Starting off 2017 I had one singular goal. My singular focus for the month of January was to complete, with some friends, the Whole 30 challenge. And I quit it.
If you’re unfamiliar with this, it is a meal plan with rigorous rules that say you can’t eat anything processed, or with added sugar, or certain preservatives. No grains or breads. No cheese or dairy. No fun. Basically just meats, eggs, veggies, and fruits. And you do this every day for 30 days.
The goal of Whole 30 is not necessarily weight loss but it’s to cleanse your body of the toxins and foods that cause inflammation in your body. It’s like a reset button. And you might lose some weight.
Even though I can say that my body was feeling better and that I had lost some weight, I quit Whole 30 and it was a great decision for me and my family.
Why I Quit Whole 30
Meal Prep for Whole 30
I knew that we’d have to be organized with our food choices going in to this. I had no clue how much time we’d be spending in the kitchen and doing dishes though. Prepping for a week of Whole 30 meals takes hours!
You have to create a meal plan for the week and go purchase the right ingredients for those meals. And you’d think that if a recipe calls for chicken sausage that you could just go to the store and buy chicken sausage. But not every grocery store carries chicken sausage and the ones that do carry it likely put corn syrup in as the third ingredient so that is no longer compliant and you have to look again or change the meal plan. Ugh!
Our kitchen was a disaster with all the dishes from prepped breakfasts and lunches. We’d finish a load of dishes just to start a new load. Our dinners weren’t complicated. We kept it to just a grilled meat and some veggies and still we were doing tons of dishes.
The meal prep involved with trying to figure out and make on Sunday afternoon what we were going to have for breakfast on Friday morning (that would still taste okay after sitting in the fridge all week) was probably the roughest part of the Whole 30 for us.
Schedule for Whole 30
If you look at your calendar for the next 30 days, you really need to have a fantastically scheduled meal plan or you’ll never make it through a Whole 30. My most stressful and emotional day was day 7 after playing in the band at church for 5 hours only to have 30 minutes for lunch before another appointment and not having any food prepped at home.
Tuesday nights my daughter has dance. Thursday’s we volunteer at a food pantry. Wednesday’s I have church band practice. I meet with clients 1 or 2 nights a week. And this doesn’t even touch the random events the kids have throughout a week.
On top of that, day 31 of our Whole 30 was going to have us in Disney World letting our first non-compliant Whole 30 meals be in the Magic Kingdom. I really don’t need an upset stomach from re-introducing cheese and bread to my diet while I’m standing in line for Space Mountain.
Life can get hectic and stressful and messy. Sometimes you need to have a convenient meal of hotdogs, broccoli, and mac n cheese that takes 5 minutes to prepare at home. Sometimes you’ve been running all day and the only time you have to eat means you swing through the drive thru at Chick Fil A. Whole 30 doesn’t really allow much margin of error there, even if you order a grilled chicken salad.
Emotions of Whole 30
This is where Whole 30 does exactly what it claims it will do. It will break you. If you’ve followed me on Instagram or Facebook for any length of time you know I have a deep love for cheese.
On Whole 30 you just quit everything at once. No cheese. No bread. No added sugars. No fried foods. No fun. Ever.
And this causes your body to literally go through withdrawals and detox. Sugar lights up brain receptors in a similar way that cocaine does, so we know it is highly addictive. This was my experience. By day 4 I felt like I had the flu and I had some crazy strong cravings.
I’m glad that I went through 9 full days of this. I got through the detox to the other side where I legitimately didn’t have cravings for bread or cheese or ice cream. I actually got to where I didn’t have much of an appetite at all and while I thought it’d be great to have a chip and some queso, it wasn’t a craving anymore.
The meal prep and the schedule problems coupled with the detox my body was going through broke me though. There were moments I cried for no real reason. There were moments I got angry or frustrated with my kids for doing absolutely nothing wrong. I was short and snappy with my wife.
If my ultimate goal was to be more healthy all around by doing a Whole 30, then I failed. My mental and emotional state went the opposite direction and I was definitely un-healthy emotionally for a few days. In the end I quit because Whole 30 didn’t help me achieve my ultimate goal of a healthy sustainable lifestyle.
