Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Mantra: When Fish Climb Trees

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Believe that you are brilliant

Society 6
I'm pretty sure after I admit this all of you will stop being my friends, but I'm hoping you'll take pity on me and maybe even wave at me once in a while as I walk by with my head hung low.

Once upon a time, not that long ago, sadly enough, I believed that Alaska and Hawaii were right next to each other. I never understood how two places so close together could be so wildly different, one place ice and another fire.

The geography puzzled me, but it was because of a puzzle that I was so very confused. This puzzle, to be specific. Why did they make Alaska red, I ask you? Doesn't red mean hot, fire, warmth? No instructions came with this little puzzle and no warning labels were on it to specify who should use it (those past the elementary levels) and who shouldn't (those trying to learn their geography with only a Kindergarten degree). It's cool, I know where everything really is now, but the humility lives on. Trust me.
The puzzle that edumacated me.
It can be challenging, when you're told you should be or act or understanding something repeatedly and you can't quite ever make it work for you. It never comes easily, never seems right. It's most likely because it isn't. It isn't right for you.

A friend at work once gave me this scenario, when telling me how he would explain to someone that worked for him that they were in the wrong role. His goal wasn't to break them down, but show them that where they were wasn't the right fit.

He would say, "You're either a carpenter or a plumber in this company. For what we do, we need carpenters. We need those specific skills. You just happen to be a plumber. That doesn't make you any less valuable, in fact, plumbers play an important part in what we do. It just means that you need to be working in a role that uses your plumbing skills." With that, they would look for a new job for that person, one that was better suited to them.

We've all had our moments where we don't think we're good enough, smart enough, talented enough...

Enough is enough, my friends.

You are brilliant- in your own way. Maybe you can paint pictures others can't even imagine, but math fails you at every angle. Maybe you can march into a meeting, spreadsheets mapped out and strategies ready to go, while the rhythm of a poem leaves you bewildered.

We all have our special traits, none better than the other. Not only do we need to remind ourselves of this when we wish to be someone we are not meant to be, but we also need to remind others of this when they try and compare one person against another. Do not listen when they try and convince you to be someone you're not.

We each have our place in this world. Once you find it, you'll know. In the meantime, don't ever let anyone tell you you're anything less than brilliant. Fish can't climb trees and carpenters can't fix pipes for a reason. How boring the world would be if we were all the same.

You're purpose here is your own and it it most certainly needed.


Related Posts
Monday Mantra: Ancora Imparo
Monday Mantra: Anything Can Be

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Mantra: Let It Go

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Let it go and give thanks
You know when you love something a lot, you take care of it and nurture it and make sure it's nice and safe and warm at night. You speak soft, loving words to it and always make sure it knows how much it's loved. I assume all of you treat your shoes this way, too, yes?

I had this wonderful pair of black knee high boots that I've been in a loving relationship with for about 10 years now. Every fall I whip those babies out, hug them and tell them how much I missed them, and then wear them as much as I possibly can. Those boots and I have been through a lot.

As I type this with tear filled eyes *sigh* I must report that my precious boots have literally fallen to pieces. I took them out the other day, welcomed them once again to Arizona's cooler weather, and wore them to dinner. By the end of the night they were demolished, as if some tiny evil elves had come and taken razors to them while I was sitting at the restaurant chowing down, innocently unaware.
My boots were cuter than this, but you get the idea.
The next day I tried out my identical brown ones (when you find boots this amazing, you have to get all color options, it's the law). At least I have these left, I thought. At least we still have each other. I looked them over closely prior to putting them on and they were perfectly fine. Forty two minutes and seventy sevens seconds later they were shredding. Invisible tiny evil elves, I tell you! In broad daylight this time! This is my verdict.

Over the next several days I was in BRPM: Boot Replacement Panic Mode. I went to store after store after store and nothing. Nothing compared. Until, exhausted and depressed, I happened into a more expensive store and, as luck would have it, found not one, not two, but three pairs of amazing, beautiful, comfortable boots.

