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We Survived Whole30 and So Can You

Hey there! I’d like to introduce myself and my lovely coworkers, Ariana and Amber.  Working at Caveman Foods we know a thing or two about healthy eating.  But, we’re only human, and after a long and indulgent holiday season, we decided kick start the new year with a 30-day challenge: The Whole30.    

The Whole30, created by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig, is a 30-day program during which you must eliminate added sugar, artificial sweeteners, gluten, grains, dairy, soy, legumes and alcohol.  These food groups are often linked to poor digestion, lack of energy, and health conditions, to name a few.  When some or all of these food groups are a part of your diet, it’s impossible to pinpoint the effect they have on your body and mind. Melissa and Dallas summarize it best: “Think of the Whole30 like pushing the ‘reset’ button with your health, your habits and your relationship with food.”

This all sounds pretty intimidating, but with lots of support, planning and discipline, you CAN do this. We hope that by sharing our experiences, you can walk away with a healthy dose of inspiration. 


Elise’s Whole30 

What was your biggest challenge?

Before starting Whole30 I typically stuck to an 80/20 Paleo diet.  But, when the weekend came around my will power went out the window.  I love wine, chocolate, chips and salsa, pizza…who doesn’t?!  Most of the time these indulgences go hand-in-hand with social engagements.  So, the biggest challenge for me was changing the way I approached my weekends, and learning to look at them as an opportunity to rest and get quality "me" time.    

What mental and physical changes did you experience during the challenge? 

During the first week, I experienced fatigue and headaches while my body was adjusting to this new way of eating.  Once I got over the hump, I noticed a considerable improvement in my energy levels, quality of sleep, and productivity. 

Physically, I felt lighter, less bloated after meals and my skin cleared up almost instantly.  I don’t weigh myself or take measurements, but my waist is noticeably smaller and my face is much less puffy. 

Favorite recipe?

There are so many delicious Whole30 meals! My favorite weeknight dinner was the Beef and Sweet Potato Chili.  It’s hearty, packed with flavor and takes about 30 minutes to make.  Recipe here.

How will you incorporate Whole30 principles into your life going forward? 

My biggest takeaway was learning to be really mindful about what I put into my body, and being able to recognize when I was truly hungry so I wouldn't snack mindlessly throughout the day.  I feel so great that I plan to eat this way as much as possible.  

What advice would you give someone starting Whole30?

I highly recommend recruiting friends and/or family to do this challenge with you.  Sharing this 30-day journey with Ariana and Amber made it so much easier.   

It's also important to remember that everyone's body is unique and everyone has their own set of struggles.  Do your best not to compare your "results" to others.  

And, lastly, when you feel like giving up, remember why you started.  


Amber's Whole30

I would say my overall experience was really positive. I love how I felt once I passed, I think it was the the 22 day mark. I slept great, I had energy and motivation to go to the gym most days of the week, I never had any stomach problems or headaches. It was also a learning experience. I had NO idea how many things we eat contain added sugar! Salad dressings, hot sauces, tomato sauces…but I found some products that didn’t have sugar and I probably won’t go back to what I was using before.

What was your biggest challenge? 

The biggest challenge was trying to eat out. Most weekends I would just stay home and make a salad or chicken salad lettuce cups, but once in a while I just wanted someone else to do the cooking. Another challenge was making sure I had enough healthy snacks lying around so I wouldn’t get hangry. Also Sriracha is not allowed…

What mental and physical changes did you experience? 

A few days into Whole 30, I was mentally and physically drained. All the prep and planning, the chemistry change my body was going through, all of it. I was so tired I would go to bed almost right after dinner. But after I passed all the major hurdles and my mind and body started getting used to it, I starting feeling great. I had more energy and I felt really motivated to start going to the gym more often. I felt like I was on the right track to finally start living a healthier lifestyle and get my body “wedding dress ready.”

Favorite Whole30 Recipe? 

One of my favorite recipes that I tried was this pork shumai recipe . It was a little time-consuming, but when you really want Chinese food….I made these for dinner and had the leftovers for lunch the next day, but these would make a great appetizer or snack for Super Bowl Sunday.

My advice for anyone getting ready to start Whole 30 is:

1)  Do it with a friend. Having my coworkers go through this with me helped immensely. We talked about what we had for dinner, what we were craving, we told each other about new products we found that were Whole 30 approved.

2)  Print and post this Whole 30 Timeline, I went through all of the steps outlined in it and it helped knowing that I was not the only one feeling these things. It also enlightened our other coworkers; giving them a warning about days 4 &5 and that they should stay away.

3)  Don’t give up, cheat, or stop early. I promise it’s worth it.


Ariana's Whole30

Overall experience

Going into Whole30, I was nervous that I wasn't going to be able to eat anything. I had no idea what to expect and I thought I would most likely starve. I would consider myself a relatively healthy eater, but a lot of the things list on the "do not eat" list, were things I ate. I quickly realized I wouldn't starve, instead I was eating very fulfilling meals that made me feel good after I was finished. Though it was difficult having such a strict diet, I liked the structure and how I felt throughout my experience.

What was your biggest challenge?

Not being able to have food that was "on-the-go" was difficult. Before I would grab a cup of yogurt for breakfast and head out the door. On Whole30 I had to make sure I had enough time to prep my meals.

What mental and physical changes did you experience during the challenge?

During Whole30 I actually became more hungry and looked forward to eating. Before I didn't really eat dinner because I was always full by the time it was time to eat. But on Whole30 I was excited for dinner and always ate a full meal.

Favorite recipe? 

If you're missing Asian food, this is definitely the recipe for you. This recipe is full of flavor! My suggestions would be to add more vegetables to the stir fry. Recipe here

How will you incorporate Whole30 principles into your life going forward?

I'm going to continue prepping my meals instead of grabbing things "to go". I will also be cutting back on all the added sugar. I now have more of an appreciation for the natural sugars that we eat in fruits.

What advice would you give someone starting Whole30?

My advice would be to prep. You should have a list of recipes you are excited to try before even beginning. Going in with a plan will make things a lot easier than feeling like you have nothing to eat.


To learn more about the Whole30 check out the official website here.  


1 comment

  • Matt

    Nice work ladies. I know how difficult it is to adhere to the strict standards of Whole 30.

    Congrats on your accomplishment!

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