I’ve already shared my thoughts behind why now was the best time for me to take on following a strict Whole30 for an entire year. Long story short: I’m *real* adult now who’s __ years old (sorry, you’ve gotta read the post for that information – admitting that to the interwebs was hard enough the first time), and it’s gosh darn time for me to dig deep, find what motivates me, set a super-challenging, “big girl panties”-type goal, achieve it, and reap the rewards.
Now, I’m giving you the answer to the burning question I just *know* all of you have:
Short answer? Science. The real kind of science you learned about in 7th grade with hypotheses, experimentation, variables, controls, and real, obvious measurable results that you discover for yourself. Not the kind of science that crash/fad diets quote (you know – like the kind that have you cut out an entire major nutrient group) or the kind of science that comes from studies who pay people to participate so some new diet drug can be more “marketable”. Or even the good but generally boring kind of science that we all read about in textbooks and journals and stuff (or on buzzfeed, because we’re all lazy). The kind of science YOU get to DO.
When I first started researching the Whole30, it was because “my person” (AKA, the Cristina to my Meredith) had cut out gluten to try and fight a recent health diagnosis. We spent a weekend together, and in under 48 hours we consumed all of the following:
- Chocolate truffles
- Chocolates filled with booze (don’t do it – they aren’t good!)
- Biscuits (gluten free)
- Sausage gravy (gluten free)
- Brownies (gluten free)
- Sour Punch Straws
- Sugar Cookies (gluten free)
- Chocolate martinis
- Chicken nuggets
- Macaroni and cheese (gluten free)
- Puffy Cheetos
- Cooler Ranch Doritos
- A Mexican brunch buffet
- Unlimited mimosas
- French fries
- And finally, A fish bowl full of booze with a rubber ducky (yup, really)
Photo credit: a very intoxicated version of myself
After that weekend it occurred to me that there’s no way eating what we ate was going to help anyone get healthier. I spent some time looking into dietary changes that have led to curing, or at least seriously improving, health problems and found Whole30.
Then something really awesome happened. I had never really heard a lot about Whole30 before, but when I posted about it on Facebook, people came out of the woodwork to tell me how life-changing it was. It was like the exact opposite of every other “diet” I’d ever heard of. Normally the next big “thing” in losing weight or getting healthy is so over-hyped it’s like you can’t get away from it. (Don’t tell me you can’t all sing the Jenny Craig jingle from the ’90s in your head. The one where the phone number changed with the year? 1-800-94/95/96/97-Jenny!) Absolutely no one got all up in my face about Whole30 until I asked them too – and then all of the sudden no one could shut up.
In my very small, totally unregulated, not-qualified-to-be-print-in-any-scientific-journal-at-all observational study, I learned that I have friends who have experienced all of the following thanks to doing a Whole30:
- Weight loss
- Better sleep
- Clearer skin
- More energy
- Motivation to exercise (where previously there had been none)
- Better sex (ya, I went there, and I liked it)
- Fewer complications with thyroid disorders
- Regulation of blood pressure
- Reduced acid reflux
- Increased fertility
- A closer connection to the people who did Whole30 with them (usually a spouse)
- Improved confidence in the kitchen
- Reduced sugar cravings
That’s a lot of good stuff! And no, none of it scientifically proven. And sure, some it may only be tangentially related to Whole30 (or may not even be related at all). But here’s the thing – a commercial didn’t tell me any of this. A magazine didn’t tell me any of this. A celebrity spokesperson didn’t tell me any of this. MY FRIENDS told me all of this. Friends who are my friends because I trust them. Also, I didn’t have to pay them to hear what they had to say, and I didn’t have to pay them anything once I decided to try Whole30 for myself. And, as far as I know, Whole30 didn’t pay any of them either. (Though – if Whole30.c0m wants to pay me to blog I’ll totally let them!)
Armed with absolute rave reviews from my friends, I clicked on over to Amazon (#Millennial #whatsabookstore #whatsaBOOK) and ordered my very own copy of It Starts with Food. I cracked open the book (#OHthatsabook), half expecting to be admonished for my previously awful relationship with food and half expecting to read the words of some kind of crazed, whole food eating drill sergeant (Melissa Hartwig, co-founder of the program, is known for her tough love attitude).
Instead, I was enlightened with the science behind the reason that I simply HAD to eat.all.the.cupcakes. For real, there’s a reason that no matter how many times you tell yourself you WILL NOT EAT ANOTHER CUPCAKE you still eat the damn cupcake. And it’s not because you suck at life. (And you don’t need to check yourself into the Betty Crocker Clinic, either).
