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Setting personal guidelines for my food freedom


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One of the things I've learned in my Whole30 is that clear boundaries work very well with me. 
Because I acquired some compromises, it was quite easy to say NO to things that I would usually struggle with (such as sweet treats).

That's why I decided to create my own guidelines to help me in my food freedom. This guidelines are just that, guidelines, so in special ocassions I may
go a little stray - but within reason.
Just note that they are not Whole30-ish!


  • Breakfast

This was a game changer.

I've always been a breakfast person, but never bothered to cook much for breakfast. Now I know my breakfasts were lacking something.
But a whole breakfast - protein, veggies and fat - allows me to go through the morning without feeling hungry at all, hence not snacking on the not-so-
healthy options avaliable at work.

GUIDELINE #1: Prepping ahead a full plate of compliant breakfast, according to template.

  • Veggies

The other really important nutritional fact I've learned: quite a bit of veggies in every other meal is not enough veggies. At all.
I was not eating veggies at breafast, just a bit of them at lunch, only really focusing on them at dinner. That had to change.

GUIDELINE #2: Half a plate of veggies in each meal. No excuses.

  • Legumes

Legumes are a vegetable source of protein, which often led me to think of them as equivalent to veggies. They are not.
It does not make sense to add more protein - which is what I typically do. Instead, I should be adding lots of veggies to my lentils/chickpeas/beans stews
- but I prefer them in much smaller amounts.
I have a plan though.

GUIDELINE #3: Have a side dish (full of veggies) to complement legume stews.

  • Rice, pasta and similar grains

The way I cook them, rice and pasta are pretty much the same kind of dish.
They do not offer as much protein as legumes, but they are definetely not short on energy and they are neither fat nor veggies, so I think I ought to
regard them in a similar way.
Also they tend to go with protein, sometimes dairy. 

GUIDELINE #4: Add plenty of veggies to my rice/pasta dishes, and/or have a side dish of veggies.
Also I'm setting a limit of up to one meal a week with these ingredientes, because even if I add veggies I'll be skipping on protein.

  • Bread

I bake our own bread. We don't eat a lot, so a piece will last about a week.
We eat other bread-like dishes (pizza, empanada, sandwich) quite occassionally, so I'm not gonna worry about this one detail much.

GUIDELINE #5: Consume bread on a bare minimum basis, the smaller amount possible.

  • Dairy

I use milk/cream in sauces. I eat yoghurt as desert. I may eat a small piece of cheese.
It's never a lot, but it probably adds up. Specially if that means I would not eat as much proper food.

GUIDELINE #6: Keep creamy sauces to a minimum, watch out the serving size.
Eat yoghurt and cheese only occasionally.

  • Sugar

I'm not adding sugar to my tea anymore and that makes me feel proud of myself.
I'm also not giving up to treats that I'm being offered.

GUIDELINE #7: Limit sweet treats to special ocassions. Even in those cases, prioritize homemade ones.


I'll be following these guidelines (and tweak them any further if I learn anything else) and will use this thread for accountability.

Just some data input for future reference:

  1. My weight on day 0 was 89.5 kg,
  2. My weight on day 31 was 85.7 kg (almost 4 kg down!)
  3. My weight two weeks later (after reintroduction) was 84.3 kg (so I lost 1.4 kg more)

I plan to weight myself once a month or so, to monitorize whether this approach works fine or not.

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First week.
And it was hard, harder than the Whole30 to be honest.

I even can say I "failed" once.
I was at my workplace, in the lounge area doing some work during our break. It's a very small place so there is only one table (8 seats) so when one of my colleagues brought a freshly baked brownie with nuts and put it on the table - right in front of me - it was too big a temptation,
Leaving and locking myself in the toilet seemed a bit too harsh, so I stayed there smelling the fragant handmade brownie. I tried to be strong but in the end I could not help eating a piece.

I tried not to bee too hard on myself, one may learn from every experience, but I must confess it made me think a lot.
I think I should be more strict about what's to be considered an special ocassion. If everything is special then nothing is.

