A More Objective, Less Complicated Look at My Whole 30.

Today I’m going into some detail on the results of my Whole 30. Please know what while today’s post is about my Whole 30, it’s not about the Whole 30: it’s about making whatever changes you suspect you need to make in order to feel good. Thanks for reading!  

Two weeks ago, I wrapped up my Whole 30. Here’s a refresher on what that is:

The Whole 30 is a short-term (30 day) nutritional reset. I eat this way (whole foods, and for me, low glycemic index) most of the time already; the big changes for me are no coffee, no wine, no cheating. 

I already told you I felt amazing. I told you it was complicated. And that I was looking forward to drinking my first cup of coffee in a month.

Now it’s been two weeks, and I’ve assessed my (shocking) progress and experimented a bit with adding foods back in to my diet. Here’s what I’ve found out so far:

The second cup of coffee gives me a headache.

Prior to my Whole 30, I’d been having frequent headaches. Common triggers are wine and coffee, so I chose to give up coffee for the month even though it’s not part of the official program. When my Whole 30 ended, I resumed drinking one cup a day in the morning.

I didn’t have a single headache on my Whole 30. I’ve had two headaches post-Whole 30, and they’ve been on the two days I had a second cup of coffee in the afternoon.

Conclusion: I can enjoy one cup–and one cup only–per day. More than that makes me feel horrible, even if it’s decaf.

A glass or two of wine is fine.

Before my Whole 30, I had a habit of one or two glasses of red wine a day. I’ve had several glasses of wine post-Whole 30 and felt fine afterwards. Hallelujah.

Conclusion: Wine is fine, but I won’t be resuming my daily ritual. Keep reading…

Sugar gives me morning sickness.

I had an ounce or two of dark chocolate last week, and felt horrible half an hour later. Nobody wants to feel like they have morning sickness when they’re not pregnant; therefore, no more chocolate for me. (I’d rather have red wine than chocolate anyway. Thank goodness.)

Conclusion: It’s possible I’d be okay with just a little bit of sugar–like maybe a tiny bit of chocolate instead of 2 or 3 ounces. But for me, I’d rather skip it entirely than try to indulge in moderation.


Let’s talk about the numbers

I actually have some hard numbers on my Whole 30: weights and measures and stuff like that.

I’m hesitant to go there, though, because I broke up with my scale a long time ago. It’s only coincidence that I even know. If I hadn’t been to the doctor right before my Whole 30 started, I wouldn’t have weighed in beforehand.

I didn’t do the Whole 30 to lose weight–I did it because I wanted to feel better. And I do, and I don’t want to make this about weight loss instead. But I wouldn’t be telling you the whole story if I didn’t share these details with you. 

Now that that’s out of the way, can I tell you about the numbers?

I lost 8 pounds. And 2 1/2 inches off my waist. In 30 days.

Those numbers took me totally by surprise. (But yes, I can totally tell: I look thinner and my pull-ups are easier.)

I’m happy with the outcome, but I’m horrified at the idea that I lost 8 pounds in a month because I stopped drinking wine. (I don’t know for sure if that’s why, but it’s my theory. And if that’s really what happened, that was too much wine!)

Here’s what you wanted to know:

1. What did you eat? I ate a ton of chicken, beef, eggs, avocados, fresh vegetables, oranges, and grapefruit. I went through bags and bags of frozen broccoli and spinach. I snacked on almonds and apples. I drank a hundred bags of herbal tea.

2. Was this a huge adjustment for you? Not really. I went gluten-free several years ago on the advice of my physician, and I’ve eaten paleo for long stretches in the past. The big changes were giving up coffee and wine, which were built into my daily routine.

3. Was it hard? The first two days were hard. After that it was fine. Really.

4. Was it hard to eat out? It depends. At some restaurants it’s a breeze; at some it’s literally impossible.

5. What did you miss the most? The coffee. Definitely the coffee.

6. Did you have caffeine withdrawal headaches? No, but I’d only been drinking about one cup of caffeinated coffee per day before the Whole 30.

7. Would you do it again? Definitely. I’ve never felt better.

8. Could you really tell that big a difference in how you felt? YES.

9. 8 pounds? 2 1/2 inches? In a month? Seriously?? I know, right? Seriously. 

10. I want to find out more. What resources do you recommend? Check out the book It Starts With Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. I also love the recipes in Melissa Joulwan’s cookbook Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat.

