Indigo30 DAY 27: An introduction to the Reintroduction

Don’t do what I did the first time I did the Indigo30, which was not TRULY learning about the re-introduction a few days before the final day. All I could think about was BEING DONE. And I can even remember being a little defiant about doing the image.pngreintroduction all together, like, “Nah, I don’t really need to do it properly, I will figure it out.” I do remember having the WORST STOMACH ACHE EVER on Day 31 after eating some quinoa. But that morning I also had cream in my coffee. And I had a glass of wine on the night of Day 29. (Bad cheating! I was such a rogue.) So even though I thought it was the quinoa, it could have been any of the three. But I didn’t really know because I mashed them all together in a 12-hour period.

After 3 years of studying the Whole30, I still have to give myself the constant reminder that the Whole30 is a dietary reset, intended to help us figure out what foods affect our digestion, energy, sleep, mood, focus, cravings, athletic performance, and symptoms of a medical condition — negatively. “Careful, systematic reintroduction is the key to identifying which specific foods aren’t okay for you (and the effects they have on your body and brain),” encourages the Hartwigs in Whole30. So do NOT skip, blow off, rush through, modify or forget about this step. You guys, if you skip the re-introduction, it’s like getting to the end of the race but never crossing the actual finish line. It’s like I tell my teachers in training — you must complete your last assignment, or I can’t give you your certificate. Why put in ALL this work and not get what you came for?

“Reintroduction is actually a lifelong process. The more you pay attention to how you look, feel, perform and live after eating certain foods, the more you will notice their subtle effects. For some, gluten makes them sad. For others, dairy makes them break out — but not until two or three days after the exposure.” I can remember an esthetician once told me that the sugar that I eat now will show up as a breakout on my face or back 30 days later. I was like, OMG. NOOOOO!! I don’t even know if that’s actually true but it was enough to make me not want to eat sugar because it felt like a horrible forever-kind-of cycle. I can’t remember what I ate a month ago! But now it’s a huge, angry cyst on my chin. Yuck.

I can promise you this, if I can’t promise you anything else on this program. If you blow off your yoga and you decide to celebrate with pasta and wine or beer and pizza followed by a bowl of ice cream and a night-cap, Day 32 is going to be hell. You will feel like you have been lawn-mowed. Your Sugar Dragon will reawaken with a vengeance, you will have zero energy and your trips to the bathroom will be frequent and uncomfortable. And you really won’t know why.

There are two ways to work the Reintroduction: the Fast Track and the Slow Roll.

The Indigo30 Fast Track

image.pngThe Fast Track is the complete reintroduction protocol in ten days. This is for folks who know exactly what they have been missing and want to figure out quickly if these foods negatively impact them. You are going to keep up with your yoga schedule because you know how to safely pace and modify and when to back off a little (in class) but you love how you feel and you need the discipline of coming every day. If you feel satisfied with the results of the Indigo30, are a Type-A, structured type person, then the I30 Fast Track option is for you. This plan is also the best route for someone who undeniably lives with food allergies and is not certain what is causing so much genuine and life-altering upset.

The basic timeline of the Indigo30 Fast Track is as follows:

DAY 1 (optional): Keep your entire diet Whole30 compliant while evaluating a gluten-free alcohol. The best options are a gluten-free, low-sulfite red wine (Fit Vine is fantastic, as is Scout & Cellar. Both wines are free of residual sugar which makes them so much better to drink, of course in moderate quantity, after this program) 100% agave tequila or gluten-free beer. This is the day to re-introduce it but don’t go overboard. Then, go back to Whole30 for the next two days and see how you feel. Alcohol is a major part of social life, and, you have done just fine without it for 30 days. Take a little time to determine how, how often, how much — if at all — you really need it in your lifestyle.

DAY 1 (OR 4): Evaluate legumes while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30-compliant. I caution against a big bowl of beans — you know why. You could try some peanut butter or some miso soup. After this day, go back to Whole30 for the next two days.

DAY 4 (OR 7): Evaluate non-gluten grains (corn, brown or white rice, certified gluten-free oats, quinoa, etc.) while keeping the rest of your diet W30-compliant. Oatmeal, white rice, tortilla chips, gluten-free bread… (I know all you saw just now was TORTILLA CHIPS). After this day, return to W30 for the next two days. Pay attention. You are getting all the intel you need during this time about what truly works and what doesn’t.

NOTE: You may experience a moment of loss or sadness when you come to the realization that some of your most favorite foods truly, after all, simply don’t work for your body — like at all, not just for 30 days. Dude, I get it. It’s a bummer. And… it’s not. It’s just food. It’s not a loss of life or loss of a pet or loss of a relationship. It’s the loss of a routine and a reward that you created by no deliberate fault of your own at some point in time and found enjoyable. Be present with the irrationality of feeling loss and depression over tortilla chips. Then, take a deep breath, shake it off, and get to your yoga mat. 

DAY 10 (OR 13): Test run gluten-containing grains (any product made from wheat, rye or barley-bread, cereal, pasta, crackers, beer, etc.) — and of course keep the rest of your diet W30 clean. You could go with a muffin or some whole-grain bread, maybe some wheat crackers or a beer. Only do a bowl of cereal if you can use a nut-milk over it.

COMPLETION: Now you know. Your reintroduction is over, and you can decide for yourself what works and what doesn’t. If drinking alcohol gave you a splitting headache, if yogurt made your bowels blow, or bread made you break out like a teen, only you can make the call about if it was worth it… and it may be! And that’s okay! The win here is that you now know going in how it will affect you. And I would put money on the notion that you probably won’t indulge as much as you think you will anyway. Pretty great for just 30 days of work after a lifetime of wily ways.

