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Last week, I shared my whole salt crusted branzino recipe and let it drop that I was indulging myself with Whole30 and sure enough I start getting emails and comments asking me to elaborate.  Then I saw my friend, Clara, also thinking about taking the plunge, so I’ll elaborate, because I love you guys.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Whole30 markets itself as a 30 day ‘reset’ of the metabolism, gut, and digestive systems. You can read all about it on their site, but basically you eat three large meals a day using only high quality meats, veggies, fruits, and nuts/seeds. You cook and you eat whole, raw foods, and you don’t eat anything processed or refined.  So, that means that all grains, dairy, legumes, alcohol and sugars are out.  Yes, that means no wine.  Or cheese.

Prior to Whole30, my five main food groups went like this: Cheese, Wine, Olives, Nuts, Tomatoes. So, I wasn’t super big on starches anyway, but I was big on snacking throughout the day on little things and living without my wine and my cheese? A world without cheese is not a world for me. But I was drawn in by the many touted benefits.  I’ll tell you about why I needed a change, what I’ve experienced (at the current 1/2 way point), and what the hardest part is.

A little background.  I’ve always been acutely aware of my size.  I grew up in a family prone to weight gain and always watched those I love bounce back and forth with diets.  Although I was a slim child and teen, I (like most) didn’t pay attention to what I ate while in college and ballooned up. It’s took me about 3 years post-college to lose that weight by counting calories.  Over the past 7 years, I was so strict with myself that I would weight myself every single morning and if I was up just a couple of pounds, I would eat salad and canned soup until the number came back down.  Then, I’d return to regular eating habits of Starbucks scones, lattes, pasta, and my beloved wine, cheese, olives and nuts.  This cycle repeated for the last 7 years.  Every morning a weight-in would determine what I’d order at the coffee shop.

I honestly didn’t have a huge problem with how it was going. I’ve managed to maintain my size.  I look slim, although I have no muscle tone.  I wasn’t really that concerned about it…that is, until 30 rolled around.  What they say is true…when you hit 30, things change.  I could tell my metabolism was changing and my unhealthy diet micromanaging wasn’t working.  Aside from the weight issue, however, I could definitely tell my energy levels were diminishing.  Most mornings I felt like I could barely peel myself from the mattress. I was tired in the afternoons, stressed out, and had a hard time thinking more than two steps ahead.  I read about the Whole30 and decided, well, why not?

All in all, it wasn’t too different from the way I currently ate (minus the breakfast pastries).  Three of my food groups (Olives, Nuts, and Tomatoes) are still allowed, I already cook dinner every night at home and I love eating good freshly made foods, so I didn’t really think it would be that difficult. Now, 15 days in, I can tell you that it’s harder than I thought (duh) but that I feel awesome.

In week 1, I started out strong, went to the farmers market, pre-prepped a ton of veggies and meals for the week (this was the homemade salsa week!).  I made a meal plan and used Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain, which was a huge help for planning meals. Her book is phenomenal.  Going without a glass of wine wasn’t my biggest challenge, however, even though I actually *almost* cried one night because I wanted one.  The hardest part of week one for me was not weighing myself.  You’re strictly off limits from using the scale during the entire 30 days and my 7 year habit was hard to break. Week two it started to weigh on me (haha), but not for why you’d think.  The food wasn’t the issue, it was the prep. Spending 30 minutes to prepare a meal was difficult during really busy days and days on-the-move.  If I had a chef, I’d be golden, but having to prepare each meal, it was time-consuming and tiresome. I pushed through by buying some already prepped veggies from the market (thank you Whole Foods).

Currently, I’m in week 3 and I am feeling spectacular. I mean, really really wonderful. The photo above is what I ate for lunch yesterday – A salad with tomato, avocado, roasted turkey breast, and bacon*…. tell me that isn’t indulgent? I am not sure if it’s the placebo effect or if the benefits I’m feeling are really part of the food change.  I am chipper as soon as I wake up, I almost bounce out of bed ready to tackle the day. All day long my energy doesn’t wane.  My mind feels sharp and clear and I feel like I have more patience and joy.  This feeling has really only come in the past 5 days.  If you would have asked me about this during week 1 when I was preparing for LA and had a minor decal dilemma I would said it’s all fable.

It’s been hard, but it’s been wonderful.  I cannot tell you what the number on the scale is… for all I know, I could be ten pounds heavier, but my clothes are fitting better and I can see some muscles! I obviously cannot talk for anyone else and anyone considering a large diet change should always talk to their doctor first.  BUT for me, I am sold.  I have all of the motivation I need to stride through the balance 12 days without another thought.  Although I do plan to add back in wine and cheese after the 30 days, I plan to keep everything else out.

