Happy Tuesday! I wanted to write a quick entry today touching on my completion of my second Whole30 (hooray!), my subsequent control issues, and a concept introduced by who other than Gretchen Rubin, my habits-and-virtue muse. This could get a little neurotic and ramble-y, so...enjoy.
As of February 1st, I finished my second Whole30 and it was overall a smashing success. By including eggs this time around I didn't spend quite as much money as last time (where I'd need meat of some kind with every meal), and by teaching myself to make a fabulous roast chicken I saved money and opened the door for all kinds of other yummy treats, like homemade bone broth.
The downside - not having Marc around, being home alone on cold winter nights - it was much, much harder to fight my emotional cravings for chocolate and alcohol. Especially the weekend of the blizzard! I tend to eat when I'm bored, and while I relish having alone time, it was just easier to distract myself and keep myself disciplined and motivated when Marc is home - even if he is eating cheese and crackers. I probably over-did it a little bit on figs and almond butter (my favorite Whole30 "treat") and next time I might ban that from my list of Whole30 approved foods, but overall it went well.
The following week I was very careful about what I re-introduced and when - basically just natural sugars, wine, and dairy - and kept to a mainly Whole30 style of eating.
And then - the weekend. Drinking with family. A lack of real food available at the hotel with Marc's parents lead to a reunion with my old and dear friends, Cheetos and M&M's (Cheetos!!! Nostalgia in a bag). And then - the SuperBowl! I bought Whole30-compliant treats only to succumb to the inevitable tortilla chip love-fest that is SuperBowl Sunday. Between the copious amounts of drinking, the food, and my allergies to the lovely animals owned by our friends who are hosting Marcus, I felt a bit of a wreck waking up yesterday. And of course, I couldn't quite tell what cause was causing what effect because it all came on like a glorious, delicious tidal wave of sugar and things I'm allergic to.
My usual mental and emotional route would be to wallow in regret and recrimination and frame it as thirty plus days of discipline completely down the drain, but that's just melodramatic and silly. All I can do is learn from it, notice how I felt and if it was worth it, and move on.
It got me thinking of the concept of a mental or internal Manager as brought up by Gretchen Rubin in her latest book Better than Before. In my own brain, I'd titled this concept as my "higher self," but it's basically the same thing. We all have a little voice in our head that's the Responsible One, that knows what's best for us, even when (and especially when) it's not necessarily the most fun or delicious or enjoyable thing. The Manager knows it would be more responsible to dip the veggies in guac instead of half a bag of the Tostitos. The Manager knows two glasses of wine will lead to a better night's sleep than four. The Manager has a responsible plan, and it's up to us whether we as the actual real human will act on the advice of management or on...whatever else. Call it impulse, call it self destruction in some cases, or just call it lightening the hell up and enjoying yourself.
The Whole30 is not a way of life 365 days a year, and it doesn't purport itself to be. It's a way to get information on your physical, mental, and emotional relationship with food, and that bleeds over past food into other areas of life as well. But it does become a habit after 30 days, and it's a precarious thing to suddenly change your habit and move into uncharted territory - what they call "nutritional off-roading." The hope is that you take the mindfulness that you've cultivated and use it to make purposeful, thoughtful, deliberate choices about what you consume. That your Manager Self has been strengthened through the past 30 days of killing your sugar addiction and eating healthy, nourishing meals.
This is the type of thing that I over-think about a lot. I think part of why I can go to such an over-indulgent extreme in SuperBowl party-type situations is because I can be such a tightass in others. The opposite of a profound truth is usually also true, and we all have contradictions within our personalities.
If we all lived our lives by letting our managers call the shots 100% of the time, we'd all probably be a lot more responsible, healthier, and better-rested. But dear God, we'd be so bored and boring.
Food is really just a microcosm of so many other choices and challenges in life, and in how we deal with the things that are in control (and so little in life is truly in our control). Finding that role of the Manager in each of us and deciding how much and how little power to give it is a constant struggle but one that I think is crucial to each person wanting to live better.
Does this resonate with anyone? Whenever I write about or think about this topic, I always think I'm maybe slightly more insane than the average bear on this. Maybe I just need to have a drink and relax.