My Whole30 Review

My Whole30 Review via Chrystina Noel - Spoiler Alert: I quit on day 16.

If you’ve been following along with the blog (or Twitter account) in the past few weeks you know that on March 1 I started The Whole30. That means that I should have ended The Whole 30 on March 30; however, I decided on March 16 that it was time for me to call it quits. As promised, and as expected, here is my overall thought process of The Whole30. I’m going to break it down by day, by price, by what worked, and what didn’t work. By no means am I an expert on this, this is just my story. For more information on Whole30, visit their website.

The Whole30 Overview

You’re not supposed to describe the Whole30 by what you’re not allowed to eat, so I’ll start by telling you what you are allowed to eat: meat, vegetables, fruit, eggs, nuts, and some oils. That said, it’s much easier to tell you what you’re not allowed to eat/drink: grains, alcohol, dairy, legumes, soy, or butter. The purpose behind the Whole30 is not to lose weight. It’s to do a system reset and slowly introduce new foods back into it at the end to see how your body reacts, which I find pretty cool. (My understanding is) the list of things you’re not allowed to eat is a list full of things that are known to cause inflammation, have added hormones, and are extra-processed. I like experiments as much as the next engineer.

There’s also definitely a spirit of the law situation. So while you technically can make pancakes out of bananas and eggs, you’re not supposed to eat pancakes. While you technically can eat dessert after every meal, you’re not supposed to do that either. They also tell you that if you accidentally eat or drink any of the above you technically need to start the cleanse over. This kind of black or white mentality is a killer for me. As somebody who can always find the gray I tend to over-react and hyperbolize when things are black and white, which you may or may not see below.

Why I Decided To Do The Whole30

There’s a few reasons why I wanted to do the Whole30:

  • I had been hearing about it for a while and was intrigued.
  • I ate 5 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies in the month of February and decided March would be a good time for a reset.
  • I wanted my work pants to fit a little better. (While losing weight isn’t the goal, it seemed pretty much inevitable through my logic of ‘the less Girl Scout cookies you eat, the better.’)
  • I was looking at it as an experiment, I wanted to find out once and for all what the big deal was.

That said, part of me was definitely looking forward to eating the other 3 boxes of Girl Scout cookies I had in the pantry come April. This is maybe where I should have known I was going wrong. You’re not supposed to do the Whole30 and then go exactly back to how you were eating before, you’re supposed to want to change something. I think.

Another thing you should know. I decided to do the Whole30 without reading the book first. I pretty much knew absolutely nothing about it except for the shopping list of things I was allowed to buy. This was actually a pretty okay thing for me. If I had waited until I “found time” to read the book to start, I never would have started. Always start before you’re ready. (Then buy the book after 5 days so that when your boyfriend starts asking you a bunch of questions you have the answer.)

How I Prepared For The Whole30

  1. Posted on Facebook that I was considering doing this. This way I was able to get first hand feedback, recipes, and tips from friends that I trusted.
  2. Pinned a bunch of Whole30-compliant recipes to Pinterest. This helped me to believe that it was possible to eat this way for a whole month.
  3. Committed to a date that seemed do-able. Once I commit to a date in my head, I’m doing it. I tried to find somebody else to do it with me, but nobody bit, so I just went ahead and did it, because that’s what was on my calendar. I decided to do March because I could finish before Palm Sunday, Easter, and nice weather hit.
  4. Googled “Trader Joe’s Whole30.” (Somebody else has already researched all this crap, why should I do it again?)
  5. Stocked up on Whole30-compliant groceries. I saved my receipts just for you. More on that below. My first grocery run was a $120 Trader Joe’s run.

My Daily Whole30 Run Down

Day 1: Let’s begin the experiment.

  • Breakfast
    • Smoothie (kale, apples, ginger, pineapple, water)
    • Eggs (eggs, onion, sweet potato, spinach, hot sauce)
  • Lunch
    • Smoked Salmon
    • Shredded Sweet Potato “hashbrowns”
  • Snack
    • Almonds
    • Sugar Snap Peas
    • Tea – Rooibos and Honeybush
  • Dinner
    • Salad from Honeygrow (lettuce, tomatoes, brocolli, avocado)
    • Hot dog with hot sauce

Feeling pretty good, definitely had some cravings for dessert after lunch though. Also felt very hungry after that salad, which resulted in the hot dog afterwards. I also went to bed at 10:00pm which is super early for me. My biggest concern is still finding time to prep – and traveling, which my schedule is full of.

Day 2: Things are going well.

  • Breakfast
    • Smoothie (kale, apples, lime, pineapple, water)
    • Eggs (eggs, onion, sweet potato, spinach, hot sauce)
  • Lunch
    • Snap Kitchen’s Naked Beef
  • Snack
    • Almonds
    • Tea – Aveda
  • Dinner
    • Smoked salmon
    • ½ an Avocado

Work happy hour got canceled, which should make things easier. I even made it to work out at Cardio Pop, which resulted in complete exhaustion.

Day 3: My first day on the road.

  • Breakfast
    • Smoothie (kale, apple, lime, pineapple, water)
    • Eggs (eggs, onion, sweet potato, spinach, hot sauce)
  • Lunch
    • Salad (lettuce, celery, carrots, olives, broccoli, avocado, olive oil, salt, pepper)
  • Snack
    • Almonds
    • Fruit
  • Dinner
    • Sashimi

The first day on the road turned out okay. I knew that I would be good to go in NYC because there are so many salad bars. Getting up at 5:30am before catching a train to NYC is not something I really enjoyed, but I was in bed by 9:00pm, so it worked out. Also, sashimi is definitely not as good as sushi.

Day 4: Back on the road.

  • Breakfast
    • Eggs (eggs, onion, sweet potato, spinach, hot sauce)
    • Smoothie (banana, coconut milk, berries, pineapple)
  • Lunch
    • A banana
  • Snack
  • Dinner
    • Salmon with sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, ginger, and orange

I spend a lot of time on the road, this time we went to Lancaster, PA for the weekend. I cooked breakfast beforehand, and pretty much snacked my way thorugh the day. When we stopped at Central Market, I was pleasantly surprised I found a few things to snack on. I’m still not 100% sure whether the two energy balls were Whole30 compliant (the iffy part was the raw organic cocoa powder), they assured me there was no added sugar though. So I ate them (and they were delicious). We also found some apple cider that was just made from apples.

