A Whole 30 Level Set

As we gear up to start our January Whole 30 (Just FYI: I’ve decided we are officially going from January 2-31 -though I’m not closing the door to actually doing it for 60 days) I’ve been paying specific attention to the current state of my health. I’m noting how I look, how I feel and also how my body is performing because I want to get a baseline of where I am starting. This is so important, and in just a second I’m going to encourage you to do the same thing. But I want to do a little bit of housekeeping before we start.

First of all, I was OVERWHELMED by the number of readers here who are planning to participate in the January Whole 30 with us. When I wrote that post last week I was hoping a few of you would dive in, and that maybe we could all complain about our sugar withdrawals together. But between the emails I got, the tweets, and the comments on that post OVER ONE HUNDRED OF YOU WHO READ HERE DAILY ARE PARTICIPATING.

Holy heck on a ham sandwich, that is amazing! OVER ONE HUNDRED. I am flabbergasted. So because of that, I definitely feel like I want to make sure I’m facilitating some community instead of just bitching about my food for 30 days, because who does that help, really? But before we start let’s all get on the same page here.

If you are doing the Whole 30, I think it is important to respect that it is a proprietary program — it’s not just some random 30 “cleanse or detox” it has an actual protocol. It’s a free protocol, so it’s not like you have to buy something to do the Whole 30, but it is specifically developed and designed by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig over at Whole 9 Life.

Here it is, from the horse’s mouth:

Established in April 2009, the Whole30® is Whole9’s original nutritional program designed to change your life in 30 days.

The physical benefits of the Whole30 include improved body composition, energy levels, sleep quality, attention span, mental attitude and athletic performance.

The psychological benefits of the Whole30 include changing long-standing, unhealthy patterns related to food, eating and your body image, and a dramatic reduction or elimination of food cravings, particularly sugar and carbohydrates.

So of course if you want to achieve all of those awesome results, you have to play by the rules, right?

The rules and A METRIC TON of easily digestible information regarding the science behind the rules are available in their book It Starts with Food. But even if you don’t want to buy and read the book, the information can still be found out there for free.

*Want a PDF outlining exactly what the program is: here you go!

A few things worth noting: You should not be counting calories, you are not dieting, you do not need to be counting carbs, and this isn’t really a “detox.” The Whole 30 is designed to give you 30 days to focus on how your body looks, feels and performs when you are eating only “Good Food”. Good Food is outlined in detail on the Whole 9 site but I’ll give ya the cliffs notes right here. They stick to 4 parameters:

1. Promote a Healthy Psychological Response
2. Promote a Healthy Hormonal Response
3. Support a Healthy Gut
4. Support Immune Function and Minimize Inflammation

*****And THAT, is the Whole 30 in a nutshell******

Now, if you are not going to follow the program that they outline, this doesn’t mean that your 30 days are a waste, or that you are a terrible person, or that you aren’t “being healthy” or any other crazy judgment, but it does mean that you aren’t doing a Whole 30. I don’t say that to be the food police, and I certainly am completely supportive and encouraging of any and all food experimentation that feels right to you right now (YOU KNOW THIS!) but I felt like it was worth noting that when it comes to the Whole 30: there is a specific protocol to follow. It’s what makes it The Whole 30, and not a Paleo/Primal/Sugar Detox challenge. And before we get started I wanted to underscore that this is what we will be doing in January and what I plan to be sharing my strategies for.

While we are talking about getting rolling on this Whole 30, here are a few of my favorite resources from the Whole 9 site:
A “Good/Better/Best” Grocery Shopping Guide (hint: everything doesn’t have to be grass-fed, organic, hippy-ville to be transformative)
Look, there is even a Vegetarian Version (This is why I particularly love Dallas and Melissa — they are quite inclusive in their pursuit of spreading the word on good food.)
Meal Planning Guide (This may spark some inspiration for your own meal planning)

****If you have any favorite resources to share, please do so for everyone reading in the comments!

The last thing I want to talk about, and the thing I want to encourage you to do before you get started is to acknowledge the current state your health in all its glory. :) If you are anything like me, December has been a liiiiiittle bit lax on the health front. Maybe you’ve been eating more cookies than kale, maybe you have been working out, maybe you haven’t. Maybe you’ve been sleeping great, or maybe you are just a little bit cranky and think the holidays may be to blame. Because there are a million ways to measure health that don’t include the scale, I encourage you to do a quick audit of how you are feeling right now. Make this a December to Remember. :) Need some ideas about things to think about, check out this post. This will help you see how much changes in January, and I am glad to share my own with you. So here comes the complete honest truth.

