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Recently, I posted about my Non-Scale Victories and weight loss from my January Whole30 reset. There is no doubt that I am super glad I started 2017 this way. I found the second round MUCH more manageable and fun than the first round. In fact, the month of January went really fast! (Unlike my first round, in which a there were a couple of times that I felt like it would never end.) I’m finding myself (and my family!) gradually acclimating to a “new normal” lifestyle of cleaner eating. Yet, … I am far from finished with this process.
While I don’t think I’ve ever had super unhealthy eating habits, I certainly wrestle with my own demons, particularly during times of stress, and I’m ready to move forward in a healthy way, putting them behind me. Back in January, I wrote about my food freedom journey. The concept of food freedom can mean different things to different people. Food freedom as I will be referring to it is based on principles from two books that have been influential: It Starts With Food, and Food Freedom Forever. Before I share my long-term takeaways from the January reset, I want to be clear on one point: food freedom has nothing to do with the number on a scale. Because it is entirely possible to lose all of the weight that you want, and yet still struggle with an unhealthy mindset around food. And THAT is what I’m working on. In other words, …
Now that I’ve finished a Whole30, the hard work begins.
That may be surprising to some, but its true, and here is why. The Whole30 provides a safety net. There is no gray area. While you have lots of freedom to choose what you eat while you are on the program, the rules are clear, … and there is safety in that knowledge. You know that if you stay on the program, you are going to feel better. Period. You are not left to wonder if something you eat will A) cause your body (or mind!) to react in a way that may be unpleasant later, or B) be the beginning of a slippery slope that heads straight downhill into a pile of cupcakes and a glass of Merlot. Now, post-reset, on the other hand, I have free will. Free will is a beautiful thing. Now, I can have the cupcake AND the Merlot. But will I? And is it worth it, when there is a possibility that my energy will tank, and I may break out, and I’ll be bloated for the next 36 hours, and I will crave more and more sugar for the next week, struggling to get back on track? That’s what I’m beginning to work out, and why the weight loss is less important to me than my mindset.
Readers, you know by now that I’m honest with you. And because I’m honest, I will say that I’ve enjoyed some of my favorite treats since finishing the reset. Because … Valentine’s Day. And some of them haven’t worked out so well, to be honest. A little bit of sugar just makes me want … a little more sugar … followed up by a little more sugar, … and its all fun and games until you get to the bottom of the bag. (Seriously. Dear Costco: please just don’t have another coupon sale on the Ghirardelli squares again anytime soon, ‘mkay??) Also, wine still makes me sleep poorly. (Sad emoji.) And the jury is still out on grains for me, as the little bits that I have had this month mess with my digestive place of zen, wake up my sugar dragon and possibly impact my anxiety. (I need to explore this more.)
So how am I to reconcile this, knowing how great I feel while on Whole30, and yet missing my Ghirardelli squares, wine and enchiladas? Here is my plan …
- Knowing that I feel my best when I’m eating clean, I’m going to strive to eat clean a lot (if not most) of the time. Think the 80-20 rule (or more than 80 if possible).
- One of the keys to my success on the strict reset program was meal planning. The discipline of that will continue, and I’m glad to say that it is becoming a part of my routine now. This ensures that I don’t get too hungry and wind up making a choice I regret later.
- I will remember that food is neither good nor bad. As a corollary, I will remember that I am neither good nor bad for eating it. I am no better or worse of a person if I choose the kale or the potato chips. Instead, there are some foods that make me more healthy than others, so I’m striving to stick with those for the most part.
- When a given social context offers a choice for a less healthy food option, I will carefully evaluate whether I actually feel like eating it in that moment, and whether the possible consequences are worth it. Sometimes it will be! And if that is the case, I will savor every bite and deal with the fallout. If it is not worth it at that time, I can always say no. (After all, cupcakes are readily available in America on any given day and we never need to wait for a birthday party to enjoy one.) 🙂
- And, worst case scenario, when the wheels come off, and I get off track, I can remember that I feel best when I’m eating clean, and get right back to a reset. No need to wait until a new year, new week or even a new day. The healthy foods that make me feel great will still be there, and I can return to them to get back to my place of zen. No punishing myself. No guilt. No doing penance for perceived dietary sins. Just returning to making choices that make me feel the best.
It is as simple and as difficult as that! FREEDOM. Its a process and I am on my way! I am so glad to be moving ahead and finding what works for me!