Whole30 Hacks & Tips for Busy Moms

Featured photo above by rawpixel on Unsplash

So, I did it. Yesterday I completed my 30th day on Whole30. Before you read further, if you are new to Whole30 and have NO clue what that even means, I recommend you read THIS first.

 

Whole30 Hacks & Tips for Busy Moms by Her Hashtag Life

Let’s back up to 32 days ago

32 days ago, it was a Saturday and I was scrolling through Facebook, working, when something popped up into my mind. I had been on the hunt for a sale or Groupon for a Bootcamp nearby that I could become a member at and for some reason THAT day I searched on Facebook for bootcamps in my area. Just so happened that Fit Body Bootcamp Reno (FBBC) was starting a new 6 week challenge that MONDAY in a couple of days. I signed up. It was a “Reset Challenge” and the only understanding on my part was the Bootcamp aspect. Back in Arizona, I had attended a couple of Bootcamps, my last one being Fit Body Bootcamp Gilbert down the street from where I used to live. So I thought ah heck, I know how these work; this is exactly what I was looking for.

And then I sign up.

…then I got an email about signing up.

…and then I got an email about Whole30.

“WHAT THE EFF is this?!” I thought to myself. All I knew about Whole30 prior to this was what I thought was a diet that was pretty much a fancy word for RAW FOOD VEGAN DIET. That’s what I thought anyways.

I don’t back petal. When I commit, I’m all in baby. So I started diving into blogs. I jumped on Amazon and ordered some cookbooks. I HAD NO CLUE WTF I JUST SIGNED UP FOR. Ef. Lots of EF’s. But I committed. So I showed up, geared out, ready to do work at the gym at 6:30pm. I started my Whole30 day one on THAT day which was wrong and I didn’t have to start til the NEXT day after weigh ins but I digress.

Mini back story about my weight

So at the weigh-in, I weighed 215. I was mortified. I hadn’t weighed that much until I was fresh out of my c-section almost 5 years prior. The past 5 years have been extremely emotional. From Gentry being born with 3 holes in his heart, to going through some of the hardest days in my soon-to-be-ending marriage, I emotionally ate. And I hung on to every pound out of comfort. I didn’t care about ME and when I got a glimmer to work on myself, I immediately mom-guilted myself into oblivion. So this is new territory for me. I didn’t have an AH-HA moment or a last straw type of situation in order to want to shed this weight, I almost blindly forced myself into it.¬†ūü§™

#WTF am I even doing?

I knew a total of ZERO people who have ever done Whole30. My only accountability was a group text chat with two of my girlfriends to get me through this month. I would text them at each meal with a snapshot of what I was eating. They too chimed in with what they ate and how they were hating or loving life.¬†ūüė¨ This helped me greatly get through these last 30 days.

So because I didn’t know WTF I was doing I joined a Facebook group: Whole30 Beginners¬†This group helped me get my first “tried & true” recipes going along with answering questions about questionable ingredients and interesting products if they were Whole30 approved or not.

NOW I do have to say, about 7 years ago I was Paleo. Pre-baby, pre-marriage. I tried since to swing back into that lifestyle and I just could not. Our lives post baby and marriage at the time, did not lend itself to be Paleo friendly. Some people it works, for me it did not. BUT because I had a familiarity with Paleo, that helped me understand what I could and couldn’t eat pretty quickly.

One thing that I did learn about Whole30 that helped me understand what was going on, was that its not a diet. It is a RESET of your body, which I loved that concept. I had an end goal. It was to help my gut and my overall well-being. It was a different type of detox, one that I have been dying to accomplish post-breast implant explant (you can read about that HERE.)

The overview of the “rules”

Be forewarned, I did NOT read the Whole30 book. After spending a few hours on various blogs about Whole30, the official Whole30 website and what the owner of FBBC explained during our weigh in, these were the rules that I adhered to throughout Whole30. For those of you that know¬†about¬†Paleo, think of this as a “beyond strict Paleo-ish” type of diet. Also, there are varying levels of strict-ness with Whole30 which can be confusing. I hate confusing especially when I’m already a rule follower given all these new rules I have to follow through. So do a little of your own research after reading my blog post.

