It’s our own darn program

As of Tuesday June 15th, after 30 full days, our Road Trip Whole30 program will officially conclude.  And we’re proud to say we made it through the program 100%.  Yes, through all the grocery trips, restaurant meals, social obligations and business dinners, we stayed 100% compliant with the Whole30, both in rules and intention.  (We even made it through two full days in West Texas, and if you can Whole30 there, you can pretty much do it anywhere.)

Was it easy?  Yes… and definitively, no. Making good food choices is easy by now – we can look at a menu or a deli counter and know immediately what’s “out”.  And we’ve been doing this long enough that variety wasn’t an issue – we were able to stay pretty creative with our meals and food choices without getting too bored (a mean feat, considering we ate tons of meals out of the cooler).  We also committed to planning and preparation, packing two coolers at a time, pulling out the camping stove to cook in our hotel rooms and storing leftovers in purchased glass Tupperware – which meant we did our 30 days without relying on nuts, fruit, jerky or Larabars to see us through.  And because we’d been eating well before this 30 day period, there was no adaptive period – no lethargy, headaches or performance dips.

It wasn’t all hearts and ponies, however.  The hardest part by far was managing the restaurant scene.  Being on the road means we took a bunch of meals out at restaurants – at least one a day, sometimes more.   I’m not embarrassed to admit I pitched more than one tantrum after scrutinizing the menu, making 17 substitutions to arrive at the one meal I could actually eat according to the plan, and then hearing from the waiter that there was butter/honey/wine/soy in some minuscule amount in the dish.  There were many a conversation that went like this:

M: There is literally nothing I can eat here.

D: There is literally nothing you can eat.  Really?

M: Well, nothing I want, and the things I want I can’t eat.

D: Okay, well that’s different.

M: Stupid (insert forbidden ingredient here).

D: (Silence.)

M: This sucks.

D: Melissa, it’s our own darn program.

And this was the most eye-opening experience of the last 30 days.  Because we realized that we probably “slip” and allow sub-optimal foods into our daily diets far more often than we estimated.  The tiny bit of added sugar here, the veggies cooked in butter, the splash of soy sauce… that all adds up, and allowing those foods to slide is, well, a slippery slope.  And if this was OUR experience – two people who should know better than anyone how to eat Whole30 in any situation – it’s gotta be that much harder for those of you doing this for the first time. So, officially, Whole30 participants, we’ll admit… sometimes, it IS kind of hard.  (Knowing that, minimizing your non-essential restaurant experiences until you’ve got a bit more time and experience under your belt may not be a bad idea.)

However, that doesn’t excuse you – or us – from sticking to it, doing as much work as necessary to stick to the plan for the full 30 days.  And we became that much smarter this time around – smarter about which foods sneak in sugars, soy or other ingredients you wouldn’t expect.  (Whole Foods adds sugar and honey to their roasted beets.  Seriously.)  Smarter about which brands are go-to and which aren’t as healthy as the label makes them sound.  Smarter about asking waiters and chefs how food is prepared, learning that almost no one cooks with olive oil, but they might if you ask.  And those lessons, while frustrating at the time, are things we’ll take with us through the rest of our nutritional pursuits.

Results?  Within just a few days, our energy levels returned to a consistent high.  Those nagging aches and pains (Dallas’ thumbs, my knees) disappeared.  Performance continued to rock (as much as it can when we’re stuck in a car 6 hours a day).  And, in general, we both feel fantastic.  So when our 30 days are up tomorrow, what will we be reaching for?  Maybe some Nutella-stuffed french toast?  A glass of wine?  Some  sushi and soy sauce?  None of the above, kids.  We both feel so amazing that we’re not in a hurry to break pattern.  So we’re sticking to Whole30, business as usual, until something truly once-in-a-summertime-spectacular comes along to tempt us over to the dark side.  (We’ll let you know when and what that is.)

