Some people run marathons. Others sign on for 10-day juice cleanses. I even know people who've lived in the Boundary Waters for a month without much more than a canoe, Nalgene bottle and a fishing pole. There's a type of person who finds enjoyment in suffering.
I am not one of these people.
However, due to a confluence of many events (starting Crossfit, getting married, my Hey Eleanor lifestyle, constant stomach aches/headaches), I decided it was time to radically overhaul my diet... at least temporarily. After a ton of internetting, I selected the Whole30-- essentially a strict, 30-day Paleo diet that limits you to only whole foods (like meats, some fats, eggs, veggies and fruits) and restricts all grains, dairy, alcohol, soy, sugar and more.
Why would a person subject themselves to such an eating plan? A few reasons. Melissa & Dallas Hartwig, the couple who created the plan, claim Whole30ers experience these results:
- Increased energy levels
- Pain relief
- Weight loss
- Healed skin issues (from acne to eczema), digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or fertility issues that medication hasn’t helped
- A metabolism reset, plus relief of systemic inflammation
- Changed perspective about food, taste, eating habits and cravings.
- Changed emotional relationship with food.
I am all about those things! And I had always wanted to get to the bottom of my food sensitivities (which I fear are substantial). But after reading their Official Rules, I wasn't so sure it was for me, and it really didn't have much to do with the list of things I could and could not eat.
I was afraid to do the Whole30 alone.
Not that doing it by myself sounded so awful. At certain points in my life, I could've probably done it... like when I lived alone. These days, I live with the beyonce. We eat dinner together almost every night. If he's not onboard, that presents a lot of obstacles-- for example, being surrounded by tempting Girl Scout cookies, pizza and beer (sorry, Josh, I know that's what you like to eat). Plus, it's more fun eating together and cooking together and grocery shopping together.
Then, there is the social aspect. Would I have to be the person who had to explain why I'm not drinking (for the billionth time, I am not pregnant!)? Or why I'm not chowing down chicken wings at happy hour? Would I have to bring my own food to parties? Would I just skip parties all together? No beer, no wine, no cocktails, no mocktails, no Diet Coke. NOT EVEN cream in my coffee. How would I even hang out with friends without it getting too weird? And what about people I have never met? "Oh yeah, I remember that weird girl who brought her own pample-mousse La Croix to Callie's birthday party... and her own weird snacks... and actually packed them all up and brought them with her when she left?"
Taking it a step further, I pride myself on not being a picky eater at all. Was I going to be that annoying person who grills a waiter on every single itty-bitty ingredient in every dish? Talk about a pain in the ass! Totally embarrassing.
Through January and February, I hemmed an hawed about whether or not I'd tackle this challenge. And then something really obvious occurred to me.
Why not ask Josh if he'd do the Whole30 with me?
He said yes, and not even that reluctantly. Turns out, like me, he'd always wanted to try something like this but had never had the balls to commit. Hmmm. That prompted me to take yet another obvious step.
I asked my friends if they wanted to do the Whole30, too.
I crafted an email explaining the eating plan and sent it to 12 people. Much to my surprise, six of them said they were game!
With that, we picked a start date (March 10), scoured the Internet for recipes and meal planned like crazy. We shared Costco goods, cleaned out our pantries and fridges. It was actually really fun.
We even celebrated "Fat Sunday" the day before our we officially kicked off our thirty days of culinary madness. Even just in the planning stages, I could tell doing this with a group is the way to go. Lots of enthusiasm & support.
Over the next month, I'll be sharing the highs, lows, recipes and challenges we've faced through our Whole30 challenge.
If you have any suggestions, please feel free to comment your face off below.