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Man's Journey To Food Freedom


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I would classify myself as a typical American when it comes to my dieting choices. Lately, I eat or drink whatever I feel like eating at any particular time. I tend to make nearly all of my diet decisions based on emotion, whims, cravings, and entitlement. I somehow feel that because I earn 'x' or worked 'x' long or feel 'x' emotion, I have the right (sometimes even duty) to put whatever it is I want in to my body. More often than not, I experience food without a care in the world.. like its no different than taking a breath. I aimlessly wander through my pantry, passively justifying every bite.

Having completed 4 Whole30s in the past, I admit it is much easier to self diagnose my derailment and make plans to get back on track. Learning and practicing healthy whole eating over the years has made my daily indulgences all the more illuminating. Thus, I believe that by being a man we think we are somehow given a free pass on getting healthy. Somehow it is socially acceptable for a man to be overweight, out of shape, and nursing other unhealthy habits. Frankly, it makes me angry to think we hold women to a higher standard. I don't want to live a lifestyle that lines up with this stereotype. I need to step out and live differently.. to BE different.

My last Whole 30 was in October of 2016. Over the last few years, our family has strived to maintain a Paleo lifestyle. With the help of great resources, practice, and planning.. we've been able to keep on track for the most part. But like most families, things happen and the slow crawl down the proverbial tunnel of 'self' quickly becomes reality. Frankly, I have gone from a fit and nutrient rich lifestyle, to a glutenous urge satisfying place of blah. I'm getting sick more often, my fitness and health has declined, my gastric system is a mess, my eczema is flaring back up, and I generally just feel like crap. Have I mentioned the 10 pounds I gained back?

After weeks of reflection, I'm deciding to believe that I CAN live a Whole 365 life. I'm deciding today to walk away from the unhealthy me that says yes to any and all food desires. Honestly, I want to live to be 100. I don't want to take supplements, worry about my blood pressure, or even hear the word triglycerides. I want to see my children grow up and to some day be a grand father. So today, again, I am committing to 30 days of Whole30. I WILL do this and I will take back my health in the process.

Day 1 of round 5 commences ..

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I feel like I resonate with your sentiment, Addihul.  I don't know that I'm quite as indulgent with my eating as your first paragraph suggests (maybe with the exception of red wine), but I have been feeling more entitled as I've gotten older.  I want it all because I'm getting closer to the end than the beginning at age 63.  If I can't be more carefree soon, then when?  I've been watching what I eat all my life.  It's frustrating to be constantly scrutinizing everything I put in my mouth, especially during social situations.   And, at the same time, we have more time to be social at this point in our lives.  I am pretty picky with what I eat (particularly at home) and follow the paleo lifestyle, too.  But, when we go out, particularly to someone else's home, I don't want to be so picky.  Do I have to limit our social time at this age when we finally have time for it just to be able to eat right?   It's a conundrum.  

As you have suggested, I also want to live to 100, enjoy the kids and grandkids, wear a certain size, stay healthy, etc; but I can't have that without working on it.  And we have to work harder, because fitness is harder as we get older. Argh!! I have also lost fitness in the last couple years and it couldn't be more frustrating.  I don't like that reality, but I just have to put it into perspective.  My kids are all in seemingly happy marriages and have given us six grandkids.  My dad just died, but he lived to 89. We were lucky to have him so long.  I have a husband who loves me, and as a retiree and semi-retiree, we get to do a lot of things together now.  We have a house and friends that both keep us warm.  I hope this doesn't sound like a sermon or a lecture.  I'm really agreeing with you and just have to regularly remind myself to be grateful. People have suggested a gratitude journal.  I haven't done very well on that.  Something to aspire to I guess.

I'm on Day 4 of my second Whole30, so I don't have as many experiences as you.  And, honestly, I don't want to do anymore.  But that's what I thought last time.  I'm hoping to find the road map that will work best from here on this time so I can get on with living. I think I need more help this time with the post W30.  But, like you, I am determined and going to be optimistic.  It can be done.  When you figure out what your whole 365 life is, please share it with us.  Thanks for your post.