For those of you finishing up the program with us – congratulations, and well done!  Now don’t you dare go running off on Day 31 to enjoy beer, pizza and ice cream all at once. You just spent 30 days eliminating foods from your diet, in an attempt to learn how specific food groups affect you.  So be patient and scientific about reintroducing those foods.  Try one food, one day, all by itself.  Keep the rest of your diet perfect, and add one small serving of ONE type of food – maybe a cup of ice cream, or a slice of cake, or a piece of bread.  Then… wait.  Evaluate how it makes you feel later that day, that night and the following morning.  See how that food affects you after your healing-hiatus.  (CAUTION – this may not go as well as you hope.  Especially with dairy.  Just sayin’.  Be cautious with your serving sizes.)  Want to test another food?  Repeat a few days later, same method – squeaky clean food, plus one small portion of one food group.  Repeat as necessary, understanding that the reintroduction process can take a good amount of time to work through.  (For example, treat all dairy products separately, as ice cream may not provoke the same response as cheese.)  But as you just spent 30 days giving up the foods you enjoy, shouldn’t you make that time count?  Be patient, and reap the benefits.

For those of you continuing on in your Whole30 journey – stay committed, keep posting, and keep encouraging and motivating others who are just getting started. We’ll be here to do the same, as we’ve found the community aspect of the Whole30 program plays a huge role in participants’ success.   (Which means if you’re a lurking Whole30’er… you really should come on out and play!)

Thanks to everyone for their support!



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  1. Ronna says

    “You just spent 30 days eliminating foods from your diet, in an attempt to learn how specific food groups affect you. So be patient and scientific about reintroducing those foods. ”

    Shouldn’t our focus now be on WholeRestofYourLife? The only food that physically affected me per se prior to Whole30 (or paleo for that matter) was clams, causing severe stomach cramping, nausea and vomiting. I’m not about to reintroduce them back into my diet, even after decades of abstaining. So what about those Sugar Demons that Dallas mentioned? If sugar and grains, starchy veggies and dairy cause insulin spikes – is there any point in reintroducing them into our diet?

    Oh, and do you plan to have any workshops in the Kansas City area? :o)

    Thank you!

  2. says

    Thank you SO much for being such an inspirational force. I love the knowledge, the experiences and the very human way in which you communicate what it is you’re doing and WHY.

    I am now to whole 30. 2nd day actually (going well thanks) and my reasons for starting are too numerous to list but the main reason is i’m tired of being sick and tired. I’ve battled anemia for many years and having my doctor prescribe anti-depressants and MORE iron (which made me very queasy and icky no matter what) I decided to do some research, think outside the box and be proactive in my own health. My research lead me to the whole gluten phenomena, and since then (about 2 months now) i’ve been off gluten and dairy. I have felt a lot better but still feel like there’s more to this. I know healthy eating. I know how to cook. I know what’s bad. I know I know I know. I also am the master of excuses. Thanks for not allowing that and for setting a higher standard that is attainable. I am not an athlete, i’m not into sports. I’m an overweight, tired (well, not so much anymore) middleaged regular woman on the path towards becoming a better, healthier me. Thanks to you and all your supporters writing in. Without knowing me you have changed my life already. For the better. Thank you :)

  3. Diana says

    ****I also posted this in the “All banged up” post but since that was an older post put it here too even though off topic***


    I will preface this by saying this is a totally unfair thing to post/ask on the internet but I shamelessly will anyway….so I was chugging along in my WOD this past Saturday and 2 hang snatch squats in my right knee popped (literal audible POP) and I went down followed by pain int he lateral part of the knee. It hurt like 8/10 initially then tapered off to about a 3/10. The joint is now swollen with limited flexion and painful extension. I have been resting since with ice. Went to PCP today who recommended conservative treatment plus PT then if it doesn’t get better ortho consult.Their (and my) main concern are a meniscus tear but I don’t have the clicking or locking that goes along with this typically.

    So my plan is to follow your advice above (in “All Banged Up”)….rest rest rest. I do plan on walking to keep the joint mobile. Next week if the pain is better I was going to start some body weight stuff (pull ups, push ups, ring rows) that don’t involve the knee and to just keep walking. My PT eval is not until NEXT Friday (11 days from now).

    Question…..would you recommend NO weight lifting until after my PT eval….I was thinking about doing some shoulder press next week (if the knee was doing better). I know this seems minuscule BUT I have been making such great progress and am TOTALLY bummed by this injury.

    Again I know this is not a fair question considering you have never seen my knee but any advice would help. Thank you!!!


