We did it! We survived Week 1,right?! Well, sort of. One thing I love about Whole30 is what it reveals about yourself. Most likely you are starting Whole30 with a few concrete reasons in mind. “I drink too much soda.” “I eat too much sugar.” “I want to lose a few pounds.” We rarely start a Whole30 thinking, “I want my codependency on food to come rocketing to the surface of my life, causing every single thing I do to feel harder, to have to alternate acetaminophen and ibuprofen every 4 hours so that I can stand myself and my family and coworkers can stand me, and to feel depressed at times because of how difficult this struggle is”. Yet, this is exactly what happens.
I was enthusiastic my first couple of days on Whole30. Because I had menu-planned, the meals were coming easily. I loved opening my designated fruit, veggie, and egg fridge and seeing its bounty of food. Even the ratatouille debacle on Day 2 couldn’t derail my enthusiasm. I faithfully alternated acetaminophen and ibuprofen on Days 1, 2, and 3, so that the caffeine and sugar withdrawal symptoms wouldn’t become a problem.
Then, Day 4 happened. What started as a day that I had been looking forward to for weeks (teaching home-making with my best friend to a moms group) quickly became a nightmare. I gave in and allowed my kids to have the pancakes that were brought for snack because I thought they “deserved” a treat for doing so good on their modified Whole30. After a quick lunch at home, my 8 kids and I traipsed around the nearby city (I live in a small town 30 minutes away) running unexpected errands for the remainder of day, ending it with a stop by Starbucks so that my 14-year-old daughter could use the gift card she had received from a white elephant gift exchange at Christmas. It was 4 pm. I was beginning to get hungry. We were about to rush home, have dinner quickly, then head to church for the next 3 hours. When the barista opened the window to hand me my daughter’s drink, I impulsively asked, “Do you have anything that is sugar-free?”
It was downhill from there. I ended up with a delightful, sugar-free, peppermint mocha with almond milk. At the first sip, I was surprised that it was delicious. When I took a second sip, my initially ignorant brain was enlightened to the possibility that there was some sort of sweetener in that drink, and a fake one at that. I handed my daughter my phone and asked her to Google the ingredients. As I took my 3rd, 4th, and 5th sips, my heart dropped lower and lower as she read the ingredient list. Maltodextrin, sucralose, carageenan, I was disappointed in what I had done, yet did not put the drink down. The barista gave it to me for free! I couldn’t waste her generosity.
And there it was. I was drinking the very thing that had caused me to start Whole30. I loved my warm, sweet tea in the morning. There was nothing better than sitting down for a few minutes, visiting with my kiddos before we got our day started, sipping on that quart of the same warm sweet tea I had drunk since I was a child. This time, that crafty codependency was masquerading as a warm peppermint mocha with espresso, delicious as it was sliding down, but certainly setting me back in my Whole30. All my hard work those first few days was for naught. Per Whole30 rules, I had to start my Whole30 over.
Since I had already blown it by having the mocha, we went ahead and ate the supper that church folks prepared that night: arroz con pollo (I am going to assume was thickened with wheat), rice (an obvious no-no), and refried beans (another Whole30 no-n0). I finished the meal off by licking my banana pudding bowl clean (dairy, sugar, wheat, obviously a no-no). Even though we had plenty of leftovers in the fridge for dinner, I reasoned away eating at church with, “Oh, well, I have already failed. I can start over again tomorrow.”
I did start over on Day 5. Then, when yet another round of errands with my 8 kids and husband in the nearby city took much longer than we had planned (but, boy did everyone look cute with their new haircuts!), it was with ease that I gave into grabbing hotdogs and sodas at Sam’s Club, amused that even the 18 month old got a 32 oz. soda because that’s the only size Sam’s has. (It is a warehouse club, after all. No small servings here!). I finished off that day preparing enchilada casserole, beans and rice (a whole lot of Whole30 no-no’s in there) for a friend that had just received her first foster care placement of 10-day-old twins. It made sense to just make two casseroles, rather than stopping to make a different meal for my family. By the time I had dropped off the casserole and went home to eat dinner, it was after bedtime. Exhausted (but not as exhausted as my friend with the twins!), I ate a plate of enchilada casserole, asked my husband if he could handle bedtime with the kids, closed my door, and just. went. to. bed.
So, there it is. All my shortcomings were in my face over those 2 days. It wasn’t ok to drink that mocha just because the barista gave it to me for free. It wasn’t cute to feed your kids foods that are bad for them, justifying it with “we were busy”. It certainly wasn’t cute to let my 18 month old drink fruit punch from that 32 ounce cup, just because that was the only size the store carried. That’s what Whole30 week 1 is like for all of us. Over those first days, our shortcomings whisper at us, then scream like petulant children. I could have easily planned a litle differently and been successful, but instead gave in to my old thought patterns and took what appeared to be “the easy road”.
I’m thankful for my failure, because it gives me a picture to hold on to that is very motivating as I resume my Whole30. I understand why I made the choices I made. But, they were emotional choices. I was frazzled, had a lot of people depending on me, and knew the day ahead was going to be busy-hard. I chose the path of least resistance. Do you know what the path of least resistance gets you? Obesity. Diabetes. Cancer. Autoimmune disease. Chronic fatigue. Children set up to continue the cycle.
During breakfast every day, I have been reading a book to the kids by Priscilla Shirer called The Prince Warriors. (That’s an affiliate link, friends. Sorry for the redundant reminders, but I’m required by the FTC to let you know that I do recieve a commission if you choose to order the book using my link above.) In the chapter I read to the kids on Wednesday morning, one of the young princes has received his message from The Book. It read, “THE GATE TO DESTRUCTION IS WIDE, AND THE ROAD THAT LEADS TO IT IS EASY TO FOLLOW”. Um, yes, friends. I failed miserably at my Whole30 on the very same day I read this to the kids and we discussed the chapter. Two days later, we read that the consequences of this young man’s bad choice weren’t at all comfortable. The path he chose did not turn out to be easy or good at all. Friends, neither did mine. My kids were terrible to each other (They have food allergies, remember? The days after we consume their allergens, they tend to have short fuses and not be patient at all with each other) and my husband and I have been arguing for 3 days (him, food allergy related, same response as the kids; me, frustrated with the whole situation). All of this because I missed the writing on the wall right in front of me.
I faithfully started over on Day 6, having no trouble at all sticking with my Whole30 plan. I am praying over and pondering my failures, asking the Lord to walk me through them and heal me from them, so that next time I will see them before I step into the trap. That’s how week 1 on Whole30 is wrapping up for me. I am quietly optimistic, encouraged that we can always start over tomorrow (yet aware that it isn’t wise to justify a bad decision using this very same reason), always keeping in mind that, “The gate to destruction is wide, and the road that leads to it is easy to follow”.
How did your first week on Whole30 go?