We did iti! Like conquering heroes who approach the marathon finish line, my wife and I successfully completed The Whole30. I wrote about our first five days on the program and had planned on writing more updates about the process, but didn’t, at least here on the blog. Rather I wrote something more people could use, a short e-book that I’m finishing up. More details about that will be on the Mike’s Notes Newsletter.
We began The Whole30 because our healthy train of breakfast, lunch, and dinner had slipped off the tracks. We were chugging along only to miss a switch that sent us in an unwanted direction. Only down the line did we realize what happened. We went from being young and fit, to parents and not-so-fit. I was reminded of this each time I went for a run or did yard work that was harder than I thought. But I’m a young man my mind argued, only to answer itself no so young, and not nearly as fit. Part of this was a diet that began using easy foods as a crutch and developing some bad food habits. After a 30 day reset I feel great, here’s a few things I learned.
- Abstinence is easier than moderation. Seneca, the stoic philosopher wrote at the turn of the millennium, “ with some things less effort of will is required to cut them out altogether than to have recourse to them in moderation” and this was certainly the case on the Whole30. Not having access to potatoes, peanuts, and processed foods was a lot easier than limiting them. It made many food choices binary which removed the task of literally, mentally, and philosophically weighing what to eat.
- There was a steep learning curve. At first it seemed like we would never get our feet under us. We were parsing our pantry for hidden dangers and making mayonnaise from scratch. Both seemed insurmountable at first, but we handled the spices spice by spice and the mayonnaise step by step. Each time we did it, it became easier and we tried something more difficult. Which became easier each time we did that. And so on.
- There was beauty in the details. If we lost certain foods because they weren’t healthy, we gained others that more than replaced them. Some of my favorite new additions were hot sauce, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, avocado and peppers, and salted eggs and tomatoes. This was a bit like cancelling our cable, it seemed like we were losing a lot of entertainment but we gained unexpected things.
- Structure and rules matter, a lot. In my notes I’ve been calling this “system thinking” and it was the backbone to this program. Humans like having structure and boundaries when we do things. I even have steps for becoming a writer because boundaries let us do our best work by focusing our thinking. The Whole30 had clear meal boundaries; start with protein, add vegetables, cook in good fats, limit fruit.
The Whole30 was a great program and one that I would encourage anyone to do. It brought a lot more energy and focus into my life. It optimized my diet, got my family feeling better, and inspired me to focus even more on my fitness.
You can start by reading It Starts With Food or the Whole9 site. I posted an excerpt from one part of our journey, doing the Whole30 with kids in the book excerpt section of this blog. If you have any question about it, let me know in the comments or on Twitter, @MikeDariano.