There was a time in my life when I wanted a big house and a turbo-charged European sports car.
There was also a time in my life when I rode only a bicycle and worked for Greenpeace.
Then there was the time when I decided to give up sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, and popcorn snacks.
The first two were definitely phases. The last one might have become a way of life. Well, mostly.
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? If this is your first time reading about my experience doing Whole30 then thanks for reading. If you followed along during our January experiment then you know I’ve been promising this “Life Since Whole30” recap for a while.
I’m at the airport in San Diego, heading to Malaysia for work.
Alexis dropped me off. She cried. She cried yesterday too.
I don’t get very emotional when saying goodbyes. I’ve always been pretty self-sufficient and don’t worry much about being alone. But this time was tough. Because it’s been a while since we’ve been apart and she becomes the same fabric as me and now it feels like I am missing something.
And because I’m going from home cooked Whole30 meals three times a day to a place where you don’t get too attached to the street dogs because they might end up in your stew that night. Sorry.
Honestly, I know she is sad but deep down I think she is experiencing some relief considering that she finally gets a break from my unrelenting gas.
So yeah, I still have horrible gas. Whole30 doesn’t fix everything.
I am reminded of how much I hate airports and planes. Most people only travel one time per year. And they’re pretty hard to be around. It’s a case study in the lack of situational awareness and common sense in the average human. Lotta people have hope for the future and say things will be better one day but those people have never traveled on a holiday.
So yeah, I’m still a mostly angry person.
By the time I publish this article it will have been two months since we officially finished our first Whole30.
The more I put off writing the recap the harder it seemed to start again.
But I’ve been on this article for only about twenty minutes and it’s all coming back. I feel the instinct to document everything and the appropriately dry sentences forming in my head as I am experiencing the moments. Writing is a part of who I am. To quote every white person living on either coast ages 18-35 who watches at least one Ted Talk per day – it is my passion.
And still, I can’t be bothered to do it sometimes because I simply don’t feel like it.
Few things actually stick. I assumed this strange and restrictive “diet” would have been another good intention clipped at the knees before ever gaining momentum.
But here we are. Eating mostly Whole30. Still making most meals at home. Still dropping about $200 a week at Sprout’s. And still saving a little bit of money each month by not eating out. Except for occasionally when we eat shawarma with rice and hummus or decide a gluten-free bun on a burger won’t be the end of us.
And it’s not.
Did I mention the occasional French fry off a friend’s plate? If you only take two at a time it’s still Whole30. I think you can find that in the new rules next to the section about salty snacks, right Melissa?
I did learn a new thing about Sprout’s though. There’s a cashier there that has the hots for Alexis. He always finds his way into her aisle to ask if she needs help with “anything”. I know what anything is, buddy. And the other week he told her she had pretty eyes while she was checking out. I’ve decided I need to go with her next time. After I get a teardrop tattoo under my right eye.
The morning of Day 31 was anti-climactic. Neither of us actually wanted to eat anything bad. Well, let’s clarify – we wanted to eat everything bad but our higher selves – our Whole30 selves – didn’t want to toss out all our efforts on some bagels.
We went for a compromise and ate Paleo-compliant pancakes. Not Whole30 approved. But not ingredients that were going to forbid us from early the holy sacrament.
Except that little bit of maple syrup that somehow snuck its way onto our plates.
The syrup hit me within twelve minutes. We were walking Woody to the dog park and I got the sudden urge to lie in bed and sleep for ten hours.
We ate Whole30 for the next eight days. I was more dedicated in those days than I had been in the previous thirty. It was like being caught cheating on a test and then showing your teacher how hard you can study to deserve a good grade.
I AM a good student.
During our 30-day stint we ate 87 of the 90 meals at home. That’s pretty remarkable if you think about it.
It’ll change your life.
If you think about the sheer time we spent in the kitchen over those thirty days then it’s safe to say that it did completely change our lives. It changed what we thought about, how we spent our time, and what kind of excuses we could come up with to explain to our friends why we were no longer social…
Looking back now, I’m trying to remember why it was so hard. Because it’s not that hard anymore. Because I regularly turn down pita and go for the salad.
But I was a disaster for a good portion of our 30-day stint.
Melissa says she was worried about me days 10-21. Something about my attitude. But I’m confident the more she gets to know me the more she will be worried about me every day.
Days 35 – 40 were the closest I came to the infamous Tiger Blood. I felt good. I even felt three degrees less foggy in my head. I could see people clearly and look them in the eyes and feel like there was a shared experience. I felt more purposeful with everything I engaged in. The value here took me to the next level of dedication.
