In April, I roped my long-suffering husband (he uses that term a lot!) into doing a 30-day whole-food diet with me. The Whole30 is fairly well known and I have to admit, it’s a mammoth undertaking. Giving up ALL grains, dairy, legumes and sugar is one thing, but making everything from scratch like almond milk, mayonnaise and stock, makes meal preparation a very time consuming task.
Around the mid-point of the 30 days I had an epiphany. Most of you probably know this, so forgive me for being slow on the uptake, but it’s the first time I truly, deeply understood how much food is associated with pleasure for me. If something upset me, the craving for a cup of tea and a biscuit was intense. If something went well, the urge to reward myself with a treat was overpowering, and when I was tired, the feeling that I deserved something nice to eat was irresistible.
The rules of the Whole30 are clear. According to the founders, the commitment is 30 days; you cheat, you start over. Having such clear parameters was a huge help in convincing myself to deal with emotions without using food as a way to soothe and bolster my flagging spirits. It forced me to sit with uncomfortable feelings and it was incredibly empowering to discover so many other healthier coping mechanisms within myself.
Here are five things completing the Whole30 taught me about changing habits:
1) Planning is everything.
If you want to make a change in any area of your life, creating an environment in which success is possible, is a crucial step. Get rid of what tempts you and surround yourself with wholesome alternatives.
2) Support is vital.
Temptation is everywhere and it’s hard to resist. Having an accountability buddy or just someone to share the ups and downs with is a huge help.
3) Doing something tough is rewarding in itself.
We often underestimate the power of success. The sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing what you start, or honouring a personal commitment, is very sustaining. Savour it.
4) Commit fully.
Changing habits is hard. For my husband, this was one of the hardest things he has ever done. Before you tackle changes get your mind around it. Know your ‘why’.
5) Keep your goal clearly in mind.
Keep reminding yourself of the long term benefit of making this change. Overcoming the urge for instant gratification is possible and it’s the crux of success.
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I'm a Personal Development Life Coach who specialises in L.I.F.E (Living Into your Fullest Expression). Based in Richards Bay, on the East Coast of South Africa, I live with my long-suffering husband, (his description!), two much-loved dogs and care for my elderly father who has Alzheimer's.
Read more about me here.