I was apparently ahead of the curve in proclaiming the paleo diet to not be magical in any way. Take that, johnny (and Jane?) come latelies! Here’s the thing: magic isn’t actually magic, but boy if it doesn’t resemble it. With that in mind, the value of such an eating strategy has never been lost on me, nor its utility. It’s really hard to screw up (unless you’re making “paleo donuts” or some sort of other stand in for your sugar addiction), gives you a ton of nutrients, jives with that whole “you’re a human animal” mismatch elimination thing, and satisfies my internal calculus.
Internal calculus? That is to say, in a cost/benefit analysis, the foods I don’t eat aren’t missed. Grains,legumes, and dairy do not offer anything my diet does not already have in abundance and only bring things that either subjectively make me feel rubbish or objectively are problematic in the body. Thus, they have no place in my regular diet. This simple calculus doesn’t work for everyone, some people need to bathe in the wonder that is a really great functioning, reduced-inflammation human body to “get” it. That’s where the Whole 30 comes into play.
I’m friends with Dallas and Melissa, so I guess that’s a disclaimer (though Dallas and I have stimulating conversation on all points in which we disagree, so no critical thought is lost in process). The utility for such a period of clean eating for us is a reset and a check: a post-birth reset after the whirlwind of generally good eating but not quite all the time because we had a newborn; and a check to see if our normal eating habits were or were not making us feel subtly not our best without our knowledge. So on we went.
There is a guide to how you’ll feel at what day throughout the process. It was a good sign that we never really hit those notes…I never wanted to stab anyone during a sugar comedown anymore than I usually do because there wasn’t a sugar comedown. Second, nepotistic articles in online magazines set up awesome straw men about such a diet, with lines going on about a paleo diet not having enough carbs for hard training athletes. Never mind that endurance athletes (who need way more carbs than your average meathead) wrote a book on the subject. Hell, further never mind that certain professional hard-training athletes (read: paid millions for their performance) find a great deal of success with such an eating plan. Digressing, in my experience is that I eat more carbs when I tighten up my diet because psst, unless you lived near the poles, you had fruits,berries, and tubers available to you! It’s food! An example of this was how many times Sarah said “How many bananas is that today?!” which means I was eating a lot!
So since Sarah and I have done this before, we had no problem with buying in and understanding the subtle cues to pay attention to throughout the 30 days. However, as we progressed Sarah would say things to me like “I’m not really feeling anything.” This was actually a good thing, as it meant that our normal habits were really pretty solid and that tightening up wasn’t really too much of a stretch. Contrast this with the first Whole30 where Sarah walks in around day 13 and tells me how damn good she’s feeling and how great her skin is looking etc. etc. Our normal was now really damn good, so we didn’t notice much improvement in that regard.
At the end of the 30 days, we went on our first post-birth date sans baby. We got some sushi, felt a bit drunk from the voluminous rice, a serotonin smoothie if you will, and then the next morning went back to our normal habits that had been adjusted by the past 30 days.
So other than subjective results, there were the body composition changes; I lost 1/3″ in my waist, a couple pounds, and a few mm’s on the caliper, though nothing major nor expected. I call in the clean diet fudge factor: doesn’t change how my clothes fit or how I feel, though the OCD’s out there would go crazy for it. Ebb and flow around a central point, like my weight which has been within 2.5lbs either direction of a “stable” weight for 4 years now. These measures are the same. Sarah lost 4lbs without trying and is now fitting into pre-baby clothing, which is a nice side effect of just eating damn good food.
In the time period since, ~3 weeks, we’ve come to an interesting conclusion: in our life, a diet that is basically Whole30 + wine & dark chocolate works great. We get all of that sweet mortality reduction from the booze and dark chocolate doesn’t make us feel…well, anything. It just feels like heaven as all dark chocolate should! Seriously though, it lets us have social latitude without feeling like we’ve been run over by a truck as a result. And what’s better than that?
They’re starting another Whole30 in January; if you’ve been jonesin’ to try, that’s as good a time as any. And no, I don’t get anything from the reference, unless you count having Dallas on my cell phone as compensation. College girls everywhere are jealous, I’m sure.