I Tried Whole30 and Here’s What I Learned
I Tried Whole30 and Here’s What I Learned
Don’t roll your eyes at me. Yes, I did willingly give up processed foods, sugar, dairy, grains, legumes and booze (I know) for 30 whole days. Maybe a little to lose weight, but mostly to finally give me body the reset it desperately needed and see if I could actually stick with something for once (spoiler alert: I couldn’t). But before you write this off as just another diet fad, I’m here to tell you that Whole30 is not another diet fad. And while I eventually waved my white flag on Day 25, I still actively practice and think about all of the things Whole30 taught me, only now with a glass of wine in my hand.
Before we get into the good stuff, let me give you a bit more insight into what Whole30 is. An elimination diet focused on eating real food, Whole30 asks—but really demands—you to omit all of those foods listed above that are potentially making you feel like crap (i.e. bloated, tired, achy, sore, depressed, etc.). By focusing on meals with real, whole food, your body finally gets a much-needed reboot for a more energetic, endorphin-filled and anti-bloat life that it, and you, deserve.
While they don’t advertise as a weight loss program, the creators of Whole30 claim that 95 percent of people who participate experience weight loss.
Buy the Book
I’m the queen of finding free PDF copies online of any meal plan, workout schedule or book I want, but buying the Whole30 book is truly a game changer. No, this is not an ad. (They wouldn’t sponsor someone who couldn’t finish the 30 days.) Not only was I now forced to take it seriously with my $30 on the line, but the book gives you the ‘why’ of going through this process. Otherwise, it would honestly just feel like torture. With science-backed research, the book goes into our relationship with food, why certain foods make us feel bad and what you can expect every day of your journey. Hint: the first week will not be a great time.
“Tiger Blood” is the phrase Whole30-ers use to describe the period of time after week two, where you experience an insane boost in energy levels.
Sugar Is in Everything
Literally, everything. Why is there added sugar in bread? Why are lunch meats cured with sugar? On my 30 days without sugar (unless naturally occurring), I learned pretty early on that we add sugar into everything we can. And when you cut it out? Yeah, you don’t feel great right away. For the first few days, I felt like I was in an eternal sugar crash that brought me back to my moody, temperamental teen days. But after that, when my body finally adjusted to a world without added sugar? Gone were the sweets cravings (except for a random craving for banana bread that stuck with me almost the entire time), the low energy and the urge to order dessert after dinner.
You’re not going to want to make your own mayo but make your own mayo. It’s actually very easy and even tastier than the store-bought.
Planning Your Meals Is Your Lifeline
I beg you. Plan them out. I’m not saying you need to spend your Sunday hashtag meal prepping or stuffing your sad containers with broccoli, chicken breast and spinach. But have a plan. The easiest way to slip up on Whole30 is by not being prepared. Select a few recipes you can make for dinner that can also serve as leftovers for following days—write them down and stick to it! Another perk of the book is that it comes with a ton of amazing recipes and general cooking instructions for those who aren’t exactly Top Chef in the kitchen—like me. There are instructions on how to cook the perfect steak, how to make your own mayo and ghee, and so much more!
Dallas and Melissa Hartwig (a former husband-wife duo with combined backgrounds in sports nutrition, anatomy and physical therapy) founded the program in 2009.
Telling Friends and Family Will Help You Stay on Track
I never really wanted to be that person. The person who tells everyone in their life and on Instagram how great they are now that they’ve found this new healthy lifestyle. But telling the important people in my life that I was giving Whole30 a shot really ended up being a huge help to me. Not only were they super supportive, but they were also intrigued and eager to help in any way that they could. Whether that was suggesting restaurants I could eat at for our next happy hour (sparkling water with lime, please!) or sending Whole30-related articles my way. Thanks, team!
Yes, you can eat out, and there’s even a cheat sheet on the Whole30 website that suggests ways you can navigate those annoying, health-conscious questions to your waiter.
You Are (in Control of) What You Eat
I lost seven pounds while doing Whole30, but my biggest takeaway had nothing to do with the scale—in fact, the scale is banned from the Whole30 world. Most importantly, I finally felt like I was back in control of my body and my relationship with food. It was like all of a sudden (well around day 12) I could hear my body telling me when it was full, when it was hungry, what it needed. Out of everything I learned, this connection has been the one I still actively think about and practice. So yeah, as much as I didn’t want to be that person: Whole30 changed my life.
The Hartwigs offer up a tough love approach to eating healthy. “It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You won’t get any coddling, and you won’t get any sympathy for your ‘struggles’.”