My last day of the Whole30-times-two was Friday. On Saturday, very early, I got up and crept warily to the scale. In my mind were two conflicting voices: A) “The number is not important”; and B) “Please let it be twenty pounds!” The reality was an awesome, stunning, 23 pound drop. That’s in 60 days of unlimited, unmeasured, healthy, bountiful, and delicious eating.
I think the lack of measuring may have been my favorite part of this experience. There’s something so evil and constraining about, say, poor Betty Draper from MadMen weighing out her five cubes of cheese, or serving herself her walnut-sized morsel of stuffing on Thanksgiving. This sort of “diet” makes my flesh crawl. It’s intolerable. And it leads directly to Betty Draper standing at the fridge and squirting whipping cream into her mouth under the cover of darkness. It just breeds self-loathing and outbursts of rebellion. The Whole30 is mighty restrictive, but not like that at all. You eat big hearty meals when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full. There’s not really an impulse to overeat when everything is so nutrient-dense and filling. Your body naturally knows when to stop.
In addition to the weight loss, I found several other great things happened during this 60-day experiment. For instance, I managed to reduce my Prilosec intake to half my former dose, and to stop eating Tums (previously a food group in its own right) altogether! I sensed that my esophagus was healing well. I had no trouble swallowing anything at all. My knees stopped hurting when climbing stairs. I had moments of tiredness, sure, and never quite managed to erase my need for naps, but I also had bouts of heady energy and bounciness. My dizziness…? I felt much less dizzy. I managed to exercise quite a bit at the Cardiac Rehab center in Cleveland, and even went out into the world of normalcy and exercised at the regular-people gym! Without a problem!! I’m almost ready to wean from Cardiac Rehab, I think, and only check in there once in a while.
But now the bad news. The really horrible news. Are you sitting down? I now have learned that dairy is bad for me. Dairy!!! The stuff that ice cream, yogurt, cheese and butter all have in common. I come from the land of carved butter sculptures and the all-you-can-drink milk barn at the Minnesota State Fair. Milkshakes!! But Saturday through today I have added dairy back in, with bad results!!! Instant dizziness, for one big one. Huge heartburn flaring up out of nowhere. Last night Ben heard my Tums bottle rattling in the dark for the first time in two months…. All I can say is, this is dreadful. I really had hoped that it was grains. Somehow living gluten free seemed so much more attainable.
You know, the Whole30 people talk a lot about inflammation. That’s why they pull out legumes, for instance, whether or not the cave dwellers had them. They are inflammatory. I sort of didn’t buy it. Until the dairy thing, when it seemed to be that upon the very moment I ingested dairy, everything in my body started to react and swell in this horrible manner. My sinuses began to press on my ears somehow, and suddenly I felt dizzy. I even had trouble swallowing something– an item got stuck on the way down– for the first time in ages. Dairy!! How could you play me so cold?
Now. On to grains. Over the next 3 or 4 days I’ll try wheat and see if gluten is also my foe. I hope not. One or the other, people! If I’m okay with gluten, at least I can still have an occasional vegan brownie.
Whether I will even want a vegan brownie is another question entirely. This is so weird, so bizarre, and yet it’s true: my tastes have really changed. I had ice cream on Saturday night. My favorite: Jeni’s salty caramel. To my amazement, it wasn’t good! It was… sickly sweet and cloying. I managed to suffer through it, but it was frankly not at all like I remembered it! Today I wanted carrot cake as the opening foray into grains, and while at the store got seduced by a sample of chocolate-caramel torte. After grimly walking past these things for two months, I succumbed. Again, much too sweet! I had a couple more samples to be sure, and then after that binge (three tablespoons of cake), felt ill and gained a headache on half my head. Why must it be so sweet?
Now a banana seems very sweet to me, and raisins and dates are really too much. I think that I actually did adjust my tastes– all that watching for the traces of sugar in ketchup and on the outsides of bacon and such actually worked! I know this may seem odd, because the Whole30 people said it would, but I just assumed it was not actually going to be true in my case. I mean, I love sugar! It’s my favorite food group! And sugar plus dairy equals ice cream, which truly makes the world go round.
…. Or used to.
So now I am fumbling forward. What do I like? What should I eat? And most importantly, can I lose another 23 pounds?? That would be spectacular!
My gut feeling is that as much as possible I must just march forward without changing much. You dance with the girl you brung, right? So this eating method has improved my health a great deal. Why would I abandon it now?
And now, answers to your common questions:
1) Wasn’t it hard as hell? No!! That’s what was so weird about it. It did take a few weeks to get into the groove of the new paradigm, but it really wasn’t hard. Well, not at home. Being out in the world and trying to stick to it was a challenge for sure. But at home, no problem. The food was delicious and abundant. What’s not to love?
2) Wasn’t it a huge amount of work? Yes. Frankly, it is a lot of work to cook everything in your life from scratch. Making your own mayonnaise, stock, etc., where other people would buy them. But I quickly learned how to manage it. Make your own convenience foods. Cook a lot! Have leftovers on hand all the time! these are some of the keys. Also, I should mention that being sick and seeing doctors all the time is even more work.
3) Wasn’t it wildly expensive? In my case, yes, but this is mostly because I make no effort whatsoever to economize. Halibut at $25 a pound? Yum! But you don’t have to be like me. If you think about what you drop from your diet versus what you add, you can see that it would level out. Instead of spending $4.00 on your supposedly healthy processed and sugar-laden breakfast cereal, you can spend that $4.00 on 2 pounds of organic yams. Processed foods are not as cheap as they pretend to be. Sure, a beautiful pastured chicken could set you back $15. But think of what you get: a dinner for four, two solo lunches, and a huge pot of chicken stock. Compare that to the equal cost of Lean Cuisines, and you will see what I’m talking about. And eggs! Even the best, most lovely eggs are $5.00 a dozen. Which is six servings of excellent protein at about 80 cents each. That sort of calculation really makes it no longer seem expensive. Think of your pop and latte budget, and how much kale that could buy!! Also, most importantly, how much does it cost to see the doctor, even one time? If I can eat better and get my medical costs under control, it will be very , very cheap.
In summation, if you are not happy with your weight, your energy level, or your overall health, I really encourage you to try the Whole30. And no, that’s not a paid endorsement. I just have had a really good experience with it.