  1. No dairy
  2. Zero legumes (lentils, peanuts etc.)
  3. Absolutely no sugars (not even honey)
  4. No stevia or any fake sugars
  5. And no other artificial ingredients
  6. No preservatives
  7. Zero gluten or grains
  8. Read EVER SINGLE INGREDIENT and make sure it passes the HERE
  9. No wine, beer ZERO alcohol even for cooking
  10. Water to drink only
  11. Your plate must always have VEGGIES and MEAT
  12. You can seldom have a bit fruit as a side dish
  13. Don’t weigh yourself
  14. There’s no such thing as an “OOPS”. If you cheat you have to start your 30 days all over again.
  15. You must have 3 meals a day and no snacking
  16. Forget about snacking type of foods
  17. No remake of foods (like Whole30 approved ingredient pancakes or Whole30 baked chips or all veggie pasta)
  18. SWYPO = Sex with your pants on is off-limits. Read the definition of what this means HERE.

 

Whole30 Calendar

First Week

The first week was H-E-L-L… I’m not even going to sugar coat it (#NoPunIntended.) Luckily, it’s expected and in fact, per the Whole30 calendar, I was going through everything I was “supposed” to be which gave me a bit of comfort knowing I wasn’t the only one draggin’ ass. The reason for “the hangover” is that my diet was poor prior to and it was pissed off that I wasn’t giving everything it was used to getting… like sugar, dairy and caffeine*.¬† (Note: Caffeine isn’t off-limits but since I drink my creamer with my coffee, I decided to give that up.)

I had a horrible headache that I ended up having to go to the Chiropractor for on day 4. My headache elevated by day 5 but I was still under the weather, unmotivated and just feeling lousy. It was my plan that I promised FBBC I would go to the gym 3-4 times a week so I maintained that throughout the month.

I was aware of my poor eating habits and how my life was a routine around them. I didn’t realize it was that bad until I started Whole30. For instance, when we leave our community, there is a Starbucks on the corner. It’s always there. Calling my name. And I answer it. EVERY SINGLE DAY. Sometimes multiple times a day. I made sure to delete my Starbucks app on day 1 of Whole30.

Eating was difficult.¬† I had “OH EM GEE I’M GOING TO STARVE TO DEATH OR DIE OF HAVING NO SUGAR” type of mentality. I carried around raw almonds because of this. Now post Whole30, I chuckle at that. During week one it was all about setting up new routines. I needed to always be home to eat and for someone who is on the go every single day, it was difficult. I’ll go more into that later down the post.

Second Week

Things started to get better for me in the energy department. I slept like a ROCK. In fact I started dreaming of junk food around day 7. They were the craziest dreams that felt so real that I was breaking the rules, I would get in trouble and wake up thinking that it really happened. It was reoccurring nightly throughout all of the second week. Pretty crazy!

Also to note on this week around day 9 I started to break out in these tiny white pimples. Those tiny white pimples that are really close to the surface and break easily. I didn’t get a bunch but it was out of the norm. So I researched it and found it was a form of detox from my skin. Don’t doubt that one bit.

I also started being okay with the fact that I was on Whole30 and didn’t have the notion that I was about to starve all of the time. I didn’t have the urge to carry seeds or almonds with me everywhere I went.

Third week

Around day 14 I started feeling the “tigers blood” which is just another way for them to say everything is AMAZING and your energy is prime. This did last one week for me and abruptly ended by the fourth week.

Fourth week

This week was a pain in my ass. I was grouchy. I wanted it to be over, was done living this way. Hated being tied to my kitchen. Despised the grocery store. I didn’t want to eat one more meal I screwed up making. Argh. This was a rough week.

Last couple of days

The past couple of days were okay. I didn’t feel as lousy and that could just be because I saw the light (finally) at the end of the tunnel. It does feel good not feeling chained to my food any more and the routines I once had are now gone. My mentality when I started was “I can’t have XYZ” which converted to ” I choose not to have it.”

