As of Tuesday June 15th, after 30 full days, our Road Trip Whole30 program will officially conclude. And we’re proud to say we made it through the program 100%. Yes, through all the grocery trips, restaurant meals, social obligations and business dinners, we stayed 100% compliant with the Whole30, both in rules and intention. (We even made it through two full days in West Texas, and if you can Whole30 there, you can pretty much do it anywhere.)
Was it easy? Yes… and definitively, no. Making good food choices is easy by now – we can look at a menu or a deli counter and know immediately what’s “out”. And we’ve been doing this long enough that variety wasn’t an issue – we were able to stay pretty creative with our meals and food choices without getting too bored (a mean feat, considering we ate tons of meals out of the cooler). We also committed to planning and preparation, packing two coolers at a time, pulling out the camping stove to cook in our hotel rooms and storing leftovers in purchased glass Tupperware – which meant we did our 30 days without relying on nuts, fruit, jerky or Larabars to see us through. And because we’d been eating well before this 30 day period, there was no adaptive period – no lethargy, headaches or performance dips.
It wasn’t all hearts and ponies, however. The hardest part by far was managing the restaurant scene. Being on the road means we took a bunch of meals out at restaurants – at least one a day, sometimes more. I’m not embarrassed to admit I pitched more than one tantrum after scrutinizing the menu, making 17 substitutions to arrive at the one meal I could actually eat according to the plan, and then hearing from the waiter that there was butter/honey/wine/soy in some minuscule amount in the dish. There were many a conversation that went like this:
M: There is literally nothing I can eat here.
D: There is literally nothing you can eat. Really?
M: Well, nothing I want, and the things I want I can’t eat.
D: Okay, well that’s different.
M: Stupid (insert forbidden ingredient here).
M: This sucks.
D: Melissa, it’s our own darn program.
And this was the most eye-opening experience of the last 30 days. Because we realized that we probably “slip” and allow sub-optimal foods into our daily diets far more often than we estimated. The tiny bit of added sugar here, the veggies cooked in butter, the splash of soy sauce… that all adds up, and allowing those foods to slide is, well, a slippery slope. And if this was OUR experience – two people who should know better than anyone how to eat Whole30 in any situation – it’s gotta be that much harder for those of you doing this for the first time. So, officially, Whole30 participants, we’ll admit… sometimes, it IS kind of hard. (Knowing that, minimizing your non-essential restaurant experiences until you’ve got a bit more time and experience under your belt may not be a bad idea.)
However, that doesn’t excuse you – or us – from sticking to it, doing as much work as necessary to stick to the plan for the full 30 days. And we became that much smarter this time around – smarter about which foods sneak in sugars, soy or other ingredients you wouldn’t expect. (Whole Foods adds sugar and honey to their roasted beets. Seriously.) Smarter about which brands are go-to and which aren’t as healthy as the label makes them sound. Smarter about asking waiters and chefs how food is prepared, learning that almost no one cooks with olive oil, but they might if you ask. And those lessons, while frustrating at the time, are things we’ll take with us through the rest of our nutritional pursuits.
Results? Within just a few days, our energy levels returned to a consistent high. Those nagging aches and pains (Dallas’ thumbs, my knees) disappeared. Performance continued to rock (as much as it can when we’re stuck in a car 6 hours a day). And, in general, we both feel fantastic. So when our 30 days are up tomorrow, what will we be reaching for? Maybe some Nutella-stuffed french toast? A glass of wine? Some sushi and soy sauce? None of the above, kids. We both feel so amazing that we’re not in a hurry to break pattern. So we’re sticking to Whole30, business as usual, until something truly once-in-a-summertime-spectacular comes along to tempt us over to the dark side. (We’ll let you know when and what that is.)
For those of you finishing up the program with us – congratulations, and well done! Now don’t you dare go running off on Day 31 to enjoy beer, pizza and ice cream all at once. You just spent 30 days eliminating foods from your diet, in an attempt to learn how specific food groups affect you. So be patient and scientific about reintroducing those foods. Try one food, one day, all by itself. Keep the rest of your diet perfect, and add one small serving of ONE type of food – maybe a cup of ice cream, or a slice of cake, or a piece of bread. Then… wait. Evaluate how it makes you feel later that day, that night and the following morning. See how that food affects you after your healing-hiatus. (CAUTION – this may not go as well as you hope. Especially with dairy. Just sayin’. Be cautious with your serving sizes.) Want to test another food? Repeat a few days later, same method – squeaky clean food, plus one small portion of one food group. Repeat as necessary, understanding that the reintroduction process can take a good amount of time to work through. (For example, treat all dairy products separately, as ice cream may not provoke the same response as cheese.) But as you just spent 30 days giving up the foods you enjoy, shouldn’t you make that time count? Be patient, and reap the benefits.
For those of you continuing on in your Whole30 journey – stay committed, keep posting, and keep encouraging and motivating others who are just getting started. We’ll be here to do the same, as we’ve found the community aspect of the Whole30 program plays a huge role in participants’ success. (Which means if you’re a lurking Whole30′er… you really should come on out and play!)
Thanks to everyone for their support!