For a while.
Without a firm commitment, we were bound to slip.
Little things caught up with us. We weren’t technically “on” the program anymore so if a friend just made fresh cookies it was kind of rude not to have one. Or three, in Alexis’ case.
We had a few big jobs and when we finished one we thought it would be cool to have a burrito for dinner. Because you know, reward yourself.
You can watch it happen in slow motion, us laying the foundation for our failure right in the openings of the conversation.
“Man, what a long day. I’m starving.”
“Me too. I don’t really feel like cooking.”
To consider the implications of a couple simple sentences like this – justifying the inevitable takeout food because we didn’t want to invest time upfront in preparing something ourselves – would put into perspective how often we misappropriate what actually saves (and costs) us time.
An hour later we were both on the floor holding our heads and stomachs. Victims of Thor’s hammer right to the dome.
But it was easier than cooking, right?
I’ve turned down a buttered roll and a tiny sized serving of ice cream on this flight so far and I’m not even three hours in.
I have a row to myself – which isn’t as cool as it sounds – because it’s an exit row and the armrests don’t fold up, so I can’t lie down. I do have infinite legroom. But it won’t be long before old Japanese men are doing calisthenics at my feet in their matching sweat outfits while waiting for the bathroom.
You can never get it all right.
Soon I am back in Malaysia, smelling the familiar smells and preparing for my bi-annual fight with the cashier at the airport Dunkin’ Donuts.
“Two waters please.”
“Okay, eight ringgit.”
I pull out my card.
“Sorry, no machine.”
I’m looking at the machine. I just watched it print a receipt.
“You have the machine right there.”
“Minimum ten ringgit.”
“Great. Charge me ten then please.”
She takes my card, pretends to swipe it – not even getting close to the card reader – and tells me the wifi is down.
“I just saw you…. nevermind….. You run a mediocre establishment.”
That was the best I could come up with this time.
It doesn’t feel good. Yet I keep going back.
Three and a half weeks of non-Whole30 foreign food followed…
I was scared to death about my trip to Malaysia. Not because North Korea’s President’s bro was just assassinated in the airport or the routine threats by ISIS on Kuala Lumpur, but because I was going to have to embrace the local diet.
What’s the big worry about white rice and chicken anyway?
To call it chicken by itself would be a bit insulting considering you’re more likely to bite into a nice chunk of cartilage or a kneecap than a breast or a thigh. Here, they suck the meat off the bones. Here, I don’t eat much.
Day after day – white rice, chicken tendons, and fish ball soup. I replaced much of this diet with a case of RX Bars, gluten free tortillas, and smuggled in avocados.
Do you have any agricultural goods to claim?
I was expecting pain and suffering at every meal. To go from my clean diet and toxin-free body to eating rat burgers and mountain spaghetti seemed harsh.
But it wasn’t that bad.
And here’s why.
I did not snack. And I did not over-consume quantity to make up for the lack of nutrition.
It was my most successful Malaysia trip out of thirteen in the last three years.
That dreaded trip turned out to be a blessing. It made it very clear that I would not die if I didn’t eat Whole30 compliant recipes. That my body was, in fact, very resilient. And I could remain calm in sub-optimal environments. I also didn’t gain back any of the weight I lost from the first month of Whole30. Which was a huge plus that didn’t go unnoticed.
But my god did I crave real food when I got home.
After some much anticipated sex it was right back to clean eating. Alexis has become a real master in the kitchen. I can’t even remember the time before she wasn’t natural there. I am now the one fumbling around trying to figure out the timing on all of the new recipes we cook. In the end, I kind of wish she wrote this blog because I think her experience growing as a human has been even more interesting than mine.
Oh, one more thing. I hate to admit this, but I’m back to shopping at Target. I know, I know… they towed my scooter and cost me $640. But it’s just so dang convenient.
I can’t say whether this is from the Whole30 or not but I’m much more aware of how likely I am to succeed at something if I have a specific plan to follow. I may go to the gym every day but if I’m just kind of doing whatever exercises I feel like in the moment I’m not getting as much out of it as I could. I start the negotiations after the second set. I’ll just do three sets. That’s totally enough.
The Whole30 isn’t about food or weight loss or thirty-seven pounds of frozen chicken in your freezer, it’s about following through on a promise to yourself. And gaining the confidence that comes along with that kind of follow through. It changes how you think about yourself and what you think you are capable of.
And it teaches you to make a mean home-made cashew milk.
If you want some company while you suffer desperately HERE is 30 days of Whole30 blogging that you won’t regret knowing about.