Failing forward: Whole 30's unexpected epiphany

If you follow me at all on social media, you know a few things about me: I love my dog. I get migraines. I recently attempted Whole 30.

My goal was to discover if there’s a food that may be a trigger for my migraines. I started getting chronic migraines about three years ago, and let me tell you, they’re a freaking blast. It’s not “a really bad headache,” like some may think. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like being hungover while someone beats on the back of your eyeballs with a mallet. If you’re lucky, often it’s nearly impossible to keep food down and any and all light is like high-powered laser beams to your pupils. Needless to say, it’s the kind of pain that made me willing to give up beer, cheese, candy, and bread, in order to find some relief. 

This post is both a hilarious (now looking back) tale of hanger and a case study about how social media has the power to reshape our goals, often without us knowing. Welcome to my Whole 30 fail forward.

Day 1: Let’s do this.

Day 2-3: Wow, I snack a lot. I’m super hungry between meals.

Day 4-5: I’m really suprised I’m not craving beer. But I have the absolute worst headache. Not a migraine, but a real headache. Whole 30 veterans say this is normal.

Day 6: I cooked and drank a mocktail. I am super committed to thing, but damn this is hard.

Day 7: ONE WEEK DOWN. Hunger between meals is subsiding a bit.

Day 8: Tried to work out today and actually thought I was going to collapse from weakness. I know I’m eating well, but I don’t think this is normal to be this weak.

Day 9-11: Severe depression. I was not expecting this. I’m super anxious, unhappy, irritable and unmotivated.

Day 12: Cravings. But not as moody.

Day 13: I live at Trader Joes now. 

Day 14: Oh, a migraine. And I accidentally messed up…

Yes, my whole 30 was more like whole 14. Turns out there are two kinds of almond butter made by the same company. One has added sugar, the other doesn’t. I didn’t reread the label when buying a new jar because “I did that already.” So when I started getting a migraine one afternoon at work, I frantically searched through everything I had been eating to see what had changed. “Free Trade Cane Sugar.” It stared back at me, mocking, and the fact that it was free trade was like “yeah you screwed up, but the world thanks you.”

So— the culprit to date is added/processed sugar. Or so I’ll see. I’m starting a low-sugar diet and just overall being more concious about how much sugar I have.

But it’s so interesting how this “fad,” while overall good for us and well-meaning can twist and change us. It’s not a new discovery about social media, but as someone who is often crafting those messages, I’ve always felt like I have “seen behind the veil” and that I’m immune to falling into the game of comparison. I have been very transparent that my instagram is a place to flex my creativity. It’s often not a direct reflection of my life, and mostly just hits the high notes. So when I see other’s highlight reels, I try to keep in mind that they’re not perfect, they’re just good at instagram. But through this experience, I had to continuously check myself and ask, am I doing this for social media or for me?

The fact that I actually fell off the wagon four days ago and I’m just now writing this is about 20% because I’ve had an insane week and 80% because I dreaded “defending myself” from this “fail.” When I had my first beer, I didn’t share on instagram because I felt I needed to write this post first. It’s this self-reflection that opened my eyes to both my own weakness and social media’s power. It’s a new understanding that I’ll carry as a consumer of these platforms and a creator. 

At the end of the day, I isolated something that may be the cause of my migraines. After reintroducing all the other food groups and not getting another migraine, I’m going to see if this low-sugar thing helps. So it’s a fail forward in my book. 

What expectations do you allow social media to create for you? It’s something to ponder. But as far as whether to do Whole 30, I’m just gonna say— you really have to have a strong driving force to come back to when the hanger, cravings and social media pressure creeps in. 

Happy posting/eating/drinking/living.