While founders Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig are adamant in their book and on their website that “you’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written,” the Whole30 is not for the lazy or noncommittal. Without careful planning, a strong support system and dogged dedication, a business lunch, flight delay or date night can throw you off and send you back to the start. By nature, diets that eliminate entire food groups are tough to follow. On the other hand, it’s only 30 days.
Looking back on my lifestyle before the Whole30, my personal recipe for making unhealthy food choices typically consisted of being hungry and on a time crunch, which meant I'd choose whatever was most convenient (read: something overly processed from the vending machine). "Whole30 requires you to plan ahead, mainly so you stay 'compliant' and don’t go hungry," explains Liz McMahon, RDN. "Planning out meals and batch cooking ensures you have healthier food available and won’t constantly be reaching for fast food options." Making pre-planning a habit — even when I'm dining out — helps keep me on track even when I'm not following the Whole30.
As far as food goes, you’re simply going to eat a lot of fresh, good-quality eats and ditch the processed stuff. Beyond that, you’re removing all grains, dairy, soy, legumes, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and alcohol from your diet. All of these foods (especially in excess), according to the authors, have been linked to systemic inflammation, hormonal imbalance, gut issues, and more. The idea is to remove the stressors from your body and give it the nourishment and time to heal itself it needs. This means less inflammation, a healthy metabolism, hormonal harmony, a happy gut, clearer skin, and improved energy! Sounds good to me. (Although if we’re honest, I panicked a bit when I realized no cheese would hit my lips for a full month.)
"Every fad diet thinks it has discovered the root of all evil," says Dr. Ochner. But nutrients in legumes, whole grains, and dairy—all of which are forbidden on the paleo diet—can help to lower the risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, reduce blood pressure, and promote a healthy weight, he says. Cutting dairy, the primary source of calcium and vitamin D in modern diets, is especially worrisome for women who want to avoid osteoporosis.
Sport-specific athletes – Like the specialists, if you are an athlete training for a sport, you’d be better off finding a coach that is trained in getting great performances out of athletes in your specific sport. Every sport has special movements that require certain types of power in specific muscles. CrossFit prepares you for everything, but won’t improve your specific sport skills unless you are training for those specific sport skills! Many athletes choose to combine CrossFit with sport-specific workouts (see things like CrossFit Football) in their off-season for conditioning, but that’s up to each sport’s coach.
In terms of food, I kicked up my creativity up a notch in the kitchen. I tried experimenting with recipes that were a little more complex than my usual, like making pesto out of cashews and avocados and serving it over a plate of zoodles. I made blueberry energy bites in my food processor to snack on during a movie marathon and grab for a quick breakfast. I also tried new snacks, like bottled tomatillo jalapeno soup from ZÜPA NOMA and chia pudding from Daily Harvest to mix things up.
The final workout of the 2019 Open featured a descending ladder of thrusters and chest-to-bar pull-ups, totaling 105 reps of each movement, with a 20-minute time cap. Last year, 18.5 presented athletes with an ascending ladder of the same two movements, so it’s no surprise that nearly the same percentage of Open participants decided to tackle the final Open workout as prescribed in 2018 and 2019. Read on to see how the community fared with this year's rep scheme.