It’s April, and that means one thing. I have officially completed a Whole60, and I am here to celebrate this accomplishment and the results!
For those unfamiliar, a Whole60 is actually an extended version of the Whole30 program; a program designed reset your health, habits, and relationship with food.
For 30 days, or in my case 60, you remove foods that are known to be disruptive to the body. Pulled completely out of your diet is all gluten, dairy, soy, grains (rice, quinoa, corn, etc.), legumes, added sugar (this includes honey and maple syrup), alcohol, MSG, sulfites, sulfates, and carrageenans. In addition, there is a strict emphasis on not recreating “fun” foods with “acceptable” ingredients. (Think, the 2-ingredient banana and egg pancakes)
Instead, for the duration of the program, the focus is on eating whole foods. And nothing else. (Spoiler alert: it’s a lot harder than it sounds.)
Like all lifestyle changes, I think people arrive at Whole30 for a variety of reasons. For me, it was an experiment made in desperation to heal my body through food.
A series of events had brought on chronic sciatica, which had been worsening since September of 2019, to the point where almost every activity (sitting, walking, and even standing) was painful. And something had to change.
It was because of this, that I decided to extend the Whole30 into a Whole60, in the hopes of decreasing inflammation, which was the root cause of my symptoms. For me, this time was a gift- and it’s this positive mindset that helped me mentally prepare for the coming months.
By Valentine’s Day, exactly 2 weeks into my experiment, I had noticed significant improvements in my symptoms. I could go almost the entire day without pain- something that had been only a dream for months. It was at that point that I had no other choice but to acknowledge that my body really had been in that bad of shape. And while that was a hard pill to swallow, it was encouraging to see the needle move so drastically in such a short period of time, the only change being the food I was putting in my body.
All the positives aside, it was a challenge, but, since I had already done a Whole30 years prior, I knew what I was getting myself into. Luckily, there were several things working in my favor which made the Whole60 experience a lot more manageable than I could have hoped.
For starters, my coworkers were incredibly supportive, and cheered me on all the way. This was particularly appreciated on days when cake and treats were brought into the office for everyone to share! Another thing that I give credit to is the wide array of products available now that are Whole30 approved, that you can find at stores like Whole Foods, Target, and even Walmart. A final, perhaps overlooked resource that made my Whole60 easier was the social media factor. Being able to connect online, find recipes, and see other people’s encouraging posts is what I would turn to on those late nights when all I wanted to do was eat pizza rolls (real talk).
So what did I eat? Honestly, it was a variation of the same meal on repeat. As a busy single parent, I am someone who relies heavily on meal prepping, and thankfully I don’t mind eating the same thing every day, although that’s certainly not a requirement of the Whole30 program. A lot of broccoli. Mainly ground beef and chicken. Sweet potatoes aplenty and my fair share of organic apples are what my “staples” were made of. But I would be lying if I didn’t also add that Chipotle was a lifesaver on busy nights shuttling to and from Ben’s activities.
Which brings us to today- a Whole60 and some pretty amazing results later.
While I did lose weight, the main result or “Non-scale victory” was the absence of pain from my chronic sciatica. For anyone who has experienced this immobilizing level of pain, it will be understood how big of a deal this to be. Beyond that however, my skin cleared, as it does for many who do the Whole30, and I even feel like my overall health has improved. All in all, my Whole60 was everything I hoped it could be.
Are you planning on doing a Whole30, soon? If so, here are my tips:
1. Having a good support system while doing a Whole30 (or Whole60), will encourage you on the days you want to quit. I cannot emphasize enough how needed this support is.
2. If you are able, buy the Whole30 approved “convenience items“, like ketchup, bbq sauce, and coffee creamer. While stores like Whole Foods sells them, Walmart and Target also have items as well, and these were a total life saver for me!
3. There is a very good chance you will feel worse before you get better. This is actually normal, as your body starts to get rid of all the junk.
4. Plan and then meal prep, meal prep, meal prep. Having my meals ready-to-go was helpful on the nights where I was hangry from being stuck in traffic. This saved me so many times from going off-course.
5. Celebrate victories in all shapes and sizes. Speaking of staying encouraged, taking time to notice the growth and celebrate victories will keep you going when there are hard days. Everything from your clothes fitting better, improved mental clarity and decreased symptoms all deserve recognition and celebration.
Have you done a Whoe30 or a Whole60 before? What are your tips?