“Oh, my!” and “Yay!”… I’m in for another Whole30! (Not familiar with the Whole30? Get the whole scoop here, then come on back and read on…)
Over the last 4 years or so, I’ve done a handful of Whole30 re-sets, and everyone of them has (a) been different from the others and (b) incredibly eye-opening and helpful in some way. Sometimes I take on the Whole30 because I desperately need to clean up my act (after a European vacation fueled by schnitzel and beer, for example). Sometimes, like now, I go after it because I want to make progress. My hormones in both my adrenal system and my thyroid function are the best they’ve been in years (thanks to some hard work over the summer and fall), so I’m cautiously, carefully, intelligently (and with a strong commitment to kundalini yoga on the side) re-embarking on my superhero training.
Yes! Superhero training is in effect!
My training plan isn’t quite as “hardcore” as it’s been in the past, but I believe it’s better. And I’m feeling optimistic about the changes 2013 can bring. The foundation of that is a Whole30 to lay a solid foundation. So I’m in. And while I’ve been getting ready to be all in, I’ve been thinking about all of the wonderful transformations that take place during the sometimes difficult 30 days of no-compromise eating.
If you’ve never tried giving up your evening glass of wine or your Saturday morning pancakes — or you live in a household where other people don’t eat paleo or aren’t taking on the Whole30 — I know it probably seems very daunting. And I’m not going to lie: it can be very uncomfortable at first. But change is always uncomfortable — and we can’t evolve if we don’t ride out the discomfort.
If you’re a runner or CrossFitter or Zumba-er or whatever you do for fitness, you’ve endured the discomfort of pushups or burpees or a run that seemed endless or [insert your least favorite move here]. But you did it because you wanted to get better. If you practice yoga and/or meditation, you’ve surely felt the discomfort of a pose that went on too long, or a meditation that woke up feelings you didn’t know you had. But you rode it out because you wanted to learn from it.
Giving up some of your favorite foods — and having to explain to others over and over again why you’re doing it — might very well be uncomfortable. But I encourage you to do it because you will heal your body; you will learn new things about how and why and what you eat; and you will ultimately, feel so much better than you do right now.
(Need help in the kitchen? Here’s a free 30-page preview of my Whole30-approved cookbook Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat.)
30 Reasons To Do a Whole30
These are the things that I’ve experienced myself and loved about the Whole30. Not everyone’s experiences are the same, and you might not enjoy all of these things during your month (and I can pretty much guarantee you won’t experience them every day of the month… some days are just hard). But I can pretty much promise you, if you tackle a Whole30 and really commit to the spirit of the whole endeavor, it will change you and your perceptions of yourself and the world for the better. That’s a tall order, I know! But it’s also drenched in truthiness.
In no particular order…
1. You’ll sleep longer and more soundly.
When sugar is out and protein/fat is in, you sleep the sleep of the righteous.
2. You’ll enjoy consistent energy.
Forget energy that peaks and drops like a roller coaster, you’ll become a bullet train.
3. You’ll wake up feeling optimistic and alert.
There is nothing, and I mean nothing, better than waking up with a smile and open heart.
4. You’ll say goodbye to digestive distress.
Forget about farts and tummy rumbling and…let’s call them “uncomfortable bathroom experiences.” You might have a little discomfort at first if you’re not used to eating lots of veggies, but after that, smooth sailing.
5. You’ll be happier.
No joke. When blood sugar is stable, life is happier. Period.
6. You’ll be more peaceful.
The swirly thoughts and anxiety that can be brought on the sugar joyride just vaporize and leave calm in their wake.
7. You’ll be more clear-headed.
Goodbye brain fog and tip-of-the-tongue syndrome; hello Mensa!
8. You’ll drink more water.
Sugary drinks are out, so you’ll naturally find yourself drinking more water — which is a brilliant thing. Might I also recommend some lovely rooibos tea?
9. You’ll eat more vegetables.
Get ready to eat like a bunny! You want 2-3 cups of veg per meal. Per. Meal. Think of all the nutrients!
10. You’ll savor your food more.
For me, shining the spotlight on quality food makes me appreciate its nutritive power and flavor more than usual. I slow down, enjoy every bite, and think about how it’s making me strong while it tastes so damn good.
11. You’ll feel the difference between emotional appetite and real hunger.
You know that mindless eating that happens when you’re stressed or distracted? That’s emotional appetite, and it’s junky. During the Whole30, as your body gets off the sugar high and settles into better insulin management, your appetite starts to diminish, but real hunger — the need for quality food that signals when it’s time to eat — kicks in and it feels So Good.
