Well, it’s finally over.
On February 19, my wife and I accepted the Whole 30 challenge from our Health and Wellness coordinator at church. It is easily one of the greatest decisions I ever made. Not only do my clothes fit better, I feel so much better. No more headaches. No more afternoon crash. More energy. I had no idea what I was eating would cause me to feel so bad. After a month of healthy eating, I can honestly say, yes, it matters what you eat!
What is the Whole 30?
Before I get to my results, the Whole 30 is an eating plan (from the folks at the Whole 9) built around the paleo diet. It has nothing to do with eating special foods; it is mainly concerned with eating the right foods. The purpose is to strip out all of the food groups that could be having a negative impact on your health (i.e. sugar - including artificial sugar, grains, dairy, and legumes). It is not meant to be a “weight-loss” diet; it’s meant to be a “get-healthy purge”. The ultimate goal is to “let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the ‘reset’ button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn once and for all how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day to day life, and your long term health.”
A few things you need to know about me
The Whole 30 was something we worked up to, though we didn’t know it. We’d started to eat healthier several months ago (limiting grains and dairy specifically) so cutting those weren’t too difficult. Had we been forced to stop everything cold turkey (which turkey, by the way, is something you CAN eat!), it would have been much harder. It wasn’t until the challenge did we realize our changes a few months ago really helped us.
I’ve weighed under 200 lbs. only twice in my adult life - in 2003 during summer camp (go figure), and in 2008 when I got married. To put it another way, according to the BMI (which I know is controversial), I’ve been “overweight” almost my entire adult life (childhood for that matter). I’ve tried losing weight many times. I’ve been able to lose a bit, but never been able to stick.
The Whole 30 website promised to change my life. I was skeptical, but hopeful. I can now say the last 30 days have indeed really changed my life. My eating habits, deeply ingrained in me, have finally been changed and I loved it. It certainly wasn’t easy the whole time, but I was never hungry. It’s surprising when you eat right, you are full. Cravings aren’t there.
I found out a lot about myself during this process. I ate most poorly when I was stressed out. There was only one point (around Day 13 to 15) I almost quit. I was extremely stressed out and all I wanted was chocolate. I’m glad I didn’t give in. It’s those small choices that have a big effect.
I also found out it is very possible to over-eat on healthy food. There were many times I would (inadvertently) over-eat trying to eat all of my food. Over the last 30 days, I’ve learned it’s okay to have food left on your plate. You stop eating when you are full; not when the plate is empty.
While the primary goal was not to lose weight, I did end up losing quite a bit in 30 days:
Day 1 weight: 208
Day 31 weight: 196
To be honest, while 12 lbs. in 30 days is good, it’s not entirely accurate. I’d been trying to lose weight since my birthday (November 15) when I weighed 215. I was able to lose around 6 to 7 lbs. on my own through cutting back eating and exercise, but I was stuck around 209/208 lbs. I am extremely happy to lose those “really difficult” pounds that just always seem to be there. Even better, I broke emotional eating habits I’ve had all my life.
So, why did I do it? I really wanted to get healthy. I had a strong desire at the beginning to change and I really think that helped push me. It required a lot of will power to stay “clean”, but it was worth it. I heard this quote a few days ago (even blogged the video yesterday) and I really think it summed up my feelings: “The absence of disease is not healthy.” Though I didn’t have really poor health (on the outside I looked quite healthy), I knew my eating habits would catch up with me eventually. Plus, I was tired of feeling tired all the time.
In the end, I just decided to change. I’m extremely glad I did. My wife and I always told ourselves that no matter what happens, this is our first step, not the last step. I think I’ve started some really good habits and I hope to post an update in a few months with even better news. We definitely plan on continuing out eating habits, because as stated on the Whole 9 blog, “If you aren’t missing it, why bring it back?”
The Whole 30 was almost entirely a mental challenge. I made up my mind at the beginning I wasn’t going to eat anything off the “restricted” list, but resisting the temptation was always there. If you are looking to get healthy, I highly recommend the Whole 30.
All images are the intellectual property of the Whole9.