Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I finished Whole30! Here's some stuff I learned

 I did it, you guys!  I went an entire solid month (barring one insanely small piece of eggnog fudge) with
  • no sugar
  • no grains
  • no dairy
  • no alcohol
  • no processed foods
  • no legumes
 Check out the site if you want to read about the whole dealio. 

Not gonna lie, this was hard, especially at first.  Going cold turkey on anything is never fun, whether or not it comes with actual physical withdrawal symptoms.  But honestly, it's a hell of a lot easier to practice total abstinence than to exercise truly sensible moderation - and if it's something you need to completely quit, doing it all in one fell swoop really is the way to go.  (Case in point: if you have trichotillomania, shave your head.) 

But once you get past the "paleo flu" period caused by your body relearning how to burn fat for fuel instead of carbs, and recovering from the hangover caused by all the crap you were eating before...it starts to work.  Really.  I promise.  All that stuff about the endless stores of energy you get, able to go for days at a time?  Well, it's not true 100% of the time, obvs.  You need sleep too, and as a very wise young woman told me recently, "everyone has off days."

Overall, however - and forgive me if I start to wax poetic here - life just seems a little bit fuller.  I'm not sluggish, dragged down by all the crap and fake food in my system.  I'm more awake, more alert, and because of that I'm more alive.  I feel like I am experiencing life more richly  - not just from the weird (but cool) increase in my senses of taste and smell, but in general, life just seems...more.  I wouldn't make such a big deal of this, except for the fact that it's winter, and I have SAD, and it's barely shown up at ALL.  That's ENORMOUS.

But on to the lessons!

Having absolutely no recourse for "cheating" kinda sucks.
I can't even count the number of times I wished, really really hard, for just a tiny nibble or drop of something - chocolate, a couple french fries, a tablespoon of cream in my coffee - that was disallowed while on Whole30.

Having absolutely no recourse for "cheating" is awesome.
Whole30 is a built-in excuse, for both yourself and everyone else.  My wonderful employees are being incredibly sweet when they offer me a slice of pizza or a cookie.  They really are doing it to be nice.  But it's bad for me and I should not eat it, period.  And it's a lot easier to say no when I've got a solid reason to point to: "sorry, absolutely none of that right now!"  It's harder to make excuses now.

Fat is delicious.
It's recommended, on the meal plan, that you have 1-2 thumb-sized servings of two different kinds of approved fats per meal.  That's a LOT.  And I LOVE it.  Sometimes if whatever I'd cooked for the main portion didn't require cooking grease (yay, nonstick skillets!), I'd just scoop some coconut oil out of the jar with a spoon.  Yes.  I literally eat pure fat with a spoon on a regular basis.  And I am healthier now that I have EVER been.

Meat is delicious.
All those times through the years (more than a decade!) that I was vegetarian that meat-eaters would say "you don't know what you're missing" to me and I'd get incredibly annoyed?  They were actually right.  Tofurkey, not dogs and fakin' bacon just don't compare.
Chocolate is still delicious, but...So the day after my Whole30 ended, I went into work.  I opened the store, did all the prep and then had some time to burn.  So I made myself a pot of coffee and sat down with a steaming cuppa...and a big ol' lump of chocolate chip cookie dough.  And I ate it all.  And it tasted good.  Not great, but good.  I don't know why I was so wild about it before, but I suspect I was putting a lot of mental energy into believing in the magical healing powers of sugar and cocoa.  Now?  Unless it's absolutely spectacular 85% dark mixed by gnomes in a volcanic laboratory, I'll have a Larabar, thanks.

Black coffee is delicious, as long as it's good coffee.
A lot of the time, putting cream and sugar in your coffee is done to mask the actual taste of coffee.  With a light hand, it can accentuate it instead, but if you get high-quality coffee and brew it to the right strength for your tastes, you really shouldn't need that much.  Also, coconut cream in french vanilla coffee is a thing of pure beauty.

Mere words cannot fully convey the intensity of my passionate love affair with all things coconut.Are there any makers of coconut products out there reading this?  If you send me free samples I will extoll the virtues of your company from the highest peak with golden trumpets and cherubim.  From a totally unbiased and discerning viewpoint, of course.

I don't know how much I weigh, and I really don't care.
One of the important parts of Whole30 is that you don't weigh yourself at all while doing it.  That wasn't a huge deal for me - I've never been obsessive about weighing, but I had got semi-used to checking where I was at my weekly support group meetings, and kind of liked having that benchmark.  Then again, there were some weeks that I'd get more than a little upset because of the number on the scale (just ask The Man, he had to be on the receiving end of all my teary, disgustingly needy "do you still think I'm pretty because I gained two pounds?" phone calls).  And let's just not get into the ugly kettle of fish that is denying myself  water after more than one hard workout because I knew was going to get weighed in and didn't want the extra pounds.  I know, I can be incredibly stupid sometimes.
So at first, when I started seeing visible differences in my body, I was all excited about how my weight was going to be omgsomuchlower! when I finally checked it again after the month was up.  But then I thought about it more.  Honestly, what's the use?  Other than to have a number to use when figuring out other information, like my body fat percentage or comparing my deadlift to my bodyweight (almost at 1.5x!), there's no good reason to weigh myself on a regular basis (by which I mean more than once or twice a year), and no information about my health I can't get from just looking at my body: how it feels and moves; how it fits into my clothes.

It really, really does.



  1. I'm so proud of you, Nelly! And a little bit jealous. Hope you're eating all those delicious things you were planning to!

  2. Yay,Nelly! I'm really proud of you too, and I'm glad you feel so good!

  3. Thanks ladies! I'm proud of myself :) Amy, I'm giving myself about a week where I eat what I feel like (which, interestingly enough, means mostly straight paleo) and treat myself a little more (ok, so there's a good amount of cheese getting consumed), then I'm probably going back to this. It just works, plain and simple!

  4. awesome post, nelly! so proud of you! :)