My excitement fizzled out after I realized how much I would be spending on these new beauties. I tried to talk myself out of it, but since I'm equally as good at talking myself into things all the time, it didn't work. I bought two pairs to bring home to the rest of the family.

The next day I decided that I had been kind of dumb. I needed to try harder to find less expensive, yet equally awesome boots, so I went on a new Search and Rescue Mission. This time I found four more pairs, not as comfy, but cute...but not real leather, but cute...but not as awesome, but cheaper...but...

This is how it went on in my head for at least an hour, as I pranced up and down the shoe aisles with different shoes on each foot. Finally, I gave up, got three of them, and went home to worry about which ones to keep later.

The next day I decided to get logical. I applied the little known, but very excellent WWED: What Would Einstein Do? I whipped out an Excel sheet, marked out my important categories with rankings of 0-5, lowest to highest, and came out with this:

  Comfort Style Quality Cost Ranking Verdict
FF Black 3 3 3 5 14 A
FF Brown 3 3 3 5 14 A
Born Black 5 4 5 0 14 R
Born Gray 5 4 5 0 14 G
Born Brown 5 4 5 0 14 H
F. Brown 4 4 3 3 14 !
0-Very, very bad
1- Lowest
5- Highest

Do you see my predicament? I about lost my mind. At least my boyfriend got a good kick out of me trying to be logical about this. I got a, "I'm proud of you, babe!" instead of an, "Whoa, you're super crazy!" like I was expecting.

Later in the week, after I'd worn myself out from the dozen or so shoe stores I visited, I determined that I was going through the 5 Stages of Grief associated in dealing with major life events, such as this: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and finally, Acceptance. In that last stage I had a major revelation- I realized I was an idiot (if you figured this out before me, good for you. Also, I could've used you last week).

Of all the things to stress out about, this was not one of them. I have food, water, shelter. Family and friends that love me and accept me exactly as I am, boot insanity and all. I have a wonderful life. I have options that some people only dream of. Some don't even have shoes, and here I am, acting like a fool over more shoes than I will ever need in my life.

I'm glad we have Thanksgiving this week to remind me to let go of the past, to let go of what I can't change, and to be thankful for every wonderful, amazing, fantastic thing in my life.

I hope you all have wonderful Thanksgiving with your families. Enjoy them. Enjoy every small little moment and be thankful for it. Someone somewhere will never have what you have, the good and the bad and the in-between. Savor all of it.

P.S. If you're looking for recipe ideas for Thursday, check out the links below. They're all gluten free, some are Whole 30, and all are very delicious!

P.P.S. Please don't run over anyone with your shopping carts on Black Friday. Remember, we were all just thankful for everything we had the day before and prison orange doesn't look good on anyone.
Related Posts:
Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas
Recipes from The Gluten Free Baker and more from Paleo Comfort Foods

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Mantra: Whatever Will Be

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Whatever will be, will be

Lately, this has been my new go to saying: Whatever will be, will be.

I use it for everything. Trying out that new ombre hair color craze (wow, I hope I don't look like a freak), a new recipe (I hope it's supposed to taste this way), an outfit (that doesn't match at all), my relationships (should I have said/done that?)- everything. It helps to remind me that sometimes - when things are scary, out of my control, or I've just over thought them - that it doesn't really matter. My life is going to turn out exactly the way it should, regardless of any stress or anxiety I put into a situation. 

So is yours. 

We crazy human beings like to think we can control every situation of our lives. We think we can make people like us more or less if we become someone more or less like them - wrong. We think we can control the outcome of a situation by altering the events leading up to it- wrong. We think, and think, and think ourselves into insanity over things we have no say in. No control over. 

With that in mind, I'm not saying you can just sit back all day long, not strive for anything or push yourself, and just give up trying altogether. On the contrary, this means after you've done all of that, given it your all, tried your very best, then it's time to relax and let life happen. 

