Failing Whole 30 Taught Me A Valuable Life Lesson.
Here's me, today. Literally today, on my middle son's fourth birthday. We had just returned from a delicious summer lunch of hot dogs and pasta salad, a lunch that was had mere hours after we snuck a celebratory Munchkin or two for breakfast. Don't we look happy? Two days ago, I wouldn't have let myself do that. Two days ago I would've had to tell my son, "no thanks, Mommy doesn't want to have that" and trust me, I wasn't happy at all.
Two years ago, I did two months of Whole30 back to back. Aside from not giving up alcohol, I followed the restrictive program to a "t" and was incredibly pleased with the results. Not only did food taste better but I also learned a lot about myself and why I ate what I did, when I did. Better yet, I lost a little more than 13 pounds which is why I inevitably wanted to start the popular program to begin with.
Although my first two rounds of Whole 30 were a win in more ways than one, ultimately it was something I would talk myself out of doing ever again for at least the next twenty-two months.
Why? Because I was overwhelmed by the work of it.
I made up every excuse for myself, excuses like "surely I don't have time for that because I have three needy children!" and accordingly, continued to put it off until one day I looked in the mirror and finally hit a point that can only be described by no other word than "disappointed." I had become disappointed with myself in spite of myself.
My clothes didn't fit the greatest. I didn't feel the greatest and I was discouraged that, despite running 4-6 miles every week for the last god-knows-how-many months, I was still wearing the same size pants as I did a year ago, which was not my intent.
It was then that I knew something had to change. More specifically, my eating habits had to change and because of that, on June the first, I dove head first into another round of Whole 30. Once again, I hopped aboard the train of dietary restrictions and rode it full steam ahead for fifteen whole days. During that time I lost 7lbs. and my clothes started to fit better. I can't necessarily say I felt better each day but I was definitely pleased with my dedication and progression.
I realized I could do anything for thirty days if I really set my mind to it. If it was really that important to me.
I realized, however, that I was missing out on a lot of things. More things than I realized at the time, things that are much more Big Picture than they seemed.
For two of those fifteen nights I had to refuse bites of the S'mores I made with the boys. S'mores that they waited all day to make, S'mores that they excitedly made and even more excitedly wanted to share with me. I had to lie behind clenched yet smiling teeth telling them, "no thank you, Mommy doesn't want any," and when they persisted, pushing their sticky marshmallow-covered hands in my face, I had to snap back with, "Mommy can't eat that! I said no!"
It was during one more of those fifteen days, on a particular family outing, this time for snowballs as a reward for great behavior, that I, once again, had to decline. When my sweet middle little sidled up to me and asked, "Mama, why aren't you having one?" again I had to lie and tell him "Mama doesn't want any. It's okay."
But it wasn't okay.
I'm sure you're thinking something ridiculous like "well, just don't put yourself in those positions then," or "have some self control!" to which I would laugh and reply, "And what? Have my family miss out on fun summer treats because Mommy selfishly wanted to lose weight?" Never. Because I didn't want to miss out. I did want a bite of S'mores. I did want to sit next to my boys and share a snowball. And that's when it hit me,
"Mommy can't eat that!"
What in the world? (Actually, it was probably more "What the fuck?")
Why. Why couldn't I eat that.
Was I allergic? Was something absolutely terrible and awful going to happen to me if I had a bite of a delicious treat offered lovingly to me by one of my children?
No. No it wasn't. The world wasn't going to end if I had a bite of graham cracker slathered with gooey chocolate and warm melty marshmallow. The Whole30 Gods weren't going to leap out of no where and stone me when I sipped a melted snowball cup. Nothing bad was going to happen to me so why was I being so hard on myself?
Ultimately I had to decide whether missing out on these moments was worth it. Worth the handful of pounds I would lose. Worth a slightly better fit to my pants.
What was worth more to me?
I knew the answer.
It was sitting alongside my boys and stealing licks of their ice cream cones. It was taking my family out for snowballs and not having to sit on my hands and stare longingly at them while they devoured one of the greatest summer treats Maryland has to offer.
It was being able to bake my son a birthday cake and lick the icing off of his fingers when he shoved them in my face.
I'm glad I failed Whole 30 this time. I'm so happy I was able to walk away rather than continue to force myself to turn my back on moments that I don't get to enjoy enough of with my children.
I say all of this not to diminish the point of Whole 30 because in a way, this half-accomplished round taught me a lot. I knew that I needed a reset. I knew that I needed to up my raw and natural food game and step away from the processed garbage that I "thought" was easier to prepare for my "busy self" and by making the commitment, even if only for fifteen days, in a way, this half-round of Whole 30 was a success.
I'll never be too busy to make healthier food choices.
I can prepare healthier options no matter how "busy" I think I am.
But it's okay to indulge in moderation. That is the key.
I don't need to be eating a cheese stick (or two) for lunch followed by the scraps of sandwich my kids leave behind. I don't need sugary drinks to fill me up because I'm too lazy to pack water or grab a seltzer when I'm on-the-go (which happens to be always).
I need to make better choices. I need to make myself and what I feed myself a priority. I don't need a strict 30 day program to make myself a priority. I did, however, need a wake up call.
Does food rule my life? No, but it is undoubtedly a very important part of how we celebrate every day as a family. An important part that I no longer wanted to excuse myself from because of the number I weighed.
So, what's for dinner tonight? Definitely something "Whole 30 approved" but you damn well know I'm following it up with S'mores around the fire pit with my family.
Enjoy the taste of summer, friends. I know I will.