*My body composition is suffering. I don’t think my CrossFit friends are ready for all this jelly. And I’m not a fan of all this jelly when I have to run, jump and huck myself over a bar.
*My face feels like it has a rash. Constantly. It doesn’t, but it feels like it. Unpleasant.
*I am so so sluggish these days. My motivation to do anything is at an all time low. Garrett said to me the other night “I haven’t seen you sit on the couch this much in the entire 7 years we’ve been together.” It’s epic, my current level of laziness.
*Constant dehydration. No matter what I drink I just feel dry and thirsty. The red wine isn’t helping either.
*My face feels puffy constantly. I am completely certain each time I look in the mirror I’m going to see Mama Elsa staring back at me.

*Two Words: Back Fat. I don’t really need to expand on this one, do I? There is nothing worse than a preponderance of back fat.
*My nails are splitting. This is no bueno for my manicure.
*Vampire Bite Acne. I heard Diane say this on the most recent Balanced Bites Podcast and was like “Yes! That’s it! This is what I have! Acne that looks like I’ve been bitten by a vampire on my neck!” Oh wait…NO! NO NO NO NO NO. Nobody wants to relate to this.
*Speaking of Acne I don’t even want to discuss how much I’m breaking out.
*Icky Body Image. I have the time and money to go shopping right now and the desire to get a few new items for my wardrobe. But THE LAST THING I feel like doing right now is shopping for clothes. UGH.


And that is really the state of my health right now. I can’t wait to get started with January’s Whole 30. I’m looking forward to turning all of this around, and I know from experience it can be done quickly with a little dedication.

I’ve got some meal planning inspiration, some recipes and more motivation coming this weekend, but until then here’s what you can do for me, and everyone playing along:

*If you blog about your Current State of Health, leave a link in the comments.
*If you are going to be writing about your Whole 30 experience leave a link to your site in the comments so we can all add you to our feed readers.
*If you don’t have a blog, feel free to leave your list in the comments.

Let’s help each other out, y’all!

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50 comments to A Whole 30 Level Set

  • Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie
    December 27, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I’m not going to lie – Reading the guidelines made me want to binge on nuts…

    Buuut I think that this sounds really fun (somehow I missed your post last week… weird). I’m going to try to adapt this to a vegan diet and see how I feel after a week – If I’m not getting enough food I may amend it further but I’m really excited to give this a try.

    • Holly
      December 27, 2012 at 11:37 am

      Oh that is awesome! I really want to hear about a vegetarian/vegan experience doing this. My friend Jennie is also going to give it a go too I think (she is over at http://www.shelikespurple.com and may be writing some updates.) I feel like the challenge of the Whole 30 for most people is getting enough food, I even struggle with it too at the beginning and honestly, I do go a little nuts on nuts the first week. MACADAMIA CITY in my house. But they are good for ya, satiating and if it gets me through the first week without going crazy, then I feel like it’s worthwhile. :) Can’t wait to hear about your adventures.

  • AllieNic @ Frisky Lemon
    December 27, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I have the SAME vampire bite acne!! I can’t figure it out for the LIFE of me…For me it’s not food related…I’m thinking it’s got something to do with a hormonal imbalance…we should figure this shizz out…

    • Holly
      December 27, 2012 at 11:39 am

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure it is hormonal, and probably adrenal-related (I really struggle with adrenal health so I always look there first.) I can definitely say I noticed a dramatic difference in my skin (before completely diving off the sugar cliff in December) by incorporating the FCLO and Lewis Labs Brewer’s Yeast. I also think there could be a gut healing element to it for me. GOD SO MANY VARIABLES. We’ll figure it out!!!

