I’ll Take My Medal Now…Confessions after finishing the Whole30

Originally published on Where The Eff Is My Handbook

*Warning….This is a blog entry about going without sugar, grains and alcohol for thirty days (in a row!) There will be cursing, name-calling, and don’t be surprised if you see a plate fly across the room, because my love of food and wine is just that powerful. Also, this is a smoke-free diet, so my idea of taking up two packs a day for the thirty days was off the table, too. (Calm down dad….that was a joke, sort of). And out of respect for vegetables everywhere, don’t eat any f*cking bread while you read this.

The Whole30 is a style of eating (do not call it a diet…do not) developed by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, both health experts who have the type of self-control that makes you wonder if they’re really part of the same species as the rest of us. However, the amount of research behind the eating style is so extensive and comprehensive that it definitely does makes a person stop and think that maybe this is the way we are meant to eat. No bread. No sugar. No soy. No dairy. No grains. No legumes. No alcohol. There are many more specifics and restrictions, but it would take all day to go through every one.

When I first saw the Whole30 on an Instagram post, I thought it was sort of a joke; one of those challenges that skinny girls do. My thoughts are always that they must not really love and cherish food the way I do. They’re really missing out. But, something kept me intrigued, and I spent a lot of time on the Whole30 website. After some serious consideration, I bought the book and downloaded the audio version, too, because if I was actually thinking about doing this, I was going to need reinforcements from every angle.

The truth is that I was at a personal place in my life where I was feeling like I couldn’t control my eating. My husband and I are blessed to live a lifestyle where we go out often with great friends, and go away for weekends to visit different cities. I get so excited to try all the food in each location, and of course in places like New Orleans, Portland, and Las Vegas the alcohol runs freely and wildly. But I was off the rails. I was feeling powerless and gross and constantly disappointed with the food choices I was making. I was working out four or five days a week, but really, it was a waste in comparison to how unhealthily I was eating. I decided I needed to do something in a cold-turkey fashion. The Whole30 seemed like the right answer.

The Whole30 is not something you can do half-assed. Not 25% assed, 75% assed, or even 90% assed. You really need to put your whole ass into it, and hopefully, at the end of the challenge, there will be a lot less ass and a lot more confidence. I chose a month that we had made few plans and didn’t have any big occasions which I was going to want to enjoy in a celebratory fashion. You know, doing shots chased by chocolate or hitting every single station at a wedding cocktail hour. April was the only month that fit this criteria for me. Of course every month is hard, but it was by far the most doable. The scariest part was going to be telling my husband, who is my partner in crime. I knew he would not be happy about this decision. As my mother-in-law hilariously and accurately pointed out, I was going to become “Fun Bobby” from Friends. No one wants to be Fun Bobby.

My prediction was correct. Adam was definitely less than thrilled.

For the first three days, he sent me several texts saying “is it over yet?” I understood. They say life is short. Well not on the Whole30. You want every day to feel like five days? Just do the Whole30. You definitely can’t savour food, but you can savour time. Yet I was determined. We attended a Gender Reveal party for good friends on what was my first day on the program. I saw the Mimosa and Bloody Mary table set up and the pizzas with five different toppings. Yup, this was going to be harder than expected. The first few days I had no idea what I was going to eat, but with each meal I learned new tricks and recipes. G-d bless the internet; it’s chock full of amazing information and advice. Adam became a little more sensitive, too, and started using a red plastic cup to drink his wine out of at night instead of a nice see-through wine glass. Awwww.

People who do the Whole30 say they are cured from all types of ailments, from Diabetes to back pain to headaches, and even fertility issues. Truly, I just wanted to get rid of my bloating and get back on track to a healthier lifestyle and hopefully feel good in a bathing suit before vacation. After a week I had proven to myself that I could be in tough situations and restrict myself to the constraints of the program. I had been to the boardwalk and watched my kids eat chocolate covered waffles, gone out for Chinese and had only steamed food, and ordered sashimi at Japanese without soy sauce. Wow, life is swell, isn’t it? Seriously, it wasn’t that bad. I just really, really missed wine. Like, I really f*cking missed wine. Everything else was sort of just, doable.