Calories and Price on Whole 30
People don’t lose weight on Whole 30 because they aren’t eating junk food any more and only eating healthy, whole foods. You lose weight on Whole 30 just like you lose weight on any other meal plan. You eat fewer calories.
You’re not really supposed to track your caloric intake on Whole 30, but I did anyway. What I found is that even eating a good sized breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with several Whole 30 compliant snacks throughout the day, I was getting at best 1,500 calories per day. Most days were around 1,200 calories.
According to almost every nutrition app and consultant I checked with, this wasn’t going to be enough calories to establish healthy weight loss. And that is what I experienced. I lost 15 pounds in 9 days doing Whole 30 because I wasn’t eating enough calories.
The solution should be easy, right? Eat more food.
I didn’t feel very hungry. Likely because I had more veggies in those 9 days than I had eaten in the previous 6 months. But also, the cost of meat that is Whole 30 compliant is quite expensive. Meat is where the majority of your protein and calories come from on Whole 30 because broccoli isn’t going to do much for you and you can only eat so many avocados in a day. To eat enough meat to make up the calorie shortage I was experiencing, I’d need to spend almost double on our grocery budget. And then that would take us back to the meal prep nightmare of cooking and dishes.
What I learned from the 9 days of my Whole 30 experience.
There are probably a dozen more reasons I quit Whole 30 and I do feel like a quitter because of it. But I did learn a few great things:
Read the labels on the food you buy. I don’t know why sugar and corn syrup are added to everything, but there are typically alternatives you can buy. When you can choose food without added sugar and corn syrup, do it.
You can make healthy choices at restaurants. Ask for no seasoning or to put the salad dressing on the side. Look for grilled items. Tell the waiter that you don’t want any chips or any bread. Drink water or unsweet iced tea.
Sugar is freaking addicting and while it’s crazy hard to avoid all the time you can make conscious choices to limit how much of it you have in your diet.
If God didn’t want us to eat cheese and bread he wouldn’t have created us with taste buds and would have just given us pellets to chew on for food.
If your body feels a little sluggish, or if your mental state seems off, change your diet for a few days to more grilled meats and veggies and fewer carbs and sugar and see if you notice a change.
Having a meal plan and tracking what you eat is important, but so is being flexible and allowing yourself some grace.
Why would a business and money website write about Whole 30?
There are a ton of similarities to getting better with your health and getting better with money. Sacrifice. Discipline. Planning. Make more money, spend less money. Eat healthier foods, work out more.
I teach people how to change their behavior with money and offer a sustainable lifestyle for managing money and building wealth.
In my opinion, Whole 30 is not sustainable. It could be a good jump start if you need that type of thing. But it doesn’t teach a sustainable healthy lifestyle. It teaches you deprivation. And when there is deprivation there is no hope.
I may tell you to sell your car and drive a junky cash car and to work 4 jobs for a short time period so that you can get out of debt and start to build some wealth. But the hope is that you WILL be able to build wealth.
Since Whole 30 is an unsustainable lifestyle, the only hope in the challenge is to get to Day 31 where you can finally eat a grain of rice or lick a potato chip or smell a chicken nugget.
I quit Whole 30 on day 10. But I didn’t quit chasing a healthy lifestyle. And I’m going to eat a little bit of cheese and some spinach. But never kale.
Most of us want to make more money. Some desire to make more money in order to finance a luxurious lifestyle like they see on Instagram. Others want more money so they can be charitable and philanthropic. And many others just don’t want to be living paycheck to paycheck anymore.
Whatever the reason, to most of us it is important that we make more money to reach our financial goals.
2 Reasons to Make More Money
Maybe you’re in debt or had a financial disaster or are behind on bills. Boosting your income in the short term is a great way to climb out of a financial hole and get ahead. If your full time job provides enough income to live on and save and invest for the future, maybe a short term boost in income is all you need to get on a stable financial foundation.