We stayed with friends, so the original plan was to go out to dinner, but we made a last minute switch and Ben and I cooked dinner for the friends to make something Whole30 compliant. We used this recipe, by Sara at Cake Over Steak and I made three portions to recipe, and modified mine to not include the soy sauce or brown sugar. It was still pretty good.

I’m feeling pretty good and not jealous of other people being able to eat food, this is just a thing I’m doing right now. I’ve learned that I’m definitely paranoid about screwing this up though. Also, after being asked a million questions, I realized I should probably try to read the book so I know why I’m doing what I’m doing. (We did, however, solve that the reason that we can’t eat peanuts is because they’re a legume.)

My Whole30 Review via Chrystina Noel - Spoiler Alert: I quit on day 16.

Day 5: A little ticked off.

  • Breakfast
    • Over-easy eggs, potatoes, bacon, and hot sauce
  • Lunch
    • Hot dog, Tessemae ketchup, roasted brussel sprouts
  • Snack
    • Sugar snap peas
    • Clementines (many, many clementines)
  • Dinner

I’ve found that I’m often pretty hungry on the Whole30, the thing I usually use to make myself feel full is carbs, and I haven’t found another way to do it yet.

We ended up going out to breakfast and I picked the plainest thing on the menu: two eggs, potatoes or tomatoes, bacon, and toast. I asked what everything was cooked in and the only problem was that they use butter on the eggs, so I asked them to swap it out for canola oil. Admittedly, I’m still not sure if the bacon had sugar in it, but it seemed plain (I probably should have asked?). And we were in Lancaster, which means everything’s a little more farm-to-table. The staff at On Orange was so accommodating. I really appreciated that.

I also picked up the Whole30 book at Target, well, the second one. I flipped through a few pages and found out that if you screw up at all you’re supposed to start over. And the book wasn’t very nice about it. So I’m currently feeling super anxious about messing up and a little ticked off at the book because apparently none of these people ever have to travel or something. Sigh.

I also have no control over whether or not the food that was delivered to me was actually cooked in canola oil, so there’s no way to know if I’m supposed to start over or not. (Spoiler alert: I’m not.)

Overall? It’s going well. My mouth is just a little bored, that’s all.

Day 6: On the road again.

  • Breakfast
    • Scrambled eggs and spinach
  • Lunch
    • Salad and prosciutto
  • Snack
    • Banana
    • Peach
    • Almonds
    • Clementine
  • Dinner
    • Bareburger: Beef burger with bacon, pineapple, and guacamole wrapped in a collard green

Doing this on the road definitely isn’t easy. It was a good way to avoid the two chai lattes and pastries I wanted to buy throughout the day, but it was definitely a challenge to try to find something to eat during both lunch and dinner while in New York, but I was incredibly pleased when I found a pack of prosciutto with no added sugar.

That said, you know I’m super hungry because I saved the leftover prosciutto for later and ate it after it had been out of the refrigerator for about 3 hours, which definitely isn’t my usual game. It’s just the most delicious thing I’ve eaten since this project started.

I also told myself I was going to quit this Whole30 thing on Friday if I wasn’t any feeling any different, but after reading the Whole30 Revised Timeline that says how people on each day apparently Day 10 or 11 (which would be Friday) is the most likely day for them to quit, and I don’t feel like being a cliche. So I’ll probably wait it out until Day 16 to see if I feel any different.

My Whole30 Review via Chrystina Noel - Spoiler Alert: I quit on day 16.

Day 7: I need a nap.

  • Breakfast
    • Banana
  • Lunch
    • Salad with salmon on top with olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • Snacks
    • Clementines
    • Almonds
    • La Croix
  • Dinner
    • Eggs, spinach, sweet potatoes, onions, nutritional yeast, avocado, and hot sauce

Now here’s the thing. Sure, the Revised Timeline says that days 6 and 7 are days that people always need naps. But yesterday morning I got up at 5:30am and then worked until 11:30pm, with very little break in the middle. Then I woke up early and started working again. So in general, I’m mostly just already over this week. (I think?)

Also, nutritional yeast makes all the difference in the world.

Day 8: So flipping tired.

  • Breakfast
    • Eggs, spinach, sweet potatoes, onions, nutritional yeast, and hot sauce
  • Lunch
    • Salad with lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, celery, carrots, avocado, olives, olive oil, and salt
  • Snacks
    • Clementines
    • Almonds
  • Dinner
    • Prosciutto and a mango

It was back to New York on Wednesday. Since I was traveling solo this time, it was a little easier to find things to eat. I bought some dried apples with lunch that I decided had the weirdest texture of all time. I was exhausted this evening (even after partially sleeping on the Amtrak train in both directions) and went to bed at 8:30pm – slept until 7:00am.

Day 9: Back to a routine.

  • Breakfast
    • Eggs, spinach, sweet potatoes, onions, nutritional yeast, and hot sauce
  • Lunch
    • Crispy Scottish Salmon from Snap Kitchen
  • Snacks
    • Clementines
    • Almonds
    • Banana
  • Dinner
    • Prosciutto and half an avocado

Working out tonight was definitely easier than it was last week. That said, when I got back, all I wanted to do was throw together something really quickly because I needed to work still and there was no quick answer, which is how I ended up eating only 3 slices of prosciutto and half an avocado after working out. Oh, and a banana right before bed. What I would have done for a bowl of cinnamon toast crunch.

Day 10: Back to Lancaster.

  • Breakfast
    • Almonds
    • Banana
    • Clementine
  • Lunch
    • Brisket Hash from Snap Kitchen with Tessemae BBQ sauce
  • Snacks
    • Clementine
    • Carrots
  • Dinner
    • Salad and Salmon

This was the day that I had originally decided I was going to quit the Whole30 if I hadn’t felt any difference yet, but after reading that most people quit on days 10-12 I couldn’t let myself be a cliche, so I decided to stick it out. That said, this was the absolute hardest day yet. I woke up at 6:00am to keep working (because I was too exhausted the night before to finish) and didn’t have time to make breakfast before having to be at the office for an 8:30 meeting. Then we didn’t get to have dinner until almost 9:00pm that evening, and it was at a restaurant the menu wasn’t super accommodating (the people were, the menu wasn’t) and I almost broke. Here’s how the conversation went.

