The biggest lesson I learned during whole30

I want to start by telling you that I learned a LOT of things during Whole30. I learned there is sugar in (almost) everything. I learned that cooking real food for every meal results in a crapload of dishes. I learned that meal prep is key to staying on track. I learned that less is more, and sometimes the simplest recipes are actually the best recipes (much to my surprise and delight!). I learned that 80% of my social life involves food, and usually not-very-healthy food.  

I learned that I am both an emotional and mindless eater. Prior to Whole30, I ate all the time. I ate when I was happy. I ate when I was sad. I ate when I was bored. I almost always ate when I watched TV. And, 9 times out of 10, I ate whatever was quick, easy, convenient, and pre-packaged. If my kids were eating goldfish crackers on the couch, I ate a handful, too. If I made them mac-n-cheese for dinner, I'd eat some, too. If I was at a restaurant with a basket of bread on the table, I'd eat that because someone else had put it front of me. If I was at a birthday party, I'd eat a cupcake because everyone else was eating cupcakes. 

There is nothing wrong with eating bread.
There is nothing wrong with eating cupcakes.

But, if you're always eating bread and cupcakes (and chips and candy and whatever other crap you're mindlessly consuming in front of Netflix) without thinking about why you are eating those things, you might not be caring for your body as well as you could be. 

Prior to Whole30, my eating habits were not intentional, proactive, or mindful. Eating was just another thing I did, like walking or breathing. If my stomach growled, I grabbed whatever was within reach. If I was sitting down to watch a show, I'd make myself a bowl of popcorn, even if I had just finished dinner. I never meal planned. I never gave food a whole lot of thought, to be honest. A lot of times, I was not eating to serve a purpose for my body; I was simply eating for the sake of eating. 

We had Robin Long on our C+C podcast a few months ago and one message she repeated a few times that I really loved was this: Do the things you need to do to feel the way you want to feel. 

Simple in theory; not always simple in practice. It's easy for me to pop a waffle in the toaster and call that breakfast on the way out the door. It's less easy for me to make scrambled eggs with sausage, chop up fruit, and sit down to eat a proper meal at the beginning of my day. And I'll tell you what: only one of those options makes me feel good, both in the moment, and for the next several hours.

But the real lesson I want to share with you today is the biggest epiphany I took away from Whole30, and it has nothing to do with food and everything to do with me. 

I learned I am way more disciplined than I've ever given myself credit for. 

My greatest fear upon starting Whole30 was that I wasn't going to be able to do it. I was scared I would cave, or cheat, or give in to temptation by the second week. But I didn't. Not once. 

And honestly? It wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. 

Did it suck to go to a BBQ and not eat the pasta salad? Yes. Did it suck to go to the coffee shop and not order a bagel like I always do? You bet. Did it suck to not have coffee creamer for thirty days? HELLS TO THE YES it did. 

When it comes to most things, I don't consider myself to be a very competitive person. As in, I am cheering for you, always. I do not believe in the myth of scarcity; I believe wholeheartedly in the truth of abundance. I believe there is more than enough room for all of us, for all of our success, for all of our gifts and talents.

There is someone I am really competitive with though, and that person is me. When I committed to Whole30, I knew I was going to be competing against ... myself. I knew I was going to have to fight the lazy, sugar-addicted, quick-fix, mindless eater version of me. I really wanted the healthy version of me (or the "aspiring" healthy version of me), to come out on top. 

And she did (!).

Which leads me to believe just about anything is possible. If I can do Whole30, what can't I do? I thought this was going to be the hardest thing in the world for me to finish ... and it wasn't. 

Which leads me to believe:

If I can do Whole30, surely I can get up at 5am to write. 
If I can do Whole30, surely I can stick to an actual budget.
If I can do Whole30, surely I can run a half marathon (lolololol, just kidding).

... you get my point though. 

Nothing feels impossible to me right now. Before I started Whole30, I was feeling weak. Not physically, but mentally. I felt like my own health was spiraling out of my control, as if I didn't possess the will-power to do anything to change it. And that's simply not true. I had the will-power all along; I just needed something as bold as Whole30 to show me what I was capable of. 

My next venture? I'm going to take a stab at getting up early to write. My girl Katie Blackburn promised to be my accountability partner. 