The Indigo30 Slow Roll 

The Slow Roll doesn’t follow any particular timeline. The entire idea is to just carry on eating Whole30 and doing your yoga until something comes along that causes you to have to make some new choices. Is it a special treat at a party? Is it a weekend vacation to the beach where your yoga happens as napping on a beach chair with a magazine?

image.pngWhat’s great about the Slow Roll is that you get to continue the momentum you’ve built, living symptom-free and energized as long as you stick predominately to the plan. Another huge bonus that you may not have even realized is that when you do choose to reintroduce food that you think is the greatest, most irresistible thing ever, you’ll savor it more. You won’t be bringing a large amount back in at any given time, so it’s likely that the side effects won’t be as severe or last as long as they might if you are really going for it like you do on the Fast Track.

This option is for the person who has already done the Indigo30 before and has a really good sense of what foods do not work for them. It’s possible that you may want to Fast Track to see if anything has changed — we know this is possible as we age — that we can’t tolerate things quite like we used to be able to (alcohol!) This option is also for the person who doesn’t have really severe food allergies and doesn’t need super definitive answers. However, the Slow Roll isn’t just for ten days — this is basically your new normal from here on out. (In a couple of days, I will talk to you about my other approach, the “Paleo5,” which is another option after you ease out of the Slow Roll.)

As far as your yoga goes, I encourage you to take Day 31 completely off. Like, I don’t even want to see your smiling, triumphant face on Day 31. TAKE DESERVED, NEEDED REST. And on Day 32, get back on your mat, and allow yourself to determine how much yoga is truly best for you, your body, your schedule and your goals/purpose. I will always and forever tell a practiced yogi that 5 days a week is your standard, with one of those days devoted to a restorative practice, especially if you incorporate other workouts into your regimen. My only caveat here is that the routine — the ritual — for some of you, really helps keep you on the rails. And what a positive, glorious ritual it is! So keep going. Just keep going wisely. Hydrate often. Eat enough – nourish with good carbohydrate and good fat. Back off every now and then so your body can heal and therefore get stronger. Do imagenot ever push past reasonable limits. There is no direction ANYWHERE in any of the ancient teachings that says “push harder” or “if you’re not killing yourself you are not working hard enough.” No, no, no. Oh my gosh — NO. This idea is so not what was intended by the great masters. The ancient text, the Yoga Sutras, interestingly enough, only says one thing about the physical practice of asana: Sthira Suhkam Asanam. It means a yoga posture should be steady, firm and stable, yet also comfortable, light and delightful.

Straight from the Whole30 book is “One Slow Roll Consideration.”

“There is one way to keep your daily diet feeling more sustainable without jeopardizing your Tiger Blood. To give yourself a little breathing room on this stretched-out reintroduction schedule, consider relaxing on the Whole30 “no added sugar” rule come Day 31.

HALLELUJAH PRAISE THE LORD!

… This doesn’t mean you’re eating frosting washed down with energy drinks (gross) but if you want sugar-cured bacon with your eggs, ketchup on your burger, or the vinaigrette dressing the comes with your restaurant salad, go right ahead. Note that we’re not actually changing your diet much here — you were already eating meat, condiments, and salads on the Whole30. We’re just broadening your choices a bit, in a way that won’t send you running for the nearest donut shop. Of course, if there are some foods you suspect (or know) will be ‘triggers’ for your Sugar Dragon, stay away! Sweetened nut butters or coconut butters, dark chocolate, or coffee creamers may send you hurtling down the path of cravings and overconsumption.”

I feel so happy that you now have a good path for when you’re on your own. I am feeling suddenly like an empty nester. (sniffle) I am excited for you and know you will crush it, no matter what comes your way. I feel confident that you will be able to decide, for yourself and in your heart, what is “worth it.” I do want to warn you though, and the book will tell you this as well, that your definition of “worth it” on Day 31 may loosen as time goes on. The discipline is to always and forever assess what is worth it as if you were on Day 15. Sometimes, as with so many things, the idea of a certain food is better than the actuality of it.

Be strong. Make informed decisions. And as always, keep going.

Love,

B

Indigo30 DAY 22: Satiety and satiation

I’ve done the Whole30 several times now and each time not only do I learn so much more, but I understand the concepts in greater depth. And I even look back on my previous programs and go, “I so didn’t know that,” or, “How did I not know that!” So if this is your first time, try to give yourself a little wiggle room for learning. On the outside it seems fairly simple, but it’s actually pretty complicated because food producers and manufacturers make it real complicated.

In fact, I was at Costco today, and as I was skimming the food book/cookbook table for anything interesting, a lady leaned over to me and said, “Ugh. I don’t know what to buy. My sister is on this Keto thing and she’s lost all this weight but she’s grouchy and miserable even though she’s trying to get me to do it with her. It’s all so confusing.” I looked at her with my silver hair ablaze like Einstein’s and said, “I can help you.”

We talked for about 15 minutes and I explained some of the basic concepts I have been teaching you. She asked all kinds of questions, but her biggest concern was longevity. I was pretty candid about how I didn’t think the Keto diet was sustainable long-term, and that even though the weight might drop off faster, it would be harder to maintain versus a Whole30 reset followed by a Paleo-based lifestyle. But weight loss is so glamorizing for the average American. We want it all and we want it now. And most don’t even care how they get it, even if it means taking dangerous weight loss drugs, having invasive surgery and a host of other harmful methods. What is more alarming, is that people will do these things without any research or understanding about what and why. th-1.jpeg

For those of you who are wanting true, long-term results and practices, you make great efforts to understand processes. Two of the key concepts that explain the why of the Whole30 approach are satiety and satiation. The two words are often confused or thought to mean the same thing. Let’s look at them more closely. I really love how Dallas and Melissa Hartwig break down the concepts, I’ve pulled an outstanding excerpt from their book, It Starts With Food to explain.

