Whole 30 Part 1 – Get Ready

8:00 AM Elephant & Chick 3 Comments

My husband has recently completed his third Whole 30 and I though it might be beneficial for our readers to hear what it was like. He gives advice if you've decided to do Whole 30 for the first time, tips on what to buy and his favorite recipes etc.   If you want to see other Whole 30 posts check here, here & here.  - Robyn

Andrew & Robyn's Family Easter Sunday 2016 -- our youngest was 6 days old.  

Why I Did Whole 30
Instead of leaving my health and happiness to chance, I’ve decided to take control.

My genetics have been on my mind lately.  Diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, weight issues, and cancer are all over my family tree.  As I approach 30, I’m realizing that I am not bullet-proof.  I’ve put on a few pounds and don’t have the energy I once had.  I’m 6 feet tall and weigh about 170 but I don’t feel like I am as healthy as I could be.

The realization and reality that I can’t out-exercise a normal or bad diet finally hit me about a year ago.  I’ve always considered myself to be fairly healthy.  I played sports in high school have tried to eat semi-healthy in my 20’s.  Out of interest and a liking of exercise I’ve done CrossFit, P90X, ran a marathon, circuit training, and other normal exercise programs.  However, I never really felt like I was in good shape. 

My sister has had great success in eating a healthier diet that is close to Whole30 and gave me encouragement to adjust my diet.  A good friend had success on Whole30 and gave me some recipes and some encouragement to get started.  Over the past two years I’ve started to experience migraines that I think are diet related.  As I’ve made small diet changes, I’ve seen big results.  I’m experiencing many benefits from changing my diet.  I’m also seeing food as medicine and life-altering.

Just as the Whole30 program explains, food is either making you less healthy or more healthy.  With a family and devoted wife, demanding employment, church service, and many other priorities, I can’t afford hours of exercise a week to remain in shape or to be sick and slothful due to poor eating habits.  I’d rather prevent instead of repair and repent.

In short, adding all these reasons together I dove in and started my first Whole30 in the fall of 2015.  Since then I recently completed my third Whole30.

Recommendations Before You Start

Whole 30 Website
All of the information you need to start is available for free on www.whole30.com.  Start with the Program Rules and familiarize yourself with the rules, program, and rules versus recommendations.  Spend some time browsing this site to get comfortable with the program.  A little bit of Googling will also give you a good overview and ideas from others.

The Book
I did read the book, It Starts With Food, but not until my second Whole30.  I recommend reading or listening to the book before or during your first Whole30.  You’ll get the science-y, geeky details about the program that help you understand why you don’t eat legumes and corn and how to explain the program to friends or family.  I enjoyed the book – it wasn’t hard to get through.  I actually listened to it on Audible and the authors read the book themselves.  Their passion comes through in the audiobook.  The book pumped me up and was a catalyst to continue to eat healthy while not “on program.”

Prepare Yourself Mentally
I was not prepared for the mental and psychological struggle I experience during Whole30.  I realized how psychological my connection to food is.  I don’t eat at 9:00pm because I’m actually hungry but because my wife is having a snack or because I’m used to having popcorn while we watch Netflix.  Get ready to mentally detach yourself from food.  This was and still is the most difficult part for me.  This also makes it the most satisfying part of Whole30 – the self-control and willpower you gain from conquering these mental connections is liberating and freeing.

Browse the Internet
A few Google searches will lead you to blogs and websites full of ideas, recipes, and recommendations.  Find a few blogs and sites that you like and use their ideas.  If you are like me, you’ll return these frequently for ideas and motivation.  I found myself returning to Google to look for new snack and recipe ideas frequently.

Find Motivation
When times get tough and all you want to do is eat a Krispy Kreme or a piece of toast or a glass of milk (just wait…) you will want to return to your “why” (favorite TED Talk here).  Find your motivation for doing your Whole30 and write it down.  Or tell your spouse.  Make sure you can come back to your why when times get tough.

Gain Support
Don’t try Whole30 without support.  That doesn’t mean your spouse or friend must do it with you.  My wife did not do any of my Whole30’s with me, but she supported me 100%.  She knew why I was doing it and she knew the rules.  She was my biggest supporter and advocate.  Tell your co-workers and friends.  Don’t proselyte and try to convert others, but tell others what you are doing so they can support you.  I never had anyone try to sway me to eat anything that wasn’t Whole30 approved.

Prepare yourself for a slightly bigger grocery bill.  Eating avocados, eggs, spinach, and cashews is more expensive than frosted flakes, milk, mac and cheese, and potato chips.  You can manage your costs by shopping smart, planning, and using suggestions I offer in my next post which is all about the food.  Our grocery bill grew by about 10-15%.

