Back in April of 2015, I had no idea my life was about to change in a very profound and dramatic way by completing my first Whole30. I give full credit to the life I have now to the Whole30 program. I won’t ever deny that if it wasn’t for randomly hearing about it, I would not be where I am today.
Tune into my first Whole30 podcast episode to hear tons of details about my first Whole30, all of the lessons learned and what happened next!
On a seemingly normal day, my best friend and roommate at the time came home from a hair appointment and told me about this crazy (but awesome) thing her hairstylist was doing. Enter: the Whole30. Intrigued, her and I decided we should give it a shot. I went out and bought It Starts With Food and she got the Whole30 book.I’ve since wondered if her recruiting me into this with her was a silent attempt at trying to help me and showing her love and concern for how unhealthy she had watched me get over the years. We’d been best friends since 6th grade and I’m sure it wasn’t easy for her to see me go through the struggles that she had a front row seat for. She never talked about it though and she not once made weight an issue in our friendship or how she treated me. I love her for that. And whether it was for her own benefit of having a Whole30 buddy to embark on the program with or if it was because she was truly worried about me or if it was a combination of both – I’m forever grateful that she introduced me to the Whole30 program and did my first Whole30 with me.
I started the program at 293 pounds. They only allow you to take photos, measurements and weights at the beginning and at the end. I remember taking the first set of photos and they were so, so painful to look at that I just barely glanced at them, emailed them to myself and then swiftly deleted them from my phone. I couldn’t have them on there. In fact, it was almost a year before I could even dig them up from my email and look at them again. When I did gather the courage, I was shocked at how sick I looked. At the time I knew it was bad, but I didn’t realize how bad until I saw them through a different mindset.
The first month was really, really hard. I remember being so inspired and so committed despite the difficulty. I reminded myself constantly that the hard parts of this month were nowhere near how hard it was for me daily being 300 pounds. It was tough love time. If getting in and out of cars were hard for me, I probably needed a little bit of this kind of hard for a while.
A big mentality shift that got me through that first month, and one that I still rely on today, is that I found myself saying “I’ve ate plenty of pizza/pasta/gummy worms/whatever in the last 22 years, I will be fine without them for a few days.” I reminded myself that it’s not that I can’t have something. I could eat anything I wanted to, but I don’t want these foods right now.
I used to binge eat more frequently than I would have admitted. Those tendencies, habits and compulsions don’t just go away. What I did find during my first Whole30, however, was that after my body had started adjusting to the new foods and way of eating was that I was thinking of binging less because I was so satiated with the meals I was eating – something I previously didn’t know the feeling of.
Another difficult aspect of my first Whole30 round was the amount of time I would spend in the grocery store and in the kitchen. Being an obese 22 year old college student, not only did I not know how to cook for myself or meal prep but I also had never tried. I had to Google search just about everything and had many trials and errors with meal prepping. The time I felt, at the moment, to be sacrificing turned out to be incredibly beneficial and educational. I learned so much that month. I learned about new (to me) veggies and how to cook them, how to shop for healthy, whole foods on a budget, which meals were good as meal prep staples and I increased my understanding and knowledge of nutrition exponentially.
I lost 22 pounds during my first Whole30 round, even without exercising. This was a huge accomplishment for me, but because I was so heavy the other results were much more noticeable and exciting. I had never remembered feeling the way I did towards the end of that month. I had more energy than I ever had before. Even in high school I was over 230 pounds and didn’t know what feeling ‘good’ actually felt like. I was always tired, moody and avoided doing anything physical. It was just my normal and I didn’t know anything different. That all changed that first month and I caught a glimpse of what normal, healthy people must feel like. Things started to become easier and take less effort. From getting up and out of bed in the morning, getting out of the car, running errands, even doing things around the house.. things that normally would wear me out started taking less out of me.
I felt empowered and capable. All of the new knowledge I was acquiring was giving me power to make better choices. I realized I could take my health into my own hands and I didn’t have to continue down the path that I always just assumed I was going to. When reintroduction started looming near, I remember thinking to myself that I feel so good right now and I’m treating my body better than I have in my entire life, why would I stop now? I also knew that my eating habits needed more time to make the fundamental changes they needed to if I were to truly change my life. Everything I did revolved around food for so many years, one month wasn’t long enough to reverse and correct my thoughts and patterns. I continued on by sticking to a Paleo diet after that first month and continued repairing my relationship with food. I’ve since lost over 120 pounds.
