The day that I never thought would come has arrived. I have finished my second Whole 30. If you’ve been following along, you know that it hasn’t been an easy process (if not, check out my updates from Week One, Week Two and Week Three). There have been cravings, sleep deprived nights, breakouts reminiscent of pre-pubescent years and a lot of tough questions. Thankfully, my 30 days has come to an end and I’ve emerged triumphant on the other side. Or have I?
The first question you might be wondering is: Was I successful? The answer to that really depends on what your definition of successful is. If you define success on the Whole 30 as eliminating the foods on the “No” list and keeping them away from your mouth for 30 days, then I would say I was 99% successful. Did I slip up? No. Did I “cheat”? No. Did I eat something that is not allowed according to the Whole 30 rules? Yes. Allow me to explain.
Around the halfway point, my niece and nephew came to stay with my husband and I for a couple of days. They are great kids with big appetites, and luckily, they aren’t too picky. One thing I knew these kiddos loved was corn on the cob. With corn being in season where I live, it was a no-brainer for me. I know what you’re thinking, “corn is off-limits!”. Yes, it is – but why? Corn can be a source of trouble for many people and that’s why it is advised to not have it for 30 days. However, thanks to my first round, I knew corn didn’t cause any problems for me. It felt strange to be eliminating a something that is grown locally from a farm I trust just because someone else said I shouldn’t. So I decided not to listen and ate it anyway. It wasn’t a slip-up, it wasn’t a moment of weakness. It was a conscious decision and I stand by it.
I don’t see this as a failure. On the contrary, actually. I see this as a major success. Some people may look at this and say I didn’t succeed or that I should have started over. But luckily, I don’t have to listen to those people. I view this as a success because I was able to pause and ask myself some questions before diving in. I could clearly evaluate what I wanted and needed at the time, and that is something I would have never thought to do a year ago.
This round of Whole 30 had me asking some tough questions and facing some mental demons. I beat myself up over cravings and feeling “weak”, and that’s just not okay. I hate that we live in a society where it has become the norm for women to talk so negatively about themselves, and often for things out of our control. The idea that we have to “do it all” or “have it all” would be lovely in a dream world, but it’s unrealistic and an expectation we should stop putting on ourselves. I thought I was exempt from this line of thinking, but this past month has shown me just how easy it is for those feelings of doubt to creep in.
In my third week I was thinking I wasn’t going to make it to the end. I thought I was done. I spent a couple of days mulling it over and realized how hard on myself I was being. I accomplished what I set out to do (which was reset my body and get back to a healthy lifestyle) and if I didn’t go until Day 30, it wouldn’t really be a fail. In the end, I ended up sticking it out to Day 30, but not because some book told me to. I did it because I knew I could and I wanted to see it through.
Now that the Whole 30 is over, what have I learned? I learned that my mind is a powerful tool. I learned that it is important to recognize when something feels right and when it doesn’t. I learned that I can be hard on myself and I need to give myself some credit. But most importantly, the biggest lesson I learned is to trust my gut. When things were a little rough in week 3, my gut was telling me to take it day by day. My gut told me to be kinder to myself, that I’m only human and I’m allowed to not have it all together. When I wanted to quit, my gut told me that if I kept going, I would be happy with my decision, but it also told me that if I felt I needed to quit, that’d be okay, too. My gut has my back and learning that and accepting it has been a pretty liberating thing.
The first time my Whole 30 was all about the food – which foods are nourishing my body and which ones are punishing it? What food is causing my stomach aches and making me feel sick all the time? This time, my Whole 30 turned out to be all about my mind – It’s been awhile since I’ve really taken some time to reflect on how my mind works, what kinds of thoughts come up and really pay attention to how I talk to myself. I realized that I put a lot of pressure on myself when I don’t need to and with a little tenderness, I can actually be quite kind to myself. Who would have thought a food experiment could teach you so much about non-food related things?
So, the question now is this: Will I do The Whole 30 again? We’ll just have to wait and see.
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