What changes do you suspect you need to make in your life in order to feel good? What’s holding you back? How can you get started?

(This post contains my affiliate links.)

photo credit: broccoli, glass, ruler


Leave A Comment
  1. Mary says:

    I think something’s missing from the last sentence in the ‘Lets talk about the numbers’ section. The suspense is killing me!

    • Anne says:

      Whoops, sorry! It’s fixed now 🙂 (Although I don’t think the part I accidentally omitted was particularly fascinating–anything specific you wanted to know?)

  2. I just finished reading It Starts With Food (after hearing about the Whole 30 from your post) and since giving up coffee is not REQUIRED my husband is even on board with the whole family doing a Whole 30 in March. I thought the book was really helpful, and liked the easy recipe ideas in the back. We already eat a pretty healthy, whole food diet, and my daughter can’t tolerate gluten so we already skip that, but I’m interested to see the effects it has on my husband and how the kids handle not having rice and oatmeal.

    • Anne says:

      Catherine, I’ll be very interested in hearing how it goes, especially because it sounds like our families started from very similar points.

  3. I’m really surprised to hear about coffee giving you a headache – even if it’s decaf. I get A LOT of headaches, but I’d always assumed coffee couldn’t be the culprit since I stick to decaf. So that’s something for me to focus on for sure, thank you!

    • Anne says:

      My doctor thought the headaches might also be related to a drop in blood sugar, and coffee–even decaf–lowers your blood sugar. Maybe that’s something to consider?

      • Katie says:

        Just a thought, but it can possibly be the type of coffee bean you use and the level of toxins within. Take a look at http://www.bulletproofexec.com and he explains it. I order his coffee beans but he also tells you how to find fresher coffee in your area if you don’t want to buy his. But I’ll be honest, I could NEVER drink a drop of coffee because it was too bitter and I can drink his easily. My mom is a 2 cup a day person and says that his Upgraded Coffee is the best she’s ever had (and she’s 62!) Anyway, maybe that will help you find a wonderful, headache free coffee! (He explains that most decaf coffees can cause problems from the processing…and now he stocks decaf too! Haven’t tried that one though.)

  4. Jaimie says:

    This is really interesting. It would be hard for my husband and me to do, though, because he LOVES his Dr. Pepper, and we both really enjoy carbs of all kinds. And we’re both pretty healthy as it is. 🙂 But it’s definitely something to consider for the future!

  5. Heather says:

    Argh, I’m convinced to start a Whole 30 now! I generally have to be aware of what I’m eating and also semi-paleo to not gain weight (stupid genetics!), but last fall was a stressful time and then the holidays happened, and I while I didn’t ever go overboard, I stopped being careful. Did I get a shock when I stepped on the scale yesterday and saw that I “wasn’t being careful” to the tune of 15 pounds! After our traditional pizza, chianti, and fondue for Valentine’s day, it will be time to really shape up. A casual attitude toward food just isn’t worth 15 pounds. 🙁

    • Anne says:

      Heather, I hear you: that’s exactly how I feel about the wine! I like it, but 8 pounds’ worth just isn’t worth it!

      Good luck!

  6. sarah says:

    that’s wonderful! I do not eat paleo but make a goal of including lots and lots of veggies, fruits, and beans and nuts in my diet. I went vegan for a little while but have since added back lean poultry and fish as well as lowfat dairy and egg whites. I lost 55 pounds so far and am currently maintaining. I think you are wise to cut back on the wine. it’s full of alcohol sugars and was probably the main reason you dropped weight. Also, a lot of people only hear about the cardiac health benefits of red wine and don’t realize that alcohol increases cancer risks. So its a trade off–If i were you I’d just have a few glasses each weekend instead of daily. And there have been major benefits to coffee ingestion. i need to post on that soon.

  7. Karianna says:

    Ever since you talked about your “Whole 30,” I’ve been curious about a reset as well. I’ve been kind-of-sort-of doing a Paleo Diet, but for some reason the last few weeks have been carb city (and I have the bloat to show for it.)

    What’s holding me back?
    I’m nursing the boy, but there is nothing in a Whole 30 reset that would be bad with nursing (in fact it would be a good thing.) Honestly, it’s the thought of giving up my coffee!

    I mean, I’m the Caffeinated Catholic Mama… Where would I be w/o caffeine?

    30 days, hey? Hmmm.