  4. Nathan says

    I’m sold on the Whole30 I’m on day 18 and feel great in every way however I don’t think it is practical for me to be 100% for too long I plan to cycle Whole30 challenges throughout the year with less stringent phases. Hoping to stay 80-90% most of the time allowing moderate alcohol, a weekly cheat, butter, dark chocolate and heavy cream. I think this diet with these allowances make a manageable healthy nutrition plan. Whole30 will be my nutritional weapon to get back to optimal health or prepare for that special event ie summer holiday etc.

  5. says


    We agree – the better you can be at eating super-clean going forward, the better your health is going to be… for the rest of your life. But we don’t expect (or even necessarily encourage) absolute 100% compliance forever, because there are some foods that we enjoy occasionally that are not exactly healthy choices. So while we might have some coconut “ice cream” or a glass of wine a couple times a month, it’s not enough to seriously derail our long-term health & fitness goals. So you’d only reintroduce the foods that you think are worth eating occasionally, despite them being a poor choice. Those foods are highly individual; for us, we’ll NEVER reintroduce dairy, but a piece of French toast with real maple syrup is, in a word, scrumptious, so we’ll indulge infrequently. All in all, continue to eat as “clean” as you can going forward, and you’ll reap serious benefits over the next decades. Also, the starchy veggies like sweet potato, parsnips, beets, butternut squash, etc., are an excellent post-workout carb source, but should be used sparingly otherwise. The other stuff you mentioned… skip it altogether. As far as Kansas City, the closest place we currently have booked is Oklahoma City on September 18-19. But… if you can arrange a host in Kansas City, we’re willing to come!


  6. says


    Your story is one of the reasons that we do what we do. Changing lives is very, very rewarding, and we’d do it even if we couldn’t make a living doing it. Thanks for the kind words.


    In short, keep ice on it whenever it’s sore/swollen (2-4 times per day). I’d recommend going really easy on your knee until your PT appointment, not so much because I’m concerned about you doing further damage, but mostly because I know there’s still significant inflammation in the joint, and I don’t want you to provoke it moreso. Standing stuff like pressing should/might be fine, but do it from the rack instead of having to clean the bar. Skip the squats, DLs, jumprope, box jumps, and Oly stuff until you know what’s going on. And… reread my All Banged Up article. ;) Let me know what your PT says.


    Glad you’re finding a way to use the Whole30 as a “tool” to get yourself back on track when your “80/20” becomes 60/40 or worse. But… I’ll caution you not to use it as a “beach body” plan. This is not a weight loss or aesthetic-driven program. This is an optimal way to fuel the machine that is your body. You’ll only ever have ONE, so take care of it. Thanks for being so involved during your W30.

  7. Brandon Petersen says

    man o man…i really need to get back on this stuff….

    I am probably on the 80/20 splits.

    80 – being ice cream, fast food and $hit

    20 – being healthy paleo type stuff


    I need Urban back in my life for some dam motivation =)

  8. meredith says

    Thank you to Dallas and Melissa for a wonderful seminar in Medford this last weekend! My husband and I very much enjoy all your work. Crossfit Allegiance is awesome and thanks to all those folks for hosting. I hope they are enjoying their Whole30!

  9. Meg says

    Been hanging out watching for a while….I think it’s time to start a whole 30. Just coming off maternity leave–don’t want to lose weight, but I’d like to see if squeaky clean eating could increase my energy levels and thus, gym performance. Anything to help the WOD + work + 2kids+ husband craziness routine would be a help:) I’ve so enjoyed hearing everyone’s success stories……I’m in:)

  10. AK says

    Based on all the posts from this program, I believe I’ve (finally) fine-tuned my diet and wanted to share with anyone interested. My issue has been that I need at least 2800/kcal a day and I wasnt getting the right amount and right sources of fat. I think a lot of us are initially afraid to consume too much fat, but through trial and error, I found out that this way of eating can handle A LOT.

    Workout 6 am (Pre-workout, glass of coconut milk)

    Post workout meal #1 (7 am). 4-6ozs real turkey breast or roasted chicken, 1 very large sweet potato, 1 large handful of berries (combo of straw, blue, rasp, cherries). 12 oz coconut water.

