Do you feel that the secret to a healthy lifestyle lies in jumping on the Whole 30 bandwagon? Read this article before you do!
Your friend has done it. Your sister had done it. Your co-workers have done it. Heck, even your mom has done it.
“It” refers to Whole 30, a 30 day long trial by fire to eat very specific whole foods in an attempt to makeover your poor eating habits.
Whole30 is actually not a solution- but it can pose very specific problems. #nutrition #weightloss… Click To Tweet
Yeah, I know no one ever puts problem and Whole 30 in the same sentence but I feel compelled as a health coach to point out the pros and cons of using this approach to deal with a lifetime of disordered eating.
Problem #1: How can eating whole foods possibly be BAD for you?
From what I understand, Whole 30 tells you that you should be focusing on eating as natural a diet as you can, which means no processed foods, no sugars, no alcohol, significantly reduced carbs and basically eating as nature intended humans to eat.
This plan focuses on eating healthy sources of protein that are organic and grass-fed, vegetables and limited fruits. Forget that Alfredo sauce or store-bought treats- they probably have sneaky sources of soy or non-approved ingredients.
I can agree that these foods are highly nutritious, and following this sort of program will inherently create awareness of your eating habits. Both are critical elements of any health program. However, I have talked to enough women who have endured this program who aren’t experiencing the type of transformation I help my clients obtain.
First of all, this program is similar to a detox, in that people who are eating highly processed foods seem most attracted to this type of approach. Any time you shift so dramatically from a highly processed, or at least carb-heavy diet, to a whole foods based diet cold turkey, you are asking for trouble.
What sort of trouble? I have heard of people going through significant headaches, feeling low in energy, breaking out in pimples, and otherwise feeling like crap, sometimes up until the first 2 weeks.
Hmm… personally, I would HATE to try any sort of diet that had me feeling MISERABLE for up to two weeks, all while struggling to figure out what I can actually eat.
If traditional dieting has never worked for you, this is like starting THE ULTIMATE diet. In other words, setting yourself up for deprivation, frustration, and possibly jealous of what everyone else around you is eating. The list of foods you CAN’T eat is much more extensive than the foods you CAN eat on Whole 30.
Problem #2: What happens on Day 31?
Second of all, the biggest attraction to this program is you only need to survive through a month. It’s almost like a rite of passage- have you made it to Day 30 yet? In a nutshell, you could feel crappy for two weeks, start feeling human the next weeks, and then Day 31 hits.
What happens after that month? Well, that is largely up to the person who started it.
In my experience in Weight Loss Breakthrough calls with folks, once the accountability dries up, the actions also tend to taper off. Not that this is set in stone- but just my observation as a health coach.
Do these excuses sound familiar to you? “Oh it was too much trouble”, or “My family didn’t like it”, or “I was making three different meals for four different people in my family”, and “It was just too much work”, or “there was too much prep involved” or too much blah blah blah blah….
By the way, you don’t have to be on Whole 30 to come up with these excuses, but I have seen many a Facebook post where folks “re-commit” to this intense program for a second, third or even fourth time.
What exactly does this do for your body? Other than put it through the roller-coaster commonly known as yo-yo dieting?
If you weren’t aware, yo-yo dieting can actually be more harmful to your body than simply staying a bit overweight. In fact, this CNN study followed a number of women with different weights over the course of 11 years, and found that the frequency of weight cycling and starting weight impacted whether they suffered from coronary heart disease. Oddly, women who started at an average weight had the highest impact from heart problems.
Be kind to your #heart, and don’t put your body, heart and mind through the #Whole30 type of… Click To Tweet
Note: If you start the Whole 30 with the intent to make it a lifestyle change, you might want to prepare yourself with the right support. This list from Greatist is a great summary of what to expect.
Problem #3: Keeping up with the Joneses
Being the avid Facebook scroller I am (follow my page here), I notice ALOT of folks who post their luscious pictures of Whole 30 approved dinners and share their amazing results of losing 30 pounds in one month.
Hey, I love when someone achieves amazing results, yet what is NOT being shared in this highly competitive environment?
It is a scientific fact from Psychology Today that seeing all of your friends posting amazing food, exercise and weight loss success on Facebook can cause you to feel envy and sometimes even depression. Yes, you could certainly delete Facebook from your phone or go tech-less, but you don’t really want to, do you?
What you want to do is experience the EXACT SAME RESULTS they are! #truthbomb
Yet, it has eluded you. And, maybe your cooking skills are lacking, or you work too many hours to properly prep Whole 30 meals, or you’re on a stricter budget than organic and grass-fed products allow you to buy.
There could be many reasons why Whole 30 is not a fit for your current lifestyle.
At the back of your mind, though, you might keep seeing how it worked for your friend, and even stalk their Facebook profile to keep up with their progress. Until Day 31, when they stop posting anything.
Even if they start regaining the amazing 30 pounds they lost in the next 30 days, you might still believe that they are continuously losing. While you stay stagnant, overweight, and feeling like a loser (or is that just me?)
I am not immune from this. I follow fitness experts, who have amazing abs and excellent legs that nicely fill out their tight yoga pants. I don’t look like them.
And, I don’t want to! Yes, it would be nice to be in such amazing shape. At the same time, I acknowledge that I love who I am, I am confident in my body, and I am unwilling to put in the time and effort it would take for me to look like a fitness expert.
Notice I said I am unwilling. Not that I am unable.
Do you feel like you are UNABLE to achieve amazing results, unless you start an extreme Whole 30 challenge? The truth is, you CAN get results with a more gentle approach to body transformation. One that honors where you are today, and your long-term goals for yourself.
Before we get into that, I have a short story to share. I actually worked with a particular health coach embraced macros like I did, but took a somewhat more extreme approach. I had just decided to quit being vegetarian when I started working with this particular health coach, so I asked her, “What do you tell your vegetarians?”
After all, her list of approved protein sources were all meat.
Her response: “I tell them not to be vegetarian”.
Sorry, but I strongly feel that my job as a health coach is NOT to make you into a mini-me, but to serve your best interests, even if I eat differently than you. That’s my philosophy as a health coach- I want to be friendly to whatever your particular dietary preferences are whether that’s vegetarian, vegan, Whole 30, or low carb. You know your body and habits better than I do. I only help you reach success that has eluded you with your current habits.
Even more, I don’t want you to completely overhaul your entire lifestyle. At least not in 30 days.
It took me a year to lose 100 pounds, and the weight came off much more slowly in the last 6 months than the first 6 months. Yet, it has NOT come back.
Here is a different solution that I propose for you. Instead of following a very strict and intense program for a short term and wondering where to go from there, why not join me for a more sustainable way of eating using the power of macros?
I have been following this plan for years, through various physical changes over 16 years. Macros allow you to choose what foods you eat, whether those foods are whole or processed.
It does take some time to figure out what macros you are currently eating, and how to shift those for maximum weight loss, so I invite you to join me for a live workshop on using macros to prep healthy salads.
Scrumptious Salads for Salad Haters is a private event at my home in Minneapolis on Friday, May 26 at 11:00. All attendees get healthy and tasty salads in containers and printed recipes to take home, just in time for Memorial Day!
Not in the Twin Cities? Find out how to use macros for your own weight loss success by joining my mailing list.