The Whole30 Pt. III: The Bread is Nigh!

It’s the LAST DAY OF THE Whole30 EXPERIMENT! YES, ALREADY! I’ve come a long way from trying to huff cake and hoping to taste tiger blood (whether it’s on the plan or not)! At the end of it all, this was an experiment, and while I could yell about how excited I am about eating peanut butter for an entire post, but there’s information here and ready… So let’s get to the juicy stuff.

Some of the good things I’ve experienced on the plan:

• I stopped counting calories. Some years back, I was a fastidious (obsessive) calorie counter. That’s not the case anymore, but I still usually take mental tallies over the course of any day—like a weird hobby. This all but stopped the deeper I got into the Whole30. Even richer foods such as coconut oil, nut butters, dried fruits, or sausage, no longer have me reaching for a calculator.

• I started reading MORE labels. Label checking during my vegan experiment was small-time compared to the ingredient-scanning terminator I’ve turned into now. I can spot sugar almost in an instant. Soybean oil? Forget it! Corn? Back to the shelf with you! As a result, I’ve eaten less food with ingredient lists, and more dishes with ingredients

• My tastebuds have changed.  I won’t be able to confirm this until I eat something with refined sugar in it (something I’ll be putting off as much and as long as I can), but I think I’m currently experiencing natural sugars as the peak of sweetness. Yesterday I had few dried medjool dates, and I stood in my kitchen, chewing and marvelling over the the fact that I was sure they tasted EXACTLY caramels. Insane, I know.

My boss also says my skin has been looking amazing, but I still have some blemishes on my jaw, a recent problem area of mine… So either she’s biased and pro-program, or the rest of my skin looks good?

Some other observations about the body & mind:

Body stuff: Program protocol says you’re not supposed to weigh yourself at all, which I understand, and actually agree with (despite hating a lot of the Whole30’s website with a passion). I think the less people stare at the scale, the better.
HOW. EV. VER. This was an experiment and so weigh-ins became part of the data. I’ve been losing at a steady, healthy pace of about 1lb a week, so not all that different from my regular routine.

I didn’t use a tape measure, but it’s totally possible I smoked an inch or two off, between the leafy greens and ramping up my running mileage. My clothes do seem to be fitting better, but I’m not certain if that’s a by-product of the work or the diet changes?

Mind stuff: The Whole30 didn’t give me an endless wellspring of energy, but that could also be because I usually don’t get enough hours of sleep during the week anyway (and the one day that I drank egg coffee). To be fair to the program, I’m in the middle of tapering off of anti-depressants, so any lows could be linked to that.

It DID get me to examine lots of the food systems that exist in my immediate surroundings. The fact that sugar is everywhere, in everything, or that buying sustainable free-range, antibiotic-free meat is privilege. It opened conversations with friends about food—friends who I didn’t now would be interested in the topic in the first place.

Lastly, it showed me that temptation is basically nothing, and I’m capable of maintaining whatever food decisions I choose to abide in the future. That’s a great feeling, powerful feeling. While I wouldn’t say the Whole30 changed my life, that’s a bit too assertive and sweeping. I would say that it changed my mind—for the better.

Plus, now that first bite of off-plan pizza is going to be A-MAZ-ING. I can’t WAIT to start cooking with more variety again!

The Whole30 Pt. 2: Tiger Blood!

According to the Whole30 timeline, from days 16-27, many people sticking to the plan begin to experience something they call “Tiger Blood.”

TIGER’S BLOOD! It sounds like something a colonel with a handlebar moustache would yell in a Rudyard Kipling novel when he sees something astonishing.

It’s actually a state of being in which Whole30-ians experience boundless power, deeper sleep, and a general natural high. Whether this is because you HAVE the blood of the tiger in your veins, or you DRANK said blood (is that technically Whole30 compliant?), you should be a wellspring of vigour.

…So it figures day 16 has felt like the hardest yet.

At the grocery store there was sugar or soy or dairy in E V E R Y T H IN G. I tried to make Paleo Mayo (palayo!) and it backfired and refused to emulsify. I melted a piece of tupperware by accident by leaving it on the stove. Ruh roh.

Despite all of this, I now am over the half way point, with only two weeks left. The hardest part of the program is NOT the restrictions to what you can eat—it’s the restrictions that THOSE restrictions can put on your life.

Last weekend, my friends and I went to the flea market. One of them proposed grabbing a bite after, and then the issue was raised that I’m still on the plan. I insisted that I could have a coffee or find something to feed myself, but we skipped going out for food. I appreciated them not eating something in front of me (likely at the risk of me asking if I can smell it), I also felt pretty self conscious about the fuss, especially when talk of their hunger started. Everyone in the situation chose for themselves, but still, being the instigator created friction with my anxious desire to be selectively invisible.

Another example? I’m going away for a weekend to visit friends out of town. Immediately after making the plans, I began to stew over what I was going to eat, or even how to bring up the subject with my hosts. I didn’t want to offend by bringing my own stuff… But I also did not want anyone to go out of their way just for me. This is the sort of lifestyle change that is big enough that it draws attention to itself. I’m hating that aspect.

I am, however, lucky to have friends who support me. Both of the above stories above have resulted in preparations of special menus, shared Whole30 friendly dinners, and open dialogue about what I’m doing, and why.

That feels pretty big and important and awesome to know you can count on your people, even while you’re counting down the days.