My Whole 30 Failure


Hi. So I’m a little embarrassed.

Last week, I thought I had a genius idea. Since I want to lose the weight I gained while traveling and get back into a healthy routine, I decided I was going to complete The Whole 30 challenge while closely documenting the journey for you. I was really pumped about it.

I drove to Target, bought the book and read most of it in the parking lot. Then I hit up the grocery store. Two, actually; Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. I committed to foregoing treats and cocktails the entire holiday season. I told Joel, Bridget and another friend for accountability. And then I wrote my first post. I even took those pictures of myself in my underpants to compare with photos at the end.

For the next three days, I proceeded to make breakfast, lunch and dinner at home. Taking pictures and posting recipes for you and tracking my daily progress. I was in the zone. I only had 27 days left to total health and food freedom (whatever that means).

And then Friday came around. I realized it would be nearly impossible to enjoy myself while sticking to this plan for the weekend (let alone the rest of the month). I wanted nothing more than to go out on a date with my husband and have a glass of wine amidst some holiday decor in a dimly light pub. On Sunday I had plans to go to Taste of New York Holiday Market – which is basically a free-for-all of samples of NY-State-made cheese, wine, beer, chocolate and pickled delights. I thought ahead to my brother’s holiday dinner and gift exchange, and craft night, and Christmas Eve and Christmas.

There was a lot of fun stuff I was going to miss out on. Was it worth it? Just to lose some weight?

You see the rules of The Whole 30 are strict:

  • No alcohol
  • No sugar or artificial sweeteners
  • No dairy (except clarified butter)
  • No legumes
  • No grains
  • So MSG, sulfites or carrageenan
  • No weighing or measuring yourself

That’s a lot of ‘nos’. And if you slip up even once, you have to start over again. They demand 100% compliance for the full 30 days. This means you basically have to make every meal at home for yourself and it means I would have had to opt out of the holidays.

To be honest, I know I could have done it. I’ve done strict, healthy protocols before. They worked for a little while. I felt great. It was all lovely.

The thing is though, I realized I just didn’t want to do it this time. I had forgotten how much I loathe strict protocols. They don’t work for me long term. They’re never going to work for me long term. They only wind up making me feel like I did on Friday; frustrated, annoyed and slightly disappointed in myself.

I also happen to think they’re a slippery slope to obsession.

So I decided that this time around my emotional welfare was more important than losing weight. I just moved to a new city. I’m home alone most days. I no longer have a 9-to-5 job for my ego to cling to. There’s a lot of ‘stuff’ coming up already. A lot of change. I don’t need to further challenge and isolate myself with the a strict protocol. I’ve got enough going on.

So I decided to quit and relax. And I have to say, the process of arriving at that decision proved a nice reminder to follow my gut. Not the slight bulge that’s making my pants tighter. But the inner wisdom in my little soul that tells me that all is actually quite well. Even if I’ve gained a few pounds and life is a little challenging right now, all is well. I know how to take care of myself. I just need to simplify.

I just need to do the things that make me feel good; eat well, exercise, sleep and drink lots of water. I don’t need to complicate things or be so hard on myself.

I need to release the unrealistic expectation of being ‘perfect’. That mindset only creates a cycle of guilt and shame. And I’m not interested in that.

So, here are the things I’m going to gently aim to do instead to get back to feeling really good.

  1. Lots and lots of whole plant foods – One of the other things I didn’t like about The Whole 30 was that it encouraged a lot of meat consumption. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with eating meat but, I just feel better when I eat lighter; lots of smoothies, salads and soups and roasted veggies.
  2. Lots of water – I’ve noticed that I haven’t been drinking as much water as I used to. Mostly because I’m always cold and drinking water makes me colder.
  3. Smoothies for breakfast – I went a long time without smoothies on our trip. And they are a healthy meal that I really enjoy. They taste good. They’re easy to make. They’re cheap. And they start my day off with a solid dose of healthy, not to mention one serving of greens. Whole 30 didn’t allow them. It seems silly not to drink green smoothies if I want to.
  4. Exercising five days a week – I’ve just started week four of Kayla Itsine’s Pre-Training for her Bikini Body Guides. These workouts are legit. I can feel myself getting stronger. I will write about them more in another post but, they’re only 28 minutes and you only do them 3x per week. They consist of repeating two 7-minute intervals twice in a row with short breaks in between. They go by really quickly, they’re simple and you hardly need any equipment for them. And they feel fantastic (once you’re done that is). The results women are getting on Instagram are outrageous. I can’t wait to see where I’m at in 12 weeks.

In nutrition school, Bridget and I were taught to focus on what we can add in to our lives to support our health and weight loss goals, not what we should restrict. Restriction puts me in the wrong frame of mind. But attempting to add in as many healthy tweaks as I can feels good. So I always come back to this.

And although I’m a little embarrassed that I got all jacked up to do this big lifestyle and diet overhaul… and then quit, I’m really glad I came to my senses.

I’m sure that the Whole 30 has helped a lot of people. There is nothing wrong with doing healthy challenges like that. And if it’s something you’re interested in doing, I fully support it. It just wasn’t the right call for me at this time in my life. Following my gut and enjoying myself is more important. My jeans will loosen up as I take good care of myself. I don’t have to get all crazy about it. Getting crazy about it never helps.

What do you think? Have you ever started and then bailed on a diet or nutrition plan? Do you ever feel like – Nah. I’m good – after just a few days? I would honestly love to hear about it.

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