Our Whole30 Experience

Last fall we decided to embark upon the adventure that is Whole30. I wanted to recap our experience and answer a few questions for any people who are interested!

First of all what is Whole30?

In my own words, Whole30 is a specific approach to food with the goal of resetting eating patterns, addressing health concerns, and identifying any allergies/food sensitivities. For 30 days you eliminate these 5 food groups – alcohol, dairy, grains, legumes, and sugar – from your diet. These groups are the most common inflammatory food and allergens, so eliminating them allows your body time to heal and reset. At the end of 30 days you systematically reintroduce those categories to see how you feel. Then you can use any information gained to make better food choices going forward. Often times people have remarkable improvement in health after completing a Whole30.

Why did we do Whole30?

In the past few years I’ve been making more intentional choices about our health and home. I’d heard of Whole30 from some friends and my parents who’ve tried it as well as from Ashlee and Mariette. I wanted to try it for two main reasons.

1. I was curious if it would address some health concerns- sleep quality, energy levels, and pain during my cycle.

2. I wanted an opportunity to be creative in the kitchen and try new recipes!

Whole 30 Shrimp Zoodles

What are my general tips regarding Whole30?

1. Read the Whole30 book and check out the website. The book was so helpful at explaining everything and included lots of wonderful recipes!

2. Have a buddy if possible. My husband did it with me, and we both enjoyed having a partner for this challenge.

3. Balance new recipes with ones you are familiar with or a simple meat, vegetable, and potato. Don’t try to cook every recipe from the book or online. I tried some new recipes, but I also had many nights where I cooked something I was familiar with already.

4. Have a back up plan for times when you don’t want to cook such as veggie scrambled eggs, big salad, canned fish, etc.

Whole 30 Salad

5. Meal planning is CRUCIAL. Take the time to plan out your meals and grocery shop. It takes time, but I found that it was well worth it when we sat down to eat our delicious food every day!

6. Look up Whole30 compliant brands. We didn’t buy too many dressings and sauces, but I’d recommend getting a few things to try during your Whole30. Or make your own!

7. Sugar and forbidden oils tend to lurk in many foods so read your labels carefully!

Did you eat out during Whole30?

This was basically non existent. We had Chipotle once but weren’t really fans of the pork burrito bowl (we are Chipotle chicken people). I’m not sure how people eat Whole30 in restaurants. I feel like you would need to ask a million questions and make lots of adjustments. The book and website have lots of tips for restaurants and travel so I would recommend looking at those. We basically just ate at home the entire time.

What were the highs of the experience?

1. Trying new recipes was so fun! This definitely restarted my interest in cooking and food. It was interesting to see how many meals we could make that did not include dairy or grains.

2. I like that we faced a challenge and completed it. That left us with a big sense of accomplishment. Abstaining from specific foods is a purifying exercise. Though Whole30 isn’t a spiritual quest, at times it felt like it was to me.

What were the lows of the experience?

1. I didn’t experience major shifts health wise. I would say I didn’t notice changes at all, or only small ones in my sleep, energy, and cycle. That was disappointing, but I didn’t have specific expectations going into this process.

2. I had cravings every day, and sometimes that was difficult. I would usually address those by drinking water or tea. My go to snack was nuts and fruit. I know the Whole30 approach doesn’t encourage too much fruit because it doesn’t fill you like proteins…but I like fruit so that’s what I had! I probably could have done a better job at distracting myself when I had cravings.

How has our life changed after Whole 30?

1. We keep trying new recipes. This process gave me a good nudge to trying some new things, and I enjoyed that experience!

2. We are focusing on including lots of vegetables in our meals. I always feel so nourished after a meal with lots of good veggies!

Whole 30 Beef Kabobs

3. We are are limiting alcohol and products with added sugar. I’m cutting out dairy for the first part of 2020.

5. We plan to have THE BEST of foods. For instance, I won’t have a mediocre store bought cookie or ice cream when I could wait and truly enjoy my favorites: Cheryl’s cookies and Jeni’s ice cream 🙂 We find it is better to save the calories and experience for foods we will really get to savor and have outstanding quality.

What foods did I miss the most?

  1. Breakfast foods – GF pancakes, oatmeal, and banana or pumpkin bread
  2. Taco shell and chips
  3. Occasional red wine with dinner (I’m not a big drinker so giving up alcohol was not hard at all)
  4. Ice cream! (I was surprised that I didn’t miss cheese as much as I thought I would).

How was your reintroduction period? Are there certain foods that you won’t eat again?

Our reintroduction period went fine. We didn’t notice any major reactions from any food groups, though we are committed to continuing to focus on good proteins and produce in our meals.

What were your favorite meals? 

