On Saying Yes and Saying No: Week 4 of the Whole30

whole30 week 4

Today marks the beginning of the end: week four of my Whole30. Actually, let me rephrase that: the end of the beginning. That sounds better and reflects my resolve to continue 2013 as year of health and abundance. I dove into the January Whole30–my second attempt at a month of strict Paleo eating–with wheelbarrows full of enthusiasm. There were so many recipes I wanted to try, amazing sales on new-to-me ingredients, and all kinds of support from friends and the online community. My holiday habits desperately needed to be banished to the depths of Decembers past, and I was committed to change.Over the past 23 days, change has indeed come creeping in, slowly but surely encouraging me to rethink my attitude towards nourishment. I am grateful for the following realizations:

  • The sugar demon lives on! If you check out this illustration from the Whole9 blog, you may think the dessert demon is a pretty cute little dude. But he is also a dastardly devil, as I learned today. Yesterday afternoon, I snacked on some dried mango (only ingredient: organic mango)- something that I hadn’t tasted in months. And BOOM! For the two hours following the dried mango, I was buzzing and craaaaving sugar. Not the normal, 3-weeks-into-the-program craving, which pretty much amounts to “cupcake? meh” and quickly disappears. This felt like full-on terrible two-year-old throwing a tantrum in the toy store craving. Grocery shopping in this mood would have been the opposite of productive, so I grabbed a quick salad with protein to satisfy my actual hunger after work before heading down the aisles with my eyes wide open.
  • Coffee is a powerful vice. I love starting my day with the aroma of roasted beans wafting up from the grinder and the taste of steaming black coffee in my favorite yellow mug. Though I only drink 1-2 cups a day, I may need to spend 30 days with no caffeine whatsoever in the near future. Holly, a fellow coffee lover and January Whole30er, tried this experiment and came up with some conclusions that I suspect might be similar to my own.
  • Ritual is precious. With the after hours nibble of dark chocolate or glass of wine off the menu, I’m missing the treats that usually brighten an evening unwinding after work. But is it actually the food or drink that makes me feel relaxed? No! And that’s the point. Spend 30 days following this program and you might start noticing rituals and sentiments so ingrained in your life that they were previously invisible. Knowing that I associate the end of the work day with some type of pleasant, relaxing “reward”, I’ve cycled through a few options…so far the strongest contender for new ritual is to put my phone somewhere far away, make a cup of herbal tea, and wrap one hand around it while journaling or writing a letter with the other. I still get to enjoy a peaceful moment at the end of the day, but it’s no longer tied to food.

That said, I’m feeling a little resigned about the last week of my Whole30. I’m getting sick of saying no so often, especially when no is tied to social situations. “No” to the free open bar my friend won downtown, “no” to the birthday tart I bought for Kerry, “no” to the question “can you eat that?”

My willpower is at an all-time high, a feat that is nothing short of amazing. But I love shouting “YES!” and meaning it. I have spent 23 days saying no out loud, and each yes has been a silent thought: yes to jalapeños on sale, yes to breakfast for dinner, yes to buying a tablecloth after 18 months without one (I’m 23 and I’m not sorry). How can I jolt myself back into the mindset of an enthusiastic “YES!” for the next seven days?

Today, I’m hosting a brunch for some college friends. Everything will be Whole30-friendly with the exception of a quiche with cheese–I begrudge no one a love of lactose, even if I won’t be indulging. Sharing a meal that respects my way of eating with a large group of people is a huge step towards a happy, social YES! for me. As soon as the slush melts away, I’ll go for another run. Though running was a long-despised part of crew practice that I could never seem to master, since going Paleo I have found it comes more easily and feels incredibly centering.

Want to share some ideas? I’d love your help. If you’re doing a detox, clean eating, or the Whole30, how is it going for you? Do you have a favorite recipe that is Whole30-friendly or that I could play around with? Do you have a really cute picture of a puppy you want to send my way*? Let me know in the comments or post it on our Facebook wall! The social aspect of the “YES!” factor is powerful, and I’d love to connect.

