A Lot Can Happen In 30 Days

I’ve been eating paleo since July 2009, and I’m about 97% compliant which means I pack lunch and snacks every day for work, eat out in restaurants only about once or twice a week, and on rare, indulgent occasions, indulge in a cocktail, chips and salsa, popcorn, or a few bites of a dessert (usually shared with my handsome husband so it’s twice-delicious).

As I’ve already confessed, when I went to Prague and Berlin for almost three weeks in September, I decided to indulge in whatever I wanted. Practically speaking, it meant I ate baguettes for breakfast, enjoyed some really killer coffee cake, snacked on chocolate, and fell in love with dumplings – but I also ate a fair amount of salads with grilled chicken and lots of roast duck. (Yay, protein!)

On October 1, I started a Whole30. I ate clean and suffered through the re-entry into healthy eating with grim good humor. I’d brought the agony on myself, after all. I was well on my way to a celebratory “my 30 days are over” dinner on November 1… until I went to a wedding on Day 16, drank wine (!) instead of club soda, ate fried grain-infused appetizers for dinner, then wrapped it all up with more wine and a slab (a SLAB!) of wedding cake.

October 17 was the second Day 1 of my Whole 30.

And today is Day 30.

In the last 30 days, I decided to make my Whole30 a whole thirty-nine, which takes me all the way through to Thanksgiving. We’re cooking a mostly paleo Thanksgiving – all of our food is strictly compliant except for one dessert, and I’ll be enjoying a few glasses of pink Prosecco. Then I’m going right back to my usual habit: no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no alcohol except for an occasional indulgence.

It’s not that I have an immense amount of willpower or that I like keeping myself on a short leash. It’s because I really like who I am and how I feel when I eat properly. I think I’m more patient, calmer, more optimistic, and more confident. I like when my stomach isn’t bloated and when my thinking is clear. And, if I’m totally honest, I also really dig feeling smug when I snarf big piles of protein, veggies, and coconut oil.

Feeling wonderful is an excellent reward, no doubt about it. But I’m pretty vain. So I’m also very excited about the aesthetic, fashion-friendly results of my Whole30.

If you’re wondering if you should try a Whole30, here are some details of my experience. Give it a month; it will change you and teach you all kinds of interesting things about yourself. (Ready to get started? Go to Whole9Life now for ideas and support.)

I’m sleeping like a champ. When I returned from Prague, I was suffering my the way the “old me” slept: I would wake up at exactly 4:18 every morning. For real. Terrible! Now I’m sleeping 8 or so hours a night, soundly and comfortably.

Working out
In May I had a life implosion and then in September I took that glorious month-long vacation. During both of those times, training was definitely not a priority. Now my workouts are totally back on track. Speed and strength are where they were before the life implosion, and I’m ready to start making some improvements now!

I had my 3-month checkup at the endocrinologist this week. My blood pressure was PERFECT (18 months ago, before I started eating this way, the doc was threatening to put me on blood pressure meds) and for the first time in a year, my Synthroid dose was not increased. My thyroid seems to finally be humming along.

I can’t lie to you: the first week or so (both times) was rocky. The sugar monster stalked me, and my inner 8-year-old didn’t want to drink club soda instead of sparkling wine. But there’s a reason the giant brains behind Whole9 Life and The Paleo Solution recommend a 30-day commitment. Sometime within that 30 days, it stops being a thing and just is. I can’t describe it any other way. One day it’s a struggle and the next: poof! It’s an uneventful way of being that makes being the “old” way seem nearly impossible. (But not completely impossible; see Trip to Prague.) It’s not a struggle to say ‘no’ to the tortilla chip basket, nor is it a burden to read food labels. The immediate and/or future damage of eating dairy or gluten – aaccidentally or intentionally – isn’t worth the convenience of momentary pleasure. And besides, Good Food tastes freakin’ great.

And now… vanity!

My skin
Yesterday I thought, “My makeup looks great today.”… then I realized, wasn’t the makeup, it’s my skin. Dare I say, it’s peachy?!

My belly
I came home from Prague with a souvenir belly. Today, I’m wearing a pair of black Dickies pants (super cute!) that I bought to wear in Prague but ultimately left at home because they were starting to get tight before I went on my trip. (“Yay! We’re going on vacation! Let’s have chips and salsa!” Happy, sad, I just like to eat.) I’m pleased to announce that today, they fit like a dream.

