With SO many people participating in the official September Whole30, I thought I would chime in with some helpful information I have learned in my years of experience with the program. As a Whole30 certified coach, I have a lot of tips up my sleeve, and I am here to share them with you today!
During my first few Whole30’s, I was very surprised to find out that it was actually not just about the food. In fact, at times, food had nothing to do with my struggles during Whole30. When you are drastically changing your eating style and working on your relationship with food, a lot of other emotions and tricky feelings start to surface. These were no fun at first, and I didn’t know how to handle it because numbing those feelings with ice cream was out of the question!
Thankfully after many rounds, lots of practice, and a ton of support and guidance from some of my favorite Whole30 coaches and other awesome influencers, I have learned some crucial actions that needed to be implemented in my life and have been complete game changers for my mental health. Without addressing the deeper stuff behind the food, you will never have lasting success. In order to do this, I had to shift my mindset, learn ways to cope without turning to sugar, and take action to care for myself. Here’s some of the things I did to start working on my mindfulness…
I started journaling a few years ago. It has been a hugely impactful addition to my life and I can’t imagine not starting my morning without journaling while I drink my coffee now. When I journal, I make sure to only allow myself to write POSITIVE words. I begin with 3-5 things I am grateful for that day. Next, I write out some daily affirmations (they change each day/week). Finally, I write a paragraph about “Future Me.” My future me statements are written as if they have already happened. It’s basically a day in my fantasy future with all of my biggest goals and dreams having already been accomplished. I pretend I’m writing in a moment when everything is exactly how I dream it will be in a few months or years.
Journaling is incredibly powerful. When you start your day only writing down positive words and visualizing your very best you in the future, it’s really hard to shift back into a negative mindset once you are done. Journaling in this style helps instill confidence, encouragement, and mindfulness. It sets the tone for your day and reminds you to focus on the positive and be grateful for what you already have in life. It also helps you stay motivated and focused on your goals because you know that one day your future me statements will eventually come true, and then you get to make up a whole new future you!
For your Whole30, I encourage you to write a future me paragraph each day as if you have just completed your Whole30. Write as if you are feeling better than you could have ever imagined, you have accomplished amazing non scale victories, you are so proud of yourself for accomplishing this incredible goal, and your confidence is through the roof. Starting your day by writing about how you have already finished your Whole30 will help you stay in a positive mindset and keep you motivated to push through those tough days. Don’t ever let yourself imagine failure. Just journal about your success and I promise your mental shift will make life a little easier and a lot more positive.
Here’s an example of a daily journal entry I would write during my Whole30…
2. Get your mind right with some breathing and meditation-
Taking time to slow down and breath has been more transformative for me than I would have ever imagined. It’s amazing what happens to your mind when you just focus on your breath and allow your brain to take a break. We have millions of thoughts running through our head everyday. In addition, we are looking at screens for hours each day, surrounded by amazing amounts of stress and overwhelm that we may not even realize, and our brains are constantly overstimulated with our day to day activities… driving, music, children, work, cooking, tv, phones, the list goes on. It’s crucial to give our brains some rest. And not just at night when we sleep. Taking anywhere from 5-20 minutes each day to simply focus on our breath and nothing else can help us feel recharged, rested, and less overwhelmed.
4-7-8 Breathing Technique
I usually follow the 4-7-8 breathing technique when I meditate. Basically you inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. I do this over and over and over again, until I stop drifting off into other thoughts and become more focused on just my counting and breathing. Sometimes it takes 5 minutes. Sometimes I get lost in the breath and sit there for 20. Every experience is different. Sometimes I can’t focus at all, and sometimes I’m in “super zen mode.” The key here is to not beat yourself up if you are having trouble only focusing on your breath. Thinking is normal. It’s perfectly healthy and ok. The point of this is like exercise. You have to build the muscle strength to get better. The more you practice, the easier it will be to focus on your breath each time. And if it’s not, that’s ok! Just taking the time to sit with your eyes closed, slow down, relax, and take some time to yourself alone is a win in of itself. We all need some quiet time to ourselves, no matter how insane our lives are. I know you can find 5 minutes in your day to do this.
