If you follow my blog or my instagram @speakingof_fitness, you’ll be aware that I’m currently in the first half of my 16 week training challenge. This challenge is a combination of a home workout guide from @bodyfitbalance and my own half marathon training schedule. While working out is great, diet is 80% of losing weight and getting into shape. Because of this, I’m starting up a Whole 45 this week, which is essentially a Whole 30 but for 45 days. Obvi!
This is my third full Whole 30 that I’ll be doing. I tried a few times about 2-3 years ago but was never able to get all the way through until last summer (2019). My wedding was in December of 2019 and I really wanted to look great and FEEL great for it. I did my first full Whole 30 from mid July to mid August, which led right up until the start of wedding festivities. It was a learning experience for sure. I did my second Whole 30 starting in mid July of this year (2020) and ended in late August! I would have continued on with this last Whole 30, but the first two weeks of September is birthday central in my world and I didn’t want to set myself up for failure and temptation. Now that all the festivities are over, I’m getting back at it and sharing my tips, tricks, and providing a bit of guidance on what to expect when conquering the Whole 30.
During both of my full Whole 30 experiences, I’ve seen a dramatic change in my lifestyle. My arthritis clears up a bit, stomach bloat decreases, I sleep better, am in a better overall mood, and lost 10 pounds in a month for both! While weight lost is a major plus, it’s not the main point of Whole 30. The non-scale wins, are really the things you want to look for when doing a Whole 30. I’ll talk about those more later, but if you decide to do a Whole 30, you need to go into it with an open mind and with the goal of gaining an overall increase in wellness, and not just lost of weight.
What is Whole 30?
Awesome, you’ve decided to do a Whole 30 but what exactly does that mean? While the name itself should give you a hint of what it is, The Whole 30 as described by Wikipedia is a “30-day fad diet that emphasizes whole foods and the elimination of sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy. The Whole30 is similar to but more restrictive than the paleo diet, as adherents may not eat natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.”
And while the description on Wikipedia is essentially correct, The Whole 30 is way more than just a fad diet. It’s a way to reset your own personal expectations around eating and what you are putting into your body. It’s also used to help identify the best types of food for your particular body and lifestyles. Can you use The Whole 30 as a diet, most definitely, and let’s be honest, I totally was looking to drop some lbs.
“The Whole 30 is designed to change your life in 30 days-but it’s not a diet, a detox, or a weight loss program. Think of it as a short-term reset, created to help you curb your cravings and bad habits, boost your metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and calm your immune system.” – Melissa Urban Co-founder of Whole 30
The premise is simple: Certain food groups—even the “healthy” stuff—could be having a negative impact on your physical and mental health without you even realizing it. Some of the major areas Whole 30 aims to help you address is: inconsistent or non-existent energy levels, sleeping troubles, aches and pains, weight loss problems, skin issues, migraines, digestive issues, and even anxiety.
Checking in and being honest with myself, when I started the Whole 30 I was a mess. Just off the top of my head my main complains about myself are:
- Aches & Pains: Check! If you have read any of my posts around running, you will know that I have some major issues with my back, including some fairly bad arthritis and sciatica.
- Migraines: Check! Headaches are the norm for me and I have been getting debilitating migraines since middle school.
- Sleeping Troubles: Check! My sleeping habits are out of control and when I do sleep I’m normally up multiple times a night because of back pain etc.
- Inconsistent Energy Levels: Check! Probably because of the whole sleep issues, my energy levels are either through the roof or completely lacking.
- Digestive Issues: Check! In the past two years I have even really noticed more and more digestive issues. While I normally attribute this to a metabolism slowing down (I see you 30), maybe it’s really just my body craving a different type of nutrients.
- Anxiety: You better believe it.
The only symptom on the list of items Whole 30 can help with, that I thankfully do not have too much of a problem with is Skin. So shoutout to mi madre for passing along her beautiful complex.
The Whole point of The Whole 30 (see what I did there?) is to simply take 30 days and focus on your own well being. It’s 30 days of checking in on yourself and seeing how consuming only Whole foods and eliminate the most common inflammatory food groups to help you determine if you symptoms are food related. While most people may not know it, gut health plays a major impact in the rest of your body’s health. Gut health or digestive issues commonly disguise themselves as other symptoms, so maybe you don’t even know you have gut problems. I mean it’s 30 days of your life and all you’re doing for 30 days is just testing to see if certain foods are having a negative impact on your life without you even knowing. If you can’t dedicate 30 days to address what you’re putting into your body to make yourself feel better, then in the words of Ron Weasley, “You need to sort out your prioritizes”.
