Our KindHealth Advisor James’ Experience with Whole30

May 17, 2016

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James, one of our resident KindHealth Advisors, decided to try Whole30, the food program and philosophy that cuts out sugar, grains, dairy and legumes.

We asked James to share his experience with the program and to see what he got out of it.



What is it?

The Whole 30 is a 30-day dietary program designed by Mellissa & Dallas Hartwig to help you redefine your relationship with food. They want you to think of food in terms of the good versus bad it does to your body, health and eating habits. Good foods are defined by those that promote a positive psychological response, a positive hormonal response, good flora in your gut and does not promote inflammation. Said more simply: You focus on eating good meats, fruits, nuts and veggies. Conversely, you avoid eating added sugars, alcohol, dairy and legumes.


What made me want to do it:

I am a marathoner and cross-fitter. After eavesdropping on a fellow athlete’s conversation at my cross-fit gym about the benefits of his Whole 30 experience, I grew curious. Last year I ran over 2100 miles and I still found a way to gain weight (not muscle weight—I am talking belly fat and man boobs). When I started this program it was out of frustration and desperation. Too many IPAs at night or the overconsumption of carbs and foods that do not promote health were causing me to lose the overall battle. So when I heard my friend at my gym speak so well of the results, I figured I would give it a go. I had nothing to lose and much to gain.


What was the hardest part:

The first 15-18 days are truly difficult. I had headaches in the evenings and became pretty anti-social. While my body was undergoing changes I felt cranky and short-tempered. I did not want to go out because I could better control what I ate at my house. I also knew the temptation to drink would be even greater if I was out with friends. Staying in and avoiding invites just became normal for two weeks. I also had two weeks of terrible workouts. I paid $15 for the subscription to get daily email reminders and I leaned hard on those emails for encouragement. Melissa Hartwig said, “This is not hard. Cancer is hard. This is not hard.” That one statement was the most powerful and motivating. It really helped me get through those first 18 days. Then 18 days later …. Tiger’s Blood!


What the hell is Tiger’s Blood?

If you have heard others talk about the Whole 30 then you have heard of Tiger’s Blood. This is the Hartwigs’ term for renewed energy and “entry into the promised land.” This is when your body adapts to this new eating regimen, your hormones start adjusting and your body learns to run on fat instead of a constant supply of sugar. At this stage I actually started setting personal records in the gym. By the time I reached day 25 I stopped reading the daily email and I actually stopped the countdown to day 30. This was no longer a program but a way of life. As I mentioned earlier, I have added drinking back into my lifestyle but the eating has not changed. I don’t even know what day I’m on now, but I am sticking to this lifestyle.


I can honestly say this program changed my life. I am completely in love with this new way of eating and I do not want to change. I only lost six pounds of weight, but I am much stronger and my body is looking different. I added alcohol back into my social life because it’s fun, but otherwise I have no desire to go back to eating cake, desserts, dairy or legumes. Those foods just aren’t something I miss. The benefits of awesome sleep and productivity at work after lunch are far too rewarding to go back to my “old ways.” I am far more in tune with how food choices can impact my energy and feelings in other areas of my life – hence the life changing part!

In addition to these benefits, you also gain another level of self-efficacy because you are controlling the area of life that is killing the majority of our country (this is NOT hyperbole – food choices are truly killing so many – heart disease continues to rank among the top killers of Americans every year). For me specifically, I wasn’t afraid of dying of heart disease, but I did feel like this diet was the missing link to my overall approach to health and fitness. I felt like my diet was the out of control piece that was holding me back. When you take control of your weak point, you feel a lot better about yourself and that carries over to other areas of your life.