Meat me at the weekend: the Whole 30 draws to a close

I am going CRAZY trying to gut it out for the last couple days (hours, really) of this Whole 30. Full disclosure folks: I cheated. Twice, by my conscious reckoning.

The first time was on Day 23, last week, after a full morning spent wrestling Evie at Children’s hospital when it turned out she needed 5 vials of blood drawn. I think they maaaaaybe got 2.5 ml before her vein blew (what a lovely turn of phrase) and the poor, sweating lab tech solemnly vowed he would rework the math on her orders and make that minuscule amount streeeeeetch to get all the required tests. She fell asleep 4.3 seconds after they pulled the needle out of her arm and I fell open-mounted into a bottle of pinot noir at 6 pm that night. So shoot me.

Ironically, Insatiable. Possibly would have been compliant if blended with gallon of olive oil  in background.

The second time was the night before last, after hearing the news of my grandpa’s death (not a shock, but still an emotional day for my family) and fielding phone calls from siblings and cousins all day long. I’m the eldest grandchild and child in my family, so I was tapped to be the official harbinger after my dad delivered the news. I fished a hidden IPA out of the meat drawer (see a pattern here?) at dinner time and what do you know, one sip led to another and before that bottle was gone, I had chased it with a fistful of frozen chocolate contraband fished from the freezer. The punchline is thus: my #1 temptation to stray is always liquid in form, and alcohol renders chocolate irresistible to me.

By far the greatest thing about this past month has been the level of self knowledge gained. I have an infinitely better understanding of why I crave things, of what my “triggers” are, so to speak, and of just how powerful food and alcohol are in their influence. I’m delighted with the weight loss of course, (we’ll get to that in a minute) but the self mastery Dave and I have both gained in the dietary realm is priceless.

So first, the good. Absolutely the increased fortitude in the face of brownies and Guinness is at the top of the list. It’s also been really fun, oddly enough, to discover things that are entertaining/rewarding/pleasurable that don’t involve food or drink. Date nights this past month have been more about chatting and snuggling and reading books and drinking tea at Barnes and Noble until 10 pm and less about dropping $60 and 4,000 calories on fajitas and margs before crashing into bed by 8:45. I think it has been good for our relationship to have to stretch a bit to think of alternatives to the standard dinner/drinks itinerary, and I know it has been good for our budget.

Obviously, the weight loss has been awesome. I don’t have final numbers yet because SUNDAY is our official end date and I’m being mildly obedient to the method, but last week I cheated and weighed in to find a very pleasant 9 lbs were missing. I’m also down a jeans size and almost a shirt size-and-a-half. Dave is many notches down on his belts and frankly is looking ridiculous in some of his dress shirts (and super hot in his suits) so I think he has at least a dozen pounds missing from his frame, too.

They love when I selfie.

Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly, the energy. I still feel tired in the afternoons but the mornings are like a different person is living in my body. I wake up and feel decent, I can speak in full sentences, and I don’t need more than a coffee or two to get things going (and to have them stay going. No more afternoon caffeine cravings!). I also don’t stagger into the kitchen screaming for carbohydrates and pushing my kids out of the way to get to the toaster. I still miss the idea of bread but honestly, I’m totally content with the eggs/meat/fruit rotation we’re trapped in. It’s fine. It’s better than fine because it keeps me going till lunch and it really kills the cravings if you never indulge them to begin with.

Our takeaway from this Whole 30 experience can be summed up in one word: moderation. Do I think we’ll keep eating Paleo as a rule? Probably. Except when we break the rule. I’m envisioning a 6 days on/1 day off framework that can flex accordingly to account for feast days, cocktail parties and date nights. What I’m not envisioning is adding back grains and dairy into every meal, or even into every day. I’d love to keep our diets at an 80/20 ratio, but we’ll have to experiment with adding stuff back in to see how our bodies and our brains respond. I’m not willing to go back to the way I was eating though, or to the power food once had over me. I feel so much more free within this ridiculous framework, and so much more able to institute discipline in other areas of my life. And my kids are eating better.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got to get back to the staring contest I’m having with the box of TJ’s sea salt dark chocolate almonds purchased for Sunday’s great reawakening. 36 hours to go…


  • Brigid

    You sound and look great!! After my failed Whole 30, we’ve gone toward doing flex paleo, but I might try to do a Whole28 between like… now and going to Atlanta at the end of October. I would not miss 9lbs.

  • Amelia Bentrup

    Good for you! You look great and I love this post! I’ve been sorta doing the Whole30 as well, except I’ve cheated way more than 2 times. But that’s okay because I’ve still learned A TON from it and I’m coming away with improved eating habits. I’ll probably blog about it soon

  • Joy

    You look wonderful and sounds like you and your hubby have learned a lot and have a great plan going forward!
    Yay for a lab tech who knows when enough is enough!!
    Sorry about your grandfather.

  • Kris

    I’m nodding my head as I’m reading this because this is exactly what Jim and I are experiencing as well. We have had one or two “cheat” days – the only way I could get my carb/sugar loving husband to stick with this long term. But the first time we cheated, he actually was the one who said that he felt awful physically and that even if he has the occasional cheat going forward, it’s more like a “cheat” item rather than a day. We are both loving how we feel, and his morning aches and pains are completely gone – I credit that to the grain and sugar.

  • Kate

    Jenny! You’re looking so awesome. I can totally empathize with alcohol being a trigger. I think I should do an alcohol fast just so I can remember OTHER ways that I like to relax and enjoy myself. Alcohol-less date night sounds like a contradiction in terms and therefore probably VERY necessary to try sometime.

  • Catholic Mutt

    I agree with all the others; you look great! I need to do a little better with what I’m eating, but I know that it’s hard to miss some of the grains and dairy when you feel a lot better. I am sorry about your grandpa. I know that it still hurts, even when it’s expected.

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