[warning: like, way oversharing, entirely vulnerable, and hopefully relatable rant below.]
this past july i decided to do to this thing called whole30. the reason? well, mostly because regardless of how healthfully i was eating or how much i was exercising, my body just wasn’t responding. and also partly as a sly little ploy to get my dad (re)focused on his health too.
since my mom passed away more than three years ago, dad and i have had similar experiences: initially losing tons of weight just out of sheer shock + inevitable depression, followed by a poundage pendulum-swing back over to the other side, resulting in both of us carrying extra weight above our healthy norm. like father, like daughter - how precious. (sense the sarcasm?)
first + foremost, i just need to clarify one thing: i don’t think i'm "fat" or even over-weight for that matter, but i know what’s normal for my itty-bitty, 5’2” frame. for the past few years i've seen numerous doctors, only to be told that i'm “not 25 anymore” (gee, thanks for the reminder), that i'm too hard on myself (ok, tell me something i don’t know), and to just eat healthier and exercise more. (oh, why thank you – why didn’t i think of that!? yes, of course, i will try that – what a brilliant idea!!) again, sarcasm at its finest.
working out 5-6 days a week and eating healthier than most, nothing will drive you crazy faster than 110% commitment with zero results. in fact the scale (and body fat) just kept creeping upward. i preach moderation and shun obsessive ways, but let me tell you: recently, i've tip-toed entirely too close to my old ways of counting calories and (gulp, don’t judge me here) slipping back into starvation-mode in a desperate attempt to gain control...to no avail. nothing’s worked. with jeans that just keep getting more snug, let’s just say all the cute (one-size-bigger) pants i inherited from my momma have been my saving grace. things you don't want to inherit from your mother: a lovely genetically dimpled derriere and literally + figuratively "mom jeans". yeah, diamonds would've been preferred, but whatevs. add to this the fact that here i am the “chief fitlosopher”, feeling like a fraud more often than not because how can i be an example when i’m a hot mess over here??? live life fit, my ass.
but, i digress.
so, enter whole30: a month-long commitment to see how eliminating foods linked to inflammation might just be the answer. people who complete this program rack up an insanely long list of impressive non-scale victories, and weight loss tends to be a healthy byproduct. thirty days? sure, sign me (and dad...and like a big handful of fitbookers/friends) up!
in all honesty, it was hard. not actually doing whole30 (i kinda killed it, to be perfectly frank), but watching all the people i suckered into joining with me see results (which brings me amazing joy)...and then secretly wondering “why not me?”.
dad has lost 16 pounds, dropped a notch on his belt and got back into his size 34 jeans. he also saw insane health improvements that reduced his reliance on meds. in fact, whole30 even got this freight-train-snoring father of mine permanently off his CPAP machine. not to mention, he just looks phenomenal - clear skin, no puffiness or bloating, and increased energy. still going whole90 strong (again like-father-like-daughter), he's adopted this way of eating for life and isn't looking back. for his birthday just a few weeks ago, the whole family went up to the mountains, and he saunters over to me proud as a peacock sporting his live life fit shirt - a size large that he hasn't been able to fit into for years. you wanna talk about non-scale victories? it's not even MY victory and yet it is. a father who has a renewed lease on a healthy life? that my friends, is a victory indeed.
oh, but there's more. i admittedly suckered our fitbookers into joining me. all-star fab fitbooker megan lost more than 6 pounds, shed 9 inches overall + cleared up her skin, cravings AND digestive issues. my OG fitbooker cristal dropped 8 pounds, found four pairs of old jeans that she can now fit back into and most notably she experienced a shift in mindset to see that "food is fuel, not a therapist” (#preach). my fitlosophy board member + friend convinced his wife to do whole30 (again), and countless friends on facebook + followers on instagram chose to join me on this journey. um, y'all rock.
and me? oh aren't you dying to know? wanna see my before + after pics? well, you won't. and here's why i don't post half-nekkid pics:
- because i don’t look like i used to - and i'm insecure too, just like anybody else
- because i’m so much more than what i look like
- because i don’t like the comparison trap - you know, when you see someone's "before" + think "um, i'd take that as my after!"
- because it doesn’t inspire you
- because i don’t have anyone to take a pic (i mean, for reals)
- because i’m not an object
and so, no half-nekkid pic for you! but here are my results in written form. brace yourself - it's mind-blowing. (not)
an inch each off my boobs + hips, and (la-di-frickin’-da), i lost 3.6lbs (and yes, the .6 matters). and because i know the scale doesn’t tell the whole story, i’ve also seen some seismic shifts, albeit tiny on the richter scale: i think i saw an ab poking through the other morning, and at the right angle, i do believe my bum is a bit perkier, with some some serious cellulite reduction in the bootial region. it could be my jergens cream, but i’m just going to attribute it to clean eating + working out.
but whole30 is about so much more than the number on the scale. and these results are legit life-changing:
- i went off my anti-depressants that i've been on for over 15 years - and happily report my mood has been stable.