Even more because I felt unwell the day after.
It was not a proper testing because I ate other non-compliant foods that day but the sweet treat was a likely culprit. Which would be news for me because nothing else gave me any reaction.
The brownie had, of course, flour and sugar. I've tried sugar in a cheesecake I made for my husband's birthday, but because I usually use less sugar than recipes call for it. Also I'm eating small amounts of bread, but really small ones.
Things to keep an eye on anyway.

But it could have been something else to be honest. My period for example.
I started to feel tired the day after, just as I felt during my last period (back then I thought it was the I-need-a-nap phase, but it seems it was just my period).
So once again my period is being weird. I'm just having this general discomfort but no proper bleeding (I did not even need a panty liner, but when I cleaned myself I always found traces of blood in there), same as happened then.
Last month I had only three days of proper bleeding as if the hardly-noticeable one also counted towards the total days. I'm wondering if it will be the same this month.
In any case I'm feeling like shit. I do.

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It's crazy isn't it, how hard it all is. It's now two days since you posted. I hope you're feeling a little better. I think the relationship between our hormones and our food is pretty eye opening. Every time I clean up my act, my period changes, which makes me think I really need to stick with things for a longer time so my body and hormones can stabilize. Bummer about the brownie, but also rather interesting. Maybe the reaction was bigger because of your period, but still good to observe that you thought there was a reaction.

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I'm feeling better now. These periods are weird because I feel awful during the no-bleeding days but then I feel ok during the bleeding days. 
I'm hoping this goes back to normal at any point, hopefully when my body adjusts to this new eating plan of mine. (Otherwise I'll start thinking I'm doing something wrong here.)

And, yeah, it's crazy!
During my Whole30 I was on autopilot - I can eat this but not that - but thinking about every single food choice is exhausting.
Intentional eating feels good though.
For example, today I was eating out with my family and my parents insisted I should order a dessert. I said no, but not because I'm following a plan or because some book set those rules - I said no because I decided not to eat dessert. And that felt great.

I'm not completely sure about the brownie. When you are clean and properly testing you may be quite sure of what caused a reaction, but this was not the case so I may very well be making everything up.
Actually yesterday I had empanada for dinner, which is a bread-like dough filled with ingredientes (in this case: onion, meat and pepper) and I did not feel bad afterwards, so it seems that wheat is ruled out.
Could sugar be the cause? Maybe not the sole cause, but combined with flour and dairy... Could be.
But also could be me looking for further proof that I must remove sugar from my diet, which is something I'm glad to say I'm achieving - and that was all thanks to the Whole30.

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On Friday I met some former colleagues for lunch, and I ate a lot. A lot. Fully compliant btw, but when you eat so late and for such a long time you end up overdoing it. Actually we finished lunch by 5 PM, so I probably should have skipped dinner but I was worried that being hungry at night led me to unhealthy snacking.
On Saturday I decided to step on the scale just out of curiosity, and it showed that I had gained 1'5 kg (about 3 pounds).
I did the same today (Sunday), and that extra weight had disappeared - I was at 84.1kg, which is what I weighted three weeks ago when I created this thread.

This was a neat experiment because it shows a huge difference in weight in just one day. And simply because I overdid one single meal (and it was not an unhealthy one, just a too large amount of it). Weight is just so relative!
It's something we all know, but this reminder is a good thing for me.

And, well, it seems I'm not losing more weight but I'm (probably) not gaining it back either, so I'm content.
This is all about learning, but I'm glad it does not become some sort of yo-yo thing.

One thing I've learned: small amounts of sugar are enough to bring back bad habits.
I had some 99% chocolate at home, and I ate little bits when I drank hot tea. Felt great.
Then I bought some more, they had no 99% nor 95% that day, so I got some 90% chocolate. Still dark chocolate, but what a difference in my response! 
I gobbled it all in just a few days, and got me thinking I had crossed the line.
(So no more sweet dark chocolate for me, just good ol' bitter chocolate.)

