Hi, I'm Erika.

I'm a Minneapolis-based writer. Click around to learn more about what I do.

Prep Weekend

Prep Weekend

It's Sunday, September 10, and I officially start my first round of the Whole30 TOMORROW! A few days ago, I wrote about how nervous and afraid I was feeling about taking on this challenge (read about it here). But today, I could not be more excited! (Why? Keep reading!)

I want this blog to be a resource for anyone who may be considering the Whole30, or who is already in the midst of it. For that reason, I've included below every step I took this weekend to prepare for the next 30 days. Warning: This post is long.


Prepping the Pantry

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Yesterday, I took the initiative to overhaul my kitchen. If you're about to do the Whole30, it is recommended you get rid of everything non-compliant in your kitchen. This way, you won't be tempted to cheat when you start craving sugar or carbs. I grabbed a huge tote, thinking, "I won't fill this thing up," but sure enough, I did! 

After I finished packing away everything I can't eat for the next 30 days, only THREE compliant items remained in my pantry (until my Barefoot Provisions box arrived—more on that later): almonds, coffee, and tea. In my fridge: sprouts, orange pepper, carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, iced coffee, and La Croix. Freezer: chicken breast, salmon, and shrimp.


Snackin' Simple

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I could not be more excited about Barefoot Provisions' Whole30 starter kit (above). It was delivered to my door within 3 days, and it's packed full of Whole30-approved goodness, like pumpkin seeds, ethically sourced beef and coconut jerky, and canned salmon. I am so, SO excited to have these grab-and-go snacks at my disposal, because I have a feeling I'll be needing a few to help tide me over during this process.

 

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I also decided to dry some of my fruit to have as a snack. I started with apples. This super-simple recipe took about an hour and a half total. First, I sliced 2 apples into thin pieces. Then, I sprinkled them with ground cinnamon and popped 'em in the oven at 225° for 35 minutes, flipped them, and baked them for 45 minutes more. As they cooled, I popped strawberries in the oven, too. The strawberries take considerably longer than apples—4 hours to be exact. Although it's time consuming, I love that I can make dried fruit at home without any added sugars.


Going for Groceries

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My friend Nora and I decided to head to Trader Joe's to stock up on everything we need for Whole30 Week 1. We are following the 7-Day meal plan outlined in the Whole30 book, partially because it is recommended, but also because Melissa and Dallas Hartwig make it easy by providing a full grocery list and meal prep instructions. What we couldn't find at Trader Joe's, we found at Whole Foods.

What I'm most excited about is that I can now grab ANY item in my fridge, freezer, or pantry and eat it without worrying whether it's compliant.

Stay tuned for a post dedicated to the best places to shop for Whole30-compliant foods.


Making Meals

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I'm not exaggerating when I say I learned more about preparing food today than I have in my 23 years of life. OK, maybe that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but Nora and I had SO much fun prepping some of the meals we'll be eating this week. We made roasted spaghetti squash with fresh thyme; spinach, tomato, and mushroom frittatas; homemade pasta sauce with carrots and celery; homemade, Whole30-compliant mayonnaise and ranch dressing; and more.

I've never been surrounded by so many fresh ingredients at once. Even though I'm exhausted and I smell like olive oil, I could not be more excited to continue diving into meal prep throughout the rest of the week.


How I'm Feeling

In this space, I plan to keep track of how I'm feeling each week of the Whole30. Today, I actually feel pretty good. I've been extremely productive this weekend—cleaning my apartment, prepping food, doing laundry, buying groceries, and re-organizing my cupboards. I've been drinking lots of water, and I'm feeling hydrated, happy, and *relatively* healthy.

Compared to the past few weeks, that's a win. Between my birthday and the desire to eat up all my crap before the Whole30 officially starts (as well as indulging in one final meal from Taco Bell), I have been experiencing low energy levels, dehydration, and some major bloating.

Over the course of the next month, I will be using the following categories to help evaluate and describe how the Whole30 is changing my mood, appearance, and overall health.

Energy: 7/10

Right now, my energy levels are relatively consistent, but they could definitely be higher. I often feel groggy when I wake up in the morning and I almost immediately hit the couch when I get home from work. 

Sleep: 8.5/10

My sleep patterns are relatively consistent, as well. I typically get between 6.5 - 8 hours of sleep per night. I rarely wake up in the middle of the night and if I do, I am usually able to fall back asleep with ease.

Digestion: 3/10

Pretty horrible. I've always faced digestive issues. As a toddler, I was even hospitalized because of them. Everything I eat is a shot in the dark in terms of how it will make me feel and how my body will process it. Some days I'm bloated and constipated for 24+ hours; others, uh, the opposite.

Mood: 9/10

My mood is perhaps the one thing that has remained relatively positive over the past few months, despite the fact that my physical body has been changing in a negative way.

Skin: 3.5/10

My skin is at its worst. It's not too bad, but it's the worst it's been in my lifetime. I've actually been curious about this for awhile, unsure whether I'm dealing with adult acne, or if it's a side effect of my medication and/or my diet. I'm particularly interested to see how my skin changes throughout this process.

Cravings: 5/10

I would say I've gotten to the point where I don't even feel like I'm "craving" anything unhealthy; moreso, sugars and fats have become a staple in my daily diet. I hope that the Whole30 helps me develop cravings for healthy foods. Or, better yet, limited cravings altogether.

Pain + Fatigue: 5/10

Nothing outside of the norm. (But again, this begs the question, is it possible to feel even better?)

Allergies + Illness: 4/10

I am REALLY curious to see how the Whole30 impacts my allergies. I have been an allergy sufferer my entire life. Seasonal allergies? Got 'em. Pet allergies? You bet. I do feel as if I have a better handle on them than I used to, but again, I'm curious to see whether it's possible to feel even better as a result of a well-balanced diet.


If you're still reading, thanks for sticking with me! I sincerely hope this post helps you prepare your own kitchen for the Whole30. I am eager to meet members of the Whole30 community throughout this process, so please don't hesitate to comment below with questions or advice!


Cover Photo Courtesy of Minimalist Baker

Days 1, 2, & 3

Days 1, 2, & 3

Pre-Whole30 Jitters

Pre-Whole30 Jitters