My muscles
I’ve never been ripped or cut or in any way carved, but I have, at various times, had a shape to my shoulders and legs that I looked on fondly: “I’m short and stocky, but my shape is kinda cute!” All of that turned to mush in the Czech Republic, but after 30 days of clean eating and CrossFit 3X a week, my shoulders are looking shapelier and my legs are tighter.

So for eight more days, I’ll remain 100% clean. Then on Thanksgiving, I’ll relish every sip of the Prosecco and savor each bite of Dave’s apple crisp… after a tabata workout in the morning. Friday, it will be business as usual: 97% compliance with no end in sight.

Because this is how I eat. And live. And thrive.

Our New Project: Strong Sense of Place

My new project is taking all of my attention right now, and I'd love for you to join me for new adventures! It's called Strong...

Read More

Rants & Rave: 25 April 2020

We could all use some happy distractions right about now, right? Here are some of the things I found online lately that made me happy....

Read More


  • Lauren {Stylized Existence} says:

    very well written and inspirational. you go girl 😉

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Thanks, Lauren! I'm excited to see how my body changes in 2011 with more clean eating, harder training, and a thyroid that's not working against me anymore. The fashion opportunities are VERY enticing 😉

  • jencereghino says:

    I LOVE this post.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Thanks, Jen! I love it, too. It's so great to be on the other side of the hump. I kept waiting for the 'magic' to happen, and in the last few days, it's really kicked in.

  • Lydia G says:

    I'm in the middle of a nutrition challenge at my box, which is kinda like the Whole 30. I've also found that there comes a point where this is the new normal, not that big of a deal after all, and the junk is just not that alluring.

    However, I've introduced a once-a-week cheat day as an experiment. I like the cheat day, but the next day I feel like crap. It's an attempt for me to loosen up about the Rules and not be so all-or-nothing. (In the past, if I cheated at all, everything was derailed.)

  • Danni says:

    Awesome job! I am very inspired. I am failing so far at my most recent attempt to goal-set with my nutrition. It makes me feel like a loser. At least I've been working out though.

  • kim says:

    girl, you inspire me. keep on postin' your awesomeness!

  • J.Spice says:

    You know, I was having one of thoes days yesterday. But, reading this makes me want to stay on track. I love how you put it all into perspective for me!

  • Trixie says:

    Awesome post my dear:)

  • Lydia says:

    Congratulations on your 30! And extra woot woots for a happy thyroid!

    \m/ >_< \m/

  • Molly HodgePodge says:

    So, I've been lurking, reading, getting inspired, and trying out the recipes (LOVE Pizza soup) – and am now impelled to comment.

    I've just started eating Paleo, and have had this EXACT same conversation with several people recently about the benefits and my mind set.

    Two things I'm still working on – this not being a 'thing' and refraining from saying (out loud) 'I can't eat X' when faced with food choices. I'd rather it be a positive than a negative, but figure I'll learn as time goes on.

    Just wanted to say thank you for putting down what has been rolling around in my head for a while. I'll be directing folks to read this when I'm faced with the inevitable "WHY?".

  • Marcy says:

    I love that your goal was 100% for 30 days (plus!). That post from Whole 9 about how points & penalties miss the point is so true. Having to start over – that's the only 'penalty' that's going to work. I started Nov 1st and will be going through Thanksgiving for sure. I have extra motivation because something is making me react to eggs so they're out for the 30 also. The better I adhere, the more chance I'll have of reintroducting eggs. I'm on no caffeine also to give my liver extra help.

    I have been thinking about your blog a lot lately since I just joined a local CrossFit. Totally died my first class, but I have 11 more before I'm a member so I'm hoping I'll make enough progress to not embarass myself.

  • Gina Miles says:

    Great job!! I LOVE your blog! Keep up the good work. You're inspiring!

  • Tara says:

    I love the mindset that you approach your health with. I totally get the 'liking who you are more when you eat well' bit. I'm the same way. I'm a totally different person. For instant depression, just add processed food, or so it goes in my world. I wonder how many marriages have imploded because of Cheetos.

  • American Renaissance says:

    May I steal some quotes? This was a great Post!!!