Life before the Whole30: A Necessary Step in My Journey to Whole Living

I was born and raised in the St. Louis area and have very fond memories of my childhood. Now, I know those of you from the area are already wondering where I went to high school (since that’s the question everyone asks around here), but you’ll have to get that answer in another post. ;)

I grew up in a home full of love, but have limited memories of my mom cooking in the kitchen. I don’t say this to bad-mouth her, because as a mom now myself I know that she was doing the best she could raising my brothers and me. After all, we were involved in a million extracurricular activities, and most of her time was spent shuttling us from dance practice, hockey practice, karate, and gymnastics. There simply wasn’t the time for her to cook nutrient-dense meals, which is often one of the complaints I get from my clients today!

When I matriculated to college I knew how to make PopTarts, Ramen Noodles, and Stouffers frozen lasagna. I was fit and active, but those bad eating habits eventually sneaked up on me and I began to slowly put on weight. Upon graduating, I moved from the Midwest to Houston, Texas, to teach in the inner-city, and discovered how yummy food was in the South. I continued to gain weight, still had no idea how to cook, and was always stressed from my job. My husband and I ate out often or prepared processed food for ourselves at home. In addition to weight struggles, we had no energy and relied on sugary, caffeinated drinks to get us through the day. I had no self-control when it came to food cravings, and I turned to food for everything: my reward for having a good day, my comfort for having a bad day, and to combat boredom on just about every other day.

 Before beginning our health journey.

Before beginning our health journey.

My husband and I suffered through 8 years of infertility and pregnancy loss, which only added on the pounds. I was in a very dark (and heavy) place. We were eventually able to sustain a pregnancy and my first little miracle was born in January, 2014. I was miserably sick for most of that pregnancy, which I now believe was largely due to the food I was consuming.

When my first miracle was old enough to begin eating solids I started feeling convicted about what I was feeding him. I was adamantly against baby cereal, puffs, and other processed food for him, even though I had no qualms eating the adult versions of those foods myself. I started cooking more at home to provide him more nutritious meals, which helped me put a dent in my weight, but my BMI was still in the obese range. My second miracle was born in May, 2015, and I found myself extremely busy with two under two, and SO. INCREDIBLY. TIRED.

I am a learner by nature, and spent the next four months researching food. In the little free time I had I watched documentaries (Food Inc., Fed Up, Supersize Me), read books (It Starts With Food, Grain Brain, Wheat Belly), listened to podcasts (The Paleo View, Paleo Hacks, Paleo Blueprint), and tried new recipes. I was almost bought in to having a lifestyle makeover, but just couldn’t give up cheese, bread, and ice cream. I was slowly getting to a healthier weight, but still had energy issues, cravings, bad skin, and a short-fuse, which is not becoming as a mother. If things didn’t improve by January, we decided we’d give the Whole30 a try.

In late October, 2015, my family took a trip to Houston to watch our former students graduate. Our young kids slept horribly, which resulted in my husband spending hours driving them around late at night to get them to fall asleep. The baby was going through a sleep regression and insisted on nursing around the clock. While caring for our family in the middle of the night, both my husband and I searched the Internet for recipes to try before starting the Whole30 in January, 2016. We enjoyed our time visiting friends, eating Mexican food, and having nightly bowls of Blue Bell ice cream (no wonder the kids wouldn’t sleep), but realized we owed it to ourselves to start our Whole30 sooner. So, in spite of our sleep deprivation and vacation-hangover, we drove straight to the grocery store as soon as our plane landed in St. Louis. That was October 28, 2015, and we started our first Whole30 the next day.

Our Whole30 experience was spot on with the day-by- day calendar. We’d actually planned on just doing 28 days, thinking 28 was as good as 30, since day 29 was Thanksgiving. As the holiday approached we felt so amazing that we didn’t want to stop early, and instead, planned, cooked, and brought our own Whole30-compliant Thanksgiving meal to my parent’s house. Realizing we owed it to ourselves to fulfill our promise of completing the full 30 days was a step in the right direction of changing my mindset about food.

My husband and I were shocked at our results when we dusted off the scale on day 31. Together, we lost 25 pounds, multiple pant sizes, and we could both fit into our wedding rings again. My skin issues cleared up and my husband’s back/shoulder pain and inflammation was completely gone! We had energy and were sleeping better, even with our six month old still waking multiple times at night. We transitioned into a Paleo diet, eating mostly Whole30 compliant, but allowing a few Paleo treats for the holidays. We went on to complete 4 more rounds between January, 2016 and September, 2017, and are living our best life now in our mid-thirties.

 Six months into our health journey.

Six months into our health journey.

Cliché or not, Whole30 has changed my life. I am healthier, happier, and don’t have the same negative relationship with food that I used to. I don’t look back on my journey before Whole30 with regret, shame, or disdain. Instead, I know that each step was guiding me to the necessary place of being vulnerable enough to admit that I needed to make some changes in my life. Once I was mentally on board with doing whatever was necessary to change my life, I was able to start tackling the physical component. If you are ready to make a change in your life, as a Certified Whole30 Coach, I am here to help! Sign up for my online group coaching or book me for a private event at your home, and let’s begin your journey toward whole living!