I’m quitting Whole 30.
Before you judge me on why, you should hear me out.
It’s day 10 of this thing. I’ve cleared out every nook and cranny of our pantry and fridge and labeled with post its titled ‘Whole 30’ and ‘NOT Whole30’. I’ve purchased every weird condiment substitute that is offered at Whole Foods. I’ve eaten more things coconut based than I have ever wanted to. I have bumped up my veggie intake, have been cooking more, and am constantly reading labels of everything.
I feel miserable. My stomach has been churning for about a week straight. I have had NONE of the symptoms of what they “say” you’ll experience on Whole 30 – headaches from detoxing sugar and other toxins and feeling extremely tired on the first few days… OR the positive symptoms like clear skin or increased energy. None. My stomach is just super upset and I’m hungry. But that’s not why I’m quitting. It’s definitely a whooooole lot more.
If you followed my original health and fitness blog, you may recall I shared a little bit about my past relationship with food. But today, I’m feeling called to share more.
I have been 20-50 pounds heavier than I am currently at 3 different times in my life. It started in high school when I put myself on a diet the summer after freshman year where I had absolutely gained weight from a few too many sleepover junk food binges, after school trips to Taco Bell, and from needing to recover from a huge life changing surgery that someday I’ll share more about. It was the first time in my life that I had ever really thought about food in terms of a diet. I had always loved sports and been active so I just ate like a normal kid. But after freshman year, I became aware. So I started to really “watch it” and that summer I ended up loosing 20 pounds.
I loved the feeling of the positive affirmation and attention I got when I came back to school that fall. People said I was “skinny” for the first time in my life. And that felt gooooood. I had never thought of myself as skinny. I was ALWAYS the tall and “more developed” girl. The end of the line/last row of the class and swim team photo, had to wear a real bra when everyone else got to wear the Limited Too sports bras, never could wear juniors sizing, ankles weirdly too big to wear normal sized anklets so my sweet mother bought me a really expensive sterling silver and turquoise one on a spring break vacation in Arizona because it was magically the only one that had ever fit me….kind of girl. So to hear the word ‘skinny’ associated with my name was shocking and exhilarating.
Through the rest of high school, I ended up going back to a standard teenager diet. My weight fluctuated and I didn’t think too much about it. I worked out, rode horses, danced on stage… and just felt normal again. But then I went away to college and accumulated THE Freshman 15. Make it 30. I was infatuated with the fact that I could eat Coco Puffs with whole milk for dinner from the cafeteria if I wanted to. I certainly made a trip or 5 a week to the frozen yogurt shop 20 minutes away and was not skimpy on toppings. Goldfish at 2 am while studying? Duh. The weight came back on and I had to face the idea of a diet once again. So that summer, I came home, dieted, and lost it.
But the diet wasn’t a healthy one. Sure, I ate. But not very much. I “shrunk my stomach”, which helped my portion control, but also left me many a nights where I was going to bed starving. But here’s the scary part. I learned to like that feeling. I told myself that going to bed hungry meant I was “skinny”. I went to the gym obsessively, spending hours on the elliptical. I’d turn down seeing friends for the gym. I’d turn down fro yo trips with my bestie because it meant I’d have to face something I used to love that made me “fat”. Now, let me reiterate that NO ONE was telling me these things. This was ALL MY OWN mental game. And because I appeared to just be eating normally and working out more, everyone thought I was just on a good track. But the mind games. Ohhhh how toxic they were. I never starved myself, never inflicted pain, but I just couldn’t even look at food without analyzing the calorie intake or what that meant in terms of my diet. I just wanted to hear that I was skinny. I wanted people to say, “good for you!” and “you look amazing!”. I ultimately wanted complete control over myself and my body.
Through the next four years of college, I finally gave up on the obsession. It felt too hard and exhausting to care so much. I joined a sorority and suddenly felt comfortable eating the pizza at the exchange and nibbling on popcorn and sour gummies at the sisterhood retreat. There was also this little thing called alcohol that crept it’s way into my diet. So yeah, that was great for the hips. Not. Fast track to the end of college away from home and I was 50 pounds heavier than I am today. A very unhealthy 50 pounds. And I was miserable.
There were so many emotional factors built into that 50 pounds, but it’s too much to share today. What you need to know is that I was a mess. Emotionally and physically. I had no drive in life and had no idea what to do about it. But honest to goodness, it is at this point that I FINALLY started listening to what the Lord had to say about me.
I finally started to hear AND believe that I was beautiful. Even with the 50 extra pounds, I was still loved. I was cherished. That God believed in me waaaaay more than I ever believed in myself. That yeah, maybe those 50 pounds needed to come off. But not in an obsessive way. In a really slow process, patient way. Jesus went after my heart during this season of life and renewed my self-confidence. It was not a self-love and self-fulfilling self-confidence. It was a complete trust in God confidence. It was shifting to “Yeah, I’m worthy and worth it. I’m worth taking care of my body. I’m also worthy of eating that donut. I’m worthy of practicing self control when I need to. I’m also worth actually listening to my body and how it feels. Hmmm.. am I really hungry or just bored? Should I be focusing on what my thighs look like or should I be focusing on my faith?” kind of thoughts. And by the grace of God, it was freedom like I had never experienced before.
