian version, but I didn’t think adding some legumes and kefir/whole yogurt would really work for me.)  I decided to start eating meat.

I was not enthusiastic about the first piece of meat I ate the day before Jan 1, my start date.  I didn’t like the taste or the texture and I was ready to start making alterations to the diet before I even started!  I decided I needed to give it a real try, so I pressed into day one with some trepidation about eating meat and sacrificing almost all of my go-to food favorites.

The processed food and no-nos were removed from our pantry and fridge (except for the stuff for the kids) and replaced with compliant, whole foods.  It really is amazing how much different things look behind closed doors in our kitchen!  The “snack shelf” in the pantry, which is right at eye level, is pretty much empty.  The fruits and veggies are too great in number to fit in little drawers at the bottom of the fridge.  They are tucked on every shelf and make for a colorful, appetizing site whenever the door is open and the light is cast on them.  All of the bottles of dressings and condiments are replaced with bell jars of homemade mayo and dressings.  Mixed in are a few packages of farm fresh meat and eggs.  I looked over my fridge, thinking it must be very similar to how my great-grandma’s fridge looked…only with more variety of out-of-season veggies and exotic fruits.  No turning back now.

Day one was hard.  I had impulses at least every half hour to go to the pantry to get a snack.  I munched on sunflower seeds and pomegranate arils just to keep my mouth busy.  I felt overwhelmed by the amount of food prep involved and disappointed at my homemade mayo that had way to much lemon juice in it.  Dinner was a victory, though.  Burger sliders on sweet potato “buns”, topped with mayo, avocado and lettuce.  They were delicious and I enjoyed the meat.  I was fighting off a headache, crankiness, shakes and cravings, but that yummy dinner gave me enough of a lift to go into day two with some optimism.

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Day two and three were surprisingly okay.  My headaches, cravings and shakiness were slowly going away and I was encouraged that I had made it through three whole days!  I was feeling really conflicted those days, though, because day 31 seemed like an eternity away.  Could I really keep this up for that long?! 

Day four was my low.  I was actually crying over a salad on day four.  I had been eating a lot of meat over the first three days and, while I enjoyed some of it, I wasn’t excited at all about the beef stew I had made for dinner.  I wasn’t used to eating so much meat and I really just wanted a salad.  But, I don’t really like oil/vinegar based dressings and I hadn’t found a compliant dressing that I liked.  I found a recipe for a “paleo ranch” that is egg based.  I mixed it up and it was tasty.  Yay!  Victory!  I felt like a door had been opened and I could have salads with ranch dressing as an easy, quick meal.  I sat down to my salad and started to eat.  It tasted fine, but it wasn’t ranch.  Real ranch.  It had an oil texture that was unappetizing to me on a salad.  I’m used to my Bolthouse yogurt ranch that tastes flavorful, but light.  I don’t want an oily salad!  That brought on the tears, the strong desire to quit or to at least find a way to bargain Bolthouse ranch into the whole30 rules.  As I said, there is no wiggle room.  At all.  You have Bolthouse ranch and you’re no longer on whole30.

Not only was I crying over the dressing, but I was crying over the loss of my favorite foods that, in that moment, felt like friends.  I felt a real sense of loss over chocolate chips and kettle chips, cheddar cheese and crackers and ranch.  I wasn’t expecting that feeling of sadness and loss over food and I wanted to quit.  99% of me wanted to quit.  And I would have…

BUT, after I wrote my post about whole30 and Made to Crave, I started a Facebook group for people who wanted to join me in this journey.  A Facebook group that I thought would have 30-40 people in it has grown to over 700!  Jeff pointedly said, with a touch of humor, “You can always quit.  Then, you can go on Facebook and tell 700 people, who you inspired to join you, that you quit.”   My heart sank.  There is no way I could do that.  Jeff could see the discouragement in my face and he offered to get the boys in bed, giving me time to take a hot bath, pray and read more of Made to Crave.

I did exactly that.  The first chapter I read talked about emotional eating.  Now, I’ve never been one who would cry over a gallon of ice cream (just salad dressing, apparently), but I was forced to see how much I turned to food for emotional comfort.  Hard day?  Chocolate chips.  Stressed?  Potato chips.  I didn’t even realize I did it, but as I was mourning the loss of those “friends” that night, that fact smacked me in the face and stiffened my resolve to do this all the way.

