I really enjoyed this post on Whole 9 about multiple Whole 30s and it got my thoughts churning about my own experience doing multiple Whole 30s and how drastically different my behavior was after each.
I finished my first Whole 30 on August 30, 2012. Sometimes it was so tough I didn’t want to continue. Other times it just felt like business as usual — don’t mind me I’m just over here eating delicious meat and vegetables. When I finished I wanted to do it FOREVVVVVVVVVVVVVER, but I knew that wasn’t sustainable. It is not a Whole 365, it is never meant to be, and I was not going to continue being so restrictive even though, physically, it felt AMAZING!
I did the reintroduction protocol and I found it so, so useful. I loosened up the reigns and allowed myself a Paleo treat here and there in September because I had spent August really being aware of every morsel I put in my mouth. Then in October I decided to give up caffeine because it became glaringly obvious that it was crutch in my life. Doing that was INCREDIBLY difficult, and honestly I felt far more deprived without coffee than I ever did with out sugar, grains, dairy and legumes. It made me feel really sad actually, and two out of three months filled with very disciplined consumption had me feeling like I deserved a bit of recklessness.
This worked out well because do you know what October was? My Birthday month! Woo hoo! Also? HALLOWEEN MONTH. Do you know what happens when you work in an office during Halloween month? You don’t even feel a little bit guilty about having a “bite sized Snickers” here and there. Especially after you have spent so much time being vigilant about your food and drink. Also especially when you are training to finish a half marathon and running all the damn time. You understand this, yes? I know you do.
But then you start to feel a little bit like shit. So. Much. Sugar rarely makes anyone feel good, so you get back into the swing of things in the beginning of November. But November starts the Holidays, and that’s a whole other story. Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner and you have spent the last 3 years being VERY disciplined about your Holiday Meals as well, so you decide to eat ALL OF THE STUFFING, because why not? It’s only one day, and one day is not going to get the best of you.
But then you get to thinking about the Holidays in general. And WHY MUST WE ALL BE SO REGIMENTED? Can’t we just spend the season enjoying each other and the traditional foods we make and have a Christmas cooking now and then, I mean, COME ON. Don’t be such an uppity asshole with your “Healthy Eating During The Holidays” magazine articles.
Hmmm…maybe you are feeling a little cranky but it’s probably from all of that holiday stress. So much to do! Just grab a quick bite out. Oh look, the office catered lunch, just have the god damn sandwich already. IS IT VACATION YET? Why do we have to travel all over the place during the holidays, GAWD. Why is the gym not open during the weeks when you want to workout the most. UGH. Guess I’ll just sit here and finish the rest of this jar of Trader Joe’s cookie butter on the couch since everything is closed.
And all of a sudden your clothes don’t fit, you have vampire bite acne, you are waging a war on back fat but you are fighting it while puffy, sluggish and constantly dehydrated. And that is what happened after my first Whole 30. It seemed sort of “out of nowhere” when I got to the end of December and was eating cookie butter on my couch, but really there was a very logical progression. And it was one that made me want to go running back to the Whole 30 again.
Another Whole 30? But Wasn’t That The Problem In The First Place?
The black and white nature of the Whole 30 really rubs some people the wrong way. I get this, as I very much subscribe to the philosophy of “You’re Not The Boss of Me.” I understand that taking orders from strangers about what to eat (and more dramatically, what NOT to eat) can seem like the gateway to very disordered eating. But my thoughts lean towards this: The Whole 30 is a tool. It is a temporary exercise. It’s easy to want to give up while you are doing it. It’s easy to look at it and say it will cause disordered eating. But I actually think disordered eating is a bit more complex. And also probably not for this blog post.
But I definitely get the stress around the Whole 30 and all of it’s rules. It *is* a bit stressful. It’s designed to be that way. Not necessarily to cause stress but to offer you a time in your life where you are forced to find solutions. During stressful times you are forced to acquire good survival habits. During the Whole 30, you do the same. When you get back into the real world of having ALL THE FOOD at your disposal, the stressors are STILL THERE. They are just different. But if you’ve completed a Whole 30 you bring all of those survival skills with you. (And bonus, you probably know your body pretty well when you finish.)
Each time we have completed a Whole 30 I’ve added some positive, healthy habits to my life. During our initial attempt I learned to make one breakfast on the weekend that I can eat all week. I had never done that before, but it was NECESSARY for me to succeed at the Whole 30 that first time around. It is a habit that I am still using (and finding immensely helpful) six months later. Win. It was the ONLY anchor I had throughout my Holiday Downward Spiral. ha!
I also discovered that first time around that there are so many other awesome burger/chili toppers than cheese. Prior to August I didn’t think I would EVER be able to give up dairy. Turns out the regularity with which I ate dairy was directly proportional to the regularity with which I ate burgers and chili. Now that I found ALL SORTS of good things to eat with those two meals besides cheese, I’m completely dairy free and not feeling deprived. Win.
So despite completing my first Whole 30 and then letting the pendulum swing all the way to cookie butter, I thought it would be a useful exercise to do again. This time I wanted to build on the good habits that had stuck around and hopefully introduce some new ones. Exciting Beverages to Drink That Are Not Booze is something that I really embraced this second time around. And guess what? It’s sticking and I have *bounced back* with a lot less drinking now that ALL THE BOOZE is available to me.
This second time around I am determined to not swing back so far to the other side. I’m also determined to keep building on my healthy habits. And probably? That will include another Whole 30 at some point. I like it. It works for me. And it feels good. Plus, the goal of a Whole 30 is not to become perfect, it is to become better and more informed. I keep learning about myself which helps with the whole “better” element. Did you find yourself doing a major pendulum swing after your Whole 30? Are you doing anything strategic to help balance that out?