Have you heard of the Whole30? If you know me in any capacity, then you have probably heard me talk about it. For a short explanation, it is a 30-day elimination diet that only allows meats, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats. For 30 days, there is no gluten, dairy, grains, legumes, alcohol or sugar consumed.
I know what you’re thinking. “That’s just another fad diet.” “How ridiculous, you can’t eat anything!” “I could never give all that up.”
Yes, it is a restrictive diet that only allows foods that make you healthier, and eliminates foods that make you unhealthier. Isn’t that crazy, though? In today’s society, with its fast food and factory farms, eating only whole, healthy, real foods is considered ridiculous.
Another thing you could be saying is, “Yeah I bet you lose weight and then gain it all back afterwards.” Very valid point! Obviously, if you go from eating whole, nutrient-dense foods such as salmon, broccoli, and avocados for 30 days, and then drop all of that and eat McDonald’s and ice cream every day, then yes, you will gain back all of the weight you might have lost. But that’s just common sense.
HOWEVER (and this is the biggest however ever), the Whole30 plan is NOT meant to try to lose weight. Surprised? In fact, for the 30 days, you are not allowed to step on your scale. Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, the authors of the Whole30, even encourage you to take your scale outside and smash it to bits. It is unfortunate that so many people are a slave to their scale. Each morning you jump on it, going over everything you ate yesterday, and can’t figure out how you gained a pound. Whole, true health is so much more than a number on a scale. I talked a bit about how to ditch your scale and work towards being more Body Positive in a past post.
Of course, if you are eating healthy foods, your body composition will improve. But this is not the focus of this plan. By eating real, whole foods for 30 days, your are healing yourself from the inside-out. Whether your #nonscalevictories include improved acne, less headaches, or a closer grasp on which foods affect you in what way, the Whole30 focuses on changing your life by starting with what you eat. The Hartwigs talk more about how you can improve your health in their book It Starts with Food. I highly recommend this book to anyone who geeks out over the sciencey aspects of how food can affect you. The Whole30 is another great read from the Hartwigs to really get you ready for the challenge. But what is really great is that the Whole30 program is completely free online! You could learn all you need to know for your first Whole30 from their website. You aren’t required to purchase any boxes of processed food or bags of poweder. You just simply eat real foods.
I can honestly say that the Whole30 changed my life.
Yes. I lost weight. But what is wonderful is that I gained self-confidence, learned to cook better, and became more aware of a lifestyle that places more meaning on experiences and relationships than materials and success.
I did not gain self-confidence after I lost weight. I learned to love my body and take care of it, and then lost weight because of that shift in mindset. I can not tell you that last time I stepped on a scale. It holds no power over me!
I did my first Whole30 in November 2014 and have since then completed another Whole30 and a Whole60. I am currently in a Whole30 for the company wide #JanuaryWhole30. I love being able to go back to the Whole30 program for a healthy reset when I know my habits are not sticking as they should. It is such an ingenious idea!
I was the poster child for self-hate and fad dieting. Every time I would eat something I “shouldn’t” I would hate myself for days, but I could never stop. I was relatively active but could never make my body look the way I wanted. The Whole30 taught me that I should want my body to look the way that it does! Only after I started to love my body and take care of it because I love it, did I truly see change. I am no longer seeking perfection. I am seeking health.
My 26th birthday was October 30, 2015, so my mom was hosting a birthday party for me with some family the Sunday before. (Yes, I am 26 and my mom was hosting a birthday party for me. And I love it.) For the party, she started talking about having cake and ice cream and all of the usual “necessities” that a birthday party entails. Last year, however, I threw her a curve ball in a text conversation we had.
Me: Hey momma! I have a favor to ask. I will still be on my Whole30 on Sunday and I really don’t want to break it. I will help you if you want, but for my birthday I would really like to have healthy options. This way I won’t break my Whole30 and then I can show the fam healthy options too. So instead of cake and ice cream we would have healthy options like fruit and, of course, sweet potatoes.
Mom: You can’t have a birthday party without cake.
Me: Yes I can lol. There’s no rule book.
Mom: I was hoping you would make guacamole and I’ll have veggies… Can you have a turkey burger? I’m making a cake… You don’t have to eat it. I have no idea what you can eat.
Me: I can have a regular burger lol. As long as there aren’t extra ingredients and no bun. And I can help!
Mom: Can you bring your own dessert of sorts?
Me: I don’t eat desserts on Whole30. I will have dessert on my actual birthday, but for Sunday I would like to supply what I can eat.
Mom: Okay… Well I’ll make a cake…. No ice cream and have healthy options.
Me: I would prefer you didn’t make a cake. This isn’t just for me. I want to show everyone healthier options.
Mom: That’s silly to have a birthday party and no cake!
Me: Lol it really isn’t.
The rest of the conversation consisted of me giving her ideas for healthy options that aren’t “paleo-friendly” but just good food that people will enjoy, even if it isn’t filled with dairy and sugar and gluten. One of the main purposes of the Whole30 is to break the psychological dependence that comes from eating fake foods. I could resist the cake and ice cream easily because I know WHY I am not eating them. I no longer feel like I am missing out. BUT I wanted a way to show my family how you can still have a birthday party with people that you love and still enjoy the party without stuffing yourself with unhealthy foods.
This conversation was so interesting to me because of how my mom responded when I asked her to not have cake. “You can’t have a birthday party without cake.” Is that really all a birthday party is anymore? Cake and ice cream? I don’t think so.
Before Whole30, I would have completely agreed with my mom. And for people not on their Whole30 wanting to eat cake, go for it! But be mindful. Use the one bite rule
. And be conscious of how it will affect you afterward.
This is a #nonscalevictory for me because I no longer feel I HAVE to eat something because of a certain event or holiday. I don’t feel deprived or angry that I am not eating cake. I feel so fulfilled and thankful that I understand why I don’t want that food in my body. I don’t eat it just because it’s there. And I want my family to understand the joy I feel, now that I am no longer ruled by my sugar dragon. He has been slain.
Please let me know if you are going to take on the challenge! I would love to be there to encourage you and provide any tips I’ve picked up along the way. A couple great resources to get you started are whole30.com
and Melissa Hartwig’s Instagram feed
. That woman is amazing. Remember to love yourself and strive towards health, not a dress size.
Photo credit: www.unsplash.com