At the end of the day, the only real thing we can account for is how we did in this aspect: Was I kind, good, compassionate? To myself and others? 

Or not?

That's it. That's all. As for everything else...

Whatever will be, will be.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Political Ranting

True Story
I'm going to keep this light hearted, so don't go yelling at me, which will defeat my whole purpose here anyway.

In the words of Eminem: Here's my ten cents, my two cents is free.

All I've seen everywhere these last few months is talk about politics, and since yesterday all I've seen are Facebook rants involving shaming one person for their vote while thanking another, or even telling someone they made a huge mistake and that the world as we know it is now going to end and we'll no longer have free speech or freedom or kittens or rainbows or anything else happy and beautiful in life.

You voted for who? We are no longer
friends on Facebook. Take that!
Whoa, people! Why are we attacking each other? 

Let's get down to the basics of all of this. Please sit back a moment and think about this first analogy.

The election, in my mind, is comparative to a phone sex hotline add. You're told you're getting a sexy blonde chick on the line when in reality you're probably getting Fred, a gentleman with a high pitched voice, who moonlights as Fredricka. It's like anything else in life: Unless you yourself are involved in every detail and aspect, you have no idea what's really going on in the White House and you certainly don't know what will happen in the future. Heck, some of us don't even know what we're having for breakfast tomorrow.

It's good to remember that we're all voting for what we think is best based on our perspective, our needs, what we were raised and taught to believe, and what we think is right for us. You can't (and shouldn't) fault anyone for that. Attacking one another is going to accomplish nothing. I repeat- Nothing. Remember this: United States of America, not Divided. Don't let politics make us take sides when we're all on the same team. As a whole, we can make everything better. Separated and sliced up, we end up fighting ourselves and getting nowhere.

More importantly, I think anyway, is that you have been given the right to vote and should use it. Our ancestors fought hard for us to have this privilege. I don't know a lot about politics, but I do know this: Voting is a gift. Do not dismiss it, belittle it, or throw it away.

If in, say, 50 years from now we somehow lose our freedom to vote for the lack of using it, it will be a horrible, terrible, tremendous loss. At the end of the day what counts is that you did it- you voted. You didn't sit back and twiddle your thumbs and do nothing. By doing nothing you have actually done something- by default you've given your power and voice away.

You voted? Good job, bro.
To anyone who voted yesterday, I am high fiving you right now. That's right, put your hand up to the screen. Hold the left a little...sorry, the the right...ok...high five!

Now, let's all be friends again and not let an election of our country tear us apart.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday Mantra: The Whole Truth

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth
It's been about 10 days since I finished up my Whole 30 program (plus some extra time due to my peanut oil debacle). I've started reintroducing foods and, to put it mildly, these last several days have sucked. A lot.

Out of everything I had to give up, there were 4 things I missed: hummus, NutThins, coconut chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, and the occasional gluten free pizza. The first thing I tried was the ice cream. I was so excited and certain it was going to be a party in my mouth. Instead, I thought I was going to die for the next few days after eating it. If ever I needed motivation of some kind to quit that particular ice cream (even though it's awesome being dairy and gluten free) this was it. I had a sore throat, insane allergies, and I was so bloated it may have looked like I was expecting.  Never again- I mean it. Never. Again.

As I kept trying things I realized I really didn't miss the majority of them. My mind thought I did, but in reality, after the first several bites- nothing. I missed nothing.

I'm simultaneously glad the 30 days is over and still want to be on it. Giving my mind no options was hard and easy all at once. This is difficult to explain, but once you eliminate possibilities the only thing you can do is miss them. No bargaining or one bite here and there-ing.

I did feel amazing at the end, which is what I want back. The amazingness. My skin was literally glowing. My pants were looser. I felt strong and capable and determined. During the program I started trying new things, like aerial fitness classes. I created some new spontaneous recipes that were delicious. I became motivated to change a lot of other things. The Whole 30 wasn't just great for my body, it was great for my mind.

