It’s the September Whole30 – and EVERYONE is doing a round now. At least, it feels that way! But we’ve noticed that some of you are still struggling, despite all of the support in our group, on our blog, and on the Whole30 website and social channels.
We wondered what was going wrong – and wanted to know how we could help! So, we asked you to tell us about some of the situations that have caused you to derail your round so we could troubleshoot, and help you come up with Whole30-friendly solutions to your situations.
We’re thrilled that more than 70 of you responded to our question!
Here’s a look at some of the reasons your Whole30 took a wrong turn, and some ideas of how to get back on track next time:
You’re OVERCONFIDENT from a previous round
A group member told us: “I think I feel more confidence because I KNOW I can do I because I did it before. And I think that’s making me underprepare for how much work I put in the first time! So, for me, I just haven’t buckled down and spent a whole weekend preparing like I did R1.”
We all know that it’s super hard to wing it during Whole30. But once you’ve done one round, you figure you can throw some food together and make it work without too much planning. I hate to break it to you…but that’s usually not the case.
Whole30 requires forethought and prep. You need to grocery shop wisely, map out your meals (or at least make sure you have enough ingredients to cover 21 meals a week), and make sure you have enough of a variety of protein, vegetables, and fat. Or, it’s going to get REAL old REAL quickly when you’re living on a rotation of eggs, tuna, and chicken sausage, a.k.a. your emergency food.
To combat this issue, think about searching for new recipes to make you feel excited about meal prepping and cooking again. Check out our blog Have you made a frittata lately? and search our big Facebook group – there are dozens of recipes posted daily. Also, be sure to follow Whole30Recipes on Instagram for tons of new compliant recipes – from a different blogger or influencer – every week!
Maybe you need some new kitchen tools to get you jazzed? Treat yourself to a new gadget or two to get you re-energized around cooking. We have some great ideas here.
If your problem is related to TIME, then sit down and look at your schedule. How can you shift things around to re-prioritize your Whole30 and put in the proper work? You did it once before – you can do it again! It’s hard to devote your whole weekend to grocery shopping and meal prepping – but if you break it up, it’s not so bad. Multitask if you can – throw some veggies in the oven to roast while you make dump ranch and have some stir fry on the stove. Play music, buy yourself flowers, recruit your family (or have a cooking date with friends) and make your kitchen a fun place to hang!
And if your overconfidence is still taking over, then have a real heart-to-heart with yourself. Give yourself some tough love. Check your ego. Whole30 is HARD. If it wasn’t, then everyone would do it. But they don’t. YOU do! You are awesome and you can do it. You will do it. You are worth it!
You can’t stay off the scale
A group member told us she is not successful at Whole30 because she can’t stop weighing herself. “I’m R1D29 but technically I guess I am not doing Whole30 if I weigh myself. I’m just not comfortable not doing it right now. Maybe next time.”
The scale is your arch nemesis on Whole30. The piece of plastic holds so much power for some people as the number it shows each morning sets the tone for the day.
The Whole30 website lists some great reasons why the number on the scale is meaningless. The scale does NOT show you anything about your health, it blinds you to real results (your life is changing in front of your eyes but you won’t see it if you focus on a number!), and the scale takes hold of your self-esteem.
If the scale is a problem for you during Whole30, the answer is easy! GET RID OF IT! Give it to a friend, leave it in your trunk, lock it up at work. Just get it out of your house and make sure you can’t access it. If you insist on tracking how your body is changing during Whole30, then take before and after measurements. These will much more accurately depict your successes.
Instead, focus on the LONG list of Non-Scale Victories that can happen due to Whole30. Think clearer skin, more energy, less brain fog, better sleep, increased fitness, less joint pain, and the list goes on and on. In fact, Whole30 has created a handy NSV checklist for you to mark off all the amazing things you have noticed from Whole30.
Grab it here, print it out, and start checking them off! Treat yourself to a non-food related gift when you achieve these NSVs – You deserve it!
I totally understand that ditching the scale can be hard for people who have focused on weight loss for their entire lives. But, even if it feels uncomfortable, you HAVE to do it to be successful on Whole30. You are resetting your life here. That is so much more powerful and important than an arbitrary number on the scale (which we know can fluctuate 10 times daily!). So, get rid of that scale, and start focusing on the GREAT things that are happening to your body — and in your life — thanks to Whole30! It will be worth it, trust me!
You give yourself permission to celebrate or have a cheat day
Someone in our group told us she has trouble sticking with Whole30 because of “celebrations or giving myself an ‘off’ day on a Sunday and realizing that’s not in keeping with the program on Monday.”
Life is full of celebrations and special occasions – and so many of them are centered around food. Even our social lives tend to revolve around going out for dinner and drinks. It’s fun to go out, we hear you, but on Whole30, it’s important to stay focused on the task at hand. If you find yourself stopping and then restarting your Whole30 time and again because of “special occasions,” then I urge you to think about what truly makes the occasions special. Is it the food – or is it the people and the reason you are gathering?