I was motivated by stories of what seemed like totally normal people who had recovered from all types of ailments by trying Whole30. Yes, I just dogged on testimonials from other diet programs. Feel free to read It Starts With Food and completely disregard the testimonials. Then reach out to your wider circle of friends and see who you know and trust that can share their Whole30 story with you. Take their word for it if that works better for ya.
So, I did a Whole30. Whole45, actually. (We’ve already established I have a thing for beating a challenge.)
After I did my first Whole30, I realized I did have more energy, I had lost *a little* weight, I was sleeping better, my husband and I were getting it on more (yup, I went there again, and this time I really liked it), my skin was clearer, my hair looked amazeballs, I was taking more steps every day, I had less heartburn, and in general, I felt pretty awesome.
So, let’s use the handy dandy scientific method to recap:
Photo credit: grade school (who else NEVER had enough room for their whole answer?!)
Seriously y’all. Do not take my super pathetic A- (yes, an A, always an A) 6th grade science worksheet for proof. Go read It Starts With Food. If it doesn’t resonate with you, I’d love to take you out for a cup of coffee and hear why. Seriously. If you read It Starts With Food from front to back and it doesn’t make you truly question what you’re putting in your body every day, leave a comment below and I will buy you a cup of coffee. (Of course, it will be black with no added dairy or sugar because I did read and enjoy It Starts With Food, but it’ll still be free coffee!)
So, I’ve chosen to tackle doing the Whole30 program for an entire year because I have been thoroughly convinced that it will work. And I’m not about to waste my time doing something that doesn’t work. That’s what my 20s were for and now I’m…oh, we all know what I am. I’m not 20.
Whole30 also isn’t easy. It’s a pain in the ass. You annoy the crap out of every waiter you encounter when you’re doing Whole30. Basically no one can cook for you except yourself. If there isn’t a Chipotle around, you run the risk of using your entire data plan just trying to find out what the hell Salata puts in their salad dressings. (FYI: soybean oil and sugar, you can’t have them. You can’t have any of their meats either. At Salata, on Whole30, you can have greens, vegetables, and lemon juice. Just go to Chipotle again.) There are always dishes to wash. So. Many Dirty. Dishes.
On the other hand, Whole30 is actually really easy psychologically (Once you get over your damn sugar dragon. Mine is a nagging pain in the butt. I named her after my mom.) There is a list of rules, and you don’t break them. When I’m doing Whole30, I don’t eat added sweeteners. Of any kind. The end. When I’m doing a Whole30, I don’t eat grains. Of any kind. The end. There’s something very simplifying and freeing about just knowing you don’t do something.
So, how do I turn doing a Whole30 in something as awe-inspiring, challenging, or adult-like as having a baby, running a marathon, or buying a home? I do it for a year. At least that’s where my head went. Of course, what happens in my brain is also what inspired the hysterical mess you all witnessed in my last post. I completely understand if your brain doesn’t somehow equate popping out a kid and then raising it for 18 years or committing to spending $400,000+ over the span of 30 years to just giving up alcohol and cookies for 1 year. But mine did, so that’s how I got here. I’m doing a Whole30. For a whole year.
And after I’m done I can look all of you smug new mommies and daddies with your precious body-altering, money-sucking, time-consuming bundles of joy and all of you brand new house poor can’t go on a vacation because you had to fix your foundation and upgrade your AC unit homeowners in the eye and know I’m just as good as you are! And after I’m done I absolutely believe I’ll have the sense of pride and accomplishment I was searching for on that cold, sad, lonely night when I turned 29. +1.
Now you know why I’ve chosen Whole30 as my particular path to a healthier, happier life. I’d like to take a minute (just sit right there, I’ll tell you how…) to point out that this really may not be for everyone. I firmly believe that if someone makes the commitment to doing a Whole30 and sees it through, they WILL feel better. But I also know that everyone has their own circumstances. I know that this lifestyle involves a lot of cooking, which I love – but some people hate. I know it’s almost impossible to make this lifestyle work if you are constantly traveling, unless you happen to be rolling in dough. I know that for some people counting and tracking and weighing makes the most sense. I happen to think that leads to compulsive, neurotic behavior and isn’t a maintainable lifestyle – but you do you! Whatever you need to do to get healthy, go do it! Unless you’re like me. Then don’t do it until you have a complete breakdown on your birthday, and then do it all in one crazy year.