I really enjoy the art of food. Now, don’t get me wrong…I most certainly enjoy the “eating” part, but for me, food was always something more: the comfort and social aspects of food were everything. I guess it would be safe to say that I’d consider myself a foodie, and I never in a million years thought I’d ever for a second want to give up that daily pleasure of never holding back when it came to food.When I began to see friends posting about this new “diet” called the Whole30 I rolled my eyes and remember thinking “Wonderful. Another calorie counting, starve yourself, blend it/mash it/juice it trend to fill up my feed.”

Now, let me make this clear: I have nothing against those that like to diet and boast about it on social media (I’m now one of them)…but with an addiction to all things food I loathed anyone that did. As a social media strategist, you’d think I’d be the first to jump on the “trend” bandwagon, but when it comes to dieting… I was far on the opposite side of the spectrum. So when my fiancé, Tyler brought up the idea of trying this latest “diet craze” Whole30 I remember thinking “yea right …time to talk him off of this ledge.” (For reference: I now take that back)

What is it?

The Whole30 first and foremost is NOT a diet. It IS a lifestyle change. Similar to eating Paleo, this ‘elimination diet’s goal is to rid your body of all of the harmful foods in your life.

Whole30 No No’s

No added sugar (Real or Not. Read ALL of your labels!) • No alcohol • No grains (this includes corn!) •  No legumes (sadly, this includes peanuts, peanut butter, peas, soy, etc) • No dairy •  No MSG, sulfites, or carrageenan •  No baked goods (or compilations of Whole Foods in baked goods form) • No getting on the scale!

So…what can you eat? (This was my favorite question from friends & family) Real Food.

Eat moderate portions of meat, seafood, and eggs; lots of vegetables; some fruit; plenty of natural fats; and herbs, spices, and seasonings. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.

[Excerpt taken from the Whole30 official website]

The Convincing

Deconstructed Egg Rolls

I was NOT on board. I saw it as another painful opportunity to diet, and thought: “this sounds like the most miserable thing ever.” No sugar? No bread? You have to be crazy. I thought he truly had to be out of his mind when he asked me one morning to consider doing it with him.

Some of our Pre-Whole30 habits included: snacking often, takeout at minimum 3 nights a week, and I usually needed to end the evening on a high note with a sweet treat. Tyler didn’t eat sweets, drink, normally refrained from carbs, and had tried diets before, so for Tyler…this didn’t seem half bad. I however, enjoyed all things sugar, loved a bubbly beverage, had the occasional beer or sugary alcoholic drink, and could get down with some cheese pizza, bread & rice. I worked out, was pretty content with my body structure, and didn’t see a huge need for a diet.

Then Why Do It?

While I was pretty content with my eating & lifestyle habits, I was NOT content with how I felt after I ate food. I was often struggling with the idea that I might have an allergy to some foods, but really didn’t want that to be true. I had cut a lot of dairy out of my life, but I enjoyed the foods I liked, and didn’t see an immediate need for change…or I did, and wasn’t willing to admit it to myself. This was my weakness, combined with Tyler’s encouragement to do something healthy together. We sat and talked about how I’d probably be need to do an elimination diet eventually…so better late than never.

I was worried, scared, and even at the beginning of the program…reluctant. Not because I didn’t think it would be possible, but because I was pretty sure I was setting myself up for complete food failure.

This photo was taken because it proves that eating Whole30 compliant at restaurants, on vacations are possible with a little research! This spaghetti squash bolognese was amazing!

Was it Hard?

All of the food picture in this blog is 100% compliant, and 100% made by me (or Tyler!). Pictured above: Taco Burgers & Sweet Potato Fries (Cooked With: Coconut Oil)

This is a loaded question. Yes, I had my moments. There is one particular day that comes to mind. At Day 10, I was feeling particularly…difficult. I was ready to throw in the towel because I was just over it. I wasn’t hungry, I was just bored, and I truly felt like the world was ending. When I got to this point (it wasn’t often) I pushed through, found a new recipe, went for a walk, played with the dogs, or found something to keep me busy. Was it worth it. The answer is always yes.

