Whole30: A Retrospective

Several years ago I was diagnosed with insulin resistance. Long story short, I was fat because my body produced too much insulin which prevented me from losing weight, but the only way to permanently lower my insulin levels was to lose weight. Lovely predicament, no?

Since my diagnosis, I’ve tried several “diets” in an effort to get my weight under control: South Beach, the Insulin Resistance Diet, Weight Watchers, Atkins, etc. My weight has yo-yoed up and down by about 40 pounds (not counting my whale-like months of pregnancy). At this point my metabolism was most likely completely hosed. I’d also been on and off of metformin several times, but usually stopped taking it because it made me feel even worse. In the end, I stepped on the scale a few months ago and realized I weighed roughly the same thing that I did when I was first told that I had insulin resistance. So, about seven years with no measurable progress. Lovely.

Realizing that this behavior was not setting the best example for my girls, I set out to finally make a change. I’d been doing some poking around online for eating plans for people with insulin resistance, and saw a lot of rumblings about something called “Whole30,” and then found out a few friends of mine had been giving it a shot with good results.

However, there was one BIG problem with Whole30 in my mind: it was paleo. You know, the caveman diet that fanatics would tell you will not only help you lose weight, but will also balance your checkbook and fold your laundry. I wanted NO PART of it. I refused to become one of those glassy-eyed devotees that does nothing but post on Facebook and Twitter about how awesome paleolithic eating is for your system. Besides, following a truly paleo eating plan means you don’t eat dairy. Oh, hell no I wasn’t going to give up cheese!

Still, the anecdotal evidence was intriguing. I finally went to the Whole30 website and read up on it some more. Then I got to thinking… all they’re asking me to do is give some things up for a month. Ah, what the hell, I can do anything for a month. So, on September 2, 2012, I began my Whole30. No dairy. No grains. No sugar or artificial sweeteners. No legumes. Basically, lean proteins, fruits, veggies, and some nuts and good oils only.

Day one wasn’t so bad. I had some eggs and veggies for breakfast. Lunch was a grilled chicken breast over some greens with some slivered almonds. Dinner was fish and vegetables. By the end of the first week, though, I was struggling. I’d had to give up sodas (and anyone who knows me knows I was a certified Coke Zero addict), and although I was now drinking my coffee black, I wasn’t drinking as much of it, so I was going through some caffeine withdrawal. My head hurt. I wanted cheese so bad I could taste it. But in the end, I knew I was being a big ol’ crybaby about it. One of the things I kind of liked about Whole30 is that the founders have a no-nonsense attitude about it. They insist it is NOT hard. They say that battling cancer is hard. Learning to eat healthy is not.

So, I trudged on. The second week was better. I went in to my doctor’s office for some routine bloodwork during that week. I received my results later that week, and I almost fell out of my chair when I read them. MY INSULIN LEVELS WERE NORMAL. Y’all, my insulin levels have not been normal since 2005. NORMAL. As in, my body was no longer drowning in excess insulin. I was flabbergasted. But in a good way. So, I was sold on Whole30 at that point.

I’m not quite through the entire 30 days (I have two days left), but I think I’m at a point where I can safely say that I’m on board with this for the long haul. I’m still looking forward to eating something with cheese on it on Monday, but I’ve learned I don’t have to have cheese on EVERYTHING. I actually prefer my coffee black now, and my tea unsweetened (which I know is blasphemy, since I am from Georgia). I cheated today and put some Splenda in my coffee at work, and it tasted NASTY and like it was full of chemicals. I’ve learned to appreciate fresh fruits and vegetables more.

And best of all, as of this morning, I have dropped 17 pounds from what I weighed the morning of September 2. (I know Whole30 says don’t weigh yourself until after your 30 days are up. Well, I cheated. Pbbbbth.) I don’t expect to keep that level of weight loss up by any means, but it is definitely encouraging to see that much weight come off simply by eating cleaner. I haven’t upped my exercise levels or anything. At this point, I weigh less than I’ve weighed in nearly two years, and am coming up on weighing roughly what I did before I got pregnant in 2007.

I’m still going to allow myself some occasional dairy after my Whole30 is up, and a bite of dessert every now and then. But it will not be a daily thing as it was with me before. I feel fantastic for the first time in nearly five years, and I need to keep it up. Next step: it’s time to get my ass moving and exercise.


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