This is a part of developing a healthy relationship with food.

I’m happy to say that I haven’t cried over food since day four.  There are times that have been hard, though.  I was so excited to find a 100% cacao bar and carried it with victory up to the checkout.  I knew it would be so bitter, but it’s chocolate!!  I turned the wrapper over to double-check the ingredients and it had soy lecithin in it.  Soy isn’t allowed. I was ticked at the strict rules and sulked over the fact I had to put it back on the shelf.  There are times when I’ve been sick of the dishes and food prep and the boundaries.  I’ve enjoyed some meals, but had to work on getting others down.  Me and my body are still getting used to all of the changes, but I can say that it’s gotten easier with each passing day.  And I’ve made it through a belated staff Christmas party, a birthday party, doughnuts at church, and making pizza and pancakes for the boys.

I am already noticing my skin is clearing, my clothes are looser and my body is slimming.  I’m getting used to the whole30 way of eating, my cravings have subsided (most of the time) and I’m finding my groove.   I’m finding a better balance for me when it comes to eating meat.  I’m starting to feel like I might want to go longer than 30 days…maybe.

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It’s only been 11 days, but they’ve been rich and full.  I’m learning so much about myself along the way.  I’ve also gained an amazing group of encouragers.  That Facebook group has been like gold to me and I can honestly say that I would’ve quit on day four if they weren’t there.  People from all ages, walks of life, parts of the globe and reasons for joining have been praying for one another, swapping recipes, sharing advice, admitting failures and offering perspective when I’m acting like a baby over salad dressing.  We have expert whole30-ers, previous whole30 dropouts, newbies like me and even a professional nutrition counselor who is supporting the group with her expertise!  It’s a special collection of people.  (Click HERE if you want to join.)

This is all probably more detail than some of you want to know, but based on the response on my first post, I figured I’d give a detailed update.  I’ll check in again once I’m further into the 30 days…

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  1. Patricia says:

    I’m glad for your success Marian and hope for 19 more days of it.
    Could you talk about why you chose being a vegetarian and what you think it gave you? I’ve done a lot of reading about vegan vs meat eating and could probably make a case either way. I’m a meat eater myself who is going to incorporate more veggies in my diet other than the 4 cups I eat already.
    Give me a hamburger with a lettuce wrap, a roasted chicken, salmon or my favorite filet and I’m happy- almost as much as a piece of chocolate but let’s not get crazy here. I think it helps me stay away from doughnuts, white bread, cookies, etc.

    • marian says:

      I became a vegetarian after having my gall bladder removed. I knew I needed a drastic change and being a vegetarian forced me into healthier eating habits…more fruits and veggies, no casseroles, fast food, main courses at restaurants, etc. Over 2 1/2 years, I came to really enjoy eating that way and developed some convictions about industrial farming. The whole30 books addresses a lot of the issues I had, so I’ve decided to eat meat again, for these 30 days at least, but I am very selective about which meats.

      • Patricia says:

        Thank you for the reply.

      • Kelley says:

        This is my 3rd attempt at the Whole 30 and I am on day 11 and am feeling great and am determined to make it this time.
        Prior to this time I was also a vegetarian and feel I did not make it because I was not feeling satisfied and or never full. I went back to my book and read some more and decided I needed and wanted to eat chicken and turkey again and I do not regret it one bit.
        I am excited to have found you and your group and look forward to following you and sharing my journey too. :)

  2. You go, girl! :) I think you’ve overcome your biggest hurdle on day four. Best of luck to you as you continue!

    I was interested in Patricia’s comment, too. I’m a meat eater but I have a few vegetarian friends. Interestingly enough, they are all over weight! I really believe that they are hungry and craving bad carbs because they lack protein. And meat fills you up and makes you feel full longer…more protein, more iron, etc. Just my opinion and personal observation of them, their eating habits, etc.

  3. Dolores says:

    Good for you for sticking with the plan! I am rooting for you to be successful for the long term as that’s what you have your heart set on.You can do it!
    We grew up in Germany during the 50’s with a diet that was pretty similar to the Whole30 days diet, except that we also ate plenty of starches as food was expensive and needed to be stretched to feed us. Meat wasn’t plentiful either and we learned to eat whatever my mother cooked or we would go hungry.That never happened.:-).The other real difference to how many people eat today is that there were never any snacks between meals..Sounds odd now, doesn’t it? I never realized how lucky we were that my mother served us such a healthful diet.
    But you are right- it means that I cook from scratch every day, as does my mom who is now 89 years old!

