Surviving and thriving on the Whole30

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: UWW.edu) (Source: UWW.edu)
(Source: Whole30.com) (Source: Whole30.com)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

After the holidays, I was feeling bloated, unhealthy and a little too curvy. Like many people, I ate a few too many cookies, candies and cakes during December. I was ready for a detox!

I’ve never really watched what I eat but over the last few years, my metabolism has definitely slowed down. It happens to the best of us, right? Ha! I came to the realization I can’t eat all the sweets and carbs I did in the past.

I needed a reset! I was looking for a way to cleanse my body and start 2018 on a healthy note. So, what was I going to do?

A few of my friends tried Whole30 last year and really enjoyed it. They had more energy, slept better and dropped a few pounds. Sounds easy, right? It’s not! During the Whole30, you have to follow a pretty strict eating plan for 30 days.

How could I say no to everything I love? No cheese, no ice cream, no cocktails or wine!

I’m 28 and enjoy having a social life, but how could I have one when I can’t go out for drinks or grab dinner with friends?

The folks behind Whole30 want you to completely remove all the bad foods you consume from your diet. We’re talking about the stuff that makes you bloated, disrupts your blood sugar and causes inconsistent energy levels.

[WATCH: Cooking healthy with Whole30]

No sugar: added sugar, real sugar and artificial are all banned (no Splenda, Equal, honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, etc.)

No dairy: Milk, ice cream, sour cream, yogurt, etc.

No legumes: All kinds of beans, peanuts, soy and more

No grains: Wheat, corn, rice, quinoa and more

No alcohol: Not even with cooking

Could I eliminate these items for 30 days? I knew this was going to be hard, but I decided to give it a shot! More whole foods, no processed food. That was my motto for January 2018.

I started day one on Jan. 2.

I remember going to a Phoenix Suns game with my family and thinking, 'What did I get myself into?" How could I be at a professional sporting event and not have anything to eat or drink?

Oh, but it got worse! After the game, we went to one of my favorite cocktail bars. I ordered a water with lime. A water with lime? Who was I? Definitely not the old Kylee! In that moment, I wondered if I was actually going to be able to make it through.

Well, I did and it wasn’t as hard as I thought!

[WATCH: Jump start your new year with Whole30]

The folks behind Whole30 want you to completely remove all the bad foods you consume from your diet. We’re talking about the stuff that makes you bloated, disrupts your blood sugar and causes inconsistent energy levels.?

The second week was the toughest for me. I had the most cravings then and missed being a normal person who could go out to eat wherever she wanted without asking a ridiculous amount of questions about food preparation and meal modifications.

After the halfway point, it was fairly easy for me to finish strong. I definitely got into the challenge and became kind of obsessed with it. I had found my health-conscious stride and felt good about what I was putting into my body.

So, what did I eat for the month? A lot, actually!

The nice thing about Whole30 is you don’t have to worry about counting calories or going over a daily point limit. The founders of Whole30 encourage you to eat three meals a day without snacking. No chips or cheese and crackers – no eating just because you want to! 

During Whole30, I ate a lot of fish, chicken, shrimp, veggies, salads, fruits and occasionally red meat. I had salad at least once or twice a day. My go-to was a shrimp, avocado and strawberry salad with almonds and a lemon Whole30-approved dressing. It's my favorite! 

If salads aren’t your thing, that’s OK. I found a lot of yummy Whole30 recipes online. They can be a bit time-consuming, but you can always just have fish or chicken with grilled veggies. That’s always tasty and easy.

I will say the food I ate during January was delicious and left me full and satisfied most days!

It takes time, energy and commitment to do this right. I spent a significant amount of time meal planning, grocery shopping, meal prepping and actually cooking plus all the dishes (my least favorite part).

When you’re at the grocery store, you really have to read the labels because there are hidden ingredients in so many products that aren’t compliant with the Whole30. I did a lot of Googling during each grocery store trip to make sure the items I was buying were, in fact, Whole30 approved. While you’re there, the key is to shop around the perimeter of the store. That’s where you’ll find most of the stuff you eat on the program – meats, seafood, vegetables and fruit.

I tried meal kit delivery service Blue Apron because they partnered with the folks at Whole30 to create two Whole30 meals each week. I ordered six meals for the month, which ended up being a big life saver. I had a discount code, which paid for most of it. You can usually find promo codes online to get money off your first box. Some of the meals were time-consuming, but they all tasted really good. The best part about it was not having to worry about organizing a meal and buying all the ingredients; it all came right to my doorstep!

One of the keys to completing the program was having two close friends do it with me. My best piece of advice: Don’t go at this alone!

I honestly don’t think I could have made it through without their support, encouragement and helpful advice. It was so nice to have them help me navigate this new world of healthy eating. We supported each other, cooked together and vented together. If you’re going to do this, find a buddy to hold you accountable and help you through the ups and downs.

Many of my co-workers have asked if I feel different? Have I lost weight? I lost 10 pounds and I feel way less bloated. You aren’t supposed to weigh yourself until the end of the program so I wasn’t sure how much weight I had lost, but I was very happy to be down 10 pounds. It’s nice to feel and look better in your clothes. My friends who have more normal sleep schedules (I wake up at 2 a.m. every day) say they are sleeping better now and have more energy, too.

A lot of people have asked me what happens next. Will I immediately go back to my old ways?

Life is all about balance and my goal now is to find a healthy balance between food and a social life.

No! My goal is to keep this up 80 percent of the time. I feel way less bloated and have fewer cravings. I’d like to keep that going, but I do want to enjoy life and have fun. If I want a glass of wine or dessert, I’m going to order it. If I’m out with friends, I’m going to eat the bruschetta and nibble on the cheese board. I’m going to buy a happy hour cocktail (or two).

