WOWOWOWOWOW. Somehow we’ve made it to Day 25! I can’t believe it! This month is definitely one of those “the days go by slowly but the weeks go quickly” scenarios. We’re a mere 5 days away from completing our Whole30 challenge. Spoiler alert: it’s still really challenging. Read on for more about our third week, and make sure to check out the short video!
OBSERVATIONS – WEEK 3
- SO. MUCH. FLOSSING. Normally I floss before bedtime, averaging 5-6 times a week, but now I’m flossing after practically every meal. Chai seeds, salmon, spinach, apple…it’s like I’m storing my next meal in between my teeth.
- My sense of smell is driving me crazy. Even though I’m 75% done with this challenge, it is still agonizing when someone eats warm, delicious, gluten-chewy pizza right next to you. Or even across the room. My nose is picking up all kinds of smells, and smells from foods I really crave are sensory explosions in my mind.
- Food is overwhelmingly emotional. I admit that I’ve broken a lot of sugar-craving habits since starting Whole30, but I’m still cutting a lot of corners. I haven’t felt completely freed from food yet. When we went out to brunch a week ago, I was able to get something I wanted: a delish roasted veggie hash with poached eggs. But over my friend’s shoulder, I saw the thickest, fattest slabs of challah bread French Toast. It was as if someone sliced up heaven and dusted it with powdered sugar. The worst part was that the woman eating the French Toast only ate one of the five slices, and the rest of the slices were just thrown away. I was FUMING. Every part of my brain was screaming about how badly I wanted that French Toast and how infuriating it was that it was thrown in the trash. It took me a few hours after brunch, when I was still in a bad mood, to recognize that my grumpy mood and despondent demeanor were a direct result of this out-of-the-corner-of-my-eye thing I saw. My frustration lingered for hours, all the way to the end of the day, because all I wanted to eat was French Toast and I couldn’t have it. I was being a whiney little baby about it, and even though I knew I was being a whiney little baby, I couldn’t control my emotions. It wasn’t until I woke up the next day and shook the memory off completely that I was able to feel like a human being again. I think there are also some food emotions that won’t go away, ever, no matter how much I train my body to react differently. I still get hangry, but maybe not as hangry? I don’t know. Hangry is hangry no matter how severe.
- I’ll say this again: having a support group is vital. We hosted a W30-approved meal at our house on a whim last Thursday, and it was awesome. Our friends came over and helped us prep dinner, then we all ate together, caught up on the week, and played games. They didn’t once complain about what we were feeding them and are excited for us and our dedication to this program. I also had another really fun girls’ night with my W30 coworkers. We did skewers on a little grill and used a variety of sauces for dipping. These kinds of activities are motivation to get out of my monotonous cooking rut and also not feel deprived of social interaction.
- The whole “Tiger Blood” thing goes in stages. I woke up last Friday before my alarm (more on that below), sprang out of bed, went for a hard and fast run, then bounced around the rest of morning. But as soon as I let myself get a little too hungry, my mood plummeted and I was depressed again. It wasn’t until yesterday and I learned the Whole30 definition of Tiger Blood has changed. Since learning about this change, I don’t stress about not “feeling” this change as much anymore. There are things I do feel better about, even if it’s not the kind of buzz-hyper-everlasting energy they originally described. My thoughts are clearer, I can hear my body’s wants and needs better, and there’s something about my system right now that I can’t describe any way other than good. That sounds lame, I know, but I just feel good. For me, the best thing I’ve discovered is that my energy level is more constant instead of rollercoastering throughout the day. When I start feeling hungry, I can sustain myself longer than previously—I think this is because my body is learning to process fat as a fuel source instead of being carb-reliant—and I don’t feel as groggy in the afternoons. I’m calling it a win, even if it’s minor.
- Brunch is easy, but socializing at night is much more difficult. Sitting in a bar with your friends, turning down a free Fireball shot from the waitress, smelling deep-fried deliciousness around me, seeing photos on Yelp of all the restaurants my friends are reviewing to find a place for dinner, and feeling my stomach grumble from the sort-of meal I skipped at lunch…this is very difficult. I couldn’t handle it. I split and went home to make myself dinner instead, and it was as satisfying as it could’ve been given the circumstances. My biggest challenge is a weekend-long work conference I have at the Google offices on Day 27 and Day 28. There’s going to be hella-good food there. I hope I can get through it without binge-eating nuts and Larabars.
- I’ve learned my triggers are less about food and more about habit. For instance, I like having something sweet after my dinner. During pretty much the entire course of Whole30, I’ve found a way to indulge in something sweet—fruit, coconut flakes, raisins, a Larabar—after dinner. My biggest struggle is pushing aside these urges. Even though I’ve only got six days left, my goal is to stop eating things that are sweet when I want something sweet. The things I’m eating are compliant, it defeats the life-altering vision of Whole30.
- My cravings are still pretty severe after 25 days. As in, I still daydream about crunching into a tortilla chip pretty regularly. I can almost feel what it’s like to bite into a warm, plush muffin with a perfectly crisp top. Don’t even get me started on popcorn and Extra Polar Ice chewing gum. I’m not dreaming about food like Sam, but I still really miss and want the things I’ve given up. I’m hoping I can ease my way back into these foods instead of going ballistic on Day 31.
- This is counterintuitive to the program, but I’m much more anxious and stressed about eating than I’ve ever been. But I’m also very aware of why I feel this anxiety. I’m still worried about what I’m going to eat, when I’m going to eat, the FINANCIAL TIDAL WAVE of paying for all this food, and being constantly on-edge that I’m not doing something right. According to the program, these feelings were supposed to break on Day 8. I’m on Day 25, and they’re still strong. Sam and I had a lengthy conversation about W30 and how much it’s effecting us both emotionally, and he told me, “I can’t wait for this thing to be over so I can have you back.” I didn’t notice my anxiety about food was as obviously as it apparently is (Sam is also the most observant person I know; I’m very fortunate in that regard). I feel great physically, but I feel screwed up emotionally and mentally. It’s likely no coincidence that my biggest struggles with food are emotional and mental challenges. I’m trying to look at this all as a learning experiment, but it is a constant struggle.
- I’m back to eating primarily vegetarian. Now that I know what I can and can’t eat on W30, it’s easier for me to go back to my vegetarian lifestyle. I’ve had pork, shrimp, salmon, and ground turkey this month, so I feel like I gave it a fair shot. Meat doesn’t feel like a good match for my body after so many years. I’m toughing out these last few days by eating four vegetarian meals a day instead of eating three meals incorporating meat. I’m getting plenty of protein, fat, and carbs, and I like feeling satiated in this way instead of the weirdness I feel after eating meat.
- Truthfully, I am ready for this to be over. I won’t have to stress about where to eat out with friends, what I’m going to eat, and how much more money we’re throwing at this experiment. I can’t wait to fall into some of my routine meals again (for some meals, not all) because these routines really simplify my life and allow me to do other things. I’ll probably keep some W30 recipes in our cooking cycle, and I’m glad I’ve had this culinary adventure, but there’s something nice about just knowing what to make with what we’ve got instead of buying things we’re not accustomed to purchasing. I feel very strongly that I won’t really appreciate these 30 days until after this program ends.
That pretty much wraps up Week 3! We’re on the homestretch, and we’ll be easing our way back into a balanced diet starting next Tuesday. Any advice or encouragement on these last few days would be much appreciated!