5 ways to fail your Whole 30

Five Ways to FAIL your Whole 30 - great tips for anyone considering the Whole 30 - a must read!
So you’re thinking about trying the Whole 30? 
I say “Go for it!” But not without a little prep work first.  And I don’t just mean an all out Pinterest worthy meal prep session – although that wouldn’t hurt… 
Read on for the 5 most crucial tips to not failing your Whole 30.  And then, onward to a healthier you!

Mistake #1 Not reading the book

The list of restrictions for a Whole 30 is widely available on the internet for free.  Just skip dairy, sugar, grains, legumes, and alcohol for a full month.  Simple, right?  Not so much…  If the only thing you did was avoid those five things, you could still totally miss the point (and the benefits) of doing a Whole 30. 
The science behind why you’re eliminating those foods is fascinating.  And, especially if you’re dealing with chronic health issues, it’s incredibly motivating to understand how much your diet impacts the way your body functions well beyond the digestive system.
Also, as I’ll expand on below, it’s totally possible to eat 100% compliant foods and do it in entirely the wrong way.  The books helps you understand why you’re eating these foods and what proportions they should be consumed in.  Don’t be fooled, Pinterest is full of recipes that are “Whole 30 compliant” but are specifically mentioned in the book as recipes to avoid during your Whole 30.  As they say “a pancake is a pancake.” (Spoiler alert: pancakes are not Whole 30 compliant.)

Mistake #2 T-minus 29 days and counting…

This piggybacks onto the first mistake.  Whole 30 isn’t meant to be a random 30 day test of discipline or weight loss trick that you try after all your Facebook friends have posted about it.  It’s so much more than that!  It’s a way to commit one month to giving your body a rest from all of the things that might be adversely affecting you, then slowly reintroducing them one by one to evaluate whether or not each food should be a part of your long term diet. 
If you enter in to Day 1 simply counting down until your next binge, you’re missing the point.  It’s a chance to retrain your taste buds, retrain your brain, and form new habits.  It’s a really well thought out plan for finding the healthiest long term diet for you.  Including changing your perspective on “treats”.  I won’t ruin the surprise (since I know you’re going to read the book now) but I promise that the new perspective is NOT all treats are evil.  🙂

Mistake #3 Failing to plan

I imagine that a lot of people get a few days into their Whole 30 and think “this is just too much work!”  It certainly can require a lot more prep work and cooking time than you might be used to.  But I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “failing to plan is planning to fail.”  Truer words have never been spoken. 
Sure, sometimes you’ll enjoy spending time in your kitchen chopping and peeling and stirring and sauteeing and roasting, but sometimes you’ll just need food asap with little to no effort.  If you haven’t planned ahead for these moments, you’re setting yourself up to fail. 
You have to rethink convenience foods, since the vast majority of prepackaged foods aren’t compliant.  Some of my new favorites were fritatta slices and spaghetti squash with a hearty meat sauce.  Both were easy to prep a large batch of and package in single servings to pull out of the fridge and pop into the microwave when needed.  I also kept a stash of leftover roasted veggies that I could quickly crisp up in a pan with some coconut oil or ghee. 

Mistake #4 Being afraid of fat

If you are 30 or older, you probably grew up with a not-so-healthy fear of fat.  After saturated fat was linked to high cholesterol and heart disease, grocery store shelves filled up with “fat-free” and “reduced fat” options of your favorite foods.  Today, there is plenty of science debunking that theory, but the effects on our perspective remains. 
Back to Mistake #1 – read the book.  Learn which fats are good for you and why.  And study the “meal map” section to learn how much of them you need to be eating.  If you skimp on the fat, you will be miserable and spend hours daydreaming of brownies and french fries and everything you can’t have.  Your body needs this fat.  My most difficult days during Whole 30 were when I stopped thinking about this and absent mindedly ate too many low fat meals without taking care to add in a good dose of healthy fat.  

