The Whole30 Program has been around since 2009 and reports that tens of thousands of people have successfully navigated the thirty day challenge.
I’ve never actually participated in any sort of paleo challenge. I’m just not the type to “follow rules.” I think this is part of the reason the paleo lifestyle is appealing to me. It goes against conventional thinking and promotes taking responsibility for your health.
Recently I picked up a copy of It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. The book is very well researched and easy to read. Chapters 17 through 19 outline the Whole30 program in great detail. I recommend that you pick up a copy and give it a read. You don't have to read the book before starting the Whole30. Don't procrastinate.
What is Whole30 Really About?
After reading the chapters about the Whole30 I understood that the program isn’t about constraining you with all kinds of rules that you would never be able to adhere to for the long-term. I realized that the Whole30 is a personal challenge to find out how some of the foods you are eating are impacting your health and performance.
Yes, it is a strict challenge. Dallas and Melissa say in the book, “no cheats, no slips, no excuses.” They take a tough love approach but it’s coming from a good place.
It’s all about being able to make informed, intelligent decisions about your own diet for the rest of your life. I like this. This goes deeper than just avoiding certain foods for 30 days and eliminating food toxins. The program should help you establish better habits around your nutrition. It can take a while to establish a new habit but a good starting part is at least 30 days.
If the Whole30 goes as planned you should establish some new behaviors that will help you achieve your health and fitness goals for the long-term. For me personally I want to find out about the “magic” that happens towards the end of the 30 days and I also want to tighten up my paleo game a little bit. Over time it’s easy to let a few paleo “treats” sneak into the regular plan and maybe enjoying a couple of beers on the weekend has become too common. So it’s time to “reset” and improve. I’m ready to hit the “reset button.” I hope you’re with me.
The Whole30 Basics
The program is set up into two phases. The first phase is all about elimination. You get rid of the foods that are possibly (probably) impacting your health and performance in a negative way. I’m not going to list out the foods you have to avoid during the Whole30 because Dallas and Melissa have put together a comprehensive list for you right here. It’s strict but you can do it.
Phase two is about re-introducing foods into your diet after eliminating them for 30 days. This is an opportunity to learn from your experience during the Whole30.
If you’re doing paleo for the first time and you’re doing the Whole30 for the first time then it might be a good learning experience to go through the reintroduction phase completely. However, if you know that there are certain foods that are not helping you reach your goals then there is no need to reintroduce them into your diet.
I will not be reintroducing gluten. I already know that it’s unhealthy and that I feel pretty bad when I eat foods that contain gluten. I’m looking forward to seeing how it feels to cut out things like dairy, alcohol and sweeteners like maple syrup and honey. I wouldn’t say that these foods are a major part of my paleo diet now but I do consume them.
The Whole30 is a very personal program. Everyone will be doing it for their own reasons. I’m striving to reach optimal health and live a great lifestyle so finding out if there are foods that are working against me in these regards will be good.
Stay focused on your goals and learning more about your body and how the foods you eat impact you personally.
Resources to Help You During the Whole30
My goal is to share my experience with the Whole30 on a daily basis. I will share things such as my workouts, meal plans, cost of food, cravings, challenges, sleep patterns, stress levels, energy, and mental focus. Past Whole30 participants have reported improvements in all of these areas so I’ll be reporting how I feel in each one.
I would encourage you to keep some sort of log as you go through your Whole30. Take notes every day and log your activities and food. You should also take notes about how you’re feeling energy and focus wise. Whatever you want to take note of go ahead and do it. You’ll be happy that you kept the record.
If you want to keep an easy record of the meals you eat then sign up for PrimalPal and plan your meals. Every meal you put in your plan is kept for you and stored for easy reference.
Dallas and Melissa stress the importance of meal planning and preparation during the Whole30 challenge. Even if you’re not doing a Whole30 I think meal planning is important. If you’re trying to improve your health and performance you need to have a nutrition plan. Top athletes have a plan for their nutrition and their fitness and you should be no different. You only have one shot to get your health right so don’t leave it up to chance. I see PrimalPal as the secret weapon to a successful Whole30.
During my Whole30 experience I will share my meal plan each week. I hope it helps you stay motivated. I also want to show people that even though the Whole30 is initially about eliminating certain foods you can still eat really well and not feel like you’re depriving yourself.
I will be living my normal life during the Whole30 and that means I will come up against challenges. There will be cravings and temptations to overcome but I will succeed. Plus you'll be there to witness the whole thing. I'll just stick to my plan and keep moving forward.
I also have a few lifestyle tricks up my sleeves that I'll be sharing with you as I go. If you're doing the Whole30 along with me I hope you'll take some of these lifestyle hacks and incorporate them into your own paleo lifestyle.
A special segment we have planned is for the busy business traveler trying to do a Whole30. Amelia (my better half) is doing the challenge with me. She has a whole week of travel planned during the Whole30 and she graciously agreed to be our Whole30 correspondent in the field.
I know a lot of people have work travel and it can be tough to follow a paleo lifestyle while traveling so much. So it will be interesting to see her experiences with Whole30 while traveling. She'll be sharing what she does to stay on track during the Whole30 while on the road.
We plan to bring you helpful videos, blog posts, meal plans and other resources to help you during the Whole30 experience. So check back often or sign up for the mailing list to ensure you get all the meal plans and Whole30 resources that we’ll be sharing with you.