One month ago, thirty days seemed like a really. long. time. We’re talking ages and even eons. I had no idea how I would fare through a 30-day period that required me to say “buh-bye” to things like chocolate and most fruits and snacks and bacon. The day I decided to embark upon this dietary challenge, I was a grain-loving, quinoa freak who regularly had ice cream sundaes for dessert. This is not an exaggeration. The dietary challenge I was about to take on was the most significant dietary change I would make in my life. I did not have a clue as to how my body and mind would react.
I survived. No. Strike that. I thrived. In the past month, I have discovered some amazing things about how my body processes food and responds to stimulants and depressants. I’ve lost weight and gained muscle mass. I no longer need an alarm clock for 6am wake up calls – even if work keeps me into the wee hours of the morning. I’m more patient, more smiley and a much better doggy mommy. My skin has cleared up and my digestive tract is in fine shape. Aside from a minor bout with plantar fasciitis during the past week, I feel that marathon training is going better than ever.
I can only imagine how I’d feel if I’d done it perfectly. We’ve already gone through the minor “cheats” I let slip through while tackling my first Whole 30. I went to a bachelorette party, had a decadent meal with friends, had a hot date or two, and spent a night out with my family. So shoot me. The Whole 30 asks you to omit grains, dairy, beans, all processed foods, added sugars and alcohol for thirty days. The gurus behind the plan claim that one month of flawless Whole 30 eating will change your life. Have let a handful of cheats slip through, I can report that I still benefited from the plan’s concept. Could I make the Whole 30 permanent? No. Will I do it again? Absolutely – but likely during the lull in celebrations and sporting seasons that follows Super Bowl Sunday. Here is what I’ve discovered about myself during the past thirty days:
Foods that I will have over and over:
- High quality meat and seafood
- All vegetables – except eggplant, which I am ridiculously allergic to
- All fruit
- Recovery fuel: low-carb Gatorade mixed with a scoop of protein powder after 13+ mile runs
- Nut butters
- Dark chocolate
- Gluten-free and dairy-free desserts
- Coconut and almond milk
- Vodka or tequila, muddled with lime and topped with soda
- Dry red or white wines
- Black coffee – but only a little bit each day
Foods that are off the table:
- Grains. Any of them.
- Dairy. All of it.
- Beer. Cocktails. Juice.
- Low or middle-quality meats (I suppose they’d work, but I just don’t like them).
- Refined or artificial sugar and sweetener.
- Anything with ingredients I can’t pronounce, that would confuse a toddler, or that my great-great-grandmother didn’t have access to (aka: if it sounds like a science experiment, I’m not eating it).
It’s not that I don’t like cheese/bread/beans or that I don’t think your body can handle cheese/bread/beans. Cheating during the Whole 30 proved to me that these things make me sick and moody. Monsters crawl into my intestines and I develop headaches and I simply can’t function… which is a terrible way to feel. Rather than feel terrible for two days after indulging in something I can’t digest, I’d rather whip up something delicious from simple and whole ingredients that come straight from the market. Monsters in my belly or energy and smiles for days? That’s the easiest decision I could possibly make.