Sunday, August 17, 2014

Whole $30

Let me preface this by saying I'm not a food blogger or a fitness blogger—let alone an actual expert. 

I've blogged a lot about food and culture and I've done a few Whole 30s—and I've had a lot of conversations with folks about our experiences and struggles throughout. Some people can't quit dairy, others crave cookies. Personally, I would have stolen pizza from a homeless person by the 30th day of my first Whole 30.

If that sounds like an oddly specific example it's because it happened - I was walking down the street and a mission group was passing out pizza. A girl cheerfully asked "would you like some pizza?" and my very soul cried out "YES MA'AM!" As I reached for it I realized she was talking to a hungry homeless man over my shoulder.


Anyway, all that to say we all have different struggles and cravings.

The most common complaint I hear is how hard it is to afford the food, followed closely by how hard it is to stay on track with small children—or spouses who aren't following it as well.

Excuses make me sad. Chiefly because I'm one of those crazy people who think if you want something badly enough you will find a way to make it work.

That said, during my second Whole 30 I cheated at least four times—not because I didn't want "it" badly enough but because my "it" at the time wasn't "fitting into size 4 jeans." My lifestyle was extremely active at the time and if I didn't plan ahead properly my body would eventually rebel and tell me "give me that Starbucks snack box right now and don't you DARE even THINK about giving the cracker packet to the birds, you moron." (My inner, hungry monologue is really mean). 

I spent that month running around outside, riding my bike all over town, running trails, carrying heavy things—never wearing heels or sitting at a desk.

It was heaven.

I was the sort of endorphin-drunk, hyper-enlightened freak everyone edges away from at parties.

And I didn't think after such a short period of time that adapting back to an office lifestyle would be so hard... or that my conditioning would go into free fall.

I thought I could just increase my workouts and intensity, stand at my desk a lot, walk around... but I was wrong. While I'm still incredibly happy and doing work I love, there is nothing like spending a majority of your day doing physical work and collapsing into bed at the end of it.

I'm still working out how I can fit that into my life, but in the mean time I've decided to do another Whole 30 and figure out a new plan. Very welcome to advice from anyone who has been in my shoes.

Most people ask "why don't you just follow Whole 30 all the time?" and that's a great question. I find it's a lot easier for me to stay on track if I feel like I'm counting down days. I'm much less likely to eat a burger with a bun if I can tell myself "you can have a burger with a bun in 18 days" vs. "no, you can NEVER have a burger with a bun EVER AGAIN."

So I wanted to address some of the above complaints about Whole 30 and how people can tackle their grievances.

1. It Costs Too Much: As I said yesterday, I don't edit my shopping list much to cut costs - I buy as much produce and whatever types of produce I want, but I do try to find deals on fish because it really adds up. Whole Foods shockingly has the best deals on fish so I'll buy up their sale section and keep it in my freezer. I recommend stocking up on a sale item even it means spending $50 on salmon because it'll last you a month. Also, I don't know how people can say Whole 30 is "cost prohibitive" when Trader Joe's is a thing that exists. I'd love to see what your not-whole-30 grocery receipts look like.

2. I have kids: Okay, so I don't have kids so I can't relate to this complaint—especially considering one of my second Whole 30 cheats was a piece of cheddar cheese while I was babysitting for a friend and their fridge was stocked with the requisite dairy kept for small humans who still have the digestive enzymes needed to process lactose (lucky brats). AAAAAAANYWAY: If you have older children, they should be following Whole 30 right along with you. No cereals, no dairy, no sugar. I don't believe children should eat different meals than their parents. Period. Also, older kids can be really mean and will help hold you accountable.

If you have smaller children, you should be mindful that they have different dietary needs than you do. They might need dairy, but they definitely don't need sugar or bread - sorry, kiddos.

3. My spouse isn't following along: Well this one makes no sense to me but maybe that's why I'm not married. You should use this as an opportunity to hold each other accountable and share the experience. If you and your spouse have different dietary needs, recognize that and carry on.

4. I miss [enter delicious food habit here]. The struggle is real. Dolmas, lattes, pho, tacos... we all have different foods we just love. And life is short, right? And you work out a ton and you deserve that pizza, right? As much as you tell yourself "only X more days until I can have fries" sometimes it just sucks. But I promise you, you'll be shocked how much your food cravings change after 30 days. I thought I would want to dive head first into a big bowl of pho, but when presented with the opportunity the thought of being full of noodles grossed me out. I also thought I'd fall back into my daily latte habit, but knowing how much better I feel without them, I don't even want them anymore.

You owe yourself the opportunity to see what your body can feel like and how much you can change in 30 days.

Did I miss any grievances? Tell me on Twitter.