So, you’ve done it. You’ve completed your first Whole30. Maybe this was new to you, or maybe you’ve been doing paleo for awhile and needed a little more rigidity in your diet. Regardless of your diet prior to Whole30, congratulations! The program is a fantastic introduction to clean eating. For those of you who aren’t familiar, here’s the scoop. Whole30 focuses on a month of real, whole foods. This means you will eliminate grains, soy, dairy and legumes. In addition to that, you are not permitted to have any added sugar or sweeteners. Lastly, there is no “paleo-fying” SAD foods, so pancakes and muffin variations are out (yes, even if they are “healthy”). You are not counting calories, and you are not allowed to weigh in until it’s over. The goal is to reset. It’s meant to change your life, your relationship with food, and your taste for real food. If you want to achieve that, you can find all of the information you’ll need in It Starts With Food. What about life after Whole30?
1. The reintroduction phase
The protocol you take on the Whole30 is essentially that of an elimination diet. You’re going to rid your body of entire food groups, but you may not see those changes as permanent. In order to accurately observe how your body reacts to certain foods, a 30 day hiatus is highly recommended. After that period of time, they will be more foreign to your body, so you will be able to tell if the reaction you get is directly related to the food you just ate. If you feel that you would like to include dairy in your diet again, include it only in foods you are accustomed to eating. If you have an adverse reaction, you can be sure it was the dairy. The same thing should be done for grains, legumes, and soy if you choose to eat them again. After testing your reactions, you will have a better idea of what is going to work best for you in the long-term, and how to avoid meals that make you feel sluggish or sick.
2. Maintaining weight loss
You reach day 30 and step on the scale. You’re delighted with the number! Following the Whole30 style of eating often leads to weight loss. If you don’t need to lose weight, you may effortlessly maintain your weight for the first time. Maybe your focus was on eating to better fuel your workouts, and you’ve since noticed a change in body composition. Whatever milestones you’ve reached, you probably want to keep pushing forward. The most successful next step will be not to deviate from what you’re doing much. If you want to keep losing, it will probably be best to keep paleo “treats” eliminated or few and far between. The Whole30 plan is meant to be sustainable. It’s not a calorie-restricted diet which often leads to feelings of temptation and deprivation – instead, it focuses on creating better long-term habits. In essence, don’t fix something that isn’t broken.
3. Fitness and exercise
Many people who begin a Whole30 come from a place in which they aren’t physically active or pay much attention to what they eat. They resort to the program with a desire for change. What you eat is 80% of the battle, but after you’ve focused on diet, it becomes easier to add in more good habits. Your main objective should be to move more, it’s as simple as that. Like the Whole30, exercise should be about long-term habits that change your relationship with your body. Get to know your limits, and set clear goals. Those goals could range from 10,000 steps per day to training for a half-marathon to deadlifting PR’s. This is about what you can see yourself doing on a regular basis for a very long time – not a method of burning off calories anymore. If you don’t like the gym, go outside! If you’re intimidated by CrossFit, find a smaller gym that focuses on calisthenics or kettlebells instead. There is something for everyone.
4. The family dynamic
Many people embark on their Whole30 journey alone. Old habits die hard, and you can’t always convince everyone that what you’re doing is what they should do as well. If you lead by example well enough, maybe your family or roommates will want what you have and climb on board. On the other hand, you may have to suffer through watching them eat fast food and drink soda while you sip water and eat your salmon. While you may occasionally feel tempted to indulge, the bigger issue is the dynamic of group meals and social outings with family and friends that can become stressful when you have so many dietary restrictions. With children, it is best to get them involved in the process of making food. This way, they will be more likely to eat and enjoy whatever is on their plate. While sharing this moment, their palettes will expand, and they will grow to love eating real food. It is not necessary to sacrifice your own health for anyone else – just try your best to spread the word. Healthy lifestyle changes should focus more on what you can add in rather than take away.
One of the most useful aspects of a 30 day program of any type is that of accountability. When you challenge yourself within specific time restraints, you take on the responsibility of a daily obligation. While your Whole30 will end, your liability should not. A food journal is one of the most powerful tools in reaching health and fitness related goals. As the saying goes: “What get’s measured get’s improved. What get’s measured and tracked get’s improved exponentially.”
If you’re looking for more accountability, motivation, and a way to challenge yourself, come join us for the next 30 Day KickStart! A new 30 Day KickStart begins each month. Find out why it’s proven to 5X your commitment to healthy eating.