whole1. again.

I cheated earlier this week.

I'm not particularly proud about that but there it is.

I could say it's because I had a bad day and I was super stressed. Which is 100% true. I was super stressed.

Ronni has always had a touch of separation anxiety, like pretty much every shelter dog ever. But then a little over three weeks ago she had knee surgery to repair a torn cranial cruciate ligament and torn medial meniscus. Ever since surgery she's basically been on bed rest, only allowed to walk on flat, even ground.

She also needed constant monitoring or constant crating.

Thankfully I have the most wonderful bosses who let me bring her to work every day. She's so calm that she was the perfect office companion, sleeping calmly in the corner of my office all day.

But when I had to leave to go somewhere dogs were not welcome, I had to crate her.

Initially I almost never left her. She was in so much pain and I was so sick so we just spent our days together, resting.

When I did leave her though, she lost her mind. She barked frantically the whole time. If I was gone more than an hour, she would pee in her crate and attempt to break out of it.

And by Wednesday, the day I cheated, she had gotten out of control.

On Tuesday night I left her for a minute and a half. I know because I timed it.

When I came home, she reacted like I had been gone for 6 hours. The whole rest of the night she was agitated, constantly checking to make sure I hadn't left again.

When I woke up Wednesday morning my headache had reached almost migraine level.

When your diet is 95% sugar in the form of carbs/grains and sweets, removing those things entirely can cause...complications.

So I took the day off work. The separation anxiety problem felt insurmountable. I couldn't think straight to save my life, mostly because my head killed.

I ate my breakfast, sticking to the plan. But then the cookies Mom had sent me started calling my name. I had meant to take them to work because I couldn't bear to throw them away and having them in the house was proving extremely tempting.

Side note: the cookies were sent before I told Mom I was doing the Whole30 so no blame should fall on her :).

So I had a cookie.

And another.

And another.

I felt a bit sick to my stomach, to be honest.

Later that day I had to go out to get more tuna since I had miscounted the number of cans. If I didn't go get the tuna I wouldn't have lunch the next day.

I came home with tuna, broccoli...

and Cheetos.

And I ate the Cheetos too.

I finished off the night with ice cream from McDonald's.

Like I said, not proud of it.

Afterwards I had to make a decision: do I start over at day 1, allow myself to eat off-plan foods while mostly sticking to the plan, or keep going with the same end date but stay compliant going forward?

Giving up entirely was completely out of the question. I have a family history of diabetes and heart disease and with a recent PCOS diagnosis, my risk for both had gone up. Again. I've been fortunate enough to avoid diabetes and heart disease thus far but I knew that one day my luck would run out. So giving up was not an option.

My initial choice was to allow myself to eat off-plan foods while sticking to the plan. I consider one "treat" per day or maybe one off day or off meal. It seemed like the perfect solution: my diet would be significantly healthier AND I would still get to eat some of my favorite things.

I've always taken that approach, the kind of almost approach, the half-ass approach. And one treat per day always leads to one treat meal per day which leads to one treat day per week and then before you know it all the old bad habits are back.

For the next several days I took that approach, eating plan meals but having a cookie on Thursday night and a chocolate turtle on Friday.

But something felt dirty, wrong somehow. This wasn't what I wanted.

So I made the decision to get back on plan and recommit completely.

But not before I tried to half-ass it one more time by keeping the same end date and not starting over at day 1.

You see the Whole30 calls for you to start over entirely when you slip. Sure there are will still be benefits if you don't. But they're not as measurable.

So I'm starting back at Day 1. Because I want the whole thing. I want, for once in my life, to see something through and not to half-ass it. I want all the benefits.

Do I consider my previous attempt a failure?

No I don't.

I consider it a learning experience. I learned that this is going to be hard, much harder than I thought initially. I learned that I can eat clean, healthy, whole foods without hating myself.

I learned that I want something badly enough to work for it, to not let a slip-up cause me to quit and walk away.

So I'm taking that knowledge into a brand new Whole30. My new end date is March 20, 2017. And if I slip up, I'll start over again. I will keep trying and trying until I get it right.

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
- Samuel Beckett

Oh and Ronni is doing great by the way. If you have a dog with separation anxiety or any anxiety issues, get yourself a pheromone collar. They're amazing. The collars mimc the pheromones that a mother dog releases, creating a sense of comfort and safety in your dog. The vet gave me one this morning and this afternoon I left Ronni unattended for 3-4 minutes while I took out the recycling.

When I came home, she was calmly playing with her Kong. She looked up in greeting and went right back to the Kong. Given the fact that she flipped out after I was gone a minute and a half earlier this week, I'd consider that a marked improvement. Plus she's actually calm in the car now and doesn't quiver the whole time.

Now we still have a ways to go. I still have to play her music and give her a Kong and special treat when I leave. The collars won't fix behavior problems. But they will take the edge off enough to let you actually work with your dog.

Seriously. Pheromone collars. They don't work for every dog but at less than $20 a collar, it's worth a shot to try something other than pharmaceuticals.

Go get one for your anxious dog today.

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