FIT2FAT2FIT EXPERIENCE PODCAST EPISODE 8
With Melissa Hartwig
Drew: What’s up and welcome everyone to the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast. I’m your host, Drew Manning.
Lynn: And I am your co-host, Lynn Manning.
Drew: Thank you guys so much for joining us today. On today’s episode, we sit down with Melissa Hartwig, who is the creator of the Whole30. For those of you who don’t know what the Whole 30 is, its a 30 day program that helps you facilitate a better relationship with food. It’s kind of extreme. It’s kind of more of a tough love approach, but it works.
Lynn: Yeah, it is a little bit of a tough love approach. It’s really interesting, we won’t share too much here because we are going to get really into it with Melissa in just a few moments.
Drew: We talk to her about what her biggest pet peeve is with the Paleo industry. We talk to her about has she ever had Paleo pancakes and how she feeds her kids. She has a 2 1/2 year old son. She talks about how she, as the creator of Whole30, feeds her child. It’s a very interesting episode. So, let’s go hang out with Melissa.
Drew: Alright, thank you so much, Melissa for joining us today on the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast. How are you doing today?
Melissa: I am so good this morning. How are you?
Drew: I am fantastic. We are fantastic. We are excited that you are joining us today. For those of you who don’t know who Melissa is, let me just introduce her really quick. Melissa is the co-creator of the Whole 9 the Whole30. She is a New York Times best selling author of the “Whole30” and “It Starts With Food”, which are both amazing. I have read both books and they are both amazing. She is the best known for having the best hair in the business.
Drew: Is that correct?
Drew: It’s actually on your bio here! I see it on your bio right here.
Lynn: She really does have amazing hair.
Melissa: It is literally my only professional qualification. I have nothing else going for me, but I do have really good hair. *laughing*
Lynn: I mean, she’s incredible anyways and she’s obviously ridiculously talented. But that hair, man, that hair.
Drew: Melissa, obviously we are going to get into the Whole30 and what it is because everybody asks you about that. I actually have my own personal experience with it, which we will talk about in a little bit. But first of all, how did we meet? How did you find me, I’m trying to remember how we connected? Because I know that you live here in Utah, but how did we meet?
Melissa: Oh, yeah I think that’s how it was. I think that I realized that I definitely had known who you were and what you had done through the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience and I think I realized you were in Utah and just outreached and was like, ‘Hey, you are here, I’m here and we are both kind of doing this changing life thing.’ Basically, I invited you guys to dinner and that’s what we did.
Drew: That’s right, we bonded over ….
Lynn: We bonded over food, which is how I bond, so that was nice.
Melissa: Yeah. I think if I recall, what happened was I invited you to dinner and you were like, ‘Great, I’ll bring my wife.’ And then basically you were invisible at dinner because Lynn and I discovered that we were madly in love.
Drew: That is what happened.
Lynn: We looked deeply into each others eyes, we ate really good food and that was the beginning of our relationship.
Drew: Yeah, I think I said about three words and that was about it. *laughing*
Lynn: That was all that was needed, really.
Melissa: It was magical.
Lynn: Then I started reading your book, ‘It Starts With Food’ and everybody should pick up that book. That is the first book they released. I will be honest, I am not always into the science aspect of things. But this book, I read it pretty much start to finish. I never put it down, aside from sleeping or eating, of course. It’s amazing. To give it to us in a nutshell, why don’t you tell us what is Whole30?
Drew: Yeah, when people come up and ask you and they have never heard of it, what do you tell them in a two sentence explanation?
Melissa: Yeah, I’ve got a one sentence thing, right? Basically, you can think of the Whole30 like pushing the reset button with your health, your habits and your relationship with food. That’s my sort of one liner. It’s not a diet, it’s not a weight loss program. It’s not a quick fix, not in the traditional sense of diet, anyway. It’s essentially a program designed to eliminate foods that are the most commonly problematic in one of four areas and we outline those four areas. It starts with food, and I can get into them. Then you reintroduce those foods very carefully and systematically, one at a time. So, you can identify how some of these potentially problematic foods work for you, in your specific context with your health history. Also, with your goals, with what you consider to be work in terms of foods that are delicious but maybe not that healthy. The Whole30 is essentially a way to create the perfect diet for you.
Drew: Yeah, and that’s what I like about it. When people ask me what the Whole30 is, I try and give that kind of explanation. It’s not as good. *laughing*
Lynn: *laughing* It doesn’t sound anything like that.
Drew: It doesn’t sound like that. I just say, ‘Hey look, it’s no grains, no dairy, no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, no whey protein and nothing processed.” That’s it in a nutshell, but what am I missing? Is there anything else?
Melissa: I just tell people it’s whole foods. I think maybe on purpose you left out alcohol.
Lynn and Drew: *laughing* Oh, yeah.
Melissa: I don’t know if he wasn’t thrilled about that, but no booze.
Lynn: But you know what, right after we say that and before they can speak, we say, but you can have coffee. And then that’s fine.
Melissa: Yeah. And I usually try to kind of describe the program and the benefits of the program before I get into all the stuff you can’t eat. Because that list can sound very intimidating to a lot of people, so I usually focus on the positive. Like, what you are going to get out of this program and what you are eating on the program. Once they get on board with like, ‘Yeah, that sounds really good. That sounds like something I can do’, then we get into the nitty gritty and here is what you’re not eating for the 30 day period. That’s important to emphasize, it’s only 30 days, remember.
Drew: Yeah and that’s what I love about it. I think that’s actually really smart to lay out the positives first, because so many people just want to know, ‘Ok, what can’t I eat?’ That’s what they want to jump to. Giving them the positive benefits first and then saying here’s the details of what you can’t eat. The way I try to teach people to eat is pretty similar, maybe not as strict as the Whole 30. People always want to know, ok what do you want me to take out of my diet. So, I ….