“If we were hunting and foraging our food in nature, our bodies would need some way to signal to us that we’d found something useful. For example, bitter taste signified toxic foods, while sweet taste signifies safer choices. Thanks to nature and our biology, our brains have been hardwired to appreciate three basic tastes: sweet (a safe source of energy), fatty (a dense source of calories), and salty (a means of conserving fluid). When we came across these flavors, neurotransmitters in our brain would help us remember that these are good choices by sending us signals of pleasure and reward, reinforcing the experience in our memories. These important signals from nature helped us select the foods best suit to our health.

But there is one very important point to keep in mind with respect to these signals from nature. They weren’t designed to tell us which foods were delicious — they were designed to tell us which foods were nutritious.

In nature, pleasure and reward signals led us to vital nutrition.

The trouble is that in today’s world, the ancient signals persist — but the foods that relay them are anything but good sources of nutrition. And that creates a major disruption in our bodies and in our brains.

Over the Last 50 years, the make up of our foods has dramatically changed. Our grocery stores and health food markets are packed with shelves of processed, refined food-like products — which no longer look anything like the plant or animal from which they were derived.

Food scientists caught onto the fact that our brains respond strongly to specific flavors (such as the aforementioned sweet, fatty, and salty), and, armed with this knowledge, they began to modify our whole foods. They sucked out the water, the fiber, and the nutrients and replaced them with ingredients like corn syrup, MSG, seed oils and artificial sweeteners, colors and flavors. All of this with specific intention of inducing cravings, overconsumption, and bigger profits for food manufacturers.

They’ve turned real food into Franken-food.th-2.jpeg

These foods light up pleasure and reward centers in the brain for a different reason than nature intended — not because they provide vital nutrition, but because they are scientifically designed to stimulate our taste buds. The effect is a total disconnection between pleasurable, rewarding tastes (sweet, fatty, and salty) and the nutrition that always accompanies them in nature.

In nature, sweet tastes usually come from seasonal raw fruit, rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Today, sweet flavors come from artificial sweeteners, refined sugars, and high-fructose corn syrup. In nature, fatty acids usually come from meats, especially nutrient-packed organ meats. In modern times, fats come from a deep fryer or a tub of “spread.” In nature, precious electrolytes like sodium came from sea life or from the animals we ate. In modern times, salt comes from a shaker.

Do you see the problem with this?

Modern technology has stripped the nutrition from these foods, replacing it with empty calories and synthetic chemicals that fool our bodies into giving us the same powerful biological signals to keep eating.

This means that we are eating more calories with less nutrition.

Persistent biological signals lead us to eat over eat sweet, fatty, salty foods while keeping us malnourished.

These Franken-foods are ridiculously cheap to produce.
They can unnaturally electrify our taste buds. They contain little, if any, nutrition.
And they mess with our brains in a major way.

You may be thinking, “If these foods taste so good that I can’t stop eating them, maybe I should just stop eating foods that taste good.” But that sounds miserable to us — and flavor restriction would probably be just as unsuccessful long-term as caloric restriction. Thankfully this strategy is wholly unnecessary. The problem isn’t that these are delicious.

The problem is that these foods are super normally stimulating in the absence of nutrition and satiety.

They are the essence of empty calories — food with no brakes.th-3.jpeg

The idea of food brakes can be explained by satiety and satiation. They sound the same but biologically speaking, they are two separate and distinct concepts.

Satiety occurs in your digestive tract specifically, and you’re intestines. When you’ve digested and absorbed enough calories and nutrients to satisfy your body’s needs, hormones signal your brain that “I am well nourished now,” which decreases your desire for more food. Satiety can’t be fooled or faked, it is as dependent on the actual nutrition in your food. But since digestion is slow, the signals may take several hours to be transmitted, which means they can’t do a very good job all by themselves to keep you from over eating.

That’s where satiation comes in.

Satiation is regulated in the brain and provides more timely motivation to stop eating. It’s based on the taste, smell, and texture of food, perception of “fullness,” even your knowledge of how many calories are in a meal. As you eat, you perceive various sensations (“This is delicious,” “I shouldn’t eat the whole bag” or “I’m getting pretty full”), all of which send your brain status updates to help you determine whether you still want more. But unlike satiety, satiation is an estimate dependent on your perceptions, not an absolute measurement.

Ideally, the brain would signal us to stop eating when our bodies have sensed that we digested and absorbed enough nutrition to support our health. In this case, satiation and satiety would be one and the same. Let’s use the example of a prime rib dinner.

Prime rib contains complete protein, the most satiating of all of the macronutrients, and naturally occurring fat, which makes protein even more satiating. As you eat the prime rib, you’ll find yourself wanting prime rib less and less with every bite. The first bite was amazing, the second fantastic, but by your tenth bite, the texture, smell, and flavor are less appealing. And by the 20th bite, you’ve had enough, and you know longer desire the flavor or texture of the meat — so down goes your fork.

This is satiation.

Prime rib also takes longer to eat then processed food (as you actually have to chew and swallow) which gives your brain a chance to catch up with your stomach. As you eat and start to digest the meat, your body recognizes that the dense nutrition in that prime rib is adequate for your energy and caloric needs. This sends a “we’re getting nourishment” signal to your brain while you’re still working on your plate, which also reduces your “want” for more food.

This is satiety.

This scenario plays out differently for foods lacking the satiation factors of adequate nutrition — complete protein, natural fats, and essential nutrients. Let’s compare prime rib to a tray of Oreos.