And on a completely different topic, it's always terrible to notice there are some people on whose support I can't count. Ever.
In my case it's my parents. They have always harassed me about my weight (even when I was a child and not overweight at all) and at the same time accussing me of unpoliteness when I rejected any sort of sweet treats.
Last week they were quite forceful about the dessert I should be eating (because, apparently if you don't order dessert in a restaurant you are some sort of madman).
And today they visited us for an afternoon coffee, and they brought a huge cake filled with cream. Seriously! <_<

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I'm too old for the hormone train to run me over, so thankful for that!  But I so agree with how much easier it is when you are following strict W30 rules than when we're flying solo!  When people asked me about my W30 and exclaimed over how they could NEVER manage it, I always answered that it's not these 30 days that worry me, it's the 335 that follow. 

I love your guidelines above and doing much the same for myself.  I lost 4 lb. during my W30 (day 30 was Sept. 10) and 3 more lb. since.  I feel very good about that, this is very sustainable for me.  One tip I learned elsewhere about guideline #7 (sweet treats) - the best bite is the first bite and the second best bite is the last bite, all other bites are just the ones in the middle.  So limit yourself to 2 EXCELLENT bites!  I pick apart my dessert serving until I have separated out the *perfect* bite and I savor it.  Then I do that all again for my last bite.  Yes, those 2 bites are pretty big bites, but not as big as the entire serving.  Just wanted to share what is helping me!

My biggest W30 benefit was getting over thinking I needed dessert at every meal and tricking my sweet tooth into thinking things are sweet that I did not think of as sweet before, like plain almond butter and dates.  If you have this in your area, look for Kalot Superfood nut butters.  THEY ARE WORTH THE MONEY!  As long as I don't fall back into the habit of finishing each meal with a serving...


On ‎10‎/‎13‎/‎2019 at 2:06 PM, Amura said:

And on a completely different topic, it's always terrible to notice there are some people on whose support I can't count. Ever.
In my case it's my parents.

Here I would like to say "Bless your heart!" and me, too - except my parents have a problem with alcohol, not desserts.  It's like I've grown a tail and whiskers when I say no thank you to a beer, wine or cocktail.  They are flabbergasted that non-drinkers exist.  I started pouring myself a glass of Kombucha to carry around and sip.  They finally left me alone when I told them this is a fermented tea.  I guess the term "fermented" put them at ease...  :rolleyes:

Cheer to us!  We're killing this!!

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Yeah, I keep thinking that Whole30 is not that hard if you are already used to cooking homemade meals.
At least that's how it felt for me. 

Still it's quite strict and in many senses it feels unnecessary for me, but I wanted to keep what I've learned (or most precisely what I've proven to myself, because most of my guidelines are based either common sense or quite well-known nutritional facts).
And taking the time to write it down forced me to think carefully about them, also I expect that it helps me with accountability.

The two excellent bites rules sounds great, but I'm not really sure if I can do that.
See? That's harder for me, having something but not having the whole thing.
Removing something completely is much easier than limiting the amount of it I can eat.

Actually I'm not having dessert with most of my meals. And when I do it's because I don't feel full.
Today I had a banana after lunch a a homemade plain unsweetened yoghurt after dinner, but that's pretty much all. 

I'm not into nut butters, but thanks for the recommendation anyway.
My indulgence goes more towards black chocolate, which I love. Bitter one is working better for me at the moment -  90%-cocoa chocolate was too low, 99% was fine, I might try 95% and see how I react.

And, about parents. I guess you get used to think everybody is (and should be) the way you are, so it's hard to digest that people you love do "weird" things such as quitting alcohol or sugar. (There is a saying in my language: familiarity breeds contempt.)
I'm just trying not to lecture anyone on what I think they should be eating for a healthy lifestyle, because it would be exactly as annoying!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Last week was not great.
I was feeling quite under the weather. Just regular flu, nothing serious, but I was very tired. And also it was time for my period, which only worsened the situation.
So I indulged on comfort foods.

