Today is DAY ONE of reintroduction (more on that below). I’ve completed my first round of #Whole30 and I’m reporting in about my results. I’ll TL;DR it with: “If you’re thinking of doing #Whole30, do it. But prep for it. Don’t just start. Get really ready for it so you can actually succeed with it. It’s no joke that this changes your life. It sure changed mine.”
So, here we go. The biggest things I’ve learned on #Whole30!
Prep is everything. Had I not spent weeks down the rabbit hole studying recipes, learning the rules, double-checking legality of ingredients, and creating a gameplan for success, I wouldn’t have lasted a week on #Whole30. When it got boring, I had a ton of bookmarked — simple — recipes to attempt. I started treating it like pole fitness: When a particular trick frustrates me, I work a different one. That way, there’s no such thing as a BAD pole day, only a challenging one. Same with #Whole30. Even when I had to toss out a meal I had made because the recipe went sideways, I didn’t see it as a failure; I saw it as a chance to now come up with something else on the fly that would turn my tastebuds on yet still be totally legal. Challenge! Hooray!
I do incredibly well with time-controlled challenges. This is not news to anyone who has read my columns forever. It was my first 100-day challenge to myself that got me back out to Los Angeles in 1998. I regularly create massive change in my life by setting a timeline and committing to 100% for that period of time. When there’s a timeline and there are rules, shit gets binary. “Is this legal?” YES/NO. No grey area. Easy. I never wanted to cheat on #Whole30. Not once. Yes, really. Because all I had to say to myself was, “It’s 30 days. I can do anything for 30 days.” That’s the same thing I said about my first job in casting for Fox: “It’s six weeks. I can do anything for six weeks. And at the end of that six weeks, I’ll have made enough money to print the first edition of Self-Management for Actors. It’s worth it.” And of course it was. So was this.
Myths are made to be busted. Bone broth is much easier to make than you might think, and it’s a delightful morning drink. I’ve never been a coffee or tea (or even soda) drinker, so I guess my version of the hot morning beverage has become a mug of piping hot homemade bone broth, which I sipped daily for the month. Will continue to do so. It’s delightfully good.
Folks are noticing a difference. People I’ve seen only twice this month (once toward the beginning of my #Whole30 and once more recently) are saying, “Oh my GOD! You look fantastic! Look at your skin! Your cheekbones are ridiculous! Wow, you’re just shiny and bright! You seem lean!” That’s all due to the lack of inflammation I’m carrying around now. Yes, I’ve lost weight and inches (more on that below), but I noticed my ab muscles peeking through again after having lost them under a layer of fat, despite many MANY pole classes in which we work these core muscles a great deal. That layer was less about fat and more about inflammation. This is a puffiness that is now GONE thanks to #Whole30.
I’ve gotten down with breakfast. It’s awesome. As I mentioned above, every morning I have bone broth. Once a week I make a veggie and sausage egg bake (or better yet, mini-muffins) and these easy-to-reheat-in-the-morning protein-packed veggie-filled bits of goodness with a splash of my beloved Tapatío start me off right! I’ve always had breakfast struggles (some days I’d wake up at 7am and not eat ’til 2pm; I even once had an assistant whose job included setting an alarm to make sure to prompt me to eat), so to have that shift has been very cool (and good for my metabolism).
You stop missing cheese. The, “Y’know what would taste great on this? CHEESE!” line of dialogue goes away after Day 2. Today I get to have cheese for the first time since August 5th. I’m told it won’t taste as good as I remember. So, Keith bought some of my very favorite stuff from the high-end cheese shop rather than buying from the case at the grocery store. I’ll report back. Now, I know what #Whole30 zealots are saying: “You’re supposed to reintroduce LEGUMES on Day 31, not dairy.” Yep. Got it.
I also read this article by the creator of #Whole30 and I’m definitely one of those who wants to start right away with testing out the stuff I felt might have been derailing my overall health. So, today I get to have a vodka and cheese party. The rest of the day is #Whole30 compliant. Because I don’t want to feel like shit tomorrow. I want to learn whether I can have treats like booze and gruyère in moderation.
Save up! If you have blocks about money, the #Whole30 will challenge you. Fresh, whole, organic foods are pricier than processed crap food and you’re doing a shop AT LEAST once every two or three days. Look, I grew up with a Depression-era single mother who clipped coupons, shopped sales, rolled coins, and NEVER wasted anything. That’s a lot of unwiring to do. So when we committed to #Whole30 and did the night-before clean-out of the kitchen, I had to reconcile letting Keith take $100+ of perfectly good food down to the homeless pick-up spot. I even stored stuff I just couldn’t stomach letting go of in our freezer.