    Meal #2 Between 9-10am. 3-4 whole egg vegetable omelette, Large apple, 3-4 fish oil capsules

    Meal #3 Noon-1pm. Large spinach salad with tons of vegetables, handful of sunflower seeds, grilled chicken, 1/2 avocado and olive oil/pepper.

    Meal #4. Mid-afternoon (3-4 pm). Banana, handful of walnuts/almonds or sunflower butter, scoop of egg protein.

    Meal #5. Evening (dinner). Steak or Fish, large salad (with tomatoes, peppers, onions, etc) with olive oil/pepper and 1/2 avocado, and a separate large head of steamed broccoli. 1 tablespoon fish oil.

    Meal #6 Late night (sometimes depending on how I feel). 2-3ozs chicken/turkey/tunafish/sardines. Glass of unsweetened Coconut milk.


  11. says

    day 18 and still clean, except a sip of “unsweet” tea that was actually sugar-free, and full of artificial sweeteners.

    I have found the time I don’t prepare well and have food read to eat are the times I struggle the most and begin to talk myself out of my goal of 30-days. Although, the point isn’t 30-days, its a change in eating habits, I have a goal of 30-day, which actually is becoming 46 days b/c of my participation in the CF Games.

    Its very interesting the change your taste buds and cravings from day 3 to day 18. Fruit is SUPER sweet now and I am able to stuff more nutrient dense food on my plate.

    I encourage everyone who is struggling with the little voice that says “why are you doing this? what are you trying to prove? no one is going to know if you eat ____.” shut that voice up with some avocado deviled eggs, perrier water and some fresh raw bell peppers!


  12. says


    I’ve heard that you used to eat a lot of really, really good food (but that rumour is unconfirmed). But… maybe your 80/20 split isn’t quite right. Get back on plan, dude.


    All in all, you’re doing a great job with your food quality AND quantity. Thanks for sharing your good (new) habits.

  13. mgood66 says

    Okay, I’m on day 6 of my Whole 30. The hardest part really has been being on the road. I’m in Dallas every Monday to Thursday, and eat with colleagues for pretty much every meal. They all now think I’m crazy.

    This is actually not that huge a departure from the way I’m used to eating, with the exception of the dairy. No cream in my coffee…so I just gave up coffee. Suffering from adrenal fatigue, so it’s the right thing to do. Really hoping I can get my all banged up body back into shape.

  14. Jenni says

    Melissa & Dallas,

    I attended your session @ Crossfit Richardson in February (I’m the girl who HAD [past tense!] a candy drawer at work). The idea of doing the whole 30 program admittedly freaked me out, as I have had a life long addiction to sugar (it started early and is VERY strong). I mean, I kind of teared up thinking about no longer having cookies, brownies, Kit Kats and all the things I love, which is obviously not a healthy reaction. I haven’t gone Whole 30 just yet, but I am taking a step in the right direction by attempting break my sugar habit and ignoring my sweet tooth sugar tantrums. I am on day 2 of no sugar, which is kind of a huge deal for the girl who has dessert after every meal. True, I want to kill people right now, but I also know that the emotional reaction that I had was NOT healthy and should probably be taken care of sooner rather than “Type 2 diabetes” later. The plan is to do the Whole 30 program starting in a few weeks, after my sugar crankies have gone away. Thanks for providing that wake up call (really? Crying because I can’t have candy? What am I, 3 years old?) and hopefully I can report some positive results soon!

  15. says

    @Jenni, SO nice to hear from you! Glad to hear our session had an impact, and I think your addressing the sugar tantrums first is a great step towards breaking that connection altogether. Read through the comments on other posts, specifically “Sugar = sugar = sugar” and “Give your sugar tantrums a time-out”, to help you on your quest to break free from that candy drawer once and for all. And please keep posting here, to let us know how things are going.

    Tell John and the rest of the Richardson crew we said hello!



  16. Mianna says

    I am a Whole30 success story! Yep, I finished day 30 on Saturday. However, that does not mean I have indulged in pizza and beer, for sure. But sure, on Sunday I had a pancake, a small amount of rice, and some wine. Guess what? I had horrible bloating/gas issues, and my workout today sucked! So, I am thoroughly convinced on this program. And I love saying that…program. It’s not a diet, it’s a program and a way of life. The only, ONLY thing I really missed was peanut butter! No chocolate, no sugar…so I’m pretty proud of myself!! Thanks for your words of wisdom, your support, and for sharing your time.