Bartender: Hi, can I get you something?

Me: I’ve got two different options depending on how many questions you’re willing to answer. I’m doing one of those diets where you don’t eat anything. Worst idea I’ve ever had. (Which at this point I mostly mean because it’s 9:00pm and I haven’t felt full in 10 days, but I’ve also found that I feel better bothering the people behind the counter when I tell them that I realize that I’m making their job a million times harder. Yay self-deprecating humor?)

::Bartender doesn’t really know how to answer::

Me: Well, can you just tell me what the salmon is cooked in?

Bartender: I’m not sure, I think it’s butter.

Me: Oh, alright. I can’t have that. Can I just have the garden salad without the cheese and no dressing?

Bartender: Sure. (Turns around to put the order in. Turns back.) Are you sure you don’t even want olive oil on it? A dry salad for dinner is just sad.

Me: Oh, yes! That would be great, thanks! (Bartender puts the order in. I say something to Sara about how it’s the only thing I can eat on the menu.)

Bartender: It would be better if you could have the salmon, huh? Let me go ask. (Goes to ask. Comes back.) We make everything to order. We can do it with oil instead.

(At this point I don’t have the heart to ask about what kind of oil it is.)

Me: Yeah, that would be great, thank you so much.

Now, this was super super nice of him. And I tipped him a little more than usual. That said, when the salad arrived it had both cheese and croutons (which weren’t even listed on the menu), and the salmon looked like it had been extra well-fried. But at this point I was starving. So I performed surgery on my salad splitting it in half (cheese and croutons on one side, everything else on the other) and ate my way through as much of the salmon as I could without feeling overly sick by the oil. I still don’t know if whatever it was cooked in was compliant, but I tried.

At some point in the middle of this dinner I burst out with, “but if there’s the wrong kind of oil in this then I failed and the book says if you failed you have to start over so if I’ve failed I might as well just stop now because it’s not even worth it.” This is pretty much my mentality about things when people make things black and white, cut and dry. Nothing’s black and white people. So stop trying to make it that way. I also at one point while I was performing surgery on my salad just kept mumbling to myself, “I’m really angry right now.” The things I would have done for a beer (which is exactly what the place we went to is known for).

I felt pretty sick the rest of the night, I can’t decide if that was because of the amount of oil or it was the wrong oil. Bummer.

Day 11: Thank you, Lancaster, for being so incredibly welcoming.

  • Breakfast
    • Banana
    • Seasonal Scramble minus the Parmesan cheese (they use canola oil), Green Tea Smoothie, and Chai Tea from Prince Street Cafe
  • Lunch
  • Snacks
    • Baja Breakfast without cheese, sour cream, or salsa and vanilla rooibos tea at Cafe One Eight
  • Dinner
    • Prosciutto San Danielle without the grissini and Wood-Grilled Cauliflower without breadcrumbs from Luca
    • Two raw cacao and date balls from Ebenezer Wholistic Foods

I’ve got to say, I am constantly amazed by the fact that everyone in every restaurant in Lancaster I have been to over the course of the past two weekends has been super helpful and supportive with my Whole30. They have bent over backwards, asked a million questions, and helped me find the best option on the menu. So thank you, to the entire City of Lancaster. I really appreciate you. So a huge thank you so far to On Orange, Prince Street Cafe, Central Market, Lancaster Salad Company, Cafe One Eight, and Luca.

Today’s list of things I’m not 100% sure were compliant: vanilla rooibos tea (not latte), two raw cacao and date balls. Also, the amount of olive oil that was included with the Prosciutto San Danielle was a little too much for me. Why? Because there were no bread sticks (grissini). If I had had the breadsticks it would have been absolutely perfect. So I just drank a lot of water to counterbalance it.

Also. While talking with friends about it today I realized that instead of a Whole30, I should probably be doing a Whole28 since I’m leaving for Vermont on Day 31 and will definitely be wanting dairy, beer, and lots of maple candy. In order to make sure that my body doesn’t horribly react while on the road. That’s the last thing I want, and I really want to enjoy Burlington, and Ben and I have been talking about going for almost 2 years. I’ve decided if I’m only doing 28 days on day 11, it’s not cheating when I stop on Day 28.

My Whole30 Review via Chrystina Noel - Spoiler Alert: I quit on day 16.

Day 12: Keeping it cranky.

  • Breakfast
    • Fruit bowl
  • Lunch
    • Eggs, turkey bacon, spinach, nutritional yeast, hot sauce
  • Snack
    • Pistachios
    • Clementines
    • Carrots
    • Guacamole
  • Dinner
    • Salmon and broccoli

Our breakfast place this morning didn’t turn out to be quite as helpful as the others had been. The only thing I could have on the menu was fruit because they cook everything in soy butter. Which resulted in a very cranky Chrystina during the day. (Even with the million snacks I had with me.) Later that evening at church I realized that I wasn’t able to go get the host because there was probably gluten in it. That was weird. Somebody pointed out that it’s not gluten, it’s Jesus, but that was pretty weird too. (And yes, you caught me, I didn’t go to church last week.) Also, you can tell the nights that Ben is home because dinner looks far more legit than the nights I’m home alone.

Day 13: I’m really not eating much at this point.

  • Breakfast
    • Eggs, turkey bacon, spinach, nutritional yeast, hot sauce
    • Smoothie with banana, avocado, raw cacao powder, coconut milk, almond butter, and ice
  • Lunch
    • Carrots
    • Guacamole
  • Snacks
    • Apple
  • Dinner
    • Clementine
    • Prosciutto
    • Avocado

First of all, you may notice the chocolate smoothie listed under breakfast. I’ve decided at this point that if somebody has cut out everything I’m able to eat in life that I shouldn’t spend my time worrying about whether I’m trying to recreate something out of approved ingredients. It was recreating, it was using the exact same ingredients as usual without the agave.

