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The Whole30 Challenge, and Landing Face First Into a Pile of Sweet Potatoes With Peanut Butter

the book review, have you? Ok, ok, I'll get you caught up. After hearing about the Whole30 Challenge from dozens of my clients, I have finally decided to take it on. You can't bash something you haven't tried, amirite? The Whole30 Challenge is a 30-day challenge with the following rules (oh how I LOVE rules!):


YES: Meat, seafood, eggs, lots of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of healthy fats. NO: Added sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes or dairy. NO: Do not attempt to recreate junk foods or desserts by using “approved” ingredients. NO: Do not step on a scale for the entirety of the program. I was quite happy with the YES list. I did have a problem with the fact that the NO list was longer than the YES list. These folks are clearly not familiar with the human psychology. Like... at all. I anticipated missing grains (because bread!) and dairy (in my staple breakfast Greek yogurt) the most. Here's a little rundown of how I have been feeling throughout the month.

DAY 1 Feel great.

DAY 2 Feel great.

DAY 3 I keep telling Italian to remind me how great I’m feeling while eating this way. Of course, nothing is that out of ordinary, although I have NOT been having my signature Greek yogurt every morning. That’s a pretty big shot of dairy.

DAY 10 Well... I am realizing that it IS possible to not eat a whole lot of vegetables, eating this way, unless I really pay attention. Lean (and not so lean) proteins + fat + fruit. Ooopsie. Seem to be craving sugar less, which is nice, but still seem to be grazing on random shit for its own sake. Sometimes, I think I just want a piece of bread. So, 2 pieces of fruit and an undisclosed amount of nut butter later, I just decide that I am a horrible person and go to bed. :) Entertaining, to say the least. It's been a while. Want to write it up in a blog post. Whole30 beware! Oh, and apparently sweet potatoes are ok. And white potatoes are not. Coz the book authors said so. Go figure…

DAY 14 The crazed sugar cravings seem to have passed.

DAY 17 I feel like i’m sleeping more, and recovering less. The whole body feels sore. Yes, I have started a new training program, but I do not remember being this sore. For a while. Miss my BCAAs. Here's how I finished my run today: "As I come upstairs, I promptly peel off the layers, and park myself in a bathtub. Italian doesn’t ask questions, but brings epsom salts and lemonade. He also lights incense, perhaps, hoping to ward off the evil spirits that seem to have kidnapped me temporarily. Emerging from the water twenty minutes later, I dive facefirst into a sweet potato. With butter. And peanut butter. Yes, AND." here=">here</a>">.

DAY 18 Almost three weeks. Today I woke up at 645am. Just like the old days. Feeling MUCH better. Weird, as I inhaled an obscene amount of food yesterday. Mostly consisting of sweet potato. And peanut butter. Yes, not W30 friendly. Coincidence? I crashed so hard on my run yesterday, I wondered if i’m desperately short on carbs or something. Been munching on stuff all day. Snacky.

DAY 21 The sugar cravings have subsided. I am sleeping more than usual, but not napping in the afternoons. The key really seems to have protein ready to go, otherwise, I resort to fruit. The past three weeks have been difficult. Not because it’s hard to stick to Whole30, but rather, because, the focus on what is NOT allowed, has me overeating what IS allowed. At a family picnic, I did NOT have quinoa salad, bun, cake, coffee cake, cotton candy, or any alcohol. If not for Whole30, I’d probably have half a bun, some quinoa salad and a beer. Instead, I ended up having way more ribs than I would have had otherwise. If you are recognizing the “restrict-binge” pattern, you are absolutely right. I can’t have any cake, so I’m going to have half a dozen ribs instead. Not something I want to be doing long-term, that’s for sure. I find myself craving sugar and fat. Hence, the amount of leafy greens I’ve been having has been on a steady decline. It’s remarkably easy to skimp out on vegetables, eating this way. The upside? My body does feel clean. Whatever the fuck that means. Or, in other words, it doesn’t feel overweighed with crap, as I have not had any processed food for three weeks now.

