a peek inside the fishbowl

02 Apr, 2018

Annnnnnd we’re done. (Whole 30 wrap up!)

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Recipes and Food

The last days of Whole 30 were probably the hardest, not because I was ready to throw in the towel, but because there were more obstacles than usual.

Good Friday was officially our Day 30. We had Easter dinner at my inlaws and I ate as per the plan although I was sorely tempted to slather a couple of biscuits with butter and cram them into my mouth while no one was looking. But I didn’t. I wasn’t perfect though. Notably, Easter hams are traditionally basted with some kind of sugar but I let that one go and ate the ham, along with a salad and potatoes. No wine or dessert for me, though.

The night before really tested our mettle. You see, Mark lucked into a pair of tickets to see the Sens game. Under normal circumstances, the overpriced beer, hot dogs, and popcorn would be easy enough for me to avoid but these tickets were in one of the suites. This means food service, and a fridge stocked with beer/cider/pop and also wine. The food on offer included pizza, mini-burgers, and Golden Palace egg rolls.

If you follow me on Instagram you have seen my story about it but I’m linking to it here so the rest of you can imagine my woe. ;)

There were ALSO big bowls of popcorn and potato chips. I could give pizza a pass, same for burgers, (egg rolls are a little harder, I admit) but popcorn and chips are my Achille’s heel.

I was feeling a little weak, as you can imagine, but as Mark pointed out, it’s only food. Who’s in control here? (Answer: me.) What helped was that I stuffed a bag of roasted cashews from home into my purse, so we had something to eat with our bottled water. Sigh.

After awhile the nice lady from CT Centre whose job it was to take care of the patrons in the suite, gave up asking Mark and I if we wanted anything. Thankfully, no one asked why we were only drinking bottled water and sneaking cashews from my purse.

Saturday was the first day post Whole 30 and I was happy to finally enjoy a proper coffee. I took a sip of milk before heating it up. It was so sweet, sweeter than I had remembered. Weird how your tastebuds change, eh? The coffee was good, obviously not as bitter as my daily espresso, but it also tasted weak to me. I will have to tweak my morning brew.

I also enjoyed my regular breakfast of granola/All Bran and fruit. There was no yogurt in the house so I had to make do with milk. It was nice to have a light breakfast again, but on the flip side, I was hungry two hours later, long before lunch. I found that interesting because that never happened to me when I was eating Whole 30 approved breakfasts. I always felt full and happy.

I should mention that we travelled to a family wedding this weekend. In terms of “life after Whole 30” there was no gentle re-introduction of foods as per the author’s instructions. The wedding dinner was, surprisingly, almost entirely Whole 30 compliant: soup, chicken breast/veggies. And then there was the rest of it. The wine was flowing (of course I had some) and there were also cupcakes (of course I had some of those too). As one does when one travels, there were stops for coffee and snacks, breakfast sandwiches, chips, pop etc. etc. Also, Easter chocolate. I wouldn’t say that I totally fell off the bandwagon. I ate without overthinking and had no regrets because I was in control of my choices, even though they weren’t all healthy choices. I ate mindfully, and I was ok with that. Even when we ordered that pepperoni pizza from Domino’s on our return home.

If we hadn’t been travelling I would have probably taken a different approach in these first days after the Whole 30, but I am fine with how it went down and being gentle with myself.

Now that we’re done the Whole 30, I did want to take a moment to talk about a few things that bugged me about it.

