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I didn’t know if I would ever write a post like this because I don’t want this to be a “weight loss” blog, but here I go. I have shared a little bit about my food journey in my first post, here, and how the Whole30, as cliche as it may sound, truly changed my life and my relationship with food. If you want to learn more about Whole30, I highly suggest reading The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom by Melissa Hartwig, the co-founder of Whole30. And for you mamas out there, I have found such encouragement about raising healthy eaters in the Whole Mamas Club podcast; I hope you check out these resources!
As far back as I can remember, even back to first or second grade, I wanted to lose weight; I was a chubby, but happy, girl with crazy, curly hair (in fifth grade, I was nick-named Tornado thanks to my ‘do) who just wanted to fit in like other kids. I recently went through some old journals where I was in 7th grade and documenting everything I ate while berating myself for eating Oreos…a 12-year-old should be out having fun with friends, not worrying about calorie consumption. It was the same all throughout high school, but add in some mean boys commenting about how “you aren’t as hot as your big sisters”, or “you’re prettier when your hair is straight”, so I kept trying to fit in and meet their beauty standards.
Then in college, I gained the classic “freshman 15”, but tried not to worry about it; however, anytime I would go out for late night fast food with my friends, I would feel guilt to the point of wanting to vomit up everything I just ate; that was “bad” food only contributing to my weight gain. I eventually cut out sodas and started running my sophomore year; I also started experiencing symptoms of IBS, so I lost weight fairly quickly. I was, and still am, so proud of myself for running a half marathon that spring semester, but my relationship with food was still off, and my anxiety was high.
Throughout college and into my first year of marriage, my IBS got so bad that if we went out to eat, I would be sick all night. My darling husband saw me throwing up while sitting on the toilet so many times during our first year of marriage that I’m sure he wondered what he had gotten himself in to! On top of being sick so often, I was also an anxious mess, and had gained about 12-15 pounds in our first year and a half of marriage. I had just decided to start working out more regularly when we found out *surprise!* that I was pregnant. So of course from there, I just kept gaining and getting more and more anxious; despite my efforts to have a healthy pregnancy, I gained 40 pounds.
After our sweet Zemirah was born, things took a turn for the worse in a battle of postpartum depression and anxiety (which I will write about at another time), and I not only “hated myself” (actual words I said to David), I couldn’t sleep despite my exhaustion, had zero energy, and felt absolutely out of control with everything: life, weight gain, motherhood, and fear. I tried the best *I* could (never truly handing my burdens to God), to deal with my anxiety, and cooked us healthy-ish meals, but because I was nursing, ate so many carbs, and not the healthy ones like fruit, whole grains, or potatoes. The carbs I consumed were more along the lines of bread with refined sugar and flour, brownies, cookies, ice cream, doughnuts…you know. Carbs, dairy, and sugar are the staple comfort foods when you’re feeling depressed and anxious…but in reality, only make things worse.
Fast forward to the beginning of 2018, Zemirah and I were living with my parents while David was deployed, and I wanted to lose the rest of the baby weight before he came home. I found this “diet” called Whole30, and knew a few friends who had done it. It seemed hard, but I love a challenge, so with nearly all my family joining me, we tackled our first round of Whole30! I was discouraged to learn that I had only lost 5 pounds at the end of it (others in my family all lost 10-15!), but felt so much better about myself that I kept it up, not a strict Whole30, but very clean eating. When I moved back to California, I was surprised to learn that I had lost a few more pounds, now totaling 12 pounds lost! I kept exercising to tone up for David’s return; he was so surprised to see how different I looked! He had just come from a steady diet of pizza, ramen, and soda, and I really wanted him to experience how wonderful the Whole30 was, so we tackled a round together: his first, my second. It was during this round of Whole30, that I really began to notice my non scale victories.
I noticed that my anxiety was greatly reduced; even though we were starting to prepare for a huge career change, I felt down in my spirit that everything really would be okay. I also no longer struggled with insomnia! I used to take a Melatonin every night before bed just so I could fall asleep, and hardly slept through the night even when Zemirah did, but that was all changing. During my second round of Whole30, I stopped taking Melatonin, and would fall asleep peacefully without help and sleep hard all night, and even if I only got 6 hours of sleep (because, let’s face it, babies wake up early), I would feel so rejuvenated in the morning.
(Just a side note: we are currently a mere four days away from a cross country move, and, though I have my freak out moments, I still generally feel calm, with no chest pain and no insomnia. That is huge for me!)
After that second round of Whole30, I was beginning to notice how much I truly enjoyed working out; I started going to Stroller Strides and doing those hour long work outs twice a week, and on the off days, walking and/or running. I hadn’t run in a while, but I noticed a dramatic increase in my energy levels, and even ran my personal fastest mile! (Once we get moved, I am going to try and break that record again 😉 ) Exercise is much more fun now than it used to be, and I appreciate seeing all that my body can do!
In addition to the changes in exercise, sleep, and anxiety, my IBS is all but gone, and I now know with certainty which foods trigger it. And emotionally speaking, my relationship with food has changed entirely; I don’t view foods as “bad” anymore, but just as something to have very sparingly, and I choose to focus instead on which foods make my body feel good! I’ve found that going through life focusing on the good things (whether food, people, circumstances) as opposed to the bad is a much better way to live.
So, counting from around December of 2017, I have lost a total of 23 pounds. That doesn’t really seem like much; you hear the stories of those pills/shakes/wraps and how you can lose 30+ pounds instantly, but I love seeing the slow change of my body. I have been learning which foods fuel me, which make me feel yucky and anxious (hello, refined sugar), and have been slowly enjoying the process of a true lifestyle change. Weight will fluctuate, and that is simply a fact, so the number on the scale is not as important as the non scale victories! Because, yes, I lost fat, but I’ve also lost anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, mood swings, and low self-confidence!
I am working on, with the help of God, losing the desire for other people’s approval, and finding my true worth in Him! It is my prayer that you can do the same. Celebrate your non-scale victories…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!