Lynn: But, I want her to specifically go through that, because I agree. A lot of times we don’t focus on the positive and we should because that is really what is going to compel you to complete a Whole30. Anybody listening considering doing something like this, why don’t you briefly talk about a lot of the positives that have come from this program and peoples lives. There is a huge list.
Melissa: Yeah, there really is a huge list. Because the rules of the program address not only some of the physiological benefits we want to achieve, but also really thoroughly address people’s emotional relationships with food, cravings and bad habits. There is a lot of habit research built into the rules and the support that we offer. The benefits are really, really wide ranging and very commonly reported. People’s energy improves and stabilizes, so no more 3 p.m. slump, no more needing that coffee and sugar. No more sort of prowling through the pantry at 9 p.m. looking for something sweet to satisfy those eater cravings or energy needs. Peoples sleep improves tremendously, that’s something we hear. ‘I’m falling asleep easier and sleeping longer, sleeping much better and feeling like I am getting more restful sleep.’ People’s focus and attention span improves and mood improves. People report like, ‘I’m really happy when I eat this way.’ Of course, we know so much about the way that food and hormones impact our moods. Cravings are reduced, people feel like they don’t have the cravings they used to have. They feel like they are in control of the food they are eating for the first time. Skin improves, you hear a lot about skin, hair and nails improving. Athletic performance and recovery improves, as well as any number of medical symptoms improve. We have had complete reversal of Type 2 Diabetes. We’ve had people who are no longer …. They are managing their multiple sclerosis and lupus and lyme disease symptoms just with dietary intervention alone. They are off their blood pressure medication, off their cholesterol medication. We’ve had some incredible stories with kids and behavioral issues that have done complete turnarounds. The list goes on and on. It’s almost like there isn’t any area of your life that changing your diet in this manner can’t have a positive influence on.
Lynn: Yeah, I was just going to say, basically I would be a completely different person. But hopefully with the same great sense of humor.
Drew: I know. We are still trying to get Lynn to do a Whole30.
Lynn: Drew has done a Whole30, so let’s share that.
Drew: Yeah. So, I did do the Whole30. Melissa challenged me to do it and you know me, I am always up for a challenge. You know, like a six month skinny 75 pound challenge type of guy. *laughing* So, I decided to take on a Whole30. *laughing* To be honest with you, I eat pretty clean most of the time. The two things I found challenging were no Whey Protein, which I have once a day. Usually I’ll have like one Quest Bar or one sip of Whey Protein and then the gum. Like I …. that was really hard for me, is like no gum with the artificial sweeteners, when I go to the gym. Just because, I am self conscious and I don’t want to have bad breath.
Lynn: Drew is a close chatter.
Drew: I felt like I had to have some gum, you know? You know when you work out, you get dry mouth sometimes? Especially doing CrossFit, afterwards I would just kind of put my shirt over my mouth as I was talking to people afterwards.
Drew: Those were like the hardest things. But the other things weren’t too difficult for me. But here are the things I noticed. I noticed better digestion, which for me was amazing. Probably had to do with the Whey Protein being taken out and the energy levels you mentioned. Not having that 3 p.m. slump in the afternoons, those were the two biggest things that I noticed from my Whole30. I’m a proponent of it and I know some people think it’s really strict, but I think it’s good just to do for 30 days, notice the benefits. And then from there, for example, I don’t chew gum anymore when I go to the gym. I did start going back into Whey Protein, but not as much as I used to. I am just more conscious of it and so every once in a while I will take a break from Whey Protein. But the gum thing, I actually kind of kicked that habit.
Melissa: Yeah, the gum is a really hard one for a lot of people. Sometimes it’s about wanting your breath to be fresh, but more often than not, it’s just habitual. It’s just sort of like this habit. So, the gum thing is challenging, but breaking that habit can be really good. I did forget to mention one of the major benefits of the Whole30 is improved digestion. Less bloating, less digestive upset. Things kind of moving more regularly. The program is really strict for those 30 days, but it has to be, because if you’re trying to do this scientific experiment where you evaluate, say how Whey Protein does for you, you have to completely eliminate it for 30 days and then reintroduce it very carefully and systematically as the only factor. That’s the only way you will be able to know what your life is like without it and then when you reintroduce it, does that reintroduction have a negative impact on any of the benefits you’ve seen over the last 30 days. It’s strict not because we are trying to be a boot camp or some kind of hazing. We are strict because of a physiological perspective, if you are going to do an elimination diet, you have to pull it out 100% to really be able to thoroughly evaluate the impact.
Lynn: Yeah, and for our listeners and even for us, to kind of explain why that is, because I have had people say before when I have suggested that they do a Whole30 or something similar to that, they say, ‘Well, why can’t I just take it out a day or two.’ I had to explain to them, it can take a couple of weeks for some of these things to completely exit your body. Is that why you guys make it a full 30 days?
Melissa: Yeah, that’s a really, really big reason, because if you …. the potential damage that some of these foods have been doing to your emotional relationship with food, your metabolism, your digestive system and your immune system can take many, many weeks to recover from. In some cases, if you’ve got like an underlying medical condition, like chronic pain, chronic fatigue, any digestive issues, if you’ve got any sort of hormonal imbalance, things like pre-diabetic or Type 2 Diabetes, it’s going to probably take even longer than 30 days to, in the absence of some of these potentially triggering foods, for you to really see the benefit. So, 30 days is a compromise. It’s long enough to see real and tangible benefits from the protocol, but it’s not so long that it seems unattainable. It kind of comes a little bit from habit research, where the average number of days it takes to break a habit is 66, which is when you add the reintroduction in here, you are looking at more than two months of this protocol, which can seem pretty daunting. So, it kind of comes from both of the physiological stuff and habit research, 30 days is like a really good compromise.
