courtesy Emily CappielloDuring the last year, I dropped a lot of weight by following Whole30, an elimination diet that is designed to help me figure out how my body reacts to certain foods. I eliminated grains, white flour, wheat flour, alcohol, legumes, beans, sugar—everything but fats, proteins, fruits, and vegetables, really—for 30 days. Then you slowly add back foods to see you your body reacts. It worked like a charm for me, but learning how to maintain my losses was the true breakthrough. Check out the ultimate Whole30 shopping list.
After three complete rounds of Whole30, I found myself 36 pounds lighter than where I started. I felt good inside, but I went through a serious issue with trying to accept my new body. And, on top of that, my fulltime job requires a lot of travel and eating—so how would I be able to maintain my weight loss?
Thinking about this sent me into a complete tailspin. How could I enjoy my life when I believed that eating anything other than Whole30-approved food would bring the weight back? I agonized over this as I left for business trips or when I had to meet with clients over meals. Find out how Whole30 became a lifestyle and not just a diet for me.
But now, more than a year later, I weigh the same as I did. In fact, I haven’t done a round of Whole30 since my last one, which ended on Christmas Eve 2017. And I have been able to let go the fear of regaining. Here’s how:
Finding and accepting my “balance”
Almost everyone who has lived their life on a diet knows about balance—think of it as the amount of time during the week that you’re following the plan balanced against the time you allow yourself time to indulge. Sometimes that balance is eating well during the week and enjoying the weekends. I realized that in order to maintain my weight, my balance had to be 90/10—meaning I have to be on my best food behavior 90 percent of the time.
On previous eating plans, if I knew I was going to have a decadent dinner or a sweet treat, I would let myself eat whatever I wanted all day. Now, I follow Whole30 for every meal and only allow myself to indulge on special occasions—date night, birthdays, vacations, etc.
Once I found my balance, I also found it easier to maintain than I thought. Although it was a lifestyle change, I knew that I would feel better about myself staying trim than regaining. Here’s why you shouldn’t feel bad about cheat meals.
Listening to my body
courtesy Emily Cappiello
Finding your balance is important, but listening to your body is even more important. That is something I had to learn how to do without going over the top. Sometimes I get really intense cravings for things that are not Whole30 approved. But, I am also an emotional eater and know that about myself, so I stop to consider if this is an emotional trigger instead of a hunger trigger.
To prevent myself from going rogue, I have learned to sit on the craving for one day. If I wake up the next day and tacos are not on my mind, then it was probably just an emotional thing. But if I wake up and it’s all I can think about, I will allow myself to enjoy it. Why? Because there may be something in those tacos that my body is actually craving. After I have it, I’m satisfied and can move on with my life.
Stepping on the scale has been crucial to my success. It holds me accountable for everything I eat—even when I haven’t held myself accountable in the moment of eating. I get on the scale every morning, when I get home from every business trip, and after every big eating event. No exceptions.
But here’s the thing: I don’t let the number make me crazy. I simply use it as a tool to allow myself to adjust back to my normal weight. I drink more water for the next few days. I eat more whole foods, salads, and things that I know will help with bloat. I make sure not to skip my workouts that week. Not only do I look better, but I feel better, too, and that’s what it’s really all about.
Next, learn more about everything you can—and can’t—eat on Whole30.