For basically my entire life, I’d had all of these seemingly unrelated, semi-chronic medical issues – migraines, anxiety and depression, constipation, acne, heartburn, a constant tiredness, an inability to maintain a healthy weight no matter how hard I worked. A doctor could never tell me why any of these things were going on in my body; some even denied I was experiencing the symptoms I claimed to have. As a kid (12 or 13), my parents rushed me to the ER for unbearable stomach pain. I was terrified. The doctor quickly returned with the results of my sonogram and let me know that I was “literally full of shit”. He asked me when my last bowel movement was and I couldn’t tell him. After that day, I started on a steady diet of Mirolax every morning in my orange juice. With its help, I went to the bathroom ‘regularly’ one time every 2-3 days. I was told at least once that it was “bullshit” that I only experienced bad heartburn after drinking beer or eating pizza and bagels – it had to be all alcohol and acidic foods and coffee, and I had to give up all three forever. After one [miserable] month, I quickly decided a life without tomato sauce and beer is a life not worth living. I started regularly taking Nexium to combat my symptoms and eating whatever I wanted.
I took on my first round of Whole30 in October 2015 after reading an article that caught my attention in the NYT health section about the dangers and risks of taking medications like Nexium (Proton pump inhibitors) long term. To be frank, it scared the shit out of me (not literally, I wish though). I had to deal with this problem at the root rather than fight off the symptoms – what was happening in my body to give an otherwise healthy 24 year old unbearable heartburn? I also noticed that lately the symptoms of my anxiety were getting worse and weirder than ever before. I’d always been a chronic worrier, but now I found that I was scared of social situations, which was a first. My best friend from college had recently finished her first round of Whole30 and was singing its praises. And, while it seemed extreme, it sounded like the only “fad diet” I’d ever heard of that really truly made sense and was backed by science and not just caloric deprivation. And I didn’t have to count or weigh anything. Win. I’d proven to myself time and time again that I don’t do well when I have to eat less. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. It was only 30 days. The first two weeks were horrible and more mentally taxing than I ever would’ve guessed, and then on day 16, I’d never felt better. I finished my 30 days and was down 24lbs, mostly free of acne, had boundless energy during the day, was sleeping better than I ever had before, was going to the bathroom once a day, and hadn’t had heartburn for weeks.
Before I started my first whole30, my best friend convinced me to try what I sincerely believed to be another fad-diet-challenge-thing that I secretly thought I would fall off of after a few days. After reading the book (at her insistence) I thought maybe this was different. By day 6, I thought I had taken on something insurmountable. Now, at day 31 I know the last 30 days are only my beginning. What you can [kind of] see here is a person who's down 24 lbs (!!!) and overall 14 inches but what you can't see here is what I've gained: more energy, a better night's sleep, clearer skin, digestive health, stronger mental health and knowledge of how much what I put in my body really matters. My relationship with food has started to change and I couldn't be more grateful for what @whole30 has helped me achieve. Extra shout outs to my parents, @jessdegonzz @djrep1022 and @crossfitjetty for being constant sources of support and motivation. #whole30 #day31 #whole30results #paleo #nowgivemepeanutbutter
During my reintroduction period, my worst fear was realized: my body hates gluten. After extensive research (mostly because I was hellbent on proving science wrong in the name of Bagels everywhere) I realized all of my symptoms pointed directly to a gluten intolerance, something I had been shamelessly mocking as a farce for years. Karma is cruel. I wouldn’t ever get beer back, but cider and wines are OK. There’s definitely a learning curve to living Gluten Free, but I’m getting there.
The Whole30 changed the way I thought about food and it’s relationship with my body for sure. My favorite line from the book is “The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy. Those are your options”. That’s how I approach every meal, now. I make conscious choices to sometimes eat things I know my body won’t necessarily appreciate, but I mentally just really want. However, after my first Whole30 ended, the holidays were upon us. I basically ate whatever I wanted and my symptoms came back as quickly as they left. And, I was craving bread like a drug addict. After Christmas, I felt a little bit out of control so I planned to embark on another round in January with my boyfriend but more so for the moral support of my bestie who decided she needed to reset, but was terrified.
About a third of the way through round 2, I was literally crying because I just wanted to put ketchup on my eggs and have a Caesar salad for lunch. I already knew ketchup didn’t send my sugar monster screaming and cheese (in limited quantities) was ok for me. I tested this already, and I knew it. It felt stupid that I was depriving myself of food I knew my body was ok with. I was moody and sad and dreaded eating or preparing meals. I haven’t had the best emotional or mental relationship with food in the past, so feeling this way scared me. I didn’t feel like it was good for me mentally. Treading the line of depravation like that is a scary thing. I was becoming disordered again, after I’d just spent so much time and work organizing my brain.
I decided my second round of Whole30 was not the best thing for me at that moment in time. I definitely needed a reset and to revisit the rules following the holidays, but 30 days was too long. It was hurting my new, great relationship with food. I was no longer making good choices for me, I was following arbitrary rules and depriving myself and craving foods that I wouldn’t have wanted otherwise. The first time around, I never felt deprived. I knew I was making choices to serve a greater good. And, I’m not talking about depriving myself of cake or ice cream here – literally a tablespoon of Ketchup on my eggs. I felt crazy again. I knew I needed to stop.
After I ate that afternoon (a Caesar salad, sans croutons), I felt satiated but I also felt ashamed that I couldn’t follow through on a commitment I made to myself. But after some reflection, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t truly in this for me this time. I didn’t feel like I needed it. After 9 days, I felt totally in control again. I was doing this for my friend and to support my boyfriend. By quitting, I did what was right for me at the time, and that’s what the Whole30 is all about – learning to make the right choices for you. I had to be in this for me, not for Nicole and not for DJ. I support them wholeheartedly and I’m so excited to see the changes they’re making in their lives but I can’t cry over cheese related stress on their behalf. I’ve been there and it’s not a place I want to be again.
I am the biggest advocate of this program. I can’t thank Melissa and Dallas enough for what I’ve gained since I read their books. And, I’m happy to know the rules are there for me when I feel like I need them. But more so, I’m glad to find steady ground where I feel good and in control independently of the rules and like I’m making choices and not sliding out of control into a bag of cookies.
If you’re curious about The Whole30 check it out here!