The thing about Whole30, if you do it mindfully, is that each round teaches you something new. It can be an incredibly beneficial exercise in self-awareness. Everyone I’ve talked to, even when they say it was difficult, never regret doing it. After the 30 days you’ll realize why it’s not a diet and you’ll feel so great that you’ll have your own long list under the pros column.
For tips on how to complete your own Whole30, check out my 23 Steps to a Successful Whole30!
What was your experience with your first Whole30 like? Are you planning your first round soon? Let me know!
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Reader Reviews & Comments
Thank you for sharing your journey! It’s important to inspire others with our success and passion! I am very happy for you, and know how great you must feel!
I started my Paleo journey when my husband was doing Crossfit, years ago. Subsequently, my awareness of inflammatory foods was raised, and it made sense to me because I was never a sugar addict or a binge eater, but was still sixty pounds overweight. I really noticed how my body liked this style of eating when I orderd a Paleo meal delivery service for a month, which I enjoyed. My weight loss has been very slow and steady (down around 40 lbs over the past year, and still losing. I don’t do scales, but I do clothes and mirrors!), but I am satisfied with it because it has become a lifestyle, not a program. I attribute my success to simultaneously working on cultivating my emotional & spiritual self-worth, and focusing on the healthy foods that I love to eat, and not lamenting over the foods I leave behind. I move my body more than I used to, and only do exercise I enjoy, like beach walking and yoga. I am not a purist, and occasionally enjoy a couple of drinks, dessert, or bread (but only if it’s high quality, artisanal, special). Thank you for sharing your story! I look forward to having a look at your recipes!
I started Whole30 a few weeks ago, a friend was doing it and I decided to join in. My starting weight was 302, My highest was 314 but I managed to lose 12 lbs on a popular diet program although it took 2 months and was loaded with carbs, I didn’t feel any better. My health has been pretty bad for a while, I’ve had 2 spinal surgeries in 10 months and have more procedures yet to come. This past week I became so overwhelmed with always being in pain and the remarks from my Doctor about my morbid obesity. I lost any hope of getting better, and I jumped ship! I do have the support of my friends, but it’s hard for me to relate to them because they have never been as heavy as me. And I don’t like to complain or talk about it. Today I read your story, and it truly gives me hope of making it to “the other side”, that I can change my unhealthy habits and not let anything get in my way. So thank you, for sharing your story and your knowledge, and for being an inspiration just when I needed it.
So amazing!! Your story gave me chills. I eat paleo dishes, but I actually eat according to my blood type with some modifications trailered to my body. I am blood type O. And I don’t eat a lot of grains because I feel better off of them or any dairy at all because it causes me digestive issues. I lost 40 lbs in a year. I am back to the weight I was before I had kids.
Jeri McTaggart says
Hi Bailey, I read your story in August and you inspired me to try Whole 30. Im now on day 42 and as of last weigh in I had lost nearly 30 lbs. I will be 60 next week and I am so excited to FINALLY have found a program that works for me. I have tried EVERYTHING short of a lap band to try to lose the weight over the years. You name It, I’ve tried it. There is much more to my story, but, the main thing to tell you, is thank you for sharing your story. ?
Just wanted to say you did a great job!
I am so inspired by you! Congratulations on your amazing life change and success with Whole 30. In September of 2019, I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension. This rare neurological disorder causes my body to create too much cerebral spinal fluid, therefore causing pressure on the brain. Long story short….it can cause total blindness among other awful problems, but research shows that sustained weight loss can put it into remission. I wanted something that would fix my relationship with food and help me re-learn good habits that could be life long. My friend let me borrow her Whole 30 book and I used a long flight to read the whole thing. I was sold! I have lost 35 lbs total, 12 of which were lost this month on Whole 30. Today is the end of my first round and I have to say- it was tough….but it got easier. And to be honest….i don’t want to quit. Why would I if I feel this good and the results are this dramatic? Second round? YES PLEASE! My advice……if you are on day 3 or 4 and feel like sleeping all the time….DO NOT QUIT. If you are on Day 10 and feel overwhelmed and just want pizza DO NOT QUIT. Those results are coming and your body adjusts. Give it time. We owe that to ourselves.
Jeanie Lucas says
Thank you so much for sharing. I am getting ready to do my first round of the Whole30 in March. I am researching and meal planning now.
Shannon Thomas says
Thank for your story! Food and wight has never been an issue until I quit smoking and I have gained 30lbs. When I was on whole30 I lost 10lbs and felt great. Today I have started back!
