Midweek Mashup: Whole30 & Soul-shattering Books
Each week, Jamie and Nikki scour our laptops, phones, and bookshelves to share a few of our current favorite things. We'd love it if you did the same in the comments!
We're doing a Whole 30 at the Neutral Ground. What the hell is a Whole 30, you say?
A kind of nutritional reset that requires a 30-day elimination of foods that most commonly give people issues. We're saying goodbye to modern, processed (deliciously sugary) foods and replacing them with as much fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, seeds, and nuts as we need to stay satiated.
Curious what this looks like in our day-to-day lives? Follow along at Instagram #TNGWhole30.
Why a Whole 30?
In that picture above, I am thin. My weight has stabilized. I fit into a size 8, as low as my body usually goes. But illness is literally erupting to the surface. I had chronic cystic acne on my chin, deep and painful lumps that clustered in sevens or eights and took months to go away. My mouth corners were raw with canker-like sores most often seen in malnutrition. My hidradenitis suppurativa and PCOS were at their worst, both resulting in cysts that ruptured and hurt.
Over the past 7 years, I've managed to heal myself in many ways. But I've also held tightly to comfort foods I know trigger some of my health issues. It's the mental stuff I'm battling now, and that's not nearly as easy to point to.
What's going on now?
- Still with the acne, despite being 37. Ugh.
- HS is not fully in remission.
- I constantly crave sugar in a demonic possession sort of way.
- Knees, hips, and ankles ache, thanks inflammation.
- Lymph nodes in my neck are swollen, thanks inflammation!
- I'm binge eating, the craving-bingeing-remorse a lot like the cycle I kept up with my addictions. Considering my mother's significant health problems and obesity, I'm scared I'm trading one addiction for another.
I am not at my best self, my most open, my most alive and in the moment when I'm stuffing my emotions with food. I'm numbing. Hiding in that space of comfort and a little sickness from eating too much. So, a program to reset before I dive really deep into my relationship with food. Hope y'all follow along!
This book. I first read Melissa Febos just a few weeks ago when an excerpt of ABANDON ME was published in Refinery 29. I remember thinking how it would be possible for a writer to sustain that kind of intensity. And at what cost?
Well, she does sustain it. Every word is wrought with the pain of experience. She so carefully exhumes and examines her emotions that she's able to articulate what seems unspeakable. In an essay titled "Labrynth," about her brother's initial breakdown before a bipolar diagnosis and her own heroin addiction, Febos frames love, culpability, and helplessness by the fairytale children's movie Labrynth.
At times, ABANDON ME reads like poetry, almost too intense to read in anything but short bursts. I find myself constantly wondering what it must have taken to wrestle these words from her. I'm thankful she did.
It might be obvious, but I love this book. Like I love a friend, tender-hearted and vulnerable.
I've been watching mixed martial arts for over a decade, but women didn't fight in the UFC until 2012. At the time, the president of the company made some dick comment about no one wanting to see women fight.
Fast forward to now. One of the most popular fighters the UFC has ever seen, Ronda Rousey, is a woman. Women headline pay-per-views, receive fight of the night honors, and consistently deliver battles of technical skill and warrior spirit.
I loved MMA before, but now I am obsessed.
If you're not turned off by the blood and violence, you might be wondering where to start. Like all good things in life, start with Instagram. Following women fighters not only provides me with inspiration to lift heavy and kick ass, I also like watching their ordinary lives.
- Joanna Jedrzeiczyk writes in Polish and English and has a wicked sense of humor (and love of Mickey Mouse)
- Amanda Nunes, current bantamweight champion, is full of charisma and lion spirit.
- Ronda Rousey suffered a brutal series of losses after seeming unstoppable for 3 years straight. But she is still my homegirl. She's not posting on Insta much anymore, but follow her for when she decides to come back.
- Holly Holm is a world-champion kickboxer who also seems like a really sweet person. She also posts a lot about training.
There are so many more, but these are enough fighters to get you hooked.
Need some Whole30 recipes to get you through?
- Melissa Joulwan of Well Fed is my go-to girl for easy recipes and no-frills meal planning. In fact, her "meal planning" is really just "have protein, veggies, and a sauce." Maybe you like your food with a little more sass, but at the end of the day I don't want to think about anything more complicated than that for dinner.
- NomNom Paleo focuses on recreating delicious world staples to fit the paleo and Whole 30 ingredient restrictions. She's damn good at it, too.
- Against All Grain offers a lot of free, easy recipes.
- Dr. Sarah Ballantyne is the definitive source on women's health, autoimmunity, and nutritional wellness as primary care. When my diet is a mess and I need to work through major issues, I look to her scientific explanations to get my head right.