So, the third weekend it happened. I didn’t plan for for it to happen. I didn’t go looking for it to happen. But, one night at dinner while out with friends, I cheated. Once. And it didn’t mean anything, I swear! And it wouldn’t happen again. It was only one glass of wine. On the Whole30 when you cheat or slip even just a little, the official rule is that you’re supposed to start over from day one. So, I guess you can say I didn’t really do the Whole30, cause there was no way I was starting over (I don’t even start over in Chutes and Ladders when I land on a damn slide. There was no way I was going back to the beginning here)! Still, I was so proud of myself despite that glass of wine and decided to just embrace the fact that I was going to have one glass and then get right back on track. And I did. Having that glass of wine actually further proved to me that I really had become in control of my own food choices. That is what I think Melissa and Dallas Hartwig would say the Whole30 is really about (but they would still tell me to start the f*ck over).

Now that I’ve completed the thirty days, I’m in such a healthier and more comfortable place. I feel less bloated, lost about seven pounds, and realize what I have to do to maintain this feeling. Whole30 has a component where you’re supposed to slowly reintroduce food back into your diet. Personally, I am going to try to keep eating exactly how I currently am for as long as possible (or at least until our vacation), and allow myself some wine on the weekends. I promise to follow up and let everyone know how it’s going.

I’m not going to sit here and recommend to anyone that they do the Whole30, because I don’t know what’s going on in someone’s life. A person really has to be in a very specific mindset and position to follow the program effectively. I never could have done this after right after my kids were born (life was too crazy) or following the death of my father-in-law (my mind was all over the place), but I picked a time that really worked in my life. I would do it again in a heartbeat, although I know my husband is literally ready to throw a party that it’s over. Nighttime in our house just isn’t complete without the two of us having wine and watching movies. We both missed that.

I will say that I feel like I can now be a good support for anyone decides to dive into it, and I get how hard it is, but also that no matter how much you think you can’t do it, with the proper preparation and outlook, you definitely can! As my sister said to my niece while I was in the middle of Whole30, “if Aunt Danielle can do this, anyone can.” My sister knows that I am passionate about having a good time, so I think even she was sort of shocked I was successful on it. And guess who’s starting the Whole30 next? Yup, she is! I can’t wait to be there to answer all her questions and help her get through it. Hey, over the phone she’ll have no idea I’m enjoying a bagel while she’s telling me how much she misses bread. I won’t tell her how delicious it is, cause I’m just that thoughtful.

Danielle’s tips for starting the Whole30

  • Don’t start it immediately. Spend at least a week (maybe more) researching, making lists, and ordering items online that you’ll need.
  • Buy the book. You don’t need to read the whole thing, but it’s an awesome reference. There’s also a cookbook.
  • Download the audio book, and even listen to a few podcasts about the program when you’re driving or taking a walk.
  • Stock up on meat and poultry. We invested some extra money and Adam ordered humanely raised, grass-fed beef from a company called Butcher Box. Cause if I was going to be eating 72 cows this month, I wanted to know they were happy, healthy, and treated well.
  • Build a chicken coop. Ok, not really, but I ate eggs Every. Single. Day. Buy multiple cartons, and again since you’ll be eating so many, I really feel like it’s worth buying the “ethical, pasture-raised eggs.” However, that is not required. Just as long as they’re not chocolate eggs, you’re doing just fine.
  • Inform everyone close to you that you’ll be starting the program. Let your best friend know that you’re not going to be able to go out and have drinks and eat crappy food together for, well, 30 days if that’s something you usually do. Instead, plan to see a movie, meet for (black, no sugar…yay!) coffee, or get pedicures together. And yes, it’s ok to preface with “so, I know this sucks but….” and remember it’s only temporary.
  • Know that you can do this if you want to. Trust me. There’s tons of support, and you are more capable than you realize. Like my big sister said, “If Danielle can do this, anyone can”