I promise you won’t regret it.
No sugar, no alcohol, no grains, no legumes, and no dairy for 30 days…that sounded like my worst nightmare back in January 2014 when Michelle kicked off the first Whole30 group at FitRev. I read “It Starts with Food”, which sounded like pure hell, but after much deliberation I decided to commit to those 30 days and see what happened.
The basic idea behind the Whole30 program is to eliminate the food groups mentioned above, many of which were my favorite food groups, entirely from your diet for 30 days. No cheats, no excuses…you accidentally have some sugar in some store bought salad dressing? The 30 day clock starts over. You stupidly decide to have a vodka soda at a birthday party? The 30 day clock starts over (trust me, I know). The program is designed to completely reset your system and heal your body from any insensitivities you may have to these foods. There are a slew of Whole30 testimonials from people having miraculous successes from managing symptoms of MS, eliminating the need for asthma or blood pressure medications, or completely curing Type-2 diabetes. I had no major medical issues, thought I felt great overall, but figured this would be a great way to lose a few pounds.
I would be lying if I said this program is easy…it takes a major commitment to meal planning and prep. I planned every meal for the first two weeks of the program weeks before I started. The first weekend of food prep seems fun and new, days 1 and 2 feel exciting. By day 5 and 6 you are thinking ‘what have I signed up for, this is impossible!’ But, if you stick with it, the food shopping gets easier (I can tell you where ghee or coconut aminos are in any Whole Foods in Massachusetts now) and the food prep becomes second nature. Halfway through the program you realize your tastes have completely changed (roasted Brussels sprouts taste like candy) and you don’t crave that ‘something sweet’ after dinner. You fell more energetic, sleep better, and for lack of a better word, feel sucked in. Any trace of bloat is gone. Towards the end of the program I honestly felt like I was mourning the loss of an old friend, not knowing if I would ever want some of my once favorite foods again. The Whole30 program does outline a reintroduction protocol that you can choose to follow if you want to re-introduce these foods back into your life but, much to my surprise, I realize I didn’t have much of an interest in doing so.
I have since completed four additional Whole30’s, losing over 20 pounds of fat (while gaining 10 pounds of muscle)and 5 inches from my hips/waist. Don’t get me wrong, the aesthetic side effects are wonderful but what has influenced me the most to stick with this lifestyle is how amazing I feel. Day to day I follow the Whole30 program about 90% of the time, choosing to eat ‘off plan’ every once in a while.
I had the pleasure of seeing Melissa Hartwig, co-creator of the Whole30, speak a year ago and one of the things that stuck with me was her saying “Don’t tell me this is hard. Fighting cancer is hard. Losing a loved one is hard. Drinking your coffee black is not hard.” While I would argue that your first Whole30 certainly is not easy, what you get in return is invaluable and worth every bit of effort. This experience was truly life-changing for me and I encourage anyone to try it for themselves just to see what happens. I promise you won’t regret it.
My favorite recipes from my favorite blogs
Prosciutto wrapped frittatas
Pork with Roasted Veggies, Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette and Avocado Cream
Cauliflower soup that is insanely creamy
Garlic Pistachio Broccoli Rabe
Kale and Brussels salad (omit cheese)