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The Whole 30: Feeling Incredible

My life has changed. I feel like a new person since going on the Whole30 Program. Click the link to read about what the Whole30 diet entails, this post is long enough already.

Why Do This? I've been "leaning" Paleo for awhile now. I have several ultrarunning friends whose brains I've been picking. Honestly, I thought the Paleo diet was just a little over the top. I figured I could eat healthy but still have my homemade bread, good cheese and Ben and Jerry's in moderation.

Well, there's the rub. I could not. Sugar had me in its clutches. Day after day, I failed at resisting its siren call. I failed completely at moderation.

The tipping point was when I discovered that my good friend Kris had done the Whole30. Now, Kris is a Wisconsin girl. She loves her coffee with cream, and good cheese, and she's not one to follow fads. She had nothing but great things to say about her results. 

A week later I took the plunge. It was only for 30 days, for Pete's sake!

Below I share my observations and results. Please excuse my rambling style. I tend to get carried away when I talk about it.

I sleep incredibly soundly. It's kind of like going under anesthesia.
No more mid-afternoon slump. In fact, I have an inordinate amount of energy. I may have to quit coffee, because even 2 small cups in the morning is revving me up!

My moods are steady. No more crankiness. I'm more even-keeled, more patient. Same with Hubz.

Lean. It's not a weight loss diet, but within the first week I noticed I had lost inches from my stomach, where it usually is the last to go. Over the 30+ days, I lost nearly 10 pounds. Oh, and I never, ever went hungry.

Seasonal allergies have improved. A few times I had a bit of a runny nose, but it was a far cry from the sneeze-fests and nasal drip misery that I often have this time of year.

Stronger fingernails and toenails that grow much more quickly. 

Nose breathing vs. mouth breathing. I breathe almost exclusively through my nose now, even when running. Hubz had been a mouth breather since being diagnosed with asthma as a teenager. No more.

Food tastes better. My taste buds have changed. Every meal is exclaim-out-loud tasty. The flavors I couldn't taste before are singing. Before the Whole30, Hubz detested coconut and I didn't care for almond butter.

Some female stuff went away which I was really happy about. Ladies, if you want the gory details email me and I'll pass them along.

Overall Feeling of Well Being and Happiness: I didn't have any aches, pains or injuries so I don't have any dazzling testimonials like my friend Katie, whose year-long shoulder pain and chronic eczema disappeared, but I SIMPLY FEEL AMAZING. 

Kombucha is delicious. Experimenting with new spices, vegetables, meats and sauces was exciting. Through the Whole30, I've discovered many outstanding new favorite recipes.
Was It Hard?
Actually, no. Perhaps because Hubz and I did this together, it was a thrilling, shared adventure.
Once I committed to the plan, I really didn't miss, crave or get tempted by anything. There was one morning when someone made toast and it smelled like the most delicious food ever. But honestly, that was it. 

Additional Thoughts:
The toughest part was resisting deeply ingrained habits, like wanting to crack open a beer on a warm, sunny day and lounge in the backyard. On the other hand, I didn't find it hard to go to our post-run Tuesday night pizza joint and order steak instead, and drink club soda with lime. Putting my drink in a nice glass helped me feel like it was still a treat.

I had serious reservations about how hard it would be to quit milk/cream in my coffee so I started drinking it black about 4 days before officially starting. That worked alright, but then I discovered coconut milk. Blend some with a small amount of coffee, voila! Delicious and full of good fat!  

