My Experience on the Whole30

It’s taken me a couple of weeks to post this, but I wanted to do a quick recap of my experience on the Whole30 program. The essence of the Whole30 can be boiled down into the following sentence: “For 30 days, eat real foods, cut out all processed crap.” It’s a little more involved than that, but basically, you do not consume:

  • Added sugar of any kind, real or artificial
  • No alcohol
  • No grains
  • No legumes
  • No dairy
  • No foods with additives like “carrageenan, MSG or sulfites”
  • No cheating and trying to recreate baked goods, junk food, or snacks with “approved” ingredients (I believe in the Whole30 book, they say this is akin to “having sex with your clothes on”…there’s an image our 14 year old selves can all get behind, am I right?!?!)

So when my wife told me she wanted to go through with the program (our best friends and my sister in law were doing it as well), you can imagine my, um, overwhelming excitement. “You mean I have to give up pizza for 30 days?” “What about pancakes slathered in Nutella!?!?” “Fried chicken?!?” “Hell to the no am I going to stop drinking beer for a month!”

In the end, I was outnumbered.

The night before the Whole30 started, I wondered in trepidation for the days ahead. My wife and I took progress photos, measurements, and weighed ourselves. Somewhat begrudgingly, I began my Whole30 journey on January 8th.

From reading other’s experiences, the first week or so is the hardest: For most of us raised on the standard American diet chock-full of processed crap, sugar, and God knows what else, this makes perfect sense. You’re basically like Jesse from Breaking Bad in season 3 when he goes through rehab; An addict going through withdrawals, except your drug of choice isn’t meth, it’s sugar. The first 72 hours was a fog, as if I was a combination of hungover, extremely tired, and on edge. I wanted to literally throat punch everyone I came into contact with. One wrong word…one funny glance, and I’d be liable to smash you in the face with my mason jar salad. However, in spite of my body, emotions, and mind rebelling against me, I stuck with it. Knowing that others were in it for the long haul gave me some sense of comfort. Misery loves company!

As week one progressed into week two, I was feeling better. Food (or lack thereof) didn’t make me angry all the time. I learned to discern between true hunger and “hunger” driven out of boredom or stress. When I felt hungry, I’d drink water, wait five minutes, and if I was still hungry, eat something healthy like fruit or almonds.

Week three was when I felt the best. At this point, the momentum picked up speed like a freight train; the half way point was in the proverbial rear view mirror, grocery shopping and meal prep didn’t consume entire afternoons, and we felt great physically, emotionally, and mentally. I had co-workers and family members remarking that I looked as if I had lost weight. I was even able to grab fast food for my kids and not cave in and get something for myself. My confidence grew that not only could I complete the 30 days, but that I sustain this as a lifestyle.

Week four arrived and with it, the 30th and final day. I hopped on the scale and took my measurements. In the end:

  • I lost 13.8 pounds without stepping into a gym, counting calories, or putting anything on a food scale
  • Lost an inch from my waist
  • Lost 3.25 inches off my hips
  • Lost 2.5 inches off my arms
  • Lost half an inch from my chest

I don’t have my wife’s numbers, but she posted similar results. In the end, I can say that I’m glad that I went through the experience. Although I didn’t take the time to slowly reintegrate “banned” foods back into my diet (on the 31st day, I celebrated with pizza and beer), I know that I can’t go back to a lifestyle of crappy, overly processed foods. Comparing how I feel now to how on felt on the Whole30….they aren’t even in the same ballpark. While it’ll take some discipline to get back on the wagon, I know my wife and I are on the same page regarding the gains we’ve made health-wise and the role models we want to be for our kids.

So what about you? Have you ever done the Whole30 or a similar program? Maybe you’re considering it or doing it right now. Sharing is caring, kids…feel free to post your thoughts or feedback on your experiences.

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