A little over a year ago, Seth, myself, and a few friends banded together for the Whole 30 food challenge. What is the Whole 30? In a nutshell, it’s 30 days of eating whole, unprocessed food. Lots of veggies, fruit, nuts, protein, etc, without the sugar, grains, and dairy. It’s 30 days of getting your body functioning well so that you really know how the things you eat affect you. We had a good experience with it, and learned quite a bit (here’s my initial report).
So that was more than a year ago. Have we kept it up? The answer: kind of.
Here’s how it went. I got done with my 30 days of eating whole, unprocessed, delicious food. Tons of veggies, protein, fruit, nuts, and good fats like avocado and coconut milk. For that 30 days I cut out sugar, alcohol, dairy, and grains. I felt pretty good. Once the 30 days were over, I started eating the stuff I hadn’t been allowed to eat. I tried to add one thing at a time, but after 3 or 4 days I went into binge mode and just started eating everything in sight. And that’s when I realized how good I had really felt at the end of my Whole 30.
Now I was bloated. I was waking up with headaches and sinus pain again. The way that I had felt all the time *before* doing the Whole 30. I just felt bad.
I had a few weeks of that, and then I just wanted to feel good again. So I swung back the other way. Not because I was doing another challenge, but because I wanted to feel great again. Now it’s been over a year, and I go through cycles. At home, we very much stick to that style of eating. Our meals are often a big pile of veggies, some protein, some healthy fats, and a bit of fruit. They are delicious. If we’re having a good week of cooking at home, those leftovers go to work with me, and then I’m eating that way even *more* of the time.
It’s the times when we’re busy, don’t have time to get groceries or cook ahead when we don’t consistently eat as well. I’d say I make good decisions only about half the time when I’m eating out. Last week I passed on a sandwich and ordered a salad with walnuts and chicken on it instead. A few days later I ordered a few mini burgers and a whole lot of fries. Some weeks I’m really good about having a hard-boiled egg and a banana for breakfast. Other times I find myself with a pastry in front of me.
So, sometimes I eat well, and sometimes I don’t. And that’s ok! Seriously. Because I know now the effect that my food decisions have on how I feel, and how my body functions. That’s the biggest thing I got out of this whole experiment. I make those decisions consciously now. Keeping grains and sugar out of my diet makes me feel my best. I know that now. But, sometimes I eat a delicious cupcake. I know when I eat that cupcake that I’m going to feel a bit hazy in 20 minutes, a bit bloaty, and then I’ll crave more sugar later. The thing about it is, I know that now. And I make that decision consciously.
Here’s something: on Day 28 of my Whole 30, I did 6 pull-ups in a row, from a dead hang. The most I had ever done. I felt strong. A week later, after introducing all sorts of food groups back into my diet, my max dropped to two. Within a week. True story.
I don’t believe that there’s *one* way to eat for everyone, or *one* way to exercise. Everyone is different, and different things work for different people. The important thing is knowing how food affects you, and that’s what I’ve taken away from the Whole 30.