I cannot believe I have finished my first ever Whole30! It is something I had been thinking about doing for around 2 years but wasn’t sure I’d ever do. Even when I decided to do it in January, I wasn’t sure I’d complete it.
My biggest worry was breakfast. I’m not a morning person in the slightest and I usually make porridge when I get into work as it’s quick, easy, filling and nutritious. On the Whole30 oats are out, so instead I opted for eggs paired usually with bacon and avocado. The idea of having to wake up earlier to cook every morning was daunting and I thought at some point I’d cave and dive head-first into a bowl of porridge.
If you’re not sure what the Whole30 is, read my post to find out all about it and why I’m doing it. You can also read my recap of Week 1 & 2 on the Whole30. If you’re all caught up then let’s jump right in to weeks 3 and 4 – my last two weeks of Whole30!
I’d had a difficult week 2 where I felt bloated, my energy and mood dropped and I started to miss foods like rice and quinoa so I was hoping week 3 would be a turning point for me. In the book, The Whole 30: The official 30-day guide to total health and food freedom, they say days 16-27 are the ‘Tiger blood’ days where you start to feel amazing and you’re proving to yourself that you can do this.
To be honest, the first half of week 3 was still a struggle for me. Physically, my bloat had gone down and my mood had picked up but I was still feeling tired, especially in the mornings despite getting enough sleep. My main struggle though, was mentally. I was travelling to Dublin for the weekend to visit friends and I was worried about what I would eat whilst I was out there. It would be the first time during my Whole30 where I wasn’t in full control of what I was eating. I wasn’t familiar with the restaurants there and I wouldn’t be the one cooking. I also didn’t want to be a complete pain for my friends!
On top of that worry, it was also my TOTM so in the days prior my chocolate cravings appeared out of nowhere and slapped me in the face. There was one day in particular where my cravings for a Snickers were so strong that I could taste and smell it, despite not being anywhere near one. I seriously contemplated buying and eating one on my way home so no one would know. #SecretEater alert! Luckily, I told my cravings to do one and I stayed strong!
In Week 3 I wanted to cut corners to make meal prep as simple as possible as I was already counting down the days ’til my Whole30 was over and I didn’t want any hurdles to demotivate me. So I spent a little extra and bought prepared veg as carb replacements, like butternut squash noodles, or ‘boodles’, Cauli Rice and sweet potato tagliatelle, or ‘swagliatelle’. You can make all of these yourself with a spiralizer and food processor but as I said, I wanted to cut corners.
Here’s what I ate in week 3:
- Bacon and eggs with avocado or plum tomatoes for breakfast. I’d change how I make the eggs to keep it interesting, switching between poached, scrambled, soft-boiled eggs and omelettes.
- Chicken Cacciatore (a recipe from the Whole30 book) with Cauli Rice
- Chicken, bacon and spinach tagliatelle using Sweet Potato Tagliatelle
- Beef bolognese with butternut squash noodles
- Chicken, cashew and veg stir fry with cajun roasted sweet potato slices
- Chicken burger with tomato salsa, avocado and baked sweet potato chips
- Snacks were fruit, almond or cashew butter, Nakd bars and nuts. The Whole30 encourages no snacking but due to the long gap between my lunch and dinner I had an afternoon snack each day
I didn’t realise I’d eaten so much chicken until I listed out my meals – I really need to eat more fish and other lean meats like turkey!
My turning point in Week 3:
As I said, the first half of Week 3 was a struggle and I was worried about how I’d cope in Dublin but Dublin was actually the turning point for me. I didn’t struggle for meals at all and I wasn’t a massive inconvenience for my friends. I enjoyed all the meals I had and had an amazing time, it showed me that Whole30 doesn’t have to be a super restrictive, isolating way of eating.
Whilst in Dublin my vegetarian friend cooked dinner for my meat-eating friend and I. We managed to make 1 meal 3 different ways to accommodate all of us. We made a veg stir fry and grilled the chicken to keep it separate from the veg. I took out my portion of veg before my friends added sauce and noodles to the stir fry and I had cajun roasted sweet potato slices instead of the noodles.
What I’m about to say may be TMI so just skip to the next paragraph if you want. As I said it was my TOTM in week 3, which usually means nothing to me as my period shows up when it pleases. I am soon-to-be tested for PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) which is the whole reason why I started Whole30 in the first place and one of the main symptoms of PCOS is irregular periods. Guys, this month my period was only 1 day late. It’s a miracle! OK, not quite but seriously, that is the first time in a loooooong time that I have ever been that close to my due date. Also, they’re usually very painful, sometimes to the point where I’m throwing up and am rendered bed-bound for a whole day. This time there was zero pain. Zero! A little discomfort but that was it. I cannot tell you what a relief it was!
Week 3 showed me that I can still travel, be with friends, eat out and actually have my body start to function like it’s supposed to. Having that was the icing on the cake for me and re-motivated me to continue into week 4 feeling stronger and more determined than ever.
To sum up week 3 in one (OK, two) sentences, it would be: “When will this end? Oh wait, I’m starting to think I can actually do this – I am stronger than I thought!”.
I went into week 4 feeling a lot more motivated and positive about the Whole30 but it dawned on me that it didn’t end on day 30, I still had an extra 10 days for the re-introduction phase. Michael, my boyfriend who was doing the Whole30 with me gave up at the end of week 3 so I went into week 4 completely alone. It was daunting, but I was ready.
I usually do my meal prep on a Sunday but this week I did it on a Saturday which I loved because then I had the whole of Sunday free to relax. I definitely need to meal prep on Saturdays more often. This was another week of a lot of chicken – I really need to branch out!
Here’s what I ate in week 4:
- Grilled chicken breast with tenderstem broccoli and ginger butternut squash mash
- Chicken and stir fry
- Chilli con carne with jacket sweet potato
- Chicken thigh tomato stew with Cauli Rice
- Nando’s chicken with mediterranean veg and sweet potato wedges minus the toppings.
- Snacks were fruit, nut butter, nuts and Nakd bars
How I felt in Week 4:
The first part of week 4 wasn’t easy. I wouldn’t say it was a struggle but it still felt like an effort rather than a breeze if that makes sense. The realisation that I still had to make it through an extra 10 days for the reintroduction phase was playing on my mind.
However towards the end of week 4 it’s like a switch flipped inside me. I started to see a physical change in me. My bloat had disappeared, by the end of the day my stomach stayed relatively flat and I felt lighter in my tummy. After eating I no longer feel bloated and uncomfortable, there’s no rumbling and grumbling in my stomach. My constant energy and good mood returned too. I finally feel like I’m starting to see the benefits of Whole30 now.
I started planning for my reintroduction phase and I’m really excited to see which foods suit me and which don’t. I’m praying rice and quinoa are fine for me because I’m really missing them!
To sum up week 4 in one sentence it would be: “Michael, feel how much flatter my tummy is!“
Just like that, my first Whole30 is over! I’m most definitely enjoying the physical benefits and the mental benefits too when it comes to my feelings around food. It hasn’t been easy and there have been ups and downs but I’ve done it. I’ve bloody done it!
I’ll go into more details about the benefits of how I’m feeling as well as any weight loss and inch loss next week in a final Whole30 results post. I’ll tell you all about my experience with the reintroduction phase and which foods, if any affect me and share my plans on how to eat going forwards. I’ll also reveal all about if I followed the rules 100% or cut any corners so stay tuned for that!