Because of my newly strengthened motivation and determination, I've decided to start a new 30 day project. I'm calling this one my 30 Days of Detox. Every day I'm aiming for 8 hours of sleep and 2-3 cups of green tea, along with an 80% Whole 30 Approved food plan. Why only 80%, you may ask, especially after how much it appears that I love it? Because I'm being realistic. I don't want to lie and say I can do this forever, because I can't. I haven't always had the healthiest relationship with food. If I limit myself too much I go crazy. I know me well enough to know this and because my diet is clean as it is, it won't hurt me to have the occasional gluten free pizza or to make the gluten free almond flour based quiche that I love. That being said, if anything I eat starts to hurt me or I question it, I'll simply cut it out and see how I feel without it. Nothing is ever set in stone and what I continue eating will depend on how it makes me feel. Who knows, maybe one day I will give it all up and never look back.

I saw this personal story of another persons end to their Whole 30 and I found it to be very honest and inspiring, therefore I wanted to share. Last but not least, and as always, here were my favorite pieces of advice and other awesome tidbits of info from the final days of the Whole 30.

Day 18: Good food is just a click away.
  • Ghee. Ghee, a form of clarified butter, is a yummy Whole30-approved fat source. You can make your own, or order from Pure Indian Foods: 100% grass-fed, pastured cows raised in a certified organic way. Also, it’s luscious, and comes in flavored varieties.
  • Stronger Faster Healthier Fish Oil. We’ve tried lots of fish oil brands, but we useStronger Faster Healthier’s SO3 Oil for three reasons: squeaky-clean ingredients, more EPA and DHA per teaspoon, and it comes in five delicious flavors (for fish oil). Need more info on omega-3 supplementation? Check out our Fish Oil FAQ.
  • Coconut Milk. Coconut milk is also a luscious source of high-quality fats, but many brands contain added ingredients that we really don’t like. Aroy-D Coconut Milk is preservative-free; the only ingredient is coconut milk, and it’s available in paper cartons, so no worries about BPA. We also like Thai Kitchen, Whole Foods 365, and Native Forest brands.
  • US Wellness Meats. We have just one word: Bacon. Well, it’s really nine words: sugar-free, Whole30 Approved, pork bacon from happy pigs.
  • Coconut Aminos. Asian food can be problematic for Whole30-ers, thanks to sweeteners and the double-whammy of soy and gluten in soy sauce. Say “hello” tococonut aminos! They’re a 100% healthy replacement for soy sauce, so (riceless) sushi, stir-fries, and even pad thai are back on your plate.
  • Adagio Teas. If you’re kicking caffeine as part of your Whole30, you might be craving a warm cup of something soothing. We love all of the caffeine-free options from Adagio Teas, but our favorites are the Rooibus blends. With flavors ranging from vanilla to hazelnut to coconut, there’s something for everyone. Plus, the company has super-friendly customer service and a real connection with their tea growers. Take a sip.
  • Spice Hound. Variety is the spice of life, and spice is the variety in a Whole30. That’s why we love-love-love Spice Hound. With Spice Hound’s high-quality individual spices and sugar-free, Whole30 Approved blends, you’ll be whipping up international meals in no time.
  • Pure Wraps. Sometimes you just want a little something-something rolled up in a wrapper that won’t fall apart like lettuce. Say “hello” to Pure Wraps. Available in original and curry flavors, they’re the Whole30 Approved alternative to traditional tortillas — and they taste great!
  • Primal Pacs and Gourmet Grassfed jerky. Take a bite of Whole30 Approved grass-fed, grass-finished beef jerky. Primal Pacs jerky and snack kits and Gourmet GrassfedOriginal Bold flavor are what we carry in our pockets for snowboarding, mountain biking, and airplane adventures.
  • Red Boat Fish Sauce. Fish Sauce adds that indefinable but unmistakable depth to Thai and other Asian cuisines. Sadly, most fish sauce includes added ingredients that make it unfriendly to Whole30 eaters. That’s why we love Red Boat Fish Sauce: the only ingredients are wild black anchovies and sea salt.
Day 19: You are what you eat, quite literally, and we believe the health of the animals you eat impacts your own health in a far more direct manner than even the quality of your vegetables or fruits. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t purchase organic fruits and veggies when you can—only that you should take a look at the quality of the meat that is on your plate first, especially from a budget perspective.