Oreos are a highly processed food containing almost no protein, saturated with sugar and flavor enhancing chemicals, and filled with added fats. As we eat the Oreos (generally at a much faster rate than prime rib), they move through us quickly and don’t provide enough nutrition to induce satiation or satiety. So unlike prime rib, there are no “brakes” to decrease our want. We want the tenth Oreo just as much as the first. And we never stop wanting more because even though we’ve eaten plenty of calories, our bodies know that we are still seriously lacking nutrition. So we eat the whole darn package because satiety can’t be fooled.

In the case of Oreos, the only reason to stop eating is when our bellies are physically full, and we realize we are about to make ourselves sick from overconsumption. Chronic consumption of these foods don’t affect just our taste buds, our perceptions, and our waistlines. Over time, they literally rewire our brains.”

Whew. That’s a lot I know. But imperative that we understand. Or we don’t have a real why. And this is a scientifically proven, biological, anatomical why. Not just one someone made up to sell more diet books.

Read this a few times if you have to, but get this concept drilled in. It will absolutely, positively change the way you choose your food. My boys love to get me all riled up by putting Mountain Dew in the grocery basket because they know I will freak out and talk about how soda pop is poison, especially Mountain Dew. But y’all, I’m not kidding around. It is. As are so many other fake, processed junk foods that we all find (found!) delicious… like OREOS.

You are now learning to outsmart the little Franken-food-stein in your head. And at least, if you do choose the Oreo or the doughnut or the fast food, somewhere in the recesses of your thought bank, you will know the path of no return that fake food will take you down. And in that moment, pause, feel your feet, (that’s your yoga at work) and make a conscious choice. You can so do it!

Keep going and keep going strong. Only nine days left!

B

Indigo30 DAY 20: Ten days left. Time to prepare for the real world.

image.pngOkay people, we are nearing week 3. You have ten days to go. We’ve had our few days of not feeling great, we are now on the mend. Now it’s time to RALLY! The Whole30 Day by Day makes a great point on Day 20: “While ten days to go can be an exciting prospect, Day 20 is a reminder that you only have ten days left. Which might lead to, ‘I’m not there yet.'”

Ah yes, a daunting thought for sure. Perhaps you’re either wondering if you will achieve certain goals or still worried you won’t figure it all out. Maybe you’ve had experiences in the past with roller coaster diets that you crash on and rebound after. So that cycle might feel like a prospect to you and that is, of course bothersome. But the reason we have invested so much time in educating you is to help you realize that you now have tools that will last you, well, forever if you want. Like it or not, you know stuff about food now. And you know stuff about yoga. You know that the two together are possibly the two very best things — sustainable things — that you can do for your health. So no matter what Day 31 brings for you, you have tools in your pocket that no one and nothing can take away. Not even your dastardly SCALE.

You may also be starting to think about how you will maintain after Day 30; many of you are already planning to keep going. Or, you might actually have some stress around the idea — I usually hear something like this from participants: “I don’t want to blow everything I’ve worked so hard for, but I’m not sure how to maintain this pace, this diet, this much yoga and this lifestyle — in more moderation.”

These are fair concerns. And the short answer is: with a plan.

I was asked recently if I was going to do a follow-up on the habit blog… a follow-up that included some thoughts about how to sustain a habit after creating it. You have learned about the structure of a habit; how it starts, that it needs a cue, a routine and a reward. Once you have the habit formed, your brain lets that habit ride on auto pilot while it moves on to other things. You know how you can run up a flight of stairs after you take the first few steps without even thinking about it? Or how you can back your car out of your driveway without hardly any deliberate thought? That’s a habit. Those are acts of will that are so ingrained that they take very little presence and almost no deliberation. You’re not quite in the stage of transformation where you no longer have cravings or you don’t have to think about how to structure your day. You’re probably not quite there yet with your diet and yoga, but you are laying very solid groundwork. Now, you are likely asking, when will this willpower become automatic? What if my old habits start creeping back?

“The problem is that your brain can’t tell the difference between bad and good habits, and so if you have a bad one, it’s always lurking there, waiting for the right cues and image.pngrewards,” says Charles Duhigg, in The Power of Habit. “Without habit loops, our brains would shut down, overwhelmed by the minutiae of daily life.” So they are actually a good thing, if they are a good thing. And, you’ve created a lot of additional good habits. The question is, how do we sustain them and not let the old ones come back?

One of the keystone good habits of success is a little thing called willpower. Willpower is not only a keystone, but a necessity for sustaining good habits.

Now you may be thinking — if I need willpower to create a habit (i.e., I  need discipline to get to my mat every day) and I need a habit to create willpower (i.e., I need to get to my mat every day to feel strong enough to build up my willpower) — which comes first? Duhigg suggests this answer to the riddle: Make the willpower itself, the habit. “Sometimes it looks like people with great self-control aren’t working hard — but that’s because they’ve made it automatic,” Angela Duckworth, a University of Pennsylvania researcher says. “Their willpower occurs without them having to think about it.”

One of the first things you can do to prepare for “moments of weakness,” when you are no longer in the protective arms of your Indigo30 team, is get clear about what those scenarios might look like. I’m willing to bet that for the most part, you all are doing the program really well most of the time. And, I’m willing to bet that the times that you falter, weaken or even fall off the wagon are times when you are stressed, squeezed emotionally, pressured, uncertain or under duress. It’s in those times that willpower seems to evaporate. What is needed to strengthen the willpower in times of strain is… a plan.