Second of all – now. I know this sounds dramatic. But please remember that I’ve been hungry for 13 days now. At this point I’m highly aware this isn’t the right diet lifestyle eating choice for me. If there’s not an obvious choice of what to eat, I just won’t eat. If I’m bored of all of the things I’ve been eating, I just won’t eat. I also really don’t like meat, the taste of eggs, apples, blueberries, or many other fruits and vegetables. I think I used the phrase, “apples taste like dentist” today. I also decided to lay in bed instead of going grocery shopping this morning which was approximately the worst choice ever. So here we are. With a constantly cranky and whiny AF Chrystina. Y’all can feel pity for Ben who is dealing with it this week.

Update: Approximately 20 minutes after writing that paragraph I got off my butt and went to the grocery store. Feeling a little better, but still haven’t eaten much.

Day 14: Pi Day with no pie.

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
    • Smoked salmon and half an avocado
  • Snack
    • Clementine
    • Pistachios
  • Dinner
    • Salmon, sweet potato, asparagus

My friend Ryan cooked me dinner tonight. It was the closest I’ve come to full in a long time, which makes me think that if I had time to plan this out and actually cook things it may actually be possible to not be hungry the whole time. Also. After this experience. I think I’m going to start offering to cook my Whole30-participating friends dinner. It was so relaxing to just be able to go out and enjoy a meal without having to think about what was in it.

Day 15: Aren’t there supposed to be some perks to this?

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
    • Brisket hash from Snap Kitchen
  • Snack
    • Carrots
    • Pistachios
  • Dinner
    • Portabello mushrooms
    • Cucumber, tomato, and dill salad
    • Prosciutto

Really starting to believe there’s not much to this Whole30 thing, definitely not feeling any different yet.

Day 16: My last day.

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
    • Baked sweet potato
    • Smoked salmon and half an avocado
  • Snack
    • Pickles
    • Clementine
    • Pistachios
  • Dinner

I don’t do all that well being bored. My mouth is bored. Really bored. Maybe I need to buy more essential oils that I can eat. Or something. I don’t know what I’d put them on or in though.
This “diet” is starting to ruin some of my favorite foods. Usually smoked salmon or prosciutto would be an every-so-often thing that I really enjoyed eating. I’m officially sick of both of these things at this point. Also spent most of the day angry again. Pretty sure that comes with feeling hungry all the time. When will the Girl Scout cookie cravings go away?

My Whole30 Shopping Lists

I think I’m missing one or two small receipts, but here’s everything I could find –

Trip 1: Trader Joe’s on February 28, 2017, Total Cost: $118.14

Items Purchased: Tomato sauce, almonds, kale, smoked salmon, clarified butter (ghee), salmon filets, turkey burgers, hot dogs, kalamata olives, apples, carrots, lemons, limes, bananas, avocados, celery, guacamole, plantain chips, sugar snap peas, pre-packaged roasted sweet potatoes, spinach, mango, cauliflower rice, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, almond flour, coconut milk, lara bar, tea, onions, a spaghetti squash, and eggs.

Retrospective Thoughts: I purchased too much off the bat. Start small. I didn’t need to buy ghee because I usually use coconut oil. I don’t actually like tomato sauce or burgers. Don’t buy a whole bag of limes and a whole bag of lemons because you won’t finish them all before they go bad. I was bummed out I didn’t like the guacamole, but there’s a chance I would have liked it with chips and a beer. Sugar snap peas were a saving grace. The roasted sweet potatoes were already expired when I bought them. The cauliflower rice has little green pieces in it and it freaks me out. The only reason to buy almond flour is if you’re going to bread chicken and I don’t actually like chicken. I should have known I wouldn’t eat the lara bar because I don’t like snack bars.

Trip 2: Whole Foods on March 5, 2017, Total Cost: $12.32

Items Purchased: Turkey bacon, cauliflower, avocados, and nutritional yeast.

Retrospective Thoughts: Turkey bacon is not even a little bit as good as regular bacon. Nutritional yeast is a game changer. I think I’m going to start keeping this around the house.

Trip 3: Trader Joe’s on March 8, 2017, Total Cost: $31.47

Items Purchased: Sparking water, smoked salmon, guacamole, carrots, sugar snap peas, prosciutto, matcha tea, and bananas.

Retrospective Thoughts: The sparkling water had natural flavors in it which turned out to be too sweet for me, so I didn’t end up drinking it. I didn’t know I didn’t like the guacamole before I bought a second one. Prosciutto was a game changer. So expensive, but so delicious. I still haven’t tried the matcha tea because I couldn’t convince myself it was Whole30 compliant. (Although the website says it is.)

Trip 4: Whole Foods on March 13, 2017, Total Cost: $55.28

Items Purchased: La Croix, coconut milk, roasted peppers, kale, portobello mushrooms, brussel sprouts, prosciutto, dill, wasabi powder, mustard seed, red onion, butternut squash, onion, tomato, cucumber, and tortilla shells for Ben.

Retrospective Thoughts: How is La Croix so wonderful? The roasted red peppers would have been awesome if I could have opened the jar. (I tried really hard and finally gave up defeated.) The portobello mshrooms were delicious. I probably shouldn’t have bought so many specialty spices, but I was feeling so optimistic about pushing through to the end.

Other Random Purchasing Thoughts

  • This does not include my eating out budget. According to my credit card statement I also spent $247.30 eating out in those 16 days, not including business trip meals. Granted, I did go on two separate trips to Lancaster during that time.
  • I also purchased the Whole30 starter kit sauces from Tessemae at the recommendation of a co-worker. While it was awesome to have some sauces that I could count on, (1) I probably didn’t need four bottles for just little old me, and (2) the two I opened both tasted pretty vinegar-y, so while it tasted like something, which was excellent, they made my stomach hurt a little bit. At the end of the Whole30 I posted in a Facebook Group I’m in that I had these and somebody who’s gluten free came to pick them up. I’m glad they’re going to good use!

The Biggest Challenges

There were a handful of problems I ran into here – some were logistical and some were mental, but clearly you knew I was going to run into some challenges since I quit on Day 16.