Thing is, the freezer is already packed with $600+ of BistroMD delivery meals I’m now likely to NEVER eat. So, that’s gonna go too. I just know that all the preservatives, added sugars, and use of dairy and grains in these delicious dishes will turn me off to even consider putting into my body. I feel myself saying, “I can MAKE something that tastes way better than that! AND that acts as medicine in my body!” And it’s true. So now I have to ask whether I want to put food into my body that I know not only doesn’t delight me but also doesn’t do as wonderful things for my body as the #Whole30-compliant meals I can make for myself… and calculate how much THAT is worth, ultimately. I know the answer. And if anyone reading this has a big freezer and wants some really yummy low-cal low-glycemic BistroMD meals, just arrange a pick-up with Keith! All yours.
You’ll get picky about what you put in your body. I’ve gotten stupid-snobby about what’s in my food. Good. It’s the equivalent of the Abraham-Hicks “vibrational snob” concept. When Keith bought these compliant (but injected with unnatural color) pickles, I rejected them outright. His writers group members laughed that their snack that night was a jar of Bonnie-rejects-these-pickles pickles.
But I’m seriously becoming a label nazi and I’m not gonna apologize for demanding better when it comes to what I put into my body. I look at it this way: My brain is a miraculous, powerful, exceptionally nimble and creative organ that this body of mine gets the privilege to cart around. I not only create magical things but do so with a sense of joy that is unparalleled, and to fuel the body that carts around this astounding brain with anything but the best is ludicrous.
My body is healing itself. In addition to all the benefits we knew would come with #Whole30 (I’m sleeping better, I’m getting higher-quality rest on less sleep, my body temperature has stopped spiking in the night due to wild hormonal shifts, I’ve lost 12 lbs. [yes, in just 30 days, without increasing exercise, never feeling deprived along the way] and 4.25″ off my bod, and my confidence has spiked immeasurably due to my active participation in my wellness), the non-healing wound that seven specialists and two surgeries couldn’t figure out for three fucking years seems to have made significant progress toward no longer being considered a “non-healing wound.”
Yes, I’ve had a few days this month in which I’ve had to properly dress it, but for the most part it’s been acting like a non-wound. Which is shocking to me. I scream: “You mean tens of thousands of dollars and a litany of chemicals and treatments and drugs from the finest medical minds in Southern California and JUST CLEANING UP MY DIET can heal me?!?” But I know that’s not the only factor.
Get your mind right. Doing a mind-body connection element was definitely at the core of my success with #Whole30. I recommitted to my daily morning of *at least* a half-hour on Wii-Fit Plus while listening to Abraham-Hicks MP3s (including the 10+ hours of recordings from my cruise two months ago; man, there is something even more powerful about listening to recordings the teachings for which you were in the room, live).
For far more than 30 days, I showed up, “weighed in” (again, the #Whole30 zealots will tell you never, never, never to weigh in because you’re trying to reset your addiction to the scale and reshape your understanding of the value to clean eating, not be results-oriented. Of course, I already have a very strong muscle for NOT being results-oriented; it’s a huge component of my work with actors, DUH, so seeing a trend on a game’s daily “Body Test” wasn’t going to trigger something in me that’s simply not a factor to my WHY in doing this), did my 30+ minutes of aerobic boxing and step class and hula-hooping and even snowball flinging while listening to reminders that our only goal in all things is to GET HAPPY.
Everything else falls into place when that is our one and only focus. And that’s definitely true. Anything I *tried* to worry about flat-out wouldn’t take hold. I could even say, “I’m looking at things that my logical brain tells me I should feel negative emotions about… but I CANNOT feel them.” And then I would say, “Cool. This shit is working.” Cool.
Cooking is connection. The spark for changing my relationship with kitchening came a couple of months earlier when I worked on my new book by revisiting a recipe that brought me joy to create. I was fascinated by the ways in which I’ve always told the story of how “I burn water” because my entire adult life has been food-fueled by one of three things: dining out at nice places like Craig’s or Hillstone or El Cholo, enjoying food delivery services like BistroMD or PurFoods or Jenny Craig, or grazing/snacking — a handful of grapes here, microwave popcorn there, raw nuts here, cheese and gluten-free rice crackers there. So the idea of even beginning to cook for myself was something I’m thrilled got sparked BEFORE #Whole30 landed on my radar! I’m certain that the cracking of the old story is a big part of my success this month. The level of CONNECTION that comes with participating in my own meal prep is significant. I wasn’t expecting that.