Call it an exit plan, an emergency plan, or even a contingency plan, almost every company, building, or event has a plan in case things break down or get out of hand. It’s interesting that humans don’t have these kinds of standard operating procedures. (I mean, wouldn’t it be great if we all came with manuals?) Call it a 911 plan or call it a routine, it’s something we can call on and follow when our willpower loses its steam and when the ice starts cracking under our feet. We need something to help us not crack with it.

But here’s the thing. It’s not a quick fix. It’s something you have to practice. Your backup plan for when (not if, but when) you start to crack under pressure is something you have to practice and make a routine. You have to determine right now, on Day 20, what that plan is going to be, and start practicing it now… not on Day 31, but today, so that you are ready when the shit hits the fan. Because when the shit hits the fan, it’s not going to wait for you to practice your response. Your main job, from today forward, is to create a new habit loop of willpower that will be automatic after Day 30.

One willpower habit loop you all already have is your small group (if you are engaging with them. If you are not, then you have not created a habit loop of accountability.) So after Day 30, you will likely keep up communication, especially when you hit rough patches. This routine of checking in with one or all members of your group will re-invigorate your willpower. You just don’t realize it’s already happening. So going forward, you can say to yourself, “When I find myself skipping yoga for more than 2-3 days, my plan is to … (check in with my group/make a yoga date with one of my group pals/etc.) You are already doing it. Your work now is to keep the habit loop alive.

It would be beneficial for you to determine which parts of the Indigo30 you want to sustain once the program is officially over. After you have that written down, make a list of situations that you think would throw you off — they don’t have to be unpleasant, necessarily — scheduling, travel, social situations — aren’t negative, but they absolutely have the capacity to disrupt a positive habit loop. Work through these scenarios (role play) with your family and friends (and small group) so they don’t just live in your journal or in your head.

“This is how willpower becomes a habit: by choosing a certain behavior ahead of time, and then following that routine when an inflection point arrives,” says Duhigg. The better you get at recognizing what will trigger, the more you can ready your plan. And before you know it, you will be communicating with your pals about going to yoga together without actually consciously thinking through how you are trying to get back on track. It will just happen because it’s a bona fide habit.

Friends, you have all the control in the world over what you eat and how you take care of yourself. You have choices that millions of people do not. Take these small lessons, the ones that arrive on your Facebook feed each morning, the ones that your leaders are sharing with you because they love you, and all the little tidbits in between, and take action. Do something amazing with the insight and education you are being given, that I believe is being channeled through me and your other teachers, to help you be the very best version of you. Don’t take it for granted and please don’t let the small things trip you up. You are too grand, too wise, and too informed to let that happen.

Now start planning. You only have ten days left.

image.png

B

Indigo30 DAY 16: TIGER BLOOD

Last night I had crazy dreams. Three of them right in a row. Like they were so out there that I had to call my friend, Morgan, this morning and explain just to laugh at how wild they were! (She said she just had a dream where she was sitting alone on a chair all by herself eating Cheetos for like 45 minutes). My first dream, of course, was my monthly standard, the — running massively late and can’t find clothes, haven’t showered and can’t find the location of where everyone in my life is waiting for me — dream, the next was one I was at a huge haunted house party where Beto O’Rourke was speaking (that one was cool), and the last, not surprisingly, was one where I was traveling with my friend Melinda, and she was buying me tons of candy and cakes and I felt badly so I ate it all! And I was almost in tears because I was so sad to ruin my program! HAHAHAHA

And then, when I went to do some research for today’s blog, the first sentence was:
“Nearly all Whole30ers report at least one dream when you’re going to town on non-compliant food. Sometimes, it’s food you’d never eat in real life. Often, you wake up feeling guilty, embarrassed, or disappointed in yourself.”

Well Morgan and I are clearly right on track. And I’m sure many of you are having crazy dreams too. I like to think that finally, my brain is clean and clear of fog and funk, and it’s running so sharply that my creativity is blowing up, and my dreams are going from hazy recollections to genius hallucinations. But what’s likely happening (I like my version better) is that we are all so preoccupied with food for the last 2 weeks that even our dreams are changing.

Tiger blood, if you haven’t heard of it before, is, uh, well, the blood that runs through a tiger. So when you are feeling really strong like the baddest cat in the kingdom, you feel like you have tiger blood. Also, it was a phrase our good friend and stellar role model Charlie Sheen th.jpegcoined (kidding of course/eye roll)… when he told the Today show’s Jeff Rossen that he had “tiger blood” and that it makes him impervious to addiction. I need to keep my mouth shut on this one, so I’ll stop here. Just wanted you to know where the term came from. Whole30 picked it up and luckily it now has a much better connotation: That you feel AWESOME. In all fairness, Sheen did also say, “I’m different. I have a different constitution. I have a different brain, I have a different heart. I got tiger blood, man.”

In other words, it’s a leveling-up.

So in the spirit of keeping on keeping on, let’s consider a few ways we can go from here to the next step. When you started, you were at one level. Now you have taken a few steps up, and are for sure ready to refine even more.