  • The Riding Librarian
    December 27, 2012 at 11:47 am

    I’m not actually going to start my Whole 30 till January 22nd because we are going away for my husband’s surprise 40th birthday trip. I was bummed at first, but I actually think it puts me at an advantage, as you all will have a lead on me and I can just suck up all of your knowledge, tricks and trips.
    Hubby and I have been Primal since August and have severely loosened the 80/20 rule over the past weekend. I’ll def be doing a Current State of Health post about it.
    Not problems here with acne per se, but the bloating!!! THE BLOATING!!!!!

  • K
    December 27, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Oh, Mama Elsa.


  • Jacki
    December 27, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I’ll be blogging about my first Whole30 experience, and I love the idea of assessing where I am right now. That way, when 30 days fly by I can really judge the difference the program made. I plan to start on January 1 with a really fancy dinner, you know, to remind us that we can spend 30 days eating wonderful and tasty food, even if it isn’t laced with gluten, grains, dairy, and sugar.

  • Danielle
    December 27, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    You’ve inspired me to start a blog! Things are about to get real. http://twelvetimesthirty.wordpress.com/

  • Danielle
    December 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    you’ve inspired me to start my very own blog to document all my shenanigans over the next year. i’m so glad i can follow along here for the whole30. you’ve already pulled together some great info. thanks!

  • Di
    December 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Hey! I am in! I’ll be starting Jan 2, as my birthday is Jan 1. I did a pretty good run from September – October, but once the holidays hit I’ve backslid more than anything. So, I need help. I know the lifestyle works, and I feel so much better – I’m in! I haven’t blogged about food in a long time, but I’m sitting down to it tonight.

  • Joanna
    December 27, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    My husband and I are starting on Jan 2 as well. I think we will be okay as long as we plan ahead for the week. The only problem- we have a WEDDING to attend on Jan. 26. We can go without drinking…but the food! The little hors d’oeuvres! That will be hard.

  • Andrea
    December 27, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I have been reading about the Whole30 and I would love to join! I have several food allergies, of course gluten is one of them. When I consume the foods that I am allergic to I blow up like a balloon, and sometimes I can pass for being four months pregnant! I have indulged a little, well a lot more than I should have and I need to re-adjust my eating habits and of course my body image. I am slightly new to blogging, and I think this is also a good motivational tool to stick with it.

  • Rhonda H
    December 27, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    I too sort of took a nose dive in December, not specifically because of holidays but for some reason (erm, middle school teacher stress) I really really craved breads and Mexican pastries… and oy the bloating when I put all that wheat back into my body — I can relate to you above about that!

    So my blog is http://rhozpaleo.blogspot.com/
    I made a new blog to follow myself on this Whole30 journey and beyond because I didn’t want all the food stuff on my regular (crafts) blog. I am liking keeping them separate now so will continue to just have the two.
    I cleaned out the fridge today and realized how much CHEESE we have! Told my husband he was going to have to eat all of it for me (he is not doing Whole30 or really Paleo although he will cook from the Paleo cookbooks now so that is a start!).
    Glad there will be so many of us here doing this with you guys Holly!

  • sizzle
    December 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    I’m definitely considering it (I have a girls get away weekend the second weekend of Jan and feel I would have trouble maintaining). I too have been feeling lazy even though I’m still working out. I’ve been eating more sugar than usual and less water and veggies. I miss feeling good! So it’s time to regroup. Thanks for the inspiration, as always!

  • Kristi
    December 27, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    So happy to have found your blog when catching up on nomnom paleo trying to get motivation to get back on the paleo bandwagon. Just wanted to introduce myself and say hello!!

  • Angela
    December 27, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    I’m in! I’ve slacked off from CF over the past few months due to working crazy hours. Crazy work hours = crappy eating. I’m tired of feeling tired and yes I’ve gained the back fat, face/back acne and the vampire acne! January 2nd is my date. I almost can’t wait to get back home to start this! Thank you Holly for the inspiration!