A short term increase in income involves extra work on top of your regular full time job. Maybe you become a driver for Uber or Lyft. Maybe you work retail or pick up some overtime hours. Maybe you deliver pizzas or mow lawns or babysit. You can do pretty much anything legally to make a little more money to work through some short term financial goals, even if it requires a lot of extra work.
You don’t need a life of working 90 hours a week. The things that you may do in the short term to make more money to get out of debt or start an emergency account or manage your way through a financial collapse need to be just short term. Working 3 jobs is fine for an 18 month period. It’s not okay for a 20 year period.
You need a full time career where you can earn enough money to pay for your essentials, save and invest for the future, give to charities and organizations you believe in, and enjoy some luxuries in life.
5 Tips to Make More Money
Evaluate your own performance It’s really hard to make more money at work if you suck as an employee. Do you show up on time? Do you participate and engage in meetings? Do you understand all the details of your current position proficiently? Can you train others on how to do your position? Do you communicate clearly and effectively with other departments? Are you a team player and well liked by your co-workers? Do you strive to improve yourself and your knowledge?Don’t complain about the income you earn at your job if you’re not being a valuable asset to your company. One of the best ways to earn more money is to do your job so well that your company can’t afford to lose you as an employee.
Do your homework Look around online at what other companies pay for jobs similar to yours. Are you already paid well for the work you do or is your company under-paying you? If you’re already paid well, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a raise if you’re doing a great job for them. But if you’re being underpaid and doing a great job then you definitely should ask for a raise.
Take on more responsibility
If you have earned a reputation as a valuable employee and are earning more money than other companies pay for a similar position and you’d still like to earn more, then a promotion is your next step. It’s totally fine to sit down with your boss and say, “I’ve been working here for ___ months/years. I feel I’m valuable to the company and I’d like to make more money for my family. What are some opportunities available now where I could take on some more responsibilities and make more money?”
Ask for a raise Don’t do this if you’ve worked for a company for 2 months and have done a slightly above average job. But if you’re crushing it consistently at work and haven’t had a discussion about your compensation in a while, it’s worth sitting down with your boss and having a conversation. You don’t need to expect them to give you a raise immediately. But you can have a conversation about the future with them and what you’d like to be earning. It’s okay to say things like, “I’d really love to be earning $xxx,xxx/year here within the next 12 months. What would you need to see from me to make that happen?”
Having conversations like this with your boss ensures them that you want to be a long term team player and that you’re committed to your goals with the company. If you prove your value they’ll strive to keep you around.
Apply for other jobs If you hate your current company, have done everything you can to make more money there, and a pay raise just looks like it’s not going to happen in the near future, then it’s time to apply for other jobs.
Take some time to write a really great resume. You may even hire a professional resume coach to help you write and format your resume. Fill out job applications completely and take extra efforts to stand out above the crowd. Ask your friends and family if they know of any openings and lean on your network to find out about opportunities.
If you’ve been having these conversations with your current employer, ask them for help. Let them know you’ll continue being a rockstar employee while you work for them but that you need to earn more money. Since that opportunity isn’t available with their company you have to look elsewhere.
And while you’re applying for other jobs, go ahead and apply for some jobs that are just outside of your qualification levels. Apply for jobs that pay double your current salary. If your resume looks great, you go above and beyond to get the interview, and communicate impressively in the interview you may just trick someone into giving you a job that pays double.
Working crazy hours for a short term period is a great way to make more money to reach short term financial goals like getting out of debt. But if you’re on a stable financial foundation already, earning more money from your long term career is the best way to reach your overall financial goals.
When the stock market and real estate market crashed simultaneously in late 2008 and early 2009 we were unprepared because we didn’t have an emergency account.
I was 22 years old with a new baby at home and several hundred thousand dollars in debt. I had no savings account, no college degree, and my wife and I both lost our great paying jobs within 30 days of each other. The following years were spent working multiple jobs at the same time with slashed expenses. We sold everything we owned, including vehicles, to help us climb out of a hole and eventually build a small emergency account.
And the problems we faced… the financial struggles we had to go through for 5 years after… they could’ve easily been avoided if we had been better prepared.