Hubz, in his own words:

1.) I like a program that expects you to follow it verbatim with no room for cheating, mistakes, or excuses. Screwed up? Start over.
2.) Starting on Day 3 and continuing through about Day 7 or so, do not keep any loaded weapons in the house. I'm just sayin'.
3.) I had to force myself to eat for the first 3 or 4 days. No appetite.
4.) Eating large amounts of healthy fats does not make you fat. It makes you skinny. Go figure.
5.) For the first 7 to 10 days, don't expect to have much energy. I had to drag myself to the gym during this period and once there, I spent considerable time just drifting around.
6.) Don't be surprised if you find yourself in front of a pastry counter just staring. Just don't touch.
7.) I love coconut milk with a small shot of pineapple juice.
8.) Hair - think I grew some new ones topside. Not many, but who's counting?
9.) Nails - less brittle.
10.) Sardines, spaghetti squash, and Marinara sauce is NOT breakfast. But it can be Meal 1.
11.) Don't snack - I'm still working on this one. Don't count calories. Eat 3-4 squares a day - protein, fat, veggies, small amount of fruit - every meal.
12.) Club soda in a rocks glass looks like corn liquor...once the bubbles are gone.
13.) Peeing. Apparently the prostate gland is a big fan of the Whole30 program. Don't be surprised if you get a call from your local firehouse asking you to ride shotgun on the pumper truck.





  1. Neat! Really glad it's working well for you. I'm all in favor of anything that gets people eating whole foods again.

  2. You almost have me convinced! Glad that you enjoyed it... will you keep it up now that the 30 days are over?

    1. B,
      Yes, we are sticking pretty close to it so far (we officially finished April 15). I have only strayed a few times - twice for bacon with our breakfast at a restaurant, once for a glass of wine at fancy dinner with friends. I do intend to indulge in some cheese soon, and the occasional adult beverage.

    2. I thought bacon was fine? It's a huge staple in paleo...

    3. Rob, it's Paleo, but unless you can find bacon sans sugar, it is out for the Whole30.

  3. can't wait to hear your thoughts on how the whole 30 effected your running. but I have to admit I'm really eager to fully start this program!!

  4. I am definitely going to look into this. I have a medical procedure on the 10th and have been wondering how I am going to deal with a week of no exercise. The first several days of this way of eating might help me with that. Thanks.

  5. So. Many. Yummy. Veggies. THAT is why it doesn't feel like deprivation.

  6. Really interesting, Kirstin. I've been noticing a lot of ultrarunners doing this, so I'll be so interested to see how you feel during your training/racing. I am definitely looking to do some tweaking in my diet, so I want to hear it from another runner.

  7. lmbo no loaded guns on days 3-7! Hubz is hilarious. Can't wait to try it! Sounds like it was a perfect fit for you two.

  8. Great post, Kirstin! I enjoyed sharing this with you and look forward to many more foodie conversations while on trail. Love Tom's thoughts...too funny!

  9. Good post I have been reading good things about this diet and the Mediterranean diet.

  10. I'm always interested to see what kind of nutritional philosophies work for other people, and I'm always happy when it's a plan that emphasizes eating whole foods and paying attention to one's hunger signals. Glad this was a success for you and hubz. I'm looking forward to hearing about how it has affected your running!

  11. Ok, Kir -- after my weekend of clearing my house of all my sugar...

    You have inspired me! I struggle with low blood sugar, hormone imbalance and low energy -- if the ultra runner girl can fuel her crazy bod this way, what have I got to lose!!

    This will be a hard start -- while I do eat many fruits and veggies, all of my protein sources will need to change.

    I plan to start my whole30 adventure on 5/4/14.

    one plus? I already drink my coffee black :)

  12. Whole30 is a fantastic program! It was my "gateway" to becoming Paleo too. I did it in April 2012, and have done it a few times since (and also the 31 Day Sugar Detox, although that'd be a bit harder to support ultra running). I do feel way better too. I used to get a lot of gas, but that has all but gone away (except when I cheat or eat too many nuts or nut products (ie- almond milk)). I liked the challenge that going Paleo offered me. I had to rethink some of my favorite meals, recreate them with new/more veggies. I branched out to new recipes and new produce. I already ate local a good amount, but I now eat almost all local. My meat and eggs are grass-fed/free range/pastured/wild, which gives them so much more flavor on top of being much better for me. Oh, and the signs of my old Achilles Tendon injury have pretty much disappeared! :-D


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