Mistake #5 Overloading on nuts and fruits

Nuts and fruits are both perfectly compliant, however, they are meant to be consumed in smaller portions than your meat and veggies.   There are plenty of recipes for “Whole 30 granola” made with nuts and coconut flakes, but they need to be used with discretion.  A small bowl of grain free granola with coconut milk along with a hearty plate of eggs and veggies sounds great.  But if the granola and non-dairy milk is your whole breakfast, that’s not really a Whole 30 meal.  (Why not? Read the book…)

The same thing goes for faux baked goods made with compliant ingredients.  Even though these are specifically listed as non-compliant in the book – it’s not hard to see that many of these recipes contain a much higher level of fruits and nuts than recommended. 

And that’s it!  As my husband would say, you can do anything for 30 days.  And I promise you’ll be glad you did!


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What to Wear for Family Portraits {A Fool Proof Guide}

What to Wear for your Family Portraits - a fool proof guide to styling your family from a former photographer

What to Wear for your Family Portraits - a fool proof guide to styling your family from a former photographerIt’s that time of year again, folks!  As soon as the fall weather rolls in, photographer’s calendars fill quickly with family portraits.  Now, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to put off scheduling a session with your local photog – finding an empty spot on the calendar, getting your kids to cooperate in a way that makes you all look genuinely happy for one millisecond in time, making sure your husband has had a recent haircut… I get it.  However, not knowing what to wear should NOT be one of those reasons! 

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.  When I was a portrait photographer, this was how I coached all my clients into looking amazingly put together and coordinated, without all wearing white shirts and khakis.

What to Wear for your Family Portraits - a fool proof guide to styling your family from a former photographerThe secret to getting started

It’s easier than you think, I promise.  First, I recommend shopping for your entire family in one store.  Old Navy is perfect for this because they carry items for each department within the same color schemes each season. Not to mention that this entire set of outfits was less than $200!  For a family of five, that’s pretty amazing.

Next – this is the most important step – pick out a plaid shirt.  (Don’t worry –  if plaid isn’t your thing, it doesn’t have to end up in your photos… Just trust me.) Plaid shirts are a ready made color palette.  You’ll use this shirt as a basis to start building the other outfits.  Once you’ve got a solid look going, you can ditch the plaid and replace it with something else if you’d like.

putting it all together

What to Wear for your Family Portraits - a fool proof guide to styling your family from a former photographerEach outfit only needs to coordinate with one color in the plaid.  Feel free to mix it up with prints and solids and layers.  The color palette will keep everything pulled together.  It’s not important that every person in the photo be wearing every color in the palette, you can see here that this dusty pink dress fits in perfectly.  And even without the plaid shirt that I started with, these outfits look great together. 

By shopping in the same store, you’ll save yourself a lot of agony wondering “is that the right shade of green?” or “do these two really go together?”  When in doubt, just pair the item in question with the plaid shirt and ask yourself if they match.  If so, you’re good to go! 

What to Wear for your Family Portraits - a fool proof guide to styling your family from a former photographer

See?  That wasn’t so bad, was it?  So go out there and rock your family portraits this fall! Here’s a quick list of do’s and don’ts to remember…

do shop for everyone in the same store.

Do start by choosing a plaid shirt.

do match each item to one of the colors in the plaid.

don’t be afraid of mixing prints and patterns with solids.

Don’t feel stuck to a color palette that you’re not loving.  Just start over and try again!

don’t rub it in when your portraits turn out way better than all your friends.  Just share this post so they can look awesome next year too.


Hey there, friend!   If you liked this post, I bet your friends would too – be sure to click one of the buttons below to share it with them. Thanks a million!


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Watch Animated Shel Silverstein Poems

Shel Silverstein poems have a special place in my heart.  We used “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and “A Light in the Attic” to introduce our children to the world of poetry during our first year of homeschool.  They quickly grew to love our poetry time together. Even our youngest, who wasn’t “in school” yet, would scamper out of her room to join us when she heard them being read, and she would cry alligator tears if she thought that she had missed “silly poems” for the day.

Naturally, I was over the moon when I found out that Shel Silverstein had a youtube channel where, not only are the poems animated, they are narrated by Mr. Silverstein himself!  If your family loves these books the way that we do, head on over there now to check it out!

