Well, I expected these days to be the hardest--- it's week 2 and I expected to get bored of food, frustrated with food prep, and according to the Whole30 timeline, I was prepared for the day 8-11 slump. Plus, my birthday weekend (days 11-14) conveniently fell right smack in the middle of the 30 days! A birthday with no cake? Yep!
But it's become apparent to me that for whatever reason, I've deviated from the projected schedule of the Whole30-- maybe because I've done this before, but I think it is just simply because of the concept of bio-individuality-- we are all biologically unique beings, so we will react differently to different foods and eating styles. I can say one thing for sure: I am, without a doubt, feeling and seeing positive changes-- but there were certainly humps to get over!
Day 8: The start of week 2-- also the beginning of the first week back to my normal work routine since before Christmas! Since we spent the previous day in the city, we did our usual-Sunday food shopping and prep on Saturday, which was crucial!
Maybe it was all the excitement on Sunday-- with getting home late and not getting quality sleep-- but Monday (day 8), I felt miserable. My body just did not want to function. It took all of my energy just to sit at work and get through the day.
So my meals were pretty boring-- eating was just a task I had to do. So again, food prep: crucial.
Day 8 meals (below):
Breakfast: Quiche and herbal "coffee" with 1t coconut oil, 2t collagen (a bit extra since my body was so exhausted!), and 1t butter.
Lunch (not pictured): Practical Paleo Orange Braised Beef with potato wedges
Dinner: Pork roast, raw sauerkraut, green beans, baked sweet potato, & gravy
Day 9 definitely picked up. I got much better sleep, got to the gym, and ate much better--- which all helps!
Day 9 meals (above):
Breakfast: Quiche & herbal coffee with collagen, coconut oil, and butter (Seeing a trend here? I am boring.)
Lunch: Sausage and peppers with broccoli
Pre-workout snack: Plain roasted almond butter
Dinner: Cracklin chicken thighs, mashed yucca, and salad (We had no salad dressing, so I whipped some up on a whim, and it was definitely the best dressing I have ever created! The secret ingredient? Green olive juice! (Again, just check your labels!)
Day 10- Wednesdays are turning out to be my longest days since I work, go to the gym, and then teach nutrition classes at night. So I need to be extra prepared with food (and clothes-- I swear I am a bag lady). This particular Wednesday was definitely full of temptation-- in celebration of a woman I work with, who publishing a book, our department threw her a post-lunch "dessert party." A huge table filled with loads of sugar and flour-- all kinds of cookies, cakes, and muffins I "could not" have. (The super fun part was going shopping for the party!)
"Could not": On any normal circumstance (meaning non-Whole30), no part of me would be phased by desserts. Sure, if I wanted a cookie, I would have one-- but I honestly never want it. Yet on this day, the thought that I am not allowed not even a bite or taste, just prompted me to want it. I had to continually-remind myself of a concept that I always teach others (and sometimes forget myself). My food choices are not imposed on me. They are just that: choices. Yes, the Whole30 has "rules" that need to be followed, but I am the one who decided to do the Whole30. So it's not about "I cannot eat ____", it's actually "I choose not to eat ___." I sucked it up and had some fruit instead-- which actually was quite delicious, especially after not having any sugar in 10 days!
Day 10 meals (below):
Breakfast: Quiche & herbal "coffee" (again.... but look, I got a plate this time!)
Lunch: Kettlebell Kitchen Chorizo Chicken Gumbo
Snack: sliced berries and pear
Post-workout: Leftover cracklin chicken
Dinner: Homemade minestrone soup (with bacon, onion, cabbage, zucchini, chard, carrots, tomatoes, & broth) with sausage & leftover mashed yucca
Day 11- my 27th birthday! (How am I 27? I don't know.)
I did have to work on my birthday (I guess that's what happens when you're 27), but I did have a shorter-than-usual day since I left a bit early to get a birthday workout in before dinner!
And yes, I stayed Whole30 all day. A few different people asked me if I was going to indulge, and I heard the "one day/meal/bite won't kill you" and "you're not going to have cake on your birthday!?!" lines often. But I made my mind up to do this, and do it right this time. And to do the Whole30 right, you need to be 100% for 30 days. Sure, it sounds harsh and to some, overly restrictive. But there are hundreds of reasons why the Whole30 is the way it is. (And if you are doing a Whole30, or plan to do one, I suggest you definitely read-- the website, the book-- all about these why's. I personally think that when you know why you are doing something, you are more motivated to be compliant and stick with it!) At least, start here: Do I Really Have to Start My Whole30 Over?
Day 11/birthday meals (below):
Breakfast: Same as every day (I spared you a boring picture of the monotony, but did pour my coffee into a funky mug!)