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Love your thoughts @Gramma Susie. I really appreciate them. You mentioned your thoughts on the internal struggle relating to your social scene. I often debate the same. I wonder does it really all matter? I'm just hanging out with friends and family, I want to participate. Throw back that beer, dive in to that bag of chips. I sometimes feel like I'm living the life of a prison inmate. Why does everyone I know seem to just eat and drink whatever they want whenever they want while I choose another path. But.. I digress. Like those in power require acts of responsibility, I feel like those with knowledge (pertaining to health), should live accordingly. I suppose my motivation tends to be more ideological at this point. I want to be a man of integrity. If you 'know' (subjective) what you're supposed to do, then you should be walking a path that mirrors that knowledge. I give myself a lot of grace here as I ride the waves, but I'm moving forward. I think you're a rock star.

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Day 1

Stats: 5' 11". 178 Pounds

Finished strong. My wife reminded me it's actually my 4th Whole30.. not 5th. So oopsie on that. We're doing it together and I think it's her 7th or 8th. The pantry and fridge has been mostly cleaned out, at least of our trigger foods. We keep certain foods for the kids, but they are used to a Paleo diet so we're good on that front.

I'll make a notation that I am going 99% Whole30 on this run. At this point it's more about eating cleanly and getting away from my triggers than the typical full reset and testing reintroduction. Been there done that. So take that as a disclaimer when you notice very mild allowances throughout the month. The rest we are planning on extreme strictness.

For breakfast I had scrambled eggs with roasted potatoes & onions for breakfast. Banana for snack. Lunch was a carnitas salad from Chipotle. Note the fajitas veggies are cooked in rice-bran oil which for 'my' goals I don't consider a derailment. However, if you're going full Whole30, stay away from these. Afternoon snack was a handful of cashews. Went for a 3 mile run. Dinner I had an amazing steak and greens mix. My wife makes a killer Paleo steak sauce borrowed I think from either NomNom or StupidEasyPaleo. We love the variety that sparkling water brings, so I added one of those beauties.

Sugar cravings were mild, but I kept myself busy. No physiological reactions or anything crazy today. Digestive system was normal. Emotions were in check.

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Day 2

I had a pretty easy day. No real cravings per se, but I know they will come in full force at some point. I remember the food boredom, digestive moments, and other drama that comes from getting clean. Thankfully that doesn't typically come till later, so for now I'm coasting through. The very first time I did Whole30, my 2nd-7th days were nightmarish. I was on a super unhealthy breakfast cereal kick at the time and I felt like I was was going through drug withdrawal. I was nearly catatonic at my desk and my brain was going nuts-o, literally rewiring synapses from my sugar addiction. Thankfully those days are far behind me and I've been eating fairly clean breakfasts ever since then. This time around it was more the lunches and snacks/candy that got me. My wife (thank you, love) has always been great at keeping us reined in. I also stopped caffeine cold turkey and haven't touched it for years in any kind (except traces in chocolate). Water has been my savior for a good 5+ years. I barely drink anything but.. well that and black coffee.

I realize my original post made me out to be a gluttonous slob, when in fact it was more an expression of my what I felt like in my mind. I've been a committed runner for the past 5-6 years, usually training for one race or another. I've been as low as the high 150s during the peak of marathon training, but I usually float somewhere in the 160s if I'm eating cleanly. However, these past 4 months I've clearly adopted a YOLO 'middle finger up to the sky' mentality. It's like the discipline and consistency of fitness and health was out the window. Not quite a rock bottom feeling, but more like a supernova awareness of my slide in to complacency. A lot of the checks and balances have been missing from my life. Thus, why I'm back on this train.. riding it to its destination.

For breakfast I had 3 scrambled eggs and some potato hash. No snacks today because I didn't feel like I needed any. Actually I did have a banana about an hour before bed because hunger kicked in. Lunch was 5 Guys. It's very easy to remain compliant at this restaurant as they cook their meat and veggies without anything added. There's grilled onions in there as well. Mustard is a freebie so I use that or their hot sauce (all compliant) for dressing. No EVOO so I went with mustard on the salad as well. Lots of fat and protein here so I was pleasantly full till dinner. My wife prepared a super yummy beef stew and some roasted potatoes.

Slept OK but had a tough time falling asleep for the first hour or so. Yet I feel fairly refreshed today and my digestive system is balancing out a bit. I'm glad to be alive and journeying upward.

