The Whole 30 program is the brainchild of Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. It is outlined in their book It Starts With Food which is a NY Times best seller. This book is hot! It’s crammed with info, well presented and easy to read. After reading the book it is clear what to do, how to do it and when to get started (of course they say now 😉 I like that a lot. I end some books on board with their philosophy but unsure how to implement it in my own life. I highly recommend this book.
What is this Whole30 thing?
The Whole30 program is to eat strict Paleo for 30 days. No sneaks, no cheats, none. On plan are vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, meat, seafood, seeds. Off plan are grains, sugar, sweeteners, alcohol, legumes, dairy, seed oils. There are many more details and finer points to the program but you have to read the book to pick them up. Their theory is: The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy. Those are your food options.
Why did I do this program?
It is a hot program right now. The book is beautiful. The Hartwig’s know how to market and are putting enormous energy into appearances and promotion. They look good, are interesting and capturing a lot of attention – mine included. As a coach I wanted an honest answer to the question: “Is this good for me as an athlete or is this hype?” I receive this question from athletes every month: “If I want to be the best athlete I can be should I do the Whole30 program?” I didn’t feel I could answer that with integrity until I had done the program myself. So I did it.
I have been on board with the Paleo concept for over a decade.
In 2002 I was coaching with Joe Friel for Ultrafit Associates. At our annual meeting in Fort Collins Dr Loren Cordain gave a presentation to us on his nutrition research at Colorado State University and The Paleo Diet. It was a huge privilege. I learned about the Paleo Diet. I sat on the front row rapt and got to ask Dr Cordain, why no beans? Legumes have not been part of my planned diet since he answered my question! I came home from that presentation and ate Paleo for the next six months with amazing results. Next I encouraged my athletes to eat Paleo and admired their equally positive results. It taught me, if you want to be the best athlete you can be you have to train your ass off AND carefully consider the food you put inside your body. Every cell in your body is made up from the food that goes in your mouth. All of them. 100% of your body is built on your food choices.
So why do The Whole30 program and not just Paleo?
The Hartwig’s have taken our American way of life and eating, given it serious tough love, told us what to do and how long to do it for. They have made it simple and wrapped it up in a pleasing presentation. They have taken the Paleo Diet and made it social with their Forum, Facebook and Twitter. They are real live people living the program themselves and spreading thousands of motivational messages that promise to change your life. Their magic comes from tying together the psychological, hormonal and inflammatory impacts your food choices have on your body rather than a dry explanation of evolution and cavemen. They have made The Whole30 exciting and socially acceptable. It is an accomplishment to share and celebrate when you have finished your 30 days thanks to them. I did my 30 days and was personally pretty excited about that. I told everybody I finished The Whole30. The month was a foodie adventure not a drag. The Whole30 made eating Paleo cool!
I do I think The Whole30 is another training tool in the arsenal to reach the top if used at the right time.