One Woman's Quest to Beat the Boston Bloat

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! This is the first installment as we totally creep her triumphs and challenges trying to get lean and mean. Shit is about to get real!   

My life in LA was divine.

I lived three blocks from the beach. I ran for fun and for the added bonus of getting a glorious tan. I was active and had a healthy diet by default. I also grew up as a ballerina (this will be important later when I actually talk about this challenge called Whole 30) and took a dorky, adult ballet once a week that I loved. Life was guuuuuud and staying fit was effortless. Natalie Canfield Hiking in SanDiego Whole 30 Natalie Canfield Hiking in LA Whole 30 Natalie Canfield Kayaking in LA Whole 30

Where am I now? Boston, MA.

Snowy Boston Beacon HIll Whole 30

Winter Hoodies Are Officially OUT

How (why) did I get here? Love makes you do funny and miraculous things like move from Southern California’s sunny beaches to New England’s terrible winters and cranky humans (this does not apply to my friends and coworkers who I love). Natalie Canfield Boston Snow Whole 30 When I decided to make the move from West to East to be with my fiancé, I did not anticipate how much my habits would change. My previously healthy lifestyle went out the window along with my flip flops and ‘winter’ hoodies and was replaced by beer, pub food, winter boots, and my very first parka. You can take the girl out of California, but... well, you know. Winter did not treat me well physically or mentally. To say that Boston is not a great fit for me would be an outlandish understatement. I have never felt so out of my element. I have spent time in places where ‘plumbing’ is a bucket or a hose, and I felt more at home in those locales than here in Boston. I am not sure what that says about me but.... There you go.

Here's Where Things Get Interesting Bloated

As a result of my lifestyle change, a disregard for any healthy food choices whatsoever, and general depression about being here, I developed what I have fondly named: The Boston Bloat. I have been bloated for THREE YEARS. NO JOKE. It subsides after approximately 4 days of being away from Boston. It doesn’t matter where I go...Sure, it may be a mental thing, but it exists and it sucks and it gives me gas.

Natalie Canfield Whole 30

After my first winter, and after being a spectator at the Boston Marathon in 2011 (which happened to be just before my 30th birthday--much like love, the dirty 30 makes us do funny and miraculous things), I decided that I would run my first marathon. I have been a runner ever since and I am training for two half marathons that I will run in the fall. Running cannot kill The Boston Bloat. It is a BEAST of epic proportions--It will take drastic measures to kill this beast.  

Running Didn’t Work. Time to Kill the Beast: Whole 30

Here is where I talk about Whole 30...About a month ago, my running buddy mentioned this Whole 30 thing and immediately, I thought, “Isn’t that Paleo? I have some ridiculously happy friends who eat that way. Clearly, I am skeptical.....” Intrigued, I thought, “Could The Boston Bloat meet its match in Whole 30 Land?” It's worth a try for sure. I mentioned ballet earlier (I told you this would come up again). I was a ballerina for most of my life: Ages 3-20 to be exact. I went to college for ballet. I was serious. With that said (and you are never going to believe me), I have never consciously changed my diet or monitored my food intake. I am not one of those “lucky people” who can eat cake twice a day and not gain a pound, but I was always physically active by default and didn’t think much about what I put in my mouth because it was generally healthy. Until I moved to Boston....

Goodbye My Friends (Beers, I will miss you most of all.)  

So here I am, a 32 year old washed-up ballerina who is desperate to slay the beast I have dubbed: The Boston Bloat. It truly is the most trying times in life that bring the most learning and it totally sucks.

Natalie Canfield Beer Whole 30

The Boston Bloat sucks so much that I am giving up sugar, alcohol (I will miss you old friend), dairy, and my most trusted companion: carbohydrate. All to see if I can slay this beast in 30 days. If it works, it will be well worth the sacrifice. It is only 30 days after all!

‘The Plan’ or ‘Setting Intentions’ or ‘Starting Off on the Right Foot’

This is where I tell you that my running buddy and I started off strong and really came into this thing intentionally, possibly by meditating or doing yoga.... BUT, that would be a lie because Sunday happened a little like this: We started off well with some meal planning...

Natalie Canfield Meal Plan Whole 30

And a shopping list... (The chocolate milk was for my fiancé, I swear)

Natalie Canfield Shopping List Whole 30

And we hit up Costco to stock up on delicious meat, fish, and fresh produce. (Not pictured, but bulk shopping totally happened.) Then....we decided that we needed one last cocktail, which turned into A LOT of cocktails (and a mezcal tasting). Oops!

Natalie Canfield Cocktails Whole 30

Natalie Canfield Margarita Whole 30

And, there had to be delicious blue cheese. . .

Natalie Canfield Blue Cheese Whole 30

I somehow forgot to take pictures of all the fresh food that we picked up and instead took pictures of all of the things that I won’t be enjoying over the next 30 days. It was a true homage to all the things we love and we went out in style.

Despite the Hangover: Day One Was A Success! 

This can’t be THAT hard, right? I made it through day one! Oh wait, they warned me about this. But still, I had a GREAT dinner cooked totally caveman style on the grill. (This is for more than just me and for more than one meal...) Counter clockwise (from the thing in the cage): Wild caught halibut, New York strip steak, red pepper, locally sourced squash from our CSA, and green onions also from our CSA.

Natalie Canfield Grillin Whole 30

I threw in some sweet potatoes (energy for my run tomorrow) and made a coconut, lemongrass sauce that I found on the cilantro package. It was DELICIOUS.

Natalie Canfield Dinner Whole 30

Ghee, You Are My New Best friend!

I also used ghee for the first time and although I still have no idea WTF it is (sure I could look it up on this fancy interwebs thing, but where is the fun in that?), I LOVE IT. Who cares what it is? If it keeps me from running into the nearest hipster coffee shop and ordering a large iced-mocha with whip cream, then ghee is awesome. On that note, I will embark into week one with high hopes and a love of my newfound friend, Ghee. Until next week...

Follow Natalie's Complete Whole30 Journey...

Part 1, Part 2Part 3, and Part 4



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.