I’ve wrote a little on why I won’t be doing another iteration of the Whole30 – at least not any time in the immediate future – but I would really like to put together a review, a sort of “final thoughts,” if you will. Especially considering a lot of the searches that have you stumbling over this blog are Whole30-centric.
I started the first Whole30 in August and saw my most dramatic results within the first two weeks. I lost five pounds and could tell by the third week that my body composition was already shifting dramatically. My energy went up, my food cravings went down. I survived a weekend of intense sugary temptations. I could go longer and longer between meals without getting shaky and cantankerous. I was a thorough Whole30 convert before week four even hit.
But although the most visible and the most striking changes occurred in that first iteration, the more important and long-lasting benefits happened when I did it for a second and third time and paid increased attention to my body inbetween. I’ve been struggling with anxiety for five years and although moving to the sunny and vitamin-D abundant desert two years ago helped bring it back down to manageable levels, I was still consistently having attacks. Now I can count on one hand how many attacks I’ve had since August, and those exclusively fell during times I was particularly lax with my diet and stressed out. I was never on medication for it, but I did take 5-HTP on a nightly basis to increase my serotonin production before the Whole30 – and since August, I’ve maybe taken 5-HTP five or six times, again only during those really stressful times.
I could stop there and be completely satisfied with all the results I’ve had – for one, I no longer have to worry about my beloved coffee triggering a panic attack – but it keeps going. The stubborn acne on my chin has cleared, flaring up only once when – again – I was lax with my diet and really stressed. It’s easier to wake up in the morning. I’m down to a size 6 (from a 12) in pants and actually look good in pants. I’m much less likely to require a nap mid-afternoon. I no longer drift through the day in a foggy state. The weird and freaky patches on my skin that had been randomly popping up a year ago have cleared and disappeared. I became even more hyper-conscious of what was in my food than before – and I was pretty conscious to begin with, having been a vegetarian for eleven years (which is a story for another post).
But biggest – bigger than the anxiety, bigger than the weight loss, bigger than the acne – was the way my relationship with food changed. I used to think I ate a lot of vegetables. Hah! Now I eat tons. I have a much better understanding of how eating this or that will affect me the next day and the next week. Wheat makes me bloat. Dairy is fine in moderation. Too much sugar makes me crash in the most fiery and terrible way possible. It also makes me cranky. Meat is delicious, filling, and long-lasting. Soy makes all sorts of bad things happen, most of which are TMI and lady-related. And fat is not the enemy it’s been made out to be in the last few decades.
A lot of it is hard to pinpoint – it’s that split-second decision when ordering out, it’s that extra hour of hiking I can squeeze in, it’s that switch from lattes to americanos, it’s being able to turn down cookies and brownies and cupcakes without feeling denied, it’s eating collard greens for breakfast and enjoying them, it’s looking at the menu of an Italian restaurant and realizing you don’t want any of it. It’s knowing that what you eat, what you put in your body every day, is so very important. And it makes a big difference.
I admit, I originally scoffed at the Whole30 team’s claim that doing it would change your life. I thought they were being hyperbolic. And now, here I am, a convert through and through. It changes your approach to food and that is a big change to your life. I recommend to anyone to try it out, at least once.
After all, it’s only 30 days.