  17. says

    @Mianna: Thanks for sharing! Your experience is NOT unusual – in fact, after this Whole30, our beloved french toast didn’t sit very well, and we’ve decided to add that to our list of foods that Just Aren’t Worth It under most circumstances.

    Please tell me you’ve got yourself a jar of Sunbutter?!? It’s the best sub for PB – made from sunflower seeds, it’s similar in taste and texture without the down sides of peanuts. In moderation (meaning, don’t eat the whole jar!) it’s a gorgeous sub. Try it for yourself!



  18. Stephanie says

    Day 5…feeling tired, lethargic and with a lovely head cold to top it off…but still going strong! It’s all mental for me..I can do this. I just hate feeling weak…can’t even run well right now and I run marathons…drats! Going to stick w/ it!

  19. says

    @Stephanie: That’s a totally normal state for Day Five… hang tough, especially as you’re battling a cold right now. We’ve found that eating Whole30 is the best way to heal quickly, so be good to yourself, rest and eat well and keep us posted as to how you’re feeling!

  20. Neil says


    I’m having some real trouble in getting to grips with the Whole30. I’m not saying it’s hard to do before i offend anyone, it’s just that i work as a Chef and Baker and therefore spend all day everyday creating deliscious dishes and breads, full of all the things i love, half of which i’m trying to give up. Has anyone got any tips on how to stay strong whilst still having to taste the sacrifices you’re making on a daily basis? (i’m missing cheeses and my breads more than i can eqplain!)



  21. says

    @Neil: First, start posting your comments on the Whole30 Version 2.0 post. There’s a TON of support on that thread, and I guarantee you’re not the only person missing the foods you used to think you enjoyed.

    Second, I can imagine if I worked as a chef and baker, it would be hard to give those things up too! But now, after having been through the Whole30 and knowing how those foods make me feel, it wouldn’t be hard at ALL. I think you just need to white knuckle your way through it this time around, paying attention to the emotional responses that the experience is provoking. How silly is it to throw a temper tantrum because you can’t have a piece of cheese? And yet, we’ve all been there.

    Stick with it, if you really want to know once and for all how some of those troublesome foods are affecting you. I promise, despite your occupation, it will get easier the more practice you have with making good choices and really spending time evaluating all of the things that are doing better as the result of your dietary changes. Who knows – maybe after your Whole30, you’ll devote your professional expertise to making Whole30-friendly delicious culinary creations! (We could sure use more of that here on the web site… hint, hint.)



  22. Abe says

    So here is my question. I am 5 days into my 1st whole30. I was wondering about vinegar. Is this something we can use? I havent seen it listed on the no no list. I have also seen some comments about it, but I am not sure. please enlighten me.

  23. says

    @Abe: The Whole30 Version 2.0 post has almost 1,000 comments… we treat it as our unofficial FAQ. It’s not the easiest to search through, but if you do a browser search for “vinegar” on each page of comments, you’ll see where we’ve approved it for use on the Whole30. (We assume you’re not doing cups at a time – but a small amount in salsa or salad dressing is A-OK.)



  24. Andrew says

    @Jenn – Thanks for the link to the PaNu Smoking Candy Cigarettes post. I actually remember “smoking” those as a kid (what were my parents thinking?). Anyway, he makes a lot of sense and I like his idea of using the KIS Method (Keep it Simple) when choosing foods. Real, whole foods are always the way to go.

    @Dallas – Question…I am confused by the Paleo community’s affection for coconut oil. It has a ton of saturated fats and Dr. Cordain says to absolutely avoid it due to its high ratio of n6 fats (The Paleo Diet, p. 128). What’s the deal? Did coconut all of the sudden become healthy or are people just choosing to use it knowing the trade offs? Hope you can enlighten me…



