*Photo by Kate Robinson Photography

Editor’s note: Kathryn is a regular contributor for HOUSE of HARPER who is recently engaged and starting the new year off with her second round of Whole 30.  (You can see her first article about Whole 30 here .)  With such a focus on health and wellness this time of year, we thought it would be the perfect time to share what she learned from her first Whole 30 journey and how she plans to make this time an even bigger success!  Take it away, Kathryn…

Is it just me, or is getting back into the swing of things especially difficult after the holidays this year? I’m blaming the past month of carbs, sugar, wine, and Netflix binging (The Crown Season 2, anyone?!). Needless to say, I’m very ready for a fresh start. I also have to admit that I’m actually kind of excited to start Whole 30 this month.

I have a hunch that quite a few of you are also starting Whole30 in the New Year, so I wanted to give a few motivational tips for surviving the next thirty days with a smile on your face. To be honest, this list is also to help me mentally prepare!

I talked about my two previous experiences with Whole30 during our Motivational Mondays series back in October, and you can get the full scoop here if you missed it!

*These tips are my opinion and not official Whole30 advice.

1. Don’t Skip the Meal Prep

Planning out weekly menus and grocery shopping in advance is key for making it through the next thirty days. During the first two weeks your body is adjusting to the lack of carbs and sugar, which makes you a little (or a lot) cranky. If you don’t have food at home ready to cook after a long work day, that is asking for the temptation to cheat. Make it a weekend routine to plan out all of your meals and visit your favorite grocery store with the Whole30 shopping list in hand. There are tons of paleo-friendly cookbooks out there for recipe inspiration and to keep you from feeling burned out on basic meat and veggies. Start by referencing the Whole30 cookbook. To keep things interesting, I love trying out curry recipes and hearty soups that pack in a lot of flavor and spice. If you need tips on efficient meal planning, check out this House of Harper feature with contributor Marcia Smart from Smart in the Kitchen.

2. Find a Whole30 Buddy

Luckily, January is a super popular time for lifestyle changes and detoxing, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to rope someone else in with you. Find a coworker, friend, or significant other to join you on the Whole30 journey and help keep you accountable. Moral support goes a long way in getting through the first couple of weeks and then sticking it out during the last two.

3. Be Social, Even If It’s a Hassle

One of the most difficult parts of Whole30, in my opinion, is having to turn down social events in order to stick to the plan. Going out to dinner becomes a pain, happy hours seem pointless, and being the one person at a dinner party with dietary restrictions is the worst. To avoid going stir crazy, though, it’s important to be as social as you can. Make a point to eat before meeting friends for dinner, or choose a restaurant that you know has Whole30 approved options. For a little something bubbly to sip on, I gravitate towards Topo Chico with lime at happy hours and dinners.

4. Say Yes to Smoothies

Ok, this is controversial in the Whole30 world, but smoothies are truly a game changer for me. I opt for smoothies frequently during Whole30 for lunch, not as a dessert or snack, and it is a nice change of pace from eating salads every day. My go-to Whole30-approved smoothie from Whole Foods has almond butter, pure almond milk (no sweetener added), spinach, and banana. Whole30 generally disapproves of smoothies because your body doesn’t register drinking as eating, and therefore doesn’t feel like a meal has been consumed — but I actually feel very full after drinking this hearty milkshake-like smoothie.

5. Load up on Lara Bars

Lara Bars are lifesavers for those moments during Whole30 when you’re starving and about to give the whole thing up for a bag of chips. Check out the list of approved Lara Bars and keep them on hand at your desk and in your purse for emergencies, and to keep you from getting hangry (especially during the first two weeks!).

6. Embrace New Routines

Whole30 pushes you to change your typical routine, and if you embrace new habits the month will be much more enjoyable. During Whole30 I always look forward to waking up and making a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, and fresh squeezed orange juice. I also look forward to my morning and afternoon cups of black coffee and nightly cup of herbal tea enjoyed with a good book (side note: hot tea is a nice palate cleanser after dinner in lieu of dessert). I also enjoy weekly trips to Whole Foods to check off my Whole30 grocery list and then trying out new recipes. Since alcohol is off limits, weekend days are especially refreshing and productive, often starting with a morning workout and ending in a pleasantly early bedtime. It really is a nice change of pace, especially after nonstop activities and events during the holidays.

7. Hydrate and Sleep!

This one might seem obvious, but drinking water continuously throughout the day and getting plenty of sleep will really make a difference to your Whole30 month. Your energy levels and mood might seem off at first as your body is adjusting, so be sure to refill your water bottle nonstop and enjoy the luxury of early bedtimes after cooking dinner at home.

Are you trying out Whole30 this month? Let us know how it’s going and leave any tips you might have in a comment below!