  • The lack of meal plans in the Whole 30 book. They give a sample seven day plan but they deliver it with a bit of attitude that’s uncalled for. If they want readers to succeed, why not give them a bit of extra help? Or is it because they want to sell their subscription service? Hmmm…
  • I still don’t understand why I had to give up popcorn.
  • Fibre! I think I ate plenty of fruit, vegetables, and nuts/seeds but I still was pretty short on fibre. My body definitely missed whole grains and legumes.
  • The Whole 30 authors don’t recommend weighing yourself for the duration of the challenge. On one hand, I get it. I think weighing yourself every day is, perhaps, putting too much importance on weight loss and not enough on changing eating habits and focusing on how you’re feeling. Plus, your weight can swing a few pounds either way depending on a number of different factors, so why do that to yourself? As some of you already know, I weighed myself at one point because I was dying of curiosity, but that’s it. Mark weighed himself a few times. I think weighing yourself once a week is totally reasonable. If the person wants to do it, why not?
  • Further to this, the authors instruct you to not spend time looking at yourself in the mirror to observe/admire any newfound lean muscles, flatter tummies etc. I think this is crazy. Why not admire yourself and be proud of your progress! I’m sure this is a big motivating factor for many people.
  • The author’s comments about post-Whole 30 are a bit harsh too. They recommend gradual re-introduction to foods that may have been problematic from a gastro perspective, which is fine. I get it. It’s important for people who suspect they may have issues with certain food groups like dairy and gluten, but what about the rest of us? I already know that sugar and bread make me bloated and puffy – and as an adult I can choose to eat those things or navigate around them – so why the attitude if I’m willing to deal with it? I don’t believe that skipping the re-introduction phase makes the previous 30 days a total waste of time.

In a past post I wondered how much money we saved by only eating food from the produce and meat department. Well, it’s a bit of a toss-up. We spent a LOT less on dining out compared to last month – almost nothing – but only slightly less in terms of groceries. This isn’t necessarily to say that eating meat and vegetables costs more. I could have been more budget oriented for sure, but in order to combat any feelings of deprivation I pretty much bought anything I felt like eating (within reason, of course).

Some of you probably want to know if I lost any weight on the Whole 30. Well…

– I lost 3″ around the waist and hips
– I lost 6.1 lbs (146 to 139.9 lbs) total

Here’s a visual (I’ve gone back an extra month here FYI):

Whole 30 total weight loss

It’s interesting to see that I lost the bulk of the weight in the first part of the month. Strangely, I feel lighter than the scale indicates. And taller too. (How weird is that?) My clothes are comfortable again and dare I say, some are even loose. I feel really good. I can report, with confidence, that my energy levels were more even on Whole 30, as were my moods. I wasn’t ever hangry or starving. That 3 p.m. crash also disappeared.

I am happy. I am also proud. I DID this thing. I didn’t cheat, give in, or give up. And if I can do it, anyone can do it. I will say this, it really helps to have someone do it with you. I can’t imagine doing it alone.

The Whole 30 gets a bad rap as a diet, but people seem to forget that it’s not meant to be a permanent way of eating. It restricts certain food groups for a limited time in order to help people (a) assess their relationship with food (b) find out how certain foods make them feel (c) help them make better choices in the future. It’s not perfect, but it’s not a bad idea.

Some small Whole 30 “tricks” that worked for me:

  • treating myself to luxe seasonings: fancy salts and hot sauces etc.
  • planning meals around foods that I actually like (This is a no-brainer, really.)
  • … further to this, seeing whole foods as a treat, because they are. (“Wow this grapefruit is so delicious. What a treat!”)
  • buying twice the number of eggs I thought I needed at all times
  • not eating out, at all. Honestly, it’s not worth the effort or the heartache.
  • watching movies at home instead of the theatre (because: POPCORN)

I think what I gained over the past 30 days is a better understanding of myself: What foods do I need to make me happy? What makes me feel good? Feel crappy?

After the Easter chocolate is all gone I plan to continue to eat better breakfasts with added protein in the mix and be selective about the foods I consume in general. I have learned that I must limit bread and sugar if I want to stay trim. I know these two things make me puffy and bloated. Somehow, when I eat sugar, I hold on to extra weight. (It’s not very scientific, but there it is.)

Whole 30 presents a long list of ailments that may be cured or cleared up when switching over to their prescribed diet. Some may be true, others, well, who knows. I’m no doctor. But Mark and I did exchange a lot of comments and observations that began with “This might be my imagination but…”

Can dropping sugar and processed foods help joint pain, headaches, clear up skin issues? I’m not sure, but I do know that I feel better overall. But do I feel better because of the foods I’ve been consuming, or because I lost six pounds and my pants aren’t cutting off my circulation at the waist?