It was not really bad, but still felt like I was losing control. And I did not like the feeling.

Also it lead to snacking, which was not so great.

Oh, well, I'm probably overcomplaining for such a little misstep, but I'm afraid I've lost my inertia and that now it's gonna be a bit harder staying on track.
Maybe I'll try a short reset, a week long or so, and see if that helps.

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On ‎11‎/‎6‎/‎2019 at 9:52 AM, Amura said:

but I'm afraid I've lost my inertia and that now it's gonna be a bit harder staying on track.
Maybe I'll try a short reset, a week long or so, and see if that helps.

How's it going Amura?  I feel like I need to do the same.  I've been to several weddings and other celebrations this fall, my birthday was recently (which one must enjoy several times over with different groups: friends, family, work friends!)  Thanksgiving is just around the corner, etc., etc.  I'm afraid I have fallen off the wagon and it has run me over.  This is a very good time for a reset - starting Friday, after my work friends and I have gals' night out! 

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Well, the funny thing is I have not gained any weight.  Which supports the hypothesis that this was not a fad diet after all ;)
My weight on the scale relieved me, honestly.

But, yeah, the this-is-far-from-perfect feeling persists and I'm gonna try a short reset. Because I think that at this point short resets might be more useful than making a whole round from scratch.
Since you're starting Friday, I'm joining you and starting Friday too - it's perfect timing for me too :) 

After some consideration I've decided not to make fully compliant meals though.
Legumes are an interesting source of protein, and because I add protein to all my meals it's interesting that some of it is not animal protein.
Other than that I'm gonna follow the rules for a week, see how it goes.

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This will be my second mini reset since my day 30 on September 10.  Peanuts seem to be the only thing I *need* to avoid. 

I've never been a big fan of legumes, so that probably means I don't know how to prepare the properly.  I just had blood taken to get the health insurance discount at work.  It will be interesting to see the difference in my cholesterol and triglycerides after all the meat I've been eating.  If those numbers are trending the wrong way, I may investigate more legumes, too! 

My biggest concern is avoiding peanuts, gluten and added sugar.  Got to keep that sweet tooth tamed!! 

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I do love legumes, specially because I think it would be nice to eat less animal products. You know, the killing and all that.
I'm not vegan or vegetarian, I do eat meat and fish and eggs on a regular basis, but I would like to increase the proportion of vegetables as much as possible without giving up on health nor taste.
Also legumes are easy to cook, but take a bit of planning. For the soaking.

I don't think I've eaten any peanuts recently, it's something that I did not even care to test because I hardly ever eat them.
Gluten and sugar though, that's my battle too!

Before my Whole30 I would have said my inmediate problem was sugar, but now I've come to realize that other things (such as bread) may be a bad influence because it leads me to grazing.

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  • 2 weeks later...

OK, the short reset was a failure :(

Friday and Saturday were fine.
On Sunday we decided to eat out to a new restaurant in town. We don't eat out often, and there was a dish that was just the kind of thing I love, so I decided to order it anyway. Eating out usually means sharing a dessert with my son (he loves them but they are too large for him). While I was ok with ordering my dish (Food Freedom after all) I must admit I'm not so proud of indulging in that half a dessert.

Well - I thought - I can start the reset on Monday anyway, can't I? 
And that's what I did.

But Wednesday night the little one was sick, we hardly slept a pair of hours, no time for breakfast... and I ended up snacking whatever was avaliable at work. Which was not compliant of course - nor healthy.
And I also drank a lot of tea, I was so sleepy.

But the surprise came when the scale yesterday said 84.1 kg. I have not gained any weight despite a poorly-eating week.
Or what I was considering a poorly-eating week, which was probably "normal" by most standards, but not close to the reset I meant to do.

Which led me to consider how my point of view has changed - what I consider now a healthy approach is more strict, and what I consider now a relaxed approach is perhaps healthier than it used to be.
It's interesting.

