I’ve rediscovered how well red wine goes with pizza, which is what I’m having for dinner because I’m a working adult now and I’m busy. It’s 10:00 p.m. and I stopped working hours ago, but I’m still doing all the things (that ambitious personal to-do list ain’t gonna cross off itself!), so I’ll have a mini donut or three, and a pack of Gushers for energy since my coffee is long gone. Wait—when did I start drinking wine again and when did I stop cooking? Ah, whatever, I’m an adult. I’m busy.

This is a problem. With my body addicted to sugar, this became my norm; this made it harder to eat healthy. I discovered the Whole 30 on Instagram or somewhere years ago, and decided to try it in an effort to “reset” my body. I’ve attempted it three times (the sugar withdrawal was tew much both times and the longest I’d made it was 2.5 days).

The Whole 30 is basically a strict paleo diet that you follow for 30 days. You’re allowed to eat meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Sugar, dairy, grains, beans, alcohol, soy, and all processed foods are out. As you’ll find on their website, the Whole 30 can “change the way you think about food…change your tastes…change your habits and your cravings.”

I’ve found it to be the most do-able “diet” for me. When the sugar and processed food withdrawals kick in and I start missing cupcakes, at least I can drown my sorrows in bacon. I wouldn’t miss beans and rice much, but I’d miss sugar. “It’s like you’re trying to get off crack,” my friend said. Yes. Yes, it’s like crack. I guess.

Keys to Success

Since I’ve had so many attempts at it, I know the rules like the back of my hand and I’ve even gathered a few tips for making it through.

In my first two attempts, I tried to do it by myself and didn’t feel much remorse when I got fast food less than five minutes after I threw in the towel. On my third and most successful run at the Whole 30, I brought someone else along. Accountability was a major key to making it as long as I did.

It’s also really important to keep it simple. Unless you’re some kind of chef, you’ll likely get frustrated trying to prepare fancy dishes in the name of dieting. One reason I failed on my first attempt was trying to replicate fancy paleo recipes I found on Pinterest. I spent about $80 on groceries for the week and didn’t like almost everything I made. For comparison, my normal grocery bill is about $40 per week.

Planning ahead down to the snacks was my saving grace on the third attempt. I set Sunday aside for cooking and packing everything up so I couldn’t use my busy weeks as an excuse not to eat what I cooked.

Recipes used:

How to Fail

The first three or so days were rough. It was the sugar (and second cup of coffee) withdrawal that I remembered, although it wasn’t as bad. I give all the credit for that to my brilliant idea to do a Suja juice cleanse the day before. I made it through what I considered the hardest part.

But you know what they say: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Though I emphasized how important planning ahead was, a lack of it ended up being my undoing. On day 12, I hadn’t made time to finish my grocery list. I was tired and hungry, and there was no acceptable food around. By this time, I also hadn’t stopped to really write down my solid reasons for doing this again, so it didn’t take much for me to talk myself out of it.

In the beginning, I was strong mentally because I was determined for this to be my one successful, complete Whole 30. By day 12, though, I was too comfortable and thought I could relax my mental grip on this diet challenge. I was wrong and ended up ordering pizza in a moment of weakness.

The End

My end results should’ve been enough to make me keep going. After all, seeing the results other people had is what prompted me to give it all these attempts. By the time I realized that this paleo thing was working really well, it was too late. The pizza had already been inhaled.

I lost 6 pounds in those 12 days. I learned to push through (I pushed through migraines for about four straight days). My skin was completely clear, which never happens. A strange mental clarity had come along, too. I came out of the “Whole 12” with a new perspective on eating healthier. And a spiralizer, most importantly.

If you’re interested in learning more about or trying the Whole 30, check out this timeline (that I visited every day) so you’ll know what to expect and read the details that will make you want to do it here.