by Colby Schreckengost
Owner/Director of Training
This summer I bumped into a woman at the grocery store that was carrying a Whole30 recipe book. Being a fitness professional, and having heard of the Whole30 nutrition program before, I was interested in her feedback on the program. “It saved my life!” she said. Naturally I asked “In what way?” She went on to explain how debilitating her digestive disorders had become and how the Whole30 nutrition program had healed her gut. She had been to a half-dozen doctors, had a bunch of tests run and tried countless medications but nothing provided lasting relief and healing like the whole30 program.
Now she really had my attention! You see, 4-years ago I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease. I spent the better part of the following two years on heavy antibiotics that really wreaked havoc on my digestive system. Although most of my symptoms are gone now, my digestive system has been troublesome ever since the treatment. So my wife and I embarked on the Whole30 program and focused on my healing and not on weight-loss or fat-loss. We only changed WHAT we were eating and didn’t really concern ourselves with portion size or calorie counting. We maintained our current workout or training schedules, although after the first two weeks I was able to move more and move better with a little more intensity.
The long and short of the program is 30-days without sugar, dairy, wheat, or alcohol. Essentially, don’t eat anything that requires a label to tell you what’s in it. Was I perfect? …almost. I did succumb to a few protein bars in weak moments at the gym. One night a friend had us over for dinner serving ribs that had a little barbecue sauce on them (all barbecue sauce contains sugar). But probably 98% of the 30 day span….I was on point!
So, here are my thoughts on how the program affected me:
I have to say that the first 10-14 days kinda suck! And by suck I mean headaches, low energy, dreams of ice cream and pizza, and poor strength in my workouts. My meals were typically followed by burning butt. Don’t ask! I guess the toxins have to exit somewhere! There were tailgate parties without cold beer, chips and salsa or Polish sausages. They were some pretty tough assignments, but I survived with healthy mock-tails and grilled chicken wings.
Here’s what I learned about myself and the program (I am writing this on DAY 30! Thank God I made it!):
- I feel like I am thinking clearer and I’m more creative now.
- My joints feel better…especially in the morning (less inflammation).
- My belly has stopped hurting and I have zero acid reflux.
- My lower digestive track is still a bit of a problem, most likely not consuming enough veggies and too much protein. I will add in a fiber supplement moving forward.
- I fell in love with fruit again (mostly berries, bananas, melons and apples) Natural sugar is pretty sweet!!!
- I love protein (meat, fish, chicken). I crushed green veggies and potatoes so dinners were pretty easy on the grill. “I’ll have another half a chicken breast please!”
- Our weekly wine bill at the house went way down!
- We frequented the grocery store more often because fresh food doesn’t keep as long.
- We also ordered chef-prepared, Whole30 compliant meals from Territory Foods and had them delivered to a fridge here at Next Level. If you are not good at meal planning, or are always on-the-go, they’re a great option. Anyone can order – you don’t need to be a gym member.
- My clothes fit better.
- I generally just feel happier — once I got past day 14 or 15!!
- I can live without alcohol….but I do miss my glass of cabernet while grilling and my second glass while eating my steak (mock-tails are not quite as fun).
- Sleeping better, but not every night.
- I am drinking way more coffee, without stevia or cream. Believe it or not, changing to black coffee was the hardest thing I’ve done in a while, but now I am so happy I did.
- I think drinking coffee helped keep me stay engaged at parties because I had something in my hand or maybe I felt I was using it as a stimulant to keep up with all of the drinkers!!
- “Failing to prepare is like preparing to fail” My wife is spending more time in the kitchen, especially on Sundays, prepping for the week and I am grilling more protein. Without the prep, you cannot make it, there are just not enough “reach-and-go” healthy foods to survive without meal prepping!
- In a weird kind of way you gain confidence knowing that you have power over processed food…..but it probably doesn’t happen until Day 21!!
- My wife and I really missed cheesy pizza night!
- I missed my chips and salsa. I tried the plantain chips…it’s just not the same.
- Climbing stairs, pushing sleds, running gassers all got easier, although the only thing that changed was my nutrition.
- We saved money, by not eating out at all and splurged more on organic fruit and vegetables.
- I realized how much I love cashews, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados and most of the all-natural good-for-you fats.
- It was pretty easy to google food to see if it is Whole30approved or not. But if you have to google it….it’s probably NOT approved!!
- Whole30 approved bacon is the bomb!!!
At my facility we have a medical-grade device called the InBody 570. The machine produces accurate and quantifiable body composition measurements on one simple document in less than 1 minute. I tested after 1 week of starting the whole30 program and then tested again on day 30. Essentially 23 days of Whole30. Below are my results. I was pretty impressed with the program’s results and even more impressed with my fortitude for sticking to it and seeing it through.
Check it out my body composition results after just 23 days:
- I lost 2 % of my Visceral Fat (dangerous fat around my organs)
- Reduced my overall Body Fat by 3%.
- I lost only 4 pounds. Again, weight-loss was not the goal…but I’ll take it.
- I lost 11 pounds of body fat. This was a WOW moment for me! In such a short time. Crushed it! Or maybe I was in a lot worse shape than I thought!
- I gained 4 pounds of muscle mass (more protein in my diet) I now carry 208 pounds of lean muscle mass, so this was not something that I was concerned with, but more muscle burns more fat!!!
- I have increased my Basil Metabolic Rate by 44 calories per day (calories burned without working out). This is important for increasing metabolism while at rest or going about daily activities.
- I was able to reduce my overall inflammation by 30%. The InBody measures inflammation by monitoring extracellular water in your body. If you reduce it, your joints and muscle tissue feel better.
- I haven’t had my blood work done, but I suspect that my cholesterol is down. I won’t get that checked for another couple months at my yearly physical.
Where do I go from here? I will stay on track with sticking to “whole” foods; avoiding sugar, dairy and wheat. When I do splurge, it will be only one of the three and most likely not sugar. I’m debating on adding in a cheat meal in once per week. My goal is to limit alcohol to once per week and 2 glasses of wine or a couple of beers. I think I will be healthier, have more energy, move more, and achieve more all the while living happier.
If you try the whole30, check with your doctor first, especially if you are on any medications. He/she should be excited that you’re getting serious about your health!!