I posted back in August at the start of my third attempt at Whole30. Good news. I finished it! And I learned a lot from the process, some of which I’ll recap here.
My biggest takeaway was that preparation pays off, and this preparation takes a variety of forms. First, it was important for me to understand how Whole30 works and to be clear on my motivations before I began. Second, I had to set aside time every week to go to the grocery store and prep meals so that I could stick to Whole30. Packing compliant meals when I would spend longer than a few hours away from home was absolutely key for me. The few times I struggled to keep to the rules were when I forgot or didn’t have time to bring food with me. I liked the intentionality of being prepared and hope to continue this with my meal planning and prep in the future even as I loosen the restrictions on my diet.
Regarding restrictions, one major function of the Whole30 is to eliminate certain food items from your diet for a long enough period that when you reintroduce them you can assess the impact of that type of food on your body. I spent a couple of weeks reintroducing food items slowly and didn’t observe any changes in my body that would indicate I was especially sensitive to peanuts, beans, soy, dairy, or gluten. I did notice, however, that restricting added sugars led to more sustained energy levels throughout the day and fewer cravings so I’m going to keep this in mind for the future.
I found the elimination aspect of the diet to be a fun challenge in some ways. Growing up Catholic, I was a champion at sacrificing things I loved during Lent, and this process gave me the same sense of accomplishment. Following my Whole30 success, I’m attempting a new elimination challenge–eating a pescatarian diet from now until Thanksgiving. My Whole30 happened to coincide with the release of the UN report on Climate Change, which made me super aware of all of the meat I was eating and the potential ecological consequences of this consumption. Since my Whole30 experience didn’t indicate a sensitivity to soy, beans, or gluten, I’m more willing to rely on these now for my meals.
Finally, by focusing on quality sources of nutrition and eating enough at every meal, and pairing these with strength training at gym, completing the Whole30 made me stronger physically. I embarked on this challenge in preparation for playing the roughest and toughest character in a group of adventurous men in the Yard Dogs Ensemble’s production of Men on Boats at The Robert Mello Studio. After my performance this past Sunday, one of the audience members remarked that I looked ripped. So my motivation was satisfied and my Whole30 achievement unlocked!