Atkins. South Beach. Mediterranean. Weight Watchers. Juice cleanses. Tea Detoxes. The list goes on. I've basically dabbled in them all. I even tried the Paleo "lifestyle" for a summer, but let's be honest—by the time August rolled around, I inevitably became pretty lenient on what was considered "paleo-friendly." The Paleo diet is all about eating things accessible to cavemen way back in the day, you know, when my parents were around (sorry, Mom and Dad). Fruits, veggies and meat. That's pretty much the extent of the paleo-friendly foods. Fun for me, right?
By the end of the summer, my justification for eating paleo went as follows:
Caprese salad is on the menu? OK, tomatoes? Check. Basil? Check. Olive oil? Check. Mozzarella cheese? I mean, cavemen could milk cows, right?
Moral of the story—it isn't easy.
But my one saving grace? Maple syrup. For some reason, you can put that stuff on everything—something about the natural sugars, I suppose. And you bet I did. Aside from the elf-get-up, I was basically Buddy the Elf (thanks for the inspo, Will Ferrell).
I personally think he's onto something here with the spaghetti.
Anyways...needless to say, paleo wasn't a huge success. Fast forward a year and add a few pounds of European indulgence from a semester abroad to my physique, and it was time to try something new. So, with the false hope I can see food as "fuel," rather than the reason for my very existence, I decided to climb the Mt. Everest of nutritional lifestyles:
Before I go far into this, it's important to address that Melissa Hartwig, the creator of this program, is basically Wonder Woman. Sorry Gal Gadot, you had your moment in the spotlight. Hartwig is a freak of nature. Not only did she create this program to help people lose weight, but it has medical benefits for people with diabetes, food allergies, cholesterol issues, Crohn's disease and even people struggling with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
In fact, there's an A-Z list of the medical benefits that come with practicing the Whole30 lifestyle.
In theory, Whole30 isn't too different from paleo. Similar to paleo, you eat meats, fruits, and veggies. It's rooted in eating things completely natural and full of nutrients. But, here's the catch. No sugar. No maple syrup.
You wouldn't believe the number of things that contain sugar. Hot sauce. Protein powder. Yogurt. Spaghetti sauce. Ketchup. Alcohol.
Despite my sweet tooth and desire to put Franks Hot sauce on all things, I prevailed. I was committed. I wanted to feel better, clear my skin, and maybe even get to the bottom of some food sensitivities I self-diagnosed. It's just 30 days, right? I had this.
Whole30 quickly turned into the Whole6.
OK, fine. Whole5. Geez.
But hey, I must say, I felt great on day 5. However, if you put a plate of burrata cheese in front of me at an Italian restaurant, it's not in my nature to turn it down. It's just a fact.
At the end of the day, I greatly admire the Melissa Hartwigs of the world who can commit to such a strict diet regimen. I greatly admire Melissa putting her knowledge toward a program that puts others' health and wellness at the forefront of their lives.
I greatly admire those who commit to the Whole30, or paleo, or any diet as a lifestyle choice.
Though it doesn't seem realistic for me right now as a college student constantly on the go, I aspire to have such will power one day. Maybe one day I'll make it through a Wholeweek.
In the meantime, you can find me at the nearest grocery store, likely in the aisle keeping my Ben & Jerrys nice and cold.