Bad stuff happens. It just does. We’re in a rapidly changing world with rapidly changing technology that is eliminating jobs. Most economist will tell you our markets are over-inflated and are at risk of busting again. There’s the election, the Brexit vote earlier this year, Ford just stopped production in 4 plants, health insurance premiums are increasing rapidly….
I’m no doomsday theorist. I’m not predicting the end of the world or anything. But this is a dangerous time to be living paycheck to paycheck without any type of emergency account in place.
Our financial collapse would have merely been a financial hiccup if we had an emergency account when we lost our jobs. It took us several years after losing our jobs to find steady employment. But by working multiple jobs at the same time we were able to stabilize our income enough to pay our bills within 4 months.
But those 4 months were enough to set off a chain reaction and put us behind which caused late fees, default interest rates, lawsuits, and more. It took years to clean up the mess.
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck or don’t have any emergency account in place, you need to get one now. And the good news is that you can save up a small emergency account equal to 1 month of your expenses super fast.
How to create an Emergency Account
Temporarily pause your retirement savings – I understand if you have a company match that you are hesitant to do this. But we’re talking about a really short time period of pausing your future to take care of today. When you invest into your 401k and other retirement plans without an emergency account in place first, you risk needing to tap into your retirement account early and paying high penalties and fees.
Have a garage/online sale – It’s never been easier to get rid of your unused stuff. With Facebook buy/sell/trade groups you can sell individual toys and articles of clothing for $1 or $2 each quite easily. That type of stuff adds up fast. If you have furniture that you don’t like anyway and will likely replace in the near future, sell it now.
Whole life insurance – Not everyone has a whole life insurance (cash value life insurance) policy but if you do, you’re paying too much for not the right type of protection. Get a term life insurance policy for less money and more coverage in place first and then cancel your whole life policy. Once you cancel the whole life insurance policy, you’ll receive a check for the cash value you had saved up in the account.
Adjust your W-4 at work – If you’re consistently receiving a tax refund each year then you are having too much money taken out of your paychecks. A $2,000 annual tax refund means you let the government borrow $166/month from you when that money could be better used by building up your emergency account. Adjust your exemptions so your company takes out less for federal income tax.
Ask for a raise – Are you being a rockstar employee at work? Sit down a talk with your boss about what it takes for you to get a raise. Maybe you take on some extra responsibilities or seek a promotion or even just ask for some overtime pay. But if you’re a rockstar employee then you probably deserve a raise and that could help you fund your emergency account. If you hate your job or can’t get a raise, maybe start applying for other jobs that pay more. And if you’re filling out job applications anyway shoot for the stars and fill out applications for jobs that pay double your current salary. Maybe you’re charming enough to get the job!
Shop existing expenses – Do you really need cable TV? Can you get a better deal on your auto insurance? Homeowners insurance? Are you able to lower your cell phone bill any by dropping to a lower package or switching carriers? Could you switch electric companies to get a lower rate? Spending a few hours shopping the rates of those bills you have to pay every month can reduce your expenses drastically. That saved money can then go toward your emergency account.
Side hustle – If you’re super serious about getting an emergency account in place fast then you should consider a second or part time job. The great news is there are tons of options for this now. You could drive for Uber or Lyft or if you don’t like people check out Amazon Prime Now or DoorDash delivery. I personally delivered pizzas and worked evenings as a janitor at a church. You could also start a small business, mow lawns, or babysit. I’m a big fan of the entrepreneurial route because it allows you to control your schedule more than working retail and you typically make more money.
There are tons of other ways you can save money for your emergency account but you need to know that it’s important that you get one. Make saving money for an emergency account a priority and get started today!
What are some other ways you can think of to kickstart an emergency account? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Getting a house ready to sell is really not a fun process. I walk my clients through what to do all the time and it’s never really impacted me to show them the places they need to paint or the closets that need decluttered. But we are now selling our current home and I took my own advice.
“If you’re moving anyway, you might as well start packing and get rid of stuff you don’t want to take to your new home.”
