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Hi, I began the whole 30 last February. I had been slowly working my way towards clean eating but was never consistent.

I liked buying healthy cookbooks, trying new new healthy recipes, and spending lots of money on new kitchen gadgets and healthy ingredients. And I followed that healthy  lifestyle a lot of the time. Athe same time I would indulge in unhealthy eating habits: using the feeling of a full stomach to alleviate stress, snacking before and after meals (usually pointless, empty carbs like crackers or tortilla chips) and drinking at least one bottle of wine every weekend. 

My worst culptrit: I put a lot of effort into a healthy lifestyle. I worked out almost every day of the week and I thought about food non-stop, which led to a lot of unnecessary eating and stress and more eating. It was the whole30 that helped me realize I needed to start thinking about food a lot less and focus more on living my life. 

Last January I came across the whole 30 program book and liked the philosophy - I like to eat real food and I love to cook, so it was an easy sell. I read the book cover to cover, marked pages with sticky notes, wrote out grocery list and watched YouTube videos recounting others' experience with the 30 days. I thought it was going to be really hard - I loved my nightly popcorn snack and didn't think a happy life would be possible without a few nightly squares of Justus dark chocolate. However I was getting married in 9 months and was very unhappy with my weight and shape at the time. I didn't feel like the person I was on the outside reflected who I was on the inside. I think that is a struggle many have. So with some preparation and determination, I set out in my first whole30.

After thirty days following the program I was beginning to notice benefits: I had lost some weight, my clothes were starting  to fit better and my energy level was increasing. My overall wellness meter was getting higher everyday but I didn't feel ready to stop so I took on another 30 days and another 30 days and continued because I was feeling like the best version of myself. The digestive issues I'd been struggling with for years has dissipated, the pants I hadn't been able to fit into for years (yes, I kept them) were too big, my energy was through the roof and I no longer went to bed beating myself up for my food choices that day, promising "tomorrow would be a better day". For the first time ever, I felt in complete control.

Until tonight. Nine months, 40 pounds and a new mindset later. I'm writing this because I haven't eaten sugar since February and I just crushed 5 Halloween sized packages of m&m peanuts after I'd promised myself (all day) that I wouldn't touch them. I'm writing this after several weeks of subtle "cheats" and I'm noticing myself subtly shift back into old habits. It's not a good feeling.

I know why it's happening. My partner and I have recently suffered a loss followed by a stressful event and to put it bluntly, this month has been really shitty, emotional and hard. I know what I should be doing. I know that staying strong will help me get through this rough patch but I feel like an addict, seeking comfort in old habits. 

I wrote this partly to confess, partly to seek support but most importantly to address my behaviour and understand myself better. I know many of you can relate to what I'm talking about.

Take care of yourselves. 

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Hi KsKennedy,

 

You are so not alone in these feelings, I hope it helps a little to know that. We all fall sometimes, it's normal. One of the most helpful pieces of advice I've listened to in my own journey is getting rid of the word "should". In reading your post, I am seeing that word a lot, and I know it's coming from a place of wanting to be healthy, but your healthy isn't the same as anyone elses. There is nothing you should do. I think if you can get over that hump, things will become clearer. 

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  • 2 months later...

It's been months since you posted this, and not sure where you are now, but it sounds like you were trying to be on the W30 forever! Really difficult, and fairly unforgiving. Without going through the slow-process of reintro, assessing your food relationships, etc., you may have skipped an important and scary process of going back out into the world, where you 'fail' a lot (normal) and learn how to not be really judgmental about yourself for those choices, recover, and approach each new situation without a self-condemning narrative. Consider that your ideal life isn't a constant Whole 30, but a joyful and relaxed relationship with food that has wiggle room and makes you feel really good! 

I'm on my 3rd W30, and they have been about a year apart. I will say that about 9 months after my first one, I was absolutely miserable, thinking that I couldn't help constantly choosing foods that made me feel like crap, and thinking that I would never be able to adhere to a good food lifestyle (full disclosure, I grow vegetables for a living; I am SURROUNDED by good food, and I still ate a lot of pizza, crackers, cheese, and drank a lot of beer, out of habit, a sense of down-time needing to be full of treats, and convenience). And I wished I'd never done the W30, because the awesomeness of that eating plan felt unattainable, and made me feel really, really bad about myself. Is that crazy or what? I wished I'd never known how good it felt to feel good, so that I didn't know how bad I felt when I felt bad.