Now is your chance to tell me – have you heard about it?  have you done it?  I want to hear ALL about it!!





Resources I used:

It Starts With Foodby Dallas and Melissa Hartwig

Against All Grainby Danielle Walker

Well Fedby Melissa Joulwan

Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans  by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong

Veggie Spiral Slicer
(life changing)



*Bacon isn’t recommended unless it’s grass-fed and sugar free.  I order right from my local butcher and it’s about as good as it gets!



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  • I’m going to check this plan out. I’m like you…a weight watcher, checking the scale a few times a week. And when it goes up, I immediately change my eating. I feel I need more of a lifestyle change buts it’d very hard to give up certain things, like cheese. Oh, and for me ice cream.

  • My husband and I did it a year ago before our wedding, and honestly, we’ve never felt better. After a particularly indulgent weekend, we’ve actually decided to start another Whole30 today! We’re excited and nervous, but really ready to regain our energy and start feeling amazing again. Good luck finishing yours up! The last two weeks are really wonderful!

  • I just read ‘It Starts with Food’ and I am totally sold on this. So many things in the book rang true – I eat ‘healthily’, yet am always struggling with my weight, bloating, tiredness etc etc. I have a couple of weeks to go until I finish my PhD and then am off on holiday for a few days, but the second I am back, starting my first Whole30. I am really excited, I want to start now! Would love it if you could do a wrap up post when you finish with some meal ideas too. Good luck with the last week or so!

  • This is really interesting. I’ve had stomach issues my whole life and have finally been considering going on a cleanse like this lately, but I am so in love with pasta and bread and cheese that I’ve been struggling to take the plunge. But 30 days isn’t a lifetime, right? Thanks so much for the inspiration, Erin!

  • I did one last year. I try to follow paleo as much as possible, but I have my few “cheats” like you have your wine and cheese. I felt like a new woman when I did it! I am anxious to do another one! Glad yours is going so well for you. I read the “It Starts With Food” book, and that’s what made me want to do one!

  • I’ve done 2 Whole 30’s and I loved them, I’m breast feeding right now and concerned about my supply… In theory it shouldn’t be an issue I guess, I’ve just heard stories of women losing their supply during a Whole 30. I might lean into one and see how it goes. You are so right about the metabolism in your 30’s, ugh, I can look at food and gain weight. Not something I ever experienced before.

  • Well you just made me a believer! I’m going to start today! Literally, today.

  • I’ve heard amazing things, but the problem for me is that I’m super picky. Being a texture freak means I don’t like things like veggies (unless they have been juiced). I’m going to do some research on what’s considered whole and see if I can at least slowly incorporate some things!

  • Good for you, Erin! It sounds like doing the Whole30 program has really benefited you. So, I am curious, do you find yourself spending a lot more money on groceries? I have wanted to try something like this but all the all natural, wholesome goodness things seem to be exorbitant in price most of the time. Idk, I guess spending money on the food you put into your body is a damn good place to spend money, but I am torn. What are your thoughts!?

  • My cousin recently did this and cannot. stop. talking about it. It changed his life! And he looks INCREDIBLE. Justin and I have been toying with the idea of doing it ourselves but can’t seem to find a month where alcohol isn’t involved in some way (birthdays, holidays, you know the drill). It’s been a bit of a reality check (and probably further proof that we need to make some changes!)

  • I feel you with the cheese! I tried giving it up for Lent one year and only made it to day 10 (for the record I didn’t realize that there was cheese in the item). I haven’t tried doing the Whole30 (though I’ve been really thinking about), and because I do half marathons and triathlons I really do pay attention to my nutrition during training. The prepping is always the annoying part! But you really do feel good about it afterwards.

    PS…if you feel like doing toning (without getting bulky) check out Tone It Up. They go by the “eat clean, green and lean” rule and have an overall great, healthy lifestyle.

  • I loved reading this post! My fiance and I did Whole 30 in August and loved it. It was his idea and I think I agreed to it without doing a ton of research first since he was so persuasive. Also I felt like I was already a healthy eater so maybe I didn’t truly comprehend the sacrifices involved…like cheese platters- losing our weekly wine bar date night was a BIG sacrifice! But we learned to modify and instead we cooked together and came up with fun recipes to try. The hardest parts were the social aspect of food and eating and like you mentioned, the prep. But it’s truly an amazing accomplishment and we feel great now! I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

    ps. Loving all your Whole30 recipes!!