  • Beth
    December 27, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    I am so, so exciting you’re going to be blogging about this. I don’t have any IRL friends/family doing it so it will be awesome to be along for the ride with you and all your readers. I talked about my current state of health today. Or lack thereof?

  • mellissa@ibreatheimhungry
    December 28, 2012 at 5:42 am

    I am so in, and thanks for the extra motivation Holly! Bloating, acne, joint pain – check! Can’t wait to see them in my rearview mirror in the next couple of weeks! I finally read It Starts With Food this week and IF ONLY I had read it before my first Whole 30 in August!! It really helps put all the pieces together on the “why’s” of the Whole 30 program guidelines. It was a great read, surprisingly entertaining and so informative and motivating! Can’t wait to start on January 1st! I’ll be blah blah blahing about my Whole30, and sharing recipes, over at http://www.ibreatheimhungry.com!

  • Caia
    December 28, 2012 at 6:22 am

    Do you have any suggestions/resources for doing the AI protocol specific to the Whole 30? Allergic to eggs & cow’s milk, so that’s already out of my diet, but nightshades are a big no-no, as are cruciferous veggies. Thanks!

  • Alicia @ Humble Foodie
    December 28, 2012 at 7:22 am

    I’ll be writing a bit about the Whole30 on my blog, but the last time I tried it, I realized that my goal to post pictures of all my meals on a daily basis was really stressing me out and making me feel less likely to succeed. I think instead I’ll do a weekly update, and all of my January recipes will be Whole30-friendly. Pop on over to http://humblefoodie.com for some inspiration!

    Holly, you’ve inspired me to sit down and journal about the current state of my health. I keep meaning to do it but I think having a written reminder of how crummy I feel and how that motivates me to do the Whole30 will be helpful when it’s tempting to tumble off the wagon and into a cake.

  • Amelia
    December 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I’m jumping on the bandwagon as well – here’s my kickoff post: http://ameliashealthylife.blogspot.com/. I plan to update frequently throughout the month. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  • Megan
    December 28, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Since the world didn’t end last week and I have acne for the first time in my life I’m gonna jump on the whole30 bus!

  • Allisyn
    December 28, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    I’ve been following/lurking for a while and I’m excited to say that I’ll be doing the January Whole 30! I’ve been taking a break from blogging but this sounds like a good reason to start back up again.

  • andrea
    December 28, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    I’m in….I have been going back and forth since your first post. Really looking forward to some recipe ideas from everyone.

  • chris
    December 29, 2012 at 3:07 am

    I’ve wanted to go dairy-free for a while, but just haven’t been able to do this on my own. So I’ll join up to enjoy some social support and blog about this at my paleo blog.

  • Karen B.
    December 29, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I think the vampire acne may be from hair conditioner. I get it on my upper back and shoulders and it goes away if I don’t use my conditioner. I’ve also tried scrubbing around my neck, back, chin, shoulders after I condition and rinse and that helps too.

  • pre-Whole30: state of my health «
    December 29, 2012 at 11:36 am

    […] was doing a bit of reading this morning, and loved this post over at Holly Would If She Could (love that blog, by the way!).  I’m so ready for this Whole30 that I’m planning to […]

  • Samantha
    December 29, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I’m so glad you wrote this post! I’m going to be blogging my third Whole30 at http://www.awkwardgirlgetsfit.com, but I took a little health inventory and it was ugly: http://wp.me/p2GN4Y-8p

  • 2013 Goals | Meals With a Side of Miles
    December 29, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    […] negative body image. After reading about it, I decided it is the right direction for me to go. Holly Would If She Could did a great post on reasons to do a whole30, and after I read that I knew it was time to commit. […]

  • Alissa
    December 30, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I love your post! I am in the same kind of state at the moment. We are moving across country & our frig got packed at the start of December, since then my husband and I have been eating AWFUL! The other night I was in tears because I just wanted to eat veggies! We also spent the holidays at his family’s house and his mom is the queen of junk food! We had different cookies and cakes everyday! We will be starting our Whole30 Challenge hopefully in two week, once we have a place to live that’s not a hotel room :) I can’t wait to follow you all each day on your journey. Please stop by my page too and check out my updates: http://alisueonthemove.wordpress.com/

  • AndreAnna
    December 30, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    So though I don’t write anymore, I will be doing it for the most part for the forseeable future. My last foray made me realize how easy it really can be and how hard it is to feel shitty about myself all the time!