  25. says


    A tablespoon of coconut oil contains 14 grams of fat, and 12-ish of them are saturated. It doesn’t contain any n-3 fats, and has about 250 mg of n-6’s, which means that the ratio of n-6:n-3 is insanely high (mathematically, it’s infinity!)… but we don’t look to coconut oil as a source of n-3 fats, and 250 mg of n-6 fats is a pretty darn small amount in an entire tablespoon of oil. Compare that to 1300mg of n-6 fats (and only 100mg of n-3) in the same size serving of olive oil. Does that make olive oil a terrible choice? No, because we get our n-3 fats elsewhere in our diets (wild-caught fish, grass-fed meat, fish oil), and we work hard to limit our intake of concentrated sources of n-6 fats like processed foods, vegetable oils, and most nuts. Remember, it’s the overall n-6:n-3 ratio in your diet, not the individual ratio of any one food. Coconut oil simply doesn’t contribute much in the way of inflammatory n-6 fats. Also, regarding your question about the nutritional “safety” of saturated fats. Here’s the deal: saturated fats simply do not cause heart disease and stroke (read this meta-study: We are conscious and cautious about the source of our dietary saturated fat (i.e. grocery store bacon is NOT a healthy source), but high-quality saturated fat is very stable and has been shown to do good things for your hormonal levels and overall health. As part of a varied diet and when sourced from organic, well-fed animals (meaning not conventionally farmed and grain-fed), we don’t believe that saturated fat has any significant downsides. And… coconut oil has none of the potential downsides of animal sources of saturated fat, so we give it two thumbs up. It’s our go-to cooking oil. Stephan Guyenet has written a couple good posts on coconut: and Hope this helps you to understand how the “conventional wisdom” of saturated fat got it all wrong. Best,


  26. Jenni says

    Sooooooo it’s been a while since anyone’s posted on here, but I just wanted to say that I posted on June 24 2010 with full intentions of doing a whole 30…and those intentions quickly fizzled because I got lazy :(. It’s now February 8, and I’m on day 8 of my 45 Day Paleo Challenge w/ the gang at CFR. This is the first time I’ve been without sugar for more than 3 days (yeah, the day after my post about not having sugar for 2 days I caved). But hooray for me sticking with it so far! What I eat is more of a conscious choice now. Did I almost cry on day 5 when someone jokingly mentioned Taco Bueno to me? Yes. Did the Super Bowl party I attended w/ pizza, wine and brownies make me question my own sanity? Definitely. But I pushed through, I made it, and I’m here on day 8. It is a mental battle each day for me so far, but I hear it gets better. Hopefully I’ll be on day 30 soon and my cravings will be a lot less severe! :)

  27. says

    Way to go, Jenni! Jump on over to the Whole30 Version 3.11 post and join in the conversation over there – plenty of inspiration and motivation to help keep you on track.



  28. Bev says

    I’ve just finished my Whole30 for January as well! This time, my other half joined me and as much as he bitched about the limitations, he’s had an improvement to his overall health but mostly with his joint pains and general body condition.

    I’m not feeling much different that I did on Day 3. I guess that tells me something in my Whole30 diet is not optimal for me. I’m thinking nightshades. I don’t eat tomatoes because I break out in hives to the uncooked juice, potatoes weren’t hard to give up but peppers were part of almost every day somewhere.

    Naps are still my necessary post-work activity. Workout? Are you kidding me???? I can’t even muster the strength to walk the dogs after work… Obviously, something is amiss. Suggestions, anyone?


  29. Jodi Marie says


    I just finished my first whole 30 – I kinda caught the band wagon after it left the station so didn’t start until Jan 4th. I feel great, and I could wax on and on about all the good things that happened (lack of wheezing, weight loss – 18 pounds), improved sleep, improved – but not yet cured – rosacea, better mood, etc – why does it seem like everyone around me is suddenly so cranky in the afternoons?, lol)

    However, I’ve decided to back right into another round because I still have some issues that need to be worked out and I just feel so darn good eating this way. Can I put as an aside that I’m a reformed Vegan?

    Anyway, big question is that you mentioned eating out of a cooler and hotel rooms while traveling, and I was wondering if you had any tips or examples. I’m moving cross country in a about 1 1/2 weeks and want to be able to stick with the program as much as possible without getting too bored or burned out, or throwing menu inspired tantrums. Another aside, I had mini-tantrum myself in my local supermarket just a couple of weeks ago trying to find a stock that didn’t have added sugar. Seriously, why do you need to add honey or “organic cane sugar” to beef stock?!

    Sorry for the ramble and hope you have some tips! Thank you for changing my life!