Okay, so I think we’ve sufficiently covered the fact that I ended my Whole30 early. It came not a moment too soon before this past week…easily one of the wackiest weeks of travel I’ve ever had. While I didn’t complete the Whole30, I still did learn a lot, and I think it’s important to share the lessons I learned, especially after a week of reflection.
- Healthy is a choice, a choice you need to make many times a day. There was an article going around this week about how the sugar industry funded a lot of studies/papers that would hide the impact of sugar on our health. It certainly is easy to grab that granola bar, that cookie, those French fries…but you know what? It’s probably not that healthy. Once you severely restrict your diet to essentially the perimeter of the grocery store, it is kind of amazing to think of the sheer volume of processed, sugar-packed foods being sold. I have no issue with eating foods like this occasionally, but it’s pretty amazing to see how many things come in a package and can sit on a shelf for over a week (or a month…or a few months). It’s up to you what you want to buy and consume, but when a soda is cheaper than water, and when fresh veggies are harder to get than chips, it gets harder and harder to choose health. Willpower is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets.
- If I’m craving something sweet, I probably need to eat something more substantial. When I want a sweet treat, it’s my body’s way of telling me I need ENERGY! And you know how you can get energy? Yes, you can get it from some Scandinavian Swimmers, or some toast with Nutella….but you can also get it from some eggs and potatoes and broccoli. Which energy do you think will fuel you longer and more reliably? If my body is telling me it wants something sweet, that often means I’m so beyond hungry that I need to eat ASAP and need food that can fuel me for a while. Yes, I can have that sweet treat, but I need to get something substantial in my system, and if all I eat is sugar, I’ll just get hungrier and hungrier and never feel satisfied.
- Just because it tastes good doesn’t mean I should eat it. I absolutely LOVE Chai Lattes from Starbucks. I would have one with every meal if I could. But every time I drink one, I seem to end up with a headache, and if I have them a few days in a row, I start feeling sick to my stomach. Between the sugar and the caffeine, these do a number on my body, and while I can have maybe one a week (at the most!), if I have them more often than that I start to really feel it. During travel season it’s so tempting to grab one as a quick pick-me-up between high school visits – it’s easy to drink in the car and gives me some energy. It’s not worth it though, when there’s an aftermath. You know what else most Starbucks sell? Green juice! Is green juice perfect? No, but I can pronounce all of the ingredients and it’s a more natural way of getting some energy and hydration (with sugar from fruits and vegetables that affects my body in a much different way from sugar from syrups). This week, I’m going to try to sub out my Chai craving with a green juice and see how I feel.
- Trust your body. This is so hard, and something I continue to struggle with. My body knows when I’m pushing it. My body tells me when I need to take a break. But I am a stubborn, prideful person, and I want to think that I can push through the symptoms I’m feeling. You know what I’ve learned over and over? I can’t. And if I try, I’m going to feel even worse later that day, or for the next few days. This was a key reason I let go of the Whole30 – I realized that my body was telling me it needed something different with the worst vertigo and headache I’ve had in over a year. And you know what? I’ve felt SO MUCH BETTER over the last week.
- Ask for support and you shall receive. I went public with my Whole30 (really Whole20) and posted it on social media, told my friends and coworkers, and I was amazed at the support I received. Same goes for being forthcoming about ending it, and about my struggles with my migraines. If you let people know that you are struggling with something, or have goals, the people who care about you will reveal themselves and will want you to succeed. So let them in – while it might be scary or intimidating, you never know who could be there to support you, and you never know who you may be inspiring.