It was March of 2017.
We (Heather and I) have been “healthy” and “fit” for years, but we decided to up the ante.
Along with our business partner and some gym members we undertook the Whole 30 diet challenge.
Thirty days of…
- No grains
- No dairy
- No peanuts
- No alcohol
- No added sugar
Daunting, perhaps, but we were excited for the challenge.
Oh boy…and I thought we were super healthy people!
Now here me out. Heather is MUCH more disciplined than me when it comes to food. I can stay away from “bad” foods, but I definitely fall in the boat of those who will eat it if it’s in the house!
No joke. I’m thankful I train hard and have built a foundation of muscle. It’s not an excuse to eat like crap, but it actually allows me more wiggle-room with diet than someone who doesn’t have my background or physical frame.
It DOES make a difference.
Before I go too far off the rails, your goal – regardless of your actual “goal” – should be to build muscle.
Man? Woman? Build muscle.
Want to get faster? Get stronger and build some muscle.
Want to lose weight and increase metabolism? Build muscle.
The probability that you’ll “end up looking like Arnold” is slim to none.
Stop using that as an excuse to not lift weights or perform resistance training in any capacity.
You. Need. To. Build. Muscle.
But I digress…
Whole 30 was the most strict diet plan I’ve ever tried.
We had dabbled with nutritional strategies before… things like drinking cold water in the morning, saving carbs for after workouts, higher protein.
But never had we gone so far as to eliminate so many “things” from our diet.
That’s what Whole 30 is at its core – an elimination diet.
We were set up to eliminate foods that often cause inflammation, create food allergies or sensitivities, and rid ourselves of a dependence on sugar.
Sugar is not necessarily evil. It IS however in darn near every food product you find in the grocery store these days.
Yes we had to real labels very closely.
We searched for foods and products that were verified Whole 30 (there are plenty out there).
Ultimately, we focused on not eating any foods that had labels.
Think fruits, vegetables, meat and nuts.
Sometimes boring, but oh so dramatic in how you feel and look after a month of following the program.
This may seem cliché at this point, but you really are better off staying toward the outside of the grocery store.
Produce, produce, produce.
Don’t sweat organic vs. non organic…you’ll stress yourself out too much. And be poorer at the end of the day, with negligible benefit. (That just means not worth the extra money)
Chicken, turkey, lean beef. These can be tricky sometimes, because you can’t buy packaged meats. Sugar and preservatives. You gotta buy the real stuff that hasn’t been cooked or seasoned with anything.
You can definitely add seasonings later when you’re cooking and eating ( we HIGHLY recommend it to spice up your life…) just make sure your seasonings have no sugar added. Use the pure stuff.
Add in some raw nuts (remember, no peanuts) and you’re pretty well good to go.
Simple – yes.
Boring – sometimes.
Effective – oh yeah.
Back to the story…we complete the Whole 30 challenge during March of 2017.
And get this…it’s Heather’s birthday month, with other family birthdays, and wedding showers going on for her oldest and his then fiancé!
Total all-star performance.
And definitely a rock for the two of us as we struggled at times with sticking to it.
If you’ve ever done the program or are thinking about it, it’s an all-or-nothing 30 days of compliance. You don’t “mess up” on day 9 and then jump back in.
Your 30 days start over.
Yeah, harsh, but that’s just what the body needs to really reset things and adapt to the no sugar added.
It was a remarkable learning experience for us, and definitely one we’ll recommend to others who are along their own journey of improved health and fitness.
Having a group for accountability and support, especially during the first week or two, made all the difference. You will certainly go through some trying periods physically and mentally (emotionally too if we’re being honest).
- Step back and be honest – both about what you’re eating and WHY you’re eating (can you say emotional or bored eater???)
- Read some labels – take your time and be picky about what you’re buying and putting into your body
- Make a plan – not just for the thirty days, but having a daily or weekly “menu” will make your life so much easier. This applies to anytime, not just during a challenge. Don’t rely on willpower. Make the choice ahead of time.
- Prep – not only should you make your menu ahead of time, also make your food ahead of time (or purchase exactly what you’ll need). Again, another good strategy regardless of doing a challenge or not.
- Find someone supportive – in any endeavor, having support and people who won’t belittle you or try to tempt you (because, you know, “if we all eat the ice cream, we’ll all feel better about our crappy choice and feeling/looking worse than before”). That could be a rant in and of itself. Don’t be one of those people.
- Lastly…it’s only 30 days.
Yes it’s a challenge, but let’s get things into perspective.
We’re talking about food.
Not some life altering surgery…or family member with a serious disease…or being sent to prison for a month.
Just eat real food. #JERF