Also, I don’t know if the Easter chocolate is to blame, but I’m currently suffering a bit of a breakout. One of life biggest surprises is that teenage acne doesn’t end when you stop being a teenager.

Anyway, there it is! This was a very long wrap-up post but I thought this was information worth sharing. I’d love to hear if you’re thinking of trying something similar. Or maybe you’re happy with the status quo? I’d love to hear your story too.


10 Responses to "Annnnnnd we’re done. (Whole 30 wrap up!)"

1 | Jinjer

April 2nd, 2018 at 3:45 pm


Thanks for this great report. Curious to know if your husband had any observations he’d like to add. Did he find it easy? Difficult?

I really need to cut back on sugar. For sure.

Anyway, good job and congrats!!!

2 | Misty

April 2nd, 2018 at 9:07 pm


This was a great post, and I loved following along! I definitely think it has been doing it alone that’s led to my failure, as how can I survive when my husband is eating chips? LOL. But, I also think reframing my thinking (I.e. telling myself this is not deprivation) may help me survive the entire 30 days. I’m considering trying again this summer, but we shall see. I think I definitely want to try balancing my blood sugar a bit better, so maybe I can attempt smaller changes by adding more protein to my meals!

3 | Mark

April 2nd, 2018 at 9:55 pm


For what it’s worth I think I found the 30 days harder than Andrea. I have a more limited choice of vegetables that I enjoy so I did find the meal choices started to become repetitive. Too many eggs, too much chicken etc, too many oranges etc. I really never felt hungry which is good. I didn’t miss eating sugar or dairy. There were a couple of occasions out with friends where I drank soda water while they drank beer. That was tough to do. My biggest criticism of the Whole30 though is the apparent lack of fibre. Whole grains are important, so I’m not sure about excluding them from your diet. I did lose 6 lbs and I never really felt that I was depriving myself of food so there’s that.

4 | Louise

April 3rd, 2018 at 9:18 am


This was very informative. Thank you! I’m currently suffering through a break out, as well (hello, 45?!!) and deep down I feel concerned (cause I love it so) that it’s sugar to blame.

Could I pull off a Whole30? I just don’t know.

5 | Claudette

April 3rd, 2018 at 9:39 am


Great write-up Andrea, and nice to see Mark chime in. :) I remember when my husband did the Paleo, he always said he didn’t miss x or y, stuff he usually eats or drinks when he’s not on some focused mission to improve his health, sleep or whatever. Men have different perspectives in general, no? It seems that way to me. So it was great to hear Mark’s view.

I do a bit of a loosely followed anti-candida/paleo/whole diet. Probably the one thing that is overall noteworthy is that you, the dieter, is more in tune with your body after experimenting like this.

The eggs are going to kill me. Not because I don’t like them but because with 3 out of 4 of us eating them regularly for breakfast, I am always, always OUT of eggs. :) But I do have some great stand-by recipes for breakfast eggs to liven things up…maybe I should blog about this. Think, Mexican…or mixed with bitter greens. Something different.

Now go enjoy your Easter chocolate. :)

6 | andrea tomkins

April 3rd, 2018 at 11:04 am


Thanks guys! (And thanks Mark, for adding your two cents).

For those people who don’t think they can pull it off, I have to ask, what’s preventing you from trying it? The one thing that got me through was the understanding that I am in charge of my body. I’m in control. I make the decisions, not a bowl of chips or a bottle of beer. (They are, after all, inanimate objects, right? As Mark said, IT’S JUST FOOD.) Also, it’s only 30 days! A drop in the bucket, in the grand scheme of things.

I definitely think that people who enjoy a wider variety of foods have an advantage here. Which is my case for sure. I have no problem eating asparagus for breakfast, adding sweet potato to bulk up a meal etc. I think this helped stave off any feelings of deprivation or meal boredom.

