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Maggie's Whole30: The Results


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Last week, I completed my Whole30 Whole82.

When I started the program on Sept. 1, it didn't feel like a huge stretch since I was already eating Paleo and feeling great for about 10 months. I didn't cheat, rarely indulged in Paleo-fied treats, and apart from the occasional glass of wine, piece of dark chocolate or grass-fed butter in my coffee, I was pretty close to W30.

My decision to go whole-hog with the Whole30 essentially came down to one thing: I wanted to lose weight.

Yes, my primary goal on Sept. 1 was to lose weight/inches. I did have other goals, too — stop snacking on nuts and pretending it's a meal, sleep more, clear up my acne, attend at least one Paleo seminar or social event, continue CrossFitting — but I'd be lying if I said wearing a smaller pants size wasn't at the top of my list.

Overall, I had positive results, though not exactly in the way I expected.

You see, even after 82 days, I didn't accomplish all those goals.

But — BUT — there were “bonus†results! And like any self-respecting bargain shopper, I never say no to a bonus. Good things, things that went beyond weight and food and pant size, happened over the last 2 1/2 months.

Let's evaluate:

BODY COMPOSITION: Mixed results.

Womp, womp. This goal had… let's say it had mixed results. My starting weight on Sept. 1 was 160#. By Day 30 it had ballooned to about 168# (!!) and I was hulking out of my clothes. By Day 82, I was back down to 163# and fit into my clothes. I don't know if I should consider this a gain of 3 lbs, or a loss of 5 lbs… Or just “no change.â€

Bonus: At 160# on Sept. 1, I hated my body. Those might sound like harsh words, but harsh words were exactly what I had for myself. Too fat, too slow, too big, too small… never good enough. This inner dialogue was peppered with comments I'd never dream of saying to anyone else, but I was putting myself down repeatedly day in, day out for years, without even noticing I was doing it. It was only in filling out one of the Whole30 Daily worksheets that I realized how low my self-esteem had become, and I resolved to do something about it.

“Stop being mean to myself†is a weird goal. There's nothing concrete to measure; it's the opposite of a number flashing on a scale. To tackle it, I started writing down each instance of negative self-talk. I intended to look for patterns, to come up with a way to use positive reinforcement, like a mantra to counter-act the meanness. But I never had to. It was almost like every time I put my passing thoughts into words and onto a slip of paper, I was able to let them go.

This letting-go essentially boils down to treating myself with respect. I was respecting my body by giving it good food, so it only makes sense that I would respect it with kindness and forgiveness as well. This “bonus†is worth more to me than losing 10 lbs would have.


I've always had a problem with binge-eating. Even going Paleo last year and cutting out snack-type foods didn't do much to help. If anything, Paleo just concentrated my snacking focus on one food: Nuts. I was easily polishing off a 14-oz container of almonds or a pound of pistachios in one sitting. Oftentimes, I'd call it dinner, though there was nothing nutritious or meal-like about my habit. I cut out nuts on Sept. 1 and after the first few days, I didn't even miss them. I actually eat real meals now. That is huge.

Bonus: To keep this from entering the realm of TMI, let's just say that my stomach is much happier without all those nuts.

SLEEP: Success!

I've been a bad sleeper for as long as I remember, and it seemed to have gotten worse last year when I switched from a regular 9-6 work schedule to one that requires me to be up by 4:30 a.m. and “on†indefinitely. I never fully adjusted to sleeping earlier at night and for months was running on 4-ish hours during the week and maybe 7 hours (at best) on weekends. The sleep was slow to arrive and fitful once I did manage to doze off. I couldn't do anything about my work schedule, but I wanted to use the W30 to re-set my body clock so that I could get the best sleep possible under the circumstances.

For more than a month I didn't see any improvement, but slowly, very slowly, my sleep got better. I forced the issue by taking a magnesium supplement and melatonin before bed each night. I also cut out all black tea and coffee (even decaf), and for the last three weeks, I have been meditating in bed at night to lull myself to sleep.

And all this has actually worked. I can now fall asleep pretty easily, stay asleep through the night, and log about 7.5 hours during the week and almost 9 hours some weekends.

(Note: I used the melatonin temporarily and can now fall/stay asleep without it.)

ACNE: Slightly improved.