    • marian says:

      Yes, someone in the group said she was explaining the whole30 plan to her grandmother and, after she laid out all of the details, her grandmother said, “Honey, in my day, we just called that eating!” It just shows how far off the rails we’ve gotten with all of this “convenience food” that ends up being not so convenient in the end.

  4. Marian, as I mention in an earlier comment, I have been a smoker for 27 years and “stopped” 3+ years ago. I use my ecig as a pacifier…and I know that the nicotine is minimal at this point…but not a day goes by that I don’t THINK about having a REAL cigarette.
    What keeps me going? Knowing without a doubt that I am healthier and will live longer…not a huge issue when you are in your 30s but when you hit 50, you start really thinking hard about your life choices!
    NEVER forget…your battle is a daily conscience choice.
    For me, the nicotine struggle is enough for me at this time in my life. I don’t even want to think about all the weight I have gained in the last 3 years…insane. Not so much that I worry about diabetes or heart disease…but enough to force me to empty 1/2 of my closet so I didn’t put pressure on myself to be a size 6 or 8 again (Menopause is brutal!).
    If you “slip” remember…you are making a CHOICE to be healthy! And if you “slip” it is NOT the end of the world…just choose to get back on track and keep moving in the right direction!

    YOU CAN DO THIS!!! Your whole “career” is about empowering women to “just do it.”

  5. Kristi says:

    no pressure, of course, but you are carrying us 700 people with grace and humility. Your honesty is inspiring. Food is so powerful over us but so are real words that share the ugly truth. If you told us this was easy, most of us would no longer be following the journey. Now, let’s just hope hear 30 days pass quickly and we all listen to our bodies at the end of this.

  6. I’m so excited that you’re doing Whole30, I just joined your group. I’ve done it once before…see in this post . Time to get on the wagon again because it REALLY WORKS!!! I made it the whole30 days, my mom did it, and my hubby was really interested after seeing me walk that path. I did it for my allergies and an injury of falling down the stairs….I’m clumsy but athletic if that can co-exist:) Eggs and sweet potatoes were my saving grace:)

    ~Be Sweet
    Christina at

  7. So what happens after 30 days? Is this a life change, do you stop after 30 days? I’m just confused on how Whole30 works. I would think it has to be a life change or you will gain any weight back that you lost once the 30 days is up.

    • marian says:

      Yes, there has to be a life change after the 30 days. The idea of whole30 is to hit the “reset button” on your cravings, hormones, metabolism, etc. It’s about more than weight loss. It’s about overall health and eliminating things from your diet that might be causing health issues. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do after the 30 days, but I definitely am going to have to set up boundaries!

  8. Marian, your raw honesty on your first post inspired me to send a link to my daughter. I asked her if she might be interested and now we just finished Day 7! Your FB page has been such a lifeline to me. My biggest hurdle on this plan is coffee. It has been hard to give up my super sweet and creamy coffee each morning. I’m still pushing on, but having a hard time with only coconut creme in it. That is the only thing I’m really struggling with. But I’m convinced that by the end of the 30 days, I will be so used to it that I’ll never go back!!!

    I know that we are going to come out on the other side of this, healthier, more energetic, less prone to lows and highs, and thinner to boot! Thank you so much for being so brave and sticking with it.

    We Can Do This!

  9. I’m proud of you for getting this far, especially after the tough first week. It is tough. We’re (yes we’re) trying to lose baby weight from October 13′. We went on a whole30 and loved it’s progress so we went for a full 60. Both of us had clear skin, felt great and lost weight. Then we had the holidays and gained half the weight back. We just started last week for another 60. We were very happy with our first results that we’ve decided if 60 doesn’t do it, we’re going for however long does to reach our pant size. GULP! It’s silly to be sad about not wanting to eat food, but we totally are! It’s more sad to not be able to run around with your kids though, or think about not being there for them for glutenous reasons. Keep up the great work and I’m headed to join the group!