Day 20: Right now, you’re using a computer, iPad, or smart phone to read today’s Whole30® Daily. And between the ads in your email, on your Facebook page, and buried in the various websites you visit; television commercials, billboards, store signs, and so on, you will see about 5,000 marketing messages today. That means that, on average, someone is trying to sell you something every 17.5 seconds. Every. Single. Day.

The media’s influence on our lives:
  • A study of 4,294 network television commercials revealed that 1 out of every 3.8commercials send some sort of "attractiveness message," telling viewers what is or is not attractive.
  • In articles about fitness or exercise plans, 74% cited "to become more attractive" as a reason to start exercising, and 51% noted the need to lose weight or burn calories.
  • Among children 8 - 10 years old, 50% are dissatisfied with their body size.
  • Among 9 - 11 year olds, 46% are on diets "sometimes" or "very often."
  • 82% of those 9 - 11 year old's families are also on diets "sometimes" or "very often."
  • Among 11 - 13 year old girls, more than 50% believe they are overweight
  • An average US woman is 5'4" tall weighing 140 pounds; the average US model is 5'11"weighing 117 pounds!
  • 44% of US women are on a diet.
  • 29% of US men are on a diet.
  • 35% of people on a diet develop some sort of pathology around food.
  • $109 million is spent in the US every day on diet and weight loss products.
As Melissa Joulwan writes:
“What if I’ve been looking at this thing from the wrong direction all along?
My underlying motivation for all of it – the weight loss, the physical challenges, the healthy eating – has always been that I wanted to be the best version of myself that I could possibly be. Happy, healthy, fit, strong, attractive. But that pure motivation got bastardized into numbers and external measures that divorced what I wanted from what I did.
So what if I try something different? For the first time in almost 30 years, what if I don’t set a physical goal – no weight loss, no leaning out, no target time on the clock or weight on the bar.
Instead, what if I just behave like the best version of myself? Then I will be her.
What would happen if instead of setting goals to become a “better you,” you simply lived as theBest Version of Yourself?

Day 21: When you took on this challenge, we hope it was with the idea that it would change your life. Not change the next 30 days of your life. Not change your year. Change. Your. Life. And it probably goes without saying that whatever habits you had before you started the Whole30 are pretty long-standing—years, maybe even decades-established.
So with that in mind, remember that building new, healthy habits takes time. And patience. And dedication. And awareness. But when those good habits finally stick, and you’re able to function in healthy-mode practically on autopilot, that’s where the life-changing really happens. 
  • Habits have three parts: the cue, the routine, and the reward.
  • About 40% of the actions that you take each day are not the result of conscious decisions, but of habits.
  • It takes, on average, 66 days to form a habit.
  • It can take up to 8 months for a complicated habit to take hold.
  • Most habits run through three checkpoints—30, 90, and 365 days—before they become truly automatic.
  • Missing a day or two here or there does not reduce the chance of forming a habit.
  • The first few days of your new habit are the most important to be diligent about

Day 22: Depending on your previous lifestyle and your individual context, your magic might not kick in until the very end of your program—and you might need to continue your squeaky-clean commitment beyond 30 days to accomplish all of your goals. Medical conditions are especially tough to resolve, as are longstanding habits. If your skin isn’t clear just yet, your digestion has yet to settle down, or your Sugar Dragons aren’t yet dormant in their caves, take heart. Many Whole30 participants report they didn’t get to the real life-changing stuff until their very last days on the program… and that their results continued to improve as their program extended beyond the initial 30 day period.