So what happened?

We prepped a lot.

Tyler and I put serious thought into what we were eating each day, and we carefully planned our lives around the choices with our foods. Grocery trips took hours at first, because we were tricked one too many times with not reading all of our labels and getting home to realize that the turkey we had just purchased had added sugars. We quickly realized how terrible most foods we were eating were for us, and it quickly became more than a diet. My friends and family were super supportive, and helped me properly manage my life around food.

I felt better.

My energy levels are at an all time high…enough for my first EVER 5 mile run!

Pre-Whole30, I was always sick, and I never had a source of evil. On the Whole30, I hardly ever got sick, and the few times I did, I had a source unrelated to food. (I am very active and didn’t drink enough water!) My energy was at an all-time high, but I also got some serious sleep. My skin felt better (thanks Pevonia!), I didn’t crave food, and I really enjoyed how I looked at food as it pertained to my health. I wasn’t hungry anymore (sure, I missed bread), but I no longer needed food because I craved it. During the day I felt more energized, and I was more focused at work!

It was fun.

I can’t believe I’m actually going to be caught saying this…but we had SO much fun. I cooked a lot…and liked it. Instead of spending time in front of the TV, on the couch, eating takeout…we talked about our day, or watched TV while making dinner together in the kitchen. We made secret “Whole30” jokes that weren’t funny to anyone but us, and we did it together. I still went out, didn’t let food get in the way of my social life, and I planned my life around the program.

I am stronger than I think.

A few days into the diet, instead of the offered Twinkies, Famous Amos cookies, and chips at a work meeting…I chose an apple. That the moment I knew I’d be okay. Coffee without sugar became okay, and I ate fruit to get over my 3:00 slump…and eventually grew out of it. At some point (I couldn’t tell you when) an internal switch flipped, and I suddenly made choices because I wanted to and not because the diet told me to. I went on vacation (not recommended) and resisted cake, pasta, and donuts…and wasn’t in the least bit upset or regretful of my decision to abstain. I had my moments of frustration, but I quickly discovered that just because food was healthy didn’t mean it had to taste bad. I was faced with FOEO (fear of

My 4:30 am sunrise yoga. At Day 29, this day signified how far I’d come in my journey to a healthier me!

eating out)-but I surprisingly took this risk and successfully ate compliant at several restaurants.

I achieved physical success.

I ran often, participated in intense cardio dance twice a week, lifted weights, and walked often. In addition, I woke up at 4 am to do sunrise yoga, always took the stairs instead of the elevator, and really enjoyed working out knowing I had a completely healthy lifestyle.

Above and Beyond Expectations

The Whole30 isn’t about losing weight, and it isn’t about the 30 days. It’s about changing your perspective on food, and making the experience your own. I won’t lie when I say losing 10 pounds & a dress size (or two) was fantastic. I felt more confident about my body, enjoyed educating others about eating healthy, and felt better than I have in a long time. It’s Day 30, and although by now I thought I’d be ready for takeout, sugar, and bread…I have no plans of slipping into my old ways. Sure, we’ll have a piece of cake on our wedding day, we’ll probably sneak in a treat for our birthdays, and we’ll for sure eat plenty of stuffing on Thanksgiving (and regret it later!) but our lifestyle with food won’t be changing. Food no longer dictates my life, and I’m so grateful for everything I’ve learned for a more #BeautyFull life.

Have questions? Recipe suggestions? Want to learn more about my experience? Ask or tell me below!


Amber Wilcox For Pevonia

Amber Wilcox For Pevonia

Amber Wilcox is the Social Media & Public Relations Strategist for Pevonia. Originally from the Northeast, Wilcox holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and a Minor in Psychology. She enjoys living a millennial lifestyle full of beauty, fashion, animals, eco-living, health & wellness, and community. Her past roles have included work with the Theme Park Industry and most recently a local non-profit humane society. In her free time, Wilcox enjoys snorkeling (with turtles!), volunteering, shopping, and spending time with her husband and two dachshunds.