Well, we made it through two weeks on the Whole30! Halfway there! There were a lot of things on our minds this past week, so I’ll do my best to recap my observations. If you’re interested in learning more about Whole30 and my experience so far, check out my week 1 recap.
OBSERVATIONS – WEEK 2
- Getting the Whole30 book is definitely worth it. Even in college, I used any excuse to not buy a book. Unless it was a textbook I would need every day, I put off buying (or renting) a book as long as possible, and sometimes I wouldn’t buy a required book the entire semester. I found a lot of great Whole30 resources online—enough survival tips to get me through the program—and I assumed it was enough. But you know the gym guy that Sam says I spend way too much time talking to? Well, he gave us the Whole 30 book, and it’s made this whole past week a lot easier. There are two great resources in here: 1. a fundamental breakdown of why the program is designed this way and why it will change our lives; 2. a calendar of what feelings to expect on each day of the program (and it is really on-point). To be totally honest, I wish I had this book before we started the program.
- It turns out our first week was pretty normal for active, healthy eaters (but we didn’t know it until we had the book). We were hungry, irritable, and eating a billion nuts…well, at least I was eating a billion nuts. We wanted to quit on the exact days (days 10 and 11) that they estimated we would quit. We didn’t experience any of the major withdrawals of unhealthy eaters, but we still had the peaks-and-valleys kinds of energy levels they outlined in the book. If nothing else, I wish I’d known to expect these feelings during my first week —ESPECIALLY on day 10 for me—instead of feeling isolated and alone in my angst.
- This was the greatest menstrual cycle of my life. In an effort to keep this PG-friendly, let me just say that my period this month was shorter and less painful (I didn’t take a single painkiller pill!?) than any period I remember. It turns out this is neither normal nor unusual as paleo-type diets affect all bodies differently, but it’s obviously something my hormones appreciated. I daresay that this experience alone convinced me that Whole30 is worth the effort I’m putting into learning about my body. When these thirty days are over, I may do my best to eat in a W30 manner in the week leading up to my period moving forward.
- I’m still uncertain about eating meat. Remember those pork ribs I spoke so highly of on day 7? The ribs I wanted soooooo badly and that were sooooo delicious? Well, I took half the ribs home and made it into a killer shepherd’s pie. We spent most of week 2 on the toilet almost immediately following any consumption of shepherd’s pie. After being on a vegetarian diet for a long time (nearly six years for me), the human body stops producing the enzymes required to break down and digest meat. Sam eats primarily vegetarian and his symptoms aligned with mine, so we were both pretty sure it was the shepherd’s pie (or, more specifically, the pork, since this is the cleanest eating we’ve ever done and most other variables could be eliminated). We’re still eating salmon and that’s settling well, and we bought some turkey to try for week 3. We’ll see how that does over. Long story short, I’m not wholly convinced that I’ll go back to eating meat post-W30, even if it’s infrequently.
- Food is STRESSING ME OUT. I am thinking about and talking about food all the time. I am borderline-terrified about what my next meal will be and if it will satisfy me. I’m constantly talking myself out of eating a Larabar or another handful of nuts. Sam and I communicate all the time about what we’re feeling, what foods we’re missing, whether or not something is W30-approved, what the rules say about such-and-such, how we’re coping after a hard day surrounded by junk food and gluten-consuming coworkers. Food, ironically, is consuming my life, and it makes me feel anxious in a way I’ve not felt since Sam and I camped on an island without enough sustenance to last the whole trip. Meal planning doesn’t come naturally to me so I’m paranoid about making a recipe so I can eat something at work or when I come home. I hope this feeling passes, but I don’t think it will. These 30 days are packed with meal prep and calculation, so I think it’s just a part of the program.
- On the plus side, thinking about food so much also changes my perspective about food. For instance, things I once thought of as delicious and satisfying now look like nasty piles of sugar and fat. Chocolate and donuts don’t appeal to me because I know I’ll feel like crap if I eat them. Muffins, unfortunately, still make my heart beat faster with anticipation of eating one again. But progress is being made! When I was leaving the gym there was a commercial for Honey Bunches of Oats on the television. My mouth only watered for a second before I became disinterested. The commercial flashed images of skinny, healthy people biking and running through fields and eating hearty bowls of cereal, all while words like “wholesome” and “natural” and “lightly sweetened” flashed across the screen. I always knew that Honey Bunches isn’t a healthy cereal, but I loved it too much to care. But watching the commercial while being on W30, the only thing I could think was, What a bunch of filthy lies. And it’s true. The food industry is full of terrible, money-making lies. I’ve known about a lot of these lies, but I’m seeing some of my favorite foods in a new light. It’s not just hearing the lies, because now I can feel it. I have a better understanding of why people call the Whole30 “lifechanging,” because I don’t think I’ll ever look at processed foods the same way.
- Socializing is key. On Friday, I had three coworkers (all doing W30) over for dinner. It was nice to be with people who understood what I was going through since we’re all just a few days apart. Yes, we talked about recipes and food feels and all kinds of Whole30-focused things, but we also talked about a lot of other non-food things. It was cool to use W30 as an excuse to get together, but I was also glad it wasn’t the primary topic of conversation for the four hours we hung out. We also had brunch with one of Sam’s coworkers this weekend, and it was another fun excuse to eat a compliant meal but also have some interaction with the real world (plus, NO DISHES!).
- Breaking my eating habits is incredibly difficult. I am coping better with the limitations of what foods are off-limits (with very few exceptions: popcorn, tortilla chips, and cereal). However, breaking the cycle of when and why I eat is hard. I still want something sweet before bed, and I’ve succumbed to that desire nearly every night. It may be a piece of fruit, a spoonful of nut butter, some coconut flakes, or a mind-bendingly-delicious Larabar. This cycle—rewarding my brain with sugar, even though it’s “natural” sugar—is the next barrier I need to overcome if I really want to free myself from sugar cravings. Apples and oranges are so sweet, and after two weeks of clean eating, biting into an apple sends fireworks of euphoria through my entire body. This is the power of sugar, and this is what I want to coax my body out of during week three. I’m going to try hard to eat more mindfully and pay attention to what signals my body is sending to my brain and why.
- Best news of all…the TIGER BLOOD is kicking in. Tiger blood is what the W30 developers call the fireball-intense energy that you’re supposed to experience once the two weeks of detox are over. Sam and I have both had little blips of this energy, and it really does make me feel unstoppable (I’ve also had other days, like this past Sunday, when I’m groggy and lethargic and can’t clear the fog from my head). The Tiger Blood pumps through our bodies in weird, unexplainable ways. In just this past week alone, we’ve decided to sign up for a Chicago half marathon and our very first Ragnar relay race. Ragnar is a huge undertaking. In just five months, we’ll be running the entire Cape Cod coast in a group of 10 complete strangers. We’ve talked about doing Ragnar for a while, but finding 10 other people cray-cray enough to do one was a big barrier for us. So, when someone at Sam’s office posted about two openings in the Cape Cod Ragnar, it took me a total of thirty seconds to tell Sam we should sign up immediately. And so we did. I’m starting to question my athletic sanity. Either way, it feels really good to sense this energy pumping through my system all the time. I can see if getting addicting.
I’ve got some ambitious goals for week three: minimal nuts and fruit (especially after dinner), eating turkey, and starting a training schedule for the half-marathon and Ragnar. The good news is, this is supposed to be the week when everything starts clicking. I want to try and set myself up for success by breaking lifetime eating habits and seeking new fuel sources. Check back next week to see how it goes!