I mostly consulted the hard copy of my Whole30 book for recipes or made things I already knew how to cook. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Veggie scrambled eggs
  • Frittata with sausage and veggies
  • Sausage and sweet potato hash
  • Pot roast
  • Chicken soup with homemade broth
  • Cobb salad with Trader Joe’s Green Goddess dressing
  • Harvest salad with raspberry dressing
  • Steak kabobs with chimichurri sauce
  • Roasted butternut squash, brussels sprouts, and red onion
  • Butternut squash soup
  • Chili (minus beans)
  • Fish, potatoes, and any green vegetable
  • Shrimp and zucchini noodles

Overall, do I recommend Whole30?

Though I didn’t experience all of the potential promised health benefits, this experience encouraged us to think carefully about our food and make better choices each day. Also, it is TEMPORARY so if you have doubts just remember that you can reintroduce foods into your diet. Whole30 isn’t permanent (unless you want it to be).

If you have any health issue (large or small) that you think could be related to food, I think Whole30 is worth a try. I imagine it would be extremely helpful to identify any food sensitivities. If you are looking for specific advice I recommend consulting a doctor and/or dietician.

For us the Whole30 was slightly more effort and more intense than our usual eating routine. I already meal planned, but this required slightly more focus (ie I couldn’t just add rice as a side for a meal). Though I do try new recipes sometimes, I tried more during Whole30. We do spend a good amount on groceries, but our bill did go up because we purchased more veggies and proteins. We cook a lot so we do a lot of dishes, and we had slightly more dishes than usual. Overall, I do think this process was worth the effort, and I recommend it to others!

More questions?

Check out the Whole30 book and visit the website. I got the book at our library. You can also reach out to me, and I would be happy to share more about my experience. 🙂

January Round Up


These are my favorite finds around the internet this past month!

1. Shay Shull (aka Mix and Match Mama) recently shared about her daughter’s diagnosis with celiac disease. As someone diagnosed with celiac it was interesting to read Shay’s take on the process.

2. Mariette’s 42 Tips to Eat Real Food on a  Tight Budget was full of helpful information. We are hoping to get a deep freezer and partake in a CSA in the near future. If you are wanting to clean up your diet and focus on nutritious, healthy foods, this post is for you.

3. One of my favorite podcasts, discussed food and mealtime values. Great insights to create mealtimes that are both nourishing and meaningful for your family.

4. This marriage post by Julie was one of my favorites and full of practical advice. I will definitely come back to this once we have children, though I think it offered some helpful tips for all married couples.

5. If you are hoping to read more in 2020, check out Jenny’s recommendations here. I like getting book ideas from people I trust!

6. Build a Better Lunchbreak had some great recommendations for making the most of your lunch time. This podcast by Laura Vanderkam is new to me, and I particularly enjoyed this episode.

7. Today By the Way is Indiana Adams’ new podcast. In one of her recent episodes she talks about a hilarious story of how she discovered her photograph on a psychology textbook. Indiana is so fun and bubbly. I definitely recommend her short and sweet podcast.

8. Emily Stimpson Chapman is an incredible author. She and her husband are adopting their second baby. They are doing a super awesome fundraiser where each $10 donation receives her cookbook! Find out more here.

9. Recipe of the month – Shrimp Linguine. We made this last week, and it was delicious with gluten free pasta.



2020 Areas for Growth

Here is where I’m hoping to grow in 2020.

Spiritual – The past three years I’ve set a spiritual goal for the liturgical year. This year I’m using the Every Sacred Sunday Mass Journal to reflect on the Scripture readings and homily. Thus far it has been an enriching experience.

Marriage – We’ve been wanting to do a retreat together, and I hope this will be the year for it! We are also committing to praying the Holy Rosary as a couple.

Health – I’m taking the first 4 months of this year to eliminate dairy to see how my body reacts. We did Whole 30 in the fall of 2019 so I feel more prepared to eliminate an entire food category. I’m also adding a new exercise class this year. It’s slightly more challenging than my usual routine and that will be good for me.

Relationships – I’m aiming to a call a friend on the phone each week. This will help me feel more connected to my friends that don’t live nearby.

Simple Living – Choose reading and music over TV, podcasts, and screen time. I’m still determining the best way to monitor this progress…. turning my phone off at dinner time will help with this though. I will be keeping track of my reading on Goodreads and sharing my favorite reads here on the blog!

Beautycounter reflections and a special “Clean Friday” sale!

Holiday Sale Image

I wanted to take this opportunity to share an update about my work with Beautycounter. In June I joined as a consultant, which fit well with our intentional, simple living journey. You can read more about that here.

One of my favorite aspects of the consultant role is sharing my story of moving towards safer beauty. Through meaningful conversations (some in person and others via phone or social media) I’m also able to hear your stories and gain a sense of why cleaner living matters to you. It is a delight to assist others with switching to Beautycounter and help you all find products that align with your personal needs and beauty budget. The relationships I’ve created and deepened are a wonderful gift from this work!

In addition to sharing my story of switching to safer beauty products, I’ve also gotten to enjoy more Beautycounter for myself, and that’s been really fun! Being a consultant makes the products more affordable and accessible for me. I’m glad I can share my first hand experience with each of you as you learn more about these products too.