12. You’ll find new favorite foods.
Who knows which vegetables, spices, and meat preparations will become your favorites?! It’s exciting to think about, no? There’s so much room in your kitchen and on your plate for new stuff when you banish the grains, beans, and dairy.
13. You’ll have fun experimenting in the kitchen.
The Whole30 is essentially what got me into the kitchen and playing with recipes. I was inspired to see what I could do with veg+meat+fat… and I encourage you to do the same. Play with your food!
14. You’ll get more organized.
Woot! Free bonus! The Whole30 kinda requires you to do a little bit of planning to ensure your success and that organization can trickle into other areas of your life, too.
15. You’ll get out from under the burden of emotional eating.
Most of us tend to blame ourselves for “lack of willpower,” but the truth is that much of our mindless eating is driven my our hormones. When we manage our hormonal response by eating the right foods, the correct messages about hunger are delivered through our bodies. No more hoovering through the kitchen cabinets!
16. You’ll learn about yourself.
By focusing on your habits for 30 days, you’ll learn all kinds of things, including what triggers your appetite, who’s part of your support system, what you need for self care, what time of day you go to the bathroom, and more!
17. You’ll slay the sugar demon.
Vanquish that bastard! And then, later, if you dance with the sugar demon again, you’ll know that it’s within your power to take a sword to his carotid again when the time comes.
18. You’ll make new friends.
There’s a huge community of Whole30 participants online and offline, and during your Whole30, you can tap into their support, knowledge, sense of humor, successes, and challenges. A great place to start is the Whole9 Forum.
19. You’ll positively influence others.
Yes, you’ll inevitably get the “You need to eat whole grains” argument from some well-meaning acquaintances, and that will be annoying. But if you quietly stick to your program, you’ll also have a positive impact on the people around you when they see your results. I can’t tell you how many people were envious of my Whole30 packed lunches in my office, and that is the perfect way to open the door to a great conversation.
20. You’ll learn more about how your body works.
This is a two-fold win: first, by understanding the principles of the science behind the Whole30, you’ll learn a bit about how human bodies function; and second, you’ll learn how you — a special, special snowflake — work, in particular.
21. Your skin will be brighter.
Sleep + water + vegetables + fat + no sugar = clear, younger-looking skin.
22. Your hair will be shinier.
Sleep + water + vegetables + fat + no sugar = glossy hair. (And stronger nails, too.)
23. Your tummy will be flatter.
The end-of-day bloat from dairy and legumes is gone, baby, gone!
24. Your workouts will feel invigorating.
Workouts fueled by real food are the bomb. That is all.
25. You might PR.
You might. Really.
26. You’ll feel accomplished. (Or maybe even smug.)
I’ve stopped pursuing discipline for discipline’s sake, but I wholeheartedly believe that committing to a short-term program like the Whole30 helps develop mental toughness that is valuable in all aspects of our lives. And yes, I do enjoy feeling smug about that once in a while.
27. You might lose weight — or gain muscle. Or both.
If losing body fat is your goal, a Whole30 can be a great way to start that process. Just don’t cheat yourself out of a lot of joy if you make that your only focus.
28. Your body image will improve.
There is an undeniable connection between treating ourselves well and how we feel about our bodies. If you look at the Whole30 as an act of self care, then affection, love, acceptance, and celebration of your body — how it feels, what it can do, the amazing things it carries you through every day — will surely follow.
29. Food will become both more important and less important.
I used to be really attached to food. I was sad at the end of the day when my eating was over until tomorrow, and when faced with my favorite foods, I wanted to eat them until I was stuffed, lest I never see them again. But when I got my blood sugar under control with the Whole30, that changed. Food is both more sacred — it nourishes and sustains us — and less sacred — we get to eat again in a few hours (!). The emotional triggers attached to the food on my plate are gone. Don’t get me wrong: I still feel deep affection for favorite foods, and I love to eat, but I feel now that there’s a world of abundance out there. Fear of food — and fear of not having favorite foods — is gone.
30. You’ll stop dieting and just eat.
This might be the best reason of all. When you take out the non-food food and replace it with real food, you can stop over-anaylyzing how much you eat, when you eat, where you eat. Yes, quantities still matter to some degree, but you can throw off the shackles of calorie counting and denial… and just eat. Peacefully. Healthfully. Robustly. With joy and pleasure and laughter. And cumin.
