the tune-up

Five Reasons You're Not Losing Weight On The Whole30

...and how to address each one, because we've been there.

The Whole30 is crazy popular right now. Your sister-in-law, your co-worker, your hairdresser and everyone else you know seems to be doing one. For those of you who may not know: The Whole30 is a 30-day dietary reset during which you eliminate potentially problematic food groups from your diet for thirty days, before then reintroducing each one at a time and evaluating the effects each has on your digestion, skin, and overall body and mind. And according to that one girl in your kickboxing class, you’ll also lose a ton of weight.

Let’s get something straight right away, though: The Whole30 is not a weight-loss diet or a quick-fix. In fact, because The Whole30 is designed to get you to listen to your body, and not obsess over the scale, you are not allowed to weigh or measure yourself at all over the course of thirty days. The title of this article might be “Five Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight on The Whole30”, but you won’t even know what your weight is until you step on that scale after Day 30!

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While The Whole30 isn’t a weight-loss diet, so many people find The Whole30 during a weight loss and wellness journey, hoping to shed excess pounds and become a healthier self. I found The Whole30 in my third year losing weight with Weight Watchers: I had reigned in portion control and learned to make healthier food choices, shedding 40 pounds in the process. The foods I was eating to lose this weight, however, were filled with artificial sweeteners, chemicals, and other harmful additives that engineer foods to be low-calorie. So while finding The Whole30 DID bring additional weight loss for me, it also brought a new awareness of my own body and the foods that fueled it best.

Here’s a few reasons your Whole30 might not bringing you the results you desire. Beyond weight loss, you’re probably hoping for more energy, clearer skin, better sleep, and other countless Non-Scale Victories. Take a look at this list and see if your Whole30 habits could use a tune-up.

TUNE-UP #1: You’re only doing the Whole30 to lower the number on the scale. It will be hard to push through the difficult days of The Whole30 if your only motivation is weight-loss. Eliminating dairy, grains, alcohol, legumes and sweeteners from your diet for thirty days isn’t an easy task. If you’re not interested in learning about your body and you are only in it to be “skinny”, you’ll feel deprived and restricted (and very cranky, let’s be real).

When I go through difficult days of The Whole30, when I’m so hungry and there’s nothing to eat, when I can’t possibly wash another dish in my sink, and when my husband wants to order pizza, saying no to a slice of pepperoni feels near impossible. But when I pause to think about all the new information I’ll learn about my body once it is cleansed of these food groups for thirty days, the opportunity to reintroduce them and to learn about my body, well, it is exciting. And the idea of wasting all that progress after twenty days for nothing seems ridiculous. Keeping in mind the reasons (there should be several) that you’re doing a Whole30 will strengthen your resolve when things get difficult.

TUNE-UP #2: You’re doing a Whole30 plus (insert extra of your choice here). I’ve found this tune-up to be the most frequent reason people give up on their Whole30. A Whole30-Plus is saying “I’m doing The Whole30 AND starting a new fitness program”, “I’m doing The Whole30 AND quitting coffee” or “I’m doing The Whole30 AND eliminating carbs, too”.

Radically changing your diet is a huge challenge, and adding additional stressors to your life at the same time is often too much to bear. If you’re trying to become a healthier self through The Whole30, it’s tempting to jump in all at once with the “new you”. But I encourage you to slow down, and focus on your eating habits and getting the right foods onto your plate. The rest will follow in time.

TUNE-UP #3: You’re not eating enough. Many people trying to lose weight on The Whole30 come from a history of dieting. Ok, scratch that—just about everyone comes from a history of dieting. The mentality of “eat less, exercise more” is ingrained in us from an early age. So chances are, during your first Whole30, you’re eating according to the meal template, but silently thinking “I shouldn’t be eating bacon!” or “Half an avocado in one meal is too much!”.

Especially for calorie counters or Weight Watchers, at first, the numbers are always in the back of your mind. I encourage you to trust in The Whole30 program rules, be sure to eat your fill of veggies in every meal, and the results will follow. If you’re feeling hungry or deprived, you’re likely not eating enough in each meal. Start by increasing the portion of fat (i.e. avocado, nuts, oils, etc.), and go from there. Listen to your body!

TUNE-UP #4: You’re ignoring the NSVs. When you’re thirty days away from the scale, it’s easy to feel like nothing is changing. You look the same, and you don’t have “proof” that anything is different. Have you considered other aspects of yourself that may have changed? Perhaps your clothes are fitting better, your energy levels in the afternoon are more consistent, or your skin has cleared up. Non-Scale Victories (or “NSVs”) are an important aspect of The Whole30 that help you to stick to the plan. I often find that, by Day 20 or so, I’m feeling and looking so amazing that I no longer care how many pounds I may have lost!

TUNE-UP #5: You’re doing it alone. Sharing my experience on The Whole30 via my Instagram page (@melissasfoodfreedom) has introduced me to so many wonderful people who are reaching for the same goals and learning the same lessons. If you’re doing The Whole30 and feeling alone in your struggles, head to social media! There are so many wonderful people sharing their own experiences, hacks, and recipes. Connecting with others on your Whole30 can be incredibly motivating. When you feel like you’re not making progress and tempted to get on that scale or throw out your meal plan completely, head to Instagram and connect with someone else doing a Whole30.

We are all so much stronger together. I’ve also found The Whole30 Forums on the Whole30 website to be incredibly supportive as well. A word of caution: Not everyone claiming to be “Whole30” is following the rules perfectly, so be sure to consult official Whole30 resources as your primary source of knowledge and information about the program rules.

And there you have it! These five quick “Tune-Ups” should help you to keep your Whole30 on track towards meeting your goals, weight-related or otherwise. We are so much more than a number on a scale, and the decision to do a Whole30 and step away from the scale for thirty days is incredibly empowering. Here’s to your best Whole30 yet!

A few more Whole30 articles to support you:

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