It is nearing mid-January and I am guessing that some of you are considering quitting or at least downgrading those ambitious New Year's Resolutions. Well, let me tell you about my first Whole 30. I quit 9 days in. And it was the best thing I could have ever done for my health!
To back up a little - I had been talking to a friend about how poorly I felt most of the time. Constipation, painful bloating, fatigue, migraines, and brain fog were taking their toll on my life and I was fed up. She suggested the Whole 30, and I decided to look into it. At the time, I was all about trendy health ideas (kale and quinoa anyone?!?), so I was all over it! I read up on the rules, went to the grocery store with my list, spent hours in the kitchen making my meals for the week and woke up Monday morning ready to begin!
Nine days later, I went to happy hour, and after some peer pressure, I had a glass of wine. Whole30 fail.
I was actually really surprised that wine was my undoing! I thought for sure that it would be my love of bread or cheese or pasta that would prove fatal to the 30-day challenge. My dinners were always pasta and half a jar of cream sauce, and I had been able to give that up cold turkey! So why wine?
At that point in my life, I had a drink every day. I would get home from working 9 hours, make dinner, pour a glass and hop on my laptop to work more. Three hours later, I would pour another glass and keep on working. On the weekends, I would have a glass while watching a movie, or out to dinner, or well, working. I rarely got drunk, but those two glasses of wine had become so entrenched in my daily habits; much like brushing my teeth or taking out my contacts, that I needed them. And the wine served another purpose - it helped me relax from drinking coffee and being stressed out all day.
It was then that I realized I couldn't just plop a Whole 30 into the middle of my life and expect big changes. I had to figure out what was causing my less-than-healthy habits and standing in the way of making lasting improvements and change those first. I needed to overhaul my whole life to encourage health.
So instead of cutting out wine, I cut out stress and focused on sleep. I started building boundaries around my workload, took time to decompress before bed, and turned off the TV rather than leaving it on all night. With these changes, I found myself drinking less coffee. Soon, I was only drinking one glass of wine. And these changes encouraged health in other areas as well. With a reduced workload, I reclaimed time and energy to prepare healthy meals for myself and to workout. With each change, it became easier to make the next one.
These days, I rarely have a glass of wine. I eat tons of vegetables and have none of those previously-mentioned health issues unless I eat a food I know my body doesn't love. I sleep as well as someone with a baby can. I left my career as a lawyer to become a nutritionist! All because I quit the Whole 30.
So if you have landed on this post because you're thinking of quitting the Whole30 or other health challenge, take a look at why you want to quit. What is making it so hard to continue?
If you find you don't have the time to prepare meals, look at where you spend your time and reassess. Build boundaries. Prioritize yourself. Research healthy restaurants and meal delivery services in your area.
If you find you hate spending time in the kitchen, invite friends over! Set up a TV in the kitchen and only watch your favorite shows while meal prepping.
If you find you just really, really want to eat a certain "off-limits" food, ask how that food gets you through the day. Does it help you endure something you don't want to do? Do you let your blood sugar spike and crash too often leading to intense sugar cravings? How can you fix this?
If you find you hate salads, stop eating them! There are other ways to get your vegetables, and in fact, raw kale salads aren't all they're cracked up to be! Keep things simple, but also challenge your idea of what a healthy meal needs to look like.
You can get healthy, and you can improve your life. It may take just quitting to get there!