 

  • Don’t start your Whole30 around your period like I did. Day one of Whole30 was day 1 of my period which also didn’t help my Whole30 hangover. All I wanted was chocolate dammit. AND THEN my next period started two-day before day 30. Horrible. Bad timing all around and I don’t recommend it. If you can squeeze in a Whole30 during one period, do it.
  • I would also probably do a Whole30 round in the spring or summer away from any holidays. If you don’t think you can handle it with PSL’s flashing in front of your eyes or holiday parties galore, then stick to doing this in the spring or summer time.
  • R1D1 – You may see numbers like this in Facebook groups or blog posts. All this stands for is: Round 1 (what round of Whole30¬†are you doing – some people do multiple rounds throughout their life) and Day 1 (which day of Whole30 are you on. This matters because of the calendar above. People can relate to what you’re currently going through)
  • Read the grocery store ads for sales on veggies and meat
  • Buy veggies and fruit that are in season!
  • Be prepared to do a LOT of dishes and take out a LOT of trash
  • Have plenty of: trash bags, ziplock bags, food prep bowls and storage containers
  • Get your seasoning pantry in order. Discard what has expired. Make it look nice and pretty. Alphabetized them if you wish. Write every seasoning down in your notepad in your phone. Whole30 recipes usually call for some bonkers seasonings and when you pull up a new recipe at the store you want to be prepared with what you do have verses shelling out $5-$10 per seasoning only to see you actually DID HAVE THAT SEASONING at home.
  • And while you are at it, deep clean your kitchen prior to starting. You will be living in here so make it your haven. Tidy up your cleaners and make sure you have enough dish soap.
  • You will want to save EVERY SINGLE bit of left over food you make. These are great for adding together with other left overs for a meal or if you have a plethora of leftovers, they dub for the next breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • Save any bacon fat if you make bacon!
  • Trader Joes was my SAFE HAVEN. Trader Joes has so many Whole30 compliant ingredients and affordable prices. If you live near a Trader Joes, I would stock up there FIRST before going to a traditional supermarket. Here is a Trader Joes Whole30 compliant list: via PhysicalKitchness
  • You will learn how to season food… quickly. My go to seasonings for just about every thing: onion powder, garlic powder and salt & pepper. Trader Joes has compliant Seasoning Salt (BUH BYE LAWRY’s #sorrynotsorry) TJ’s also has “Everything But the Bagel” seasoning that is compliant too that’s delicious.
  • As I mentioned above, I deleted my Starbucks app. WHAT IS YOUR CLUTCH? You need to delete it or get rid of it. Bonus points: you will save some money during your Whole30!
  • Going to the grocery store every day is better than stocking up and not using all of the ingredients you purchased. Most of Whole30 compliant foods are perishable and perish quickly. Be prepared for that.
  • Be okay with the fact that more times than not, your breakfast will be a dinner dish.
  • I also tried to avoid reheating food in the microwave.
  • And when I did heat up some meals in the microwave like meatloaf (my favorite recipe is below) or mashed potatoes, cover with a wet paper towel to keep it moist.
  • You will learn QUICKLY how much SUGAR is in EVERY SINGLE THING. Argh. This was the HARDEST to deal with when shopping. I couldn’t even find compliant Bone Broth to cook with at the normal grocery story. Another Trader Joes #WIN as both their chicken AND beef bone broths are sugar-free.
  • I found out that I don’t like cauliflower even if its riced up. Be okay with not liking everything and don’t be hard on yourself.
  • Purchase pre-cut veggies as MUCH as possible if you are on the go like I am. Pre-cut/chopped in the veggie refrigerator section AND the freezer section. If you are in the freezer section make sure you are looking at the ingredients and nothing fishy is slipped in.
  • I am not a good meal prep or meal planner but Whole30 was so much more do-able when I forced myself to do this. I found some favorite recipes (below) that are excellent reheated which helped me out during those busy days.
  • If I did any sort of meal prep it was at LEAST cutting sweet potatoes or onions. I felt accomplished if I chopped up anything prior to actually making the meal.
  • Focus on recipes that are EASY and don’t require a lot of ingredients
  • I cheated. Well depending on how strict we’re talking about here. Last week I went shopping at Trader Joes and I went on an empty stomach (bad call as always.) We live about 30 minutes from our TJ’s so on the way to the cash register I was desperately seeking out anything compliant that I could easily ingest in the car. Enter plantain chips. The ingredients are compliant, yes. But the fact that they are “chips” is not Whole30 compliant. I did ration out just about 10 chips for me to slowly eat on the way home, just to get me freaking there before pulling into the nearest Chick fila and throwing it all out the window. Those plantains saved my ass. I don’t recommend this but life happens and you have to adjust. This was the only time I “cheated.”