  • The most obvious challenge was the travel. There really would never have been a “good” time for me to do this. In mid-February I was booked every weekend through June, so I just kind of had to go with the flow of things. I had two trips to Lancaster pre-planned and I ended up getting sent up to New York for three days. Obviously, it’s a little harder to find food while you’re on the road, but it also means that you have to be that asshole who asks the waiter or waitress a million questions. How I dealt with it? Just try to tip well.
    (Aside: I kept thinking to myself, this would be so much easier if I was somebody who stayed at home all day and had time to plan, but after reading the book I realized if you’re staying home all day you’re probably staying with little ones and managing a family, which probably makes it even harder because then you’re managing your own diet plus other people’s diets that don’t align.)
  • Something that I have learned about myself in the past few years is that if there isn’t a very obvious choice of what to eat in front of me that’s simple to cook, I won’t eat. I learned this problem when I started traveling for work all the time I realized that if I got back late and hadn’t had dinner, but didn’t have anything to eat, I just wouldn’t eat. Then I would wake up starving. I finally realized that I needed to have a bunch of frozen meals from Trader Joe’s ready to go at all times just in case.
  • Here was a challenge I didn’t anticipate. When I get bored eating, I (apparently) tend to stop eating. I didn’t know this about myself. Ben and I had a few conversations about this. It went like this:
    Chrystina: I just can’t get full from eating bananas.
    Ben: Sure you can. If you at 47 bananas you would definitely be full.
    Chrystina: Thought of eating even one-and-a-half bananas makes me gag.
    If my mouth is bored, I apparently just won’t eat. Not eating results in hunger. Hunger results in hanger. And there we are. I spent a lot of time yelling about things and unnecessarily angry.
  • Of the foods that you’re allowed to eat on the Whole30, I don’t actually like the taste of a bunch of them. I’m really not a meat eater. I don’t really like eggs all that much. I have a texture problem with dried fruit. I think that if you like to eat meat, this is definitely something that is do-able. I just couldn’t get past what a dramatic change it was – and I really don’t like the taste of meat, especially chicken.

Yes, a lot of these things sound like first world problems, but you’ve got to face it. The Whole30 is kind of a first world problem situation.

Why I Stopped Doing The Whole30

Now, any of the challenges above could have been enough for a girl to stop, but there were three things that finally did me in.

  1. I spent a lot of time yelling and being angry about things. Like, a lot. Poor Ben, y’all. I was really angry for the majority of those 16 days. I didn’t want to be angry anymore.
  2. I texted a friend who had done the Whole30 before. Here’s how the conversation went:
    Me: This is the worst idea I’ve ever had. I’ve been mad and angry for 16 days now. And hungry af.
    Her: Hahaha I could have told oyu this!
    Me: Did you feel better at the end or no?
    Her: Nope. I gained weight and felt terrible and no healthier.
  3. I went to a dance class on the night of the 16th, got back, and felt faint. I just wanted rice with my meal to feel full. So that’s what I did. I had some white rice. And had three sips of wine, which I found to be way too sweet.

In retrospect, I do think it’s really funny that on Day 6 I said I would wait until Day 16 to see how I felt. I didn’t make that connection until afterwards. Day 16 was supposed to be the first day that I had a lot of energy. Clearly, that wasn’t the case for me.

What Happened When I Stopped Doing The Whole30

Now, as you may have guessed based on my overall description of the Whole30 above, there is supposed to be a reintroduction to the foods that you’ve given up as part of the Whole30. I didn’t know this before I started, which is why I had decided on Day 11 that I would only be doing a Whole28, because I figured I would need some time to recover before heading up to Vermont. Well, here’s how that reintroduction process went for me.

  • Day 16 (Thursday): Ate white rice, had 3 sips of wine that were too sweet. Felt full for the first time in the month of March.
  • Day 17 (Friday): Had more white rice, felt fine. Ate 5 Caramel Delites Girl Scout Cookies. My stomach definitely hurt after those 5 cookies, but my mouth was so happy.
  • Day 18 (Saturday): This is where I may have gone overboard. My cousin and his fiancee were in town, and when you’re playing tourist in Philadelphia, you’re going to eat. The morning started with cheese on my bagel sandwich, I had a chai latte, then we went to the Philadelphia Brewing Company. By my third taster of beer I felt really nauseated. The problem was I couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to make my stomach feel better, usually I would say plain carbs, but I wasn’t sure what was causing the problem. What did I decide to do? Eat pizza. The nauseousness went away. The stomach ache was back. Apparently my stomach didn’t like cheese. For dinner we had sushi (hello soy). That was fine. But it was definitely a whirlwind of a day.
  • Day 19 (Sunday): I pretty much felt back to normal.

The other thing that happened (this is the TMI part, there always has to be one) is that apparently I shocked my body into getting its period on Day 17. For someone who can usually guess when she’s going to get her period every month within a few hours, for it to be 5 days early was definitely unexpected. My body genuinely had no idea what to do with itself. The weird part is that this happened before I ate all that crap on Saturday, which means that even if I had behaved like a moderately classy person, it still would have happened. I think this was my definite sign that this type of diet lifestyle did not react well with my body.

Things I Liked About The Whole30

Now, this is not to say that there weren’t some things that I liked about the Whole30, because there were, otherwise I never would have started it.

  • I liked that there were rules. I know this sounds silly since I just wanted to break them the whole time, but having such a strict set of rules was actually pretty good for me. I remember there was a year of middle school where I gave up dessert for Lent and somehow rationalized why apple pie didn’t count as dessert one day. Having such strict rules was actually really good for me.
  • I liked that there was a heck of a lot of produce in my kitchen and I had to get a bit creative.
  • I liked that it got me reading labels. You definitely don’t realize how much crap is in food before you start reading labels.

And you might say to yourself, Chrystina, you totally could have done this without going to these extremes. It’s true, I could have, but I wouldn’t have. That said, I will probably never do anything like this ever again – now I know.

Things That Got Me As Far As I Did

  • If you Google the name of a food followed by “Whole30” you can very easily find out your answer about whether your not you’re allowed to eat it. There’s also a bunch of shopping list, additive sheets, timelines, and more online to help you out during this process.
  • The City of Lancaster. Guys. I can’t even explain how nice everybody in that whole flipping city was to me. Every person behind the counter tried so hard to help me out. It was incredibly appreciated.
  • Beverages: Hot Tea and La Croix
  • Food: the Snap Kitchen Whole30-compliant menu, sweet potatoes, prosciutto, smoked salmon, sugar snap peas, baby carrots, and nuts

And that was it, my Whole30 experience. I’m glad I did it. I’m glad it’s over. Also. I feel the need to note that I finished off another box of Girl Scout cookies while writing this post. And it was delicious.

