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My attempt at the Whole30 Challenge or that time I went paleo

My attempt at the Whole30 Challenge or that time I went paleo
My attempt at the Whole30 Challenge or that time I went paleo

After 3 months of intense marathon training, 1 month of recovery, and 1 week spent on a cruise ship, this June I felt it was time to revisit my diet.

I am no stranger to changing my eating habits! Over the past several years, I’ve had my fair share of diet experimentation: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and bean-free.

My first day of no longer being vegetarian was “celebrated” at a local farm, eating some very fresh chicken. I have my good friend May to thank for that one! And it was certainly one way to end my 2 years of vegetarianism. There was also the time I gave up coffee, but let’s not talk about that… those were some dark times. 

Wanting to refocus on whole unprocessed food and wean myself off my addiction to and over-reliance on peanut butter, dark chocolate, Vega Sport protein powder, and Quest Bars, I settled on attempting the 30-day Whole30 Program

I am also heading back into another marathon training cycle and am always looking for ways to improve my running, boost my energy, and stay injury-free throughout the training process.

What is Whole30 you ask? 

Established by Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig, it is “a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.”

What do you eat? 

For 30 days, you are to only eat “real food”: “Eat meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed.”

What can’t you eat? 

Sugar of any kind (including maple syrup, honey, and agave nectar); alcohol of any kind; grains (including quinoa); legumes and beans; all forms of soy; dairy; carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites; and “recreated” baked goods or treats with Whole30 approved ingredients.

Download their helpful PDF for the full rules.


How do you eat? 

  • 3 meals per day: each meal is based around 1-2 palm-sized protein sources. The rest of your plate is filled with vegetables, adding a serving of fruit occasionally. You are also recommended to add 1-2 thumb-sized fat sources to each meal.
  • Pre-Workout: 1/2 meal-sized protein and half meal-sized fat sources. You are not supposed to include fruit or carb-dense vegetables.
  • Post-Workout: meal-sized protein and carbohydrate. You are not supposed to include fat or have fruit as your carbohydrate; instead choose sweet potatoes, yam, or squash.

The result? 

I followed Whole30 to a “t” for the first 5 days! And then I ate dark chocolate and some Quest Bars and fell off the bandwagon. Update: I have hopped back on!

Admittedly, several years ago, I was very strict with my diet. The list of foods I refused to eat was probably longer than the list of foods I would. I have no desire to return to that and have been hesitant to attempt a strict eating challenge since. While I want to feel and look good (let’s not lie!) I also have little motivation to go crazy over what I eat.

But I feel fantastic eating this way.

My energy is better, I have fewer cravings, and overall I feel like I am eating a much more nourishing, and balanced diet. My running feels stronger and dare I say, a bit easier! It has also reignited my enthusiasm for cooking and trying out new recipes and ingredients. So I am doing my best to follow the Whole30 guidelines on a daily basis (and see how long I last rather than stopping at the 30 day mark) with a few exceptions:

  • I eat a small apple as part of my pre-workout
  • I will “treat” myself to a Quest Bar and dark chocolate 1-2 times per week
  • Limit myself to 3 servings of fruit per day (typically berries, bananas, apples)
  • I may drink occasionally (I work in the liquor industry, so it’s an occupational hazard)
  • I don’t worry about eating snacks if I’m hungry (while they’re not on the “no” list they’re not overly encouraged by Whole30)


Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll share some of my favourite Whole30 meals and snacks and exactly what I’ve been eating so far!

Have you tried Whole30 before? Are you attempting any eating challenges these days?


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