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  • Whole30 Certified Coach

Hi Amura!  It is interesting how one's perspective changes with information and experience ;)  I'm just wondering... what is your "ultimate" goal?  You have a lot of really great guidelines which will certainly help you have a more nutritious and hopefully gut friendly life.  I'm wondering though if a few "rule" might help since you said you do well with clear boundaries.  Like, if work treats or too-many-special-occassions are the problems make quantifiable rules around them.  "I will only eat treats at work once a month" or "I will enjoy a meal in a restaurant only 2 times a calendar month"... things like that.  It is something that has been really helpful for me.  I'm a nurse and the hospital snacks are: packs of cookies, ice cream, gingerale (those are supplied by the hospital, you know, the place trying to make people healthier :rolleyes:).  The foods brought in by others I'm sure you can imagine.  ER nurse recognition week was 10 half gallons of ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream etc.  There was practically no room in the fridge it was so full of sundae toppings!  Anyway... lots of temptation is my point.  And my issue has always been sugar so not easy for me.  So I have a rule: I will only eat food at work that I bring to work with me or purchase in the cafeteria from the salad bar which must be meat, raw veg or fruit.  I just don't break that rule.  And it has really been helpful for me to reign in a history of off-the-rails eating at work.  Anyway, just food for though :) 

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Thank you very muchfor the input!

I guess my ultimate goal is feeling able.
As I gained so much weight, I noticed that some (quite normal) things were becoming somewhat harder. My BMI was 31, and playing with my 4yo was sometimes exhausting. That brought a feeling of not being able of doing what I want.
Now down to a BMI 29, I'm still overweight but I'm starting to feel able again. Able to play, able to run (how he loves to run!). And I'm positive that the better my health the stronger that feeling will be.

My guidelines are some sort of rules, I guess, but I did not want to use that word.
Because for me a rule is something that should never be broken - under any circumstances. And in this case I know there shall be exceptions, and I don't want to feel guilty about them nor treat them like "cheat days" - I just want to enjoy every bite of those exceptions.
So guidelines sounded better to me :)

Work is tricky for me indeed.
There is no snack bar in my workplace which means we all share with our coworkers. And people tend to bring baked goods, because everybody loves them. Some are store-bought, others are homemade, but there is loads of sugar in them anyway.
I brought cashews and also some mint tea bags, which are a good alternative when I feel tempted.
But I think that what has worked better for me is telling everybody that I do eat a very large breakfast hence I don't need to snack at work. The mere fact of telling others encourages me to live up to the hype :D 

Eating out is not a big deal though.
We don't eat out often, and our food choices are good quality. May or may not be compliant, but generally healthy. I don't even eat a whole dessert anymore - but sometimes I do share with my son.
So I'm not worrying much about this. I know I talked about this, but it's because I want to record all the issues in this thread. 

At home, I'm less sure of how I'm doing.
Quite well, I guess, but sometimes I overindulge in little details such as eating nuts while I'm cooking (I'm about to serve lunch, why am I grazing?) or snacking a bit of bread with butter (ok, it's not a croissant, but as close as it can get in my kitchen).
So, I don't know, probably not a big deal but I want to keep things as clean as possible.

And Christmas are around the corner! THAT is gonna be hard to navigate!

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  • Whole30 Certified Coach

It sounds like you've given this a lot of thought!

If you are "worried" about Christmas - have a plan.  Figure it out before the heat-of-the-moment temptations are there calling you.  If you want to indulge, do it, enjoy it and don't beat yourself up.  If you don't, don't.  1 meal isn't going to make or break your path towards being "able". 

And I hear you on keeping up with kiddos - I have a 3 year old son... I wish I had half his energy!

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On ‎11‎/‎27‎/‎2019 at 3:04 PM, Amura said:

The mere fact of telling others encourages me to live up to the hype :D 

This might be my favorite quote of the day!  Isn't this so true??  That is actually one of the ways I continue pursuing my fitness program, so I'm accountable to the hype.  When someone says, "Oh my gosh, you didn't run TODAY, did you?", I simply love it when I can follow with a humble - yes. 