Long story short, when I got to a more relaxed season in my job, I reflected. I noticed that some habits had stuck--I noticed that eggs and leftover cabbage and potatoes made me feel much better all morning than toast with cream cheese and jam, so much so that I didn't even want the toast. I allowed that some good had come of this whole thing, and I did another Whole 30. That time, I was able to see big changes in my mental habits. I was able for the entire following year to regularly decide I wanted to come back to a plan, committing to 7 or 10 or 15 days of W30 eating (defining the number at the start, not deciding on any given day to go off-plan). I went wildly to the other end of the spectrum sometimes (hello, 16-hour work days), but felt, miraculously, not panicked. I knew that I could and can always come back, and that I'll get better at making deliberate choices in between times, and that it's a long, slow process, and that old habits may always come back but you're not trapped in them, because new habits always come back, too. I'm gradually getting to know myself better, in terms of what really affects me and what doesn't, what's worth eating and what is so not. The key with Whole 7s, etc., is that they are not quick crash diets; they are re-stabilizing weeks of structure when you need them.

I imagine this Whole 30 journey as sort of a pendulum--you swing way out there sometimes, one direction is over-disciplinary and mentally strict, the other is pretty much binge-eating. It's a long process, but you gradually get to the point where you aren't swinging so wide. You eat well without being mean to yourself, which means you don't get pushed into wild carb-a-palooza so far. And when you do start eating chocolate after dinner every night, and then a couple times during the day, you nudge yourself back to the middle without being cruel to yourself (with Whole 7s or Whole10s or even another Whole30), so you don't accidentally swing too far into diet-land. Maybe that's helpful, framing it another way, or just seeing how this works for somebody else.

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12 hours ago, chichi said:

It's been months since you posted this, and not sure where you are now, but it sounds like you were trying to be on the W30 forever! Really difficult, and fairly unforgiving. Without going through the slow-process of reintro, assessing your food relationships, etc., you may have skipped an important and scary process of going back out into the world, where you 'fail' a lot (normal) and learn how to not be really judgmental about yourself for those choices, recover, and approach each new situation without a self-condemning narrative. Consider that your ideal life isn't a constant Whole 30, but a joyful and relaxed relationship with food that has wiggle room and makes you feel really good! 

I'm on my 3rd W30, and they have been about a year apart. I will say that about 9 months after my first one, I was absolutely miserable, thinking that I couldn't help constantly choosing foods that made me feel like crap, and thinking that I would never be able to adhere to a good food lifestyle (full disclosure, I grow vegetables for a living; I am SURROUNDED by good food, and I still ate a lot of pizza, crackers, cheese, and drank a lot of beer, out of habit, a sense of down-time needing to be full of treats, and convenience). And I wished I'd never done the W30, because the awesomeness of that eating plan felt unattainable, and made me feel really, really bad about myself. Is that crazy or what? I wished I'd never known how good it felt to feel good, so that I didn't know how bad I felt when I felt bad.

Long story short, when I got to a more relaxed season in my job, I reflected. I noticed that some habits had stuck--I noticed that eggs and leftover cabbage and potatoes made me feel much better all morning than toast with cream cheese and jam, so much so that I didn't even want the toast. I allowed that some good had come of this whole thing, and I did another Whole 30. That time, I was able to see big changes in my mental habits. I was able for the entire following year to regularly decide I wanted to come back to a plan, committing to 7 or 10 or 15 days of W30 eating (defining the number at the start, not deciding on any given day to go off-plan). I went wildly to the other end of the spectrum sometimes (hello, 16-hour work days), but felt, miraculously, not panicked. I knew that I could and can always come back, and that I'll get better at making deliberate choices in between times, and that it's a long, slow process, and that old habits may always come back but you're not trapped in them, because new habits always come back, too. I'm gradually getting to know myself better, in terms of what really affects me and what doesn't, what's worth eating and what is so not. The key with Whole 7s, etc., is that they are not quick crash diets; they are re-stabilizing weeks of structure when you need them.

I imagine this Whole 30 journey as sort of a pendulum--you swing way out there sometimes, one direction is over-disciplinary and mentally strict, the other is pretty much binge-eating. It's a long process, but you gradually get to the point where you aren't swinging so wide. You eat well without being mean to yourself, which means you don't get pushed into wild carb-a-palooza so far. And when you do start eating chocolate after dinner every night, and then a couple times during the day, you nudge yourself back to the middle without being cruel to yourself (with Whole 7s or Whole10s or even another Whole30), so you don't accidentally swing too far into diet-land. Maybe that's helpful, framing it another way, or just seeing how this works for somebody else.

This is great!  I love how you've explained the pendulum and thank you for sharing your journey!

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Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. I hadn't come back to this thread for awhile and so much or what you said makes sense - trying to be whole30 all the time is unrealistic. I've also realized I need to be kinder to myself when I slip into old habits and have faith that the new habits will return. Low and behold - life is back in order - stressors are gone and eating has become way less of a worry, more of an enjoyment. Managed to get through Christmas, indulging when I wanted to and saying no when it wasn't worth it. It's all in routine for me and when life turns upside down, eating a few peanut m and ms is not the worst response one can have! Cheers everyone and keep taking good care of yourselves and one another.

 

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