April 21, 2016

Day Two: Quitting the Whole 30

Here's a true story. I lasted 15 days on the Whole 30. 15 days! Then I tore into a bag of Red Vines ravenously like they were the last food on Earth and I'd been hiking in an apocalyptic wasteland with no nourishment for three days. Actually, this is false. I ate them slowly, and savored every last bite...of every last Red Vine. Thus ended my Whole 30, much like any attempt to get healthy/lose weight might. Except it really wasn't the same at all. 

I think it's a common feeling for people trying to lose weight, to be ashamed of messing it up. "It's my fault I ate that entire pack of Oreo's, I'm a failure at everything," etc. etc. until we talk ourselves into such a place of despair that we eat nothing but pizza and Twinkies for 3 days. I've been there, I've felt that, many, many, oh so many times. But "screwing up" my Whole 30 honestly felt like one of the best things I'd ever done for myself. Perhaps decadently dining on an entire bag of candy was not the greatest decision, but giving up on the Whole 30? It was such a weight off my shoulders. And I didn't even realize what a weight it was until night 15, when I was sobbing violently because I just wanted a goddamn slice of pizza.

So the next day, I quit the Whole 30, chowed down on some Red Vines, and the strangest thing happened - nothing. No self-hatred or self-loathing. No feeling like I'd failed by stopping halfway through. No regrets for binging on sugary goodness. Nope, I felt absolutely nothing. I went about my day, ate the Whole 30 lunch and dinner I had planned, and went to bed. And the next day? Still nothing. I added some crackers to my Whole 30 dinner, and went about my business.

It has been more than 48 hours since my Red Vine romance, and I still don't feel bad about it. Which is amazing, let's be honest. But the reason I don't feel bad is very much something that the Whole 30 taught me. I was horribly honest with myself that night I cried myself to sleep over pizza. Because pizza isn't a normal, healthy thing to cry about. So I had to ask, why am I crying about pizza, which is when I realized that I wasn't crying about pizza, I was crying about the stress I felt trying to eat the perfect things, cook perfect meals, be the perfect example of how a person should and should not eat. I was trying so hard to do everything right, that I realized, in this instance, I hated being right. Being right didn't make me feel better. Doing and eating the right things didn't magically make all my problems go away (just like eating all the wrong things won't either). In fact, it was making me feel worse about myself, because I was doing everything "right" and I still didn't feel any better. I lost 12 pounds, I impressed my co-workers who thought I only ate Jack in the Box, but did I feel any better about myself, about my life, about my eating habits? Absolutely not. And so I decided it wasn't worth it, to be so miserable not allowing myself to eat the foods I enjoy, when I wasn't getting any real benefit from it.

Yes, I know the Whole 30 is supposed to make you feel like this amazing tiger or something, give you all the energy in the world, destroy your cravings for sugar, and I'm pretty sure there's something in there about dragons as well. But it didn't do that for me. I'm betting it doesn't do that for a lot of people. Just like it does wonders for some people, it's just not the right fit for others. I base too much of my life's happiness on enjoying the things I eat to ever give most of it up for 30 days. Because even though they say food can't make you happy, it really can. I don't usually eat because I'm having an emotional breakdown, I eat because I ENJOY FOOD and yes, good food heightens my mood. And no matter how many Whole 30 approved recipes I tried, I just couldn't find happiness in what they were selling me. So I gave it up, I'm moving on, and for the first time in my life I don't feel like a failure for eating an entire bag of Red Vines.