More Ideas & Support: Free
Whole9: Get Ready, Get Set, January Whole30
Links to advice, resources, and instructions from the creators of the Whole30, including complete program guidelines and free downloads of documentation. This is an excellent one-stop shop to get started. (And don’t miss the Whole9 Forum.)
My Whole30 Experiences
If you want to travel back in time, you can browse through all of my Whole30 experiences (in reverse order) by hitting this link. If you’re more interested in specifics, here are direct links to previous Whole30 daily updates and recaps.
- October 2012: Whole30 + Autoimmune Wrap-Up: Links to my daily recaps of my Whole30 Self-Care Edition
- My Autoimmune Protocol Experiment: The recap of what I learned doing a strict Whole30 + autoimmune protocol in October 2012
- August Whole30: This post explains my motivations for tackling the Whole30 over the summer while I was experimenting with my thyroid hormone medication.
Holly Would If She Could: A December to Remember + A Whole30 Level Set
Holly is taking on the Whole30 in January and has invited us all along for the ride. She’s written several prep posts so far and will be cranking out new (awesome!) ones along the way (like this one of 10 Tips to Make Your Whole30 a Success). You can read about her previous Whole30 experience here.
Nom Nom Paleo: A Cruise Director
According to this post from Nom Nom Paleo, “This January, with the blessing of Whole9, I’ll be your cruise director, offering daily posts here on Nom Nom Paleo in support of those of you who are embarking on 30 days of clean eats…” To journey to the past, you can read her summaries of previous Whole30s here and here.
More Ideas & Support: Invest in some stuff
Once you’re committed in your heart, you might want to load up on some additional resources to help make your Whole30 an even better, more rewarding, more fun experience. Here are some not-too-pricy investments that can make the whole month feel a little bit easier. (But not easy, am I right?!)
Have you ever wished that someone would check in on you every day to see how you’re doing with your goals? Someone to ask… What’s your motivation like today? Did you sleep OK? Are you having trouble with cravings, or are you kicking ass? Someone to offer just the right piece of advice — or a kick in the keister — when you need it?
That’s just what the Whole30 Daily is designed to do. If we want to get all official about it, it’s like this:
The Whole30® Daily is a newsletter and daily check-in system to prepare you, motivate you, and ensure your success, every single day of your Whole30 adventure.
The content in the daily emails goes beyond the rich information already found on the Whole9 website (for free), the Whole30 Success Guide, and the brilliant new book It Starts With Food, although — who are we kidding?! — you should really get yourself all of those resources, too. With Whole30 Daily, you get 32 robust emails — one every day of the 30 days, plus a kick off and close out message — and it costs less than 50-cents a day.
|My cookbook Well Fed is packed with recipes to make you want to smash in your face with joy and all but one of the recipes are Whole30 approved for use during your Whole30. In addition to recipes for dishes like Shepherd’s Pie, Scotch Eggs, Chocolate Chili, and Bora Bora Fireballs, Well Fed also includes lots of information for how to cook without a recipe — lots of ideas for ways to combine basic protein, veggies, and fats into something special that ensures you won’t get bored and you won’t spend all of your free time in the kitchen. (If you’re curious, the “offender” recipe is a fruit crisp that uses Whole30-friendly ingredients, but is too dessert-y to comply with the spirit of the Whole30. That recipe, however, is just fine for when your Whole30 is complete, and you want a sweet treat.) Help yourself to a free 30-page preview of Well Fed.|
|The Nom Nom Paleo app is packed with the same kinds of sassy straight talk and Whole30-friendly recipes you’ll find on Nom Nom’s web site… all slick and shiny and beautiful in a format you can take right onto your countertop. It’s hard to beat the convenience of digital recipes (hello, integrated shopping lists!), and you know with the Nom Nom touch, all of the recipes and photos are drool worthy. Get it now!|
As Melissa and Dallas of Whole9Life are good at reminding us, context matters, so if you’re not familiar with my checkered past, you might want to read these previous posts about my hormone situation and how the Whole30 helps me manage it all:
- A Healing Experiment: to deal with adrenal and thyroid issues
- The Thyroid Experiment and Update on the Experiment
- Weight & Body Image Stuff: I Love My Body and Why is Thinner Better?
- N=1: or why self-experimentation is a pain in the butt but the only option
- My Autoimmune Protocol Experiment: recap of what I learned doing a strict Whole30 + autoimmune protocol in October 2012
Whatcha say? You ready for the 2013 Whole30?
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