Let me preface the following post by saying this: I am not a diet person. I have never been, and likely never will be.
You might be thinking, “Wait, but isn’t Whole30 a diet, you dingbat?!”
So maybe I threw in the silly zinger at the end of your genuinely good question. Either way, I would answer your inquiry by saying, sure — in the sense that one alters their food intake for a period of time and might see weight loss as a result — I guess you could consider Whole30 a diet. But the other and perhaps less-glamorous side effects of this program far outweigh (lol diet puns) the weight you might end up shedding. Because of that, I wouldn’t necessarily generalize Whole30 as just a diet. It’s so much more.
Unlike most diets out there on the market, the ultimate goal of Whole30 is not to lose weight (though almost every review mentions that as one of the positive outcomes). The holy grail, so to say, is instead to reevaluate your relationship with food, become more aware of what it is you’re putting in your body and how it makes you feel, and stop cravings dead in their tracks.
Many individuals who take the dive into Whole30 do it because they’ve been experiencing some type of negative side effect from food, but can’t necessarily pinpoint what the culprit might be. Is it dairy? Gluten? Legumes or soy? Whole30 eliminates all of those (plus more) from your diet for 30 days, and, with the reintroduction process that follows, allows you to slowly add those food groups back into your diet, making it easy to recognize how they affect things like digestion, bloating, and more.
Others (like myself) who opt into the program are simply looking to hit a reset button of sorts. If you’re curious to learn more about my experience with Whole30, keep reading!
If I’m Not a “Diet Person” Then Why Did I Do Whole30?
For the most part, I have a healthy relationship with food (minus the odd late-night pizza binge) and have maintained a reasonably active lifestyle since being forced into sports at a young age (thanks mom and dad). When I catch a glimpse of my passing reflection, my initial reaction isn’t to cringe or recoil, which, in this day and age, is a huge win. Could my frame benefit from being a little stronger and leaner? Sure. But it’s also not the worst and, frankly, who cares if I don’t lol.
Let it be known, though, that all this body positivity I’m spewing out like no big deal does not come without saying things weren’t always like this — all rainbows and butterflies and greens with every meal. I’ve suffered through my fair share of negative seasons where my relationship with food maybe wasn’t the healthiest, or when that gym membership had gone unused for longer than I’d like to admit. Or where I had winced and felt terrible about myself while looking into a mirror. It still happens every now and again, too, but I’m quicker to squash those moments of self-loathing before they turn into something more destructive.
Back in November/December, I could feel myself entering one of these more negative seasons. Things had ended with a decently great dude I had been dating, work at the time wasn’t the greatest, and I was slowly but surely entering the familiar life “plateau” most experience after some type of “high” — you know, when something really really great occurs (in my case, it was the move to Nashville back in May) but eventually the steady climb you experience after the fact stalls and you find yourself back at the place you just came from (for me, it was a place of routines and too much familiarity).
The literal seasons were shifting as well, and in light of that I stopped spending as much time outdoors and turned to rich and dense comfort foods because, when it came down to it, that’s what I was craving . . . comfort. In every sense of the word. My mindset was heavier than it’d been in a while, and it seemed like my body was tailgating and gaining on me in that regard as well. I felt weighed down.
After spending the holidays back home in Southern California, I returned to Nashville and realized I had to make some decisions. I could easily settle into the general complacency I had kinda-sorta-but-barely been fighting the months before, or I could flip the switch and get things back on track. Since it was just before the new year, a time that welcomes change with open arms, I capitalized on the opportunity to implement some positive changes in my life.
I have more than a handful of friends who found success with Whole30. Some entered the program to identify what the culprit was that lead to their constant stomach discomfort. Some were bored with their diets and wanted to shake things up. And some simply needed that extra push to shed some lbs. In any case, what drew me in the most was that almost all of them maintained the results of whatever it was that Whole30 had done for them. So I dove in.
Was the Effort of Whole30 Worth It in the End?
In an attempt to stop this post from going on forever and keep it somewhat digestible (no I cannot cool it with the puns . . . I refuse to), I’ll do you all a favor and skip out on trying to explain the nitty-gritty of Whole30 and leave that to the experts.
I will, however, be perfectly clear by letting you know that, yes, it was challenging. I had to grocery shop more than usual to ensure fresh produce was on hand at all times (and y’all know how much I hate the grocery store) and meal prepping became a huuuuuuge pain in my ass. Oh, and coffee sans cream and sugar for an entire month?! Dang. That sucked.
But it was all so entirely worth it.
There were two major outcomes I’ll hit on more in-depth here — physical and mental.
Please note that these are my personal results that are unique to me and my body. Doing Whole30 does not guarantee with certainty that you will experience the same effects that I did, or that anyone else did for that matter. Also, it’s worth mentioning that I followed Whole30 strictly. Some people opt into a modified program where they still drink alcohol or eat certain foods (though technically that would no longer be considered Whole30).
Yes, I lost weight. The exact amount is unknown, as I haven’t weighed myself in years and didn’t feel like starting now. But my body definitely changed physically: My pants were noticeably looser, my belt tightened two notches, my favorite bra’s cup size became too large. My perpetual bloat went away after only a couple days and it didn’t come back throughout the duration of Whole30 . . . and that included when I was on my period.
Speaking of periods, all the symptoms I was used to experiencing just disappeared. No back pains, cramps, breakouts, or tenderness. The only reason I knew I was going to start my period was due to my birth control running out. So, yeah, that rocked!
My workouts were on another level entirely, and I slept better than I had in months. I felt all around lighter . . . like a literal weight had been lifted up off of my shoulders.
More than I appreciated the physical changes, though, were the mental ones I experienced. Remember when I said I felt lighter, like two whole sentences ago? I didn’t mean just in my weight . . . it was also in relation to my state of mind. On Whole30 I was able to dig myself out of whatever funk I had found myself in. I’ve returned to my happy self and have since dipped into this totally confident side that I’m straight-up loving. I also feel like a genuine badass for doing this program and actually succeeding in it.
Finding instant gratitude via certain food groups has become a thing of the past. That late-night Dominos pizza I was privy to indulging in a few months ago? I wouldn’t touch it now. As much as my mouth waters at the innocent thought of their thin-crust pizza with pepperoni and jalapenos, I also know just how awful I will feel after a couple slices. Same goes for potato chips, bread, and cheese on just about anything. But more than being able to recognize that the instant gratitude isn’t worth it, I no longer sit around craving these foods in the first place.
Finally, completing Whole30 proved how capable I really am, and that this capability can surely be applied elsewhere — not just with the food I am deciding to put in my mouth. And this alone is what makes me recommend Whole30 time and time again to everyone who inquires. Probably even more to those who don’t tbh. I just love it!!
If you’ve been thinking of giving Whole30 a go for whatever reason, do it. It’s 30 days of hard work and dedication (and no cream in your coffee), and there definitely will be moments that you question whether it’s worth it or not. But I whole-heartedly believe that you will come out the other end satisfied.
Have you done Whole30? What was your experience with this program? Leave your thoughts below!