  • If you are sleeping well, more soundly, falling asleep faster, waking up less and waking up rested, perhaps you can now …
    • charge your device in the kitchen instead of on your bed table
    • read before bed instead of watch TV
    • go to be 30 minutes earlier, and wake 30 minutes earlier, having a goal of 9/9:30pm sleep time.
    • buy yourself some silk pillow cases as a reward (they are so much better for your hair and skin! Look it up!)
  • If your energy is better than it was pre-Indigo30, perhaps you can now…
    • organize something that has been in disarray for months
    • walk the dogs/walk with a friend/walk alone! — once a day (even for 10 minutes; everyone has 10 minutes…)
    • write some hand-written notes (I know, novel idea) to friends or family you haven’t seen in a while
  • If you’ve noticed your yoga practice is changing, that you’ve gotten stronger, perhaps you can now … lionheart logo
    • SIGN UP FOR TEACHER TRAINING!
    • try handstand hops!
    • move closer to the hotbox!
    • do a two-a-day!
    • sign up for a fun workshop
  • If you’ve noticed that your shopping and cooking habits have become more streamlined, efficient and yet still creative, perhaps you can now …
    • cook for friends
    • experiment with children’s favorite food items to make them W30 compliant
    • take a cooking class with a W30 lens for adaptation/modification
    • budget your shopping
  • If you’ve noticed that your will is ironclad and your discipline is unwavering, perhaps you can now…
    • socialize without feeling the need to drink or indulge
    • say “No, thank you” without feeling the need to please
    • ask for what you want and need
  • If you’ve noticed your clothes are fitting differently, perhaps you can now…
    • concede that you don’t need to know your weight to know you’ve lost weight, or probably more accurately — lost inches.
    • give the ones that are too big away … because you are NOT going backwards!
  • If you’ve notice that you just feel happier, perhaps you can now …
    • show interest in others — genuinely. Ask how they are, listen to what they have to say, try not to just talk about you and your endeavors. Be a true good listener, interested in others’ lives
    • do something playful!
    • set a new goal!
    • go dancing!
    • write that book!
    • hug your kids more! kiss their faces a thousand times!
    • buy yourself flowers!

The Science of Tiger Blood

People will only do stuff blindly for so long. Then, they want to know the why. So let’s take just a minute and look at the physiology of what’s happening as of Day 15.

It would be great if we could all peacefully live by the idea of “everything in moderation.” The problem is that our brains need certainty, especially when trying something new or eliminating something that has a hold on us. Even though the Indigo30 is a big, radical change, it actually ends up being an easier path for the brain. Why? Because it narrows decisions down to six things: no sugar, no alcohol, no grains, no dairy, no legumes and yoga every day. Boom. Just like that, it has its boundaries, and even though it seems hard a first, with a little time, our brains are relieved they don’t have to make so many decisions. When it’s faced with too many options, it tends to go back to what it’s always done because that is the path of least resistance. So every decision (should I eat a granola bar, should I fit in and have a cocktail, should I skip yoga and watch Game of Thrones, should I choose an apple or a cookie?) creates more and more uncertainty. Too much uncertainty means a default to old habits — you just go into a state of overwhelm, and soon thereafter, the give ups. The Indigo30 gives you a rock-solid plan so you can be certain of what to do next. That makes for a happy brain.

This healthy happy brain is not to be confused with the “happy brain” you used to get image.pngfrom sugar, alcohol and processed foods. That is fake happy. Your brain still gets the stimuli and even a reward, but they are empty. This keeps you hooked on a sensation that isn’t even very real, but imposter flavors and experiences. When you take these imposters out, your brain chemistry (and obviously your taste buds) get to reset and taste reality. The result? Real food will taste more flavorful, fake food will taste almost sickeningly sweet.

Your body: fat is now fuel. For a very long time, sugar has been your fuel source, not fat. That is because that is what you gave it (sugar). The body can only efficiently use one fuel source at a time, so when sugar is plenty, that’s what it’s going to use. So fat just sits there and accumulates. Now, since you are sugar-free, your body is going, hey wait a minute …. and it’s slowly adapting to the change. Now you are increasing fat-digesting enzymes and even the mitochondria (the energy cells) are getting re-trained on how to work and burn fat.

Your gut: in repair. Your poor gut, omg. It was trying so hard, and you just kept putting trash in it. It was beat up, burned up, chemically damaged and … inflamed. If you had any of this, the chances of leaky gut were high, and because the lining of your small intestine became porous, stuff went where it wasn’t supposed to. And that resulted in other things in your body (joints, skin, muscles, etc.) to hurt. Your body is so smart that typically, any kind of perforations heal quickly – but you can only beat something up so many times before it can’t mend. Now that those food bullies are out of your diet for good, your gut is healing itself. The one layer of cells in your intestinal lining is being rebuilt and keeping bad stuff like viruses and bacteria out.

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So much happening. In just 2 weeks. It’s truly remarkable, that after years and decades of poor food, stress and perhaps lack of good, healthy exercise, your body can do all this repair in just 14 days. All in all, you are crushing it. Do not give up. Do not relent to rewarding yourself with an off-program treat. Do not cave to the crave. Let the tiger blood pump through your veins! Do not cash in your chips. Each day you stay in the game, your chips exponentially multiply.

Keep. GOING.

Love to all.

B

Indigo30 DAY 5: You used to like the weekend…

…and now you are dreading it.

You are worried about the football games (how will I tailgate without a cocktail in my monogrammed Yeti?)

You are worried about not being able to fully enjoy the movie (it’s not the same without popcorn and a Coke, so why bother?)

You are worried about the buffet of junk food in the break room to celebrate another 40 hours on the clock (but I really deserve it, this week was hard enough already.)

You are worried about your friends and family (they will tease me, they will question me, they will pressure me.)

In a lot of ways, what you are worried about is just good old-fashioned peer pressure. Because when you think about the reality of what’s happening right now, which is simply that you are choosing to clean up your nutrition and do yoga for 30 days (like, f’real — that’s it) the idea of someone shaming you, belittling you, making you feel badly about yourself or awkward, different, and excluded is just a downright bully move. And what do we know about bullies? We know that the only reason they make others feel badly is because they are feeling insecure, threatened, jealous or out of control themselves, and for whatever reason, from upbringing to trauma to social constructs, the way they deal with that discomfort is to make someone else feel small and inadequate. I wish I could give you the whole, “We aren’t in seventh grade anymore, so just suck it up” speech, but bullying is just as alive and real in adulthood as it is in middle school. It’s just a lot more polished and manipulative. And it can happen even with something as innocuous as changing how you eat.