  10. I have made the choice years ago to try to eat the way our grandparents did, real, whole foods. I make as much as I can from scratch because I don’t want the extra salt, sugar, or preservatives in our food. Good luck with this Marian, but I’m convinced you will feel so much better that it won’t be hard to stick to it.

    • I’ve done the same. Ironically, it has caused some weight gain for me but I feel better knowing the 1/4 cup of almonds I’m eating is healthy “fuel” for my body as opposed to the processed Special K low cal chips and the sliced avocado I put on my toast has so much more to offer my body than Laughing Cow cheese does:)

    • I made the same choice many years ago. My diet isn’t perfect, but it’s very good. For me it’s about how much I eat–you can eat super healthy foods and gain weight on them if you eat too much. I’ve been training myself to stop eating before I feel full, and that has helped a lot. It also helps that we are members of a full-diet CSA–vegetables, grass fed meats and chicken, eggs, and raw milk. The farm uses all organic practices, and the food is delicious. We try not to buy much food at the supermarket and to eat seasonally, which where we live means root vegetables and cabbage in the winter (along with the meat, eggs, and milk, of course). I froze some spinach last summer, but it’s going quickly. For salads I grate raw root vegetables (carrots, turnips, celery root, storage radishes, rutabaga, kohlrabi, beets) along with cabbage and dress them with olive oil and raw apple cider vinegar. Delicious. But by the time spring comes, I can hardly wait for the ramps and the dandelion greens.

  11. mary anne says:

    Ok, I start tomorrow (on a Monday of course!!). Any advice?

  12. Marian, I was one of the people you inspired to start this Whole30 too. Today is day 8 for me. It is tough, but it has me looking at food so differently now. The junk food cabinet is almost empty and I’m trying to give my kids healthy snacks instead of processed ones. LOVE your FB group. I def. think having a group is so helpful to getting through this :)

  13. Have you read The China Study? If you are not familiar with it, it is the longest/most comprehensive study of health and nutrition EVER conducted. (Funded by Oxford University and Cornell University.) I continue to be astounded by how many people have never heard of it… I guess it sounds boring, but the book is written for a general audience and is **VERY** readable and PROFOUNDLY thought-provoking.

    Did you see Forks Over Knives? (based on the study and is super easy to watch. It moves quickly and is fascinating!) It’s on netflix, amazon, etc… if you haven’t seen it, I think you might enjoy it!

    • marian says:

      Yes, I did see Forks Over Knives and it was one of the things that got me thinking about being a vegetarian. It really is fascinating.

  14. Way to go Marian! Proud of you for sticking with it. Here is another whole 30 approved “Ranch” no oil!
    My friend Lesley has done this diet many time and has some great recipes.

  15. Tracie O'Brien says:

    As I am reading your post about your Whole30 journey and enjoying your candidness, I am stiiting here eating my breakfast of 2 hardboiled eggs, 1/2 an avocado and fruit with my black coffee. Today is my Day 1 of Whole 30. Hang in there! I know several people that have completed round 1 and so much the better for it. Your posts will help me hang in there as well and not turn to my “friends” when I’ve had a hard day. Thank you so much!!

  16. Food is a never ending battle, and you never realize the relationship we create with food until it is gone. BUT keep going! You are doing awesome and it’s only normal what your going through. On day 31 you will be amazed at how you feel and how your body looks. it’s almost like it’s a detox to get rid of all those bad toxins that we put in our food and bodies now a days. So think of it as a fresh start and you’ll also be surprised at how much more aware you are after of what you put into your mouth. You’ll read labels more and you’ll watch what you buy and after all that hard work you won’t want to ruin it as easily!

    So keep pressing forward, your doing amazing and you will hit that 31 day mark!

  17. I have tried many diets with my husband-low fat, low carb, hcg, nutrisystem , we are always on something different. We lose the weight and are proud and eventually the scale creeps back. This is the first thing I can see myself sticking with long term. In the book it talked about giving things up long term to be healthy and eventually these things would not be appealing to me. This sounded rediculous that I wouldn’t want ice cream, baked goods, rice etc. Then I remembered how I felt post gastric bypass. I started 320 lbs 12 years ago so I am not a newbie at this weight loss surgery thing and I still battle the scales. I have kept a lot of the weight off and in no way regret having the surgery. Post GB fast food, heavy fat foods and some other things r just gross to me because of the way they make me feel so this puts it all in perspective to me. I have so many health problems including a rare immune disorder called CVID and have thought from the beginning this had to do with the food we eat in society. I think sticking with the 30 day on this will make me feel so much better and I will start to feel about the old way of eating like I do fast food now. I am already planning my summer garden of compliant foods.

