Lessons from Whole 30

Over the holidays, on the tail-end of spending a few weeks totally indulging in a never-ending sugar-fest at work, too many cocktails and all the holiday junk, I was in a crappy head space and feeling terrible.

What a *great time* to be on a flight to Denver with my husband for a week.

Taxiing in, I had a total AHA moment while reading this article by Gretchen Rubin, author of The 4 Tendencies.

In it, she explains that when giving something up, each of us are either are a Moderator or an Abstainer.

“You’re a moderator if you…

  • find that occasional indulgence heightens your pleasure – and strengthens your resolve

  • get panicky at the thought of “never” getting or doing something

You’re an abstainer if you…

  • have trouble stopping something once you’ve started

  • aren’t tempted by things that you’ve decided are off-limits”

I passed the article to my husband, kind of aggressively, said, SEE! This is what I’ve been trying to tell you!

The author, also an abstainer, shared,

“If I never do something, it requires no self-control for me; if I do something sometimes, it requires enormous self-control.”

This line rocked my world, as it’s always been way easier to totally eliminate something from my diet than to do it in moderation.

I just thought I was a total weirdo, especially because my husband is the opposite and seems to have self control. (Super annoying!)

Moderation, my friends, isn't a blip on my radar.

Knowing that I'm an abstainer and don't have brakes, it makes total sense that without something structured like the Whole 30, I go straight to the opposite extreme – Over-eating, over-snacking, and over-drinking. 

On the first day of vacay, I decided to get curious and put my experiment cap on to observe the impact of several weeks of not great food choices.

Knowing my ultra sensitivity to most things, I was not looking forward to it.

Our little house in Denver was cozy with all the comforts you could imagine including mid-century lamps, original paintings and a grande piano.

It had floor to ceiling book shelves (art, philosophy and vintage classics) and even had a cozy kitchen with succulents lining in the windows and Ikea bookshelves overflowing with handmade mugs. We were roomies with a beefy 60 lb. elderly black lab named Loretta and 2 cats.

Despite the fact I LOVE Colorado, and animals, and we were living pretty close to my ideal external circumstances, I still found myself moody, irritable and reactive.

I was angry and short tempered with my husband, saying things I later regretted.

I was controlling, bossy and judgemental.

Not to mention, my patience had parked itself outside and was buried in the snowy pile of sleds and snow boots.

This proved to me once again a big idea we've all heard many times.

Unfortunately, it's easier to just let this be an inspirational quote on the wall versus actually letting the reality sink in.

External circumstances have nothing to do with our happiness. 
It only works the other way around – from the inside out.

For those of you that are going to argue, "But hey, when I'm on the beach, I'm happy. That's a circumstance that makes me happy." I would ask:

How long does the happiness actually last?

Do you walk away from your circumstance feeling forever fulfilled and a generally a happier person?

Maybe in the moment you're happy, but if you're generally annoyed, critical and cynical, I can bet your old habits are going to show up quicker than your tan-lines will fade.

But, hey – this is great awareness, my friend!

It’s acknowledging and allowing these insights that bring us closer to our own, sometimes painful, truths.

And that's the first step to knowing what action will move us forward in a way that serves us.

When we got back home from Denver, I felt we were both a little rattled by our time there.

On paper it was a great trip, but I knew that my grouchy state had nearly ruined the trip.

Per usual, on January 1st, we started the Whole 30.

If you live under a rock, this means only eating whole, unprocessed, mostly organic foods for 30 days, including fruits and veggies and top shelf proteins like organic chicken, fish, grass fed beef, etc.

No sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy or anything processed AT ALL are allowed during this time.

Contrary to popular belief, you are not limiting yourself in any way. It’s not a diet.

You're simply feeding your body exactly what it needs to thrive for 30 days. (Nutrient rich whole vegetables, fruits and protein.)

One of the philosophies of Whole 30 that I’ve learned to be painfully true is:

Every food has a positive or negative impact on your body.

There’s no neutral.

Whole 30 crew even has a saying, “There’s no Switzerland,” meaning, no food gets a free pass through your body.

It either boosts your health, wellness and energy, or hurts it. No exceptions.

Having gone from one end of the spectrum to the other, I can tell you it's true.

And for a food lover like me, that's a bitter truth pill to swallow.

I think in part of my own self-experimentation, I was secretly hoping to find out the opposite was true.

That I could have my cake and eat it too.

But as a highly sensitive person, I'm painfully aware of the impact of every damn food decision, and couldn’t deny it anymore.

Especially since feeling good and energized in my body is one of my top values. (Ahem, obsessions.)

Therefore, making these bad food decisions is NOT worth it for me anymore, and as an abstainer, I know that means they have to GO.

If you’re a moderator like my husband, the reality might look a little different.

You may actually be able to have an occasional drink of wine without having the whole bottle. (So I’ve been told!)

Back to the Experiment:

Two weeks into the Whole 30, I was:

  • Sleeping better and getting up earlier more naturally

  • Less moody and have fewer emotional ups and downs

  • Feeling more even-tempered = equals more patience with my husband

  • Feeling less hungry

  • More motivation to do other good things like run, or follow my weekly schedule (Good decisions inspire good decisions, people!)

  • Most importantly, more motivated and energized in general AND to run my business

So my friend, I encourage you to find out immediately whether you are an abstainer or a moderator. 

If you're an abstainer like me, take a look at one thing you are in the habit of doing that may not be serving you.

This could be having dessert after dinner, or a night cap every evening before bed. 

Or eating that random candy bar or bagels that your co-workers litter the office with.

Then, I want you to consider, what would your life look like in 5 years if you continued the habit daily?

What would it look like if you didn't?

Then ask yourself, would it be worth skipping dessert?

Or abstaining from that food you love, but makes you feel like shit?

Only you can answer this truthfully for yourself!

Are you willing to put the experiment cap on and be open to seeing the impact?

It takes guts, but if you can feel better, it can be totally worth it!

Self-care been on the back burner? 
You're not the only one! Whether looking to integrate some healthier routines in your life, or get rid of some that don't serve you, no need to do it alone! Contact me here, and we'll get chat how to get you back on track.