So in the Lewis Family, we’re not hoarders. We don’t have a ton of extra “stuff.” When we went through our financial collapse years ago we sold pretty much everything that we owned in order to pay bills. Since then, we’ve replaced furniture with bargain deals on Craigslist that I refinished. We don’t spend money on physical things very often.
So I expected this de-cluttering process to get our house ready to sell to be quick and easy.
We donated 5 trashbags full of baby clothes to our church.
We gave my sister another 4 bags of baby clothes since she’s having her first baby in July.
We gave a pastor at our church 2 bags of little boy clothes as they have a 1 year old son.
We sold dozens of our kids toys on Facebook buy/sell/trade sites.
I threw away at least 30 old t-shirts and pairs of jeans.
On trash day of the week we listed our house, there were 15 bags of “trash” out on our curb, along with an old office chair, a broken dining room chair, and some other “stuff” that had just been sitting in our garage.
Oh, the garage. Yeah. This list doesn’t even mention the landscaping supplies and old toys and extra paint that were in the garage.
We truly don’t have a lot of things around our house. We’re fortunate to have everything we need and most of the things we want. Over the years we’ve learned contentment and how to say no to most frivolous things, and most of the stuff we do own is second hand or given to us.
But as I stared at this stack of 15 bags of “trash” I couldn’t help but think that at one point that stuff had value. At one point, we thought it necessary to exchange money we had worked hard to earn so that we could own something that now sits on a curb destined for the city dump.
Thousands of dollars in purchases spread out over the years was being thrown away, and for good reason. They were unusable, old, worn out, broken…. trash.
We think we need that new shirt or pair of jeans or shoes, but the reality is we have a closet full of clothes we don’t even wear. We think our kids need that new toy, but the reality is they have a toy box filled with toys they haven’t touched in years.
Here’s what I know. I remember why I spent money on a trip to Disney World, or for season passes to the zoo or museum, or for dance lessons for my daughter, or for a baseball season for my son. I remember why I spent money to take my wife out to dinner. I remember why I give money to various ministries and organizations.
And the money I’ve spent over the years on things like that… it doesn’t end up on the curb.
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It never fails that during Christmas season I freak out about who to put on my gift list and what I’m going to buy them. Some people just naturally know what to buy for their friends and family, but I’m not one of those people. I procrastinate. I think about what they’d like entirely too much. And then we get to Christmas week and I just buy a bunch of gift cards that say, “I don’t really know who you are as a person but felt like we’re close enough that I should give you some gift on Jesus birthday.”
And I do the same thing on birthdays. I do the same thing on my anniversary. I’m really terrible at gifts but I want to be really great at it. I want to give the people I know and love the perfect gift that causes tears and hugs and a flood of emotions. And I bet you do too.
So I’ve come up with a 3 step plan for to take my generosity to a new level in 2016. You should try this too and we can check in with each other on December 26.
Create a digital file system using your phone or some cloud notepad. I’m using the “Notes” app on my iPhone that syncs to my laptop in iCloud. I created a folder that is called “Gift Ideas.”
Step 2: Start a list. I know right now who I’m going to buy at least one present for this year. I’ve got the usuals like my wife, my parents, my mother-in-law, my sister, my brother-in-law, and my kids. So inside of my “Gift Ideas” folder I’ve created a new Note for each person I intend on buying a gift in 2016. This list will grow throughout the year as I come across different friends and clients that I’d like to add into the giving mix.
Step 3: Pay attention. Throughout the year your friends and family will drop hints about things that they like. They won’t even realize they gave a hint, but when they do you need to store that gem of information in your digital gift locker. A good example is a friend of mine commented last week about a certain type of potato chip that is their favorite. Guess what is on their gift list?
Step 4: Pick a present. If you pay attention all year to the people you care about you’ll likely have 2 or 3 or 8 different items on their list. Pick the right gift for the season, give it to them and be prepared for the hug and tears to come because you just nailed it!
One thing I want the Lewis Family to be known for is how generous we are. I don’t want that to be limited to just our finances or our time, but I really want those gifts to communicate to the people that we love that we actually love them.
What do you think? Are you going to try something like this in 2016?