I do not agree with Whole 30. I do not agree with Weight Watchers. I do not agree with The 28 Day Fix.
They are all temporary solutions to a forever situation. You will always have to choose foods to eat. You will always have to deal with hunger and cravings and fluctuations in metabolism. Eating exceptionally “clean” and restrictive and anti-inflammatory for 30 days may work really well for you. For 30 days. You may lose weight, have more energy, feel like a smiling ball of sunshine. For 30 days. But then what??
What happens when the 30 days is over? What happens when you stop counting points? You still have to make choices, but all the sudden those strict guidelines are gone and you have no freaking clue how to eat without them.
I am firmly and strictly in the group that believes changes you make should be forever changes. Every “rule” you have should be a rule you want to follow forever. For most of us, that means very few “rules”. And I also believe that is a very good thing.
This does not come without my own trials and tribulations. I have tried (and failed) at juice cleanses, Whole 30, no sugar diets, paleo, vegetarian, no processed foods, and probably more. I was not left with a profound sense of peace that so many others seem to find. Instead I was left with self-loathing and disappointment that I was not “strong” enough to do it. I did not have enough willpower. I failed.
Just a heads up, feelings of self-loathing are really super unhealthy.
I vowed to make changes that I wanted to live with forever.
For me, for now, it’s really simple stuff. Drink a LOT of water. Drink alcohol only a couple times a week (2-3 max). Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables (I aim for 5 servings a day). Choose less processed options when possible. Eat when I am hungry. Stop when I feel full. Notice what satisfies me. Notice what I tend to binge on. Notice how I feel and adapt how I eat to that.
It sounds so simple, but yet so complicated. It’s because we’re not used to eating based on intuition. We are used to rules. “Don’t eat after 6pm. Do cardio on an empty stomach. Do cardio after eating carbs. Eat a lot of protein for breakfast. Only eat fruit for breakfast. Eat 5 small meals a day. Avoid snacks and only eat 3 meals a day. Avoid fruit because of the carbs. Eat fruit all day to avoid cravings.”
What if we just listened to our bodies?? How crazy is that?! I have to admit, it took me a long and painful journey with food to come to this happier place. But I have arrived, and I don’t plan on leaving any time soon.
Yes, I can change my mind. Yes, I can change the rules. That’s the beauty of it! We go through different seasons in life. We need different things at different times. We, as humans, are not perfect. I embrace that. I accept it. And guess what? I feel really good! I am happy! The majority of the time, like probably 90% now, I don’t beat myself up about food choices. That used to be a daily occurrence for me (if not hourly).
So if you promised yourself on January 1st that this would be the month. This would be the time that you would finally complete a full Whole 30 or become paleo or do a 28 Day Fix. If you now feel those really unhealthy and difficult feelings of failure, just know this: you are not a failure. You are a human. You need food to live. You are not alone. It is hard to be “healthy”. But… you get to make up your own definition of healthy.