Blissful Boundaries


I’m a bit of a rule follower. I like structure and boundaries and knowing what’s expected. This doesn’t mean that I never deviate from the path laid out before me, though. If that were the case, I never would have bucked the conventional wisdom of eating more whole grains and less meat in order to explore a paleo eating philosophy. But it does mean that I love it when I know what I can and can’t eat. It makes me feel comfortable and in control.

The Whole 30 was made for people like me. I am an expert at following the rules for specific eating regimens. In fact, I have been successful with Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Diet Center, the Standard American Diet (SAD) in its healthiest whole-grain/light protein manifestation, low-fat, low-carb…you name it, I’ve probably considered it at some point. You see, I’ve always loved food and I have spent decades searching for a way to eat that satisfied both my appreciation for food and good flavors and my understanding of how my body works and what my body needs.

Let me pause for a moment first to reiterate that paleo works for ME. I think it can also work wonders for others, hence sharing these things on my blog, but I am not in any way a judge of what others choose to eat. At all.

The reason the Whole 30 works so well for me is that it gives me the rules that I need to follow in order to be successful. My definition of success has several different elements to it. Yes, I would like to lose a few pounds and be a little leaner, but I am more interested in a long-term ability to feel thrilled and overjoyed in every eating situation. I have spent too many years worrying if this or that would make me gain weight or slow my weight loss. What I’m okay worrying about, though, is whether or not something makes me healthier inside and out. Physically AND psychologically. The Whole 30 gives me a brief respite from needing to assess if something makes me more or less healthy, if something will trigger a binge or not, even if something is too much or not.

During the Whole 30, I don’t step on the scale – (one of the rules) – so I don’t know whether some meal made me gain weight or not. When I’m journaling what I’m eating, sometimes it looks like too much (and a little part of me wonders if someone is judging that) but what I’m listening for is the signal from my body telling me if I’ve had enough or if I’m still hungry. That part of me has been damaged over the years and its voice is not very loud. What this process allows me to do is to go ahead and have some nuts or a spoonful of coconut butter or another piece of meat and to relax about it, knowing that the food is good for me and at some point I will find my balance.

This part is easy. When it becomes more difficult is when my Whole 30 comes to an end. At that point, I need to make these decisions independently, one by one, and they aren’t always easy. My plan is to stay fairly close to the Whole 30 guidelines, but my previous experience is that as I loosen things up, stray outside the boundaries, I move farther and farther away from them. But I’d rather not because I feel so much better without grains, processed food, sugar, even dairy. The trick is remembering that when social situations or cravings or long-standing habits get in the way.

In a few more days, I’ll be working hard to look at each situation and determine if my choice makes me healthier and, if it doesn’t, is it worth it? Do any of you struggle with this too?


8 thoughts on “Blissful Boundaries

  1. I commented on your fb page earlier 🙂 but I thought about this some more. The thing I am afraid of most…tortilla chips. I can stop eating cookies after one or two. I can limit most everything else and put it down when I feel satisfied…but tortilla chips are like crack for me. One chip and I eat the whole bag, and maybe even open a second.

    I also love dairy. (I seriously love whole fat yogurt) I could eat cheese all day, every day.

    You know what goes well with cheese, especially melted cheese–CHIPS!

    See how this happens? yeah. I am a little concerned about it. 🙂 I definitely struggle.

    • Thanks for the comment in both places!

      Want to know what goes with cheese in my house? Wine. And the slippery slope.

      Have you ever considered giving up tortilla chips altogether so they don’t trigger that type of eating or does the idea of that make it even worse?

      • Funny you should mention all of those things. All of the above has been on my brain lately.

        For example some friends of our are likely coming over this wekend. Some insight into my life: my wife and I both love food. As I have mentioned on my own blog-we celebrate and suffer with food.
        Anyway, when our frinds come over (often every weekend) it becomes a food fest-wine, beer cheese, meat –basically a large charcuterie spread.
        Prior to the Whole30, I ate pretty clean during the week, until the weekends. It was always the weekends. (Talk about binging) So now I am trying to figure out how to moderate those habits.
        After the Whole30, can I have those foods I love in moderation? Or are they my triggers? Will they send me back into a tailspin? I also have to find a mental balance so that I don’t end up obsessing about it all, which becomes the exact polar opposite of where I started.

        So to answer your question, I have considered giving up tortilla chips…but man it makes me so sad. 🙂

  2. Dear, Michelle. I can very deeply relate to many things you shared except I, frankly, do NOT feel comfortable with structure around food (other ways, yes, have to have it).
    As a vegetarian seeking to balance proteins and fats in order to feel satiated for more than an hour, I have found a protein shake that works magnificent wonders for me in many ways. When my mind wanders toward all the many choices in the kitchen, my mantra is, “Do what works.” To me that is my protein mix combined with greens, berries, and water or tea.
    The problem is, that creates structure for me. And I automatically balk at structure. So, I, too, am seeking to find balance through my own personal and quiet physical and psychological intuition. I appreciate being reminded that its a journey – it’s not like I’m preparing for a test on Friday (or a weigh-in!). All my best to you and your readers. I look forward from hearing from them on this topic.

    • I find it interesting that you and Barb both mention the importance of being satisfied and not hungry all the time. I too find this to be the key. I have no problem turning things down when I am not hungry – and paleo has given me that. Keep working towards it – I know you’ll find figure out what you need!

  3. I have many of the same experiences. I find it easier when I have a set of rules to follow. I’ve also tried WW and other diets – some not so healthy. I like Paleo because I am not hungry all the time. This is the only diet that works for me in that way. I’d like to lose some weight but as long as I’m satisfied and not gaining that’s the ticket for me. Like you, I’m also happy knowing that I’m eating healthy food. A bonus for me is that I now eat a bigger variety of vegetables and I have rediscovered cooking. All I have to remember is Eat Real Food. That generally keeps me away from the unhealthy oils and sugar. Michelle, you’ve been a real inspiration to me in this journey/transformation. Thank you many times over.

    • I am so glad that something I shared could help you along in your journey. You are actually one of my inspirations to start this blog because you made me feel as if I had something the say. Your success and well-being is a bright spot in my life!

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