I’ve been dieting most of my life. Thanks to The Plan, I had become rather astute on how my body reacted to specific foods. So I came into the Whole30 program with few expectations. But quite honestly, the program changed my life! Suddenly this tired old body was transformed into a bubbly energetic person. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a bit and tell you more about Whole30.
Whole30 entered the diet/healthy eating world in 2015 as a sequel to Melissa and Dallas Hartwigs’ bestseller, It Starts with Food. The companion website makes a bold statement: Let us Change your Life! In fact, the Whole30 program makes stunning claims – effortless weight loss, better health, improved sleep quality, increased energy level, and more self-esteem. And the prescription? Food!
So what are the rules? I won’t lie. They are strict. Eliminate all of the following items for 30 days:
At this point, your reaction may be similar to mine: “No way!” Even though I try to eat a low carb lifestyle, I couldn’t imaging giving up dairy especially. Could I do this? Oh, one more rule: don’t step on the scale or take any body measurements for 30 days. Now that I could do!
Over the last few years, my weight had moved past that cursed Body Mass Index marker that indicates “obesity.” I was not happy and it was time to do something about it. March 2017 was a particular challenging month. I was working late and too tired to prepare healthy foods. The hot dog and beer at the 7-Eleven kept calling my name. This simply had to stop! I needed to take some drastic steps, and despite my skepticism, in April I launched headfirst into Whole30.
The first week on Whole30 was tough. I was tired and crabby. But after that initial break-in period, it was just a matter of discipline. My biggest challenge came midway through the program when I spent a weekend with friends on the Brew Ridge Trail, home to some of the best craft breweries and cideries in Virginia. We had planned the trip months earlier and I was eager to spend some time in the mountains. I’m proud to say that I opted out of the beer and pretzel tasting at each brewery. Three things were critical to my success: (1) I drove so my designated driver status meant no alcohol; (2) I was saved by a Rx bar when our dinner was terribly delayed; and (3) my friends were supportive of my efforts. Having made it through the Brew Ridge weekend, the remaining two weeks weren’t so bad.
The final week of the Whole30 program was nothing short of AMAZING. I was waking up around 5:30 in the morning with loads of energy. I was insanely happy every single day. And when I stepped on the scale after those 30 days, I was down 14 POUNDS! Yea!
What happens when the Whole30 is finished? That was the big question I faced. Ideally, you should enter a reintroduction phase, in which you test how some of the previously forbidden foods affect the way you feel (similar to The Plan). Cheese, here I come! I found the Bright Line Eating (BLE) program and the high number of positive reviews convinced me to give it a try. So right after Whole30 concluded, I began the BLE 14-day eating challenge. The idea of BLE is that there are “bright lines” that you just can’t cross: sugar, flour, meals, and quantities. The Bright Line Eating approach is based on Overeaters Anonymous and a lot of people who are food addicts report considerable success.
I bought a food scale and prepared my meals, and reintroduced cheese to my diet. The result: I GAINED 1 pound in those two weeks! But more importantly, my energy declined significantly and I just didn’t feel the best. My mood sunk, and WOW, was it ever obvious that I belonged on Whole30.
I am a Whole30 convert, but I build in a bit of flexibility. Each week I prepare a Whole30-based menu, which you can find on the Healthy 7 page. I’m not overly strict and occasionally, I’ll enjoy a cold beer, eat a burger in a bun, and indulge in ice cream. But those are rare events. Generally, I don’t have a difficult time sticking to Whole30 for the simple reason that it gives me so much energy, clarity, and happiness. I now have 4 months of Whole30 under my belt, and I’ve lost almost 30 pounds! I no longer register in the obesity zone and I’m working hard to reach the normal zone. Thank you, Whole30!!!