Back towards the end of February, I was casually stalking my own Instagram when I saw that I’d posted two pictures in Locust Pose within two weeks of each other. I had some time to kill, as I was waiting for feedback on something for work before heading home for the night, so I edited the photos next to each other and was really surprised to see a noticeable difference in my backbend – in just 11 days! I posted the picture, and then put my phone down, checking in a few hours later when a notification came up that my anchor G had left me a comment. She left me a really sweet note, one I’ve gone back to read a few times, asking questions like how long I practice every day, and closing with something I hear somewhat frequently after people find out I’m a yoga nerd: “Help me, I’m inflexible.” Knowing she’s usually game for a dare, I posed a challenge to G: starting on March 31, she completes the Erin Motz/Do You Yoga 30-day Challenge on YouTube that inspired my entire yoga practice, and I’ll finally complete my first round of Whole30.
Now, for those unfamiliar with the Whole30 program, it’s essentially a 30-day reset that’s intended to remove irritating foods from your diet and give your gut a chance to heal before re-introducing foods slowly to determine what and how different types of foods affect your body. It’s a simple premise: for 30 days, cut out dairy, legumes, grains, preservatives and sugar, and focus on eating whole foods: meats, fruits, vegetables and good fats. The point is to break the cycle of mindless eating and snacking, and focus on good things that complement your body chemistry instead of aggravating it. G was the first of my friends to discover the program and give it a shot, but admittedly (and sorry G!), my lovely friend M is the one who’s really pushing me to finally commit to a full round. M has completely transformed not just her diet, but her whole life through five rounds of Whole30 in the past year; it inspires her the same way that yoga inspires me. We’ve even piggybacked on each other’s new obsessions, with M joining me for yoga classes and challenges every week, and me slowly adapting the principles of whole foods into my everyday diet too.
The big question I get from people when they find out I’m doing this starting next week is why. “You’re already thin!” (Because no one looking to improve their well-being ever did so from motivation that wasn’t weight loss), “Are you still allowed to have wine?” (Did you just ask me if alcohol was involved in a body detox?) and the big one: “But if you already don’t eat most of those, why bother?” It’s a valid question, and for the most part, it’s true – I won’t necessarily be changing my regular diet that drastically. But despite all the other changes in my diet and my life, there’s one little thing I just can’t seem to give up on my own: sugar. Sugar, you delicious, delicious devil. It’s not even that I eat sugar or sugary things all the time – I drink coffee and tea black and I’m not really a dessert person. But I have two massive downfalls in the sugar spiral: I can’t say no to the chocolate drawer at work, and god dammit I love my wine.
I mean, let’s just take a minute to appreciate a few things quickly. THERE IS A FULL DRAWER IN MY OFFICE FILLED WITH CHOCOLATE. Mini Snickers and Take 5s, Halloween-sized Hershey’s and sometimes if we’re good there’s a stash of Twix. Perhaps people exist who can enjoy a single piece of indulgence from that black hole of cocoa goodness, but I promise you I’m not one of them. On a normal day I’ll work through at least six to eight pieces of candy, and on a bad day, I stop counting when it hits double digits. Getting to the kitchen and the bathroom requires passing the magical chocolate drawer and I swear there’s a silent siren song every time you’re in it’s wake for “just one more piece.” And that’s not even the bad one. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITHOUT MY WINE. Stupid alcohol sadly breaks down into sugar in the body, which means no wine, no whiskey, and no poor life… well okay, I make stupid decisions when I’m not drunk too. I mean look, I’m not saying I’m a booze hound who can’t go a month without getting plastered, but there is nothing quite like winding down at the end of a long day of work with a glass of red wine and something on Netflix. 30 days sounds like a lot of time to have to face life’s pressures with a clear head, instead of talking to Mr. Goodbar and some pinot noir about them.
So why bother? Because beyond the promise to G, I’m actually really looking forward to this. First, my body needs a reset, badly. The insanity that has been March at work meant most of my meals this month were delivered, and while we obviously could have made healthy take-out choices, we decidedly did not make those choices, especially not during Hell Week last week. Beyond work, the last time I went out-out, I blacked out like a college freshman and apparently, according to the grapevine because memory serves nothing, made out with a friend’s friend’s sort-of ex (oops). And on top of everything else, working 16 hours per day plus weekends has cut into my normal yoga practice, leaving me tight-muscled and cranky – a reset in all things will do wonders, I think. It goes beyond clearing the gunk out of my body that’s accumulated in the past month though. I think part of me has been pushing doing a full Whole30 because I was worried for a long time that it may stir up some long-dormant feelings from my eating disorder, like I would start with good intentions and end by taking everything too seriously. It’s that reason, more than the others, that I feel like I owe it to myself to give the 30 days a shot. After all, what better way to face the dragon head-on than with 30 days by someone else’s food rules.
The people who “created’ Whole30 have a saying to help put the program into perspective: “Giving birth is hard. Beating a heroin addition is hard. Drinking your coffee black for 30 days is. not. hard.” It’s a great way to put the program into perspective for a lot of people, but honestly, it doesn’t really apply to me. I’ve never given birth or fought a drug addiction, and I’ve always loved my coffee black. So from March 31 through April 29, instead of holding on to their words when I’m desperate for a glass of pinot and a piece of chocolate, I will remind myself of three things: (1); If M can do this five times in a year, I can do this once. (2): If G can suffer through 30 days of yoga, I can suffer with seltzer for 30 days. And (3): Beating anorexia is hard. Leaving the person you thought was the love of your life is hard. Laying off the wine and sugar for 30 days is. not. hard. And plus, if I’ve learned anything from the hard stuff I’ve lived through in the past few years, it’s so much sunnier on the other side.