Drew: Yeah. I agree. Kind of getting back to my experience, I have a question. Will there ever be a Whole30 approved gum? *laughing* And if so, when?
Lynn: Oh my gosh! *laughing*
Melissa: You know, sad face for you, probably not.
Lynn: He is actually making a sad face.
Melissa: Probably not because it is so hard to change people’s habits and relationship with food, I did say sad face, you know how I feel about emoji’s, so I basically like say the emoji out loud.
Melissa: Instead of using them. Sad face emoji.
Drew: We will put that in the show notes, the sad face emoji in the show notes.
Melissa: That’s right. We are trying to change people’s habits. The act of chewing gum, even if there is nothing bad in the gum, the act of putting something in your mouth and chewing it for hours upon hours, and I know a lot of people who are serial gum chewers, where they pop a piece in and after a few minutes they throw it out and pop another piece in, that act of chewing without actually eating and swallowing sends really powerful signals to your body that isn’t necessary healthy for your digestion. So, because of the habit of it, and because of the fact we don’t want you chewing without actually eating, no, I would probably never sign off on a Whole30 approved gum. Instead we would look for alternative ways to help you feel like your breath was fresh and break you of that habit of feeling like you need to chew something.
Melissa: Very often that is a stress response. People grind their teeth and clench their teeth and chew as sort of a manifestation of stress or anxiety. So, let’s take a look at that and address that and kind of break that habit all together.
Lynn: Man, she’s really deep now.
Drew: Ok, touche’, you got me. You got me. *laughing* Ok, kind of changing directions here, I want to get into the Whole30, on a different level. The Whole30 is what it is, but I want to know if you have had experience with people who have used it for other benefits, or trying to change the structure of it to fit their lifestyle. For example, have you had people use it for intermittent fasting? Where they are doing Whole30 but they are doing intermittent fasting, where they are fasting for 16 hours and then they eat in the 8 hour window? Or have they used it while doing ketosis, where they take out some of the starches, like from potatoes and sweet potatoes and do the Whole30 for ketosis? Or they are doing the Whole30, but without meat or animal products for veganism? Do you have experience with that? Have people done that before?
Melissa: People have kind of combined the Whole30 any number of ways and with any other number of protocols, whether I would recommend that is a totally different story. I actually just wrote a story that was just published on Monday about Whole30 and intermittent fasting and whether you should combine those two protocols. My stance is that you should not. The Whole30 is designed for a very specific purpose, it is to teach you how the foods you are eating is impacting, again your relationship with food, your metabolism, your digestion and your immune system. It is a very specifically designed protocol. When you start throwing other protocols, kind of ‘willy-nilly’ on top of it, it’s going to be really like …. like the more you change, the more it’s going to be difficult for you to identify which factor is contributing to either the positive benefits or the negative. I see a lot of people who gravitate towards intermittent fasting for all the wrong reasons. They tend to do it wrong, right? They are using intermittent fasting as a cover up for the fact that their hormones are simply out of whack. They wake up not hungry and they don’t want to eat breakfast until 11 a.m. anyway, so instead of saying, ‘Hey there is something wrong with not waking up hungry. That’s not biologically normal.’ They say, ‘Oh, well I am just intermittent fasting.’ What you are doing is not ‘IF’, you’re just not eating, right? If you’re not making a conscious effort to get all your calories in the later part of the day, if you are doing it every single day, that’s not very intermittent. Again, intermittent fasting is a very stressful protocol and I don’t know who can afford to add more stress to their lives at this point. I’m not a big fan of combining those two protocols. Do one, learn the lessons you need to learn from the Whole30 and then once you’re in a place where you are fat adapted, where your stress levels totally manageable, and I’m talking about you sleeping 8-9 hours a night. You are not over training, you are recovering adequately, you don’t have a ton of psychological stress, you don’t have any medical conditions that may preclude you from intermittent fasting. Then if you want to, you can play around with it. But man, that’s not a lot of people that can meet all that criteria.
Lynn: Like, no one I know. Like, pretty much absolutely no one I know. I love your response on this, even though we could probably do a whole episode on intermittent fasting. One of the key things I just tell my clients, because I only work with women. Melissa obviously nailed this right on the head, is the studies that I have done show that intermittent fasting, specifically for women, can create chaotic hormonal imbalance. I just tell people to research the ‘shiz’ out of it and really take a deep look at themselves, like you said about are you really in a place where your hormones are already balanced? Are you really in a place where you are getting a sufficient amount of sleep? And like you said, all of the key factors that would need to be in place to make it, especially for a woman, manageable and productive, rarely ever fit. We could probably spend like half our time on that. But I just, I really love your answer, is where I am going with on that.
Drew: Ok, so ….
Melissa: I would say the same thing for the ketogenic diet as well. There are some very specific medical conditions in which a ketogenic diet is appropriated. Its shown very helpful for certain types of cancer. You can design a very specific ketogenic diet to assist with certain kinds of neurological conditions. If this is your context, you better be working with a medical doctor to design a protocol that is very specific to you and your context. So again, I wouldn’t want someone going into the Whole30 and being ‘willy-nilly’ like just cutting out all carbohydrate and seeing what happens. Use the Whole30 the way that it was designed and if a ketogenic diet is appropriate for your condition, I need you to be working with your medical doctor, health care provider or a qualified registered dietician for that.
Drew: Would you say the same thing for Vegans?