Day 23: We created our “Nutrition in 60 Seconds” pitch because we needed a way to describe the way we eat to folks in a short, concise manner. So when people ask us, “What is this Paleo thing?” or “What kind of crazy diet is this Whole30?”, we have a tight, practiced response that goes like this (from the preface of It Starts With Food):
“We eat real food—fresh, natural food, like meat, vegetables, and fruit. We choose foods that are nutrient-dense, with lots of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, over foods that have more calories but less nutrition … This is not a ‘diet’—we eat as much as we need to maintain strength, energy and a healthy body weight. We aim for well-balanced nutrition, so we eat both plants and animals … Eating like this allows us to maintain a healthy metabolism and keeps our immune system in balance.”

The first step in talking to friends and family about your new healthy eating plan is crafting your own version of an elevator pitch. Take the next few minutes to fill in our elevator pitch worksheet and practice saying it out loud a few times, to hear how it sounds.

Day 24: Now that you’ve scrutinized the ingredients in your food, we urge you to do the same with your personal care and household products, and consider how they might be affecting you and your family. Did you know that some household cleaners are among the most toxic products found in the home? Or that, on average, adults apply 126 unique ingredients on their skin daily, but nearly 90% of personal care product ingredients have not been evaluated for safety by any publicly accountable institution?

Cosmetics and Beauty Products: has created a list of their top nine most toxic and harmful chemicals in common beauty products. Cleaning Products: It’s likely that you may not recognize (or be able to pronounce) many of the ingredients listed on the bottles of your household cleaners. But even more concerning are the exclamations that appear on some of those bottles: Poison! Danger! Warning! Gaiam Life has created a list of 8 household cleaning agents to avoid.

Day 25: You’ve been choosing the same old vegetables for the past 25 days, maybe venturing into the occasional territories of asparagus, Brussels sprouts, or radishes. You’d like to try new stuff, but every time you go to the store, familiarity wins out—after all, what would you do with leeks, kohlrabi, or rutabaga, anyway?
Enter the CSA. Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.
The benefits? Eat ultra-fresh food, tons of seasonal variety, and a relationship with the farmer who grows your food. Now is the perfect time to ensure your veggie variety by signing up for a CSA in your area. Not sure where to start?
Day 26: Right now you’re probably feeling mighty healthy. You might even be feeling pretty savvy, too, what with your food-label reading, your product-label reading, and your new awareness of media’s influence on your body image and self-esteem.

But today we’re asking—do you feel health-savvy? Are you equipped with the tools necessary to evaluate the often conflicting and confusing health claims portrayed in the media? Do you know how to evaluate an advertisement, read a news article with a critical eye, or understand an academic paper without your eyes crossing?
  • Remove your ego. At its root, confirmation bias is an ego disease. We hate to be wrong, and we're desperate for others to validate our position. Seek the truth over being right.
  • Seek disagreement. Foster an environment where it is not only okay to disagree, butencouraged. Ask friends, family members, and co-workers the question, "Why am I wrong?" At meetings, require everyone to play devil's advocate.
  • Ask better questions. One of the most worthless questions to ask a friend or co-worker is "How do you think I did?" because you'll never get any constructive feedback. A much better question is, "What could I have done differently to make it better?"
  • Keep information channels open. Constantly seek alternative views and opinions in print, on TV and in person. That might mean visiting websites, reading newspapers and watching shows that you've previously avoided. Remember, seek the truth, not evidence that you're right.
  • Google better. Don't search what you want to prove, because with over 3 billion web pages, you're bound to find one that agrees with you. Instead, use open-ended searches that aren't biased.

Day 27: Our current Whole30 program covers only one of the 9 factors we believe fuse together to promote whole health. As the title of our book illustrates, It Starts With Food…but by no means does it end there.
Once your nutrition is straight, it’s the perfect time to look at the rest of our Whole9 health factors, and see if you can create improvement in another area of your life. Below, we’ve brainstormed a list of things you could Whole30-ize, but you don’t necessarily need to use one of these. You know your life. You know yourself. What do you need to do to continue on this road toward optimal health?

