Whole30 – Day 24 And Still Truckin’

Remember Amway?

I am about to sound like their earnest followers of 1979 who claimed that “once they were into Amway, but now Amway is into them.”

If I acknowledge this up front, if I am aware of it, then you know I am still in my right mind and not trying to get you into a pyramid scheme.

Day 24 of The Whole30 and, in a nutshell:

I like it.

I like shopping the walls not the aisles of the grocery store.  I like eating food that God ripened to readiness, and all we’ve applied to it is a little heat and a fork.  I like the un-goopy feeling of eating meat, fruit, and vegetables.  And, as any woman will attest, the tiniest movement toward physical health wakens the possibility of beauty that seemed lost.  Crepe shirts and pedicures and ruby drop earrings, yes, I believe I will.  And stand up straighter and dip into the back of the closet and into the far regions of the jewelry box and out of the routine of one pair of denim shorts and the magnolia stud earrings I’ve worn for two years.  Honestly, who doesn’t want this, or need it at 49 and 2/3 with one child left in the nest?

We’ve gotten better in the kitchen, and it isn’t destroyed three times a day.  We even entertained a family of five tonight for dinner and never mentioned the Whole30.

The Whole30 travels pretty well, too.  The trick of Whole30 on the road is not in finding a compliant restaurant; it is in trying to be gracious, to order unobtrusively so that all the relatives at the reunion don’t hear your clipped, specific instructions to the waiter:  “Chris, I want a grilled chicken breast and some steamed asparagus.  Make it happen.”  This option is nowhere on the menu, of course, though it seems so simple to do.

But Chris has dreams of his own, and he wants a glowing review on the on-line survey offered at the bottom of the receipt.  So he calls your attention to it in the aw-shucks way meant to appeal to any mother of a son.  I am on to his wiles, but he manages to make a cameo appearance in our vacay video.

And he makes the grilled chicken/steamed asparagus happen, but it is expensive and, no surprise, doesn’t begin to fill you up after nine hours on the road and a thunderstorm on I-10.  So you have spent a lot and eaten a little but followed the plan.  And that’s pretty much the way each day on the road goes.  It is very possible, but more expensive to eat less, which is a little disgruntling. And you will be hungry a lot because some vacations are so busy with events and people that you can’t get to the store to buy fruit and nuts.

Oh well. You will live.

What about the reception buffet with sandwiches, pasta salads, and baked beans?  Eat the meat off the sandwich. Choose the slaw – yes, there is probably a little sugar in the dressing but one has to ingest something and I am committed to being unobtrusive in the food moment.  Select a pickle, one Swedish meatball to demonstrate your full-fledged camaraderie, to say “I’m over here killing these meatballs.  Anyone want to join this party?” And all the fruit tray you want.  See?  You have successfully avoided the pasta salad and the pound cake and no one has noticed.

At Day 24 it behooves one to begin thinking about what’s next.  Here’s what I’ve decided.  The only thing I will change is that I will allow myself more 2% milk in my coffee, and will happily reintroduce the scant 2 inches of dry white.  And popcorn, because looking forward to a bowl of popcorn is how I make it through February’s game 32 of a 50-game high school basketball season.  Is it just me, or is each game and the season itself longer and colder than a calving iceberg?  If I hashtagged, it would be #keeptheclockrunningformercysake.

Well, that about sums up Day 24.  I have bought the T-shirt, so to speak.  And, as an aside, I predict that Chris the Waiter’s dreams will come true.


The Whole30, Or Becoming Mrs. Patmore – Day 16 Update

Day 16 and the honeymoon is over.

Becoming Mrs. Patmore
A better name for the program would be The WholeDirty as that describes the current state of my kitchen.  Or at least what my kitchen would be if I didn’t slave at it.  Remember all the kitchen gadgets required?  Every crevice of them has puddles and splatches of frappéd organic matter.  Onion skins bond hydro-chemically to the tile floor. Peels and pith and stem ends of yesterday’s choppings tuck under the microwave and rot with vigor.  The Whole30 kitchen is a happy compost bin.

It dawned on me as I unloaded the dishwasher for the 1000th time that while I yearn to be a kinder more likable version of Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary, what I have become is Mrs. Patmore.


I am still committed and still enjoying feeling healthier, but this is a full time job.  If I am not chopping I am cleaning, and if I am not cleaning I am looking at the clock knowing that I am an hour behind on the next fresh original real succulent dish.  During the school year, when I dreamed of summer it wasn’t me standing at the kitchen sink.

Keeping the Stiff Upper Lip
All the old habits and conveniences of quick fix are deep, and breaking them incites actual anger.  Which is amusing because there is no one to get mad at, at least no one logical. I chose this myself.  And general undirected anger is a funny thing to watch, even in one’s own self.

I guess I could get mad at Melissa and Dallas, the cofounders of Whole30, but that’s like getting mad at the physical therapist for being stern.  “Do you want the use of your arm back after surgery? Then do the 15 supination stretches, or not. It’s entirely up to you.”  Well, if you put it that way . . .

I mentioned character building in an earlier post.  Character isn’t built with the first lean plate.  It’s built by continuing.

There’s the rub; Day 16 is about being grumpy with no one
to be grumpy at, but choosing to continue.

Plus I am accountable to you now.  I reached for the peanuts the other day and you were watching – all 5 of you, four of whom are my mother under different pseudonyms.  And the look on your faces said, “Seriously? After all your big talk?”  So I didn’t eat them.  Thank you.

No cravings thus far, even for a massive bowl of popcorn.  Like smoking (I assume), eating popcorn is more about the hand to mouth pleasure, rather than a love for popcorn itself.  So perhaps even as few as 16 days can break some of those habits.  That’s been one of the main benefits for me so far – interrupting bad habits long enough to recognize them and then to form better ones.

