First things first…here’s what the Whole30 timeline says…
Days 10-11: The Hardest Days
Fact: you are most likely to quit your Whole30 program on Day 10 or 11. By this point, the newness of the program has worn off. You’ve made it through most of the unpleasant physical milestones, but you’ve yet to experience any of the “magic” the program promises. You’re still struggling to establish your new routine (read: you’ve eaten eggs prepared ten different ways over the last ten days), and while you’ve been trying really hard to have a good attitude, today you are incredibly aware of all the foods you’re “choosing not to eat right now.” Everywhere you look, you see the things you “can’t” have: the melted cheese on a greasy burger, the creaminess of that double-scoop cone, the cold beer in your best friend’s tailgate cooler. Dammit, this is hard! And right now you’re wondering if the results will really be as good as “they” all say it is.
You’re cranky, you’re impatient, and you’re really, really tempted to just eat the stupid cheese.
This is where you really start to experience the psychological hold that your food habits have on you. You’ve put in a lot of effort to get to where you are right now, but you’re still waiting for the results you’re hoping to see. Your brain tells you that you deserve some kind of reward (don’t you?) and, of course, we’ve been conditioned to think of food as the best reward out there. Right now, you’re craving that ice cream, beer, or whatever treat you think would make for just the right reward. But, instead of that treat, you’re standing face to face with the realization that you have 20 more days of deprivation ahead of you.
The key here is to redefine your idea of reward. Think long and hard about the foods you’re grieving and ask yourself what need you’re expecting them to fulfill. Are you feeling anxious and looking for reassurance? Are you feeling sad, and looking for something to cheer you up? Are you worried you won’t successfully finish the program, and it’s easier to self-sabotage than fail? Remind yourself that food cannot fill that void for you—cannot make you feel truly accomplished, comforted, calm, happy, beautiful. Then, find another way to fill that need that does not involve those foods. Prepare yourselves for these days, knowing that all you have to do is see them through to the other side before things get much, much easier.
Do you see that? THE HARDEST DAYS.
Yesterday wasn’t so bad because I was having dinner with a friend and was really looking forward to it and that kept me focused on something else. I woke up feeling great this morning. I literally jumped out of bed when my alarm went off. I smiled on my way in to work, listening to this book on cd (more on that in a minute) and very happy it was Friday.
Then I had to deal with other people.
A co-worker sat down and I wanted to bop her on the forehead within about 10 minutes. I couldn’t get settled. Everything was irritating. It took 3 hours to do what could have been 30 minutes of work. I got a pedicure after work and everyone there was annoying too.
Editor’s Note: They had that coming. Two women talking about teen vampire fiction and other young adult books they like. One refers to J.R.R. Tolkien as the author of the Harry Potter books and follows that up with how much she loves Shakespeare. Oh help me.
Driving home all I could think about were the brownies I picked up after work to bring to a friend’s house tomorrow. There is a brownie bakery in Columbus (cupcakes are so over) and I’ve picked them up a few times as treats when I’ve gone places. I’ve had a few myself since moving here. But not in the last 11 days. Since I was in the shop near closing time he threw in an extra two. I kept thinking no one would know I ate one…or two. There would still be a dozen in the box tomorrow.
I’ll save you the suspense – I ate no brownie.
But suddenly I didn’t want to eat anything. Everything sounded stupid and gross. Everything sounded like work. I have two meals prepped in my fridge and a Chipotle (the only Whole30 approved take out meal I can find around – salad, pork, mild salsa, extra fajita veggies and guacamole) across the street. I didn’t even want to microwave food. I needed to eat something so I cut up an apple and scooped some almond butter into a bowl and called it dinner.
I’m still thinking about the brownies.
The book I’m listening to is Change Anything by the same authors of Crucial Conversations and Crucial Confrontations, two books I’ve always liked. It talks about how willpower is make believe and we just need to make plans. There is a lot of social psychology in the book and it’s been fun to listen to. They recommend very actionable steps to overcome bad habits or create personal change. One of them is to “put up fences” around things that tempt you. If you’re an alcoholic, you don’t keep alcohol in the house because there is no reason to. Put up the fence and then you don’t have the constant stress of making the decision whether to drink. They claim it’s easier to go cold turkey on something than it is to take baby steps out of it.
That is what I’ve done. Right? There is no junk food in the house, there has been no cheating. I have an open bottle of wine on the counter that will not be any good when this 30 days are over. I think I leave it there to prove to myself that I’m choosing not to drink it. It has no power.
These brownies are another story.
I’m cranky. I’m thinking about brownies. It’s Friday night and I want to give in to the HABIT of ordering a pizza.
I eat my apple. I watch some House Hunters International and think about living in London or Paris myself.
Then Eat, Pray, Love comes on and it quiets me. It’s been a couple years since I’ve read the book I used to read monthly. I am sitting here and trying to really think about my own control and my path and what’s in my head, my heart.
Not giving in to every impulse I have, even if they’re about brownies and pizza, is having an effect on me. This is an odd side effect of this silly, little 30 day experiment. When I went vegan for 30 days, I think the deepest thing I learned is that I don’t actually like milk. This time I am realizing that I let food keep me company. Hanging out on the couch with pizza or a pint of ice cream and a glass of wine is comforting. I’m not hungry, I’m lonely. Or maybe, just bored. I’ll start posting the half marathon training program and progress soon. That will help with the bored. And it’s okay to be lonely – it’s just me getting to really know me. Like the timeline post above said – what are the emotions behind wanting these foods?
It could be the combination of school ending, really loving a job and feeling like they appreciate me again, feeling in control of my life in general – the timing of this adventure wasn’t an accident either. I knew I’d need something to throw energy at after school or I’d feel lost.
The brownies will have to wait. Dealing with my stuff is exhausting. I’m going to bed.
So, what to do with feeling lonely? This weekend I’m going to learn to waterski! I have wanted to for a long time and my friend Becky offered to teach me last summer but we never got around to it. She and her husband live in a community on a giant lake and they have a boat and are excellent teachers she tells me. I’m excited to spend the weekend outside on the water in what is supposed to be perfect weather! 84, no humidity, sunny. Perfect. The hardest part will be avoiding the cherry whiskey that Becky’s mom makes. It’s probably my favorite beverage on the planet…maybe even more so than champagne. (Eek!)
I’ll have some of it when I have the brownie…In 19 days.