Ugh. We'll put this in the mixed results category. To summarize, I'm one of many women who has adult-onset acne. We're not talking about little spots popping up one week out of the month. My acne is full-blown, painful and cystic, definitely hormonal but not clearly linked to any point in my cycle. Changes to my diet have resulted in some improvement, though I've noticed the greatest change in the last 30 days or so.

Cutting out nuts and switching to the oil cleansing method has made a noticeable difference: instead of giant cysts that last 1-2 weeks, I get smaller zits that clear up in a couple of days. I've also noticed that eating a lot of eggplant, which I love love love, makes breakouts worse. Clearly there's more tinkering to be done diet-wise.

Bonus: I'm really loving the oil cleansing. My skin is softer and less inflamed. The products are cheaper. And they're chemical-free, which honestly just feels right given my Paleo lifestyle and increasingly hippie sensibilities icon_smile.gif?m=1129645325g (I'll do a fuller post about my skin soon.)


I attended a Balanced Bites workshop, and had several lovely dinners/lunches out with ladies from a local Paleo group called the DC Meat Up.

Bonus #1: New friends! This goal was intended to be something educational, which it totally was, but the best part is that I've made a bunch of new friends.

Bonus #2: My blog. I don't really talk about Paleo with people I know — most of my friends and co-workers don't know anything about how I eat — so finding a community built on the concept of eating real food has been eye-opening and inspirational.

CROSSFIT: Success!

I was afraid to set specific strength/performance goals, so I just made it my mission to stick with CrossFit and attend class on a regular basis. I knew I wouldn't mess that up and I was right: I successfully worked out most days, always logging at least 3 days/week and more often 4-5 days/week. But that's not all…

Bonus #1: Completing four running races — an 8K, a 5K, a 10-miler and a 5-miler — without training.

Bonus #2: PR-ing on my back squat: 175#.

Bonus #3: Being able to do proper “men's†hand-release push-ups in a WOD.

Bonus #4: Graduating to the 16kg kettlebell.

Bonus #5: Beating all but one of the guys (and all the girls) in a rowing WOD and getting a pat on the back from my coach for my “solid†stroke.

Bonus #6: Finally (finally!) stringing together double-unders!


There is a final “bonus†result that isn't actually tied to any one goal but is still worth mentioning. Doing the Whole30 pushed me to go after a nagging but pretty serious health issue that I've been ignoring for the better part of the past year. I don't want to get into details because it is a bit complicated, personal and still not resolved, but I'm working with my doctors and a nutritional therapist to try to sort it out as soon as possible.

True, the Whole30 didn't correct the problem. I know that the issue might have nothing to do with what I eat. But the program gave me the courage to try to fix a problem instead of ignoring it and hoping it would just go away. Just because something seems hard or scary or impossible — whether that means learning to live without bread or solving your personal medical mystery — doesn't mean we shouldn't at least try it.

As Dallas and Melissa say, the Whole30 really might change your life.

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Sounds like a great success! Yay for double unders and all of the other crossfit successes, and ALL of the Whole30 successes and bonuses :)

I really really love this line:

Just because something seems hard or scary or impossible — whether that means learning to live without bread or solving your personal medical mystery — doesn't mean we shouldn't at least try it.


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  • 2 weeks later...

There are so many reasons I love this post.

a) you lead with non-weight/body comp results. YAY you, especially given your motivation.

2) You realized so much about yourself in the process.

3) You weren't looking for a cure all, so you weren't surprised when you didn't get it. But, you recognize improvement and you're willing to keep working.

It's mindsets like yours that allow this program to change lives.

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What a great post, maggief! I really love all the detail here, and especially that you pushed yourself to a Whole82! I'm starting my second Whole30 January 1 and am really considering making it a Whole45 because my first time around got such great results; I want to see if I can push myself a bit further.

On a different (hopefully not creepy) note - I am also in the DC area and had no idea about the DC Meat up so thank you for sharing! I just asked to join the FB page and am looking forward to meeting some people (FINALLY) who have the same eating-values as myself - I have a very distant relationship with one single person around here who eats like me so it'll be nice to speak with paleo foodies in person and not just through the Whole9 blog. (also - I gave that one single paleo person my only copy of ISWF to borrow...uh oh)

Congratulations on your success!

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