I Survived Whole30, and This Is Exactly How I Did It

I'm not really sure how the whole thing started. I just knew that I needed to do something good for myself — different. It's like I just woke up one day and went, "Yep, I'm going to do this." And I did.

Let me rewind a bit. My name is Emily and I'm a food-a-holic. And a craft-cocktail-a-holic. Chicken and waffles and a great moscow mule make my entire weekend. My career centers on food trends and mixology. Not to mention, I travel a lot and am constantly at business dinners. However, I have also struggled with weight and body acceptance my entire 32-year-old life.

Emily Cappiello

The author prior to embarking on Whole30

About eight years ago, I was at a pretty good weight and was happy with my body for the first time since high school. However, life happened, and by 2014, I clocked in at 193 pounds. Over the last few years, I have taken off about 10 to 15 pounds at a time, but it's always been a struggle. So much so that my friends and I would always joke about my thyroid as I shoved in lobster tacos or ordered another cucumber martini. But I wanted to get back to that weight; the weight I was when I remember being the happiest. That's when I decided to give Whole30 a try. For 30 days, I would rid my diet of alcohol, grains, sugar, dairy, and legumes.

I didn't wait to clean out the cabinets of all the junk. I didn't have one last binge session. I just set a deadline and said that it was only 30 days and I could handle it. The result? I lost 12.2 pounds in 30 days. I actually weigh less than my happy weight.

A lot of people said they feel restricted on this diet. I have to tell you, that was not the case for me. I enjoyed nights out, I was never hungry, and I ate good food. Really good food. If you plan correctly and ask the right questions of, say, a friend who is throwing a party, you will be fine.

This was me, day one vs. day 30.
Emily Cappiello

The author on day one vs. day 30

My Whole30 Survival Guide

Meal Plan: Did I mention that you need to prep and plan everything? Planning my meals became almost a religious experience for me. I downloaded the Whole30 list of approved foods to keep on my phone and used it every time I went shopping. I spent some time planning my meals and comparing it to my weekly schedule — Which days would I need lunch? Would I be eating out at all? Will I have something prepared for lunch the next day if I do eat out?

Oh, and Prep For Nights Out, Too: While I did eat out a few times on Whole30, I tried to limit it. And when I did eat out, I did some pretty thorough research to make sure there was at least something I could eat, even if I had to modify it a bit. I did have a panic moment when a friend changed our dinner venue last minute, but it turned out fine. A lot of servers/restaurants are really accommodating if you just ask them to be!

Figure Out Your Go-To Foods: Mine were eggs, frozen precooked shrimp, and frozen blueberries. By keeping all of these things in stock, I could whip up a quick meal if I didn't feel like cooking something huge. And the frozen blueberries were an awesome snack when I was feeling like I wanted some ice cream.

You're Going to Crave Things: For a friend who is currently doing Whole30, it's alcohol. For me, it was ice cream. Around day eight, I was in complete agony because all I wanted was a mint chocolate chip cone. All I can tell you is to stick it out, because when you wake up the next morning, that craving will be gone. Well, it was for me until day 20, when I almost stole an ice cream cone from a passerby on the boardwalk on my run. Almost is the key word.

Your Skin Is Going to Glow: I kid you not. My mother looked at me on day 21 when I happened to be makeup-less and was like, "You look like you took 10 years off of you. I haven't seen your skin so clear in years." She was right. I had noticed it myself around day 14/15, but I wasn't sure if it was just a fluke or not.

Get a Support Group: I was very lucky to have two of my best friends with me every step of the way, both of whom are also trying to lose weight. Every craving, frustration, or victory, they were there to talk me down, celebrate with me, or push me forward. It felt really great. I was also very vocal to my family and friends about what I was doing. My father (whom I love and adore) is a food enabler, and for the first few family dinners, he would constantly ask if I could eat something or if I would try something. But I was firm, and soon he was on board too.

Emily Cappiello

The author after finishing Whole30

You Can Do It: Get a countdown board. Mark it on your calendar. Plan a fancy dinner for the first day off. You can do it. Stay focused. It's only 30 days.

So what's next for me? I have decided, for the most part, that I am going to stick to this eating plan. This "diet" has changed the way I think about food. It has made me realize how little I actually need to fuel properly, and it's made me think about what I miss and what I do not miss having in my diet. (Ice cream, yes; alcohol, no.) However, I won't completely stop eating what I love. If I want a glass of wine on date night, I will allow it and not feel so bad. I'll make sure to be extra good prior and after to balance it out. But today, I'm having an ice cream cone. Soft-serve swirl. With extra sprinkles.