It’s my first day back at work after winter break and the office kitchen is bursting with bags of candy, plates of cookies, and a very enticing tin full of salted caramel and dark chocolate bark. Not today, satan, not today!

Today is Day 2 of Whole30. Candy, cookies and salted caramel are verboten. The deprivation is most trying during the first week. So I keep making myself cups of tea and trying not to glance in the direction of the bag of chocolates that literally says “eat me.”

My girlfriend and I did our first Whole30 last June. I’d been trying to lose weight by exercising more and watching what I ate, but was stuck in a frustrating cycle of losing and gaining the same few pounds. Knowing what foods I should avoid didn’t mean I was actually avoiding them. If I forgot to bring a lunch and had 10 minutes before meetings, I’d have my favorite sad office person snack of Tropical Skittles and Pop Chips (BBQ flavor, of course). Then I’d feel bad about myself and open a bottle of wine as soon as I got home. I decided if I couldn’t take more solid steps forward on my own by the beginning of the summer, I would enlist help. And help came in the form of Whole30. One of my favorite blogs hyped it up, then one of my cousins said a doctor had recommended a similar elimination diet for her. Me, the cousin and my girlfriend decided we’d do it together.

Some tips I’m keeping in mind this time:

  • Avoid meat-pocalypse. Our normal diet is plant heavy, so on Whole30 we ate much more meat than usual. One week we had ground beef chili, pork chops and burgers (with slices of cooked sweet potato as the buns) for dinner over a three day span. Bad planning. So much heavy meat was unappetizing, especially since we had dinner leftovers for lunch. This time I made a 30 day meal plan in advance and balanced the heavier dishes with lighter ones.
  • Freezer surprise. There will be nights when you can’t stand the thought of pulling out the pots and pans. So double a few recipes and put the leftovers in the freezer. On those too-tired-to-cook nights, you will thank yourself (and have an easier time sticking to your diet) if dinner is just a microwave away.
  • Bitches love La Croix. I saw this stitched on a pillow and it’s the truth. I want to put my feet up and sip something other than plain water at the end of a day. So I stock up on flavored sparkling water. La Croix’s Pamplemousse is my absolute favorite. Apricot, Orange and Cran-Raspberry are also good. There’s usually some Target brand (“Simply Balanced”) sparkling water in Cucumber Mint and Blueberry hanging out in my fridge. And Trader Joes sells unsweetened sparkling water with raspberry and lime that isn’t calorie free like these other options, but it is a very pretty pink color. After drinking glass after glass of clear stuff, liquid with color feels very exciting. I’m now a living, breathing version of this Buzzfeed list.

Lessons learned:

  • Pre-Whole30, I often woke up with a headache, and assumed I had a mild hangover. But after weeks of consuming no alcohol, I was still waking up with a headache. I started to notice how much stress I store in my body. I take shallow breathes. I furrow my brow. I get tight in my shoulders and neck. I clench my jaw all night and wake up with a headache. With this new awareness, I reduced stress where I could — from working with my supervisor on balancing my workload, to gathering with friends to decompress.
  • I’m using this Whole30 as an excuse to practice anxiety avoidance, as well as stress reduction. Being rushed in the morning makes me panic-y, so I set out an outfit, packed my lunch and set up the coffee maker last night. With more time to spare in the morning, I did a five minute guided meditation using my “Simply Being” app.
    • One more anxiety avoiding action: write everything down. My girlfriend says her bullet journal has changed her life. I don’t use that exact method, but do believe that “open loops” cause stress. Tonight, I need to move a pork tenderloin from the freezer to the fridge. I can take a gamble and see if I remember to do it or not, or I can set a reminder on my phone to ping me at getting home time. Taking a moment to set up a reminder as soon as I think of something I need to do takes a pork tenderloin-size weight off my shoulders, because I don’t have to worry about remembering.

 

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