My Diva Cup Review

The Diva Cup - The Good, The Bad, and the Hot Mess

Caveat: Dear Mom & Dad (especially Dad…), Read the following post at your own risk. I’d recommend just not, but do what you wish. K thanks. And maybe Faraz. If you could not read either, that would be great.

Originally I was going to name this post, “the Diva Cup is not meant for jumping,” but that seemed like false advertising in the instance that somehow this post went viral, so now it’s just called My Diva Cup Review.

For those of you who don’t know what the Diva Cup is, it’s “a reusable, bell-shaped menstrual cup that is worn internally and sits low in the vaginal canal, collecting rather than absorbing your menstrual flow.”

Caveat #2: Dear Dad, if you didn’t listen before, now’s probably the best time to stop.

Now where was I? Right. The Diva Cup is not meant for jumping. That’s not 100% true. The Diva Cup is not meant for jumping after wearing it for 10 hours while it’s full, which I realized as I excused myself from a Cardio Pop dance class in the middle of a song, slowly backing my way out of the room keeping my legs as close together as possible. As I walked out of class I recapped the account to my friend and she immediately asked, “what do you think of the Diva Cup?” She’s definitely not the first person to ask, so I figured I might as well make my opinions known to the world. Now let’s get into it.

I first heard about the Diva Cup in an email from a friend to three of us gals with the subject line: “Shameless Endorsement [tmi, fyi, nsfw].” The first person responded within 20 minutes asking, “Detailed follow up question, how difficult is it to remove without getting messy?”

Because that’s what you get when you add tmi, fyi, nsfw to the end of your email subject. All questions are fair game.

The original friend then went into a detailed story about how her first time attempting to get it out she started sweating with anxiety from not being able to get it out. The phrase “I consider grabbing pliers” was used. After grabbing the instructions, she realized she was doing it wrong, figured out the real answer, and from there on she was smooth sailing.

The next day at work I share it with a friend. She immediately ordered one. Within the next month she came back to me explaining that it really was quite wonderful and so long as you find the right position to take it in and out you’re golden.

That was two endorsements for this product that I was weary of from two very close friends; it was time to try out the Diva Cup.

I ordered my own and waited until my time had come to try it.

If you know me in real life you know that I quite often refer to myself as a hot mess. Recently I’ve been told that not quite as many people see me that way (I’m flattered, really), but I assure you, it’s going to be true until the day I die. Such a hot mess over here.

Oh, you wanted proof?

Within the first day or two of wearing it, I sent a text message to original friend that said:

Bought the diva cup. Not 100% sure how I feel about it yet, but I just realized ([at the train station] on the way to the airport) that I don’t have it in – which means my body either ate it, or its in my pants somewhere and I didn’t see it, or its on the bathroom counter for my roommate to find when she gets home. Only me…

Which I very quickly followed with “There’s a blog post in here somewhere.” The response?

that’s a very Chrystina situation…

I’ll save you the back and forth and tell you that I found it while I was on the plane. Pretty much exactly where it was supposed to be, just… higher than I expected.

Now, that’s not necessarily a good or bad thing, just a hot mess story that I felt the need to share with y’all. Mostly because it explains a lot about what you’re dealing with here. So I’ll break it down for you –

Also, if you’re still reading I’m assuming you want the TMI of this situation.

The Facts of the Diva Cup

  • It’s made of the highest quality healthcare grade silicone.
  • It’s reuseable and eco-friendly.
  • Yes, it really looks like a small cup.
  • Yes, it works for people with heavy flows. No, the cup doesn’t overflow. (Confirmed.)
  • You can’t feel it when it’s in (unless you put it in super wrong).
  • Making sure that the cup is fully open once inserted is key.
  • That said, I’m still not 100% sure I’m putting it in far enough. How are you supposed to know if you’re doing things like this right? Life is hard.

The Cons of the Diva Cup

  • You need to have it with you when your period begins in order to make this useful. As someone who is/was constantly hopping on and off planes, that was never the case, so I always ended up needing backup tampons stored in my luggage.
  • The logistics of emptying the Diva Cup are actually pretty tricky if you’re not in the shower, which just can’t always be the case. And I’m not talking about the ick factor. You get over the ick factor. If you’re a girl and you’ve had your period for longer than an hour, you’re already aware of the ick factor. It’s actually moderately fascinating to see exactly how much stuff is in it when you take it out. That might have been TMI? This whole post is probably TMI. Where was I? Right. The logistics of emptying the Diva Cup are tricky. Even if you dump it in the toilet you have to get it from the toilet to the sink without getting anything else dirty. And you need to wash it while you’re still on the toilet. And sometimes the sink just isn’t that close to the toilet. And sometimes you’re at your friends house. And sometimes you’re at your office building. And sometimes you feel like carrying disinfecting wipes with you at all times is the polite thing to do.
    **Update: In a pinch you can use toilet paper to clean it out and then clean it better when you get back to running water later.
  • You have to wash it really well. Which like, if you have patience is probably not super difficult. But I’m not all that patient. There have been a few times that I’m pretty sure there was still soap on it, and that turned out to be moderately itchy. You can apparently boil it in water for a few minutes to clean it as well. I’ll have to try this. I feel bad for the pot.
  • There have been one or two times that I haven’t double checked that the cup was fully open, and it must not have been, causing some leakage. Not badly, just enough to ruin a pair of underwear or two. Which I guess happens sometimes with tampons anyway? It’s just that when it happens with tampons it’s because you left them in longer than you should have. With this you had no warning.
  • I’m convinced it makes you pee slower. Which is only really a bad thing when you’re in the office restroom and trying to get out of there quickly because you know that the person in the stall next to you has been quiet for a while and isn’t moving, so they’re waiting for you to get out of the bathroom before finishing their business.
  • If your method of birth control is the Nuva Ring, the Ring may have to go in before your period is over, which means that you essentially need to stop using the Diva Cup before your period is over, so you still need a backup supply of pads. Which isn’t that bad, it’s just kind of a pain.
    **Update: If you put the ring in first and then the Diva Cup it should work!

