A couple weeks ago I was out for coffee with my best friend Mimi. Mid-conversation, she said, “Hey, let’s do the Whole30 program.” And I said, “Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.” I’d heard of Whole30 before and I know some people who have done it and loved it. So I thought, how hard could it be? We decided to start after Memorial Day so that we could still enjoy our pie and alcohol and other bad yummy foods.
I didn’t give Whole30 too much thought again until Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Mimi and I were at the Market gathering produce for our new diet and we started talking more about this Whole30 thing that we were about to start. She said, “You know you can’t have dairy, right? No milk or cheese or anything. And no added sugars, no grains, no baked goods.” I stopped dead in my tracks. I love sugar, chocolate, carbs, milk, cheese, and wine. I love all the foods. “Maybe I should go read the Whole30 book and figure out what I’m getting myself into.”
So I ordered the book on Amazon and then I had four days to prepare myself for this Whole30 journey. I studied, I went grocery shopping, and I did a little meal-prep for the week. To be honest, this seems hard. Hard and not very fun. But I know it’s going to be worth it.
So what is the Whole30?
Whole30 is not a diet, a weight-loss program, or a “get thin quick” fad. The book says, “Think of the Whole30 like pushing the reset button with your health, your habits, and your relationship with food.” We tell ourselves that we have to have certain foods. We have to have warm bread and butter while we wait for our food at the restaurant. We need to add sugar to those strawberries or they won’t taste as good. But the truth is that we don’t need any of those things. Whole30 is about giving your body only what it needs, not what it craves. The Whole30 makes you spend 30 days breaking your addictions to cookies, chips, grease, whatever it is, and redefine your relationship with food. Losing weight has nothing to do with it (the book even tells you to throw away your scale while on the program); It’s all about health.
What are the rules?
The rules are simple and straightforward.
You CAN eat:
- natural fats
You CAN NOT eat:
- added sugar
- baked goods/ treats, even if they follow all the rules and are “paleo”
You also can’t weigh yourself for 30 days. Like I said earlier, it’s not about losing weight, it’s about being healthy.
The rules are further explained in the book, but this is the gist of it.
What are the benefits?
The Whole30 is all about what they call “non-scale victories.” These victories include everything from brighter eyes and glowing skin, to sleeping better, to improved attention span and brain function, and everything in-between. The Whole30 is also supposed to help with pre-existing medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and migraines. The book tells us that 96% of participants report losing weight during the program, but they consider that just a bonus to all the other health benefits. The Whole30 can change your life if you let it.
This program looks hard, and they know we think it’s hard. The authors give us tough love because they know that we need it. Here is one of the most famous quotes from the book:
It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. is. not. hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuses not to complete the program as written. It’s only 30 days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth– the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.
When I think about that, that it’s only for 30 days, I know I can do it. The Whole30 is not meant to be a lifelong program, but a fresh start to get you in the right direction. I know I have quite the challenge ahead of me, but I can’t wait for how good I’m going to feel at the finish line.
As I write this, I’m halfway through Day One. I passed on the free donuts while I got my oil change this morning and had my RX Bar instead. My lunch consisted of mostly vegetables, and I’m doing fine. I feel good. I feel confident. I can do this.
So here’s to the start of a 30-day journey with my best friend.