A Season for Change

Spring Puddle Reflection CC Tobyotter

image via tobyotter

Yellow crocuses peeping up through damp soil, rain boots splashing through puddles and squishing into muddy lawns, bare shoulders tickled by a breeze and warmed a moment later by the sunshine…

Spring is here!

Despite its cold and muddy beginnings here in Chicago, spring is a reminder that summer is just around the corner. After the rain has washed away the last traces of slushy winter snow, the buds will start sprouting and the world begins again. Spring is a time for renewal, growth, and change. Today I’m revisiting my new year’s resolutions and setting intentions for moving forward.

I started writing this as a check-in on my new year’s resolutions, but it quickly became clear that I should address my focus categories (health, personal, and food/cooking) one by one. As I wrote during Week 4 of my Whole30, I want this year to be the best yet. Today I’m revisiting my health goals with the understanding that a thriving mind and body are the foundation of the life I want.

My first health resolution: complete the Whole30 in January. 

I completed my Whole30 on February 1 and felt great…then off came the training wheels and all hell broke loose. After a month of squeaky clean eating, I felt shaky and nervous making my own completely unlimited decisions about food. All of the sudden, processed junk foods I had previously ignored (even pre-Whole30) seemed tantalizing and satisfyingly naughty. Of course, my body immediately felt it and reacted in a predictably unpleasant way. All the wonderful Whole30 results–clear skin, uninterrupted sleep, flat stomach–disappeared and were replaced by a very unhappy system.

Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, the creators of the Whole30, warn about this phenomenon in their post, Ride Your Own Bike. When you let go of the program’s rules, you once again have to make your own choices about food. Even though I did my best to focus on abundance and all the amazing, nutrient-dense foods I could eat during the Whole30, as soon as the month ended, it felt like I had been freed from a smothering set of restrictions. Like an 18-year-old in her first weekend at college, I went a little crazy.

So while my resolution was to complete the Whole30, I clearly haven’t yet achieved the balanced nutritional outlook underlying that goal. The funny thing about this is that, during the Whole30, I was completely in control. Yes, I could use the program as an excuse for refusing a piece of cake or a night on the town, but I have always been in control of my decisions about food. No one stood next to me for 30 days policing my fork or removing all the tempting chocolate from my sight. I exercised willpower, made awesome choices, and experienced the results. 

As a coach once told me, “champions make changes, not excuses.” So today, my pantry is clean, my Whole30-friendly lunches are packed for the week, and I’m starting a five-day cleanse in celebration of spring break. The kids are gone, life is a little slower, and I want to take these five days to focus on optimal nutrition, sleep, and self-care. My next resolution fits in perfectly.

My second health resolution: work out regularly (at least 2x/week).

Chicago might be slow to roll out the warm welcome mat, what with temperatures mostly below freezing, snow this morning, and rough winds rolling in from the lake. That said, I’ve been breaking out the fleece-lined spandex and plush headbands and running regularly. Interspersed with running are strength training, yoga, and some peaceful pre-bedtime stretching.

There is no way I would have called myself a runner at any other point in life. A year ago, I went on a first date where I described my running gait as “a brisk waddle” (so cringe-worthy that I still remember saying it!) What changed? Honestly, I think it’s the paleo diet. Even when I go off the tracks as I described above, using nutrient-dense foods as the foundation of my sustenance has made me feel better than ever. Without trying, I slowly lost weight, eliminated sinus trouble that has plagued me since childhood, and found that all physical activity comes easier than ever.

Last Thursday, I went on a 4-mile run. For a lot of my friends, this distance wouldn’t be a big deal (or it would even be their “recovering from an injury” distance). Four miles is the longest I have ever run by myself. My endorphin high lasted for hours after that accomplishment. I always find that the better care I take of my body, the more inspired I feel to deepen that care. Eat better, move more, spread kindness.

My third and least successful resolution: floss every day.

Clocking in at a grand total of two minutes a day, this resolution should be the easiest. Somehow it has been the most difficult to stick to, but I’m 99% sure that owning this Daily Dishonesty print would help me remember.

floss everyday

Did you set any resolutions or intentions for 2013? What changes would you like to make in this season of renewal? Please consider sharing in the comments.

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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8 Responses to A Season for Change

  1. Making your own choices is so hard! I know exactly what you mean. It’s easy to rail against structure, but when it’s taken away, I usually fall immediately off the deep end. Hence re-starting this Whole 30 like three times. Rawr.