By the way, ghee is ah-MAY-zing. We will never go back to butter. Why would we? Ghee is better. And better for us.
Time management is a huge issue with #Whole30. For someone who only ever showed up to restaurants, nuked a delivered meal, or grabbed a handful of baby carrots, spending four to six hours a DAY in the kitchen has been challenging. It has caused me to fall behind with my work. But then I reminded myself that *this* is far more important work. (Sorry actors and creatives worldwide. I love y’all, but I don’t have anything to give if I’m not my best self. So, you came in a distant second for these 30 days… and I still took spectacular care of you. Just not as quickly as I might have when I was running on fumes. Good. Priorities.)
Location, location, location. The #Whole30 is VERY easy to follow in Los Angeles. We have such amazing produce, organic everything, a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods or Sprouts or Bristol Farms on every corner and a farmers market every day somewhere. We are very fortunate to have everything we need for success right at our fingertips. Even restaurants are populated with employees who don’t flinch when you say, “I’m doing #Whole30… what should I order?” They get it. They like to tell you about how their life changed when they did their first round last year. Awesome.
(Wherever you live, just don’t watch TV much. Goodness, it’s challenging to find ANY food commercial that is about selling you a #Whole30 compliant option. WOW. Let’s think about that for a second.)
Having a support system is essential. I knew when I first read about #Whole30 thanks to a ninja in Texas sharing about it in our SMFAninjas Facebook group on July 16th that I would be doing this; it was just a question of when. I always knew the HOW would include a support system, because community-building is a key element to my every success. So I created another Facebook group for the sole purpose of discussing #Whole30 with folks who’ve done it before, who were doing it along with me, and who were curious about doing it in the future.
Being able to check in there every day has been awesome and I suspect I’ll continue to do this. It just feels good to share my day’s intake, discuss compliant ingredients, or ask, “What the heck can I make with this extra coconut milk before it goes bad?” or, “What’s legal for this road trip during which I would normally graze, but grazing isn’t cool on #Whole30?” or, “Good GAWD am I supposed to feel THIS INVINCIBLE today?” (the answers are chia pudding, a lot more than you would expect [and only the zealots police grazing so strictly — it’s to stop people who work in cubicles from grabbing a handful of M&Ms in the breakroom, NOT to stop a 100% compliant gal like Bonnie Gillespie from noshing on crudité and nuts while driving to teach at a university], and YES — the #Whole30 timeline is quite accurate [although I was early to some of the benchmarks they list]).
Pampering yourself is required. I cancelled booze-and-cheese ladydates when I had my meltdown and decided to start #Whole30 earlier than originally planned. But I added in Ayurvedic massage, day spa visits, walks to my beloved Juice Served Here location, six 90-minute pole classes with my pole sisters at The Pole Garage, a fun Pat Benatar concert at The Greek, floating in a sensory deprivation tank, an intuitive healing session, and even *new* ladydates at restaurants where staying compliant was easier and the focus could be less on what we ordered and much more about how much fun we had catching up with one another.
You’re putting your body (and mind and spirit, if you’re really doing it right) through a lot at once, and — especially if you’ve been a sugar or wheat junkie (two things I luckily didn’t really have to get used to living without, since I already live without those things on the regular) — you need pampering. Give it to yourself. Unapologetically.
Team up! Having a partner who — even if he’s not 100% following #Whole30 — is eating all compliant foods along with you will make this a lot easier. Keith hasn’t had a Dr Pepper, a pizza, a Jersey Mike’s sub, Red Vines, or Frosted Flakes since August 5th (and these were all part of his weekly intake before then). He’s not doing the *format* of #Whole30, but he’s eating only compliant foods, and that’s got as many positive effects for him as going by the books has had for me. Heck, even more. He’s dropped twice the weight I have (of course — *rolls eyes* — he’s a dude).
Social media helps. By feeling obligated to post a photo of my most ambitious kitchen creations, I found I took great care in balancing colors of the gorgeous fresh foods in my dishes. I let Instagram’s outrageously sexy food porn help inspire me to try and make some of my own. This kept me excited and *just* competitive enough to create some really beautiful stuff. And it all tasted spectacular too!
