First of all, you can do it. Thousands of people have. You can too. The text of your post, though, echoes my best friend a lot. She wants to lose 35lbs but just "can't seem to do it" either. In fact, she was supposed to start this Whole30 with me (I'm on Day 22) and when I texted her on Day 1, she told me she already failed with cookie cake. :|
Her entire personal reward system is structured around food and alcohol. She feels highly entitled to enjoy treats because it's a "special occasion." Well, unfortunately, our bodies don't really care about special occasions. You can talk yourself into anything being a special occasion. Most occasions aren't that special though. You have to rule your mind, and not let it rule you. Discipline is a muscle that can be flexed and strengthened, and you have it in you to do it. You just have to find it.
Remember, every day is a new day. I have come up with a little system to remind myself of this. Before I started, I browsed the web for inspirational quotes. I wrote one quote down on 30 strips of paper and made a paper chain. Each morning, I rip off a circle and read the quote. I write it on our white board on the fridge, where I also keep a countdown. It's a little ritual that reminds me that each day is like starting over. I can send you my list of quotes, if you'd like. The morning ritual helps break up the length of the program into manageable parts and it gives me something to look forward to.
This is my 5th Whole30. Undoubtedly, it has been my most difficult for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I cut out caffeine cold turkey (I know it's permitted but I was overly dependent) so my first two weeks were a miserable haze of headaches and fatigue. I actually posted here seeking help.
It's also been a month positively chock full of "special occasions."
A 4th of July cookout/festival/fireworks. It took me a day and a half to prep enough food potluck-style so that I wouldn't go hungry all day (we were at my grandma's house two hours away from home) but not alienate everyone by bringing "my own food." Luckily my sister is pregnant so I wasn't the only one not drinking, but not enjoying a beer on a hot night watching fireworks really does suck. My niece's third birthday was that Saturday. No cake for me. Whipped cream icing. My favorite. Should I have indulged because it was a "special occasion"? Everyone told me to, but she's three and won't remember anyway. And even if she could remember, who cares? It's cake. There are 335 other days this year where I could eat cake. These 30 days are not included. There will be another birthday. Should I have toasted champagne with everyone when we found out my sister is having a boy? I could have, but instead she and I clinked our cans of LaCroix and that was enough.
It was a really really tough weekend. But when I drove home Sunday morning, the feeling of success after staying 100% compliant was unrivaled. The cravings, feelings of missing out, everything literally vanished in the glow of pride at my own discipline. It's possible. I can't tell you what it feels like. I can only tell you to reach for this feeling, and you will know what Whole30 success feels like.
The next Friday, we took my niece to the zoo. Where do we end up for lunch? The zoo food court. The smell of funnel cakes and burgers. Oh god it smelled so good. Nothing compliant to eat whatsoever. I ate my niece's apple and that was it. It was difficult and I was still hungry, but I am the master of my own actions. Where do we end up for dinner? A pizza chain. I ordered grilled chicken and steamed broccoli. It had zero seasoning whatsoever. Blandest food I've ever eaten. Could I have just said, screw it, I'm hungry! I'm driving an hour and a half home and I want to eat! Give me a beer! Sure, I could have. But (despite the blandness) once I had a full tummy, looking back, a couple hours of being a little hungry was nothing. Nothing. Nothing, compared to the feeling of pride and accomplishment I felt knowing I conquered this battle.
The very next day, it was Catholic festival day, which is really nothing but an unlimited beer fest. The smell of fair food. The whole experience. We go every year. This year I even won a bottle of wine at adult ring toss (which I can't drink yet). This was the first night I really really wanted a drink, particularly because we got stuck having to make small talk with a somewhat estranged family member that I really just don't care for. Being sober was damn near excruciating. Eventually I excused myself to "go to the bathroom" (aka browse the silent auctions... for 45 minutes) and, after lots of walking around and chatting with friends and dominating ring toss and losing at pull tabs, eventually, we were home. When I woke up and cooked breakfast the next day, I had the same reflections. That night was nothing. It was one night. A couple hours. Estranged family? Suck it. Zoo food court? Suck it. Bland chicken? Suck it. Bottle of wine? I can wait. I conquered it all. It sucked, and there were many times where I really wanted to just give in but I made this commitment to myself.
Oh hey it's not even over. My brother is, basically, a rockstar. His band was performing at Mayhem Fest this past weekend. Korn was there too. I love Korn. One of my favorite bands, though I'd never seen them live. Ever hang out on a tour bus where the rider includes cases of PBR and a couple bottles of Jack Daniels (my other lover)? I only see my brother a couple times a year due to his tour schedule but when we do get together it usually is celebratory time. Not to mention, that's just what musicians on tour do, especially when their sets wrap up at 5 in the afternoon. Drinky time. I really wanted to have a shot with my little brother, for traditions' sake, because Korn is a favorite of both of ours and it was just a thing between us.
But you just have to ask yourself. Do I really want to throw away three weeks of progress for one day? Will this day ever happen again? No. Does it really matter? What am I really missing if I don't participate? The truth is, you will discover, always nothing. You aren't missing anything. You just think you are. Rule your mind. You have to ask yourself that same question on day 2, and day 3, and every new day. What are you throwing away for the sake of one tiny indulgence? When you find yourself tempted, take 10 minutes to write down why you really need that bagel or that ice cream or that delicious, succulent shot of Jack Daniels. (Hint: You will never have anything to write.) When you realize you're trying to find a good reason to eat ice cream (Hint 2: it's not a special occasion) you'll have one of those "what am I doing with my life" moments and realize that no cheat or treat is worth the progress you've made so far.
Not to mention, Jonathan Davis (singer of Korn) has been sober for like fifteen years so I really had no excuse to indulge. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
And, once again, I found myself on that long drive home, smiling at my success. I did it. It's not easy. Not one day has been easy. But they have been worth it, even if I couldn't see that until the day was over. It's been a month full of "special occasions" and I have conquered them all. And that is special.