And after Whole30, I really believe I can do it.

Especially now that I have my coffee creamer back. 


Ashlee Gadd

Ashlee Gadd is a wife, mother, writer and photographer from Sacramento, California. When she’s not dancing in the kitchen with her two boys, Ashlee loves curling up with a good book, lounging in the sunshine, and making friends on the Internet. She loves writing about everything from motherhood and marriage to friendship and faith.

When Pigs Fly (Let's talk about Whole30)

Well friends, I drank the Whole30 koolaid. Today is day 20. I'm still alive.

(Let me back up.)

Two years ago, I bought the Whole30 book after seeing a dozen people raving about the program on Instagram. I was intrigued by the miraculous list of ailments it could allegedly cure, and, to be frank, I was also desperate to lose the last 10 pounds of pregnancy weight. The only problem? I was still breastfeeding. And not just breastfeeding, but breastfeeding an underweight baby. I was on fenugreek, lactation cookies, the works -- trying anything to increase my milk supply and help my tiny baby grow.

After reading the intro to the book (and receiving encouragement from a friend!), I decided it would be wise to wait to put myself on such a strict food regimen until after I finished breastfeeding. And so, I continued eating four lactation cookies per day and surviving on a mix of cereal, pasta, and in-n-out cheeseburgers that first year of Carson's life. 

While I've never been much a health nut, there's no denying that I've felt myself falling into a downward spiral the past couple years. I'm going to go ahead and blame Carson for this because he didn't sleep through the night for fifteen months and needed to be held all of the time and when you're in survival mode, of course eating half an entire pizza in front of the television sounds like a great idea. I deserve this, I'd tell myself, polishing off my sixth slice in the middle of our eighth time binge watching The Office.

I wasn't a terribly unhealthy eater, per se, but on average, I was probably eating more unhealthy meals than healthy meals. And had I not been actively chasing two kids around the house, breastfeeding like crazy, and occasionally eating nothing but a granola bar for lunch (because the fridge was empty -- have I mentioned I'm a horrible meal planner?), I certainly would have gained 20 pounds in the aftermath of adjusting to life with two kids.

Which brings us to: 2017. 

A couple months ago, Brett and I were taking our evening walk around the neighborhood when our conversation turned to health. Both of us agreed that we felt really unhealthy. He complained about his ailments: tiredness, joint pain, allergies, digestion problems, and I complained about mine: exhaustion, insomnia, lack of energy, bloated-ness, headaches, moodiness. I threw out the idea of us trying Whole30, and much to my surprise, Brett said, "I think we should do it."

Knowing what I know now about this program, it would have been completely impossible to do without Brett. I have needed the accountability, the commiseration, the help, the encouragement. Also: can you imagine if Brett were eating burritos every night while I was roasting vegetables? I would have wanted to stab him. Our marriage might not have not survived.

A few weeks ago I re-skimmed the book, printed off some Pinterest recipes, and we took the plunge. For reference: the week before we started Whole30, I was regularly dipping animal crackers into a can of leftover rainbow chip frosting. As a snack. So. That's the "before" I represent.

We did a complete fridge and pantry clean-out two days before we started. Bye bye pasta, risotto, salad dressings, coffee creamer. Goodbye ice cream. Farewell bread. Hasta la vista cheese. See you never, rainbow chip frosting.

Three weeks in, I have learned a ton about food. But, to be honest, I think I have learned more about myself.

I'm planning to do a full recap at the end, and I'll be sharing a few more posts in the next week or two about our favorite recipes, brands, stores, and items. Don't worry, this isn't turning into a food blog (lol can you imagine?)! But I owe a lot of my Whole30 knowledge to various blog posts I found on Pinterest, so I'd like to return the favor to the Internet. 

Have you ever done Whole30? How'd it go? I have 10 days left so if you're hoarding any good recipes, plz link below! Here's to good health, eating your vegetables, and getting my coffee creamer back in 10 days. 


Ashlee Gadd

Ashlee Gadd is a wife, mother, writer and photographer from Sacramento, California. When she’s not dancing in the kitchen with her two boys, Ashlee loves curling up with a good book, lounging in the sunshine, and making friends on the Internet. She loves writing about everything from motherhood and marriage to friendship and faith.