Melissa: Well, so this the thing, you can’t do the Whole30 as written as a Vegan. You can’t, because you would only be eating nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit. That is not a healthy diet, that is not a healthy balanced diet. We eliminate all of the plant based protein sources that a vegan needs. So what we have done is generally said, ‘Look, you can’t do the Whole30 as a Vegan, but if you want to implement pieces of our framework based around eating whole nutrient dense unprocessed foods that don’t promote cravings, that don’t promote over consumption. If you want to embrace that framework, here are some ways you can do that.’ Using the self imposed self limitations that you have set for your own diet, which is that you won’t eat any animal products. We have outlined a protocol and we have had some people use the Whole30 framework within their vegan diet, of course they are still eating some plant based protein. But they are kind of using best case scenario based protein. So, they are not using all the processed soy burgers and the processed soy cheeses. They are using the whole unprocessed …. they are doing the fermented organic non-GMO tofu and some of these non-gluten grains. They do really well with it, as well as they can, within the construct of their own diet. But we kind of look at a Whole30 protocol with veganism as damage control. I firmly believe that you can’t be optimally healthy without eating any animal protein. What we do is essentially say is, ‘I don’t think your diet is going to get you the optimal health, but let’s make it as healthy as it can be within the confines of your self imposed limitation.’ That’s how we approach that, but we try to be very welcoming about it, because we want everyone to feel like they can participate in our community, regardless of what is on their plate. Our community really is supportive.
Drew: Thank you so much for addressing that, because those three things, intermittent fasting, ketosis and veganism are pretty hot topics in the health and fitness industry. People are experimenting here and there with those things, so I wanted to see where Whole30 fit in with those things and hear your thoughts. So, thank you for addressing that.
Lynn: Yeah and Melissa’s response is so good. I was sitting there thinking, ‘Man!’ When people ask me, all I do is I say one thing, I say, ‘I love bacon.’ *laughing* And that’s it. I am going to re-listen to this and adopt Melissa’s response.
Drew: *laughing* Exactly. What’s interesting is ….
Melissa: It’s almost like I do this for a living.
Lynn: I know! Geez, what are you? A professional? *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* I recently just saw someone ask you about Intermittent Fasting and I actually saw your response, which by the way, I came up with my question before I saw that.
Lynn: Sure you did.
Drew: No, I promise I did. I just thought it was cool that it was at the same time. Ok, question about your son, Atticus, who is beautiful by the way. You have a beautiful son.
Lynn: He is adorable.
Melissa: I know, thank you.
Drew: How do you approach you being the creator of Whole30 and now you have a kid, how does Atticus eat? Do you make him eat Whole30 all the time?
Melissa: No, we just like pick him up McDonalds and stuff, it’s fine! *laughing*
Lynn and Drew: *laughing*
Drew: No, I mean, I think people want to know.
Melissa: Yeah, he’s never eaten anything that isn’t Whole30, with the exception of a little bit of added sugar, maybe in a chicken sausage. He’s never not eaten anything that’s Whole30. He does clarified butter or Ghee rather, he eats exactly what we eat, which is meat, seafood and vegetables and fruit. Even for his birthday, we’ve never done a birthday cake for him. Like for his birthday last year, I baked this Paleo apple crumble thing for him, thinking it would be like a little treat. He just wanted a burger. We just stuck a candle in a burger and he loved it.
Lynn: This is the healthiest child on the planet. You should have seen my face the first time I was with Atticus and Melissa. She told me this child had never had a cupcake. My face was like, ‘For real?!’ But this kid, he is so funny. I know there are people out there, and even I am very snarky. Even I would joke around like, ‘You’re depriving this child.’ But the truth is, this child is like the happiest, most well behaved, completely healthy child on the planet. So, props to you.
Drew: Yeah, and I just want you to know that I totally respect that. I totally respect that, Melissa. I think it’s very cool of you guys to practice what you preach, and even for your child. Which I think is hard, because there are probably a lot of people on the outside saying, ‘I can’t believe you don’t give your child cupcakes or Kool-aid, Capri Sun or things like that.’ But when it comes down to it, you are looking out for your child’s health. But the question is what about when he gets older and goes school, he goes to friends houses? What at that point?
Melissa: I have complete control, my child is two and a half years old. I have complete control over his diet, his caregivers, his grandparents. Anybody who comes into contact with him on a regular basis, knows the way we eat and completely respects the way we eat and will only give him the food that we want to give him. I have complete control over what he eats, at some point I will not. We will cross that bridge when we come to it, right? At some point, I’m not going to freak out if the kid goes to a birthday party and indulges in a cupcake. It’s fine, so be it. We will figure out if he’s got any food sensitivities. We do know he has some sensitivities to certain foods and they give him eczema. So, we will cross that bridge when we come to it. But the idea of saying like, at some point he is going to be exposed to these foods, so why be so strict now. That is foolishness. Why would I not want to feed my child as best as I could, in the manner that I think is the healthiest for him now, while I can. Then at some point we will deal with the fact that he is going to be exposed to some of these things. We will have the conversations. We will talk about, ‘Hey, when you ate that cupcake, remember how you ….’ This is how I encourage parents to talk to their kids who are younger. ‘Hey, you ate the cupcake and when you came home you had a fight with your sister and I had to put you in timeout. I think when you eat cupcakes, it makes you kind of cranky. Remember yesterday when we had a snack and you had ants on a log, you played really nicely and you got to read an extra book? I think ants on a log make you really happy.’ You can draw these connections for them and hope that they continue to make good choices while they are with you, while you have the opportunity. When they don’t, unless there is a serious food sensitivity, or an allergy where you have to be really strict, I’m just going to have to roll with it. We will have to figure out what that looks like. We were at the park and there was a little kid feeding the ducks and Atticus went over to grab some bread to feed the ducks. He borrowed a couple of pieces of bread to feed the ducks. He was feeding the ducks and breaking off a piece and throwing it and breaking off a piece. He broke off a piece and looked at it and I was like, ‘Oh no!’ and he tossed it, and I was like, ‘Alright.’ *laughing*
Lynn and Drew: *laughing*
Lynn: There it is, first exposure.
