Four years ago this month, I was optimistic and hopeful yet not expecting much out of doing my first Whole30. I’d finally convinced my wife to do it with me, and with her help and support, we began a lifestyle that has completely changed our lives. To this day, we continue to eat well and avoid anything with added sugars, grains, soy, dairy, and legumes. Because of that, we have kept the weight off for four years, and we continue to get fitter, stronger, and enjoy adventures.
I remember after the first month feeling as if I’d found the cheat code to a video game that had allowed me to make progress without effort. Sure, I had to give up anything with added sugar, high-carb foods I loved, and I had to stop snacking, but something crazy happened: I did it without feeling hungry between meals. On top of it all, I felt satisfied after meals which kept me from snacking. I never got tired of the food I was eating, and each week, I was losing an average of 2-3 lbs. That continued for an entire year without exercise. Truly I felt like I was cheating at life.
Effortless? Yes and no. I didn’t have to spend hours in the gym every day. I didn’t have to run every day or every other day. I didn’t even take long walks! If there was effort, it was in the food prep, in buying groceries that were whole foods (meat and vegetables), and in cooking. There was a little effort in resisting temptation when co-workers would bring donuts or kolaches to work for everyone, but that was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. Same for nacho chips at Mexican restaurants, or bread and rolls at other restaurants. The most effort I had to expend was self-control.
People are always looking for the easiest way to lose weight. They will spend thousands of dollars to buy pills, patches, powders, have medical procedures, or pay to partake in programs that all promise weight loss, yet more than 70% of those people will fail and give up. What made my method different is that it cost me nothing more than the food I ate and some self-control. All I had to do is eat the way my grandparents and their ancestors before them ate: protein and natural single-ingredient carbs (vegetables). Sure, I’d have some fruit every now and then, but once you get out of the mindset of eating snacks and desserts, the fruits fall out of your diet naturally and effortlessly.
Here I sit, writing this article, four years after my wife and I made the decision to eat well and to take on this new lifestyle; not for a little while, but for the rest of our lives. Aside from making the decision to get married, it’s the best decision we’ve ever made and I don’t regret it for a moment. Ever. Not even when I see fast food I used to love, or amazing and delicious looking pasta dishes. Not even when I watch people eating pizza. I prefer being healthy, being able to tie my shoes without holding my breath, being able to climb stairs without losing my breath, and being able to serve my state and my country in the National Guard as a Fire Control Staff Sergeant in the Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB).
The cheat code is perseverance. Follow the rules, trust in the process, and keep sticking to the diet. That’s all it takes. It’s super-easy. If I can do it, I know anyone can. I’m not the strongest-willed person I know. Far from it. But I realized that if I didn’t change my life, I wouldn’t have much longer to live. Being 5’6″ tall and weighing 320 lbs is not conducive to longevity. Something had to change, and it had to change permanently.
Whole30 and The Paleo Diet got me and my wife where we are today. All you need to do is believe in yourself, use the inner-strength you have (I know you have it, because I know you’ve all accomplished some great things out there that took perseverance), and get it done. Really want it. If you have questions, need motivation, or just want to talk, leave a comment, send me a message, or email me. I promise: I’m here to help.