A Lesson in Boundaries with Whole30®

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“What in the world do you eat on Whole30?” 

I’ve heard that a few times while explaining the Whole30® program. The answer is, pretty much everything, except for grains, corn, beans, dairy, preservatives, processed foods, sugar, and sugar substitutes. (Did I miss anything?) To be sure, the list of “don’ts” seems excessive, but here’s a way of thinking it through:


A Lesson in Boundaries

As a teenager and into my early college years, I rode and trained show horses. Nearly all my work was done inside a large arena. However, to fine tune maneuvers or to work with a young or non-compliant horse, the best environment was inside a fenced 30-foot circle called a round pen. The boundaries were tight, and this is where the best training happened. Results came almost immediately. Here, bad habits were broken and replaced with new disciplines.

One day, I visited a girlfriend at her country home. She asked if I’d like to go ride horses and of course, the answer was yes. Mind you, I was a very experienced rider and quite comfortable on horseback. But the ride she took me on was far different from what I was used to. We packed a sack lunch, went out into the fields and rode to a nearby lake. There were no fences and I remember the sheer discomfort I felt. What if my horse bolted? What if we saw a snake? Might we encounter strangers out there in the open fields? What about holes in the ground that may cause a horse to stumble or, worse yet, break a leg? For one of the first times, I experienced a ride without fences, without protective boundaries. I felt frightened, to say the least.

How does that apply to Whole30??

Capture that thought and apply it to an eating plan. Without boundaries, there are a lot of potential dangers for someone with bad eating habits (yours truly, for instance). But inside the “round pen,” a place where boundaries are tight, intense training and quick results occur. The round pen isn’t the normal, everyday environment, but in its season, it is highly effective.

For these thirty days on Whole30®, I am experiencing intense training inside a proverbial round pen. Here, bad habits are broken and replaced with new disciplines. Knowing that it’s a 30-day adventure and that boundaries will relax a bit in the coming weeks, I know I can complete the program.

Have I cheated in the first 14 days on Whole30?

No . . . but sort of, maybe.  Here’s what I mean:

I’ll admit that I’ve had one or two habitual spoon or finger licks as I’ve prepared non-compliant food for others. There are a couple of other rules that I haven’t followed to a T.  For example, we’re encouraged NOT to weigh or measure. By day 14, curiosity got the best of me and I caved. I jumped on the scale. In the grand scheme of “cheating,” a glance at my weight is worlds better than a hot fudge sundae. (You agree, right?) Honestly, my weight loss was highly motivating. But I believe it will fluctuate (as weight always does) so I won’t report it to you yet. Sorry.

“Cheat” number 2 also happened on day 14. We celebrated my mom’s 83rd birthday, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day all at once. There’s a rule in Whole30® that we are NOT to have dessert, even a compliant dessert. I broke that rule. I turned down the carrot cake but said yes to a small portion of homemade Disney-style Dole Whip. All the ingredients were compliant, while the idea of a dessert of any sort is not. I must say, I don’t feel an ounce of guilt. J And the Dole Whip was spectacular.

Are you dying of curiosity about the weight loss? Because I’m dying to tell you but am practicing self-control. (It takes a LOT of practice, you know.) I will hint that it was far more than 2 pounds per week. It was the sort of weight loss that would typically make me say, “that’s losing way too fast – it’s going to come back on very quickly too.” That may be the case, but I pray not. Once I step out of the round pen, I plan to stay in the safety of the arena for a very long while. I hope to avoid boundary-less trail riding and experience it in short bursts only. It’s more comfortable in the safety of the arena, and I’m thankful for the way the Lord reminded me.

I’m also thankful for another “successful” week in the books.

Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 2 Corinthians 2:14 (NASB)

I look forward to reporting back next week. On to week three!

Check out the great Whole30® resources here:



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