Recently, I completed the entire 30 days of the Whole30 Program. If you have never heard of Whole30, I encourage you to check their website now or after you read this to learn more about the program. (whole30.com) In short, it is a way of eating that strips out psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, & inflammatory food groups. Basically, you remove all added sugar (natural and artificial), alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, & certain preservatives from your diet. For 30 days, you will get all your nutrients from meat, seafood, eggs, lots of vegetables, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. You will only eat whole, real food, close to its natural form. In fact, the program also doesn’t allow re-creating baked goods, junk foods, treats, etc., even if your using “approved” ingredients. Unlike other nutrition programs, this one takes the focus off the scale and instead has you focus on “non-scale” victories such as better mood, increase energy, less inflammation, less joint pain, better sleep, clearer skin, etc.
Now that you know a little bit about Whole30, let me give you the background on my health history and what lead me to try Whole30 in the first place. Without trying to come off cocky, I would say I am a pretty fit dude. For the past 7 years, I have eaten healthy for 80% of my diet, workout consistently 5-6 times a week, and have lived what many would call the “Fit” lifestyle. Like my workout routines, I have tried many different eating styles over the years. Everything from low carb diets, to counting calories, to counting macronutrients, to vegetable juicing, to eating 6 small meals a day, to shake diets, to shake cleanses, to intermittent fasting, etc. I wouldn’t say I had a negative experience with these eating styles. To be honest, I have achieved some awesome physical results with some of these diets. However, many were hard to sustain and did little to address what reactions my body may have to certain foods.
Flash back to December 2016, I had a coming to Jesus moment. For the entire year of 2016, I started to notice a decrease in physical performance & keeping my BF% down. I had also been having issues with joint pain, digestive problems, allergies, skin rashes, brain fog, weak immune system, low energy, etc. Being a “Fit” guy for some time, I started to wonder what the heck was wrong with me!?!? For the most part, I chalked it up to getting older, stress, lack of sleep, etc. But then I started doing research and wondered if my diet had anything to do with it. I hadn't really changed my eating habits in the last 4 or 5 years. I wondered if inflammation was a cause to a lot of my problems. All of this, coupled with some personal struggles I was having in my life, I knew I needed a change. To quote one of my favorite Waylon Jennings songs; I was “sick & tired of waking up sick & tired”. I had heard about Whole30 and how it had helped people with the similar problems I was dealing with, so I decided to try it at the start of 2017. The trainer in me knows that accountability is the key to success. So I started a Facebook group and got a bunch of my clients & trainers to do it with me. We started officially on Jan 8th, 2017.
Day 1-7. The first week wasn’t that bad for me. I already had a pretty clean diet before I started. However, those in our group that had strong sugar & soda addictions seemed to have it really tough the first week. Many would get headaches and have serious withdrawl. I did however notice a lack of energy in my workouts. Not really sure why but I just had low energy during my workouts that first week.
Day 15-21. At the halfway point, I felt AMAZING. As they say in the program, I had “Tiger Blood” flowing through my body. My energy level was through the roof, I slept like a baby at night, and I wasn’t craving cheat meals. In fact, all the healthy fats & protein I was eating kept me full in between meals.
Day 25-30. Once I got to day 25 though, food boredom really started to set in. I just wanted to be done! I did start to miss my cheat meals & having drinks with my friends. I still felt amazing, but started to miss having a life! But I was determined to finish the entire 30 days. For me, those last 5 days were the worst. If it weren't for the Facebook accountability group I started, I probably would of quit.
After finally finishing the entire 30 days, I am proud to announce I have reduced joint pain and sleep more sound. My skin has cleared up and my allergies have gotten better. I'm less bloated and feel like I'm absorbing more of the nutrients I digest. I have more focus and drive in life. Best of all, I have changed my relationship with food and am overall just a happier person because of it! I did end up losing 12 pounds, but I am far more impressed with my “non-scale” victories.
Another note, besides not being able to drink and eat what I want on the weekends. The hardest part was ditching all my supplements. I did not take any pre/post workout, creatine, or even whey protein the entire time. Instead of relying on powders, pills, & potions I taught my body to rely on real whole food! To be honest, I don't know if I will ever go back to taking supplements. I was able to crush my workouts and didn’t feel like I lost any muscle mass either. In fact, I felt stronger than ever!
In closing, I highly recommend everybody try Whole30. Especially if your story sounds like mine and you have been suffering from the same symptoms as I was. Moving forward, I plan on eating the Whole30 way for at least 85% of my diet. Every now and then I will eat Whole30 strict for 15-30 days just to keep me honest. It’s unrealistic to think I can do it Whole365, but I am confident that after doing the initial 30 days I know which foods cause my body trouble and what foods I should avoid. So, if you decide to give Whole30 a go, I wish you luck! It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it! In fact, this just might be the best decision you make in a long time!
Will you be starting Whole30? Why or why not? Leave comment below.