Dump Ranch

Please. If you take anything away from this blog post let it be this. Dump Ranch. Gods glorious gift to Whole30. It’s so damn good that I have made 3 batches now and do not plan to EVER buy another store-bought Ranch. I eat it with everything and its 100% Whole30 compliant!

 

Smoked TriTip

Do you own a smoker? This one is SO easy just equal parts paprika, kosher salt and pepper. Mix and slather it all over the tritip. Smoke based on lbs of the meat. We made two tritips last week and it lasted a couple of days. I never warmed the tritip up in the microwave (looses flavor!) so I reheated it on the stove. Perfect with eggs for breakfast too!

TriTip Whole30 Her Hashtag Life

 

Everyday Paleo

originally from Everyday Paleo cookbook (affiliate)

I made this twice over the last 30 days. I was able to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 2-3 days. It was a lifesaver!

Everyday Meatloaf - The BEST meatloaf EVER and is Whole30 compliant! By Her Hashtag Life

 

Quick & Easy Taco Salad

I only made the meat from this recipe and it was good! I used my dump ranch over this and some chopped lettuce. In this picture below, I found some compliant pumpkin applesauce at Sprouts  which was my side. The toppings on the taco salad were: cilantro, compliant guac and compliant salsa.

Quick and Easy Taco Salad - The BEST meatloaf EVER and is Whole30 compliant! By Her Hashtag Life

Whole30 Burgers

I just threw some grass-fed burger patties on the stove. Grilled some onions in some ghee (TJ’s has the BEST see below) with some compliant ketchup (see below) with compliant guac on a bed of lettuce. Sides were some left over red potatoes and sweet potatoes. This recipe is QUICK and FAST. I whipped this up in about 15 minutes.

Whole30 burgers - The BEST meatloaf EVER and is Whole30 compliant! By Her Hashtag Life

 

Whole30 Quick and Easy Breakfast

This is what my breakfast usually looked like. On days that I wasn’t exactly on plan, I would cut up an apple and eat it with some compliant almond butter in the car. Gotta do what you gotta do! In this breakfast, I cooked up some eggs in ghee with scramble of¬† compliant sausage, sweet potato, onion and kale. Seasoned with onion powder, garlic powder and s&p. Nothing fancy. Did its job.

 

Whole30 Quick and Easy Breakfast - The BEST meatloaf EVER and is Whole30 compliant! By Her Hashtag Life

 

Breakfast casserole

When I had time to meal prep, breakfast was easy to make ahead. Especially with this easy breakfast casserole. Plus it was easy to eat in the car when I was getting Gentry to school. After you read the recipe, come back here before you begin to read the tweaks I made:

  • Only used one roma tomato and about a palm sized amount of chopped up compliant sun roasted tomatoes.
  • Used fresh basil
  • Defrosted the spinach in a separate pan and squeezed out the water that way. I didn’t have time to wait for the spinach to defrost.
  • Used 12 eggs and added a half cup of full fat coconut milk (Trader Joes brand) to them while whisking them together
  • Only used a cup of cremini mushrooms and added 2 cups of chopped up sweet potato.
  • When I started cooking, I cooked the meat separately. In another pan, I cooked the sweet potato and onion first since that was the most dense ingredient. I layered it then with all of the other ingredients then threw it into the pan. Poured the egg mixture on top.
  • Baked it for an additional 15 minutes until the knife came out clean after I tested the middle.

