By Shanna Keller, who faced down that “I want to quit my Whole30 NOW” feeling and has an increased sense of self-efficacy and confidence to show for it.
My first Whole30 was in the fall of 2013. It was a different Whole30 landscape back then. We made our own bone broth and mayo; carried hard-boiled eggs around as emergency food; drank our coffee black; and walked uphill in the snow both ways.
Just kidding about the walking, but when it came to black coffee, I wasn’t laughing. I dearly loved my morning brew with a generous splash of half-and-half. It was the greatest challenge during the first half of my Whole30. Around Day 7 or 8, I stood in my kitchen, hand on the refrigerator door handle, arguing with myself: This Whole30 thing is too hard. Why did I ever think I could do this? I should just put the half-and-half in my coffee, right?
It was a good five minutes of internal conflict circling around one thought: when the Whole30 going gets rough, am I going ditch out on my commitment to myself, or will I rise to the challenge? In the end, my desire to finish what I started won out over the craving. (And by Day 30, that experience had morphed into my favorite NSV: self-efficacy, the belief in one’s ability to effect change on one’s circumstances and behaviors.)
No matter how committed you are to Whole30 success, you’ll likely hit a point where you want to quit. Many Whole30’ers tell us they want to quit out of frustration during Days 10 and 11 (known as “The Hardest Days”); others are tempted to bail due to boredom around Day 21.
Usually, these Whole30’ers find that if they refocus their attention, address the underlying issues, and recommit to their Whole30 program, they can successfully cruise on to Day 30 and into Food Freedom. Over the years, I’ve observed the tactics that help people rise to the challenge and succeed fall into five broad strategies.
1 | Renew Your Inspiration
Remember how excited (and maybe a little scared) you were on Day 1? Get back in touch with the things that inspired you to start the Whole30 program in the first place. You probably had a list of reasons you wanted to give Whole30 a try; review that list of reasons and reflect on early successes you’ve had so far. Be generous and give yourself credit for your wins so far. Things like cooking meals from scratch; saying, “no thank you” to donuts in the break room; or learning to properly identify Whole30 compliant products are all worth celebrating.
Melissa Hartwig Urban knew you’d need lots of inspiration during your Whole03, so she included daily motivating notes in The Whole30 Day by Day. Reading I Am Whole30 stories from other successful Whole30’ers can also be a source of inspiration. Check out the #IAmWhole30 hashtag or our archive of Whole30 stories here on our website.
2 | Phone A Friend
Changing your relationship with food is hard; don’t try to tough it out alone. If you have a Whole30 buddy, now is the time to give them a call or send a “911” text message. Let your buddy know exactly how you’re struggling so they can give you specific encouragement.
If you’re flying solo during your Whole30, you can still reach out for support from someone you trust like a parent, best friend or partner.
Having a built-in Whole30 cheerleader is also the reason many Whole30’ers like to hire a Whole30 Certified Coach; they’re a fantastic source of accountability, motivation and encouragement, and many of them offer phone and text messaging support. (Want to know more about working with a Coach? Check out this article: Eleven Reasons To Hire a Whole30 Certified Coach.)
3 | Give Yourself an Evening Off
Cooking three meals a day and keeping your kitchen clean is a big effort day after day; it’s likely you’re getting worn out. Sometimes, all it takes to get back into your Whole30 groove is taking a night off and eating a Whole30 compliant meal that you don’t have to cook for yourself.
Order a few Whole30 Approved prepared meals from a delivery company in your city; have a #Whole30SaladBowl from Chipotle; carry-out a meal from the Whole30 Approved menu at Zoe’s Kitchen; or find a restaurant locally that can accommodate your Whole30 requests.
4 | Get Meal Planning Help
Over and over again, Whole30’ers have told us that meal planning is their most significant Whole30 pain point. It makes sense; researching compliant meals, compiling recipes, making a grocery shopping list and organizing everything for the upcoming week are all skills that take time and effort to develop. Until you get some practice under your belt, it can feel like an overwhelming task that never ends.
5 | Focus on something OTHER than food
It only makes sense that you are laser-focused on what you’re eating during your Whole30 program, but life is about so much more than food. Give your brain a break by doing something totally unrelated to the Whole30 for the afternoon. Call a friend to catch up; try a new exercise or yoga class; start a book you’ve been meaning to read; treat yourself to a manicure or massage; invest in the tools you need to start a new hobby; or visit a museum or art gallery.
After an afternoon of interacting with new ideas; concentrating on art and beauty; developing a new skill; taking care of yourself; or connecting with another person, chances are you’ll feel renewed and refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of your Whole30 program with gusto.
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Shanna Keller is the director of digital content for Whole30. Find her on Instagram.