Whole30 – The Task Within the Task

Providence hanging to see, at a special memory in Nepal.

Lately, I’ve found myself listening in conversations about Whole30 being another “Fad Diet”, or people resorting back to old habits right after a Whole30, going back and forth between on and off of one. I’ve also heard the opinions, Whole30 is just setting someone up for a lifetime of restrictions and that can’t be good for anyone.

As I’ve sat with the comments, I’ve found that a reaction starts to surface within me, and I’ve been sitting in it for a while. I wanted to take time and reflect on where this might be coming from within me. I now feel ready to open up the space so we can sit together. Settle in on the couch, or at your dining room table with a cup of coffee and let’s talk like familiar friends.

What I am learning is that we are a culture conditioned in our Ego’s. If I’m honest part of what appealed to me about the Whole30 experience initially, was another opportunity to prove my identity as a “healthy” person. It gave me a sense of satisfaction and a bit of smugness to say I had overcome the challenge and had came to the other side as a Whole30 Alumni. I will also admit that right after that smug satisfaction and self professed prestige, I went right back to my old habits. But I’m no quitter, I would just jump right back on the band wagon, let my Ego back in charge and do it all over again. Two more rounds to be exact before I finally starting to see it differently, myself and all the self righteousness that surrounded me. We could acknowledge it now as a small sample of what was, my life story. Which I believe I’ve heard before, “the way you do one thing is the way you do everything”. While I knew that at it’s core Whole30 focuses on our emotional relationship to food, I chose instead to focus on the more outward acknowledgements of successfully following the rules, the “container” of the Whole30. I chose not to direct my attention to the Inner Experience of the growth it offered me.

Richard Rohr, talks about this life concept in his book Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, and also has mentioned this on his daily meditations, which I will link below.

He shares that “Religion and various models of human development suggest their are two major tasks for each human life. The first task is to build a strong “container” or identity, the second is to find the contents that the container was meant to hold. The first task we take for granted as the very purpose of life”.

He then goes on to share that, “We are a ‘first half of life’ culture largely concerned about surviving successfully…But it takes much longer to discover the task within the task, as I like to call it: what we are really doing when we are doing what we are doing.”

The reason I was successful at being unsuccessful at the first few of my Whole30’s was because I was more focused on doing it “right” by the rules. The way I outwardly appeared. What I was stuck in, was not focusing on the issues in the deep inner places within me, that were causing me to reach for these foods in the first place. Instead of sitting with these uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, sadness, disappointment, aloneness. “The task within the task”, I could cover it with my ego and doubling down my concentration on the rules.

It wasn’t until that third time, that I sat with these emotions and where they were coming from in the first place. Was it really worth it having less energy, not being able to go to the bathroom normally, or having complete lack of energy simply because I would choose a brownie that made me feel better, or wine to relax my anxious nerves. It wasn’t until I seriously took to seeking alternate strategies of naming the hard emotions and speaking to them either out loud with others or turning them over to my Inner Coach. It was only with trying out the courage to name my boundaries, that lead to the more permanent Inner Change,expanding to outer freedom. I’ve also had a lot of questions if I plan on doing another Whole30 in the future, and the answer is I don’t. The last time left some permanent changes, and they aren’t rigid, they are still evolving. Just now the decisions aren’t made for me on automatic response, that are sat with in the moment. It won’t be because I “can’t” have something out of willpower or because I view it as bad. It’s because I am on the journey of learning to unravel why I want it in the first place.

Maybe you are considering your own first Whole30 this September or maybe you are on a different journey of health change. At the end of the day, I think we have to sit with ourselves and ask are we more focused on the outer appearances or the Inner Change?

be…the change,


Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: Spirituality for the Two Halves of Live

Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, The Task Within the Task (Sunday, June 12 2016).

How are you connected?

The connection, is the connection to the truth, to your True Self and disconnection from the Ego Self. It is the connection to the alignment of the power that lies within. Make this connection so you don’t have to be operating out of your False Ego Self.

Operating out of Ego means that you are operating out of fear, and operating out of fear means you are always going to be scared, and running for your life instead of being in alignment of your life” -Oprah Winfrey

This past week, I had a Kairos moment. Kairos, for those who might not know, refers to a significant moment in time. To stop and take notice. As I was catching up on some of my favorite podcasts, I found myself hanging onto Oprah’s every word. It came from her Super Soul Podcast of July 22nd, with the title “Oprah on the False Power of Ego”. I listened to it again and again, all seventeen minutes. Four times to be exact, only stopping to take notes, as it resonated so deep within me.

In the podcast, she shared the journey of her weight loss experiences. She recalls that the most famous moment in her show history, was the episode in which she announced to the world that she had lost 65 lbs. What she hadn’t revealed to the crowd, is the behind the scenes method of a her dieting method that had cost her joy and engagement in life during that time. In reflection, she shares that she now realizes, that it was her Ego that hijacked her progress. She references her life altering interview with Eckert Tolle, as well as his book, A New Earth. He provides, “the Ego is the false sense of self based on mental concepts.” She opens up, that her desires were based on her perception of how, being thin, would bring a better image to her relationship, and a form of identity.

She goes on to describe, at a different part in her life, the weight had resurfaced. This time, she had the opportunity to create change from a place of connection. This connection she describes in the quote above. A place not of shaming or identifying with an object or idea, but out of an awareness of her true self.