Melissa: It happens, you know? I know the same thing happened when he was out with Dallas one day. It happens, we don’t freak out about it. But I am going to do the best I can for him with the knowledge that I have, while I have control over what he eats. He is a happy kid. If you gave him a choice of a cupcake and bacon, he would take the bacon 100% of the time.
Drew: I think that’s really cool, because we kind of have the same approach. I, for those of you who don’t know, I do all the cooking in our family. When my kids are at home, I can control what they eat. They eat what I make them. But I know when they go out, they are going to be close to other foods. If they had the choice between broccoli and cupcakes, they are going to chose the cupcakes at school, for example. I don’t freak out about it. If I can just control what they eat while they are at home, it will make me feel more comfortable that we are still instilling these habits. We talk about why these foods are good for them, not just, ‘Hey, eat your broccoli because I told you to.’ We don’t take that approach. We try to explain the why on a very basic level to our kids, who are growing older now. They are 6 and 4. I think that is good advice for anybody that has kids and just do the best you can. Don’t beat yourself up.
Melissa: Yeah. We do have a series of articles on Whole30.com all geared toward getting your kids over to this way of eating to if you are doing the Whole30 for the first time and you want to get your family on board. There are some different approaches you can take, how to judge from your kids personality and temperament whether you go all in or ease them into it. The pros and cons of each approaches. We have addressed this in detail on the website because we know it is a hot topic for people.
Lynn: Ok, so I have a question that I don’t want to come across in a bad way, so hopefully it doesn’t. This has been the biggest thing on my mind. Maybe it’s been the biggest thing that has prevented me from wanting to try to do my own Whole30. Aside from the fact that obviously most of the stuff I love is not Whole30. *laughing* That aside, my biggest things is a lot of times when I go on to the Whole30 community, which has of course so many benefits. People are so loving and supportive and helpful or encouraging, which I like. But a lot of times I see people that are like doing a ‘Whole 60’, a ‘Whole 80’, a ‘Whole 90’, a ‘Whole life’ and it almost seems, in my opinion or view, because someone will have a soy milk and they will be like, ‘Did you make sure that it didn’t have this one thing in it?’ Like almost obsessive, which in my perception, kind of takes away from the concept that they are having a positive relationship with food. Do you feel like sometimes people kind of take the program too far and turn it into something it wasn’t meant to be?
Melissa: Yes. I do, I do. When you have, literally we run like hundreds of thousands of people through this program, anytime it sort of spreads that big and that far, you are going to have people with a little bit of a game of ‘telephone’. They sort of hear it from a friend, who has heard it from a friend, who has heard it from a friend. Maybe they don’t understand the spirit or intention. Maybe they got such amazing results, that they start to kind of proselytize. I think anytime somebody starts a new fitness or health effort that really works for them, they can become very excited and their intentions are good. But, boy I think you see it with CrossFit as well, where they become like, ‘Everybody should do this and it should be perfect.’ I think you get people who do misunderstand that this is designed to be a short term dietary reset. There is a kind of mentality in the health and fitness world, where it’s like if that is good, then more is better. More isn’t better, better is better, right?
Lynn: Oh, I love that!
Melissa: So then they take a Whole30 and think, ‘Well, that works great, so I am going to do a Whole 50, a Whole 90, a Whole 365.’ There are reasons that people might want to extend their program, if you have got a chronic illness. If you have got an autoimmune condition and 30 days on the protocol isn’t quite enough to see the results you want to see, there are some reasons why you might want to extend it. But, at some point, it’s not designed to be a Whole 365. I want you to come off the program, do the reintroductions and figure out how these food impact you. You have to turn this into something you can sustain for the rest of your life. You can’t do that if you are always kind of relying on our rules to make decisions for you. I do see that a lot in the community. I know that sometimes people’s enthusiasm can maybe be a bit of a turnoff. I always give people the benefit of the doubt. I truly believe it’s coming from a good place, where they are just so passionate about the program and they want to help others succeed. They are really invested in the rules and the protocol. I think if you come into the community, I’m a big fan online in general, of giving someone the benefit of the doubt. If someone comes off as rude or short or aggressive, I always just say, ‘Maybe this person isn’t that comfortable in a forum environment. Maybe they are new to the internet.’ I see that from a lot of people in my mom’s generation, where they don’t understand typing in all caps means you’re shouting.
Lynn and Drew: *laughing*
Melissa: Or maybe they are just so excited, right? Or maybe they are just so excited about the program, they really want to help you succeed. So when you tell them you got Almond Milk and they said, did you make sure it didn’t have something in it, then say, ‘Thank you so much. I really appreciate your attention to detail and how much you care I am doing a good job with the program.’ That’s how I like to approach it, because I truly believe people have the best of intentions with it. They are just really excited about the results they are getting and want to share it with everybody.
Lynn: So, to clarify for those who don’t know this answer, and I do. Do you eat Whole30 all the time?
Melissa: No, of course I don’t. I practice what I preach. I have done 6 or 7 Whole30’s over the course of the last 6 years, since we first created the program. I’ve learned something about how food interacts with me through every single one. My definition of what is worth it has changed quite a bit over the years. Things that I used to consider treats 3 years ago, now I look at and say, ‘No, it’s not delicious enough. It’s not worth it enough. It makes me feel not great enough, that it’s not worth reintroducing.’ But I do not. I use what I learned on the Whole30 and make conscious decisions about the stuff that is less healthy. If I think it’s so delicious or special or rewarding, that it’s worth me eating something that makes me less healthy. That’s how I live my life. I may go a couple of days without eating anything off plan or I may go on vacation to Mexico and eat off plan stuff and drink a margarita every single day. Both of those concepts are ok as long as I am making conscious deliberate decisions. That was my last Mexico trip, literally. I had a margarita every day.