    • Anne says:

      Karianna, there’s no need to give up coffee! UNLESS, of course, you suspect it’s making you feel bad. That would be a very good reason to give it up.

      Decaffeinated Catholic Mama just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

  8. Breanne says:

    We recently did a month with no wheat and no refined sugar, you’re braver then I am, I didn’t cut out coffee.
    And it’s so true, I felt so great! We all felt great. My little girls asked for bread and pasta, twice I think.
    We’ve had both wheat and sugar a couple times since and it doesn’t feel good. I knew that already but just needed the kickstart of eliminating for a month.
    I’m going to go check those books now!

  9. It sounds like doing a Whole30 worked great for you, so congrats! That said, I don’t think my body would do too well with it; right now I’m vegetarian and eating lots of veggies, whole grains, fruit, clean dairy, legumes, and nuts as well as working out with cardio or yoga 3-5 times a week, and I feel great! I usually have something sweet every day for afternoon tea but am able to do it in moderation.

    • Anne says:

      Magdalen, that’s great that you’ve found what works for you and your body. Keep it up! (And continue to enjoy that afternoon tea–such a lovely ritual.)

  10. HopefulLeigh says:

    So fascinating. I’m slowly making changes in the food I buy (as little processed food as I can get away with) and I do think it’s making a difference, especially with my eczema. I am at the mercy of whatever food my employer buys as far as what I eat for lunch but I’m trying to make better choices there, too.

    • Anne says:

      That’s so great, Leigh. I’ve enjoyed reading about your food changes over on your blog (hello, gorgeous CSA pics!) I also think it’s so interesting that improved eczema comes up over and over again in discussions like this. So glad it’s making a difference for you.

  11. I’m always impressed with people who can be so in tune with their bodies. It always takes me forever to figure out why I have a headache or my tummy hurts, etc. I’m really interested in doing my own Whole30 just to see how my body reacts to it. Thanks for a great post, Anne.

    • Anne says:

      Kelly, this is a journey I’ve been on for a looong time. Someone told me a long time ago that if you’re going to feel your best, you just have to experiment with what works for you and your body. The process isn’t always fun but the results are worth it!

  12. Victoria says:

    I listen to the Jillian Micheals podcast regularly and she is always saying that when she gives up alcohol she immediately drops 5 pounds that week. So yep your 8 pound loss probably has a lot to do with wine.

  13. Carrie says:

    I’ve found that I don’t do well if I have more than about 4 ounces of wine at a time. It makes me sleep poorly and have blood sugar swings. Sugar doesn’t seem to bother me.

    On the coffee front, I am experimenting with cold brew. It apparently has less caffeine when brewed this way. I do ok if I have two cups a day but I notice that at certain times in my cycle I’m more sensitive to it. I really love the flavor, and it’s easier on your stomach too (an issue with some).

  14. Sage Grayson says:

    I have the same problem with coffee–the first cup is fine and the second one gives me a headache. Those are some pretty impressive results–8 pounds!!! You’re inspiring me to eat more whole foods.

    • Anne says:

      Uh, no. Or at least, it’s hard to say. I had a sugar-y week last week, felt like crap, and resolved to keep to more Whole 30 ways of eating except for the occasional glass of wine. But when I stepped on the scale this morning (since you asked!) I was up 4 pounds from my Whole 30 low. Of course that fluctuates from day to day but that’s what it looked like this morning.

  15. Kate says:

    I started the Whole30 on Tuesday and just came across your blog when googling other people’s reflections. Really enjoyed how you summed it all up. I found it motivating to read about your Day Six and onward. Thanks!

  16. sandy says:

    Thanks for this. I’m finishing Day 6 of the Whole30 and feel ok. I had a doozy of a headache on Day 3, and humongous cravings last night, causing me to put way too many allowed foods into my system in search of something to get rid of the craving. I need a different approach. Anyway, here’s my question: Did you EVER, even ONCE, accidentally or on purpose fall off the Whole30 while you were doing it? The folks at Whole30 sound like my MOTHER when they talk about whether to just pick yourself up, dust off and keep going, or RESET. I’d like your experience. I imagine I will screw up at some point, and… well, just like life, I think I’ll probably pick myself up and straighten up and go on with it.

    • Anne says:

      I can’t think of specifics because it’s been a while, but I’m sure I did. I must have. And I remember that in several of my whole 30s (not my first) I declared sunbutter as okay even though it has a small bit of sugar in it.

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