Start strong. IF you can wean yourself off some of the non-compliant #Whole30 foods before you do your first round’s day one (R1:D1, to use the lingo; add an M1 to denote first meal of that day), you won’t experience a disastrous detox in the first few days. I knew for weeks before I started that I would be starting, so I started eating cleaner (and prepping more of my own food — although it was processed luncheon meat and cheese with lettuce, tomato, and spicy dijon mustard on a millet and flax seed spinach/sundried tomato lavash, which includes FOUR non-compliant or at the very least SWYPO elements) and I know that helped me not suffer the horrific lows you’ll read about online.
Stay strong. I plan to continue eating mostly #Whole30 going forward. I’m not going to call it a “Whole 45” or a “Whole 60” or a “Whole 90” or those other things people label their ongoing diets, because I very much *am* reintroducing legumes, corn, rice, and dairy (not reintroducing wheat — I’ve known since 2004 that’s a NO for my optimal health and wellness). I’m going to have my cocktails. I will continue to avoid sugar and will scrutinize labels more than before to watch out for that hidden stuff they seem to put in EVERYTHING. And I am excited to learn how beans and non-wheat grains and cheese and booze REACT in my body when it’s been running this clean for this long!
I will do the proper #Whole30 reintroduction these next few days (which is to add ONE thing back ONE day, then go right back to #Whole30 for a couple of days to establish how the added thing makes us feel, THEN try another ONE thing for ONE day, go back to #Whole30, and so on). Should cheese not bring me the joy it used to and should it make me feel like shit, fine. I can live with less of it in my life. This is exactly how I tested out my gluten intolerance in December of 2004. Feeling better is totally worth living without something that makes me feel like crap, no matter how great it tastes.
Going forward. I’ll continue to post photos of food creations I’m proud of at Instagram, I’ll continue to give and receive support in my #Whole30 Facebook group, and I’ll happily answer any questions you may have about your #Whole30 journey (comments are open below). What I can say for sure here is that I feel incredibly PROUD. Not of the pounds lost, not of the 100% compliance without a blip of a slip, and not even of the ways in which my work here has inspired others (I love all of that, but that’s not what has me most proud). I’m most proud of having a sense of CONNECTION with myself on all levels in a way that’s more meaningful than ever before.
It’s as if — by taking more seriously my relationship with my health and wellness — my business has improved, my relationships with loved ones have improved, my level of service to my clients has improved, my intuition has become much more finely tuned, and my unabashed glee-filled self-love has flown off the charts.
Good GAWD, can you imagine how much change I can create in the world around me, feeling this damn good?
I can’t wait to find out!
Thanks to every single one of you for the love, encouragement, recipe ideas, cheerleading, story-sharing, and excitement you’ve shared with me these 30 days (and throughout the prep time before and certainly going forward as I continue my wellness journey — and maybe as you embark upon yours)! One of my mentors on this journey of mine said I should become a certified health coach. I told her she might not be surprised to learn that I journaled on June 15th (while I was on bedrest with shingles) that I had a vision of becoming a wellness expert. (I know; hilarious!)
But the truth of it is, I never undertake anything without turning it into a lesson for others (should they want or need it). I’m very Tim Ferriss-y that way. Always have been. (But with less of the bro-dude thing going on.)
Finally, two mantras that have absolutely helped me with my #Whole30 experience.
ONE, a favorite from my pole fitness journey, and I used this as it relates to cooking and my (previously labeled as LACK OF ABILITY) ability to be good at it: “This may be challenging me right now. But there’s a future version of me out there who’s a badass at this. And I don’t get to meet her if I stop showing up.”
The other, and this was a biggie on that FIRST hard day that FIRST week (day five — again, they’re not kidding about the timeline; I was just early to most of the benchmarks [again, I credit the pre-start-day weaning I did for that]) when I didn’t want to get out of bed as early as I had to in order to get in my PWO snack, the workout itself, then breakfast, and also get a little work done before my first client of the day arrived. I wanted to sleep in. I used a lot of logic to convince myself I was allowed to do so (I had promised myself before I started that I would give myself lots of naps if my body needed them — turns out it needed exactly TWO all 30 days, which is crazy fewer than I’d expected). And as I said, “I want to sleep in. I want to sleep in. I want to sleep in,” the response from my very soul came through: “But I want to change more.”
Stay inspired, gorgeous ones. And thank you for sharing in this — a very important part of my life’s journey. Can’t wait to see where we go from here!
All my love,