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Hey there @Addihul - if you're going to be making conscious decisions to include off plan foods (such as the rice bran oil) during your 30 days I'll have to move your log to the 'Post Whole30' section of the forum so as not to confuse any newbies...

Please fee free to continue to post though!

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7 minutes ago, jmcbn said:

Hey there @Addihul - if you're going to be making conscious decisions to include off plan foods (such as the rice bran oil) during your 30 days I'll have to move your log to the 'Post Whole30' section of the forum so as not to confuse any newbies...

Please feel free to continue to post though!

Aye. Thanks for the note. That's why I made that very clear. I read Melissa's moderation post ahead of time and made sure to stay in the boundaries. Pretty sure that is the only thing I can think of that will even be remotely off the cuff. Thankfully too on day 1! My wife and I run our Whole30s like a tight ship. I appreciate the heads up.

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Days 3-7

I'm embarrassed a bit to say it, but these days were actually pretty challenge free. Minor irritations crept up in the form of cravings on occasion, but I walked away and usually drank some water and it passed. I'm grateful the first week went by without much of a hitch. Everyone says it, but so much of the success of Whole30 is in the preparation. I always have healthy snacks on hand and I have great meals planned way in advance. My wife is an amazing cook and I thankfully don't have to wonder what I'm going to throw together on any given day.

Day 7 I was crushed with fatigue. Like literally trying not to sleep at my desk fatigue. I remember this off and on from previous W30s so I wasn't really surprised there. My digestive system is near flawless thus far. I am blissfully not missing the constant bloat, intestinal irritation, and general feeling of grossness accompanied by eating unhealthy. However, according to the Whole30 calendar, digestive 'crazy town' is supposed to start tomorrow. We'll see what Mother Nature has in store for me (crossing my fingers).

Most breakfasts have been my signature 3 scrambled eggs and some sort of carb. The protein and fat is carrying me through to lunch time without needing a single snack. I'm not running as much this winter so thankfully my metabolism isn't on rocket power right now. Usually when I'm doing Whole30 during race training, I am forced to snack all day long to keep up my energy levels. I've had a total of TWO Larabars since I started (go me!) which I'm pretty proud of. I was afraid I'd fall in to wanting a nightly crutch snack. I am eating roughly 1 fruit serving a day.. either an apple, grapes, bananas, or oranges. My main goal is health and not weight loss, so I make sure to feed myself enough healthy fats, protein, and carbs to keep me rocking. I'm not worrying about calorie intake at all just focusing on eating cleanly. Last time I lost 9 pounds in 30 days all while running and not counting any calories.

I have a work buddy and my wife both going through W30, so thankfully accountability isn't an issue. Plus it helps to know your work mates and family all know you're in it to win it. If it was some rando closet diet I was doing, then I'd imagine I would be having a rougher time at it. For now, I keep my eyes skyward and and my head focused.

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Days 8-14

The quest for righteousness continues. I realize that statement is contextually religious, but I sometimes feel as if I am on an epic assignment. I have been appointed by a king to traverse far lands, battling monsters along the way. An undertaking that will eventually end in a rich life or a slow and complicated demise. Too deep? Translation. Unless I make the switch in my mind from trash eating to a clean 'lifestyle (not just food)', I'm doomed.

Who wants to be piled in as an American statistic? A percentage in a medical journal representing obesity, heart disease, and cancer? Not I ,said the fly. However, unlike the mantra that states W30 is in comparison not a difficult undertaking, this week I'm a walking embodiment of struggle. I'm at the stage of the journey where my mind is telling me to jump ship. Every Whole 30 I have done, I arrive at this precipice. This ledge, where I inevitably have to decide whether I want my flesh or my heart to win out. Rewiring brain synapses is not an easy chore.

It is true that it really does come down to life style. That's why diets fail for people on such enormous levels. We treat them as a get rich quick scheme. We decide that we can stick with something for the 'program' duration, see those 10lbs drop off, and we celebrate by jumping back on the old food train. Admittedly, I have fallen victim to this time and time again. Thankfully we have the knowledge and have lived the clean life long enough that it really is a life style now. Conversely, I am actively battling these demons. Onward and upward?