Lynn and Drew: *laughing*
Lynn: This is why I love you. I love that. I love that this is really meant to be …. in the context of what the program is meant to be. It is meant to, like you said, learn about your body. To learn about what foods are doing to your body and I think that is so crucial for everybody. I have recommended it, even though I haven’t done it personally. I have recommended for people to do a Whole30 and do the reintroduction and say, ‘It sounds like from what you have told me, that dairy has been affecting you adversely. Or grains have been affecting you adversely. Why don’t you try a Whole30 and reintroduce and see how your body is feeling.’ So, I love that. So, from here then, you guys have two best selling books, an amazing program. Your reach on social media and the amount of people worldwide who have done the Whole30 is phenomenal. What’s next? Do you have a new project you are working on? How do you see Whole30 unfolding from here?
Melissa: We’ve got a few projects we are working on right now. From a strictly Whole30 perspective, we are gearing up for the January Whole30 already. So, January 1st, we always do a big site wide like group Whole30. This year, I think it’s going to be the biggest year yet. Obviously, our audience just continues to grow. We are gearing up for what that’s going to look like and bringing some great partners on board. We’ve got a new resource rolling out in the next month or so, geared specifically towards women. I’m going to leak it here ….
Melissa: We’ve got a program coming out related to pregnancy. Yeah, we are really excited. And I won’t get into too much detail, but it’s basically going to be amazing. And it’s not just about the Whole30 and pregnancy. It’s getting pregnant and being pregnant in the healthiest way possible, from a huge, big picture perspective. So, we discussed not just diet. We talked about exercise, we are talking about alignment. We are talking about conversations to have with your partner. We are talking about newborn procedures. We are talking big picture health to promote optimal development for your baby, but also a happy healthy pregnancy that you actually get to enjoy. We will be rolling that out within the next month and a half. We are working on a really cool project that’s going to get more boots on the ground support for people within their local communities for Whole30, so they don’t have to just rely on our online resources. That is what we are working on for next year. I’m just continuing to travel and speak and talk about all these various topics, like how to talk to family and friends. How to preserve your willpower around the holidays. I will be doing a session in New York City in December on that, which will be really fun. Yeah, we are keeping busy.
Drew: Yeah, thank you so much for letting us know about that.
Lynn: Oh man, I love the big project with the pregnancy. That is amazing. That is going to be huge.
Drew: Yeah, I mean for me, I’m not planning to get pregnant, but …. *laughing*
Lynn: Well, I thought we had talked about this? *laughing*
Drew: No, I think it’s really cool. Obviously, it’s geared towards women, so ….
Lynn: *laughing* Geared more towards women? Well, except for those select few men that ….
Drew: *laughing* Well, maybe they can talk about the husbands and how they can be supportive or not gain the sympathy weight? Anyways, one last question before we get into the lightning round. This is one that I think we get asked a lot, it has to do with staying healthy out in public. If you have an active social life and you’re going out and your family and friends aren’t as healthy, or they aren’t on Whole30, but you want to have an active social life, what are your tips that you tell people when they go out drinking or eating out all the time?
Melissa: I definitely don’t want you to turn into a health hermit or a Whole30 hermit. I don’t want you to do this healthy eating protocol and then feel like you can’t go out and socialize because there’s going to be no healthy food. Part of it is having discussions with your family and friends ahead of time, not when you are at the restaurant with the cheesy nachos in front of you. That is not the time to have a discussion about your healthy eating plan. But ahead of time you are having this discussion with your family and friends about, ‘Look, this is why I am doing it.’ You talk about your really personal reasons about why you want to make yourself healthier. You are not going to say, ‘I am doing this Whole30 protocol because I hear it can be good for hormones.’ That’s not particularly convincing. If you say, ‘Look family and friends, I feel like every day at 3 p.m. I have to rely on my diet coke and candy bar to make it through. That makes me not feel very good about myself and it promotes cravings that make me feel like I am out of control with my food choices. When I eat like this, I feel like I am in control.’ These are the kind of conversations you have that enroll people in this way of eating and set the expectations that when you go out, you will be ordering food a little bit differently than you usually do. When you get out in public remember, these interactions are not about the food or drink. When colleagues invite you out, it’s not so that you can specifically drink alcohol. It’s so you can go out with your colleagues and enjoy the laughs and unwind after the tension of a difficult day. It doesn’t matter what’s in your glass, you can have the same rewarding stress mediating social experience whether you have water or beer. Whether you have pizza on your plate or a salad. It doesn’t matter. The less of a big deal you make out of this in social situations, the less of a big deal everybody else is going to make. If you go to the bar and you are all awkward about it saying, ‘Oh it’s so weird that I am not drinking. I’m so sorry. It’s so weird, I’m just having water.’ You are going to draw attention to that. If you walk up to the bar and say, ‘Can I have a club soda with a lime?’ And act like it ain’t no thing, nobody is going to make a big deal. People are not as obsessed with what you are eating or drinking as you make it out to be in your head. Those are some of my best tips for staying social and still being healthy, because it is exactly what I want you to do. I want you to get out there and enjoy those experiences and then stick to what you think is going to be the healthiest diet for you at the same time.