Now it might not be so much peer pressure for you as it might be a feeling of “I deserve to let loose,” or “I deserve to have a cheat day,” or whatever other tales your ego is spinning right now about how you deserve the pleasure even at the cost of all you have already invested. Or, let’s be honest; you just don’t want to be left out. Maybe your friends and family fully support your endeavors, but they sure seem to be having a lot more fun than you are right now.

No matter what your circumstance, one of the biggest challenges and stressors of the Whole30 (not necessarily the Indigo30 with it’s addition of yoga everyday, but rather the food portion of this program) is navigating social situations. It’s not just the weekend, either; it’s pretty much anytime outside of a normal work or school day. Evenings, date nights, office parties, office break rooms, holidays, sporting events and even just stressful times when an average go-to is some kind of social happy hour.

I have a friend who is a dare-devil. He is almost 70 years old and has done ten lifetimes of amazing stuff that I will probably never see the likes of. I love hearing his stories of adventure and near misses. But the one thing he won’t do is skydive.

“If I’m going out (as in death), I’m not going out like that,” (laughing, like this is normal conversation). “I want to be doing something epic; not just splatting to the earth in a matter of minutes. I’ve worked too hard and too long to go out that stupidly.”

I think about the Whole30 like that. If I’m going to blow it, I am going to blow it in a big, epic way. Like by having a 5-star meal at a Michelin restaurant wearing an incredible dress and my highest heels. Or by eating red velvet cake at Harrod’s in London on my birthday (I did that during a Whole30 for my 44th, and it was totally worth it, and almost worth the blasting headache I had the next morning.) Or by eating the peanut butter and jelly sandwich that my little guy made for me as a surprise when I got home from a long work day because he says he sees how hard I work and wanted to do something sweet for me. You guys, those are legit reasons to derail. A cheap beer in a styrofoam cup at the TCU game is not. Buffalo wings with your fair-weather office friends are not. A handful of M&Ms that you threw in your mouth wihtout thinking just because it’s daily habit, is not. Those things are absolutely, 100% not worth feeling like complete and total crap AND being disappointed in yourself AND, technically, having to start over.

Now it may be the easy way out, but you must admit — staying home — works.  Look, it’s not like we are asking you to suddenly become a hermit or develop an onset case of agoraphobia. But, you’d be surprised what can start to happen in your personal space when you swap those weekend nights out with home time that’s not under the influence of anything but whole food and consistent yoga. As I sit here and write, I am an example. I wanted to give my Indigo30 participants something new this year, something fresh, and something straight from my heart. I wanted to be in totally new creation. Instead of just forwarding all of the Whole30 daily newsletters (which you’ve all already gotten for two years in a row) I challenged myself to write my own daily blog about this entire experience. 35 blogs in 35 days. Each takes me about 2-3 hours a day, depending on what kind of research I am putting into it. Because like many, I get my kids up at 6am, get them to school, work all day, do all the mom and kid stuff from 4-10pm and finally get them to bed, the only time I have to write is between 11pm and 6am. Not ideal. But the only option.

I thought real hard about trying to do it ahead of time, but 1- I’m just not that good at doing things ahead of time 2- I just don’t have extra time to do things ahead of time and 3- if I did it ahead of time, I wouldn’t be able to share what I’m experiencing in the moment, each day, just like you. I’d pretty much be guessing or knocking off what the internet says and just making things up about both of us. So I gave myself a big goal: add 2-3 hours of work per day to my schedule of parenting two boys, running a company of nearly 60 employees and hundreds of daily students, teaching yoga, keeping up my own daily personal yoga practice and managing life in general. You know, because I still have to like go to the grocery store and take the dog to the vet and get the oil changed in my car. And shower periodically. And I knew that the only way I could do this is if I was not drinking, not eating any sugar or processed food, not loading up coffee with cream and syrups, and not eating late at night after having not eaten all day. I knew that the only way I could fully give to you, is if I fully took care of myself.

So listen, not only could this be a time for you to clean house nutritionally and immerse yourself in yoga commitment, it could be a time when you shut out the distractions of social life and pressures and buckle down on something you’ve always wanted to do. This is as clear-headed as you will ever be, during these 30 days. Why not carpe diem that shit?

In the meantime, because I know some things can’t be avoided, here are some tips for social situations.

• Eat before you go, or bring your own food. Bringing your own food can be dodgy and invite criticism, eye-rolling or teasing, so just be prepared. Might be better to just eat before you go.

• Order club soda with a lime and mint in a fancy cocktail glass. I absolutely 100% promise you, no one is going to question you. They’ll probably just think it’s vodka anyway. Now you look like everyone else! And guess what, the bubbles kind of perk you up!

• Just tell the truth. If you downplay your endeavor, others will downplay your endeavor. If you tell others how great you feel and how far you’ve come, you do something most aren’t expecting — you invite, include and inspire.

• When you get home, congratulate yourself! Have one of your favorite, super-special Whole30 snacks waiting, your so-comfy jams laid out, and Netflix queued up (remember, you need to have a reward to lock down the anticipation and the craving for the excitement of the new habit). And then, my friend, sleep with the angels, knowing you are going to wake up tomorrow feeling like a damn superhero while all the party peeps are hungover and late to yoga.

• Talk to your friends. Ask for their support in earnest. Let them know that their teasing and sarcasm doesn’t empower you or anyone else. Be honest. You never know, they may just open up and ask you to help them.