  • Vbshannon13
    December 30, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    I just found your blog after deciding to jump into the paleo lifestyle head-first! I don’t usually comment on blogs, but felt compelled as I was born and raised in Sacramento! Sac-town! I’ll be starting on my paleo journey on January 7th (seeing as I’ll be in Sacramento visiting my family – none of whom follow paleo or really understand why I’m doing it in the first place). I want to get one last wine-tasting trip in while I can. Eventually I would love to do Crossfit. I’m dealing with a bad hip/lower back injury from years of playing volleyball. That’s the main reason for my interest in paleo. I’m hoping eating clean will help the inflammation in my body so I can get back to being active and pain-free. I’m bookmarking your blog and will look forward to reading your posts. Thanks, and have a fantastic 30 (or 60?) day journey. :-)

    • Holly
      December 31, 2012 at 8:07 am

      Yay Sacramento! Excited you will be playing along (and I don’t blame you for squeezing in the wine tasting! ha!) Hope the Whole 30 helps you get back on track with your injury. Injuries are the pits! :) Thanks for the comment.

  • End of 2012- Goals for January 1st 2013 « alisueonthemove
    December 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    […] She also has a Paleo Cookbook out called Well Fed Holly from Holly Would If She Could wrote a fun post about starting the challenge again next […]

  • The Weekend + The Countdown + The Before Photos
    December 31, 2012 at 9:37 am

    […] my ass outside!) I was NOT happy about it (also, please ignore the bad hair, but please note: Mama Elsa Face) but when I finished I felt amazing. I love that post-run feeling and need to get back to a place […]

  • Rachel @ painfreekitchen
    December 31, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Yay! I’m actually getting pretty excited. My new blog name is up and running just in time to document my Whole30 experience. Not only am I doing before and after pictures/weight etc, I decided to also monitor my asthma. I have something called a peak-flow meter (basically measure how strong your breath is). Going to take before and after measurements to see if it improves. Used to be on so many steroids for it and I’m so ready to find a natural solution.

    Looking forward to being part of this amazing support crew :)

  • Whole30 2.0 | Pain Free Kitchen
    January 1, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    […] Starts With Food,” will be writing about their experiences as well. Two bigs ones are Holly Would If She Could and Nom Nom Paleo. Both of them have websites full of Whole30 recipes, links to helpful tips etc. […]

  • Resource for Whole30 and General Awesomeness | Elimination Situation
    January 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    […] Back in December she wrote about why she’s doing Whole30 here, and invited her readers to join her, then followed it up with an outline of the protocol and some resources here. […]

  • Jessica
    January 3, 2013 at 8:12 am

    i will be playing along too as a vegetarian! :)

    check out my blog for vegetarian friendly recipes/advice :) will be updating regularly throughout the challenge with the hits :)

  • Whole 30: Preparing + Week One « Moi Contre La Vie
    January 5, 2013 at 7:59 am

    […] adventure with Whole 30 – Inspired by my friend Holly of Holly Would If She Could {check out A December To Remember + A Whole 30 Level Set & January Whole 30? LET’S DO THIS for background on this […]

  • Rebecca
    January 7, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    I am late to the game on finding your site, but I am doing my second Whole30 Challenge and I’m so much more excited this time around. I know exactly what’s going to happen and how I’ll feel and ways to manage the issues that crop up (hello carb flu!).

    I just started today, but I’ll be blogging and posting recipes so if anyone wants to see what a struggle through Whole30 looks like check out the page where I did a daily diary http://www.lawandbutter.com/the-whole30-challenge/

    I know it made me feel better to read other people’s struggles going through it the first time. Good luck all!





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