Lynn: People will probably be shocked at this, because most people know me as the crazy foody. I snapchat donuts constantly. But, a couple of years ago, my sister that has Type 2 Diabetes, asked if I would do a 30 day, no dairy, no grain and no sugar and it happened to be the month of Christmas. But, when your sister, who is your best friend, asks you do to that, you say hell yes. So, I did. I went the entire month of December without any of those things and without sugar during the month that is sugarland. What is funny is, people ask me, didn’t everybody give you a hard time? I’m like, ‘I never made it a point to make it an issue.’ I never pointed it out. ‘Look I am not eating cake! I am not eating this!’ I would just make a plate of the things I could eat and I would socialize and have fun. No one noticed that the entire month of December, that I did not have one dessert. Like you said, it is only a big deal, if you make it a big deal. So, if you don’t want the attention, if you don’t want people razzing you about what you are or are not eating, don’t make it a big deal.
Drew: I think that is so true. The most important thing that you touched on, Melissa, was letting people know what you are doing, this protocol, this new lifestyle you are trying to live. The more people you tell about it, the more people you have to keep you accountable. Then hopefully your friends, that are your good friends, would be supportive. Unfortunately there are times people are going to try to sabotage you or are going to try to pressure you, but really are those the kinds of friends you want to have? That’s the thing, you find out who your support system is when you are vocal about your goals. You find out who your support system is and who your support system is not. I think that is really important that you touched on that, telling people before hand.
Lynn: It’s also not saying, ‘Oh, did you guys just order nachos? Did you know that’s really unhealthy.’
Drew: Oh yeah, yeah. Not being preachy about it.
Lynn: We are getting all this information and it was so great. But we are getting into my favorite part of the show called the lightning round. As we wrap up, I am going to ask Melissa five very unimportant questions. She gets no time to prepare, she must answer them as quickly as possible with the first thing that comes into her mind. It is a lot of pressure.
Melissa: I am going to do some toe touches and then I am going to be totally ready. I think I’m ready.
Lynn: Ok, what hair products do you use?
Melissa: Hairspray, that’s it.
Lynn: Lies! Are you serious?
Melissa: Literally that’s it. I don’t use any mousse or gel, I just use hairspray. That’s it.
Lynn: Ok, that was crazy. Ok, have you ever made Paleo pancakes?
Lynn and Drew: *laughing*
Drew: Oh wow, so hold on a second, before we get to the next question. What is your biggest pet peeve about the Paleo industry? Is it all the treats and things that people try to fit into the Paleo industry?
Melissa: You know, it’s not that people make that stuff. I think there is a pretty legitimate reason for saying, ‘Hey here are some alternatives for some less healthy foods, if you’ve got a sensitivity.’ But my biggest pet peeve for Paleo is how it’s perceived in the media. People like to report on the sexiest aspects of it, so you get this idea that Paleo is super carnivorous or meat only or it’s nutrient deficient or really extreme. Or yes, that Paleo is all about Paleo bread, Paleo pasta and Paleo pancakes. That’s often coming from the way it’s depicted. Obviously I take a look at some of the things that these bloggers are recreating and it’s like Paleo twix centered magic shell covered whoopie pies. And then I’m like, really? Is that what this community really needs?
Lynn: That sounds amazing! *laughing*
Melissa: I made Paleo pancakes for Christmas one year. I did. I probably made them three times in my whole life. I am not a pancake person.
Lynn: Ok, what was your last dessert and when was it?
Melissa: Ok, yesterday I had cupcakes. I was having a bad week and a girlfriend of mine literally mailed me a box of cupcakes. Like put them in the mail and maybe I will send you a picture of what they showed up looking like for your show notes. Because they looked exactly what you would expect cupcakes that went through the mail to look like. But I ate them anyway and they were amazing.
Lynn: Can I just say, she must be a best friend, because anyone that ships me cupcakes is a friend for life.
Melissa: That’s what I’m saying. They were even gluten free, which I appreciated. I had cupcakes yesterday and every last bite was worth it. I ate what I wanted to, mostly the frosting, and then the rest of it I left.
Lynn: Ok, most embarrassing moment?
Melissa: Yes. Like ever in my whole life?
Lynn: First thing that comes to mind.
Melissa: Alright. Well I will tell you the most recent story. I am having a call with the CEO of Tessie Mays, the big salad dressing company. I am on a business call with him talking about business stuff and it was winter time and I had a cold and my nose started to run. I go into the bathroom to get a tissue to blow my nose while we are talking. I am unrolling the toilet paper to blow my nose and as I walk out of the stall, my body unblocked the automatic toilet flusher and made a very loud toilet flush which came immediately through the telephone.
Lynn: *laughing* It sounded like you were pooping while on the phone.
Melissa: Uh-hu. The CEO of Tessie Mays assumed I was peeing or pooping while we were on a very important conference call.
Drew: That is funny. *laughing*
Melissa: Embarrassing! I tried to explain, and he was totally cool about it. But I was like, wow that was awful and I can’t do anything about it.
Drew: I could just see you, ‘I was just blowing my nose! I was just blowing my nose!’
Melissa: I know. It was really bad, so there you go.
Lynn: Ok, last question. Drew wrote this one.
Drew: Ok, if you could punch anyone in the face right now, who would it be and why?
Lynn: It could even be a celebrity if you want it to be.
Melissa: I am going to go with Jewel. I really have always hated her. I really have always hated her.
Drew: But she has such a nice voice.
Melissa: Oh, it’s terrible. Like her terrible songs and her poems and stuff, ugh. She needs to be in a box that needs to be rolled off a cliff.
Lynn and Drew: *laughing*
Drew: Ok, but what if she does a Whole30? Then will you like her better?
Lynn: If Jewel reaches out to you to do a Whole30, I am going to laugh. I am going to love that.
Melissa: If she promises not to …. it will be basically a Whole30 plus no poems for 30 days, that would be my rule.
Drew: You are so funny, Melissa. That is so awesome. Ok, and last question, because we ask this to every single person. I already know the answer, but I have to ask you, would you ever do a Fit2Fat2Fit journey?
Melissa: Never. Nope.