Day 28: The Stages of Change Model was originally developed in the late 1970's and early 1980's. The idea behind the Stages of Change Model (SCM) is that behavior change does not happen in one step. People tend to progress through different stages on their way to successful change, and each of us progresses through the stages at our own rate. Expecting behavior change by giving someone appropriate information for one stage while they’re still in another is counterproductive—they’re just not ready to hear it.
In each of the stages, a person has to grapple with a different set of issues and tasks that relate to changing behavior. Understanding where your conversation partner is in these five stages can help you tailor your message—so you’re giving them just the right information at the right time, making the conversation far more productive, and far more likely to end in successful change.
The five stages of change include:
  • Precontemplation. Not yet acknowledging that there is a problematic behavior that needs to be changed. People in this stage tend to defend their current bad habit(s) and do not feel it is a problem. They may be defensive in the face of other people's efforts to pressure them to quit. They do not focus their attention on quitting and tend not to discuss their bad habit with others. In some addiction circles, this stage is also called “denial.”
  • Contemplation. Acknowledging that there is a problem, but not yet ready or sure of wanting to make a change. In the contemplation stage people are more aware of the personal consequences of their bad habit, and spend time thinking about their problem. People are on a teeter-totter, weighing the pros and cons of quitting or modifying their behavior. Although they think about the negative aspects of their bad habit and the positives associated with giving it up (or reducing), they may doubt that the long-term benefits associated with quitting will outweigh the short-term costs.
  • Preparation/Determination. Getting ready to change. In the preparation/determination stage, people have made a commitment to make a change. Their motivation for changing is reflected by statements such as: "I've got to do something about this - this is serious. Something has to change. What can I do?" This is sort of a research phase: people are now taking small steps toward change. They are trying to gather information about what they will need to do to change their behavior.
  • Action/Willpower. Changing behavior. This is the stage where people believe they have the ability to change their behavior and are actively involved in taking steps to change. This is a stage when people most depend on their own willpower. They are making overt efforts to quit or change the behavior, and are at greatest risk for relapse, so it’s key that they leverage any techniques available to stay motivated.
  • Maintenance. Maintaining the behavior change. Maintenance involves being able to successfully avoid any temptations to return to the bad habits. The goal of the maintenance stage is to maintain the new status quo. People in this stage tend to remind themselves of how much progress they have made. They remain aware that what they are striving for is personally worthwhile and meaningful. They are patient with themselves and recognize that it often takes a while to let go of old behavior patterns and practice new ones until they are second nature to them. Even though they may have thoughts of returning to their old bad habits, they resist the temptation and stay on track.
Day 29: According to Wikipedia, an After Action Report (AAR) is “any form of retrospective analysis on a given sequence of goal-oriented actions previously undertaken, generally by the author himself.” Translation? It’s a report designed to evaluate the success of a project, from the eyes of the project manager. In the case of the Whole30, the project is the 30 day program, and the project manager is you.
The first AARs were developed by army generals, but contemporary examples of AARs include project evaluations in business, as well as summaries of large gaming sessions in video game culture.
The general (and overly simplified) theme of an AAR is this:
  • What went well
  • What could have gone better
  • What you’ll do the next time
Day 30: You’ve reached a critical juncture in your Whole30 program—do you extend your Whole30 for another 10, 15, 30 days, or proceed with the reintroduction schedule on Day 31?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this one, and everyone needs to make up their own minds. For some, extending to a Whole45 or Whole60 was the right thing to do—for others, they learned everything they needed to know in those 30 days, and were ready to ride their own bike come Day 31. So how do you know which situation applies to you? Here are some general guidelines.
  • Medical conditions = keep going. If you were really hoping to see significant relief from your medical condition or symptoms, and just haven’t yet, perhaps a few extra weeks on the Whole30 will give your body more time to heal. Skin conditions, chronic pain and fatigue, depression, and autoimmune conditions generally require more attention to detail and perseverance than other conditions.
  • Sugar cravings = keep going. If all you can think about right now is diving into a box of donuts, perhaps your Sugar Dragon never went dormant at all—and those bad habits (dessert, sweets for comfort, treats to relieve stress) haven’t actually changed yet. This is a sure sign that you should continue with your Whole30, while working hard not to feed that Dragon with fruit or sweet treats when it’s roaring.
  • Fear of less healthy foods = ride your own bike. If you’re afraid to come off the Whole30 because the idea of eating bread or ice cream terrifies you… it’s time to ride your own bike. Don’t be afraid of off-plan foods! Remember, you’re in control now, not your food choices. Follow the reintroduction schedule carefully, and know that you’ll always have the Whole30 to fall back on, if things start heading down that slippery slope.
  • Just feeling so good = up to you. If you’re just feeling so darn good right now that you can’t imagine wanting to eat or drink something that you know will make you feel not-so-good, then it’s up to you whether you keep going or start the reintroduction schedule. Many folks handle this situation intuitively—they stay on the Whole30 until something so delicious (and so worth it) crosses their path, they decide to come off for that one special item. (We like this approach.)

