40 people from Dragonfly Hot Yoga and I embarked on Whole30 in January. It was an epic month, full of food, revolutions, revelations, and love. I am beyond proud of my cohort. Here are my top ten lessons from the month.
1. People want to feel healthy, sexy, and liberated.
I love nothing more than the excitement people feel when they start the program. Then there are a few wonky, anxious days while we detox, followed by some stagnant 'please don't make me eat eggs again' kind of days. Yet, before you know it, friends and coworkers start to notice changes and get very curious. They start to ask questions. They start to wonder, why does that girl/guy look so good, so happy, so alert? Questions get asked. Stories are shared. This, I believe, is how the change becomes bigger than just kicking sugar to the curb. Out comes confidence, out comes feeling good in our skin. Out comes a feeling of being healthy and liberated. Supreme magic.
2. We are very, very, very hard on ourselves.
I lost my mind on this last time (read how I feel about the scale!) When we have expectations, they are often the source of much frustration and anxiety. The next time I lead a group, I am going to spend a LOT more time on managing expectations. Yes, most people feel dramatically better. Some lose weight. It is not the same for everyone, and some people have more jaw dropping changes than others. It was the hardest thing for me to see how great people were doing, and then hear them talk about how it wasn't enough, it wasn't good enough, it wasn't dramatic enough. Whole30 is about living a life where we fuel our bodies with healthy nutritious food. It's not about miracles or 'dropping the last 10lbs effortlessly'. We are living in a "I want it now" culture, and this program looks that right in the face and shows it the middle finger. Whole30 is challenging - and only PART of that challenge is the food. The rest is how do we love ourselves and honor our bodies in a way that we haven't done in a long time - if ever.
3. We need to eat enough.
I worked with a lot of people this round on making sure they ate enough. I shouldered a lot of sadness during this time, because I got to see first hand how our modern culture has 'effed with our minds regarding food. We are all told to eat less, less, less, and to worry about amount, but we are not told what is best for our body. I fell victim to this a few times, when I let myself get too hungry only to get crabby, feel exhausted, and quite honestly extremely short tempered. This is what happens when we do not fuel our engines. Food is fuel. When we don't have enough, we cannot function in an optimal way. The truth is, learning this the hard way is what gives me confidence in the program. Eating is what helps me live my high energy, super fantastic life.
4. But don't eat too much.
Habits are habits. If you are used to grabbing some sugar at 3pm and you grab a cup of almonds, you are still in a habitual pattern tied to food. And that's not liberation, that's just swapping one habit for another. Portions do matter, and the food you eat does matter. You can eat an awful lot of leafy greens, crunchy veggies, and lean protein and your body will tell you to stop when it has enough nutrients. We all know where our trouble spots are. For me it was getting too hungry and going for the quick energy fix in a bag o' nuts. That high calorie indulgance slows down progress. When I started to eat more at each meal (even when I didn't want to), I was able to change my habits during times of stress, emotion, and mindless eating.
5. Being kind to ourselves takes work, commitment, and a lot of reinforcement.
It's not easy to love ourselves. Yoga helps me with this quite a bit. We have to commit to ourselves daily - to take the time to cook, feed ourselves, and handle our stress in a helpful way. It's so much easier to get lazy and let go, only to get angry and frustrated when we don't feel or look good. Daily affirmations and meditation help me remember that no matter what, no matter what, no matter what…I'm a pretty cool chick. I try to remember to treat myself like I treat my best friends. With love, kindness, patience and forgiveness.
6. Nothing feels better than when we surprise ourselves.
Getting through a difficult event, facing our fears of failure, tackling a challenge like Whole30, or a difficult yoga pose results in a kind of supreme joy that is hard to explain. At the end of the program, I got quite a few texts saying "I feel like I can do ANYTHING."
That's because you can. Whole30 is just one way to prove to yourself that you can tackle something challenging (like putting yourself and your health FIRST.) Revolutionary.
7. We are all different, individual, and unique.
Not everyone loves Whole30. Some people find that it doesn't work well for them. Other start Whole30 and never stop. We are all unique. Why I love this way of eating is because it makes my body feel AWESOME. For others, not so much. The magic though, is that we take 30 days and rid our bodies of all the toxic junk that makes it hard to tell HOW we feel about ANYTHING. So, I belive it is a win/win.
8. It starts with food, and ends with…..
Confidence. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Love. Happiness. Energy.
At the end of Whole30, I usually find that it really only starts with the food. It bleeds into everything I do on a much deeper level. When I take good care of ME, I am able to give energy to everyone I want to. That is REALLY important to me.
9. When good healthy and vibrancy clicks with people, they light up from the inside out. And that's super sexy.
10. This is my passion.
I can't even begin to tell you how much I love to work with people who are changing their lives. It inspires me in a way that nothing else does. I live, breathe, and sleep this life, and I owe deep gratitude to all those who joined me on this journey. I can't even begin to tell you how much love, inspiration, and respect I have for each and every one of you. This is a life changer for me, so look out world, here I come!!!
I'm going to change up the program in the spring, adding in some special yoga classes, so watch for some offers coming soon!