My plan is to really try to make healthy eating choices during the workweek (no sugar, dairy, alcohol, grains, legumes) so I can indulge a little on the weekend.

Life is all about balance and my goal now is to find a healthy balance between food and a social life.

If you’re thinking about taking the challenge, here are some of the biggest takeaways I found from my month-long experience!

Learn to say no

I’ll admit I’m not good at saying no. If someone offers me a cookie or cocktail, I always say yes and usually have seconds or thirds.

During the Whole30, I had to say no A LOT. No, I can’t have that glass of wine. No, I can’t eat that bruschetta. No, I can’t bite into the birthday cake.

At first, that was hard to do but it got easier. I found myself in several social settings where everyone was drinking and eating around me, but I had no problem saying no (even though they tempted me). It didn’t bother me that they were sipping on champagne and I was drinking water. I was proud of myself for having the willpower and strength to say no.

It honestly is a freeing feeling to not give into peer pressure and stand firm with your choices!

One of the keys to completing the program was having two close friends do it with me. My best piece of advice: Don’t go at this alone!

Reduce sugar cravings

I love dessert. Like I really love dessert – ice cream, gelato, brownies, cookies, pie and cheesecake. You name it, I love it! I don’t do dessert in moderation or at least I didn’t before Whole30.

I was really worried about having intense sugar cravings. I need to have something sweet after every meal but especially dinner. How was I going to do that? Well, I can tell you my sugar cravings weren’t nearly as intense as I thought. Don’t get me wrong there were a few days when I was craving something sweet at night, but the last few weeks those cravings went away.

Honestly, I never thought that would happen! At the start of week two, my body was missing something sweet. My solution was banana "ice cream." I blended a frozen banana and topped it was a little cinnamon and some unsweetened coconut flakes. Surprisingly, it was pretty good.

Moving forward, I’m definitely going to limit my consumption of sweets, but I will treat myself from time to time. As of now, I’m allowing myself one dessert a week because a girl’s got to indulge sometimes!

Meal preparing is actually fun

Before this, I wasn’t very good at meal prepping. In fact, my meal planning usually consisted of me mapping out where I was going to pick up food each day.

During Whole30, meal planning is key to being successful on the program. Even though it’s a ton of work, you have to plan out every meal. You need to carve out a few hours to make lunches for the week and map out your breakfasts, too.

I’m not a big egg person so on some mornings, I usually just ate leftovers from the night before or made sweet potato toast. Surprisingly, I enjoyed being more organized in the kitchen and ended up finding it kind of fun!

It takes time, energy and commitment to do this right. I spent a significant amount of time meal planning, grocery shopping, meal prepping and actually cooking plus all the dishes (my least favorite part).

So now that you have some of the biggest benefits I found on the program, here’s a snapshot of what I ate during a week of the challenge.  

Day 1

Breakfast: Potatoes, egg whites, avocado slices, Whole30-approved bacon, handful of raspberries

Lunch: Salad with bacon, chicken, tomato and avocado with Whole30-approved dressing (Tessemae’s and Primal Kitchen have some approved dressings that are actually very tasty.)

Dinner: Salmon with a side salad

Day 2

Breakfast: Sweet potato toast with avocado and cherry tomatoes

Lunch: Leftover salmon with a side salad

Dinner: Grilled steak and Brussels sprouts

Day 3

Breakfast: Sweet potato toast with almond butter, unsweetened coconut flakes and cinnamon

Lunch: Chicken salad scoops (using Primal Kitchen mayo) and two bacon-wrapped dates

Dinner: Leftover steak and Brussels sprouts with grilled shrimp

Day 4

Breakfast: Sweet potato toast, hard-boiled egg

Lunch: Chicken salad scoops and blueberries

Dinner: Grilled chicken, bacon-wrapped dates and a side salad with avocado, bacon and almonds

Day 5

Breakfast: Two eggs, two slices of bacon and handful of blueberries

Lunch: Salad with shrimp, avocado, almonds and strawberries

Dinner: Asian cauliflower fried rice

Day 6

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, leftover chicken salad

Lunch: Leftover Asian cauliflower fried rice

Dinner: Mexican-spiced barramundi with kale, sweet potato and avocado salad (Blue Apron meal)

Day 7

Breakfast: Mexican-spiced barramundi leftovers

Lunch: Salad with shrimp, avocado, almonds and grapes

Dinner: Chicken lettuce cups (Blue Apron meal)


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Kylee CruzArizona native Kylee Cruz joined CBS 5 News as a reporter in August 2014. You can catch her reporting every morning on CBS 5's "Wake Up Arizona!" and 3TV's "Good Morning! Arizona." She's also a fill-in weather anchor.

Click to learn more about Kylee.

Kylee Cruz

Before working in Phoenix, Kylee spent three years reporting for KXLY in Spokane, WA During her time in the Inland Northwest, Kylee reported on a wide variety of topics from winter snowstorms to summer wildfires, and regularly filled in on the anchor desk. Kylee grew up in Yuma and graduated summa cum laude from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. While in college, Kylee covered her first big story in Tucson when Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot. She was selected as the Cronkite School’s Outstanding Graduate and was even the university’s Homecoming Queen her senior year. Growing up, Kylee always knew she wanted to be a reporter. When she was just 6, her neighbor started calling her "Cub Reporter" because she asked so many questions. That curiosity has only grown over the years! When Kylee’s not reporting, she loves traveling, home decorating and trying out unique restaurants. She’s a bit of a foodie! Kylee’s always looking for a good story. If you have an idea, email her at kylee.cruz@cbs5az.com.

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