TALES OF A WHOLE30 NOTHING
By: Ali Moss Age:9 (39)
The date was December 20th, the year 2016. My belly... SHAMEFUL. The husband’s love handles... KICKIN'. We were bested by the holidays and something had to give. SO, in my usual research junkie style, I scoured the internet looking for THE answer. Enter: Whole30
I'd heard some buzz about this Whole-30 diet. Abstaining from all potentially inflammatory foods for 30 days promised to bring my mind, body and spirit to a state of pure, craving-free bliss. MY idea of pure bliss, 4 cocktails and a decadent cheese and charcuterie board, would not be allowed. I was to remove sugar in any form (including artificial sweeteners), wheat, grains, pseudo grains (ie quinoa), legumes, soy, dairy and alcohol of any kind for 30 days. Sounds brutal, right? I weighed out my options. Adopt the life of resigned-to-be-chubby mom or fit into my already less-than-ideal sized clothes. The choice- obviously clothes. I also knew that I couldn't go it alone. I needed David, my husband, on board because like any junkie, I would need all triggers removed from the home. I hit him up at a particularity vulnerable moment. He was in the mirror just before jumping in the shower, checking out his chub, trying different angles, before finally looking defeated. I hooked him.
We set the date: The Clichéd Jan 2 would be the first day of the rest of our svelte lives. For the next glorious 12 days we made it our mission to remove any doubt from our mind that there was “an easier softer way”. Like Templeton the Rat from Charlotte’s Web … The world was our veritable smorgasbord! We ate and drank ourselves right into the new year and come D-day, we were begging, pleading for reprieve.
PICKING UP THE PIECES-
The silver lining of such an intense everything hangover was that for the first few days our willpower was fueled by intense feelings of disgust at the current state of affairs (politics notwithstanding). The headaches from our junk food withdrawals didn't seem to faze us, probably because we were so fatigued for the last few months anyway that physical discomfort seemed par for the course. I jumped in with two feet. Since I'm already somewhat of a veteran in the kitchen, my mission du jour was to get through this thing and still enjoy eating. I did some research and compiled a list of must-have ingredients that really make this thing not just doable...positively enjoyable!
Another thing that happened... around day 7 or 8 Mr. Postitivity (aka David) hit the scene. Homeboy was laser focused and his view of the world was now rosey. Actually, it was more like rose gold... with diamonds. The simple act of removing things from his diet LITERALLY left him feeling better than he had in his ENTIRE 42 years. He was 100% on board and began preaching his gospel to anyone that would listen. David, for lack of a better word, was born again! His level of positivity was certifiably
annoying as fuck infectious! His once dead palate was now experiencing an explosion of flavors and even once claimed that he felt high after consuming a hot pepper. (that gem shared mid-whole30-gospel while sitting Shiva with our good friends who had just lost their beloved grandmother.) You get the idea... the overall tone was "we got this!!!"
MY DEAL BREAKER-
Despite my feelings of grandiose confidence there loomed one event which threatened to derail my progress. My BFF and favorite enabler’s 40th birthday bash. Jamie is my friggin soul mate and the thought of not drinking at her big four-oh felt like a crime… a slight. But would there ever be a 30-day span that didn’t include a justifiable reason to pop bottles? It was settled, I would need to persevere. There would be plenty of opportunities to celebrate my girl over copious amounts of alcohol but I made a commitment to myself and to my body. I had to complete this task and quiet that taunting voice in my head that knew I wouldn’t succeed.
Turns out… I caved. David’s Whole30-Jesus carried him through and I drank the devil's water, sometimes known as Tequila on the rocks with lemon and lime (no sugar?!?). The plan was to return the very next day, picking up where I left off... and I did. Sort-of.
Despite a raging hangover, I managing to mostly get back "on-track. But to say I didn’t miss a beat would be a farce. Something had changed. The burning fire that was my hope was now a weak and barely smoldering flame. In my heart of hearts, I knew that in order to complete an honest to goodness Whole30, there were NO exceptions. I could try justifying my subtle lapse but unless I started from Day 1, I could not claim success. I became lax about picking at my toddler’s pasta at dinner time. "checking for doneness”, “making sure it wasn't too hot" or "too cold" and since I had already broken the booze rule, what was a bottle of wine here and there? Had it not been for Mr. Can-Do (David), I may have allowed the self-loathing to completely derail my less-than-perfect progress.
But alas, our heavenly disciple (David) was counting on me to help him through the final stretch. Keep in mind, when I say "help" I'm referring to the fact that I literally made every single meal for this guy for the entire 30 days. (What kind of wife would I be if I didn't point out that his success was actually because of me?) In order to complete this lifestyle overhaul, my lucky MOFO of a husband would be required to lift the fork from his plate to his mouth at least 3 times a day. Sometimes… he would even have to open the package of the Whole-30 compliant Lara Bar all by himself. If you're sensing a bit of sarcasm here, congrats, you're following.
The point is, since i'm quite the Martha in the kitchen, I curated an impressive arsenal of Whole30 friendly recipes. Chicken Fried "Rice" Bowls, Salmon Salad with roasted Asparagus and Dijon Vinaigrette, Grass fed Burgers (sans bun) smothered in sautéed onions, lick-your-plate-clean sweet potato hash with soft boiled eggs... There was no choking down raw kale and celery happening in this house.
THE DIRTY DIRTY MOMENT OF TRUTH-
When day 30 reared its head, it should come to no surprise that my results were not on par with Mr. Fantastic (david). My 5-6 lb weight loss paled in comparison to his 20. David finished strong with every intention of adopting this new way of life permanently. For the first few days post Whole30, David slowly began food re-introduction, starting with legumes. I, on the other hand, sputtered to the finish line moderately optimistic. But in the true nature of, well, life… more would be revealed.
As it were, re-introduction blurred the lines a bit and for my sweet heart since he already has some questionably psychosomatic ailments. Was it the peanut butter making him sleepy or was it in his head? We are now nearing the mid-way point of the year (wtf?) and we have managed to adopt this way of life on an 80/20 (him) 70ish/30ish (me) basis. Real life proved harder for Senor Perfecto (david) than he expected.
After the re-introduction blurriness came the “reason to indulge” blurriness. Valentines was our first all-in tryst with the devil. We devoured a long, hard baguette and smeared it with luscious, creamy fromage. And the champagne… it was glorious! Before long it was “it’s only St. Patty’s once a year”, “my mom’s matzoh balls are the best”, “happy tax day!”, “viva la Cinco de Mayo”, “how can you have sushi without saki” and then finally… “MONDAY! We start MONDAY.”
You may now be asking yourself, "Why should I listen to you? You sold your soul to the bottle." Sure, that may be true… BUT I also saw first-hand the kind of transformation that can happen when you see this thing through all the way or even just most of the way. Your results directly reflect your level of commitment. Of course the weight loss factor is
cool Fan-fucking-tasic. But the real meat and potatoes of the thing is the mental clarity, emotional stability and laser focus that comes with eliminating toxic foods from your diet. Completing the Whole30 will change your life and your overall relationship with food. I saw it in my husband and I saw glimpses of it in myself. Sure, some a-holes would call me a Whole30 failure. In fact, there is even a tiny little a-hole inside of ME that believes I’m a failure. But alas, the silver lining of being mildly Bipolar- my inner cheerleader telling me that next time I will crush it. After all, I’ve said it once and I’ll probably say it way too many more times, “It's the journey, not the destination". Perhaps sharing my journey, failures and all, will help another person struggling to reach their destination. Enjoy all of my recipes and don't forget to see my
Whole30 "essentials" list