Kicking the 30-something 15 (a whole 30 wrap-up)

Kicking the 30-something 15 (not the freshman 15) | Modern Mrs Darcy

I wrapped up my most recent Whole 30 two weeks ago.

It was a breeze. My doctor told me to quit gluten and grains years ago, so the only things I need to drop during the Whole 30 are sugar and alcohol.

I missed my usual glass of wine the first night, but quickly settled into an evening tea routine to fill the gap. Well Fed 2 came out at the beginning of my Whole 30, and I spent the 30 days happily cooking through the book.

I cheated a few times: I chewed some verboten gum so I could teach my daughters how to blow bubbles, I tasted a lentil soup my 8-year-old made, I ate almonds that turned out to have canola oil on them.

Because the changes I made during this Whole 30 were so small, I was shocked to lose 7 pounds–again. I’m pretty sure those pounds have everything to do with sugar, mostly in the form of wine.

It’s pretty clear to me what the ramifications are, but I don’t like them.


My body doesn’t do well on sugar: it makes me feel crappy, it fuels anxiety, it feeds my cravings. And really, wine is sugar, with twice the caloric density and no redemptive value.

I really didn’t notice a difference in how I felt while I was on this Whole 30. I thought I might sleep better, but my Jawbone Up tells me my sleep was pretty much the same. I felt good, but not any better than usual. (Although I did feel awful for two days after eating the canola-laden almonds. It turns out I’m not the only one in my family who can’t handle canola oil.)

But the scale doesn’t lie, and every time I quit wine for a month I lose 5-10 pounds.

I never gained the Freshman 15 in college: I ate reasonably healthy, used the gym, and stayed out of the all-you-can-eat dining hall my senior year.

And, perhaps most importantly, I didn’t drink a drop.

I’m 35, too old to be carrying around the freshman 15 (or 5 or 10). I’m comfortable with my weight and body image, but I still find the idea that I’m carrying around extra pounds as a direct result of a nightly wine habit  disturbing.

It Starts With Food

In addition, I was surprised by the strength of the warning in the Whole 30 handbook It Starts With Food. Whole 30 founders Dallas and Melissa Hartwig advise against daily consumption of alcohol: it provokes a hormonal response, it’s not doing anything to make you healthier, and consuming an addictive substance on a regular basis is a terrible idea.

During our joint Whole 30, my husband and I regularly discussed what life would look like on Day 31, particularly regarding sugar and alcohol. We’ve decided to not keep any sugar or alcohol in the house. (This is based on experience: I couldn’t kick my diet coke habit until I stopped buying it for guests.) If we want to get a bottle or bake a treat, that’s fine, but it requires a special trip to the store, and won’t happen more than once a week.

(I’m also staying open to the possibility of altogether quitting both, because I’m a better abstainer than moderator.)

This is a challenging time of year to start new habits, but I’m certain I’ll be happier if I stick to them. Wish me luck?

photo credits: 1, 2

Tell us about your Freshman 15 or 30-something 15 in comments. 


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  1. Leanne says:

    I really admire your ability to give up foods for long periods of time. I also do better with abstaining while I’m in the middle of it, but in the end, when I go back to those foods, I overindulge. Over the years and several attempts, I’ve found that I do better maintaining a low level of sugar/wine (half a glass of wine or a little dark chocolate regularly, a bigger treat now and then) so I don’t go through the “feast or famine” cycle. I’ve recognized that good food brings me too much joy to give up permanently. I’d rather have the few extra pounds and not feel deprived. I’m trying to get to the point where I celebrate those extra pounds, but I’m not quite there yet- hence, lots of exercising!

  2. D says:

    I am charmed by your husband doing the Whole30 WITH YOU. I am the only person attempting to eat paleo in my entire (even extended) family. When I follow the plan, I feel great, but my willpower is usually short-lived. I am absolutely dreading the holidays because of food.

    • Anne says:

      And I’m assuming the rest of your family isn’t living on broccoli and chicken breasts, either. 🙂 That must be HARD! It was easier to do it with my husband this time, but once once of us starts to slide, we tend to drag each other down, too…. Here’s hoping we both stay on the wagon over the holidays!

  3. Wow – I’m impressed with your discipline, as always. I’m a better moderator than abstainer (sugar-wise – I generally don’t drink alcohol). I know that if I try to quit sugar altogether, I’ll end up gobbling some chocolate a few days later. But I’d also like to lose 10 pounds (which I’ve gained over the last 2 years). Maybe cutting way back, or not keeping it in the house, is the answer.