The Pros of the Diva Cup

  • You can wear it for 10-12 hours without needing to take it out, and so long as you’re not jumping up and down in a Cardio class after hour 10, you shouldn’t have any problems with that.
  • If for some reason it starts to come out (which pretty much means you didn’t put it in right the first time) you can just push it right back in. It’s not like you need to have another tampon or pad on hand.
  • There are no more problems with smell.
  • It’s eco-friendly because you’re creating less waste.
  • You’re not peeing on a string. (As original friend put so eloquently.)
  • It’s more economical. You can get the Diva Cup on Amazon for $25. Assuming a box of 18 tampons costs $7, even if you try for 4 months you’ve already saved some money.

So where does that leave me? It depends on the day. I’ve been using the Diva Cup for 9 months now. If it’s working for me, I’m happy; if I’m a hot mess, I’m not as happy. I’m going to stick with it for now. I like the company, I like their values, I like that I feel like I’m helping the earth, and the 10-12 hour thing is great. I may switch back to tampons eventually just because variety is the spice of life. Or something like that. After a few months of that I’ll probably switch back to the Diva Cup. I vote that you make the decision for yourself. You now have all the facts and more.

Have you used the Diva Cup? Let me know what you think below.

This was not a sponsored post. All factual information about the Diva Cup was taken from

PS. If you liked this TMI blog post you may also enjoy Resting Bitch Face, The Vomit Contingency Plan, My Lent Reflection, and My Wisdom Teeth Story.

3 Mistakes I Made at my Corporate Job

3 Corporate Job Mistakes as told by Chrystina Noel

I think it’s time to write this post. It’s been on my mind for a while, but I wasn’t sure how it was going to come across. Now that I have been at my job for four years I feel that I have had time to redeem some of these mistakes and have built up some credibility with the people I report to. Not only that, but I’ve learned from my mistakes, which means it’s time to share with you the three corporate job mistakes I made my first year of working.

Let me start by saying that the reason it’s important to avoid mistakes like this is because there are some people that will always see you as whoever you were for those first 6 months. No matter how much you grow, learn, or change the ways you do things you will always be that girl or that guy. While I wish that wasn’t the case, it unfortunately is the way things go.

With that note, lets’ begin.

I didn’t get enough sleep.

This was by far my biggest mistake. If there is one thing I can tell you as a new employee to do it is to get enough sleep. When you have enough sleep you can see the world more clearly, have a better understanding of the big picture, and have a higher tolerance for things going on around you. Sleeping more would have eliminated many a debate because in general I would have been more pleasant.

I noticed recently that I tend to talk to the people I sit next to on airplanes when I am well-rested and put on my resting bitch face when I am not super well-rested. This is probably exactly how it came off in the office as well. Now that I force myself to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night I have found that I am much more patient and able to talk through things than I was before when I was getting 5-6 hours of sleep a night (which is not nearly enough).

I spoke too quickly.

When I had an opinion, I would say it. It’s good to have opinions and ideas, but it’s not good to say them without putting any thought behind them. When somebody at a higher level than you says something try to consider what they’re saying, why they’re saying it, and what it is they’re trying to avoid. Even though you may not share the same point of view as them, you may have a similar process of thought, which is a better starting point for a conversation than telling somebody you disagree with them.

I recently have worked with a few people that even though they disagreed with what someone else was saying they were able to find a common point of interest between them and their superior that allowed the conversation to continue seamlessly as opposed to cutting the conversation off from the beginning. My plan is to continue with this method of communication going forward.

I didn’t ask enough questions.

There were a few tasks I was given that while I understand the steps I was supposed to follow (A, B, C) I didn’t fully understand the outcome of the assignment. It is much better to understand the outcome of the assignment before you begin rather than after you have gotten 50% of the way through.

This is something that as I have been at the company longer I have grown to understand what questions I should start asking from the beginning, for example:

  • Who is the person who will be using this information?
  • Have we done something like this before?
  • When do you need this done by?
  • Do you know what format you want the final product to be in?
  • What are you trying to get out of this exercise?

By asking all of these questions up front by the time you actually dive into the actions, you will have a better understanding of what data and metrics are most useful and can therefore focus on those instead of everything else. It’s the Pareto rule, right? 20% of the work will give you 80% of the value. Spend as little time as possible focusing on the 80% of the work that only gives you the 20% of the value.

Here’s the other thing. Something that could have been a mistake, but even to this day I don’t believe was. Some people keep their personal life personal. I’m not that person. I understand there’s a time and place for it, but sharing details of my personal life with people is a way to keep myself sane at the office. Talking about how people handle relationships while traveling, the struggles that I’m having with my online business, or how I’m feeling about a particular activity I’m involved in have actually resulted in a lot of positive results. There is nobody else that better understands your day-to-day than the people you spend your entire day with, and for me it was important for those people to understand me better than “just on the surface”. These friendships that I have developed by discussing the real things are some of my favorite moments from my past four years of working and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

How about you, is there anything you learned in your first few years of working in the corporate world? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

WITCH numbers: C59, H64

Blog Posts I Haven’t Published

Blog Posts I Haven't Written Yet

I’ve been talking to an old friend recently about blogging. He asked me how posts make it out of the draft folder and into the published folder. How do you decide which blog posts are worthy enough to publish? There are some mornings where I know exactly what I’m going to write – either I went to a party recently, wrote a bunch of posts on an airplane the week before, or happened to wake up really passionate about something. And there are other mornings where I just can’t pull enough thoughts together to make a full post.

I keep a notebook – two notebooks actually – with me at all times to write down any blog post ideas I have. Every few weeks I go back through and rewrite all of the ideas that are still on the possibilities list to a new list – partially because I’m anal like that and partly to be reminded of what I wanted to write about. There are some post “titles” that have been rewritten a dozen times. Today I’m exploring why these blog posts don’t ever get published. I came up with six different reasons why this happens. And there are multiple blog posts in (almost) every category.

Sometimes it’s a list-type post and I don’t have enough items on the list to make it seem worth it.