I’m just coming back to read this again because you inspire me!! Thank you 🙂
Thank you, Courtney!! I so appreciate that 🙂 And I’m sorry for the late response here! Your comment was filtered into my spam folder apparently!
I’m doing my first round of whole30 starting January 1st & am terrified! I’ve been overweight for as long as I can remember & have true food addiction. I am a little under 300 pounds & have gained & lost the same 40 pounds for the last 3 years. I want this to work so badly to figure out a healthy way to eat and not pass on my horrible eating habits to my kids (2 & 4 years old). I am praying something clicks during my whole30 like it did for you. Wish me luck!
Lily Santorno says
Thank you so much for this. Incredibly encouraging!!
Thank you, Lily!
I just discovered your pages thanks to a whole30 beginner FB page I joined..I am R1D5 and at 62 yrs old have yo-yo’d all my life. I love your recipes! And your stories! I will be back often for encouragement to keep going and your recipes. Thank you!
Liz Rodriguez says
Love this! I just tuned into your podcast recently (pretty sure I heard about it on MFM but I could be wrong) which led me to follow you on IG and now here I am on your page! I have never been a “dieter” I workout regularly, I have good muscle definition and I don’t think I eat awfully bad but what do I know right? Listening to you gals really hit a chord that has never been hit before (I didn’t even know it was there!) so I decided I am gonna do the Whole30! Super excited and nervous and OMG all the emotions! I start on Labor Day, so needless to say I will be spending LOTS of time on your page. Thanks for inspiring me, can’t wait to see and mostly feel all the changes! Xoxo
Ahh! I love this, thanks so much for tuning in! What is MFM? And good luck in September! You’ll do great – please let me know if you have any questions!
Liz Rodriguez says
MFM is the My Favorite Murder Podcast, I am pretty sure that one of the host mentions listening to you gals on one of their eposiodes. It was either that of the Jilliam Michael’s podcast as those used to be the only two I listen to but now you gals have joined the lineup! I will be in touch, listening and reading. Xoxo
Gaye @CalmHealthySexy says
I loved reading your story – it’s so incredibly encouraging. I’m looking forward to trying some of your recipes.
Oh, thank you so, so much!! <3
I finished my first round of Whole30 last week, dropped 17 pounds and have never felt better. I’ve enjoyed following you on instagram and look forward to continuing my Whole30/food freedom journey.
That’s incredible!! Congrats, Emily! And thank you so much – I appreciate your support!! <3
Kimberly Vazquez says
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I just started my first whole 30 this week and I’m 300 pounds 5’5 and 43 years old. I’m looking forward to a better lifestyle. I have already enjoyed cooking lots of new things and I’m hoping to feel better soon It’s really discouraging to not be able to walk up stairs fluidly and have to stop for 5 minutes to catch your breath. I’ve read both It starts with Food and obviously the whole30 is practically my bible. I’m tempted to weigh myself but I also know that it isn’t only about weight. I’m hoping for a lot of other positive changes as well both mentally and physically. Now to exercise without it feeling like a punishment lol. Thanks again!
Thank you for your comment, Kim! I’m so glad to hear you loved It Starts With Food as much as I did. It was seriously my guide (and still is from time to time!) when I first started. Keep going and sticking with it!! Rooting for you!
Just wanted to say that you are the reason I started my journey with Whole30. I saw your instagram on the explore page. bought the “its starts with food” and I finished my second round on march 2 of this year! I even got some friends to try it and they loved it. thanks for the whole new perspective on life! youre awesome! thank you!
I really enjoyed your post. I’m 58 and I wish this had been around when I was your age! There’s no telling how my life might have been different without the cloud of obesity over my head. I’ve completed 60+ days and have lost 13 lbs which is a tiny percentage of the about 120 lbs I need to lose. My weight is barely budging so it’s frustrating.
But, congrats on your loss as I’m sure you feel so much better!!
Thanks, Liz! 13 pounds is still an awesome accomplishment. When I had 120 pounds to lose, I never thought I’d ever get to the place of *actually* having lost 120 pounds. It was 10 pounds, then 20, then 30.. I’m glad you’re sticking to it even though the scale is barely budging. Hang in there!!
This was great to read! I’m starting my very first Whole30 April 1st! I’m both nervous and excited. I’m hoping it will help me get to feeling better!
I’m so happy to hear you’re doing your first round! Please let me know if you have any questions and make sure to come back and let me know how it went!!