  4. Breanne says:

    My husband and I are thinking of doing the Whole30 in the new year and I’ll be referencing all your posts in the next little while as I prepare mentally for it. I know that sugar affects my moods and I’m curious as to what a whole month of strictly avoiding it would do. I don’t have a lot of weight to lose but could use a kickstart back to feeling really good. And dropping 5 pounds would be okay as well. =)

  5. Caris Adel says:

    ugh ugh ugh. I hate this whole thing. Sigh. Motivation for me to do something for us all after Christmas. I’ll have to read that Whole 30 book. I think that’ll be the fastest way to detox us all. I don’t want to give up wine and coffee!!!!!!

  6. Faigie says:

    I actually didn’t start to feel a difference on the whole30 until day 19. But its not only food, there are other issues that make us feel the way we do. I am learning that in my quest to feel good.

  7. Katherine says:

    My 15 has been three babies. My ob is well-known as a “weight nazi”, reminding moms to keep their weight gain in check and to drop it as quickly as they can safely do it. A lot of people don’t like that about him, but I appreciate a doctor who will tell me I need to lose weight. That’s his job, because the extra weight is a health issue.

    Anyway. I have a hard time motivating when I know I’d like to have another baby one day. Sort of the “I’ll just tackle it all then” mentality.

    • Anne says:

      What an interesting reputation for a doctor to develop! I’ve never heard of that one before.

      And believe me, I understand the motivation thing! (Or the lack thereof.) #motheroffour

  8. Leigh Kramer says:

    In college, I gained the freshman 15 and what I called the sophomore 20. Granted, I was super skinny in high school and would’ve gained some weight regardless. But not that much! I got down to my goal weight and have stayed within 5-10 pounds of it ever since. I only lost 2 pounds on my Whole 30 but I do feel my clothes are fitting better. Since my health issues are worlds better, I can’t complain. I suppose the next step would be to actually start exercising again.

    It makes complete sense not to keep any of that stuff in your house. I don’t drink every night or even every week so it’s not a big deal for me to have alcohol around. But I am going to try to keep much less sugar in the house just so I don’t have to deal with the temptation.

    • Anne says:

      The sophomore 20! Hahaha!

      And I will say again I MARVEL at your ability to keep peppermint jojos in the cabinet and not destroy the whole box in two days, solo.

  9. Anne says:

    5-10 pounds just from stopping wine? Wow. Big kudos for your hard work to take care of yourself. This Whole 30/20/what have you thing is fascinating to read about. I gave up sugar for Lent one year. Returning to it Easter morning was anti-climactic. Go, Anne! You’ll have a great Christmas season. You sound so motivated to use those cookbooks.

    • Anne says:

      Thank you–but I want to emphasize that it wasn’t hard! I don’t want to sound like a martyr or hero or anything. 🙂

      And that’s an interesting comment about the anti-climactic return to sugar. Yeah, I kinda feel the same way.

  10. I don’t know… I’ve been paying close attention to friends doing the Whole 30, thinking I should try it – or really, knowing I should try it. But, for long term? Part of me kind of thinks life is too short to cut out things that delight me. All things in moderation, including moderation… Eat, drink, and be merry… Etc.

    • Anne says:

      I totally agree with the “life’s too short” sentiment. Life’s too short to cut out the delights, but life’s too short to be battling fierce cravings all the time, too. (So … blah! Not sure where that leaves me. 🙂 )

  11. Anna says:

    I think if I found out wine only added 5 pounds I’d do a happy dance and keep up the habit – if it was making me sick I’d kick the habit, but if it’s just a little weight I say eat, drink, and be merry. I did the Whole 30 in June and only dropped about 2 pounds. My body composition changed, but not my weight. I think after years of being way underweight and undernourished and very sick from an undiagnosed gluten intolerance my body was left wanting more weight and I’m fine with that. The thing the Whole 30 changed drastically was my anxiety – keeping my blood sugar regulated and limiting my caffeine helped tremendously. That, and we got pregnant after 6 years of infertility which I can’t imagine is a coincidence.

    • Anne says:

      I’m viewing the weight as a side effect, not as the main goal. I read a post this morning (after this one went up yesterday) that we shouldn’t strive to reach a healthy weight, we should strive for health, and we’ll reach whatever our “healthy weight” is as a result. I like that idea.

      I’m so sorry about the undiagnosed gluten intolerance–that sounds horrible. I’m so glad you found a way to regulate your blood sugar and dial down the anxiety. And I’m floored that you were then able to get pregnant (overdue congrats!)

  12. Cori says:

    I have mixed emotions about this post. Obviously I don’t know you in person or know your body type/weight, etc… but if it were me, I’d take the extra 5 lbs and enjoy my wine and occasionally sugar indulgence. If that’s all I was holding onto, I’d greatly hold onto 5 lbs for the simple pleasures in life.