It’s OK to attend a wedding shower, birthday party, or even a Sunday football game – and take a pass on the cake, champagne, and chips. It’s only YOUR business what you put in your body and if people feel offended, just say to them politely that you’re doing a month-long reset and that while you appreciate the offer to pile up your plate, you’re good for now.
Offer to bring your own Whole30 compliant – and universally-loved dishes – to an occasion. No one has to know your potato salad, wings, egg bake, or buffalo chicken dip are Whole30 compliant! Everyone will eat and enjoy!
I would also try to reframe celebrations and weekends to be focused on activities and people instead of food. Can you meet a friend for a mani/pedi date instead of drinks? Or grab a coffee and bring your own nutpods (BYON!) instead of cocktails? Take a walk together or meet for a workout? There are lots of ways to socialize and celebrate that don’t involve food.
And at the end of the day, remember that Whole30 is just for 30 days! There will be plenty of opportunities to have cake and wine and other special occasion foods AFTER your round, should you decide they fit into your Food Freedom! You can do ANYTHING for 30 days!
Your job includes lots of off-plan socializing.
Another group member said Whole30 is challenging because her job includes “lots of after work happy hours and eating-out lunches.”
I am not going to lie. Eating out on Whole30 is challenging. But, life happens and there will be times when you face socializing (work-related or otherwise) at a restaurant.
So, be prepared! Scope out the menu in advance if you can and if time is on your side, give the restaurant a call before your visit and see if you can talk to the chef about ingredients and cooking oils.
If you land at a place with few (or no) Whole30 options, then turn to your emergency food. Be sure to pack some on-the-go protein, like Chomps bars or The New Primal’s beef thins. Also toss into your bag some raw nuts and maybe a compliant applesauce pouch or a piece of fresh fruit. If you are hungry during the social time, excuse yourself for a few minutes and go enjoy your mini meal somewhere else! There’s no shame in taking care of yourself!
Eat before the social time, and if you have to order something at dinner, stick with a salad (maybe you can add hard-boiled egg and/or avocado) with olive oil and lemon and grilled protein – if you can confirm the oil used is compliant. Do the best you can. You can always eat more compliant food at home after the fact!
If everyone’s drinking and you feel left out, grab a seltzer with lime or ask for a sparkling water with a splash of real fruit juice. Remember – You will feel amazing tomorrow while everyone else is dealing with the aftermath of a night of cocktails!
And a big piece of this situation is how you reframe your thinking. If you feel bad for yourself and pull a pity party that everyone else is enjoying margaritas and chips, well, then, you are more likely to give in and “treat yourself.” But, if you think about how you are taking care of yourself, committing to your Whole30 reset, and staying strong and focused on your goals – then it’s a positive. You do you – regardless of what anyone else says or thinks. Again, it’s only 30 days and all of those drinks and bar snacks will be there at the end of your round – and chances are you won’t really want them so badly after all!
Not diligently checking labels – and then giving up
Someone in our group posted that when she realized her coconut milk contained non-compliant carrageenan, she gave up. “I was so mad at myself for not checking so at the grocery store, I was really hungry and got cupcakes. It was also the day before my birthday.”
Whole30 forces you to become a label-reading ninja but sometimes, a non-compliant ingredient slips by the best of us. There is nothing more frustrating than being deep into your round of Whole30 only to be thrown off course by something like sulfites or corn starch.
Our best advice here is to keep the Whole30 Additives Cheat Sheet with you at all times – either as a print-out in your bag or as a screen shot on your phone.
And if you’re ever not sure if something’s compliant, you can easily Google “Is xxx Whole30 compliant?” and most times, it will lead you to a great answer on the official Whole30 forums. We also, of course, have a fabulous resource in our big Whole30 group – use the search function and you should find what you’re looking for.
But if you do make a mistake (trust me, we have all been there!), the key to overcoming this hurdle is to accept it, take ownership of it, pick yourself up, and move on. That does NOT mean that the rest of that day is a “free-for-all” in terms of eating junk! Keep compliant that day and then just restart counting your days the following day, beginning again with Day #1. This is not a race nor is it a diet with “good/bad” eating. It’s a journey, a marathon, a process that takes time but will make you feel better in so many ways.
Don’t throw the towel in. You’ve come so far — and restarting does not mean you’ve failed. It means that you’re learning and growing and evolving!
We’re happy to report that there’s a happy ending to this group member’s situation. After the coconut milk/cupcake catastrophe, she said, “I restarted and I’m on R1D10 now!”
Cheers to reframing the situation – and cheers to a successful Whole30!
What’s YOUR biggest challenge when it comes to Whole30? How have you overcome it to find success during your round?