The Whole 30 From a Different Perspective
As things have heated up in terms of schedule around here this last month, I've noticed I've been uh, stress eating a lot more. I won't get into the logistics here, but it's a lot on my plate uh, across the boards. Pete's new job means he's not home from 6 a.m.-7p.m., so everything falls on me. Work has also changed so much since my boss left, which means I'm managing three projects on my own (so awesome! But stressful in both expected and unexpected ways!). The pregnancy, while going great, is just uh, a lot physically. I don't think I need to explain what I mean there, right?
So there's been a lot on my plate, is what I'm saying. And while we're thankful for all of it -- I think that's where some of the stress comes in for me; as a former black-and-white thinker, (Lean Eating has done wonders for me in this regard), it's hard to reconcile the so-happy with so-challenging at the same time. YES I love the new responsibilities at work, YES we're thrilled with Pete's new job and HELLS TO THE YES I'm so freaking excited to be pregnant. But those things all come with complexities and challenges. Things that can't fit into a good or bad category, but are simultaneously both.
As a result, I've noticed a lot of "checking out" with food, and always the same foods. Lean Eating has taught me to step away from the judgement and self-flogging, but to just step back and put my coach hat on. I noticed it and just decided to observe it for a while, then started to recognize patterns and started thinking about what I really needed in those moments. I've also noticed that like Geneen Roth says in Women, Food & God, that the "checking out" instead of grounding me, made me feel further away from myself. Naggingly disconnected and vaguely unsatisfied.
And I thought about a Whole 30 as a way to break the cycle, but then a part of me wondered if restricting myself was just a way of denying difficult stuff that was going on. But then I read this article (written and the audio interview is conducted by creator of women's Lean Eating program) listened to the audio interview that accompanies it. And it really resonated, with me, along with the one line of her e-book F*ck Calories, that shook me to my core last year before I started Lean Eating: how you approach food is how you approach life. It Starts With Food has a whole chapter devoted to the brain chemistry of food addiction and what happens when you choose the same foods over and over to "check out": your brain starts to rely on those things.
I come from a family that has struggled with addictions. I used to think of myself as an outlier and "above" those types of behaviors. I now know for certain that's not the case. So while I've approached the Whole 30 this time with an entirely different goal: to change my relationship with food.
One of my favorite pictures of myself, messed hair, sans makeup, in Norway after having major cabin fever last Christmas, is here.
I'm at the top of a mountain, having taken the gondola up there in the blistering cold, enjoying a day-date with Pete. I've ordered an impossibly delicious dessert of chocolate cake with basil and fresh berries. While I often post pictures of my food, the reason I love this picture is how I approached this dessert: I slowly ate it and savored every bite and took in all the goodness that came with it, in that moment. The surroundings. The quiet time with Pete. Christmas in Norway atop a mountain and the magic and reality of what that means. The flavors playing off each other. I took it all in and it was incredibly memorable.
So rather than make a list of all the NO YOU CANNOT HAVE THOSE foods as part of the Whole 30, or think of this as a way to get a skinnier butt/lose weight or a temporary "thing I'm doing," I'm approaching every meal like the above. I take a deep breath before each meal, get quiet, and aim to replicate that experience up there one meal at a time. In the moment. Savoring delicious food that feels indulgent to me. Fresh berries. Rosemary-roasted chicken I took the time to make.
I can write post after post about this, but I'll end here. I've also noticed that part of the managing stress part of this equation has been to really lower my own self-imposed impossible standards, really question those, and to genuinely ask Pete for help/comfort/connection rather than try to deny those parts of myself and try to push them down with food.