I plopped down on the bed next to my husband who was doing his one hundredth fantasy football mock draft of the day. (That could be an exaggeration.) He glanced over at me as I let out a huge sigh.
“I can’t get this eating under control. I feel like crap all the time. Every night I tell myself I’m going to do better tomorrow, and every morning I wake up and just eat sugar, sugar, sugar,” I paused, “I think I need to start another Whole30 tomorrow.”
“Okay, I’m in.”
And with that we decided to start our third Whole30 in six months. I had mixed feelings as I lay in bed later that night trying to fall asleep. I knew I needed to do this. Nothing else I tried had worked. I knew that “moderation” had turned to excess for me, and no attempt to just rein it in a little was working. But I felt like a huge failure! Three Whole30’s in six months?! Who needed three Whole30’s in six months?! Failures – that’s who. At least that’s what was going through my mind in bed that night. (I really needed to go back and read my past post on failure. I hate it when my own words come back to bite me in the butt!)
The next morning I woke up and ate what had become my normal Whole30 breakfast. As I was getting ready for a leadership training I was attending later that morning, a thought floated through my mind, “If one of your clients had to continue to go to AA meetings after six months of sobriety, you wouldn’t think they were a failure? No! You would be proud of them for continuing to put in the work even when it’s hard. If one of your clients was struggling to maintain their sobriety, you would never shame them for continuing to seek treatment. No! You would celebrate with them!”
It was all true.
I had acknowledged months ago that my behaviors when it came to food added up to a very real addiction. A sugar addiction. I feel like “sugar addiction” sounds like a silly thing. It sounds like it’s not real, but eating the way I was was actively detrimental to my health. It caused headaches, exhaustion, mood swings, and eventually contributed to my adrenal fatigue. I continued to do it despite how it was hurting me. I continued to do it despite my constant decisions to stop. Starting the cycle always led to eating more and more and more. It felt out of my control, because it was out of my control. It was and is a real addiction.
I don’t know why I expected one round of Whole30 to kick that once and for all. Deep inside I expected I would move from that one round into the glorious world of food freedom where I could eat sugar once in a while, and not feel mastered by it. Moderation would magically work for me in a way it never had before.
So that Saturday morning my thinking started to shift. My shame at needing to do another Whole30 just six months after starting my first one melted away into resolve that I was doing the right thing. I felt resolve that the journey I’m on toward food freedom might involve a lot of “treatment” along the way, and that treatment for me is the Whole30. Just like there is a measure of safety in residential treatment for a drug addict, because they just can’t use, there is also a measure of safety for me in doing a Whole30. I can’t use my drug of choice, and even though it is physically and emotionally hard to do the Whole30 – I am safe from myself while doing it, and my body can begin to heal.
This post is not at its core about food addiction, or the Whole30. It is about how we beat ourselves up for not gaining instant mastery in areas of our lives that we have struggled in for years. Maybe you are not stuck in a vicious cycle with food. Maybe you are struggling to maintain changes in your life with your marriage, or parenting, or giving up social media, or any number of things. Maybe you are feeling discouraged, and ashamed because you have slipped up again, and you wonder if you will ever find freedom.
If that is you today, be encouraged. You are not a failure. You are on a journey that won’t be achieved quickly or easily. There will be steps backward, but that is part of the process. And don’t look at people who appear to be killing it with their goals on social media after just one attempt to fix things. You are probably not seeing the whole story. If you need to redo steps toward freedom in any aspect of your life, you are not alone. Victory is rarely achieved with the flick of a switch. Victory is achieved by crossing that battlefield one inch at a time. Don’t give up! I am not a failure, and neither are you!
If you are struggling with food issues, I cannot recommend the Whole30 program strongly enough. Yes it will change your life, and your body physically, but most powerfully it will force you to confront your emotional relationship with food, and the process addictions that are holding you back. There are four books right now, with two more coming out in December. There is also a rich Whole30 community online with recipes, support, and tips. You can find the Whole30 books by clicking on the links under the pictures below.
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