DAY 23 Had dinner with a friend at a burger place. Ordered a naked elk patty with avocado, fried mushrooms and salsa with sweet potatoes and a side of broccoli. Found myself not really craving a beer, despite the fact that C. ordered one for himself. Interesting. Overall though I am definitely noticing myself eating for the sake of eating. I am overeating the things I am allowed to eat, while looking at the things I am not allowed to eat.

DAY 24 Today’s workout was supposed to be a 3 mile all out run. “This is the workout where you should really crush yourself”, said the coach. Well, there was no crushing involved of any kind. I did not have the energy to crush. In fact, I had to stop multiple times to rest. A pretty pathetic run, overall. Once again, on any given week, by Thursday, my body is done. Need to recover.

DAY 25 Today at a grocery store I catch myself looking at the shelves, full of foods I am “not allowed” to eat, and thinking to myself that I can eat them all next week. All of them. A little blast from the past, people. Don’t like this at all. Took today off. Will be back at training Saturday and Sunday. In the evening, I feel like a piece of cheese and half an apple. No cheese allowed. End up eating a handful of blueberries and a big Asian pear. I’m kind of getting sick and tired of fruit. Yet can’t stop eating it.

DAY 28 I kinda forget that I am on Whole30. I can go for hours before realizing it or remembering it.

DAY 30 Today’s workout was a longish trail run, and I felt quite strong. It is weird to realize that today is the last day, and I am going to have dairy tomorrow. My energy levels seem to have stabilized in the past week, and I am waking up earlier again. Phew. However, I’m still eating quite a bit of fruit. I feel “clean” but “doughy” - soft.

BACK TO "NORMAL"? It felt weird to wake up on day 31 and to realize that I am about to have Greek yogurt. The militant re-introduction protocol suggests adding back nothing but dairy at first. While preparing the yogurt, I had this feeling that I am about to have something that will make me sick. Italian seems skeptical. “Are you actually going to follow their suggestions?”, he asks. “Why?” “Because they seem pretty stupid. Don’t eat dairy for a month, and then eat yogurt for breakfast, cottage cheese for lunch, and ice cream for dinner. I mean… really?” He’s right. My regular serving of Greek yogurt is about 1 cup to get 20g of protein, and it seems like a LOT of yogurt. I have Greek yogurt with apples and walnuts. Still no sugar, but I don’t miss it. I also ask for bit of milk in my espresso. The coffee does not need milk at all. I find the espresso itself diluted. Nope. Back to black tomorrow. I may appreciate the milk more in brewed coffee. The yogurt does not feel as… filling as eggs do. It also tastes sour. “Are you going to throw up yet?”, Italian asks, giving me a curious look. Finished the yogurt, and, not surprisingly, my stomach feels iffy. Placebo effect, people??? Two hours later, I am violently hungry. If there is a conclusion so far, it’s that dairy does not keep me nearly as satiated as eggs and veggies do. Same goes for smoothies - not a fan of liquid meals anyway, as they go down fast, and then sort of hang out in my stomach. Nope. My re-introduction protocol lasted for about two days, instead of the prescribed (sigh...) forty some days. At the end, I just didn't have the energy. In fact, that seems to be one of the themes of the month - I did not have the energy.


I fucking hated eating this way. This may seem like a strong statement (haaaaa!) given how "clean" this way of eating appears, however, the arbitrary restrictions drove me insane, and triggered all kinds of shadows of the past. I also found Whole30 to be quite low carb, which may fit someone with a sedentary lifestyle, but was simply not appropriate for me, especially given that I have been training for a longer race at the time. Crashing during my run has not happened for a while. And it was not fun. I think I lost couple of pounds during this month, primarily due to cutting out energy dense carbohydrates, like grains, however, I felt soft and weak by the end. Someone who is going from primarily processed foods to Whole30 may indeed see more dramatic results (there are plenty of testimonials with folks losing 20 or more pounds in their first Whole30), however, if you are already eating well and training, I do not foresee significant changes for the better in your weight and/or body composition. And there you have it. Have fun experimenting! :)

Did you like this post? You may find my Operation 100 Mile Diet blog series interesting! I spent 30 days eating only foods that were grown within 100 miles of where I live. Hugs, SOLO


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