• Best bit of advice when you are in a social setting and someone offers you a drink or off-limits bite? Say, “No, thank you.” And move on.

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Brooke’s Besties!

Mocktails are actually kind of fun, they taste amazing, and can really take the place of that glass-in-hand thing we can sometimes feel we need in social settings. Here is a great recipe from the Whole30 book (page 391) that we’ve tried and give our vote!

IMG_3602Rosemary Berry Smash (serves 2, prep time 5 minutes)

1/4 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1/2 lemon, juiced

12 ounces sparkling water

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Muddle raspberries and rosemary leaves (removed from stem) in a large glass. Add the lemon juice and sparkling water, and shake or mix thoroughly. Strain the misture into a new glass, discarding the rosemary leaves. Add ice if desired.

*Muddle means to press ingredients against the side or bottom of the glass to release the flavor. You can buy a muddler or use the heavy end of a butter knfe or the round end of a wooden spoon.

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Way to crush your first 4 days, Indigos. Keep going.

B

Indigo30 Day 4: Wild-eyed and drooling

ADMISSION: I love gummy worms. The Black Forest kind that you can only get at Tom Thumb or Walgreens, the ones that are so soft and chewy. And today, I craved them like the desert craves the rain.

Okay it wasn’t quite that dramatic. But gosh at about 2pm, they sure did sound better than the carrots that were sitting all perky and bright in the Ziplock in my bag.

No doubt, you had some cravings today too. The cravings were either like someone annoyingly tugging at your sleeve or left you all wild-eyed and drooling, wanting to ravage the pantry in search of relief. No amount of “You should go to yoga” can temper a craving at its height; in fact, those five words can sometimes send you diving head first into the canister of sugar, even if just out of sheer defiance. I wish I could say that these days will be the only days you will find yourself longing for something currently forbidden, but they will likely be with you for the duration of your Indigo30 and beyond. Yes, yoga will definitely help, as will other distractions, like taking a walk, calling a friend, taking a nap, or brushing your teeth. But here is the clincher, my friends. If your habits are strong enough, if you have repeated them enough times, no amount of image6.pngdistraction will help. Your brain has learned that getting something desirable comes from a certain cue — i.e., “If you get an A on this test, we will get ice cream!” (see how early it starts?) or, “If I make it to Friday (or just to 5 o’clock) I get a cocktail,” or, “If I feel lonely, I will go shopping,” or, “When I hear my phone ding, I will stop everything to look at it.”  The real problem comes from when you get the cue and you don’t get the reward you are used to or anticipate getting. The result is a neurological pattern associated with desire AND frustration exploding in your mind. If the happiness you are used to getting from a certain thing doesn’t arrive, that happiness transforms into a craving that, if unsatisfied, turns to anger or depression. And no amount of distraction will seduce a strongly anticipated reward and its subsequent thirst. No amount of love, devotion, support or help can compete with the absolute stronghold of a craving.  This is exactly why habits are so powerful — they change our neurology. They construct neurological cravings. So when people quip, “Oh it’s just all in your head,” the irony is, they are right.

“There is nothing programmed into our brains that makes us see a box of doughnuts and automatically want a sugary treat. But once our brain learns that a doughnut contains yummy sugar and other carbohydrates, it will start anticipating the sugar high. Our brains will push us toward the box. Then, if we don’t eat the doughnut, we feel disappointed.” — (Wolfram Schultz, professor of neuroscience at the University of Cambridge).

It’s like the brain is in the honeymoon phase when it learns to anticipate the reward. It’s all fun and games until the toilet seat gets left up and you fall in.

Don’t lose hope just yet. You do and can have power over your cravings. There are tools and practices we can learn that can help us ignore the temptations. But the only way to suppress the habit is to identify which craving drives the behavior. We have to have awareness of the anticipation — a consciousness of it — we are at its complete mercy. And then, you have to have a plan to create a new habit.

If you want to go to early morning yoga every day, you have to chose a simple cue (like laying out your yoga clothes the night before) and a clear reward (a green star on the star chart). Seems simple enough. But that is not actually enough to make the habit last. Only when your brain starts to anticipate and expect the reward of the green star and thus craves the endorphins of excitement and sense of achievement, will it become nearly unconscious, or automatic, to lay out your clothes each night and go to yoga in the morning.

Burn this into your craving, lusting, habit-hungry/reward-crazed brains: THE CUE, IN ADDITION TO A TRIGGERING ROUTINE, MUST ALSO TRIGGER A CRAVING FOR THE REWARD TO COME. So for those of you who could seriously care less about a star on a chart? We need to find you a different reward. STAT. Or you won’t develop a craving for the reward of accomplishment, and you will give up, eventually, searching out something different that drives a zealous anticipation and a powerful craving.

None of this is going to happen overnight, so do me a big favor and right now, just take a deep breath. You are in a discovery phase, and these phases of personal growth can feel so overwhelming — the new routines, the new information, the new expectations. You are going to have days when grit will not win over grief. And it’s okay. What I can promise you is this: in the recesses of your mind and soul, you will remember these things. And when you are ready, which many of you are already, you will soak this up and keep going, no matter how many times you backpedal. You will call on your reserves and the people walking right beside you, going through the same things, and you will keep trying, until you come to a time when you no longer have to try so hard. When making a food decision won’t be such a negotiation. When getting up to hit the redeye class isn’t a chore, but a gift. When joy doesn’t come from a star, but from your kid or your spouse or even a stranger looking into your eyes and saying how much you inspire them. And then you will know that you have transformed into a better version of you. But it won’t come without having to tough it out, over and over again.

Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned. — Tony Dungy

KEEP GOING,

B