I can’t possibly imagine what is wrong with a steady diet of goat cheese enhanced dishes, chips and salsa, pizza, and Almond Joy coffee creamer, but somehow it all turned me into an achy, squishy lady with fingers that wouldn’t bend in the mornings. With a near constant rotation of friends, dinner parties, events, and celebrations, my world had too much joy in it for sensible ideas. Like my friend Shonna says, “Our lives are too fun to be skinny.” You are correct, ma’am.
But after a lovely round of GOUT (what am I, a 78-year-old man?) following chronic inflammation, fairly unattractive bloating (BRANDON IS A LUCKY GUY – eyes up here, bro), and basically my entire body turning to pudge, I figured it was time to act like an adult and get serious. It occurred to me that a 42-year-old body gets pretty sick to bloody death of being treated like a 16-year-old body, so it throws in the towel and stages a mutiny. My body was having none of this. It was so angry at the bad choices my mouth was making.
So I asked the internet what to do, and it gave me Whole30.
For the uninitiated: W30 means no gluten, grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, or alcohol. ALSO, no processed food, fake healthy food, soy anything, or basic joy. Essentially, look at everything in your pantry: it is all dead to you. Half your fridge: bye, Felicia. Restaurants: fix it, Jesus.
Me at restaurants this month: “Can you tell me what the chicken is cooked in? Is there sugar in the dressing? Can you leave off the cheese/bread/breading/peanuts/sauce? Can I get that on the side? Can you make that dry? Will you tell me all the ingredients in that soup? Can you just put a plain piece of fish on the plate and bring it to me?”
Waiter: “I hate this job.”
Anyway, I did it, y’all. I did the thing. I did the W30 and didn’t cheat except for one time I accidentally ate chorizo that had sugar in it but I didn’t know that until my sis-in-law told me the next day, so it doesn’t count as a cheat if I DIDN’T MEAN TO. Trust me, if I wanted to cheat this month, it sure as crap wouldn’t have been on chorizo. I would have gone face down in a trough of chips and queso with a wine chaser.
I promised you at the beginning of this I wouldn’t over-exaggerate the effects of W30 (“I lost my left arm and Whole30 grew it back in eight days!”), because none of us have time for the online evangelists. I can’t handle someone who has been a vegetarian for four days telling me how their hair is already growing back from its red-meat-related atrophy. Stop it. You ate a cheeseburger 92 hours ago.
So in full truth, here were the benefits of W30 for this lazy, undisciplined girl:
1. Halfway through, my inflammation was for real better. Before, I looked like the Snow White witch every morning with my gnarled fingers, but I could bend them like Beckham at about the 14 day mark. My knuckles were less swollen and I fit back into some rings. Basically, my fingers went on a diet and now they work.
2. I slept better. I have no idea why, but I did. I also slept more simply because some nights I was so bored and couldn’t have any snacks (don’t come at me with your snap peas) and didn’t want to drink ANOTHER SIP OF HOT TEA and I didn’t know how else to pass the time so I just went to bed.
3. I lost 12 pounds. I know, I know: “It’s not a weight loss program.” Well, I lost 12 pounds, jokers. It’s like unloading a very oversized baby. Thus, back into a few pairs of jeans that I had simply asked too much of 12 pounds ago. They were like, HELP US HELP YOU. PUT DOWN THE HOAGIE. WE’VE DONE ALL WE CAN DO HERE. YOU NEED A NEW CONTAINMENT STRATEGY.
4. My favorite benefit sounds pretty woowoo, but it was simply a lifting of brain fog. I know I sound like one of the online evangelists here, but I really did think better. I DID. Maybe it is that I could think longer – I normally kiss mental acuity goodbye around 1:00pm. I just lose steam and get mentally garbled; it’s hard to hang onto ideas and wrangle them into submission. But I looked at my brain this month and said, “Hello, thoughts. How nice to see you again. Look at all these lovely thoughts you’re thinking!” It was probably a function of digesting 8937 pounds of coconut oil, notorious brain food, but my head is operating better and longer.
5. Actually maybe this is the best benefit: the emotional victory of making a healthy decision based on self-discipline and seeing it through. At the onset, I looked at my calendar and thought: There is no way I can pull this off. Too many events, too many social things, too many guests coming over, Easter, Savor Food and Wine Festival, two weekends of out-of-town company, Supper Club, work travel. BUT I DID IT. Like a real life adult. It is possible. (My best hacks and tips are here.) After such a run of unchecked indulgence, showing restraint for 30 straight days felt like an enormous accomplishment. I’m not doomed! I’m not a lost cause! I’m not stuck in bad habits after all! The discipline spilled over into some other areas too, because while I was getting my crap together, I figured I might as well spread it around.
Like I told you here and here, I for sure had some rough days, but here is some good news: Nobody can actually make you eat or drink anything you don’t want to. No one asks you to leave their dinner party if you don’t eat the French bread. No one quits talking to you if you are drinking club soda instead of a cocktail. I made my own choices everywhere I went and even as I was hosting, and exactly no one died.
Furthermore, I didn’t miss out on hardly anything, or the best parts of it all at any rate. Still got the great conversation, amazing company, beautiful gatherings, all the fun. Still had the people, the experiences, the celebrations, and the connections. Also, I still ate food. So yay! And the food was good, even if I ended up making whackadoo stuff like cashew creme over squash “pasta.” The worst thing is that I was annoying and people had to endure my abuse of the word “compliant” which is W30 vernacular guaranteed to make us all outcasts.
Finally, I will tell you this: my greatest lament during W30 was coffee. I know: bulletproof coffee and the nutpods and the ghee and the blender and I KNOW, PURISTS. I did that shiz. And then everyone was like, you won’t like your old creamer when you go back to it because it will taste like a highchair tray.
So on W31, I put my Almond Joy creamer into my coffee and I will tell you exactly what it tasted like:
Unabridged joy and fulfilled dreams.
80%, suckers. I’LL SPEND MY OTHER 20% HOWEVER I WANT.