I am currently on day 17 of the wildly popular Whole 30 program, and I haven’t reached a breaking point of tearing into a bag of sour gummy worms yet. I’ve been close to giving up, but I’m determined to see it through.
Of course, I’ve learned a few things about myself in just a couple of weeks, like how much I enjoy crappy food. My body isn’t used to being healthy, I suppose, and the detox has led to several dark nights of the soul. It helps that my girlfriend, Monica, is suffering alongside me, but we’ve both had moments where we wanted to give up. She has graciously allowed me to share some of those moments in this week’s column.
On paper, it seems like it should be easy enough.
Whole 30 is essentially an elimination diet, striking all processed foods from your lifestyle: added sugars (they’re in everything), grains, dairy, alcohol and legumes. The idea is that by eliminating potentially harmful foods from your diet, you can determine how your body reacts upon reintroduction after 30 days. I’ve read that it’s like a reset for your system, and if the past two weeks are any indication, I desperately needed it.
I can still eat meat and potatoes, but we’re eating more veggies and fruits than I can handle. In fact, you can eat as much of the “approved” items as you want. Here is a good overview of the program that isn’t biased.
My successes? You’re not supposed to step on the scale, but I’ve lost 10 pounds so far easily. My energy level hasn’t reached the “tiger blood” level, as some people experience, though I’ve had days with more energy and other days with far, far less. I sleep hard and well . but I’ll talk about that below.
I like the program. It’s been a success for me so far on the scale. But successes aren’t as much fun to write about as failures. Here are the five darkest realities we’ve experienced. I’d love to hear your stories.
Have you tried the program? What were your results? Did you murder your significant other?
Let’s start with defecation. My poops are awful. I’ll try to keep the graphics in check, but imagine the best poops of your life . flawless, effortless almost, right? Now, think about the opposite of those awesome poops on both ends of the poop spectrum. And now multiply that feeling by 10. I have learned that I can no longer trust anything regarding my butt. No more comical flatulence to amuse the room, no more passive-aggressive “silent but deadly” sneaky farts. I have ruined pants in the past two weeks, and I am ashamed. Very ashamed. I can’t wait to get my poops back.
The restrictions are sneaky. For example, I can eat starchy white potatoes but can’t have legumes. The biggest hurdle for us is the amount of food prep and dish washing involved with every meal. Around day 10, Monica decided to make us a stir-fry with veggies, chicken and Tessemae ginger sauce (a preferred Whole 30 brand). I was taking a shower when I suddenly heard cursing from the kitchen. I found my girlfriend sobbing over a wok full of vegetables as she dumped the contents into the trash. She discovered (after she started cooking) that the stir-fry mix had corn in it, a big “no” food. She was in tears. It was a meltdown over corn. Monica doesn’t have meltdowns-especially over corn-but that night, she did. Dinner wasn’t ruined, but our spirits were. At work the other day, I “stumbled” on a bulk candy site and spent far too long browsing the gummy section. I had a similar issue later in the week .
The Starlight mint-cident
I visited WUTC-FM to record a segment Wednesday morning. Richard Winham wasn’t there yet, so I hung out in the lobby with a Chatter Magazine. Before I even realized what was happening, I had helped myself to a Starlight after-dinner mint. You know the ones: They melt in your mouth and taste like heaven. The Whole 30 rules would tell me I had to reset my program back to day one, but there was no way I was letting this mint defeat me and my progress thus far. It was a stark reminder that I have a tendency to eat whatever is within reach. I didn’t think twice until it was already over. Those are the habits I’m trying to break. Again, shame was felt.
I woke up screaming. In the dream, I was staying in a house with a group of people. At some point, they told me to go ahead down a dark pathway by myself to search for something. In the dream, I grew tired, and when I came across a cozy bed, I lied down. After a few minutes of dream sleeping, a white wolf started circling the bed. He was snarling and menacing. I couldn’t move, and as he inched closer, I started to scream and flail. That’s when Monica woke me up. I’ve heard vivid, even lucid, dreams are a product of a drastic diet change, but I’m almost afraid to sleep at night. If my dead father shows up, I’m tapping out of the program.
I don’t ever want to be the person at the restaurant who asks the staff to “hold the croutons and dressing” on a salad, but I’ve had to be diligent about it. I also don’t want to be the person who can’t grab a beer after work with friends. You don’t realize how much drinking is a part of your social life until you can’t do it anymore. And then you have to explain what you’re doing and you feel like an even bigger pain in the ass. Nobody wants to hear about your “special diet” as they enjoy a pile of wings and a beer. That’s what I miss the most about life before the diet. I like my beer, and so do Chattanooga and all my friends. I’ll never tease anybody for skipping out on fried foods or beer again.
The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.