Lots of awesome meals have come my way this last week. You'll notice we eat a lot of potatoes. I'm training for an annual half-marathon right now so I'm shoring up my glycogen stores for long runs and staying on top of my fueling reserves. Those endurance athletes out there feel me. However, there is a W30 recommended portion size for starches. All non greens actually. Mini lesson: Carbs aren't stored efficiently in your body. They convert to glucose which is used as immediate fuel, or it turns to glycogen which finds its way to your muscles and liver. If you eat too many carbs (especially in the form of starchy foods or sugars), your liver taps out its glycogen stores and starts to convert it to triglycerides (fat). Long story short, if you eat more carbs (calories in general actually) than you burn, then your body stores it as fat.

Anyhoo, back to food. Have I mentioned my wife is an amazing cook? Breakfasts remain the same with minor changes to the carb. Macro-nutrients for the win. We are of course striving for full plan compliance in all things. I'll share a few pictures of the some of the meals below. My wife reports the sweet potato with ghee and cinnamon was particularly tasty. My personal favorite was a makeshift 'egg pizza' that was baked with parsley, seasonings, and pepperoni. I had a couple Larabars for emergencies, some nuts, apples, an, orange and a few bananas for fruit. I also nibble on grapes from time to time. I need to shore up more veggies for snacks however. Previous Whole30s I would reach for carrots, bean pods, raw broccoli and the like. My goal this week is to pack more appropriately so I'm balancing my micros more efficiently.

Tomorrow is the half way point. Today I am feeling it. I'm going to keep the ball rolling but my brain is not quite there.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Days: 15-30

Wow what a ride. This has truly been a journey. Around day 20 I lost my darn mind and almost threw in the towel. I'm glad I didn't. Every Whole30 I have done, there is a point somewhere between day 15 and 20 where I go bonkers and have to do a very hard self check. I'm sure there are others of us at some point that are forced to come to this crucial cross road. Whoever said that Whole30 isn't hard, I beg to differ. However, once you can finally battle down your inner demons, you really do cross a threshold. Thankfully, my head prevailed and I moved ahead. After that it was smooth sailing. I ate like an absolute champ and kept my heart and mind in the right place.

I fully plan on sticking with clean eating. It's absolutely comical to me how vital it is (for me) to actually finish the Whole30 and not just go 1, 2, 3 weeks and be done. If it wasn't for that 'draw the line in the sand' moment, I know for certain my mindset wouldn't be as resolved. Those first few weeks I was pretty gung-ho. Then food boredom set in and I started to ask myself if I really wanted this. Where was my ice cold brew when I needed it? What about rewarding myself Friday night after a hard work week. Those Chili's BBQ wings were calling my name. Or were they? I feel like had I not completely finished, I would have just fallen back off the horse. Huge respect to those who can do a Whole9 and get back on track, but I know me and I'm simply not one of them.

So many oo-rahs and yay me's aside, I'm really thankful for all that took place this past month. It really is a journey. Contrary to those who know little about the program, I have never seen Whole30 as a traditional diet. It is a tool for me to rework and rethink my priorities.. a reminder that there is a path to health and wellness. There are better things out there that can fill my soul. I'm sure some would agree that it really is a process of awakening. SO much goes in to the process of eating. What you choose to eat is affected by culture, emotions, environment, habit, you name it. So much of my past routine was about gratification with no brakes. It's so easy to get in to the rut of letting your emotions rule you. Well, these last 30 days I took back the reins and am now in control. Feels soooo good.

So my wife and I weighed ourselves today and my jaw dropped. Now, take in to mind I'm training for an annual half-marathon right now so I'm putting in decent mileage on the roads. However, I went from 178.8 to 164.4. Say whaa?! The most I've ever lost on Whole30 is 9 pounds. That wasn't my primary goal in all this, but ditching the gut is a great motivator to keep eating clean. I moved the scale around the room just to make sure there wasn't an error. Hah!

So hats off to Whole30 for providing us a path to life and fullness. I mean it. Clean eating and exercise really is a lifestyle. There's no diet here to be had folks. Diabetes, heart meds, death at 60? No thanks. Today I'm walking (running actually.. hah) the path and I am so very thankful in my soul.

Day 1: 178.8 lbs

Day 30: 164.4 lbs


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  • 2 weeks later...


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