It took me 2 years to loose those 50 pounds. It was slooooow. I tried to not step on the scale. There were plenty of mornings that I did, and I cried in disappointment. But then there were moments where I jumped off for joy. Knowing that I ate pasta the night before and still lost weight. My fitness routine was a healthy one. I worked out, ran multiple races, and became a certified fitness instructor. I started a health and fitness blog. I also ate Chick-Fil-A. For the first time in all of my fluctuating, I felt healthy. Not skinny – healthy. It was awesome. And then? I met this boy named Sam. Who just so happened to love that I too, loved to eat In-N-Out. That I too, liked to go on hikes. And you know what he really liked? My curves. Yeah, he likes those a lot.
So let’s get back to today. Day 10. In the past 10 days, I have thought more obsessively about food than I have in 4 years. I felt myself dive right back into desiring complete control over what I was eating because honestly, you kind of have to on this diet. You HAVE to think about it. No sugar? Uhh yeah newsflash, sugar is in everything. So yes, I have to be obsessive when it comes to planning out every ounce that enters into my body. And you know what? IT. IS. TOXIC. TO. ME. I feel my 20 year old self crying while going to bed hungry. I feel the desire for control seeping into my brain. I feel like I’m on an emotional roller coaster and can’t press pause. Food has immediately turned into strictly fuel for me and nothing more and I hate it.
As I made quesadillas for my nieces and nephews yesterday, they asked why Auntie wasn’t having any. I had to try to explain why, and I honestly wanted to burst into tears. Their look of confusion was priceless. Sweet miss Molly looked at me and said, “Auntie, are you hungry? If you want some, you should have some. You can have some vegetables, too.” Such wisdom, that one. So yes. I can have some quesadilla. I can also have some spinach. I can start re-training my body to listen to itself and say, “Hmmm. Maybe no quesadilla because you had a a lot of dairy already today and too much may make you feel bloated” OR “I need that quesadilla in my life right now. And I’m willing to not have ice cream for desert because of it.”
So yes, if you go back to my original Whole 30 post, I’m being contradictory. Honestly, I think I wrote that in a place of determination and pride, not full truth to myself. I admit it and apologize for it. I truly didn’t think that jumping on a diet train would at all trigger the emotions and memories I have faced within the last 10 days. And do I think that everyone feels this way when going for Whole 30? Absolutely not.
My sister-in-law is KILLING it on Whole 30. She’s loving it, feeling better, and being re-introduced to her love for cooking. And that is AMAZING. I’m so proud of her! But realizing everyone is different is a a good thing, I think. Because please, hear me out. Whole 30 isn’t evil. I’ve heard so many stories of people realizing their bodies are either allergic or super intolerant to things they cut out and have never felt better after doing it. And gosh, there are people near and dear to my heart (including my husband!) that have terrible food intolerances and they have no choice BUT to read labels and be conscious of their consumption. And I fully support and get that. But like I said, this choice of mine to quit is obviously due to a bigger picture. An emotional battle. And that is okay.
So here’s my new plan. See ya later, Whole 30. Hello to my tried and true friends moderation, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and dairy here and there. If a little sugar and gluten make it’s way in too, so be it. I will continue to be more conscious of labels and realize that, “WOW perhaps I don’t need thaaaat much half and half in my coffee or ketchup on my sweet potato fries.” I’ll also stick out the 30 days of no alcohol. Because I don’t see it as a need right now and by the grace of God, I don’t struggle with it. I’ll also commit to keeping up with my power walking routine which seems to be the happy highlight of my busy weeks right now. And finally, I’ll force myself to get on a better sleep schedule, which to be honest is most likely the culprit of my body feeling so off in the first place. And perhaps admitting that I was feeling off and needed to get better at doing those things in my original post was enough.
And there you have it. I cant believe I typed this out or that I’m even considering clicking ‘publish’. I hate failure. Loathe it. My pride hurts. I had visions of me saying I completed the whole, Whole 30. Doing it and doing it well because “if everyone else can do this so can I and I’m going to do it better”. But I think my honesty is better. And if one woman reads this and feels like these honest words are resonating so deeply, then it’s worth it. If anything I shared hits you like a ton of bricks, please know that I’m praying for you. For both of us! To be reminded that our Father is the ONLY one in control. That he made us beautiful, unique, cherished, and loved. No matter WHAT the scale says, no matter if you’ve done Whole 30 or not, if you’re obsessed with kale or hate vegetables, if you have curves or are stick thin, if you do CrossFit or go for leisurely walks, or had a green smoothie or a donut this morning…. you. are. worthy.
Now, I’m off to go eat a salad for lunch and then treat myself to a latte with real milk in it.