Dear Melissa,

I have lost about 110 pounds over the last 2-1/2 years, and the Whole30 was a huge part of that. But I tend to feel guilty or bad about that because it’s not an NSV (non-scale victory). There WERE a lot of NSVs, but the one everyone can SEE is my size. How do I share the gospel truth of Whole30 without making it sound like a diet? –Rachel, Tacoma, WA

Dear Rachel,

First, good for you! I am so happy for all of your victories, non-scale and bodyweight. The most important thing I’m going to say is this: Don’t EVER feel bad or guilty for your weight loss, or for being happy about it! While the Whole30 isn’t a weight loss program, we know many of you want to lose weight, and we honor and support that. So high-five yourself for your hard work, dedication, new body, and all of the benefits that you’ve seen.

However, your concern is how you share the philosophy of the Whole30 effectively when the first thing people see is your weight loss. Whether you’ve lost 15 pounds in a month or more than 100 pounds over two-plus years, the change can be really obvious, and it’s easy for someone else to assume that’s the only reason you did the Whole30 in the first place. When talking to people about the outside changes they’re seeing, sharing what’s happening on the inside can make all the difference.

Talking Whole30: Specific Strategies

If the comment is just a passing “Whoa, you look fantastic!” then simply smile and accept their compliments. There is no reason to deflect praise when people say you look great. You do! Own it, and thank them graciously.

If they press further about the changes (“How much weight have you lost?”), you can start to work your messaging in. “Around 30 pounds over a 6-month year period. I really took a health-focused approach.”

If they ask for details on your “weight loss diet,” here’s where you can really dig in. Don’t gloss over the weight loss, because that’s how the conversation started, but make sure it’s not the star of the show. “I didn’t diet or count calories. I did the Whole30 reset, a short-term elimination that helped me reduce cravings, change my habits, restore a healthy metabolism, and heal my gut. Once I got healthy on the inside, I noticed my outside catching up. I’ve never felt better, and I’ve been able to maintain my healthy habits for more than two years.”

With this response, you’re acknowledging the weight loss (which caught their attention), but emphasizing that this was a process, not a quick-fix, and that how you feel is just as important as how you look. And if they seem even remotely interested, now is a great time to list off all of the other NSVs you’ve seen: more energy, better sleep, clearer skin, or the resolution of pain or fatigue.

Bonus: Choose non-scale victories that you suspect might resonate with them the most, to really draw them in. The tired mom of a newborn may not care that your 5K time improved, but may love the idea of falling asleep faster and sleeping more deeply, and that may just be the talking point that gets her asking if she can borrow your Whole30 book for a closer look. And isn’t inspiring someone else to change their life yet another an awesome Whole30-related NSV in its own right?

In summary, be proud of your Whole30 hard work, and the results; both inside and out. You’ve earned it, and much like doing the Whole30, letting yourself feel good about your progress and allowing yourself to accept compliments is just another form of self-love.

Best in health,
Melissa

Got a question for Melissa? Submit it here.

Remember, we aren’t answering questions about the Whole30 rules via this column (use the forum!), nor are we able to offer you specific advice about your medical issue, health condition, or body composition.

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Melissa Hartwig is the Whole30 co-founder and CEO, and a 6-time New York Times best-selling author, including the #1 best-seller The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom. She has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, People, CNBC, SELF, and Shape. Melissa lives in Salt Lake City, UT.

Photo credit: Marie Carmel