“Congratulations!” cheered the lady behind me in the check-out line. “When are you due?”
“Oh, I already had the baby!” I replied, smiling.
The look of horror on her face passed quickly. Faux pas: in the bag! “How long ago?”
“That’s a very pretty dress,” she replied, shifting gears to divert my attention.
I wasn’t miffed. I feel great! With only ten hours to go in my second Whole30, I’m down from a size 14/16 to a size 10. My husband is asking me almost daily if I’m sure I’m not pregnant, I’m glowing so. There’s newly returned spring in my step and I no longer get hangry. Just hungry.
This Whole30 was harder than my first. The first time around, I’d already been eating an extremely restricted diet for months; doing so helped manage extreme sensitivities brought on by exposure to environmental toxins. Shifting to Whole30 then meant ditching rice and occasional beers. This time around, it meant giving up my much beloved lemon cupcakes and all manner of delectable but unhealthy delights. Deprived of those, I found myself doing the unthinkable: shopping for distraction.
I do not like shopping.
I took this need for a new outlet as a sign that I was on the right track, and I was. I was squashing habitual craving eating-to-destress one healthy meal at a time.
Breastfeeding a newborn also made this more challenging. Whole30 meals of a little fat, some protein and a plethora of veggies are meant to sustain for 4-5 hours. The Whole30 team does caution that pregnant and breastfeeding women need to eat more frequently, but I was astonished by how much more frequently I needed to eat this time than last. I was usually ravenous–though quietly, not lashing out hangry-style the way I do when running on carbs!–after 2-3 hours. It’s only been the last couple of days that I’ve consistently made it 4-5 hours between meals with only mild hunger at best.
Was it worth it? You bet.
Am I going to keep it up? You bet.
The biggest critique I’ve seen of Whole30 is that it’s too strict, or just another yo-yo diet that will bring temporary weight loss that’s obliterated once you finish the diet. These irritate me, despite my effort to treat them with zen equanimity. Such statements reflect zero effort to read up on the rationale of the Whole30, which is about changing long term relationships with food and body image, not doling out weight quick fixes. Indeed, no weighing whatsoever is allowed during the 30-day “detox” period before verboten foods are reintroduced. This is because too much focus on the arbitrary measure of weight distracts from the whole picture of feeling wholly awesome eating real food instead of the food substitutes littered throughout the modern grocery store.
I want a cupcake right now. Part of me wants to stand outside my favorite cupcakery and buy a dozen lemon cupcakes the moment it opens tomorrow. Yes, I’m going to keep striving to eat the Whole9 way. Fortunately, that does not mean forever banishing much beloved foods. It means eating them sparingly, when I genuinely want to . . . not because engineered food substitutes urge me on, or because I’m feeling anxious and want a quick–but superficial and fleeting–sugar fix.
But mostly, I don’t want that cupcake. Not now. Not really. I want to keep basking in the glow of feeling truly nourished.
My Whole30 isn’t stopping here. I’m just not ready to give up feeling this good yet, not even for the world’s tastiest cupcake.
And that? That determination–not any external change–is the real gold of the Whole30.
* Written at 29.5 days because there’s a baby asleep on my chest and no guarantee I’ll find a writing opportunity tomorrow.