First of all, I hate the word “challenge.” It sounds even more stupid when translated to my language. When I do a Whole30, I don’t take it as a challenge that ends with the day 30. Life is challenging enough as it is, so I don’t feel like adding more “challenges” into it in order to make myself feel like I acomplished something I can be proud of and I have to immediately spread it over the internet.
Of course, when I reach a goal, like fitness goal, or 4 YEARS WITHOUT A CIGARETTE, which is coming in March this year, I am super proud of myself and I like to mention it, tell it to the world. It changes nothing, I can prefectly keep the stuff to myself and just share it with my loved ones, but I admit it, I like to feel “special.” I like when people comment things like: “Well done, you!” “You rock,” “Congratulations,” and more. What I like the most is the fact that many times I inspired someone to TRY DOING IT TOO.
I turned a few people to paleo/primal diet, and that includes some family members, which as you might know is extremely hard to do, especially when those people are your own parents (hi, mom, I am proud of you!!!) A few people on Facebook turned to me with questions about paleo, I armed them with as much information as I could, and they made a lifestyle change based on my recommendations. That is really the best feeling I can get, because I HELPED SOMEONE to be healthier, happier person, which is priceless. And the fact that I know I helped them then even motivates ME more to work on myself, my goals, make me spread the paleo word wider, louder, harder…
I don’t really like the 21 Day Sugar Detox as a “challenge,” because it does include treats (even though they are “low in sugar,” they are still treats), and I am very pro Whole30 because of the fact that they focus on the mental issues more, Whole30 is not just about healing your gut, but also your mind, to get a healthy relationship with food, to disconnect from the idea of treats, emotional eating patterns, the “breakfast-has-to-look-a-certain-way” issue, and in my opinion it is the BEST starting point for everyone who is interested in getting into this lifestyle and does not perfectly know HOW or WHERE TO START.
I did my first Whole30 (okay, for a purpose of this post I will use the word) challenge 3 years ago, and it was my first step to paleo. I was a big grain and pasta eater back then, I had quinoa or oatmeal for breakfast every day, my lunches were all pasta or rice, almost no meat, very little veggies, a lot of dairy (I could drink milk straight from the box and cheese was my main course). So my FIRST Whole30 started my paleo journey. I did my SECOND Whole30 with my boyfriend. When we started dating, he was interested in paleo right away so I suggested Whole30 to him, he agreed, so I did it with him, so he was not alone. He is not very good in english and at that time there was no information about paleo/primal lifestyle in our language, so I was like a living translator to him, it worked out perfectly and since then we are a paleo couple (kinda like Primal Palate guys, but less cool I guess, and we don’t make cookies..) So in this case, my second Whole30 challenge was not done because I thought the first one didn’t work for me.
Who knows my story about leaving Prague, being jobless without money or place to live also knows that at that time my diet was very bad. I had so much to deal with and I failed myself and let it slip back into my old habits. I was miserable, gained a few pounds, got the old stomach issues back, basically turned into a moody bloated monster who was just crying all the time, with no energy and no joy of life. Reading a It Starts With Food book by Hartwigs was an eye opener for me, and I decided to take another “challenge” to get back on track, my 3rd Whole30. (I never stop at day30, I usually extend it for as long as possible, for example until something really worth it shows up, like my grandma’s cake, come ooon, I am not gonna NOT EAT her cake when I see her twice a year, right?). Since this 3rd Whole30, I am the happiest I have ever been. I solved my sugar addiction for good (at least I think I did), as an addition to that I discovered lifting, kicked out cardio out of my life, joined the EPLifeFit community and right now I am confident that I will no more “quit paleo,” it IS my lifestyle, it WILL BE my lifestyle forever (even though my dad will still be asking me: “Are you on that paleo thing now, or can we go and have a beer?”)
With a solid paleo diet, good sleeping habits, functional training program, you might think you do not need another “diet challenge.” But I still did my 4th Whole30 in November, made it 45 days, then indulged a little bit during Christmas and now am on day 8 of my 5th Whole30. And again, I am not doing them because I think I failed, or that the previous ones didn’t work for me. If I “failed” or “fell of the paleo wagon” (I hate this phrase), it was not because the Whole30 didn’t work for ME.
I don’t have a real life community around me, only my boyfriend and my mom and one of my workmates are “in the game” with me, but I am not around them all the time (except my man). In my country paleo is still considered a fad, overlooked, even labeled dangerous and harmful, so I have to “find comfort” in online world, in my paleo communities on the web. There are a few, but my only one is EpLifeFit. Even though I love Whole9Life community, crew and I trust their program with my heart, I never joined the forum.
Doing this 5th Whole30 starting January 1st 2014 makes me feel like I am part of this special world, I am one of MANY that decided to join, I am a part of the BIG MOVEMENT that might change the world or at least change some people’s mind, movement that helps spreading the word of GOOD FOOD around the world. I know just a handful of bloggers in my country doing paleo blogs, and they are most of all just recipes. I love to blog about the LIFE, not just FOOD. (Okay, I can’t create recipes, I admit it, that is why I just blabber). And when I do my Whole30, even when I am perfectly paleo outside of this challenge, I feel like I am helping not just me. When I share my Facebook pictures of food I was eating that day, when I post stuff like “Whole30, day 10 done! 20 more to go!” people DO ask me what I am talking about, so it’s a great way to introduce paleo to people. I gave up trying approaching people around me myself, I learned that it is better to WAIT AND LET THEM COME TO ME, which payed off with my mother and my workmate. This way, they ask about it from their interest and they don’t feel pushed in, it’s now their idea to try it, and I will just give them all the information I have.
Of course there are people around who think day 31 is a reason to go back to old eating habits, or a reason to buy a BIG ASS BOWL OF ICECREAM. If they wanna do it, more power to them, but from my own experience I know that for many, it is not over with day 31. On a day 31 you have enough information, enough data and enough personal experience to make your own decision to either keep going or leave it behind and grab a cheeseburger. I believe that with Whole30, majority of people will choose the right way ;)
This post was written as a reaction to Everyday Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness podcast #69 and only represents my own perspective, with 100% respect and love for Jason’s and Sarah’s opinions! :)