I do miss the occasional 2 inches of Pinot Grigio.  And I confess to succumbing twice in these 16 days.  The Whole30 creators say I must start back at Day 1 each time I do that.

How about we compromise?  I’ll add one day at the end for each time I show such appalling lack of character and self-control.

So at this point I am at Day 16 of The Whole32.

Believe me, having to add a day will be a very effective incentive to do things their way.  I repent!

I need to begin thinking about Day 33, or what I plan to do after this.

Meanwhile, I am off to a reunion with the ladies of our family in sunny Florida.  I’ll let you know how The Whole30 works on the road.   And if the media begin tracking a pod of frolicking porpoises off the north Florida coast, it’s just us.

What The College Girl Brought Home

Our daughter came home from college, diploma in hand and South Korea-bound.  She’s here at home for a few months to get all the paper work in order and while here she has brought us happily into the world of 20-somethings – alternative music, trending topics, exercise in the late afternoon, and The Whole30 Program.


If you aren’t familiar with The Whole30, it is more of a cleanse than a diet.  For 30 days we commit to forego all refined sugar of any kind. In addition to the obvious sugar vehicles, we must turn our backs on alcohol and all grains.  Additionally, the Whole30 adherent gives up those hearty legumes except beans that are more pod than bean, like a snow pea.  Finally, all dairy is excluded with the exception of clarified butter or ghee which probably isn’t available in our town, but I could be wrong.

So what’s left?

8 days in to the 30, here’s what’s left:

* Actual real unprocessed original food.  Grilled chicken breasts, grilled peppers, stuffed cabbage, whole berries, homemade mayonnaise, avocados, lettuce wraps.  A steamed potato is the unsung understudy to butter and sour cream.  But let it have center stage and a star is born.  Yes, I know I sound like a sound-bite, but I’m not kidding.

* The chance to taste again.  I had not realized that I wasn’t really tasting anything anymore, partially because the original food was so submerged in other things, but also because this plan forces us to slow down, prepare, taste, savor.

* Kitchen time, touching food and thinking about what’s good.  At first it is annoying because nothing is fast or quick-grab on this program, and I have a busy life.  Aside from an apple or a banana, if you want to eat you have to cook.  So you have to peel, chop, seed, simmer, steam, wait, smell, think, wait, not sip wine, and wait.

* The good feeling of hunger.  I had forgotten that, too.  When was the last time I approached dinner actually hungry and having to wait?  I can’t remember.

* The deep thought that technology is not neutral. Neil Postman said this, I believe, and the gist is that advances can be detrimental.  We’ve developed ways to eat fast, convenient, and extra large, and much is lost in that.  We all know this, but Whole30 eating is a three-times-a-day illustration of it.

* Being able to eat a lot!!  We’ve eaten like kings for these 8 days.  Vegetable soup, fruit smoothies, lots of meat, oven roasted asparagus, Cuban pork chops and plantains, scrambled eggs, steamed salmon en papillote, to name some recent meals.

* But never feeling that sick stuffed feeling.  You know what I am talking about, that feeling that makes you hate yourself.

A wreck of a kitchen.  We’re in it all the time and every gadget we own stays out on the countertop – pressure cooker, smoothie blender, food processor, handheld and countertop mixers, and all their different lids, blades, and accoutrements. Come to think of it, I don’t know how I would do this during the school year. But the family is together and every meal is an event.

* Character challengesThe Whole30 founders say this program is not hard.  And what they mean is that it isn’t hard compared to actual hard things like cancer and car wrecks.  They are right.  But it is hard to say no to ourselves.  And when we do it our character is flexed and strengthened.  This program makes you say to yourself, “You mean you can’t give up cream in your coffee or the evening glass of wine for a mere 30 days???  What if the apocalypse happens and your family needs you to man-up and find shelter?  Will you collapse for lack of half and half?”    It’s one thing to be forced to give up something, but to do it by choice when it is available at hand, well, that’s a character builder.

* The freedom to make modifications.  Now the minute I say this, The Whole30 founders will say that I am no longer on their plan.  I respect that.  The purpose of doing this program is different for each person.  Andrew and I have decided that living almost half a century earns us the right to draw a few lines of our own, within reason, of course.  So, we have added the Asian grain millet or the Egyptian grain kamut for breakfast.  That and the tiniest splash of 2% milk in my coffee.  Drinking black coffee is like drinking Comet.  Otherwise, we are hard core.

* And the challenge to reject food righteousness.  It is a short jump from hard core to self-righteous, isn’t it?  And food can be a beautiful platform for raising my brows at the pizza-eaters and saluting my gnostically-enlightened fellow snow-pea eaters. Or raising my brows at them too and being what C.S. Lewis calls the truly superior man who thinks he sees through both sides as no one else can  (Screwtape Letters, Letter 10).  Yes, this program is a humbling opportunity to refuse to be enslaved by things that enslave me but not to be proud or judgmental about it.

* Moments for grace and politeness and empathy. Within these 30 days in May and June, we have weddings, birthdays, a family reunion, and graduation celebrations.  It can be tiresome when people dominate an event with their dietary needs.  This is my chance to find that I sympathize with the impulse to talk about the intracacies of a particular food path, but to conquer the urge. When handed the cake and champagne, I can participate fully by holding it and at some point just putting it down. Easy.

Well, these are my meditations at Day 8.

What?  Side effects?  A few headaches, a coping G.I. tract, and sluggish running. No euphoria or slumps, but these are early days.

Will we make it the whole 30?  I’ll keep you posted.