Editor’s Note: We’re taking you inside Natalie’s experience consuming nothing but whole, healthy, natural, and lean foods for 30 days – The Whole 30 Challenge!
Zzzzzzzzz and GIMME BAGEL
The first week was rough. I was craving everything, felt starving (even though I was eating A LOT), I was cranky, and exhausted! My body was pissed that I wasn’t giving it instant gratification. Apparently bodies like instant gratification without all the work. Don’t we all! Well body, you can SUCK IT because I am retraining you to use what you’ve already got and not rely on the quick fix. There is a new lady in charge!
In the first week, my system made a switch from digesting food in my mouth to digesting food in my stomach. I know this sounds weird, but hear me out: For a whole week, I was missing that instant high that each meal used to give. I craved bagels, donuts, or at least a bun to hold my damn burger together. I wasn’t actually hungry, but my brain thought I was. I have no scientific understanding of digestion, and from experience alone I can say with confidence that digestion of carbohydrates starts in my mouth and then instantly goes to my head. The entire first week, I wanted an ice cream as big as my face, which luckily one can find here in New England. Evidence (pre-Whole 30):
Eating Out: Piece of
Cake Free Range Chicken Breast!
Thanks to my running buddy, my lack of afterwork plans, and bulk shopping, I was REALLY good about cooking at home the first week. In the second week, I went out of town, had friends and family in town, and went to two Red Sox games. I didn’t cook AT ALL. BUT, I did learn that it is possible to eat out AND make good food choices! I went to one of my FAVORITE restaurants in Boston and they had one entree that I could eat made with local bass. It was DELICIOUS.
When you eat out, you may only have one choice on a menu and it is usually a salad, which makes decision-making easy. You also have to be willing to ask questions like: “Is there ANY trace of sugar or dairy in ANYTHING on this particular salad? Yeah, would you check with the chef? No, I don’t have an allergy it is just a dietary restriction.” or “Can I get a burrito with no cheese, no beans, and no tortilla?” Yeah, you heard me buddy. A burrito sans tortilla. DO IT! I AM STARVING. Just kidding, I’m fine. It is only my brain telling me I’m starving.
The Stigma of Healthy Living and Eating- Getting serious for a minute...
Since this is my first adventure in conscious eating, it is my first time realizing first-hand the stigma that our culture has on eating healthy. It makes it hard to make good choices when everyone around you is urging you to fall off the wagon ASAP.
Sometimes it IS hard for people to understand why you are making particular food choices. Why anyone else cares what I eat is truly beyond my comprehension (and patience level), but MANY people around me want me to eat sugar, carbs, and (especially) drink booze WITH them. I am a strong-willed person and when I set a goal, I do it for a reason. I will do everything in my power to meet that goal, including ignoring friends and coworkers who attempt to peer pressure me into falling off the wagon.
With that said, I am absolutely not perfect and have no intention of being perfect (see the “Dipping my Toe off the Wagon” section for evidence). Moral of this rant: Even though your coworker is double-fisting Fenway Franks, be strong and make good choices because good choices make you feel good. F everybody else and their opinions. Also, you can have Fenway Franks in 15 days if you really want them.
More Evidence that Boston is not LA And again, the stark contrast between LA and Boston is evident. The LA culture is supportive of healthy choices and an active lifestyle. The downside is that LA definitely has an unhealthy extreme-dieting scene.
My rule of thumb: Ignore Hollywood’s idea of ‘normal’, which really isn’t that hard because there is nothing normal about Hollywood. Also, on that note: Kill your TV.
Dipping my Toe off the Wagon
So......part of Whole 30 is to commit to all 30 days with no free days and no, “I’ll just have a little sip of this beer and it will be fine...” It totally makes sense because the goal of Whole 30 is to cleanse your system of all of the bad stuff. I completely agree that cheating here and there is not ok, but when you have a friend in town that you haven’t seen in 13 years, that deserves a cocktail!
Here is how my cheating went down: It was a TRILLION degrees in Boston that weekend and I was showing my friend all the historic sites, which happen to be outside. We decided to grab a margarita to cool off and relax. I was smart and steered clear of sugar: I had tequila over ice with soda water and lime. I felt great afterward. After almost two weeks of not drinking, I was buzzed from one drink. Score!
Later, we went to dinner and I had two drinks including a sugary cocktail. I got accidentally drunk. Oops! I slept horribly that night (I had been sleeping like a champ) AND I woke up with a stuffy nose (something that Whole 30 had cleared up). The consequences were immediate. I was sorta baffled.
Lesson 1: It wasn’t worth it AND it would have been really easy to NOT order an alcoholic beverage. Trust me, order a soda water with lime and call it a day. They are surprisingly refreshing!
Lesson 2: when you are mostly eating really healthy and then you add something not healthy, you feel the consequences almost immediately. Generally, I eat so unhealthy that I feel less-than-stellar all the time. Not that I support dipping your toe off the wagon, BUT feeling the consequences instantaneously after making a bad choice was SUPER enlightening, and I am now keenly aware of how bad choices effect my body.
The Status of The Boston Bloat
I wish I could tell you that the bloat has been eradicated after two weeks. Sadly, this isn’t so... I do know that my body generally has about a month-long lag to catch up to my exercise regime, so I would not be surprised if The Boston Bloat is either on the same timeline or is completely an emotional thing. Jerk.
Overall, after the struggle of the first week was over, I started to get into the groove and just stuck to the plan (minus my three cocktails). This is the easy part because I am over the days of feeling miserable, and I have clear instructions of what I can and can’t eat.
According to the Whole 30 gurus, I am supposed to feel like I have “Tiger Blood” days 16-28. I am not quite there yet, but I did cheat just 4 short days ago... I will keep you posted on how ferociously awesome I am feeling. Fingers crossed that my own ‘Tiger Blood’ will arrive soon!!! Until Next time!
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Natalie Canfield is a California born and Arizona bred lover of sunshine, the outdoors, international adventures, and delicious beer. Challenging humans to dream big is her life’s work and currently it manifests itself through working in study abroad. She lives with her fiancé and his five bicycles in Somerville, MA and they dream about the day when we will move back west. Follow her adventures on Twitter @Life_of_Noods.