Editor’s Note: This is Matt (no seriously, click that link. You will regret it if you don’t). You know how everyone has that one gym friend who just gets it? Well for me, that person is Matt. Matt has been practicing Martial Arts since a super young age, and began training Capoeira five years ago. He started CrossFit last August to compliment his training, and we became fast friends for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being that we both really hate running and wall balls. When I did the Whole30 this April, he decided to join me. As someone who had never eaten fully strict Paleo before, and still relied on processed carbs for a lot of his energy, I was excited for him to experiment with whole foods and starchy vegetables. Matt took an almost militant approach, even sending me a guilt-racked text after a date one night confessing he had accidentally eaten white potatoes without realizing they were “off” the Whole30. We decided to give him a pass on that one Anyway, here is the rest of his Whole30 story!
30 days of VERY strict paleo eating that is meant to reset your system, regulate sleep, loosen the strangle hold your food vices have on you, discover the effects different foods have on your body, etc, etc, etc… Sure why not?!
I’ve always considered myself a fairly active/healthy person. Between activities like martial arts, rock climbing, and most recently CrossFit, a healthy lifestyle has always been high on my priority list. In the last year, I’ve really made an effort to step up my fitness. I feel fitter than ever and have even developed a love for lifting weights (which is something I would have thought to be impossible. Going to typical gyms and going through the motions is a one way ticket to boredom for me). Luckily CrossFit changed that, but I won’t get too far into that right now.
The one aspect to fitness I had yet to really dive into was my nutrition. I always enjoyed eating well, which worked well for me, but I never took it to the next level. A number of my friends had done a Whole30 and felt amazing results. As I was browsing Facebook one day and noticed Claire was going to start one, so I jumped on the wagon. I knew I’d need some moral support to get through my sweet tooth cravings.
The first week was dynamic to say the least. Shopping changed drastically. My cart was full of vegetables, meat, fruit, and nuts. Pretty much looked like I just robbed a farmers market. Since I decided to quit coffee as well (not part of the whole30, but a vice I needed to kick all the same), I had a SPLITTING headache for the first 2 days. Between that and the change in diet, my energy levels were all over the place. All that said I was still excited to tackle the challenge.
After the initial shock, the Whole30 was a HUGE exercise in discipline. As I said before, I always considered myself a healthy eater, but I usually allow myself one or 2 small cheats a day. I didn’t realize how much taking those away would affect me. I found myself getting pretty irritable when cookies would find their way into the office and I’d have to force myself to say no. On top of that, my co-workers found it hilarious to tempt and tease me as often as possible. Do yourself a favor, tell NO ONE you are doing a Whole30. It will save you a ton of explanation and aggravation. I tried very hard not to be “that guy” but when people are asking you “why are you doing this?” it’s nearly impossible to avoid getting preachy.
Toward the end, all I was doing was looking to the end. I wanted cookies. LOTS of cookies. Every day seemed like an eternity. Did I feel better? Yes. Did my sleep, recovery, and energy levels improve? Yes. But I LOVE my treats, and since I wasn’t trying to lose weight, and didn’t feel “bad” before the Whole30, I was just psyched for it to be over. I’m proud to say that I made it without cheating (minus one mistake with white potatoes, but it was completely unintentional). Then it ended… The sun shined brighter, the birds sung sweeter… I had my coffee back and immediately started treating myself to cookies, grains, nachos, and whatever else I wanted.
Then something interesting happened. About a week after I finished, I started feeling crazy effects of bringing dairy, grains, and treats back.. Bloating, energy crashes, and stuffy noses everywhere. It was crazy. I couldn’t believe how extreme the effects were. I then took a couple days and went back to Whole30 meals. Viola! My system cleared out, and I started to feel better very quickly. I really couldn’t believe it. I really didn’t feel the full effects of cleaning up my diet until I went back to my old ways. Now, I’m eating about 90% whole30 all the time but allowing myself treats as my body allows. I’ve always thought (and still do) that there is no 1 size fits all for nutrition. It takes experimentation, and a willingness to try different methods. It may seem obvious, but (for me) finding a level of moderation seems like the best way for me to maintain a healthy diet. I guess the trick is defining moderation.