Lunch: Leftover minestrone soup with sausage over mashed yucca
Dinner (at Union Restaurant): Appetizer- shrimp ceviche with plantain chips (half), salad with bacon, tomatoes, & balsamic vinegar, and roast duckling with fried yucca and vegetables
Cake: "Fruit" cake :)
We planned to go out to dinner, so the night before my birthday, we did some research on where would be the "best" (most Whole30-friendly) restaurant to go to. We settled on Union, which is actually one of my favorite restaurants, and where I have celebrated my birthday at least 5 times in the past 7 years. The food is unique, full of flavor, and for the most part, very healthy! And the best part-- everything gluten-free (and vegetarian) is labeled-- which is so helpful because many meals that you would suspect are gluten-free actually aren't. (Gluten-free doesn't mean grain-free, and obviously not dairy or sugar-free, but it does help you identify which meals have hidden gluten in them-- things like flour used in gravies or to pan fry meats and fish). For everything else-- we just asked! Our ceviche was 100% Whole30, but our salads came with a Parmesan dressing and feta cheese, and our dinners came with rice, so we substituted yucca and sweet plantains.
When you go out to eat on the Whole30, you must become comfortable with talking to your waiter. Ask what ingredients are in dishes you want to order. Ask what types of oils/fats foods are cooked in. Ask for no sauce, no oil, no dressing. Always ask for substitutions-- if it's on the menu somewhere, they can put it on your plate! And don't be afraid to pack your own condiments-- salad dressing, mayo, homemade sauces, ghee, coconut oil, even good sea salt!
Now- cake. I rarely have cake on my birthday-- it has to be really worth it. And plus, I would prefer a steak (or roast duck) over cake any day! But my parents insisted that they have to sing "Happy birthday" and I have to have candles to blow out, so for the past few years, my mom has been constructing a "cake" made of fruit for my birthday--- and every year, we devour it (unlike every single family birthday when at least half of the cake is left over!) This year's "cake" was just as good, if not better, than any actual cake-- especially since half of my family has been doing the Whole30 and hasn't been eating any sugar. (You may hear how your tastes change and I can attest to this 100%!) We spent the rest of the night eating "dessert" and watching Friends on Netflix-- perfect. And I felt good-- and not just because it was my birthday, but because my body just felt better than it has in a long time!
Day 12: I took off work to get some schoolwork done and then spend the day with my mom and cousin, Alex, whose birthday is the day after mine. Every year for the past 5+ years, we have a birthday tradition of going shopping at Anthropologie and Free People. My boyfriend also took the day off, so he made us an amazing brunch (left).
I made one monumental mistake though. When we woke up, my dad had already made coffee. Since there was no regular coffee canister in the cabinet, we assumed he made decaf. I made myself a nice big mug and drank it all-- and within one minute, I knew-- that was not decaf. A phone call to my dad confirmed my suspicion (Stupid me to call after I drank it!).
Going almost 2 weeks without caffeine has been one of the best things I have ever done for my body. I have more energy-- and stable energy-- throughout the day than ever before. My anxiety has decreased tenfold. I feel stronger and have better endurance in my workouts. Weird aches and pains in my body have gone away (and yes, a lot of this is likely due to food... but having the caffeine by accident showed me that it truly is not just the food.) I immediately felt like my body was buzzing, my fingers started tingling, I felt nauseous... and the entire day I just felt "off"--- rushed and wired. A great reminder: Stay away from the caffeine. And make your own damn coffee, Kim!
On a positive note, not only did I have an amazing day of spending time with my mom and cousin shopping at our favorite stores-- but I had an amazing day because I actually wanted to try on clothes. For at least a year, I have really not bought myself new clothes, unless I needed to. I hated trying on clothes, because I had gained weight and things just didn't fit the way they used to. I no longer knew just what size to grab on the rack, because I didn't know what size I was anymore. This day was different. I actually liked the way clothes were looking on me. I was trying pants on in a whole size smaller than usual! No, I haven't weighed myself (I don't plan to until after the 30 days are up), but my body is changing and the best part is that I am truly starting to notice it myself!
That evening, my cousins, sister, and good friends went to a BBQ restaurant and had dinner. Although at the place where we normally treat ourselves to beer, wings, cornbread, and BBQ, we were all able to eat according to Whole30 guidelines-- 11 of the 14 in our group is doing Whole30, so it made it a lot easier to stay on plan and be accountable. The urge to get a beer isn't as strong when no one else is drinking-- and dinner is a heck of a lot less expensive sans alcohol! Gong out to dinner may not be as interesting when no one is indulging, but enjoying the company of friends is the same, minus the not-so-healthy (but oh so delicious) food and drink!
Day 12 meals:
Brunch(above): scrambled eggs with broccoli, sauteed red onions with lemon, leftover mashed yucca, uncured bacon, and coffee (not shown)
Lunch: None-- Brunch was so satiating that I didn't feel any hunger all day, until about 5pm!
Snack: Raw walnuts and a small bowl of leftover minestrone soup
Dinner: Salad (with tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli) w/ oil & vinegar, smoked chicken (without sauce), plain baked potato, & spicy collard greens (with bacon, tomatoes, garlic, & red chili flakes)
After dinner: black decaf coffee
So overall, I had an amazing birthday/birthday weekend (which is still ongoing!)-- even without sugar, grains, gluten, and yes-- even without a glass of wine or a beer! I spent time with my family, my boyfriend, and my best friends-- what else really matters? When you take away the traditional "celebratory" foods on your birthday, what you have left is the core of why you even celebrate at all-- the people in your life who you love, and who love you, most. Who the hell needs a cake?
Kim Jordan, NTP - Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, health educator, CrossFitter, nature lover, student of life, once-aspiring writer. Owner of Root and Branch Nutrition.