A Whole Lotta 30 (Day 13 – Fin)

Our Whole30 experiment is done. Since we got to Day 13, my sister dubbed this period of time, “13 Going On 30.”

We woke up today feeling the same as we did yesterday — that is, I wasn’t feeling any more energy than usual, and Sam was still feeling consistently stomach-awful.

This morning we actually went to Whole Foods looking for coconut aminos (a soy sauce substitute), bent on holding out, toying with getting poke or sashimi for lunch. But the store was insanely crowded, so we left. (I also asked Sam if he wanted to get almond butter and he said, “To put on WHAT?” Touche.)

Then we went to Chipotle, but realized that we can’t actually eat the chicken or fajita veggies there. (Which Sam did the other day… whoops.)

On the drive home to eat leftovers (which were tasty, I’ll admit), we were feeling a sense of, “What are we doing?” Would it feel worth it to us to stick this out, or should we quit while we’re ahead?

I googled “Whole30 not worth it,” and saw that a woman had written into the Whole30 forum saying in a very rational way that she’d done her 30 days and it hadn’t worked out/felt worth it to her. Rather than accept her statement, people were quick to label her a troll and berate her. That left a bad taste in my mouth. (No pun intended.)

I also read an women’s magazine article where the writer said she liked doing Whole30, but also admitted to having an insane cheat day in the middle… spurred by all the restrictions.

There were several articles about how the science behind the forbidden foods (like BEANS) is a little wacky, and how this isn’t really how an elimination diet is supposed to work.

The real showstopper, however, was realizing that Whole30 came in #38 (dead last) on the US News & World Reports list of diets, as vetted by experts.

If the way we are supposed to feel and the weight loss are not sustainable — why are we doing this?

I’m sorry if we let anybody down. And yes, I do feel a little bad that we didn’t stick it out and attempt for Tiger Blood. (Which is… still a weird phrase.) But… we would have lost it as soon as we went back to eating regular food again. Which we were definitely going to do. (Some people just keep Whole30-ing over and over…)

So much of Whole30 is training yourself not to be emotionally invested in food. But… I like being emotionally invested in food. Yesterday, when people were asking me what I was going to do this weekend, I felt depressed by the food restrictions I saw ahead of me. I felt… housebound.

Whole30 was taking the joy out of food and taking away the potential for food experiences, which — for me — sort of took the joy out of life. Yes, the recipes were tasty, but… I don’t know, it’s hard to explain but I was not infused with energy, but rather a sort of dull dread. I would toss and turn at night.

(I also had an issue eating so much meat and eggs because that seemed to go against what’s best for my cholesterol — we were talking about cooking up a few days’ worth of flank steak, which is a little crazy for me when I could just be EATING BEANS. Which are cheaper than meat, too.)

I personally cannot live with having to say “no” to spontaneous, interesting food experiences that cross my path. It sucked yesterday, having to pass on the interesting Friday treats. I regret not trying those treats more than I’m proud I stuck to Whole30.

That may be weird, but that’s my truth.

I realized that the Whole30 dreams I would have — the type they tell you to expect — were very similar to the dreams I would have when my eating was very… disordered. (Last night I dreamt that I was in a bacon/sausage store, and that I was offered vegan samples but had to spit them out because I realized they weren’t Whole30. Rude.)

As we walked to eat sushi and “break the fast” (as it were) tonight, we passed the artist Dallas Clayton painting a huge new mural at Sunset Junction. We have often spotted his little chalk drawings in the neighborhood, and sometimes even joke that he draws them especially for Charlie. But this was our first time actually seeing the man at work.

And if we’d been sticking to Whole30, we would have stayed home.

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Dallas was up on a ladder, paining the word “YES!” That felt like a sign, to trust our guts. (No pun intended. Hm, so many apt metaphors…)

Incidentally, we feel pretty good after eating sushi for dinner. (And I also had vegan Magpie’s with Dana… it was very satisfying to be able to reinstate that sisterly ritual, and to have my nightly pistachios in soft serve form.) Sam actually feels BETTER, which makes me think that maybe his body can’t deal with a total lack of grains (such as rice).

When we emerged after dinner to walk home, the mural was peppered with all sorts of wonderful little phrases. It’s worth a visit if you’re walking around Silver Lake.

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And speaking of “break the fast,” I actually think I would have broken Whole30 on Rosh Hashanah to eat my damn apples and honey. And honey cake, if I come across it. It’s… divinely good.

To be clear, the Whole30 experience wasn’t all bad. One good thing was that I felt a little less stiffness in my left hand, which means that maybe I have to cool it on my sugars or grains? And we also lost a little weight, but that is pretty par for the course when you eat a lot less. (And completely cut out grains, dairy, and sugar.)

We DO hope to continue cooking more, snacking less, and eating less processed foods and sugar. But we want to do it in a way that feels less orthorexic, and to incorporate healthy foods that we weren’t allowed to eat on Whole30. (High five, BEANS!)

We especially want to be able to eat in social settings without the anxiety that Whole30 was bringing. If you have to sidestep social plans because you are worried about food stuff… that’s disorder creeping in.

Overall, the small kernels of good (haha, we weren’t allowed to eat corn!) weren’t enough to ignore the bad feelings around being on a capital-D DIET. (Or capital-F FAD DIET.)

So that’s that! I guess now I have to go back to being healthy the old-fashioned way… intuitive eating, moderation, exercise, etc. (AKA, the only way that really works… as far as I know.)

As Sam said, we’re not quitting, we’re “phasing out.”

It took being in the thick of Whole30 to really start asking the big questions, and based on the answers — we didn’t feel comfortable doing it anymore. (Asking questions is very Jewish, very High Holidays… I’m about to do another 10Q, and I’m sure I’ll write about this!)

In the end, I think we won this round. We tried it, we did our best, and we got out before we went too far. We can live with that.

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