I looked in the mirror. I looked at recent photos. I looked down at my plate. Do you know what I saw? I saw things I didn’t like. I saw the picture of a man that was on his way to being quite round, out-of-shape, and on his way to seeing a steep decline in his health. I saw food that I knew wasn’t going to help me. Food that wasn’t healthy for me. And, I kept eating it. Just as I always did.
I’ve never been what you would call a healthy eater. At all. I ate what I liked and when it came to fruits or veggies, I typically said no thank you, slide me that cheesesteak. I formed terrible habits, like so many of us do. It’s not like I wasn’t aware of them. I just chose to overlook them. Then something finally clicked. It was time for a change.
I watched two of my managers at work go through a month of Whole30. One is probably more of a picky eater than I am, and I watched (while also torturing him with pictures of food he couldn’t eat) him shed weight and look healthier and feel better. Before that, I had never even heard of Whole30. So, while on vacation and in the midst of pigging out and drinking all week, Sarah and I did some research and just said “this is it, we’re doing it. July 1, we make a change.” And, so we did.
Before I jump into what we did and how we changed and how doing it with small, picky kids, I’ll throw a little info your way about just what Whole30 is, straight from the source:
Established by Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig (of Whole9) in April 2009, the Whole30® is our original nutritional program designed to change your life in 30 days. Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.
Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition (like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or fertility issues) that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms may be directly related to the foods you eat—even the “healthy” stuff.
So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you? Strip them from your diet completely. Cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the “reset” button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn once and for all how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day to day life, and your long term health.
So, now that you know what Whole30 is, let’s jump back into the story. When we started we knew that we were going to be cutting out a ton of foods that we ate normally. I mean, my daily breakfast was a wheat bagel with peanut butter. Later, regular breakfast. And say hello to eggs and sweet potato hash every day.
The beginning was really rough. We also chose to start right before 4th of July, which made it extra hard, what with BBQs and drinking and fireworks. But, we stayed the course. We learned all about how to use healthier alternatives to make some absolutely delicious dishes. And, we made probably the best sweet potato chips that have ever been made. Seriously, I want to sell them. That good, people. I ate more fruit than I’ve eaten, probably, ever.
We had our cravings and thoughts of stopping at multiple points. But, we didn’t. I didn’t want to start something and then stop–like I’ve done with so many other things in my life. I set a goal of going the full 30 days. And we did it. That makes me insanely proud.
The long and the short of our journey was that, as you can see in my photo above, I lost weight. I lost abour 15 pounds. Sarah also lost about 15 pounds. We both felt amazing. But, aside from missing some of our old favorite foods every now and then–we also had another struggle. The kids.
Sophia eats very few foods. She’s insanely picky–as is the case with many four-year olds. So, here we were, making them pizza, or chicken nuggets, or a peanut butter sandwich. Or, giving them pretzels or chips, or a cookie or ice cream. All the while, we know we can’t eat them. I will tell you this–it takes A TON of self control to keep from licking the excess peanut butter off a knife after you make a sandwich. Especially if that’s what you’ve done, since, oh I don’t know, forever. It taught me to push away from those foods even more.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it was easy. It was far from easy. Changing habits like *that* isn’t a task that you should take on lightly. I say that, and honestly, we didn’t really prepare ourselves. We just jumped in with both feet. When you see the changes in someone else on a daily basis, you want that for yourself. I was tired of looking in pictures and seeing Mr. Fat-Face McGee staring back at me. It’s not like I was brimming with all the confidence in the world, anyway. And seeing that, made it worse. And pushed me to change.
I’m not looking for anyone to say great job to me. What I did, I did for me. I did for my kids, so they don’t have an out-of-shape dad winded any time they want to play. They need me around.
When I posted that photo above to Instagram and also on Facebook, I was absolutely floored at the responses I received. To say it was probably the most engagement I’ve received on anything I’ve posted would be true. An overwhelming amount of support from some people who I don’t talk to that often, if at all. Lots of people wanted to know more about Whole30, what it entailed, the ins and the outs. To which I gladly shared what we learned. What hit me the most were people saying that we inspired them. That they were going to follow our lead. Me–an inspiration. That is not something I take lightly. It’s an honor to hear those words from any one person, let alone more than one. You all made me feel incredible. And I want to say thank you.
I’m not finished. While I may not be on Whole30 right now, that doesn’t mean my journey to being healthy is over. If I eat something that isn’t Whole30-approved, I kind of feel guilty about it. I’m trying to stick to somewhere around 75-80% Whole30-approved diet going forward. While also trying to workout every day if I can. My journey is just beginning.