Whole30 Week Four, or, Staying Determined Till The End While Battling A Raging Flu, Overall Hopeful Thoughts, And Bragging A Little

I DID IT.

Yesterday was the last day of my Whole30 journey and nothing like I expected. This may be partly due to the fact I was recovering from the flu, but most of me believes that Whole30 really did change my perspective on a lot of things. I know I won’t follow these rules for the rest of my life, that’s not what the program was designed for. But it did what it was designed to: it gave me a better awareness of my relationship with food and as I start reintroducing certain foods, it will show me what I can happily live without.

On my 25th day of Whole30 I had the misfortune to fall under the weather. They aren’t lying people- this year’s flu is a doozy. I’ll spare you the gory details but just know I was fevered from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon and at one point slept for almost 16 hours straight. I like to think I’m not a terribly helpless sick person, but I wanted to cry because I was completely alone with only a fridge full of fresh veggies. You know what doesn’t sound good while you’re sick? Spinach. You know what does sound good when you’re sick? Sprite. And buttered toast. I cannot stress enough that I do not recommend getting sick while on Whole30.

When people told me to abandon the Whole30, but I’d survived 25 days and would be damned if the flu was going to knock me out of it. I had a container of compliant chicken broth and a few oranges that, along with a whole lot of water got me to the point where I could shuffle to the store. I bought seltzer water as a replacement for the bubbly Sprite, unsweetened applesauce, a few bananas, and some potatoes I could fry up or bake pretty plainly.

And I did it. I almost passed out at the grocery store but I was determined to see this thing through. I’d initially labeled this obstinate behavior as my just being “stubborn” but later I want to use the word “determined.” The two words essentially mean the same, but one has a little more depth. You can be stubborn over stupid things like not being the first to break silence in a meaningless argument, but to be determined needs something to back it up. There has to be something at stake other than pride for true determination. And I was determined to finish what I had started, and to do it right.

After a few days of resting, I felt better and was excited by the thought of grocery shopping without so many rules. I went grocery shopping to prepare for reintroduction, and ended up surprising myself. I wasn’t ever planning on going totally crazy, but I wasn’t going to totally deprive myself if I saw something yummy- I’d earned it right?! But the strangest thing happened:

My grocery cart looked pretty much the same as it did when I went shopping on day 18. The only “noncompliant” foods I’d added were rice to test out my reaction to non-gluten grains, and milk to check dairy. I considered buying a few extra items, and even had a few in my hand, but I put them back. I’m not saying Whole30 has permanently changed my bad habits forever and I will never put frozen pizza in my grocery cart ever again, because I don’t expect that to happen. But it has made me optimistic about the direction I can take with my relationship with food.

Similarly, I thought for sure when I woke up in the morning post Whole30 I would be jumping out of bed, celebrating my new food freedom by eating a slice of peanut butter toast and cheering for all I accomplished. But I wasn’t. After I woke up this morning it took me a full hour to remember that I had finished my 30 days. I wasn’t cheering either, it was more of a quiet “oh” moment.

To be honest I’m a little nervous. It was easier to say no to temptation when I had set rules holding me back, but now I don’t have that. Now it’s just me, and that’s harder. Before I’d say no to things because I couldn’t have them, now it’ll be because I shouldn’t, which can feel a little less convincing. But I am hoping that in having written down some of the positives that came from this, I can return to the feelings, both physical and mental, and arrive at a place where I feel confident making these choices for me with no brick wall to prop me up.

Whole30 has pushed me to recognize that your relationship with food is something that needs to be attended to just as much as human-to-human relationships, or our own relationship with self. In fact, these relationships all coexist and depend on each other. Eating is a social activity, and friendships, peer pressure, or environment can easily dictate this connection. Eating is also greatly influenced by personal mood, and we’ve been conditioned to believe that we can gain control or be comforted by indulging.

In the past thirty days I have gained more responsibility over my awareness that I have a rocky relationship with food. I use it to comfort, reward, or occupy, much more frequently than to nurture, strengthen, and satisfy. But as I’ve become more aware of that and recognize the differences between the way I was eating before, and the way I am now, I believe that I can adapt some of these changes now that I’ve finished the program.

Because at the end of the day I am proud of what I accomplished and I want to continue making good choices. I like having extra energy in the mornings and staying positive throughout the workday. I like looking for new recipes and taking time to read labels when grocery shopping. I like that a 3 mile run can turn into a 5 because I feel strong and recover more quickly. I like that I lost 12 pounds without ever feeling hungry or making intense changes to my fitness schedule. Yeah, you read that right: 12 pounds down.

I’m really glad that I did Whole30. It was often trying, but that’s the thing about challenges: the more difficult they are, the sweeter the victory. I proved that I could do this, and I saw the benefits. I’m not vowing to start every year on Whole30, but I’ll definitely consider doing it again next year. Taking control, completing a challenge, and learning new things about myself was a fantastic way to begin the year, and I’m looking forward to all of the challenges and changes that are sure to follow.

I also need to thank my family and friends for cheering me through the tough spots and celebrating the victories with me along the way: your support means an incredible amount to me. It wouldn’t have been the same journey without you, and for you, I am extremely grateful. To anyone thinking about giving Whole30 a try, I’d be glad to candidly answer any questions you may have, to share recipes and tips, and to cheer you along the entire way, from the days you want to lay in bed all day to the days you’re bounding out of bed before your alarm goes off: having someone, or a few someones, there makes all the difference.

Let me just say it again:

I DID IT.

 

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