I’ve always been a healthy, "clean" eater, but over the past few years I had noticed that my stomach would often hurt after a meal. I chalked it up to stress or a possible gluten sensitivity. Or, maybe I was just stuffing my face. What I did know for sure was that my health was taking second place to an ever-growing list of professional and personal demands.
Then, in the fall of 2016, I had a severe auto-immune reaction to a Sweetgreen salad (SG, it's not you, it's me!). This particular salad was a triple threat: farro, quinoa, and tofu, along with a soy-based dressing. I remember that I ate it on a Friday. By that night, my stomach was six-months pregnant bloated, and my entire GI tract was painful to the touch. I was in bed with a slight fever, chills and body aches. It took me four full days to feel better, and I haven’t eaten tofu or farro since.
After my company shut down in December 2016, I really went through it and completely fell off my healthy eating routine. Initially, I was barely eating, and then when I did eat, I ate unhealthily and drank too much wine at night. In February, my friend and co-worker, Katie (you often see her in the Studio LB videos) had just come back from two weeks in Panama followed by a wedding in Israel; three straight weeks filled with pasta, late nights out and lots of grilled cheese. I overheard Katie talking to her sister about doing Whole30 for one month. I decided that it wouldn’t hurt for me to check it out and join in.
I looked into the program and noticed there were a lot of rules (and also a lot of bad press). It’s designed to help you identify foods that have an adverse effect on your body. In order to identify these foods, you must first eliminate them for 30 days to get your body to its "purest" state, or blank slate. So, no dairy, no sugar, no alcohol, no grains no legumes, including black beans, garbanzos, kidney or soy, and no additives like MSG. Instead, the focus is: Meat, seafood, eggs, veggies, healthy fats like avocado, or olive oil, and low glycemic fruits like berries and apples.
Not a problem! I knew that I could easily do it my way since I eliminated dairy years ago and eat pretty clean, 80/20. At the time, three “No’s” were not happening for me: 1. Wine…because I was going through some sh*t, so I allowed myself 6 oz. per day. 2. Lentils, and garbanzo beans…because they are not processed, and they are my staple healthy, veggie proteins. 3. Brown rice and quinoa…because I’m a big fan of rice (it has fueled 10+ Activations and killer transformations) and I know that 2 tablespoons of quinoa is my sweet spot. Personally, I just cannot eat animal protein every day. So I knew that I was going into this modified so that it would work for me. What I was doing became the "Lauren Plan," and Katie and her sister did Whole30.
Week 1: "All Set!" With my fridge stocked to photo-shoot perfection, I started out strong with full breakfasts, beautiful lunches, and awesome dinners. The first three days were great and I felt more energized.
Days four through seven were more difficult for me. I don’t really ever deny myself what my body wants (within reason) but I really wanted to stick to my plan. I packed tea and plenty of fresh fruit, nuts and crudité on days when the struggle was really real, and I called Katie whenever I was tempted to cheat. On day seven my abs were popping like they hadn't in years and at that moment I was ALL IN.
Week 2: “Who dat!?” On day 10, I felt like this was my new normal and I was never going back. I was excited, and my energy was through the roof. My mood swings and bellyaches were gone for good (except for that time I ate too many tubers), I was down four pounds (bonus!), and I was sleeping SO much better.
Week 3: “French fries? Um, more veggies please!” By week three, I felt like the OG me. I was awake and alert, early mornings became easy and I had absolutely no desire to eat crap or cheat. And, I was telling everyone. When I believe in something, I spread the gospel something fierce. Like, everyone I knew HAD TO DO THIS.
Week 4: “It’s over? I’m never stopping.” I was happy my 30 days were almost over, because I was really excited to reintroduce some dark chocolate, and a little something in my coffee, but I also felt so freaking fantastic that I didn’t want it to end. My insides felt so perfect and healthy that I was committed to this way of eating.
These guidelines and the official Eat with LB meal plan (coming in 2018) are influenced by Whole30 but it’s absolutely not Whole30.
I incorporate these guidelines in my daily life. Since April 2017, I’ve stuck with this plan, adopting a 90/10 rule where I mostly follow the plan unless I am out with friends or have a special event. Currently, I’ve lost a total of 14 pounds without really trying or going hungry.
My plan has changed my relationship with food for the better. My metabolism is like never before, and I don’t miss sugar. I look forward to prepping, planning and cooking for myself and I love knowing what fuel my body really needs for energy and peak athletic performance.
I hope you commit to this and fall in love with real, whole foods and cooking as much as I have. Find what really works for you, and what is a non-negotiable to go without (don’t say pizza). Also, I highly recommend doing this with a buddy. Now it’s a way of life for me, but I don’t know if I could have completed my second week without being able to lean on Katie.
Check in, I'll be posting recipes, tricks and tips for you.
You can do it!