I am going to be honest with you. My main goal in giving The Whole 30 another try was to simply lose some weight for my wedding later this year. But if I could feel relief in any of the other areas of my life I listed above too, then what exactly was holding me back from trying? Nothing, the answer is nothing.
The Rules Directly from the Source
For a full 30 days, you’ll completely eliminate the foods that the scientific literature and our clinical experience have deemed the most commonly problematic in one of four areas—your cravings, metabolism, digestion, and immune system. During the elimination period, you’ll experience what life is like without these commonly problematic triggers while paying careful attention to improvements in energy, sleep, digestion, mood, cravings, focus, anxiety, self-confidence, chronic pain or fatigue, athletic performance and recovery, and any number of other symptoms or medical conditions. This elimination period will leave you with a new “normal”—a healthy baseline where, in all likelihood, you will look, feel, and live better than you ever imagined you could.
At the end of the 30 days, you then carefully and systematically reintroduce those foods you’ve been missing, again paying attention to any changes in your health, habits, or mindset. Do your two p.m. energy slumps return? Does your stomach bloat? Does your face break out, your joints swell, your pain return? Does your Sugar Dragon rear his ugly head? The reintroduction period teaches you how specific foods are having a negative impact on you, and which foods are making you look and feel less than your best.
Put it all together, and for the first time in your life, you’ll have the tools you need to create the perfect diet for YOU. You’ll be able to eliminate the specific foods that just aren’t serving you, and level up your quality of life forever. More important, you’ll know when, how often, and in what amount you can include the problematic-but-still-worth-it foods in your diet in a way that feels balanced and sustainable, but still keeps you looking and feeling as awesome as you now know you can look and feel.
The Rules in a Nutshell:
For 30 days you take out legumes, dairy, grains, alcohol, and sugars from your diet. These foods are most commonly known to challenge good gut health. Okay, Allie, what exactly am I suppose to eat then? The goal is to eat whole foods. You will want to eat meat, seafood, eggs, veggies, fruit, natural fats, herbs, spices, seasonings. Stick to eating foods with simple or recognizable ingredient. For a full lists of eating rules go HERE.
While you may have a good idea of what the Whole30 entails just by reading this post or others on social media, it’s important to do your research. I would recommend checking out Melissa Hartwig’s books to really get a better idea around the goals of the Whole30.
It Starts with Food, details not just the “how” of the Whole30, but also the “why,” summarizing the science in a simple, accessible manner. “It Starts With Food” reveals how specific foods may be having negative effects on how you look, feel, and live–in ways that you’d never associate with your diet. More important, they outline their lifelong strategy for eating Good Food in one clear and detailed action plan designed to help you create a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation, and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food.
The Whole30 offers a stand-alone, step-by-step plan to break unhealthy habits, reduce cravings, improve digestion, and strengthen your immune system. The Whole30 prepares participants for the program in five easy steps, previews a typical thirty days, teaches the basic meal preparation and cooking skills needed to succeed, and provides a month’s worth of recipes designed to build confidence in the kitchen and inspire the taste buds. Motivating and inspiring with just the right amount of signature tough love, The Whole30 features real-life success stories, an extensive quick-reference FAQ, detailed elimination and reintroduction guidelines, and more than 100 recipes using familiar ingredients, from simple one-pot meals to complete dinner party menus.
The Whole30 Day by Day is the essential companion to The Whole30; a daily handbook to keep you motivated, inspired, accountable, and engaged during your Whole30 journey. It’s like having Whole30’s own Melissa Hartwig coaching you through the Whole30 one day at a time, sharing a day-by-day timeline, personal motivation, community inspiration, habit hacks, and meal tips. Plus, each day offers guidance for self-reflection, food journaling, and tracking your non-scale victories to keep your momentum going and help you plan for the days to come. This is a great resource for any folks who need to write things down or for those that journal!
Plan it Out
Alright, so now that you have all the ground rules, the most important piece of information I can give you is to PLAN IT OUT!
It’s easy to make excusing when you’re not prepared. Make sure you don’t schedule your Whole 30 over a major holiday or event. It’s best to do a Whole 30 when you don’t have alot going on, aka COVID Quarantine is a great time, because Whole 30 takes time! It takes time to plan out your meals, find new meal ideas, shop, and cook. It’s also best to not put yourself in situation that will tempt you, because if you’re anything like me, food is a weakness!
Make sure that you take the time to actually plan out your meals and snacks. Not doing so can majorly impact your success rate. So just take the time and do it!
Now that you know more about Whole30, go out and succeed! If you have questions feel free to reach out to me in the comments or by going to my instagram @speakingof_fitness. Also be sure to subscribe to get updates around my fitness & Whole 30 journey. I’ll be posting some of my favorite recipes, tips, tricks, and other items in the coming weeks, so be sure to check back!