Just Google "Whole30 results" and you will find thousands of amazing stories and side by side photos of people who have seen huge success in just 30 days. Can you lose 20 pounds, get off medications, eliminate pain/acne/fatigue/digestive issues/whatever else in just 30 days? Hell yes. Will it happen for everyone? No way. And I'm not being a Debbie Downer, because I have never ever talked to anyone who has done a Whole30 and hasn't benefited from it. But when it comes to your health, you must remember:
(Whole30's view on this is similar to my own--- I suggest you read it if you are doing, have completed, or are thinking about doing a Whole30!)
That being said, I am excited to share what changes I've noticed from the Whole30, but most importantly, what I've learned about myself and my body-- for a number of reasons. For one, maybe it can inspire someone to tackle a Whole30 who has had similar issues (or maybe completely different ones). Maybe sharing my results can be a lightbulb for those who have done the Whole30 and felt they didn't get anything out of it-- maybe they will see how I measure success, and see that they too have had success. Thirdly, I want to share my results because I know how deeply and intensely food affects our health. I preach it all the time, and have even chosen to make a career out of it as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. But I must practice what I preach, and what better way to do that then to do an experiment on myself, and show proof of the results?
You won't see side by side pictures here. I know those are pleasing to the eye but 1) They can be misleading-- lighting, positioning, time of day, clothing-- all of these things can skew a before and after picture comparison, 2) My results have been probably less outwardly noticeable than many people, and 3) I forgot to take before pictures. Oops :) I doubt I would have shared them anyway! Instead, I'm going to get pretty candid here, in hopes that maybe I can prove to you that nutritional therapy (using food to support the body's optimal functioning) works. And it works well.
The only picture I do have (and to me, it tells more than a picture of me standing in a sports bra looking like an idiot) is the following one:
What the hell is it? It's a Symptom Burden Analysis, plotted from the Nutritional Assessment Questionnaire (NAQ)-- a tool I use as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (in training) to gauge dysfunction and imbalance in clients, and also to measure progress. The NAQ is a detailed 300+ question survey, which aims to evaluate a person's health by evaluating the presence and severity of symptoms that point to certain dysfunctions, imbalances, and deficiencies. From a NAQ, I then can prioritize where we need to focus our nutritional therapy efforts. I can focus on particular symptoms, but also tally up sections and then chart the results, for a great visual interpretation of a client's health.
I took the NAQ at the end of November, right around when I reached the "I'm fed up" point for the last time. As you can see from the red line, I was all over the place. Knowing what I know about nutritional therapy, I chose to make digestion and blood sugar handling a main focus of my Whole30-- these two things essentially affect everything else. I have also been under a lot of stress-- for the past few years really-- and I knew my adrenals were playing a big role in how I felt all the time (they directly affect digestion, thyroid, and blood sugar handling among many other things).
I re-took my NAQ on day 30 of my Whole30 journey. I didn't look at the November NAQ survey or results since the last time I needed to for school, in the first week of December. I didn't want anything to skew my results. Judging off how I felt, I knew there would be some big changes, but I didn't expect how drastic they would be.
The blue points and line represents post Whole30. I think the graph speaks for itself (minus the mistake I made by not even connecting the red cardiovascular point-- oops!) but there are some things I'd like to point out:
But I didn't really need this NAQ/chart to prove to me that the Whole30 has made a big difference for me. It's a wonderful visual, but throughout the 30 days, I've noticed some big differences in how I feel and perform. I'm sleeping better than ever and am beginning to wake up feeling more refreshed. I don't bonk during my workouts like I used to. My hair and nails are strong and vibrant, and my skin has never been so clear-- I actually haven't had even one blemish the entire Whole30. My energy levels are stable throughout the day-- I don't feel I need coffee to get me through the day or crave sugar. Lastly (and there's a reason why this is mentioned last), I lost 6 pounds-- which may not seem like a huge loss, but to me, it is. Since my thyroid started slowing down, I've put on weight and have been working to lose it for a while. But I never could lose even 1 pound-- so 6? That's big. In total since the beginning of December, it's actually more around a total of 9, which I'm pretty pleased with. The number on the scale doesn't matter so much to me, but it's a good gauge of my health (particular hormonal), so I like seeing a positive change-- it means things are functioning better. Would I like to lose more? I don't really care. In fact, I would like to put more muscle on, which may mean some weight gain. But my aesthetic goals take a back seat to my health, and I know that once my health is optimal, those goals will be easier to achieve, so I'm being patient now.
Whole30 final thoughts and my plans for going forward:
I hope you all enjoyed reading my Whole30 journey and perhaps learned something or were motivated to change your lifestyle or start a Whole30 of your own! If anyone ever has questions, needs direction or motivation, wants to see me one-on-one, or simply wants to talk anything health and nutrition related, I am always available via e-mail!
Kim Jordan, NTP - Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, health educator, CrossFitter, nature lover, student of life, once-aspiring writer. Owner of Root and Branch Nutrition.