Whole30, we meet again.

February 13, 2015

Tune in today to see if she can … Finish a second Whole30

In 2013, I was locked in a bitter battle between my goal weight and the final pounds remaining in a snail-paced descent from the second most epic weight gain in my history as human. To be fair, I did get a butterball of a baby (our second) in exchange for those 60+ notches on the scale. But now I needed a little nudge – nay, a complete overhaul – to bring it home and hit my prebaby digits. Buying into the buzz on the blogosphere, and at the urging of one of my dearest friends, I checked It Starts With Food out of the library and brought it along on a business trip to Austin.

The book and the Whole30 program were a lot to digest – pun intended – so I took the meat of the pages and created a short stack of cheat sheets. Copies of my primal packet in hand, I coerced a few girlfriends and my husband into joining me and my co-worker/great gal pal for a 30-day clean-eating adventure.

No dairy, legumes, wheat, sugar, alcohol, MSG (the hard stuff) or tobacco? It wasn’t an easy sell. But somehow, we made it. After a rocky start for the lady of the house (“Is this the flu? Or … what the hell is happening to me?” It’s called a sugar detox, and it ain’t pretty.) and one unfortunate peanut binge from the mister (“Well what the hell is a legume anyway?”), we logged 720 hours with nothing but clean, fiber-filled fuel and we felt great.

Putting all my cards on the table, I was skeptical. And then, about 9 days in, I tipped the cup back and drank the compliant Kool-Aid, so to speak. I was a convert. I mean, think about it. Almost everyone stuffing their face with the common American diet is struggling with some issue related to their skin, mood, energy, digestion, a food addiction, excess weight or sleep. Or, in my case, nearly all of those. The investment is really a little extra effort, with a return of health like you never knew your body was missing. You don’t know bad until you feel really, really freaking good.

A second date with W30.
Fast-forward to January of this year. Loaded down with baby weight (baby No. 3), a devil of a sugar addiction and just a general sloth state of being, I knew it was time to circle the wagons.

There were definite perks to shedding the amateur distinction. I felt more confident, prepared and excited for the “tiger blood” that sets in somewhere toward the middle-end. But every experience yields different lessons, and here are a few things I took away from this turn.

Whole30 lessons learned.

1) Pal up on Pinterest.  Create a board and start searching for #Whole30 recipes. If the pins are from cooks like me, they’ll have sweet little insights like, “add extra mustard”, “double the sauce”, “NOT. GOOD.”, etc. Take note of people’s notes, learn from their disastrous (and delicious) dinners and find pinners that speak to your palette to follow.

2) Basic is baller.  We’re in a safe place, so let’s just put it out there: Cauliflower crust is a paleo urban legend. You have a friend who makes the best cauliflower crust breadsticks with cashew cheese? Well, I’ve got $10 to Pizza Hut that says that’s bullshit. Let’s just stop the lies. I sabotaged so many meals on my first Whole30 by trying to make our usual food fit the requirements. Avoid the pitfalls and strive for whole, easy dishes that don’t involve “deconstruction” or anything “reimagined”.

The Chew’s Baked Artichoke Chicken, for example, took no more than 15 minutes to assemble and called for very few substitutions. It’s delicious on a manic Monday night. For a speedy Chinese takeout vibe, get this Ground Beef Stir Fry with Wilted Napa Cabbage poppin’ in your wok. This was my favorite dinner over the entire 30 days. Let’s make a pact right here, right now to skip the molecular gastronomy and agree we just aren’t fancy enough for that shit.

3) More is still not enough.  The best thing about eating so clean, is you can eat a ton of the foods on the list and still reap rewards. Let yourself get hungry and you’re screwed. Whether you stay at home all day or take your talents elsewhere, never find yourself without an approved option. Embrace fruit, LÄRABAR®, (Blueberry Muffin and Cashew Cookie got me through more than one instance where it was just me and a box of bear claws in a meeting room.), chopped veggies, crumbled bacon (Costco has approved options), guacamole packs, plantain chips and nuts as your new indulgences. That said, try to avoid grazing. [insert cow audio]

4) Bring your posse to the party.  I had a great group of gals from the office show up to the dance this time and it was a game changer. Exchanging recipes, gripes and victories can be the difference between dropping out on day 10 and considering a Whole90. (Yes, I actually did that.)

5) Prepare your pitch.  Sad but true, everyone from your mother to your waitress is going to question your “new crazy diet”. Practice a 2-minute elevator pitch explaining why you’re doing it, why it’s awesome and why it’s not for everyone. That way, when you hear this …

You: No, thank you.
Them: What, you don’t like mac ‘n cheese all the sudden?
You: Well, I’m doing this thing called Whole30. 
Them: What the hell is that?
You: It’s basically where you cut out processed crap and just eat whole foods for 30 days. 
Them: I eat whole foods … In fact, I’m gonna eat this whole plate of mac ‘n cheese right now.
[Pause while they snort-laugh at their massively original wit.]
You, if Carrie Bradshaw-esque voice-overs were a legit thing: Have fun slammin that Velveeta and being backed up for 3 days, son.

… for the billionth time, you’ll have a big can of verbal mace shaken and ready. You don’t need criticism but it’s natural for people to doubt what’s different. Indulge their curiosity and then shut. it. down.

Skip to the end.
After a weeklong carb/sugar exorcism and subsequent 23 days of relative successes, I lost 6 pounds (before and after pics to come … never), slept like a champ, felt completely clear-headed, had a bloat level of zero, and enjoyed sustainable energy from 5:15 am to my melatonin meltaway at 9 pm sharp. Yes, I would 100 percent recommend it. Yes, it is hard (I’m talking to you, Reese’s in the shape of a Christmas tree. You sweet temptress.). But above all of that, you can procure this cute shirt and Instagram it with a boastful, yet humble, caption at the end, and isn’t that really what it’s all about? Now go forth and purge your pantries! May the cream stay ever out of your coffee and the donuts dry and stale.

Until next time …

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1 Comment

  • Reply Ciarra May 19, 2015 at 12:16 am

    You rock! So glad you liked my el cheapo version of a stir fry! Loved your Whole30 tips too! 🙂

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