I am wrapping up the last 5 days of my first ever go round with the Whole30 nutrition program from the amazing folks at http://whole9life.com/. I’m not even sure I can describe how the book and this program have changed the way that I think about food, but I’m going to try. I do know that I am more educated, more prepared, and more interested in the kitchen and the grocery store than ever before.
Y U Do That?
Almost universally, when I tell others I’m on this nutrition program, the reaction I get is, “Why are you on a diet? It’s not like you’re fat.” Well, no, I’m not, but that isn’t the point. A nagging injury has led to some serious disruption to my routine. I’ve become prone to inactivity and developed some unhealthy habits, especially in the kitchen, and I just wasn’t happy with this area of my life. This is where Whole30 is perfect. The program is not about dieting or losing weight; it is first and foremost about being healthy – something we should all strive for. The next question I inevitably get is, “How much weight have you lost?” My answer of, “I don’t know.” puzzles almost everyone. As I said, Whole30 is not about losing weight or inches or shirt sizes; in fact, the only measurements you are supposed to take are before you start and after you finish – nothing in between. The only number that matters in Whole30 is 30. It is 30 days of learning, discipline, struggling, and overcoming, all in the name of being healthier.
And believe me, it is a struggle. I’ve gone through fatigue, cravings, and dreams about nothing except sitting at a table eating Pop-Tarts. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources both in the book and online that walk you through almost everything you can expect to experience during your 30 days. This is what empowers you to persevere and end up happier and healthier in your nutritional lifestyle. This program is loaded with information about the “science-y” stuff behind the foods we eat; it is a fantastic educational tool on what different foods do to your body and your mind. If you’re not interested in that stuff – you should be, but fine, skip straight to the food plan! For me, though, even more important than learning about the effects different foods have on my body has been learning so much about the psychological impact of the foods I eat, and how that can be far more dangerous than the physical effects.
… and Defeating My Brain
The greatest psychological change Whole30 has helped me make comes from the knowledge it has given me about sugar cravings. I love sugar; who doesn’t? The Whole30 program has helped me understand why I love sugar, and, more importantly, why I don’t need it nearly as bad as I think I do. One of the tenets of Whole30 is to cut out ALL added sugar. No exceptions; no excuses. Fruit has been essentially my only source of sugar for the last 25 days, and I have no intention of changing that. Understanding that I crave sugar because of the literally super-natural amounts of it in most of the foods we normally eat has helped me to fight and overcome the cravings; overcoming the cravings has given me the confidence to continue on this much healthier path. The best part? Fruits (and basically everything else I eat) taste ridiculously better! My taste-buds have reset to a much more natural level of sensitivity; they no longer expect a punch in the face of sugar.
The “Perfect Steak”
Lastly, Whole30 has forced me to improve my knowledge and skills in the kitchen. I’ve now learned how to make things like curry, how to use sweet potatoes 5 different ways, why coconut oil exists, and how to make a good steak rub. For some, those might be super simple accomplishments, but for me they have changed my thoughts entirely about the kitchen. The photo above is of my attempt at the Whole 30 “Perfect Steak” recipe; it is one of the greatest steaks I’ve ever had … and it’s healthy, and I made it myself! It is ludicrous how good that feels (and tastes)!
At this point I must recognize the fact that there is absolutely no way I would be through 25 days of this program without my incredible fiancé. Although she is not participating as strictly in the program as I, she has spent countless hours buying and preparing fantastic, healthy (and compliant) meals for both of us. And of course, without all of the people at http://whole9life.com/, I would be exactly where I was 25 days ago. The knowledge this program has given both of us is extremely empowering. I strongly believe it can do the same for anyone who puts real effort in to it. If you’re looking for a way to learn more about food, health, and yourself, I cannot recommend http://whole9life.com/ and the Whole30 nutrition program enough.