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In May, my husband and I completed our first Whole30 round and holy cow, the results were amazing!!! Before I get into what changed for us, let me explain what Whole30 is in case you have not heard of it before now.
Whole30 is a 30 day reset where you eliminate certain foods and food groups from your diet that can be having a negative impact on your body. You eat real, unprocessed foods and learn to listen to your body. You learn what serves it well and what does not. It can lead to many non-scale victories (NSV’s) like increased energy, reduction of inflammation in your body, less mood swings, and brighter skin. For some people, it does lead to weight loss. After 30 days, you reintroduce foods back into your diet one at a time or group at a time to determine which, if any, were contributing to an issues you may have been having.
I have had hypothyroid for about 10 years and it is an autoimmune disorder. I take medicine for it and that helps keep it in check, but autoimmune issues can lead to other ones. In May, I was diagnosed with Alopecia. There is not a cure and not any real long-term treatments that can prevent Alopecia. A friend reached out to me and suggested I try Whole30 because many people often use it to help with autoimmune issues. I felt like I had no control over what was happening to my body and this was something I could control. I had also been tired, achy, had low energy, trouble focusing… the list went on and on. I thought what did I have to lose? After telling Rob all of the things that may be helped with Whole30, he was on board.
Preparation for Whole30
Whenever I start something, I read everything I possibly can about the subject so I read the three Whole30 books, spent many hours on the Whole30 site and joined a couple of Facebook support groups. I added pages in my bullet journal (the best thing ever invented) devoted to our Whole30 journey. A start date was chosen and then we set about cleansing our house of non-compliant foods, medicine, and supplements. We quickly learned that sugar has 56 million names and it is in EVERYTHING. Corn syrup, maltitol, dextrose, coconut nectar….. man, sugar has so many names and is sneakily hidden in everything. Most every condiment, dressing, supplement, and anything already prepared had sugar in it. We packed it all up in boxes and made room for our new Whole30 items.
Prior to the start of our 30 days, we identified stressful situations or times when it may have been difficult to stay on the plan. Then we put a plan into place so we could stay on track and so that there would be no scrambling or trying to figure out how to stay successful. We had family in town, holidays, birthday parties, concerts, and even our wedding anniversary over the course of our 30 days.
Travel and Attending Events on Whole30
We brought food and condiments with us when needed (thank goodness I carry a big purse). A task we also learned that was extremely important for our Whole30 was to ask lots of questions about what was in our food and what was on our food. We attended a family reunion in another state and brought food with us. We may have looked like weirdos, but we were not failing! If we did not know what was in something, we did not eat even a bite. Rob even went to a Metallica concert and is probably the only guy in history to drink a bottle of water and eat a salad without dressing at a heavy metal concert! I could not believe he did not cave that night, but he said there was no way he was going to cave because he was feeling that awesome.
Sugar Detox is Real, Folks!
Not gonna lie, the first week was hard! We were detoxing and going through withdrawals – sugar, soda, and whatever else. We went through the Kill All the Things phase which lead to the tired phase. Then we found our groove and started to feel amazing! We could not believe how after the first week we were sleeping better than we had in ages, how much energy we had, and we stopped questioning if we should keep going. It no longer became a choice, we were doing it!
No Weighing Yourself!
One of the program rules is you are not allowed to weigh and measure yourself once you start. This was a tough rule for me because I was used to weighing everyday. This was also a great rule for me because I have had an obsession with the scale for most of my life and it would dictate my mood for the day. I wanted to know if I was losing weight and I could not get on the scale. The good news was that our clothes were starting to fit better and Rob was starting to walk out of his jeans as they had become so loose on him!
Non-scale Victories (aka NSV’s)
Not only were our clothes looser, our skin was brighter, the quality of our sleep was amazing, our energy was through the roof (Tiger Blood as those on Whole30 or Charlie Sheen call it), everything was tasting better, my moods were more stable, and things were just all around amazing. So amazing that I could forgive the mountains of dishes we had to keep up with every day because cooking whole foods takes up a lot of dishes, not matter how simple you try to keep it.
We Finished the Whole30 Program
At the end of the 30 days, we were so proud of ourselves for completing the program and being successful no matter what was thrown at us. Of course there were days we wanted to throw in the towel, but we did not. When we finally jumped on the scale, Rob had lost 18 pounds and I had lost 11.2! Our clothes were fitting so well that Rob had to get new pants! I could fit into some that had been sitting around unworn due to being too tight. Prior to starting W30, I had a list of around 44 NSV’s I hoped to achieve. I had achieved all on my list except for 8 of those at the 31 day mark. For those others, I needed to see a doctor or give it a little more time (like with the Alopecia).
Between the two of us, we were still sleeping better, happier, less bloated, snoring less, the energy was still amazing, my anxiety was better, and we had more patience and motivation. Food and even water were tasting better to us (which was a big deal because we were not water drinkers before W30). A huge NSV for me was that I was no longer obsessed with food or constantly thinking about my next meal because I learned to eat until I was full. Never having to measure, count, or weigh my food and still losing weight was astonishing to me! I did not walk around hangry which was a tremendous feat for me since I was previously #teamhangry. We were so lucky and thankful to have been introduced to Whole30. It was seriously life changing for us!
The last step of Whole30 is called the reintroduction phase. During this phase, you add the eliminated foods back in over a period of time. This time is used to identify if any should be kept out of your diet forever. Or you could learn that some foods become a sometimes food for you. You learn your Food Freedom, as the co-creator of Whole30 Melissa Hartwig, discusses in her book Food Freedom. It was very enlightening for us to go through that process, as well.
While it may sound hokey, I can honestly say Whole30 changed our lives forever. We are so thankful to have added this to our journey.