For those of you who have less than a week to go–good luck! I wish you wonderful food and high spirits.

xoxo Alicia

*I don’t know how this is Whole30-related but I will never say no to puppy pictures.

About Humble Foodie

While we both love to eat well, life as AmeriCorps volunteers doesn’t afford us the budget to try every new restaurant and type of cuisine. With many post-graduate expenses and limited financial resources, what’s a foodie to do? The answer is here, at The Humble Foodie. Instead of spending our hard-earned cash paying other people to cook for us, we’re spending as frugally as possible making delicious meals at home.
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10 Responses to On Saying Yes and Saying No: Week 4 of the Whole30

  1. I am wrapping up my whole21 (I know I’m a cheater :D) this weekend and I’ve had to turn down SO many things I love over the past 3 weeks. I never thought I could say no to some of my favorite foods while everyone around me is chowing down. I’m so impressed with my willpower and I’m so happy knowing I can live without these foods.

    All that said, I still may be planning on demolishing a big brownie on Monday 😉 Good luck with your last week!

    • Alicia says:

      Thanks Amber! Saying “no” can make you feel powerful and in control–and it has, for me, for most of my W30–but it can also wear on you over time. Being able to resist foods that previously seemed to hold some kind of power over me is a huge perk that I’m feeling three weeks in! Cupcakes have never been a “meh, no thanks” food before. 😉

  2. Alicia, I read this post last night and wanted to take time to think before replying. I’ve been saying “No” a lot lately too, because of medical reasons and because of personal lifestyle choices like clean eating and participating in a two week cleanse. It can wear on the most cheerful person. Some of the “No”s as you say, bring confidence, and for me they strengthened my faith in the path that I’ve chosen for myself – one where my health is at the center of my life. But, at times the “No”s mean a loss in social life and can make our choices feel isolating.

    Over the past month, I’ve been working to bring more “Yes”s into my life as well. I love how you phrase this in your post. I’ve said “Yes” to more yoga, to starting new healthy habits, to writing more about health, and to trying foods and ingredients I’d previously closed myself off to. In my case, I’ve also had to say “Yes” to more rest and alone time which has shown me that these are two things I really need in my life. When I’m not focusing on my health and the Yes’s and No’s, i tend to operate at a dangerously high speed, zipping around from engagement to engagement.

    As you’re in your last week, here’s a recommendation based on what helped me while I was in a similar spot: try a short (20-30 min) daily yoga practice to help calm your mind and start or end each day with balance. Reconnecting with my body and focusing on my muscles and breath really helped quiet all the anxiety I had over “yes” and “no” and everything in between.

    Here’s the link!

    • Alicia says:

      Eileen, I really appreciate your thoughtful comment. I usually start the day by writing “morning pages”, a stream of consciousness based reflection. I like the idea of adding some physical movement to this calming process, and thanks for the link! The last time I tried to do morning yoga, I used a Netflix Instant film that was way too intense for a very clumsy beginner. 🙂

      I also tend to operate at a high speed and unconsciously make rest and self-care my last priority when stressed- what an awful cycle! I love what you said about some “no”s: “they strengthened my faith in the path that I’ve chosen for myself – one where my health is at the center of my life.” This is important for me to remember. It is MY path, and though it’s absolutely fine for friends to comment and ask questions, I still need to make choices that respect my health and integrity…even though the “no”s can be hard. Cheers to starting 2013 seeking out new opportunities to say yes!

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  4. Great post! I totally agree with your ‘end of the beginning’ philosophy. There’s so much to look forward to and achieve in 2013 and beyond. Saying yes and finally getting around to those things that have been hanging over us – in my case, painting my decking – although it’s probably about time I got a tablecloth too (I’m 31 and own some lovely placemats and table runners but no tablecloths) 🙂 Good luck with your brunch and the rest of the week. Amanda

    • Alicia says:

      I am really happy to be doing the Whole30 at the beginning of the year in order to start the year with some reflection and new insights about food/health. It feels great to check big projects off your list- maybe with all the extra W30 energy you will get that deck painted soon! 🙂 Also, you’re one step ahead of me with the placemats and table runners.

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