Keeping it Wholesome: Fighting Boredom with Tiger Blood

When we last saw our Whole30 heroine (me), she was writing her weekly column wrapped up in a cocoon of blankets and in a daze of Advil and chamomile tea. For much of the rest of the week, I was holed up in my room with a terrible fever and only left for class and to grab food. I did not have much motivation to cook for myself, so I kept it Whole30 at Diana by grabbing vegetable soup (avoiding the noodles) and salad and stocking up on Pret a Manger’s fruit cups and pumpkin bisque (made with coconut milk!).

The most important thing was to make sure I kept eating even though I had little appetite. I had lots of snacks stocked up in my room: Lara Bars, compliant jerky sticks, and chopped fruit and vegetables. By Saturday morning I felt much better, and treated myself to a nice brunch of shakhuka (with some adjustments) at Citizens of Chelsea. That afternoon, I had my first big real test against my Whole30: my sister’s BBQ birthday party. I knew there would be plenty of chances to slip: cheeses, breads, cake—but I also knew that my family would be creating a wonderful bounty of healthy foods as well. I filled my plate with salad, grilled meats and vegetables, olives and crudités. The highlight of the night was grilled asparagus with a squeeze of lemon, and saying no to dessert was easier than I expected.

One of the things about Whole30 that I’ve thought about quite a lot is the fact that there are many things followers of the program have to cut out cold turkey. Other nutritionists and plans recommend eating things like desserts, junk and processed food, etc. in moderation, as long as calories are being taken into account. I think the important thing to think about in terms of any lifestyle and eating change is that everyone is different: different needs, bodies, availability and accessibility, etc. There is a LOT of information out on social media and a LOT of seemingly one-size-fits-all solutions, and I think everyone should be open to doing their own research about the foods they eat and plans they decide to undertake. Another step is to ask the question of why: Why am I doing this? Is it to eat better in general? Is it to figure out if I have any food sensitivities? Is it to lose weight? I think intention is really important, and I have done a lot of self-reflection over the past two weeks and some change. Am I doing this because I actively dislike my body, or because I love my body and want to treat it better? Am I at risk of falling back in the same unhealthy habits when I tried “eating better” in the past?

This is why I felt Whole30 was the best thing for me at this time, because the focus was not on losing weight. While the program asks you to cut out certain foods, it never asks you to under-eat, count calories or engage in any of the unhealthy behaviors that could potentially trigger me to enter the same unhealthy habits I had as a teenager. While I have noticed that my clothes are fitting better and that is a confidence boost, I feel first and foremost better in my general energy. With 13 days to go in the program, I am at the “Tiger Blood” stage, the stage where I am meant to start feeling extra energy, an elevated mood, etc. I must admit, while I have been having periods of exceptional energy and mood and motivation, there have been quite a few things in my life that have prevented me from feeling fully whole. I still feel emotionally weighed down by stress and other factors, and getting over my sickness was tough, but I am grateful for the moments where I feel more awake, alert, and happier in general.

In reference to the blunt title of this column, I will admit that I have not had much time or energy to cook what I would have wanted this week. My meals have become kind of monotonous: boiled eggs for breakfast, salads for lunch and dinner, Lara Bars as pick-me-up snacks, and repeat. It also has been hard sticking to eating three square meals a day because my schedule has been so weird, but now I am pretty much settled in terms of how things will be this semester and I hope time management will allow me to cook and enjoy my meals more. My other goal for this next week is to be more active physically and to begin working out again, now that I feel my energy levels are up and I am almost fully recovered from my cold. It’s time to build up better habits, to take advantage of gorgeous fall weather and food and to find joy in them!

P.S. I am finally going to try baking a spaghetti squash this week for the first time, and I am more excited than I am willing to admit.

Follow my Instagram @juliatachewhole30 for more updates!

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a doctor or nutritionist, and I am not sponsored, nor am I in any way an expert. I am not advocating for anything but am merely sharing my own experiences and ways that I have been Whole30-ing on a limited budget with limited time with the hope that others interested find it helpful. Before beginning ANY big lifestyle change, consult with a doctor or specialist if possible, and check in with yourself, too!