Prepare for Results
Mentally prepare yourself to see some serious results.  You’re going to realize mental, spiritual, psychological, and of course physical benefits.  Don’t approach this as just a weight loss program.  That’s not the goal.  The goal is a healthier approach to food and eating that becomes more sustainable and habitual.  In my next post I’ll share my results and why I have done Whole30 more than once.


How I Felt
Overall, I felt healthy, alert, and happy while on Whole30.  I did feel a lack of energy at times, which helped me to know that I needed to eat more based on how much energy I was expending.  I did have a few aches in my back and knees during my first two Whole30’s.  As all the gunk and junk was leaving my body I could feel it.  I did experience some headaches and body aches during the first two weeks of each Whole30 as my body was adjusting to no sugar and no processed foods.  This timeline is funny and pretty accurate.  Pardon the candor, but I also used the bathroom more consistently while on Whole30.

My energy levels were very surprising.  I had the same amount of energy at 6:00am, Noon, and 6:00pm.  My energy level was consistent.  I didn’t have the mid-morning lull and the 2:00pm drag that made me want a nap.  My energy level never felt super high (no fake sugar rushes on Whole30) which helped me to realize that lasting, consistent energy is more powerful and more preferred that the highs and lows of sugar rushes throughout the day.

During my first two Whole30’s I did not exercise.  I didn’t feel like it and I didn’t feel like I needed it.  I had more energy while on Whole30 than I did when I consistently exercise.  I did exercise on my third Whole30 – I figured out I need to eat more potatoes and more veggies when I exercise consistently.  If you do exercise regularly before you commence Whole30, I would recommend to continue to exercise while on Whole30.  Take it slow the first week or two as your body adjusts.  Listen to your body and rest.  I wish I would have continued to exercise during all my Whole30s.

Sleep and Rest
I sleep like a baby while on Whole30.  At about 10:00pm my body starts to shut down and I wake up around 6:00am feeling refreshed.  This is one of my favorite benefits of the program.  I found that my body needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep consistently, if not more.  Without processed sugars and other junk in my body, sleep is a pleasure.

What Was Hard
Whole30 is not easy, but it also isn’t difficult.  Preparing and finding food takes time and effort.  Mental strength is needed to avoid eating those potato chips or Twizzlers.  It is also difficult when most everyone around you doesn’t take a thought about the food they are eating.  It’s easy to mentally judge everyone else and their eating habits.  But don’t…because those are still your eating habits…you are just trying to change yours.

Food boredom is something other complain about, but this never bothered me.  You consistently eat the same foods, just prepared in various ways. You may feel this food boredom.  If you do, switch up your recipes or go find a whole 30 compliant restaurant.

How I View Food and Whole30 Now
In It Start With Food, the Hartwig’s explain far better than I can all the benefits and reasons to try Whole30.  The best part about Whole30 for me is my new attitude towards food.  I still enjoy food, but I’m learning to enjoy more healthful foods.  Don’t worry, I enjoy a donut or a Coke or a granola bar with the best of them.  But I don’t feel the need to eat them all the time.  I don’t have the desires I used to have.  When I do have a slice of cake or a bowl of pasta, I do so mindfully and intentionally, and in much smaller portions and far less frequently. 

I continue to do Whole30 not because I have self-control and great command of my mental and physical attitude towards food.  I do it because I don’t have a lot of self-control and my attitude towards food is still unhealthy.  Whole30 helps me develop and learn habits that are not easy and that are not natural for me.  I am repeating Whole30 to engrain better habits and psychological behaviors into my life.


  1. So inspiring! I really want to give this a try sometime...maybe in a year or so when I'm not pregnant or nursing ;) I know food is so psychological for me and there are definitely a few habits I'd like to kick.

  2. This is great! Good for him! One question, how did you handle social events, like people inviting you over for dinner or work lunches? Sometimes is hard to follow a diet when you have social events I feel! One time I did a 3 week of no sugar, wheat and dairy, and it was hard to say no when somebody invites you over.

  3. Congrats on your 3 week cleanse. Social functions are always tricky. For social events, work lunches, and the like...that is a good question. Make sure you take a look at the Part 2 post. Most of your question is answered there. In general, I am very honest with people and tell them that I'm doing Whole30 and am not going to "break" my 30 day plan. Once I explain the plan and my reason "why" for doing it, I've never had anyone give me a hard time for not eating a specific dish or for refusing to eat at a certain restaurant. I do give people a heads-up. If friends are coming over for dinner, I let them know our dishes will be Whole30 approved and ask them to do the same. If I'm invited to eat at a friend's with my wife and kids, I always let them know my eating habits at the time. Most people are very interested and they like to find new dishes to make and always have interesting questions. This is also a good conversation started as many people want to do something similar to Whole30 but don't know where to start.

    In general, honesty is best. And 100% of the time friends, co-workers, and strangers are respectful and understanding when I'm honest.