Times you can meditate during your day that you may not think of:
– While you wait for your breakfast to finish cooking
– While you are drinking your coffee
– As soon as you wake up
– While you are pooping
– While the kids are napping/sleeping/playing/watching a show
– While you are breastfeeding or pumping
– During your lunch break at work
– Before you get out of the car and walk into your home, the grocery store, or wherever you are going
– Instead of scrolling social media for 5 min
-Instead of watching TV for 5 min at night
– After the kids are in bed
Exhale Longer Than You Inhale
There are tons of ways to meditate. No way is the right or wrong way. It’s whatever suites you best. However you choose to sit and breath, the most important thing to focus on however is having a longer exhale than your inhale. This helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, reduce your “fight or flight” responses, calm stress, rewire the brain waves, and get into a “calm and cool” mode. If you are having strong cravings during your Whole30, this is an excellent way to retrain your brain and focus your thoughts on something other than the food to calm that sugar dragon and shift your mindset.
3. Self Care
This one is big, and probably the hardest for people to really establish in their daily routine. Most people have very busy lives. Children, spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends, parents to care for, pets, jobs, sports, activities, meals to cook, people to please, work responsibilities, travel plans, chores, and on and on. It’s really hard for women especially to recognize that caring for themselves is just as important as caring for everyone else in their lives. Whether you realize it or not, you will be a better wife/girlfriend/mom/co-worker/CEO/leader/friend etc if you are taking time to establish a self care routine everyday. Caring your yourself makes you a better person. It makes you more mindful, more aware of your surroundings, more in tune with your needs and of others needs, and allows you to approach situations with a clear and calm head in order to make educated and intuitive decisions. When you aren’t “wired and tired” all the time, you are a better version of you. And this can be achieved through a simple self care practice each day.
For me, this is my morning routine. I get up at 5am in order to have a slow and intentional morning to myself. I have coffee, journal, workout, make a healthy breakfast, shower, and get ready for my day without feeling stressed, rushed, or scatter brained. This starts my day off on the right foot and gets me into a healthy mindset. It’s crucial for my success and my sanity.
When I need self care at other times of day, I allow for it. Sometimes that means taking a walk, other times it means laying down for a few minutes to just rest. If I’m overwhelmed at work, I just step away for 5 minutes. If I’m having binge urges at home, I distract myself with something that makes me feel good like a hot shower, painting my nails, watching a show, or just sitting in the sun for a few minutes. There are infinite ways to care for yourself, and everyone is different, but recognizing when you need some time for YOU and tending to your emotions and needs is SO IMPORTANT for your mental health, your long term success in accomplishing your goals, and your self worth and respect.
Self care may feel selfish sometimes, but you know what? You DESERVE to be selfish every now and again! When all you do all day is work to help others and make your family/co-workers/others happy, there needs to be some time scheduled in there to make YOU happy. Finding this balance is what will lead to lasting success after your Whole30 is over. You may not see the correlation right now, but just trust me. Implement a self care routine for 1 week and see how you feel. Choose some self care that is NOT related to food when you are struggling with cravings, stress, overwhelm, or anxiety, and watch how you transform from feeling like food controls you to you now controlling your food. Food is not the answer when it comes to dealing with the tough feelings. Self care is. Give yourself the attention and love your body and mind are craving. It will change your life. I promise.
Ideas for Self Care:
-Make your bed
-Wake up early to journal
-Go to bed early
-Take a hot shower/bubble bath
-Light some candles
-Have some tea
-Get a massage
-Get your nails done
-Buy yourself flowers
-Binge watch a show
-Go for a walk
-Eat out instead of cooking
-Take time to breath
-Take a nap
-Workout or do some yoga
-Talk to a friend on the phone
-Go for a coffee date
-Take yourself on a date
-Go on a date with your significant other
-Teach your kids about self care and establish a “self care” time of day so you all can benefit from it
-Read a book
-Wear an outfit you feel sexy in
-Do your hair/makeup
-Make a to-do list you KNOW you will accomplish that day to boost your confidence
-Spend time in nature
-Spend time in the sun
-Go for a walk
-Schedule self care into your busy “to do” list or daily schedule
-Go to therapy
-Hire a health coach
-Join a support group
-Take a social media break
These are some ideas to get you thinking. Self care is basically whatever you find that calms your mind, soothes your spirit, and rejuvenates you in some way. Explore ways that you can implement self care into your daily life. It’s a necessity for happiness and overall success in your life.
I hope these tips help you get through your tough days in Whole30 this month. And if you aren’t doing a Whole30, I hope they help you get through whatever tough time you are going through in your life right now. These 3 tips have changed my life in the past few years, and I hope that they do the same for you. Now go find a way to “treat yo self” WITHOUT food, and live your best life!