You’re right Claudette, that after this kind of food challenge the dieter does have a better perspective on his/her body. To your point, I had an interesting experience yesterday. For the past couple of days I’ve eaten lots of Easter chocolate. I ate some on Sunday, and more on Monday. I found myself totally crashing on Monday afternoon, something that haden’t happened in a long time. By Monday night I really wasn’t feeling good. In fact, I had a little nap after dinner and was convinced I was getting a cold.

I remember this used to happen a lot. I’d say to Mark: “I think I’m getting sick.” To which he’d reply: “You often think you’re getting sick, but you don’t.” Weird eh? It must be all that sugar I’ve been eating. ALSO, I weighed myself this morning and I was up three pounds. How is that possible??

So I’m taking a couple steps back today. This morning I had my usual granola/All-Bran/blueberry mix but with high-protein yogurt and a handful of nuts thrown in. Then I had a hard-boiled egg around 10:30. We’ll see how the rest of the day goes. :/

7 | Sabrina

April 3rd, 2018 at 12:28 pm


I have been following this with interest Andrea — thanks for documenting. As a middle age woman who loves food, but not interested in gaining 5lbs/year, I have learned a few things that I will offer here, in case they are of use to anyone else. I am not at all willing to give us whole grains or bread or sugar. But, for the most part, I try to only have those foods for breakfast and lunch. This means way fewer [mostly none at all] carbs at dinner. And no dessert after dinner. But I’m living in the real [fun] world too, so I make lots of exceptions – dinner parties, out with friends, etc. I need the energy from the carbs to function during the day, and once I make it a habit, I don’t really miss having rice or potato on a regular M-F dinner. But bread and pasta are waaay too yummy to cut out of my life for good!

8 | andrea tomkins

April 3rd, 2018 at 12:45 pm


Thanks for your comments, Sabrina! As you know, I too am a middle-aged woman who loves food. :) And I agree that bread is too good to be cut out completely but there was one point in my life when I was simply eating too much of it, basically, at every meal and then some. What works for me is to treat it like a treat. When I do eat it, I want it to be The Best Bread. I’ll certainly enjoy a croissant or baguette from time-to-time but just like I don’t eat cake every day, I can’t eat bread or sugar products every day. That’s just the way it has to be for me, and I’m ok with that. I see rice, bread, potatoes, essentially as filler foods. If I’m filling up on those things, I’m NOT filling up on veggies and protein.

One of the things that also works for me is simply not having certain foods in the house. If I don’t buy a carton of ice cream, I won’t eat ice cream after dinner. A better practice is to ride/walk/make a date night out of a special trip for really good ice cream. (I’m thinking specifically of Stella Luna and Merry Dairy!) That, to me, is totally worth it.

9 | Beth

April 4th, 2018 at 12:42 pm


I followed your Whole30 experience with interest! Sugar is inflammatory, so your comment that when you eat sugar, you hold on to weight is right on the money. The standard American/Canadian diet includes SO much sugar–a lot of it hidden in processed foods. I follow a ‘diet’ called Trim Healthy Mama that is (mostly) free of processed foods, sugar, and blood sugar raising foods (think the ‘whites’: flour, sugar, pasta, white rice, regular bread). Bread is NOT forbidden, it just needs to be the right kind (sprouted or soured) and paired with the right foods. So many people, myself included, have reduced inflammation, joint pain, acne, headaches, and lost weight, and even been able to come off of diabetes medication due to blood sugar balancing out. I’ve rarely felt deprived while eating this way–using sugar alternatives like stevia and xylitol allow us to have sweet treats, too.

(I didn’t mean that to sound like a sales pitch–truly! I just love how much better I feel while on THM and want to spread the knowledge!)

10 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Whole 30 - an update to my update (and it's not good news) - a peek inside the fishbowl

April 10th, 2018 at 3:40 pm


[…] April 2 I posted an update with the gleeful news that we’d finished the Whole 30 dietary reset and […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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