On the Whole 30, falling off the wagon and moderation

On the Whole 30, falling off the wagon and moderation

On the Whole 30, falling off the wagon and moderation

I spent most of the fall planning for a January “reset” via a Whole 30, knowing my body needed to get off the sugar-caffeine-carbs cycle I was on but not quite sure how to do that in the busyness that characterized the last five months of 2014.

To keep myself accountable, I invited a ton of friends (and friends of friends) to join a Facebook group to share recipes, tips, etc.

And then, right before I started my 30 days, I read this post from Paleo Parents, which echoed the same things Shaina and my friend Renay had been saying to me all along. I’d argued with both of them in the past, but the way this post was worded really impacted me this time around.

What I realized is that if I want healthy changes to last, I have to be willing to embrace moderation (something I have convinced myself I’m not any good at) and not just the extremism of a 30-day challenge.

For this reason, I decided to break a few rules along the way:

I started by breaking the “no scale” rule. I know there is a lot of talk right now in general about ignoring the scale and not being obsessed with your weight, but my goal is actually to weigh myself every day in 2015. I have some more thoughts about this to share at another time, but basically it’s less about the particular number on the scale and more about understanding how food and exercise affects my weight—which ultimately reflects my health. When I exercise regularly, I have my dad’s crazy metabolism (at least for now!), which means I can lose—or gain—2-3 pounds from one morning to the next. Understanding how activity, different foods, and habits affect that is an important part of being honest with myself about my eating habits and making lasting changes.

The other thing I did was start allowing myself something like a handful of popcorn from the girls’ bowls, a piece of bread in the Starbucks’ protein box when I was on the road, and a tiny container of ice cream during my personal retreat.

Unfortunately, as I anticipated, these small cheats quickly slid into full out cheating and horrible decision making.

Here’s the thing: I don’t want to eat paleo for the rest of my life. I like cheesecake, I love bread and pasta, and I am a fan of moderation, even if I don’t feel like I’m very good at it. I don’t have health issues that require me to avoid entire food groups (although I do need to limit the amount of dairy I eat, something that breaks my Italian heart). And I want to teach my kids moderation rather than extremism.

But—and this is a big one—I can’t just keep binge eating whatever sounds good at the moment. It’s not good for my body, and as I’ve already seen, my metabolism can’t keep up with it the way I used to. I need to practice putting down food when I’m full or not really enjoying it, not just eating it because it’s there. I need to learn to make dessert a special occasion, not a craving-induced event. I need to make the good parts of the Whole30—veggies for breakfast, lunch and dinner, healthy fats, and so on—a regular part of my diet.

The problem with my personality is that I gravitate toward both extremism and perfectionism, which means it’s all too easy for me to fall off a wagon and then head out on my own journey rather than trying to climb back on.

This time, I’m trying a different approach. I’m reminding myself often that I have a chance to make a new decision with each and every meal. I’m practicing saying no to a second cookie even when I allow myself one. I’m looking for easy recipes and ideas for incorporating veggies into our meals. And I’m reminding myself that I really do like eggs and veggies for breakfast, even when french toast sounds more appealing!

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Please just keep in mind that it is NORMAL for weight to fluctuate even up to 3 pounds day to day, and weight fluctuations day to day are not exactly correlated to what you ate or how much you exercised yesterday (more a reflection of last week than an individual day). It takes a lot of eating (about 3500 calories or 14 Snickers bars BEYOND the calories you normally burn for the day) to gain a real pound of fat. Similarly it take a lot of exercise to burn off a pound of real weight (about 388 minutes of running at 6mph). I do weigh myself every morning, and think it is one of the best ways to stay on track. Just be sure to put that number in perspective, and don’t let it drive you crazy! 🙂

  2. Oh, yep; I didn’t mean to imply figuring it out in direct correlation to the day before; just understanding how the things I do and eat (or don’t do and eat—ha!) affect my body overall. Thanks for clearing that up!

  3. I am with you on this. I’ve completed Whole 30 w/o a single cheat, but come day 31….Moderation is the challenge for me. I, too, don’t want to live so restricted bc then it’s all I seem to focus on.

  4. I read the article you mentioned and really liked it too, but I would really encourage you to complete one no-slips Whole30 if you haven’t already, just to prove to yourself that you can do it. I did one last summer. I felt great and in charge of my eating habits for the first time in my life. I did a great job of moderation. Then I started homeschooling my kids for the first time, was overwhelmed, and slipped right back into terrible eating patterns. I did another Whole30 this January (Finished today!) to reset my sugar demons and to spend the month researching quick, healthy meals that would allow me to continue this long-term. This Whole30 was much easier! I don’t plan to be completely paleo, but I honestly feel better when I eat that way. I do think each Whole30 you complete teaches you something new.

  5. I completely agree. I’ve done a good job this time on the Whole30 (except for the rehearsal dinner that was hosted by a Mexican family… who made homemade tamales!). I have broken the rules once because, “people over food,” is how I think. Since there are no food allergies in our family, saying no simply because I can’t “break” the Whole30 is just not the right thing. I have also had some honey in my tea because I’ve been battling congestion; the honey is not Whole30 approved, but it sure feels good sliding down my throat. Moderation is definitely my goal as well. Now, if I can just make it past this weekend on the go and our Super Bowl party. Ha!

  6. I agree, Lacey! I have completed a Whole 30 in the past, and I think that’s why the article spoke to me so much…I don’t want to just look to the Whole 30 to solve my problems every 3-6 months when what I really need are healthier habits overall!

  7. Wow, this is me exactly! I did the Daniel Plan detox starting a few days before New Year’s Eve. You can do between 10 and 40 days. I made it to 10 and then life got in the way as we had dinner plans and events and I began cheating here and there. The worst was my 40th birthday party because of course I was encouraged to drink. I hadn’t drank at all in over two weeks so it hit me like a ton of bricks. We all know the best thing for a hangover is a greasy pizza the next day so my detox sort of went out the window 14 days in. So I thought I would try the moderation thing but I am terrible at it as well. The ONLY thing that keeps me on track is my Fitbit and My Fitness Pal if I write what I eat everyday. So those are the two things I am using to get back on track. Luckily, I’m still down seven pound so all is not lost! I would love to hear updates on how you are doing throughout the year. Good luck Mandi!

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