  • Things that always happen in sitcoms / things I thought were going to happen to me because of sitcoms: I never had to worry about using co-ed bathrooms like Cory and Topanga did. I never had that “oh my goodness should I shower in gym class” moment – which might have been a Freaks and Geeks moment? I also never had to carry an egg around to pretend it was my child – like happened in every single sitcom ever. This list could be so epic, I really just need to take an entire day and browse through some major sitcom wikipedia pages, and I can’t bring myself to publish it before it’s perfect. Because that’s how important 90s sitcoms are in my life.
  • Things I do because of ex-boyfriends: This is a really random list of things from eat ranch dressing to close the shower curtain all the way when I’m out of the shower. That said, I only have about 4 items on my list (and you now know two of them), so I really need a few more items before I can finalize the list.
  • Things I have to learn the hard way every time: You know, like sipping a drink before it’s cooled down or trying to hold the last tiny little piece of the onion while cutting it with a huge knife and cutting your finger. It’s really incredible that I never learn. That said, the list isn’t long enough to make it happen just yet.
  • Why I suck at relationships: I’m pretty sure you can ask anybody I’ve known for longer than a few months and they will confirm for you that I’m really pretty good at being single. Being in a relationship is an entirely different story. I’ve only got two items on the list. I at least need a third.

Sometimes it’s about a topic that’s really important to me that I haven’t quite thought through the best way to present.

  • Catholic morals: What does it really mean to be a Catholic? I sit at church every week and think about this. If you haven’t figured it out yet I’m kind of going through a religion journey these days (example 1, example 2). So many questions, no real answers. Maybe the answer is to bring a notebook to church and write about it there. Probably during the homily.

Sometimes it’s about something I’m going through right now and I haven’t finished living through it yet to know how I feel about it.

  • What it’s like to be an extrovert dating an introvert: I would be sharing my story and not everybody’s story. I even at one point tried to get a group of people together to write a series of posts – I dating E, E dating E, I dating I – but I still haven’t figured out how I feel about it lately, and I still don’t have any good answers for anyone. Believe it or not I actually have a full post written, but somehow feel I’m not quite through figuring it out yet. And I’m pretty sure the answer is compromise anyway, so is it really worth writing?
  • How to host parties in small spaces: I have this post drafted too. I just still think I do a really crappy job of hosting parties in small spaces. Maybe once I get more seating I’ll feel like I have a better answer for y’all, but in the meantime, I’ll just keep cramming people uncomfortably into my living room.
  • Quitting choruses: I find that I have to / want to quit choruses a lot. Sometimes it’s circumstantial and sometimes it’s the fact that I don’t think the chorus is a good fit for me anymore (most specifically a group I joined in college). I recently realized there was a moment in 6th grade that was a pivotal point in this story for me. All that said, I still feel so guilty about quitting any chorus that I don’t think I’m ready to write the story yet.

Sometimes finishing the post requires emailing a bunch of people to get their thoughts on things and I just can’t seem to find the energy to do that while half asleep.

  • What it means to be a ____ in Sweet Adelines: Fill in the blank with lead, tenor, baritone, bass. I’ve been trying to get this post published for literally months, I just can’t find a tenor to write the tenor piece. The baritone, bass, and lead are done, but every tenor that I’ve emailed can’t seem to/prefers not to make it happen. (Which maybe says something in itself?) Anyway, if anybody knows any tenors, let me know.
  • Fool proof giftcard ideas: Some people really hate buying giftcards, but I think if done right it can be awesome. I actually really love having gift cards around in my purse, especially if they’re ones I use all the time. The key to getting a gift card is choosing the right venue depending on who the person is. Of course, I’ve got at least 4 people I need to email before I can finish this post and for some reason I just can’t make myself do it. Maybe for the holidays this year.
  • Bathroom etiquette: I spend a lot of time thinking about bathroom etiquette, specifically in the office workplace. Are you the person who rushes in and out really fast so the person who was already there can finish doing their business? Do boys do that too? Do you always go in the same stall? Is there a methodology people have for choosing stalls? I have so many questions, but somehow sending out a 30-question survey about bathrooms seems ridiculous.

Sometimes I don’t think my point-of-view adds anything to the story.

  • How often to stay in touch: I really think it depends on the person, but I’ve been asked this question so many times I feel like I’m supposed to have a post about it. And “it depends” doesn’t really seem to be a good answer, so I really need to come up with a way to try to quantify this. Why? Because that’s what engineers do.
  • Email management: I’ve read a lot of posts on email management and I’ve got to tell you, I pretty much do it all wrong. Almost every single bit of it. I think it might be because I have a 9-5 day job and most of the people writing the posts are freelance creatives? That said, I haven’t figured out what I’m going to be able to add to the story that people don’t know yet. Right now all I’ve got is “always procrastinate by doing something else on your to do list”, but that’s not enough to write a whole post about.
  • List a icebreaker games: I always have people ask me for icebreaker game ideas, but honestly, if you google icebreaker games they’re pretty much all listed somewhere already.

And sometimes I’m worried about offending people – not the general “people”, but rather specific people that are in my day to day life and I love.

  • On being flakey: I’ve got a post drafted right now where I get up on my high horse about how I think it’s rude to back out of things. However, every time I link to an article about this on Facebook it starts a huge debate where a bunch of people decide I’m horribly wrong. And it’s not that I’m worried about pissing people off (that’s not true, part of me is worried about pissing people off). I’m worried about being misinterpreted.
  • Roommate quirks: The older I’ve gotten the more I’ve realized that I picked up a lot of my mother’s habits. Everything needs to be clean, everything needs to have a place, everything needs to be organized, and more times than not there’s a right way to do something. I’ve had many roommates over the years and these tendencies don’t always seem to agree with my roommates’ habits. Having a roommate is about compromise though, and these quirks are definitely not my story to tell. So until I figure out how to do it without being offensive, I’m not writing it. (And yes, I’m super duper aware that any one of my roommates could most definitely write about my quirks, hence holding off because I understand what it would be like.)
  • Family etiquette: Does anybody else have a family where if you have a question for your aunt you need to go through your mother to ask? The more people I talk to, the more people I realize that this seems to be how it is for a lot of people. That said, I’m not quite ready to put a whole post out there about it yet. And if I did write one, I’d probably need to send it to my mother first for proof reading.

And these are just the ones that are still on the list. (Pleate note: I just went to go grab my last blogging notebook and there’s a chance that I threw it out in a KonMari purge. Hm. Not sure how I feel about that right now.) Do any of them resonate with you? Do you have a list of posts that are on your “I should really write this” list, but haven’t pulled the trigger on them yet? 

Witch Numbers: C60, T37