Just as I’m starting to think about my Whole 30 experience and really, fully realizing what it all meant for me, a bunch of blog posts regarding Gretchen Rubin’s idea of abstainer and moderator pop up.
And my first thought was, damn ladies you stole my blog post idea.
The thing is, the idea of being a abstainer or a moderator is one of the things that kept me going through Whole 30. I needed to explore this idea, to see who I really am.
I always assumed I was a moderator. According to Rubin you’re a moderator if you…
- find that occasional indulgence heightens your pleasure–and strengthens your resolve
- get panicky at the thought of “never” getting or doing something
I do get panicky if I think I can’t have something. It consumes me. I think about it all the time. It stops me from doing other things. This most often hits me in bed when I start thinking about how I’m hungry and I can’t sleep and oh that brownie on the counter would be so easy and I’m hungry and a brownie would be perfect right now and oh geez I’m so tired but this hunger is keeping me awake and you know what I should just go get that brownie because otherwise this is going to keep me up all night then I’ll be pissed I didn’t sleep and I always overeat when I don’t sleep so yes, the brownie is the solution.
But as I would think about it more I started to wonder if I only think I’m a moderator because to me it seems easier to be a moderator. A moderator gets everything she wants. She gets the brownie. However, a moderator is supposed to be satisfied by an “occasional indulgence” and I’m certainly not. One is never good enough for me. I’m good at having one small slice of cake, but I’ll have one small slice of cake everyday. That, to me, does not say moderation.
So maybe I’m an abstainer. Back to Rubin:
You’re an abstainer if you…
- have trouble stopping something once you’ve started
- aren’t tempted by things that you’ve decided are off-limits
It still seems to me that being an abstainer is more difficult, but this whole moderation thing clearly isn’t working. You can revisit my post on why I started Whole 30 and my story of the oreos.
I’m a rule follower. I do believe some rules can be broken, but for the most part I follow the rules. I’m also a questioner, according to Rubin. I need clear reasons why I should follow the rules. I need to justify my actions and the rules I’m following. For me, Whole 30 was perfect. Whole 30 has clear-cut rules. Don’t eat from these categories, otherwise enjoy yourself. Really, it’s kind of moderator and abstainer mixed together. Maybe that’s my questioner nature justifying Whole 30. The further and further I got into Whole 30 the easier I found it to say I don’t eat X, Y, and Z and people responded to that. It’s much easier for others to respect your choices when they are clear.
After I finished Whole 30 I found that when I say “I’m trying to avoid” rather than “I don’t eat” people are more inclined to allow you to cheat, to allow you to eat what you’re trying to avoid, and to even encourage you to eat what you don’t want to eat. When you’re clear about saying what you don’t eat you aren’t leaving any room for argument.
Whole 30, unexpectedly, gave me the strength to say no. I was looking for the strength to say no to myself to certain foods, but it gave me the strength to say no to others. No, I don’t want to order an appetizer even if it is Whole 30 compliant because I don’t want to eat all that food. No, I don’t want pasta with my chicken cacciatore, it’s unnecessary. No, I don’t want to order the sandwich even though I kind of do. I have slight people pleaser syndrome and I didn’t realize until I did Whole 30 how hard I found it to say no to people when it came to food. Food is so social and I felt guilty if I said no because that meant they wouldn’t get it either. But you know what? Not my problem.
If I had written this right as I finished Whole 30 this would be a completely different post. I would have told you things are great! I lost over 20 lbs and 10 inches. I no longer crave dairy or wheat! One week later and I was back to justifying eating those foods. And I think that’s okay. In fact, I think it’s necessary. Whole 30 recommends doing a slow reintegration process but even going into Whole 30 I knew wheat and dairy were my two issues. It’s a food insensitivity issue rather than a craving issue. Although, lets be real, I crave bread and baked goods. Eating those foods again reconfirmed that for me and allowed me to see how those foods affected my stomach. Wednesday night I decided that’s it. I need clear rules and my clear rules are no wheat or dairy.
I gained back about 5 pounds (I expected that) and some of my lazy ways started to creep back in. I didn’t feel like taking time to make breakfast or lunch Wednesday so I had Dunkin Donuts and Panera. And I didn’t feel sick, but I didn’t feel great. I felt the food in my stomach. And TMI time, my poops aren’t what they were during Whole 30.
I spent time Wednesday night prepping breakfast and lunch for Thursday and felt great. I felt accomplished and really proud of myself and I was reminded it doesn’t take much time or effort at all. After indulging for a week I now feel like I am resetting myself. Thursday feels like the beginning of Whole 30 again and I am fighting some sugar cravings (I really want a chocolate baked good). This time, though, I know I have the strength and I know some tricks to help me fight cravings (like peppermint tea).
So am I an abstainer or moderator? For now, I’m an abstainer. Anne wrote that she thinks what you are has to do with your history of dieting. My history of dieting has been to try and do it with moderation and that didn’t work for me. I’m going to abstain and maybe one day in the future if I feel I have control over my cravings and habits, I’ll move into being a moderator. Julie, like me, is an abstainer. And she seems to express that perfect medium between being an abstainer and moderator that I hope to get to one day. For the most part, she abstains from ice cream but if she really wants it, she goes out and buys it knowing it won’t last more than 24 hours. Then she goes back to abstaining. That’s the place I eventually want to get to.
I found that snapping my meals really helped me and the responses I got from them made me feel good. So I’m going to go back to snapping my food and I apologize if that annoys you, but, I’m not really all that sorry. Follow me on Snapchat at justjacq.
Jacquelyn’s getting her groove back.
Have you done a Whole 30? What have you learned about yourself through programs like Whole 30? Are you an abstainer or moderator?