The Shel Silverstein Youtube Channel


Hey there, friend!   If you liked this post, I bet your friends would too – be sure to click one of the buttons below to share it with them. Thanks a million!


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The 5 Stages of Sleep Deprivation {Mourning the Loss of Sleep)

The 5 Stages of Sleep Deprivation - a hilarious take on "mourning the loss of sleep" from a mother's perspective

Once upon a time, I had twins that were teething for 18 months straight.  Seriously.  Every once in a while, we’d get a brief reprieve. But from the time they were 6 months until they were two years old, they were teething.

All my sisters had babies who popped in teeth like they were checking their Instagrams. As if it was just no big deal.  But for me, the only one who was dealing with two babies at once, growing in each new tooth was a near apocalyptic crisis.

Frozen washcloths, amber teething necklaces, homeopathic teething tablets, baby ibuprofen… we pulled out all the stops.  I’m pretty sure that they only helped by making us feel like we were doing something, anything, to ease their pain.

I would go for months at a time sleeping in 20-45 minute spurts throughout the night.  When I was totally desperate for a decent REM cycle, my husband would take the babies out to the car and drive them around in the middle of the night until they fell asleep in their car seats.  Then he would bring them back in once I’d gotten a couple hours of uninterrupted slumber.

So whether you’re a first time mom with a newborn that has her days and nights mixed up or a frazzled mom of a teething toddler – I feel your pain.

I feel that it’s my duty to brief you on the 5 stages of sleep deprivation.  Learn to recognize them and justify your near insanity. 


You hear the baby babbling at an hour far too early for brain function, after a night that can best be described as consecutive napping.  You think to yourself: “The baby isn’t really awake for the day.  There’s barely any sunlight out there and I can only hear one or two birds chirping.  We’re going to fall back asleep soon for another hour (or four).  If I just lay here long enough with my eyes closed, she’ll take the cue and go back to sleep too.  The night’s not actually over yet.  It can’t be…”


You finally give up on getting that extra hour of sleep and stumble out of bed with your babe (who seems magically well rested after sleeping for what seemed like  90 minutes total last night).  You realize that you’re out of coffee beans, your phone is dead, and even if you had coffee to make, you can’t find your favorite mug… and this all fills you with an unspeakable rage. Unfortunately, this anger is typically directed at the unsuspecting husband, because it needs to be someone’s fault and it can’t be yours because sleep deprivation disables the part of the brain that is capable of logic and reason and JUST LET ME SCREAM AT SOMEBODY RIGHT NOW!!!!


Okay, it’s okay.  We can figure this out.  Coffee will make everything better.  And the baby loves car rides, so a trip to the Starbucks drive thru is a win-win, right?  All I need is a little caffeine.  I’m really not going to feel like this for the rest of the day, I just need to spend $7 on as much espresso as I can get. Yes, a quintuple shot  latte is all I need to get this day going.  I’ll feel totally fine once I’m caffeinated…


It’s 9am.  We’ve been up for how many hours now? Did they give me decaf on accident?  Does it even matter?  I’ll probably never sleep again anyway.  This is just my life now.  How long until nap time?  I don’t care.  It won’t help.  Nothing will ever help…


Wait a minute… the baby’s asleep.  I can SLEEP?!?!  We can do this.  It won’t be easy, but we will survive it.  I will sleep when the baby is sleeping (even when it isn’t nearly long enough). I will accept the fact that this season of life may be characterized by impaired brain function and occasional crankiness. And at some point in life, hopefully this decade, she will sleep.  She will sleep through the night.  And so will I.  And my sanity will return.  I hope.

And mothers?  Let your dear husbands read this.  Encourage them to learn and recognize these signs. That way they can support and comfort you while you mourn the loss of sufficient sleep for this chapter of life. 

(By the way, my twins did eventually sleep through the night.  Getting a sufficient amount of sleep felt so amazing, that I decided it was time to have another baby.  We just never learn, do we?)

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