What’s the most logical thing to do after you’ve finished your first Whole30®? Plan for your second, of course!
Okay, so that’s not necessarily true… but sometimes it is. In today’s post, we’ll discuss the finer points of participating in multiple Whole30’s – the when, they why, and the how. We’re leading off with stories from the trenches, with real Whole30-ers discussing their second, third, or fifth run at the program. Then we’ll discuss the details of revisiting the Whole30 yourself, including potential benefits, how often you should “rinse and repeat,” and when to say enough is enough.
The Whole30 and Beyond: Real-Life Experiences
Recently we put a call out on our Facebook page for stories from folks who have done the Whole30 program more than once. Turns out there are quite a few of you out there! Some of you are doing quarterly Whole30′s while others use the program to keep things like your autoimmune issues in check. Most of you use the program to “get back on track” and many joined us again for our biggest Whole30 ever, which finished up on January 30th. Here are examples from three Whole30 veterans that really stood out to us.
My second Whole30 was much easier than the first. I knew what to avoid, I knew how to approach social situations, and I knew how to speak more confidently about the Whole30. I’m currently tackling my third Whole30 in 6 months. I don’t put a set time on when I do them, but at this point my body tells me when I need to step back and re-evaluate.
If someone asked me advice about completing multiple Whole30s, I could only tell them to DO IT! If you struggled with the first and got through it, a second round is just what you need. If you didn’t quite make it the full thirty days, you should still try and tackle it! You got your feet wet with round one, but imagine just how awesome you’ll feel with another under your belt. I would also strongly recommend reading It Starts With Food. That book honestly has every tool you need to be successful with not only the Whole30, but for life.
With my first Whole30, I lost 17.5 lbs, 15 inches and 2% body fat… but so many other things of more importance happened; I no longer have fibromyalgia; my neuropathy is gone; my hair, skin and nails are healthier than ever; allergies are a thing of the past; and I awake refreshed and clear headed. Most of all I’m happy, and so grateful to have my life back.
Right now I’m on my fifth Whole30. I take 2-4 weeks off between them, depending on vacations, holidays & events. This way I can enjoy a glass of wine, a special dessert, or an invitation to dinner without worrying about my food choices. I continue doing Whole30’s because of how I feel. I never want to give up feeling healthy. Doing Whole30’s has shown me that I am so strong – physically and mentally.
The advice I would give to someone trying out multiple Whole30′s is to remember the magic of your first Whole30 – how you felt and all the changes you experienced. Do what brought you success. Journal. Each one is different. Read the book It Starts With Food. Reread it if necessary. Keep it out so you can reference what you’re looking for. Stay involved in the blogs for motivation. Subscribe to the daily emails; there’s so much helpful information in them.
Nicole Wherry (Cavemomma.com)
When I finished my first Whole30, I decided I’d do them every few months to stay on track. I would offer to be other people’s accountability partner, and we’d do them together. My brother did one, then my mom, then our whole family. We did another one all together in January – me, my parents, my three brothers and their wives. My children even get on board.
I decided to continue to do more than one Whole30 because life gets busy and we get off track, and the Whole30 really keeps me focused on health. Doing multiple Whole30’s has shown me that real food can be fun, that I don’t have to make my whole life about what I eat, and that occasionally allowing a treat is much more pleasurable than allowing it all the time. I also learned that I am capable of the word NO, politely, and that I am, in fact, too old to succumb to peer pressure.
If you are considering doing another Whole30, I think that doing a few a year makes it much easier to stay healthy as a whole, and that when you get a group of people to do it with you, it can be a fun challenge.
So for those of you wondering whether you’d benefit from another Whole30 (or whether enough is enough at this point), here are our best discussion points for making this decision for yourself.
When Should I Consider Another Whole30?