Whole30 Breakfast Casserole - The BEST EVER and is Whole30 compliant! By Her Hashtag Life

 

Enchilada Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Now I didn’t have time to throw my sweet potatoes in the microwave or Instant Pot when I made this recipe. I had some chopped up and decided to just cook them on the stove. It’s okay to adapt to these recipes if you are on the go like I am! But let me tell you…¬†this meat sauce was so yummy… so yummy… I even put it on a bed of lettuce and poured some dump ranch over it. It was soooo damn good.

Whole30 enchilada meat sauce - The BEST EVER and is Whole30 compliant! By Her Hashtag Life

 

Sheet Pan Fajitas 

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of this, but I made it one of my first nights on Whole30. I found out my body isn’t a fan of “nightshades” so I can’t make this one for myself again however, it was so good that if bell peppers don’t bother you like the do to me, you’d love this recipe!

 

favorite buys - whole30 products by her hashtag life

 

Here is a list of some favorite products I purchased throughout my Whole30.

 

Eating out

So I only ate out TWICE when on Whole30 and I was terrified I was going to screw this up! Searching in the Whole30 Beginner’s Facebook group really helped me out with this one. I just had to do a little research first.

Red Robin

I ordered a simple burger with lettuce instead of a bun. Hold the sauce and cheese. Extra onion and tomato. Add avocado. I brought with me some compliant mayo from Primal Kitchen but I didn’t like it sadly. So that burger held me over for that meal quite well!

In & Out

Double no cheese protein style. Mustard fried. Hold the sauce. Add grilled onions. Extra tomatoes, raw onion and pickles. Add mustard. And that too was perfect but boy was it messy!

It’s so difficult to eat out without knowing exactly how they cook their meats and whats really in their meat too. You can always throw up the allergy card if you can. I was contemplating attempting Texas Roadhouse and ordering a non seasoned steak (if they even season them) with a sweet potato on the side but I didn’t want to risk any accidents.

So… did I lose weight?

I am happy to report that I lost a total of 14 lbs in 30 days! I do have to stress, that I was at the gym 3-4 times a week and if I wasn’t at the gym I would at least walk 2 miles on those days. The reset challenge with FBBC is not over. We have until October 22nd to complete our challenge. It was my goal to lose 20 lbs by then so I am hoping for an additional 6 lbs to melt off in the next week and a half.

Today was my first day eating “normal” outside of the plan. I decided to be lax today and allow myself to eat things I was dreaming of on Whole30. My first stop was… Starbucks. I only ordered a tall and didn’t get any addons like I would normally. And it tasted DELICIOUS. I didn’t just down the drink, I really enjoyed it.

For my off plan meal, we have family nights on Wednesday at Red Robin. I enjoyed my usual chicken wrap and that too was DELICIOUS.

I have been pleasantly surprised that my stomach hasn’t went banana’s over the reintroduction of food. With that said, part of the Whole30 process IS reintroduction in a certain way. Going by food group by food group and slowly introducing the off limit items. I chose NOT to do this and will save that for a future Whole30. I think if was mentally prepared for Whole30 I could have done the phase 2 but as I said above, I had no clue what I was getting into. Well NOW I know… and I think this would be the perfect reset for my body after the holidays and our annual girls cruise in January.

Diet post Whole30

I have been doing some research on “Metabolic Confusion” and I have to read up on it just a little bit more but I have a feeling this will be the route I will take my diet and see how my body reacts to it. In a nutshell, I would be confusing my metabolisim by having a strict eating day (like a Whole30 on plan day) and then another day where I can allow myself some breads and rice and legumes. Then switch it back to a Whole30 day. I am a big believer that one diet does not fit all and that we are all made differently. I find that how I carry and gain weight is parallel to how my Mom and her Mom carry their weight and I just feel that my issue is a genetic one.

Tell me, have you completed Whole30?

Bre. Geiger