The Whole F@*cking 30: Week One


whole30In which a fatty’s wife tells him it’s time to die. Or diet. Same difference.

9/27 – Day 1

7:00 AM. I wake up ravenous, keenly aware of all the shit I can’t eat for the next 30 days. As I walk through the dining room the bowl of Halloween candy (we like to be prepared) calls out to me. I glance into the living room and see my daughter eating Little Bites chocolate chip muffins (or muppins, according to her) and I briefly contemplate stealing food from a two year old. I resist and walk into the kitchen to pour my coffee, which will be black as my hopes and dreams for the duration of this diet.

I can’t help but think back on my “last meals,” a clam plate from Kelly’s yesterday, and the day before a meal featuring a burrito roughly the size of a small child from a restaurant in Malden called El Potro. Both were glorious, and neither is permissible when you’re working your way through the Whole 30. Carbs? Nope. Dairy? Nope. Demon sugar? Fuck no. Meat, fruit, vegetables, eggs, and for snacks nuts and natural shit like Larabars.

I don’t care about debating the merits of the Whole 30 as it compares to Atkins, or South Beach, or Paleo, or whatever the fuck else was conjured up by some random dietician to the stars last week. I’m not even sure I can explain the Whole 30 adequately. It’s a diet, and like all diets it provides fatties like me with a system to avoid or limit the gross shit we’re too stupid to avoid or limit when left to our own devices. Do I need such a system? Absolutely. At six feet and about 245 pounds I’m in no danger of morbid obesity, but I’m definitely carrying around more baggage than is absolutely necessary. An increasingly active toddler to chase around intensifies the need to shed pounds. Furthermore, if I shape up a bit my wife will surely turn into an insatiable sex demon, wondering when exactly the man she married turned into the white Idris Elba.

Speaking of my wife, she’s the architect of this diet because I have the culinary imagination of a male college student and can only be relied upon to grill or cook a halfway decent chili. I’ve been kicked out of the kitchen on many occasions, and now basically chip in by setting the table, pouring the drinks, and if we’re feeling risky, throwing the salad together. So I sit back with my black coffee and await meal one.

Breakfast: scrambled eggs with a liberal dose of Texas Pete, ground sausage / sweet potato hash, sliced Bosc pear, sliced strawberries.


I have no quarrel with scrambled eggs, although I typically eat them with cheese and ketchup. I’m not huge into hot sauce, but it goes some way towards making me forget about the ketchup. The hash (“a fucking pain in the ass to make,” – wife) is fantastic and substantial, alleviating fears that I’m going to be stumbling around watching people turn into giant cartoon roasted turkeys and shit. Normally I just go on kicks with particular fruits: a week or two eating as many cherries as I can, mango obsessions, etc. Since fruit is about to become a much larger part of my diet than usual, I better get used to it. Speaking of which …

Lunch: apples.

Yeah, just fucking apples. We went to Smolak Farms in North Andover for some apple picking, because it’s the Fall and we’re white. Whether permission to do so is explicitly given or not, if I’m plunking down $35 to pick my own goddamn apples I’m going to sample liberally. Smolak Farms has an impressive variety of apples, some of which grow ludicrously large. So while lugging a suddenly exhausted toddler up and down their hill (who puts their orchard on a fucking hill) I took down three or four softball-sized apples.

Dinner: Dijon lime chicken tenderloins, salad (arugula, tomato, cucumber, sugar-free tomato basil dressing), shredded brussel sprout balls (shredded brussel sprouts, shredded green onion, turkey bacon bits).

This wasn’t too far off from a dinner we would have when trying to eat responsibly so there was no real shock to the system. One day down and I didn’t collapse from hunger or lustfully attack the candy bowl.

Feelings about completing this diet on a scale of one to ten, one being “I’m coming for you, Bob Harper” and ten being this picture of Moe Szyslak:



9/30 – Day 4

Starting to get into the routine a little bit. We had a meatloaf, and a really good chili with diced sweet potato subbing for the beans. My feedbag for work (high school teacher) each day has been leftovers from the previous night, some grapes, a Bartlett pear, a massive apple, and a Larabar. I also have my stash of Blue Diamond habanero BBQ almonds in a desk drawer for emergency snacking purposes. Getting through the school day is no problem.

But guess what in the ever-loving fuck they decided to do to me today. There was a fundraiser featuring the absolute last establishment I wanted to see: the local Orangeleaf. Me on a diet while the Leaf is nearby is like plunking a recovering alcoholic down in the middle of Oktoberfest. There’s something about the layout at an Orangeleaf that compels me to mix at least 5 flavors together and finish it off with an absolute cacophony of toppings. It’s my goal to someday make the cashier look at what I’ve concocted and quit, throwing down their apron in disgust. It’s not just eating for me, it’s performance art. But I was strong, and resisted the borderline sexual allure of the fro-yo. I figured that if I never went into the lobby where they were hawking their wares I’d be OK, and I was right.


A typical Orangeleaf performance.

My employers were not yet done tormenting me, however. I walk into our faculty meeting and notice a modest spread: coffee, bottled water and some cookies. No problem. I just stared down Orangeleaf, I can handle some nonononononononono they got white chocolate macadamia nut cookies I quit I fucking quit. I thought these people liked me. A co-worker who knows my struggle suggests I could get away with just one. GET THEE BEHIND ME, SATAN. How am I supposed to get through an hour of sharing best practices and shelter-in-place strategies with a pile of my favorite cookies ever practically within arm’s reach? Oh, but I have an apple waiting for me in my classroom OH GREAT THAT’S FUCKING GREAT. That will totally make me forget about these cookies, which look like they’re just slightly more than half-baked, giving them that awesome doughy softness that’s way better than a fully-cooked cookie.

I try my best to focus keenly on whatever’s being talked about. After all I’m new here, so it behooves me to look intently interested. I even brought a pad of paper on a clipboard. It’s easy to forget about the cookies while the principal’s talking, but I waver during the inevitable round of dipshit questions that drags out every faculty meeting everywhere an extra twenty minutes or so. (Does this happen in the corporate world? Or is it only a certain type of insufferably self-important teacher that holds an entire meeting hostage after the principal has clearly indicated that the meeting’s done?) Somehow I manage to resist the cookies, and bolt from the library when it’s time to break into departments. I suppose “Wow, the new guy really had to piss” is better than “Wow, the new guy totally attacked the cookies.”

Bob / Moe Meter ranking at the end of day 4: 3. I was probably at a 7 or 8 during day 4’s trials and tribulations, but I do feel better at the end of the day having withstood them.


The really good chili.

10/4 – Day 7

Weighing in this morning. I’m not a crazy weigher during periods of dieting, preferring to check in once a week. I started at 245. After almost a full week of the Whole 30 …

237. WOO HOO LET’S GO TO CHIPOTLE. A respectable number, but nothing to get carried away over. Weight loss tends to be more extreme at the start of a diet before leveling off. Also 237 is still fat. I can’t even get away with “dad bod” at this point. But it’s progress. If I had gone this whole week without meaningful weight loss I would’ve gone straight for a Baconator in despair. What remains to be seen at this point is whether I continue to adapt to this diet and perhaps even become content without my favorite gross things, or spiral downward into anguish. With 8 pounds in the bag I feel pretty good about my prospects, but anything’s possible.

Brendan O'Brien

Brendan O'Brien

When Brendan O'Brien was 17 he was sure he was going to be a rock star. At 37 he teaches English. Married with a daughter, in his spare time he's a film buff, a basketball junkie, and a cemetery enthusiast.

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