    • Anne says:

      Oh, goodness. ME TOO. So many mixed emotions!

      In theory, I want to hold on to the 5 pounds for the simple pleasures in life. But the simple pleasure I think I’d be better off with less of is wine. The whole experiment made me think twice about the wisdom of consuming an actual addictive substance every day, and made me realize that at a glass (or two) a night I am verging into unhealthy territory for a woman, according to the AMA.

      Moderation is fun, but freedom from cravings is pretty awesome, too. Plus when I gave up wine, I substituted really great tea for it in my evening routine–that’s a simple pleasure, too. 🙂

      Thanks for pushing me to think through this some more. (Also: that picture of you and your daughter is adorable.)

  13. Lynnette says:

    I’ve just finished my first Whole 30 (today, as a matter of fact) and the biggest difference has been energy level and not feeling like I desperately need a nap all day, every day! I’ve made the assumption that sugar was to blame (but I suppose it could be grains or dairy — anyone have any insight on that?), so I suppose it should be a no-no from now on. Also, I think I understand what you mean about being an abstainer — just having the absolute rule in place made it easier; no matter what anyone else was having, whether it was Halloween goodies, or birthday pie, or doughnuts, I just wasn’t tempted because it was against the rules. Except for medjool dates — I think having 10-15 of those in one day brought back my sugar problems, and I can not resist them.

    • Anne says:

      I hear you on the dates! I love, love, love dried cranberries (the sugary kind) in salads, and I haven’t reintroduced those yet for the same reason. The first day I’ll have a handful on a salad, but by the end of the week I’ll be tossing them back half a bag at a time with fistfuls of almonds … and maybe chocolate chips. 🙂

  14. Corrie Anne says:

    I did stricter than whole 30 for 5 weeks (no fruit, no nuts), and I was low energy and a little sad. I think I was never able to get the right balance of eating enough to meet my needs for CrossFit. I think Whole 30 would be much “easier”, especially since I’m not a wine fan. Mostly, it would just be cutting out dark chocolate almonds and sweet potato chips, but I can usually do a decent job moderating those. My husband fared better on the paleo plan, but he’s a little less active and probably appreciates the meat more. I’d love to see a post on what you eat in a day – I think that’s fun to see and get ideas!

  15. Anne says:

    How did you end up doing the stricter program? (If that’s too prying, then nevermind! But as a lapsed Crossfitter and someone who’s considered an autoimmune protocol, I’m curious.)

    This may be too big of a stretch, but what you’re describing sounds a lot like how I felt trying to eat paleo while pregnant. I was also tired, always hungry, and a little woozy all the time. I felt loads better after supplementing with granola bars! Looking back, I wonder how I would have felt if I’d boosted my carbs and calories with sweet potatoes, etc instead of Kashi bars.

  16. Tiffany says:

    You mentioned after your first Whole 30 that getting up in the morning was so much easier. Any idea what you stopped eating that caused that? I can 6 or 9 hours of sleep and still drag myself out of bed, I’m not sure what is causing that. I’ve been GF for 2 years and drink only decaf coffee so my guess is that it’s either the 12 oz Coke I have 4-5 days per week and/or the glass of wine/GF beer I might have at night – if it has anything to do with food even.

    • Anne says:

      Tiffany, help! I can’t find where I said that, and I really don’t remember. Although several commenters on the first two Whole 30 posts (here and here) did say quitting sugar/coffee/etc did massively improve their sleep.

      If I did sleep any better, I suspect it was because of the virtuous cycle of taking good care of my body, which includes putting it to bed on time and consistently getting up at the same time.

  17. Kelty says:

    Okay, you’ve inspired me to maybe possibly consider doing a whole 30 this January. (eep. I can’t believe I just typed that out loud.) so, I wonder if you might consider doing a blog post or two talking about some of your workhorse* recipes/meals/snacks that are crucial to getting through your whole30s, especially the first time. I’m trying to plan ahead for success (plans for future good behavior also helps to assuage guilt for crappy behavior in December!!)

    *you know, the things you ate over and over and the strategies that helped keep you from chucking the whole thing and having a glass of red wine! 🙂

    Thanks so much!!!

  18. Cailan says:

    This is such an old posts. But I actually remembered it and searched it out today, trying to get some inspiration for myself. My question is how have you handled no sugar in the house for your kids? Do they feel deprived? Part of me just hates the thought of not being the fun mom who bakes them cookies on a whim…love your blog and have been catching up on on all your podcasts.

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