Drew: Never? Why not?
Melissa: Because I love what you did, because I love how it not only changed your mindset but because you were able to share your journey with other people and show your empathy and convey that to others. I love what you did, but I could never do something that was that purposely unhealthy to my body. I couldn’t. Even if it was before …. I don’t know, if it was for charity, maybe. You’ve already done it and you have already shared the lesson, so I don’t think I could, man.
Drew: No, I am just curious. I ask everybody on the show and so far everybody has said no. So, I am kind of bummed out. I did learn a lot. I did learn so much from it and kind of like Whole30 teaches you to have a healthy relationship with food, I kind of did the opposite, where I learned how bad an unhealthy relationship with food affects you. Not so much with weight gain, I mean I had the man boobs, of course and the big gut. But more so on a mental and emotional level that I never would have understood, had I not done it. So, for me, I have no regrets doing it. That’s why I tell people, I did what I did. I learned so much from it. I have a different perspective and I definitely have empathy now. Would I do it again? No, but I am curious to know if anyone else out there would do it to gain a better understanding. I am still trying to find someone to say yes.
Melissa: That was the part about your journey that I admired the most, was how up front and honest you were about the emotional toll it took on you. I think as a woman, I already have a pretty darn good idea of what an unhealthy relationship with food feels like and the emotional toll it takes on my psyche and my body. I can do that without gaining 75 pounds. I can do that just crawling back into old habits and an emotional relationship with food. I think as a man it was really powerful to read that you had a similar response. I love that you did it, so I don’t have to.
Lynn: For anybody that wants to follow you, your actual personal page is my favorite, because it’s fun and snarky like me. Where can people find you and follow you? What are your social media handles and all that?
Melissa: If you want to connect with me, I am really active …. I am still really active on the Whole30 social media, I stay connected to people there. So, we are just @Whole30 on everything, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you name it. You can connect with me personally on Instagram, that’s my most active platform, it’s Melissa_Hartwig. And since that’s my personal feed, you do tend to see more of my personal life. You see more of my personality, which tends to be …. I have a really dark and sarcastic sense of humor.
Lynn: I love it.
Melissa: I tend to be a little more up front with my personality on that feed. So, it’s not for everyone, but you can connect with me there. I just started a Twitter account, Melissa_Hartwig, that I am just starting to use. I’m doing some experimenting with some Periscope broadcasts @melissahartwig, but mostly Instagram. That’s my most active social media.
Lynn: We are going to put all those social media handles, for both Whole30 and Melissa in the show notes. So make sure you check those out.
Drew: Thank you so much, Melissa, for joining on today’s Podcast. We loved having you. We will have you back on again and next time, we will have to do it in person with you out in Hawaii visiting us.
Melissa: Yes! I plan on that sometime, in the winter when I am feeling dark and sad, for sure.
Lynn: There is always a warm spot for you next to me in bed, Melissa.
Drew: No comment. I guess I will be sleeping on the couch.
Lynn: We will even let you hang out with us.
Melissa: Yeah, for sure.
Lynn: Mostly just to go get us food.
Drew: I am used to that by the way. Anyway, thank you so much, Melissa. We love having you. We love you. You are an awesome person and we love what you do. Thank you so much.
Melissa: Thank you so much. That was so much fun.
Drew: Thank you guys for listening to todays Episode. We really hope that you will subscribe to our newsletters on Fit2Fat2Fit.com and 2fitathome.com to keep in touch with us and to know the latest about where we’re at and what we’re doing these days. And to stay in touch to know what the latest things going on in our lives are.
Lynn: And make sure to subscribe to us on ITunes guys and leave some comments. Leave your review. Let us know what you thought of the show, if you had any questions, if there are certain topics or people you would like to have on. We review those and we read them. It gives us the insight we need to make sure that these Episodes are for you and that they are quality.
Drew: Yeah. Thank you guys so much for being a part of our family and for listening to the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast. Please share it with your friends. We will see you guys next time.
Melissa’s Personal Social Media
“It All Starts With Food’
On today’s episode, we are joined by Melissa Hartwig, the creator of Whole 30. She shares with us the specific protocol for Whole30, what it is specifically designed for and who should and should not do it. She also shares with us her eating plan, as well as her families and how she works to keep her family healthy. If you have ever been interested or curious about the Whole30 program, join us and you will have all your questions answered.
“What We Learned”
The Whole30 Program is designed to eliminate foods that are the most commonly problematic in one of four areas. You then reintroduce those foods very carefully and systematically, one at a time, so you can identify how they work for you.
Combining other protocols, such as intermittent fasting, with Whole30 isn’t recommended, because the more you change, the more difficult it is going to be for you to identify which factor is contributing to either the positive benefits or the negative.
Intermittent fasting is not recommended for everyone, especially women, unless your stress levels are at a manageable level, you are sleeping well and you don’t have any medical conditions that could be affected by your fasting.
If someone is wanting to combine a keto diet along with Whole30, due to a specific medical condition, it is recommended that you work along with your medical doctor to create a protocol that is specific for you.
Whole30 is not recommended for those who are Vegan, because you would only be eating nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit. Some people can use the Whole30 framework within their diet, but it is kind of looked at as damage control.
“How To Take Action”
Whole30 is not meant to be a 365 a day habit, it is like pushing the reset button and should only be done for 30 days. Do not use it for longer than intended.
Have discussions with your family and friends prior to you starting your 30 days. Ask them for their support and to help you through this journey.
Make your journey personal, write down why you are doing it. Let others know why you are doing it and hold yourself accountable when the going gets tough.
Do not chew gum on the Whole30. It can cause digestive problems and even make you hungry.
Ask family or friends to do a Whole30 with you for support and encouragement.
Visit the Whole30 community online for tips, advice and support.