I survived Whole 30. That is what I was planning to say after I completed 30 days of eating counter to my usual diet.

To my surprise, I did more than survive. I made it all the way to thrive.

For the month of January I only ate meat, vegetables, fruit, tree nuts and good fats. (Who knew there was such a thing as good fat)?

I began with excitement. I love planning and researching, so I had spent some time perusing Pinterest for ideas and recipes. I had a folder full of Whole 30 compliant food.

Week one was great. I had energy and determination on my side, with a nice mix of naivete.

Week two was when I turned the corner into a dark alley. For about four days, I became very anxious and cranky, with the added pleasure of heartburn and a slight headache. What is this? I’m doing the right thing by eating well and this is my payoff? I could feel this way and be eating dairy and dessert!

Near the end of the four days, I found out from some friends that I was in withdrawal. I hadn’t stumbled on that information yet, so I searched the web and found out that withdrawal symptoms often occur within the first two weeks. Bonus.

Week three I felt much better, but then the mind games really kicked in. I was making plans for how I would eat once Whole 30 was over. I dreamt about my favorite cheeses, chocolate donuts and cheesecake.

At that point, I still could not fathom settling into a move toward a new way of viewing food and eating.

It wasn’t until week four that I had a breakthrough. I had become accustomed to feeling good and my need to return to my “naughty” food list began to shrink.

My body actually did reset, just as the Whole30 plan promised. And I was shocked. I did not think it was possible. I did not think I would ever be able to say no to dessert twice a day and no to potato chips and dip.

And now we all say together, “Gem, what does this have to do with Unhurried Living?”

Many of us view spiritual practices of disengagement in the same way that I viewed making good choices about food. Impossible!

  • “You don’t know me. I don’t have time for solitude. Besides, what would I do?”
  • Silence is too hard. My brain gets itchy and my thoughts race. I’ll never be able to experience periods of silence.”
  • Fasting? What? How could I go without eating for a whole day? I have too much to do. I wouldn’t have the energy I need to get through my to-do list.
  • “What in the world is Secrecy anyway? Do you know how hard it would be to do something cool and not be able to post it on Facebook and Instagram?”

Disengagement in a culture of hurry is both difficult and necessary.

I had to let myself get to the point where my body and mind were in sync and my cravings subsided. I did this by disengaging from certain foods.

Practices of disengagement are a wonderful way to build the muscles of your soul.

Solitude and silence creates in you a reservoir into which you can dip when needed. This builds the muscle of, “God is in control and not me.” And, “The world will keep spinning without my input for a couple of hours.” Your yoke might become easier and your burden lighter, because you remember that Jesus is with you in whatever you do.

Fasting is a surefire way to get you face to face with your addictions. You don’t even have to fast from entire meals. Just remove certain foods for a while, or even remove certain engagements with media. Withholding something from yourself can build the muscles of detachment and sobriety.

Secrecy flies in the face of your false self. This can build the muscle of the true self, which does not need to advertise its goodness. Your chosen activity can be a secret that you and God can enjoy together.


  • If you want to engage one of these practices of disengagement, how would you take that first step?
  • Would you be willing to suffer the withdrawals from noise and hurry?
  • Would you be willing to do something good without anyone knowing about it?

My hope is that you can see my process with Whole 30 and apply it to a situation in your life that you think is impossible. Maybe there’s a way to disengage that will be life-giving.

It’s ok to stumble through the process, experience withdrawals and bargaining. The payoff comes later. And it may just be the life change you are hoping for.

P.S. Join me for our upcoming Enneagram 101 Workshop on February 25. This is a wonderful tool to aid you in your spiritual formation, especially dealing with your true and false self. CLICK HERE for more info and to register.



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