I have to admit, I too, have for most of my life, operated by allowing my Ego, The Inner Critic, to scare me into the ways that I identified myself. I also allowed it to boss me around into periods of burn out, running hard in every direction to prove it wrong. I will also admit that while, I could remotely sense that my Inner Coach with a healing journey were pursuing me, my first arrival to Whole30 started much like the others. “Strict rules? Sounds like it will give me a sense of worth to say that I am an Alumni. I’m in. I’m ready to prove myself.” I could hear the familiar voice in my head start to play.

Somewhere along the way, though, something began to shift in me. Another Kairos moment, where I found myself slumped on the couch in tears overcome by fear, with a realization. ” What if I just quit altogether? I didn’t let the Inner Critic have the floor to speak? Will it all fall apart? What will I use to motivate me then? How will I be able to keep it all going? What if I start to engage from a place that I could come to believe I was enough. That I didn’t have to prove myself to anyone, most importantly myself. What if I could hold space and time to just allow growth and long term change? Body, Mind, Heart, and Soul.. just because I was worth it? ”

I didn’t know the term “connection” then, as Oprah refers to it. But, what if I could just allow myself to collaborate with the Inner Coach, the soft whisper that I had to get quiet enough to hear. The one that showed grace and encouragement?

So I have to ask you, as I sit with myself, in moments of stillness, who are we allowing in the driver seat of our journeys?Are we lovingly guided into change by our Inner Coach, or are we shamed and berated into proving ourselves by our Inner Critic. The one who also goes by the name, Ego?

be…the change,


How Are You Growing?

“If you knew me based on who I was a year ago or even 4 months ago, you don’t know me at all” – Author Unknown

Allow me to introduce myself. I have been sitting in this quote, and it’s reflection upon my life.

I could be defined by the roles I play. You would say, wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, Occupational Therapist. More recently understood, as Ennegram 2, Gretchen Rubin Questioner, Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Certified Whole30 Coach, Traveler to the other side of the world.

What I am learning is that roles don’t define you, although our culture would lead you to believe otherwise. They are just the lens in which we see the world. In continuing this growth journey I am traveling, my lens is constantly being adjusted. I have also come to terms that I will never attain 20/20.

What is being shown to me, is I want to be more intentional about honoring the journey, even when yours may not look like mine. We each have an Inner Coach that guides us individually on the way we need to go, if we can get still enough to listen.

I would say I am very passionate about health and wellness, which lead me to my first Whole30. Even that was just a starting point of the growth and stretching that would continue on in me. Uncovering, health is no longer about how one looks, defined by a size, or a number on a scale, and honestly a lot to do with how you love. How you receive love, how you show it to yourself, and to others.

Holistic Health is a healing journey, that continues to lead me, by quieting my Inner Critic and allow myself to be guided by my Inner Coach. It is an integrated one that encompasses Heart, Soul, Mind, and Body. Seeking doesn’t allow me to stay comfortable, but always reveals the authentic.

So I would ask you. Still your restlessness for just one minute. Listen. This is what I quietly hear.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on dieting and trying to fit into the mold that the world tells you, you “should be”. Come join me. Let’s choose not to participate for a season, and let’s recover your life, who you are, your freedom. Let’s do this together. I won’t boss you around, but let me walk with you. Share your journey. Let’s discover what works for you, and not judge it. I know it might seem overwhelming, so let’s go just one step at a time. Come keep company with me. Let’s learn how to live life more fully.”

Close your eyes. Take a deep breathe. What is your Inner Coach whispering to you?

If someone were to see you in 4 months to a year from now. Would you still be the same? Maybe it’s time. Be…the change.

The Small Things

Those who know me, I think would probably describe me as “Helper”. It’s evident in my career choice, as well in my day to day interactions. However, in my introduction to the Ennegram, I’ve been made aware that my personality or ego can seek this “helper” role as a false identify to cover my deepest insecurities. “Oh Brandie, she is so helpful”, and as I reply, saying “It’s no big deal”, I can secretly gloat in just how “good’ of a person I am.

Three years ago the evidence of a change in me was brewing. A different outlet to serve others was making itself known as a desire to be a Health Coach. I wasn’t sure what it would look like, but felt called to pursue it. In starting this journey, I had to first be lead where I did not want to go. Down roads that seemed less marked, steep, and filled with darkness. I was lead into facing how I view myself, others, having to define my values, and being intentional of what I would let define me. I wish I could say I was always successful, but more often than not, it involved falling down and having to get back up to keep moving forward. Turning back was no longer appear to be an option.

Through all of this discovery, I had that still small voice of my Inner Coach, that came at the start. “Brandie if you don’t give grace to yourself, you can never give it to others, and you can’t do this on your own. Your grit, ambition, and pride will no longer serve you. You have to release them.”

Release, unfortunately for me is not a one and done, I’m a little bit more stubborn then that. It’s an over and over, day in and day out, sometimes moment by moment battle of wills, at times with fists shaking. But in the releasing and allowing my Inner Coach to guide me, I’ve been taken to places and been provided for over the past 3 years, in ways I can’t even begin to describe.

This website and blog that I am releasing to you, is far from perfect or professional, and is way out of my own skillset. What it is, is a “MINI miracle in a series of MANY miracles”, I’ve had the privilege of watching unfold. At the end of my day, the things that seem small, really are the big things. There are still many unknowns, that I am having to follow in faith. What I know for sure is I still haven’t arrived, but I believe the adventure is just beginning. If you feel your own call, and a hunger for something more, I hope our paths continue to cross here.

To Living Life to the Fullest,