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On ‎11‎/‎27‎/‎2019 at 4:42 PM, littleg said:

If you are "worried" about Christmas - have a plan.

And this is my second favorite quote of the day.  I don't want to cheat my way through the entire season, but I plan to have a no-rules (or guidelines) day on 12/25!  Including the big chocolate-peanut butter Reece's tree Santa always puts in my stocking! :D

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  • 2 weeks later...

I remember reading in the W30 book that you should tell everyone, your social media and all, that you are doing a W30.
I was not sure at the time, and I did hesitate when it was time to get started. But I finally did. I even posted about it in my blog, because I wanted to reach everyone.
And it worked for me. Because it somehow forced me to actually do the thing. You can't tell everyone about it, and even discuss whether this is healthy or not, and then give up. You just can't.
So now I'm using the same logic in my daily routine. And hoping to stick to it!


Christmas is complicated though. Here it is not just one meal - it's 5 to 6 lavish feasts within two weeks.
Food will be ok, I'll just try to pass on the bread, but sweet treats are gonna be a real temptation. I do want to try them (because they are the kind of thing you'll only eat in Christmas time) but not overdo it, so I guess one small piece of each and then moving onto raisins and other dried fruits which will also be on the table at all times.
So I guess I do have a plan. But even so it's gonna be testing.

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I don't think I had read it, Shannon, but it is very very useful indeed!
Thank you very much.

It somewhat relates to something @Angelia mentioned, her two-bites rules, but for me limiting to only two bites of something I really love sounded unsustainable.
Waiting and judging whether it is worth or not, might be a bit hard the first time, might need some training, but I think that's something that could work for me long term.
I'm gonna give this some more thought and maybe put it to test during the Christmas holidays.

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  • 1 month later...

Well, I survived Christmas after all :D   
Although I did gain a little weight, I'm satisfied because I managed to not fall into an spiral of self-shame and self-indulgence-after-the-shame.

Of the 2kg I gained I have already shed one, simply following my routine, without any extra effort.
So I'm hoping to lose the other one in the same fashion.

That does not change the fact that I would like to get rid of 15kg more, mind you, but I'm glad my everyday eating-style is working well.

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  • Whole30 Certified Coach

Hi @Amura! That is wonderful to hear that you did not spiral out of control over the holidays and did not use the holidays as an excuse to go wild! How did the guidelines you set for your Food Freedom help you? Did you come to any realizations that you need revisions to what you previously created for yourself?

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On 2/10/2020 at 10:47 PM, Terra Milliken said:

Hi @Amura! That is wonderful to hear that you did not spiral out of control over the holidays and did not use the holidays as an excuse to go wild! How did the guidelines you set for your Food Freedom help you? Did you come to any realizations that you need revisions to what you previously created for yourself?

I think my guidelines impact mostly in my meal plan and daily routines.
I try to have a good amount of veggies in every meal, which is one of those things that everybody knows but hardly anyone sticks to. It has become increasingly easy for me. For example, we were eating out today - the menu was mixed grill with chimichurri sauce & fried potatoes, and that would be usually fine, but I made sure to also order a large salad to eat instead of potatoes. It's no big deal, but I would have never thought of it before.
I'm also quite happy about eating little bread (which I still bake at home, but eat in tiny portions or even nothing at all) and dairy products (I've adjusted to using coconut milk when I want a creamy sauce).

But that was not what really helped me during Christmas.
It was my state of mind.
The realization that I could say NO to many of those things made me feel in control.
And that's something I owe to the Whole30.

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  • Whole30 Certified Coach
4 hours ago, Amura said:

But that was not what really helped me during Christmas.
It was my state of mind.
The realization that I could say NO to many of those things made me feel in control.
And that's something I owe to the Whole30.

@Amura that's so awesome!!! I love how you have changed your mindset! Way to go!! 

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