You might want to do another Whole30 if:
- You didn’t complete the full Reintroduction Period as described in It Starts With Food
- You are still battling the Sugar Dragon WWE-style
- You’ve gotten off track with your new healthy way of eating (think: more than a glass of wine here or there…more like a bottle)
- Lots of off-plan foods are sneaking their way back into your pantry and fridge
- You have a serious medical condition (rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic Lyme disease.) that requires you to stay on track to maintain your quality of life
- You have some sort of symptom (allergies, that “shoulder thing,” a skin condition) that went away during the Whole30, but has come back recently
- You just don’t feel as good as you used to… and that really bothers you
- You want to be a support system for someone else doing their first Whole30
What Are The Benefits of Multiple Whole30’s?
We think you can get a lot out of participating in more than one Whole30. As we often say, 30 days is the minimum time it takes for a new healthy habit to form, but often, these efforts takes longer. Some people choose to do Whole45′s or Whole60′s, but if that’s not an option for you, taking some time off and doing another Whole30 later in the year is a good way to go. Going beyond your first Whole30 can help you:
- Help you get “back on track” if you’ve fallen off the Good Food wagon
- Further increase your awareness, helping you learn even more about how your food interacts with your body and brain
- Focus on taking your healthy eating habits to the next level (like thinking about food sourcing, or seasonal eating)
- Inspire you to apply these concepts to other lifestyle factors, like stress reduction, your sleep habits, or “unplugging” from technology
- Inspire others, like your friends and family, on board with these healthy habits
How Often Should I Whole30?
This is completely up to you. Here at Whole9, we host three major Whole30’s each year (January, mid-summer, and just before the holidays). but we don’t think everyone should participate in three Whole30′s a year, every year. (That’s kind of overkill.) Here are a few guidelines to determine your own personal when and how often:
- At least once a year is a good idea for most people, if only to keep you on a healthy path and continue to increase your awareness.
- Some people like plan ahead and do regular Whole30’s at times of stress in their own lives – holidays, vacations, or back-to-school times. We think a quarterly or seasonal re-visitation of the program can be a good way to keep your good food attitude on track.
- Do them when you feel like you need to do them. Your body, mind, and belly will tell you if it’s time to jump back in with both feet.
- Remember that you don’t have to do a full Whole30! We often throw in Whole3′s or Whole7′s to recover from a vacation, help us prepare for a holiday, or to help us fight or recover from a cold.
When Should I Say Enough is Enough?
We created this program to be the Whole30, not the Whole365 – and there is a time and a place to say, “I don’t need another Whole30.” Here are some indications that enough is enough – and you don’t need another full 30 days.
- The program is now super easy, but also super annoying, mostly because of the tiny details. (If the only things you’re really cutting on your program are ketchup, a square of dark chocolate here and there, and pastured, organic heavy cream in your coffee, you’re not really going to see enough of an impact to increase awareness.)
- You’re jumping back on the program every time making food decisions in the “real world” freaks you out. You have to learn to take your Whole30 lessons out on your own – ride your own bike. Don’t let the rules of the Whole30 be your crutch!
- Food is no longer the limiting factor in your health goals. If your diet has been consistently healthy, but you’re still not losing weight or seeing improvement in your symptoms, doing yet another Whole30 (or Whole30 + autoimmune protocol, or Whole30 minus fruit) isn’t going to get you where you need to be. Read this and this… and don’t look for a Whole30 solution to a lifestyle issue.
- You feel like you’ve learned everything you need to learn, are comfortable taking your new, healthy habits on the road, and have found a great place of balance in your diet. Congratulations! You no longer need the Whole30 in all its glory! (But feel free to throw in a few shorter-duration efforts, as we described above, to keep you on track or help you recover from stress.)
For a real-life analysis of when enough is enough, we love this article from Speck of Awesome, about why she won’t be doing another Whole30.
Whole30, Rinse, and Repeat
We hope this article helps you figure out for yourself the when, where, and how of multiple Whole30′s. Have you seen benefits from doing more than one program? Have you decided enough is enough, and you don’t need the Whole30 anymore? Share your experience in comments.