My first week of Whole 30 is complete. I honestly think the first week of any challenge is simultaneously the easiest and the hardest.
It’s the easiest because it’s new and exciting. There’s no food boredom or real challenges left. Most likely the fridge it still stocked with plenty of Whole 30 compliant food and snacks. And no one has trouble flexing their self control muscles when staring at a plate of donuts in the faculty lounge. (Or had to turn down an ice cream sandwich for a student’s birthday – true story.)
It’s the hardest because you have to consciously make an effort. Your old habits have to be reigned in and realized. Chocolate chips after dinner, anyone?Not anymore! No longer can I lick the peanut butter off of my thumb after making my son’s lunch for school. No more tasting the kids mac and cheese to see if its ready. It really requires you to focus on the day to day food choices you make.
This is by far my hardest first week of any Whole 30 I’ve done. I think because I spent Christmas enjoying all the chocolate, Candy Cane Kisses, cheese, and wine I could. I really struggled with fatigue and crabbiness the first couple of days. But things seem to be on the up-swing, so I’m hoping that tiger blood is in my near future.
Fortunately for me, I like to cook. I like experimenting with new recipes and find the Whole 30 challenge just a new and healthier way for me to play in the kitchen.
Part of having a successful Whole 30 is having a plan. Who hasn’t started off any challenge, whether Whole 30 or not and within days, or even moments of beginning find yourself face to face with a cupcake? Without a plan, you’re left questioning your self-worth while licking the frosting off your face.
I’m a big believer in planning; in fact, I meal plan for the entire month. Even if I don’t follow it perfectly, it is at least a road-map for the month, so I don’t get completely lost and then give up within a few days. Making a plan is such a key part of Whole 30 success, and I want to share some of my favorite tricks.
Meal plan. Yes, I mentioned this already. You need to do this. Seriously. I originally started meal planning back when my husband and I were first married because we were on a super tight budget and I couldn’t afford not to make every dollar of our food budget count. I’ve continued because I’ve gotten in the habit and it works for our family. Now, with Whole 30 it allows me to be prepared.Preparation is a huge key to success on Whole 30. By planning ahead, you set yourself up to conquer this challenge. I find it so helpful. So instead of coming home after a busy day at school and resorting to fast food or pizza for supper, I have a meal already in the crock pot. Who doesn’t love that?
Have plenty of resources. Information is power. One of my favorite things to do it read up on nutrition and cooking. In fact, I kind of have a small addiction to healthy cookbooks. I just like to read them. But in fact, having those resources on hand gets me pumped to try new recipes, and offers a lot of variety to avoid food boredom. Some of my favorites are:
- Whole 30 Cookbook This is probably a staple in any Whole 30. Basic recipes, all fairly simple and super delicious.
- Nom Nom Paleo One of my favorites! So many yummy recipes, and it’s fun to read! Michelle and Henry are down to earth and funny, and I love the way they arranged their cookbook. And with so many recipes, you’ll never get food boredom!
- Performance Paleo Cookbook I love this one because of the athletic side of it. As a runner, I truly believe in using food to help aid in performance and recovery. This book has many nutritious recipes geared to athletic performance.
- Run Fast Eat Slow Like Performance Paleo, this book is also geared to helping runners achieve better health and performance through food. It’s not a paleo or Whole 30 cookbook, so some of the recipes would need to be adapted, but I love the focus on nutrition, not calories!
- The Frugal Paleo Cookbook For the cheapskate in me! My husband and I are still on a budget, although definitely not as tight, but with 3 hungry kids to feed ( and two very active adults), we go through a lot of food. Groceries can get expensive. I love her tips and trick to make it work on a budget.
Prepare meals and snacks. I also like to take a couple hours on the weekend or an uneventful weekday to prepare meals to freeze or snack for us. That way when I come home from school and I’m super hangry, I can just open the fridge or the cupboard and I have a homemade Larabar or trail mix ready to go. Some of my favorite things to prep are:
- Egg bake
- Beef Stew
- Shepherd’s Pie
- Trail mix
- Meatballs or sausage
- Roasted Veggies
- Hard-boiled eggs
Accountability. Luckily, my husband has always been game for my crazy health ideas. In fact, more often then not, he’s asking that we do a round of Whole 30 or 15, if we’ve been returning to some of our old habits. If you don’t have a spouse, or your spouse is not on board, it can be tricky. One of my favorite place to make myself accountable is Instagram. I post pictures of my runs and my food as a way of keeping me on track. (You can follow me there!)
Non-food rewards. Sticker chart. ‘Nuff said. Ok, maybe you need more of a motivation than a sticker, but find some way to celebrates your successes without food. A manicure, a new purse, a fun (non-food) date with your spouse. Something to help with the motivation. Those little successes are worth celebrating, just not with wine and chocolate.
These things help me immensely. Even if you’re not completing a Whole 30 this month, some of these best practices can be implemented in you day to day life just to help you achieve overall health.
Are you completing a Whole 30 this month? How is it going? What are your tricks to staying on track and keeping sane?
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