You may be starting to consider holiday shopping, and I want to invite you to shop Beautycounter’s “Clean Friday” sale! Here are the details: the sale lasts from Friday November 22 until Sunday December 1. The site is 15% off (some exclusions on already discounted collections/regimens) and free shipping on orders over $50. If you want to shop I invite you to use this link.

Here are some product recommendations!

1. Beautycounter is known for its high performing, safer skincare. Each product is intentionally designed to address your skin’s needs. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to take the skincare quiz here. If you are wanting to try out skincare, but don’t want to commit to an entire regimen or collection, I suggest trying a cleanser first.

2. A fun lipstick for the holidays?! Yes yes! Our Sheer Lipsticks and Color Intense Lipsticks are fabulous.

Orchid LipSheer

Color Intense Lipstick










3. If you are wanting stocking stuffers or small gifts, our holiday sets are terrific. These can be divided up for easy gifting- plus you can totally keep one for yourself! 😉

Mini Lipgloss Vault


Lip Jellies


Body Butters Trio


Hand Cream Trio


Glow and Go Facial Oils

Facial Oil Trio

4. Counter + Skincare Favorites: four incredible products. Last year I purchase a similar set and was so impressed! These are some of Beautycounter’s best selling and in my opinion ALL STAR products.

Skin Care Favorites

5. Leah Darrow’s book The Other Side is Beauty is a great read. Any woman could benefit from this, especially young women! Her book + a Beautycounter lipgloss or lotion would be a lovely Christmas gift.

Leah Darrow.jpeg

If you are interested in learning more about Beautycounter’s mission the website offers great information and this video is a helpful overview. Please reach out to me if you have any questions or want recommendations. Once again this is the link to shop Beautycounter’s Clean Beauty Sale! Happy shopping!!

What I use to take care of my skin but more importantly a lesson in self love

Skincare Myself

Throughout my teenage and young adult years, I’ve been on a journey to appreciate my skin. It has been a process, but I must admit that I’ve made tremendous strides in this area of my life. Today I’m sharing a glimpse into what the process has been like for me!

As I’m sure some can relate, once puberty hit I struggled skin concerns such as mild/moderate acne. Over the years, I saw a wonderful dermatologist and tried different medications and creams to address my skin concerns. While they offered some improvement (though by no means perfection), they didn’t solve the real problem that I faced.

While yes I did have real concerns about acne and my appearance, I think the real issue throughout my teen years and early 20s was a lack of self appreciation. I was under the false assumption that my worth was based in how I looked or other accomplishments. Nothing could be further from the truth. My worth lies in being a beloved daughter of God, of being a human being that is worthy and loved.

Through meaningful experiences during college and my early twenties, my love of self deepened. Going to a women’s college where I was encouraged and diving into serving others through ministry were large contributors to that growth. I began to realize my value as a woman, I began to discover my gifts, and I began to see my attributes. I began accepting myself, my body, and my skin as how God created me. (I also experienced some negative side effects from a prescription I took for acne and decided it was time to forego medication!)

I started to flourish, and I found freedom in accepting that some parts of myself were not as I wanted, but I strived to accept those “so-called” imperfections.

Once that spiritual and emotional journey of self love was underway, I could begin the other journey of healthy, simple living. That process largely started at the beginning of marriage, when I searched for skincare and makeup that would truly meet my needs while not harming myself with unsafe ingredients.

When I decided to make the switch to safer products, I wanted to try Beautycounter because of the women (Leah, Stephanie, and Rachel) I trusted that were using it as well as the strong social mission of Beautycounter. I’ve been thrilled by the results of the products and the company (so much that I became a consultant)!

Today I’m talking all about my skincare routine – what products I’m using and how they have impacted my skin. I took Beautycounter’s Skin Care Quiz (which I highly recommend everyone take)!

The Countercontrol collection was suggested for me because I experience occasionally blemish prone, combination skin. Initially I didn’t purchase the entire set because I wanted to try the cleanser before investing in the whole line. I ordered the Clear Pore Cleanser back in November 2018, and I can’t imagine using anything else for my skin. This cleanser is a gentle exfoliant, doesn’t ever irritate my skin, and leaves my skin feeling nourished.

In July 2019 when I became a consultant I went ahead and tried the whole Countercontrol Skincare Collection! Here is an overview of what I’m using currently (morning and night). I’ve been quite pleased with the products and how my skin looks!

Skincare items in bathroom

  1. Clear Pore Cleanser
  2. Instant Matte Toner
  3. All Over Acne Treatment (I only use this at night every other day. It works to dry out any blemishes, but I found it was slightly too drying to use daily.)
  4. SOS Acne Spot Treatment
  5. No. 1 Brightening Facial Oil (My absolute favorite product.)
  6. Matte Effect Gel Cream