  18. Ellie LaJuett says:

    Great idea, great blog and together we can do this!!!

  19. Sue B says:

    On Instagram, I follow ‘whole30recipes’ for lots of great recipes from a variety of guest IG members.

  20. Timely post. I’m on day one and already wondering if I can do this. Thanks for the encouragement! I’m headed back to the FB group… :-)

  21. Cindy Jones says:

    I’m not doing whole30 but I do like hearing your progress reports. Sounds like you’re making headway. Keep it up!

  22. Darlene says:

    Thank you for posting so honestly. I won’t start my journey until after Super Bowl as we are HUGE football fans. I am excited to start but apprehensive about the challenge. Your honesty motivates me to stay focused on good health & get started.

  23. Susan Burris says:

    As i sit here writing this a small cabinet is drying. I painted it with MMS Milk Paint French enamel and a small amount of typewriter. ( I wanted a more soldier blue ) I also joined in your journey with the Whole30 program, Im on day 8. I have to say the really hard part for me is not having any pop. I don’t drink a lot of it just a few sips a day ( Fresca or diet A & W ) but Im really craving it still. Anyway I keep saying to myself ” its only 30 days you can do it” So keep up the good work. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Joanne says:

    Diets are hard! The rewards are great! I decided over a year ago to cut out some foods and eat healthier. In the process, I lost weight and feel better. I found that the foods I thought I would want over Christmas no longer appealed to me, including a glass of wine. Who knew?!
    You go girl!

  25. Wendy D. says:

    Thank you Marian for sharing. Today is day nine for me. Yesterday was the hardest for me, I felt as if I was going to starve to death!!!! My body was craving bread, my weakness. But I made it through only to have a better day today. I also have noticed my clothes fitting looser and I have slept like a rock every night. My favorite recipe has been the Monkey Salad recipe found on Pinterest, also I have never been a coffee drinker, Diet Dr. Pepper has been my “coffee,” but the warm cup of black coffee each morning has been so meditative. Please continue to keep us posted, happy to know we are not alone on this journey!

  26. chris zima says:

    Miss Mustard Seed – that is GREAT !! You are inspiring on so many levels!! My Mom always says if the generations still ate like her Grandma (garden fresh) we would all be so healthy. My hubby just turned 50, and he was just saying he can’t keep eating processed food (like when we were young) – I think the way you are eating is so healthy! Keep up the good work – I may just jump on board b/c health is everything now that I am a mid-lifer. Hugs and bestest oxoxoxo

  27. Inspiring! While I’m not familiar with the Whole30 plan, (Weight Watchers and TOPS plan work for me if I stick with them) I’ve been “googling” “Made to Crave” and would love to find a Bible Study group that is using this book. Do you or anyone know of any?

  28. Charlene in SC says:

    I’m proud and happy for you! I did try, but after day 3 I caved for coke (one a day). I’ve been doing everything else, and honestly haven’t had such hard cravings for anything else, yet. I’ve eaten more eggs and avocado (breakfast) in the last couple of weeks than I can count, but so far, so good. Even though I can’t participate in the Whole30, I appreciate your sharing and introducing something I can live with for a while more.

  29. You have inspired me! What about medications when you are doing the Whole30? are you allowed to take any OTC headache medication?

  30. Thank you for the update! I’m currently 21 weeks pregnant so I won’t be doing a whole30 any time soon, but I will one day and am thankful for women like you that put yourself out there. Thank you, MMS!

  31. This post was good. I went Paleo for New years resolution and I lasted about 7 days. I started to get kidney pain from so much meat and protein. But after speaking with some friends they had said it was probably because I was eating too much red meat and bacon. I felt gorged by the meat! Ugh! So now I’m facing going paleo again and eating chicken and fish instead. But. I. Don’t. Want. To. Its so hard. You’re post over crying over salad was how I felt about eating so many eggs. Hilarious…. what we do to ourselves is a little insane. Thank you for your honesty.

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