    • Alicia says:

      I completely respect that you’re starting the Whole30 again–that shows a ton of resolve when it can be much easier to throw in the towel. I feel like scampering back to the Whole30 with my tail between my legs, but I know I need to strike a balance on my own terms. Hence the “Whole5” for this week. 🙂

  2. OH lady, I am so with you. I’ve been pondering my will power a lot lately as well as we get ready to roll into a new season. Health and exercise are a forefront of what takes up my mind recently, which is a huge improvement from what used to occupy it most: Anxiety, Stressors, and Body Image.

    Eating well and daily movement are finally something I see as married. Only took 26 years. I used to believe that one didn’t need the other, but just like the way our physical and emotional health are often so intertwined, I have found this true with diet and exercise. Along with daily movement, I’ve been using a straight-edge clean eating approach 5 days a week to help encourage better will power.

    It frustrates me that I can’t just always make the best decisions for myself, but I’ve found that the more I run, the more I love it. And the more I love it, the easier it is to do it. And not so oddly, the better decisions I make (without even considering alternatives) when it comes to getting good rest, taking my supplements, and eating clean.

    I think of it like a quilted blanket. Up close, the pieces might not seem to go together. The patterns look different and the colors don’t match. But stepping back, it’s clear how they all the small intricate pieces work together to make something bigger than the one piece could ever achieve alone.

    Wishing you all the best. Enjoy finding brand new “Yes’s” in your cleanse!

    P.S. I signed up for my first 5k today. Looks like we’re on this running kick together. Maybe a race together once you move to the Chi?! I’m a newbie and would love a running buddy.

    • Alicia says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. You’re absolutely right about diet and exercise being inextricably linked. When I’m eating clean, moving regularly, and spending time reflecting, I find a sense of wholeness that reaches far into my life. From relationships to professional accomplishments, everything comes more easily when I am practicing self respect in these ways. This past year has been kind of a roller coaster in that respect (balanced with subconsciously adjusting the way I live to please other people- shoutout to Julie’s post today!). I would like to think that these experiments are leading me a little closer to becoming my best self each day.

      I would love a running buddy too! I signed up for a color run outside the city over Memorial Day, but unfortunately had to cancel because I’m heading back to Virginia that weekend. If you see any fun and quirky races coming up, I would love to make one my first 5k!

  3. Amanda E says:

    I got the worst cold in my last four days of my January Whole30 and had to bow out. I would like to try again after Easter because I have been making some less than great choices lately. Some truly horrific ones actually (poutine may have happened at one point…)

    Anyways I totally know what you are talking about with the post-Whole30 nosedive as the same thing happened to me last year. I feel like every year I get better though. I look to how I eat now, as opposed to one year ago, and then two… definitely learning and improving all the time! It’s nice to read the struggles and triumphs of others, and this is an inspiring read!

    • Alicia says:

      I still have your letter on my desk from our Whole30 penpal program (despite the fact that I failed to respond-eek! I’m sorry!) Poutine has always sounded both amazing and terrifying to me, but thankfully the temptation isn’t as close at hand here in the states. That said, the Midwest does have its fair share of horrifyingly tasty treats, beer+cheese fries being the closest one I can think of.

      Your positive take puts things in perspective. The same is true for me too. I know I couldn’t have run 4 miles happily and more-or-less comfortably two years ago. It was a challenge and I was working hard, but I felt great doing it! Same with food. Even if I don’t always eat well, at least I have full knowledge of the impact my choices make on my body inside and out. Armed with that knowledge, I feel empowered to make better choices more often than I would have a couple years ago.

      Thanks for all your Whole30 support over time and for chiming in today! If you’re doing another Whole30, I may just join you. I want to work on striking the balance on my own, but another Whole30 could be a jump in the right direction.


  4. Great post. Spring is the time to dust off any sluggishness (and in the case of Chicago, the slushiness). Addressing and thinking about your health goals is half the battle. Kudos on the 4 mile run! That’s awesome! And it is never to late to meet the goals that we set for ourselves. Sometimes the timing gets shifted but as long as we keep the eye on the prize, we can always push forward (even with flossing 🙂 )

    • Alicia says:

      Thanks Kenley! It’s so true- I think sometimes I see an immediate failure to meet a personal goal as the end: I tried, I failed, done. But that is a defeatist attitude and I’d rather stay optimistic like you suggested! Flossing today, for sure. 😛

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