When I first discovered The Whole30 program, I was in the worst physical shape of my life. The tail-end of 2014 and the entirety of 2015 were intensely tumultuous for me. In addition to dealing with a devastating estrangement from both sides of my extended relatives, my family and I chose to relocate from our hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, to Denver, Colorado. Despite being the fulfillment of a dream, the change brought a number of struggles, such as employment, managing a drastically-reduced budget, navigating a new environment, getting the kids registered for school, and more, all while dealing with the mental and spiritual aspects of being cut off from the familial support system to which we’d grown accustomed.
During that time, I chose to focus my energy on healing my mental and spiritual self, a decision I do not regret; however, the neglect on my physical body was apparent. Due to poor eating habits, I was almost constantly bloated, thus appearing to be several months pregnant. I rarely slept through the night, which not only made me unpleasant to be around, but unable to focus on creating quality content for my blog. To compensate for a lack of energy, I inhaled sugary empty calories in the morning and crashed around 3pm, well before my day ended; then, I’d eat more sugar to get through, followed by several glasses of wine to “wind down”. My skin was dry and dull because I was drinking too much alcohol and not enough water. It was a messy and vicious cycle I didn’t know how to stop.
When 2016 arrived, I looked in the mirror and barely recognized my own reflection. It was then I knew it was time to show my outer shell some much-needed attention. I found The Whole30 book at the local library and was hooked from the first page! Over the course of the next several days, I devoured the rest of the book and constructed a plan to implement my 30 day program that would consist of eliminating all sweeteners, alcohol, dairy, grains, and more.
The first week was brutal—there’s really no other way to put it. I endured splitting headaches and crushing fatigue as my body battled the withdrawal process, but that was nothing compared to wrestling the mental component of this program. I had no idea how often my cravings were completely fabricated, rather than an actual sign of physiological hunger. I learned just how often I ate out of boredom, laziness, sadness, convenience or any other reason that had nothing to do with nourishment. Yet, through the haze of withdrawal, I knew I’d been right to start this journey.
By the time I’d finished The Whole30, I was a completely new being. The list below represents some of the most important and life-affirming changes I’ve experienced, so far.
I started with this one because it’s the trait I’m most proud to have! I no longer feel compelled to eat something just because it’s there/I don’t want to be rude/everyone else is eating it. Conversely, if I do decide to have a treat, I savor it without guilt or shame.
If you take nothing else from this post, remember this simple truth, courtesy of the creators of The Whole30: “It’s not about the food.” I know it seems like it, especially with the laundry list of prohibited items, but do not underestimate the mental and emotion connection you have to your food because those feelings are strong. They’re tied to your childhood, your culture, your environment, your relationships, your celebrations, and so much more.
Because I now know what works—and doesn’t!—for my body, I feel more confident across the board. Armed with this knowledge, I can create content to help others on their way to food freedom. In addition to sharing tips and recipes on LivingMySomeday.com, I’ve also developed a free email course, The HappyWhole30, to help folks prepare for the challenge.
3. High-Quality Sleep
As I mentioned above, my lack of adequate rest was a huge problem with far-reaching effects. Now that I’m sleeping through the night, I have more energy than ever, which is integral if I want to keep up with my husband, three kids, and a growing online business. To make the deal even sweeter, I’ve regained my mental clarity and rediscovered creative inspiration.
4. Mood Stabilization
Remember when I mentioned my general unpleasantness? Well, when I started feeding my body healthy, wholesome, and satiating foods, my moods drastically improved. Manic sugar highs and hard-hitting lows were replaced by a steady stream of controlled energy throughout the day.
5. Weight Loss
I hesitated to include this one because The Whole30 isn’t a diet, and I don’t want to give people the wrong impression here. This is a lifestyle change in every sense of the word. It’s not about some silly number on a scale, okay? That being said, I figured I should let y’all know I lost about 7 pounds without starving, counting calories, weighing my food, or killing myself at the gym. Results like that deserve to be shared because they represent a better way of dealing with our bodies in order to achieve our goals.
The Whole30 is my food solution. I spent years struggling with this diet or that fad, but couldn’t make any of them fit…until now. And this plan not only works for me, but my family, too! While I don’t insist they eat exactly like me, I make a compliant main course and pair it with a non-Whole30 side. This way, everyone’s happy, healthy, and Mama only cooked once!
If you’re on the fence, may I just encourage you to give The Whole30 a try? It might just be the answer you’ve been searching for.