- i realized my sensitivity to alcohol + how it contributes to my tendency toward depression/anxiety and inability to handle stress.
- i tamed my blankety-blank sugar dragon, meaning for the first time in my life i didn't turn to sweets to soothe my soul.
- hello, glowing complexion. forget the expensive face creams - my skin has never looked better.
- i crave vegetables - and now it's second nature to have at least 1-2 (often 3) servings at each meal.
- i learned to cook for me - admittedly, i'm not a fan of the cooking-for-one life, so meal time can often just be quick meal assembly to avoid acknowledging this. whole30 transformed my thinking to cook new recipes and get adventurous in the kitchen...for me.
- literally no joint pain from previous injuries (busted tailbone) that usually had me in dire pain all down my leg, all up in my booty, and serious lower-back issues.
- increased energy + better sleep quality, meaning I’m not reaching for 6 cups of coffee just to get through the day.
- i started doing things that i love that didn't revolve around alcohol to fill the time - and kinda sorta found myself in the process. i mean, who goes country-dancing on a saturday night solo (because my friends don't dig it)? this girl.
- i learned to say "no, thank you." a people pleaser at heart, this was good practice in self-care, putting my own priorities ahead of what someone else might think of me. the scene: hot guy at bar, "can i buy you a drink?". ugh, no thank you..annnd goodbye, hot guy.
yes, all these results are amazing, but after 90 days of no cream in my coffee, not a sip of alcohol, and absolutely zero (zilch, nada) dairy, grains or sugar – coupled with working out 6 days a week and literally logging every morsel, can you see how one might go a bit batty when the scale doesn’t budge much at all? so at the end of my 2nd whole30 at the end of august, i went to the 3rd doctor in the past two years, hoping for some answers.
after being poked + prodded for extensive blood work, ultrasounds + appointments with (multiple) OB-GYNs, endocrinologists, and specialists, it was a doctor specializing in hormones who finally shed some light on what's been going on. [warning: girl talk ahead.]
basically, after my mother passed away, i realized that i had had maybe a handful of menstrual cycles in several years (yes, years) - so not normal. almost 20 pounds + nearly 2 menstruation-free years later, clocking in at a borderline obese body fat of 28% for my 5'2" frame, i've been hopeless and helpless on how to fix this.
so just last month, i walk into the doctor's office, preparing to hear the same ol' "work out more, eat less" lecture. instead, what i got was: "well, no wonder you're gaining weight - your hormones are all outta whack." with cortisol levels as high as someone with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), adrenals fatigued, my progesterone at a mere .2 (it should be around 5.0) and my free-T3 at 1.8 (healthy range is 4-5), she went onto explain that i'd gone through severe shock (understatement of the century), and this was my body's response.
i said, "okay, well that all makes sense - but in all honesty, mom's been gone for three years." yes, i miss her, but i'm not in the depths of grief anymore. i'm happy, so why is my body not recovering? she explained that hormones are like alignment on a car - if you wreck, it may still drive, but until you get an alignment it will stay out of whack. it won't self-correct. and so begins my hormone treatment therapy regimen to try and get this bod back on course.
most people who do whole30 see dramatic results on the scale. but that’s not the intention, or the goal. however, i can relate to feeling like a failure for not experiencing the same awe-inspiring, scale-shifting, groundbreaking results. because isn’t it true that only the dramatic transformations seem to matter? like the more extreme the before/after, the more inspiring? but what about those who finish like a rockstar and the numbers are just meh, okay? is that not equally phenomenal?
in the end, i’m oh-so-grateful for whole30 because not only did it take my clean eating to the next level, it is precisely what exposed that food + exercise weren’t to blame for my results (or lack thereof). in the process, i've learned to value my health oh-so-much-more, face and overcome a long-held unhealthy relationship with food, and reap some major NSVs in the process.
but let me be really clear: if it weren't for whole30, i would've continued to blame/shame myself for not seeing results. i would've believed the lie that if only i had more willpower, if only i worked out just a little more, if only i just could eat even less - literally the daily struggle that has haunted me for years, and now i have answers. and a solution, in progress.
now you know why i didn’t want to share my “results” at the end of day 30, or even day 60 for that matter. and in all honesty, sharing this even now is an exercise in humility. because trust me, i don't have stellar results to report or progress pics to post. however, i believe that all too many people can relate to my experience, and as ashamed as i've been to share, if exposing my struggles can help just one person, then the whole(30) dang thing was totally + completely worth it.