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The When, Why, and How of Multiple Whole30′s

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.

Tricia LaRusso

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.

Olly Ramirez 

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.

Comments

  1. Robin D says

    I found that doing two different Whole30s at two different points in my life (one in April 2010 when you guys hadn’t been doin’ your thing for too long and another in July 2012) really helped me get some perspective on how the advantages of eating clean had changed and what the challenges were going to be at points in my life. Eating paleo and doing a Whole30 was totally different pre-baby versus post-baby (and breastfeeding), not to mention living in a non-agricultural state in Appalachia versus a midwestern state. I benefitted from both Whole 30s for totally different reasons!

  2. says

    I really enjoyed this article, and the Speck of Awesome article, because that resonated pretty strongly with me. I’ve done five Whole30′s, and I found that my last one really wasn’t a change at all, just clarifying my butter and passing on my couple times a month ice cream habit. But psychologically, it almost did more harm than good because I went totally off the rails afterwards. Leading up to my last Whole30, I had six solid months of happily eating Whole30 about 90% and kicking up my heels when I really wanted to. For some reason, the restriction of this most recent Whole30 led to a total revolt afterwards. I realized that perhaps the Whole30 has served its (very important, life-changing) purpose for the time being. It’s a tool I have to use whenever I need it in the future, but that it’s not quite for me at this season. Thanks for another awesome article.

  3. Tasha says

    “You have some sort of symptom (allergies, that “shoulder thing,” a skin condition) that went away during the Whole30, but has come back recently” This kills me because this is exactly why I am doing a W21 right now! :)

  4. Michael says

    I’ve just finished my second Whole 30 on my way to completing a Whole 100! Yes, a 100 straight days. I’m on Day 40 right now. Why am I doing this? One of the biggest benefits I received from the 1st Whole 30 was the killing of my soda cravings. Whole 30 completely knocked it out. Now I want to knock out my ice cream craving; however, I believe that’s it’s going to take more time than the first. I’m so used to eating this way now and the thought of doing this for 100 days straight is very motivating.

  5. Sherry says

    Finished my first Whole30 last week. My husband and I did it together and we really liked it. We didn’t find it that difficult to do as we really had no significant food cravings. We both lost about ten pounds which was good – but not the only plus. We enjoyed cooking together and finding “legal” recipes to try. Eating out was more of a challenge – but we managed. We found that we were eating at home more as that helped us know exactly what we were putting in our mouths. I love beer and thought I would have problems or cravings with that but it wasn’t that difficult. We ended our Whole30 in time for a family wedding where I did have a couple of glasses wine and ate some “bad” food. As the wedding was out out of town, and we had to eat all of the meals out, I know I did not do the “reintroduction” correctly – and I felt it. By Sunday I was just feeling kind of lousy. I couldn’t wait to get home and “restart.” Don’t know if we are going to follow the exact Whole30 immediately – but we want to continue to eat high quality proteins and somewhat follow it’s food choices – maybe add in some Paleo recipes that are good for you – just not choices for the Whole30 plan. As I was reading above I like the idea of following the Whole30 a few times a year and just eating better the rest of the time (with a very occasional beer or glass of wine!)

  6. ScoutFinch says

    I don’t really see following the Whole30 as riding a bike with training wheels, because there’s not really much about it that isn’t just normal eating. On the other hand, I’m trying to kick a hideous case of fibro that’s getting worse as I age, and so for me, whatever relief this way of eating brings already seems way, way better than waking up with a migraine and throwing up breakfast every morning after I take an Ultracet the night before for the pain. (Not to mention how much better steak and coconut is for my liver.)

    But the other part for me is that I’ve been on several ends of the disordered eating scale, and I tell you that for the. first. time. (and I’m only on Day 8), I do not want to eat between meals, and I am already barely thinking about food. If you don’t know what that’s like, it’s hard to explain it, but the relief is unimaginable. Of course, I know how to cook and so recipes don’t scare me, so I’m not afraid that this will be the rest of my life lurching from one poached chicken breast to the next hard-boiled egg, and I guess that’s something, but this is not Weight Watchers. This is living.

  7. Andrea says

    Hello,
    My husband and I just finished our first Whole30 and we loved it! We both lost weight, kicked our cravings and just feel better. Neither one of us wants to go back to eating the foods that we were eating. In fact, we were looking for things to have after the program and nothing seemed worth it so we pretty much just ate as normal. So what’s the difference between doing multiple Whole30′s and just not eating dairy, sugar, grains and legumes long-term? If we don’t have the desire to eat any of the things that were off-limits during the program, is it healthy to just continue to leave them out 95% of the time? We know we will eventually have things that aren’t compliant but, as a rule, we just would rather follow the Whole30 guidelines long term as our normal diet. You say that it’s the Whole30, not the Whole365, but is there any reason that we should be including any of the things that were off limits after the Whole is done (other than evaluating how it affects our bodies)? In other words, is there any reason we shouldn’t follow Whole30 guidelines all the time if that’s what we like? Thanks for your help!

  8. - says

    “Andrea”,

    This way of eating would not exclude anything scientifically necessary for the body, probably, unless you experience problems indicating otherwise.

    The four items mentioned don’t seem to be necessary in any manner long-term, although cod liver oil + butter oil looks like a potent supplement for some things, and I’m not sure about the efficacy or necessity for things like A2 beta-casein raw milk.

    It’s possible you might find yourself with something for which you’d want raw honey.

    But, that aside, it does not appear that there is any particular reason why a human being would not simply completely exclude those things, or even all processed things, so long as there is no necessity for them.

    “If you do not wish to binge, and see no reason to binge, don’t binge. :)”

  9. Casey says

    I was just wondering, when I complete my second Whole30 in the future, do I still go through the process of reintroduction? Or is reintroduction a phase you only complete during your first Whole30?

  10. says

    @Andrea, if you’re not missing something, there is no reason to include it back into your diet! For example, I don’t miss goat cheese at all. Ever. Don’t even think about it. So I’m not going to bother reintroducing it to see how I do with it, because I’m not missing out on anything. Do what works for you and your lifestyle, as long as it feels healthy, balanced, and sustainable for you.

    @Casey, I’d recommend it, with some minor modifications. First, we learn something new every time we do a Whole30 – the awareness is sharpened and increased with experience. So I like the idea of another reintroduction, so you can see if anything new pops up for you. However, if you’ve determined from past Whole30′s that a particular food doesn’t affect you well, then don’t bother trying it again. (If cheese made you feel like there’s an alien in the belly during the last reintroduction, it’s highly unlikely that has changed between then and now.) For those foods that you thought reintroduced just fine, however, give them another go. Maybe your verdict will say the same, and maybe it won’t – but it’s a good experience, just testing them out again.

    Best,
    Melissa

  11. Diana says

    Hi! I see a lot of posts about whole 30- going off, doing another one, etc. this is my first one ever after years of bad habits- bad eating and little exercise. I have struggled with the 1 cup coffee and no wine/alcohol, but the food part has been fun. And I feel great. If this is supposed to be a lifestyle change, can we do 3 months in a row? Or is this not good for us? Should we take time off and if so what should we include? I would like to do this for 3 months and then allow myself wine occasionally. And maybe some rice and quinoa. Any thoughts?