And their bonus day to get you back on track...

Day 31: If you woke up on Day 31 and had a breakfast of beer, pizza, Cocoa Puffs, and ice cream with peanut butter sauce, how will you know which food group to blame when every bodily system feels like junk an hour later? (And everything would feel like junk.)
Here’s what we’d like you to do instead: introduce “less healthy” foods back into your diet one group at a time, while keeping the rest of your diet as Whole30-clean as possible. Think about it like a scientific trial, in which your Whole30 is the “control” and the one food group you are trying to evaluate is the “experimental group.” Sure, you’ll get some added sugar in many of your “experimental” foods, but the key is not combining food groups in any one testing day.
Here is a sample ten-day reintroduction schedule. Feel free to alter the food groups and particular food choices to suit your needs.
Day 1: Evaluate dairy,while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30-compliant. Have yogurt in the morning, some cheese in the afternoon, and ice cream after dinner. Evaluate how you feel that day, and the next day, and perhaps even the day after that. Stomach feel like you’re about to birth an alien? Suddenly feeling all congested and headachy? Skin break out in the next day or two? You may need to limit your dairy consumption to very small quantities or only certain items (yogurt, but not ice cream) during “off plan” meals, or you may decide that the aftereffects mean that all dairy is simply never worth it.
Day 4: Evaluate gluten-containing grains,while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30-compliant. Gluten is such nasty stuff that we want to break it out from the other grains, so you can evaluate it all by itself. Over the course of your day, eat a whole-wheat bagel, a side of pasta, and a dinner roll. (Most beers contain gluten, so drinking one beer would count here, too.) See how you feel that day, and the next day, and so on. Evaluate your experience and decide how often and how much to incorporate gluten grains into your regular diet—if at all. (We recommend not at all.)
Day 7: Evaluate non-gluten grains,while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30-compliant. Eat a serving of white rice, some corn tortilla chips, and a slice of gluten-free bread. See how you feel that day, and the next day, and so on. Pay attention to your reactions and decide how, how often, and how much to incorporate grains into your regular diet—if at all.
Day 10: Evaluate legumes, while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30-compliant. Try some peanut butter, a bowl of lentil soup, some tofu, and a side of black beans. See how you feel that day, and the next day, and so on. Evaluate your experience and decide how, how often, and how much to incorporate legumes into your regular diet—if at all

If you're still on your Whole 30 or thinking about starting, I recommend getting their book, It Starts With Food. I just purchased it and find it incredibly motivating and informative. In hindsight, I wish I had used it during the 30 days. Best of luck to those still going to starting! You can do it!

Related Posts
Monday Mantra: Challenge Accepted
Whole 30: Week 1, Plus a Recipe, Apps, and More!
Whole 30: Week Two, Plus Recipes and Books
Whole 30: Week 3 and Some Guacamole-ish Type Things

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