Relearning Healthy Habits
Updated: Feb 3
Here I am, in day 7 of my fourth time going "Whole30". But this post isn't about why you should eat Whole30 or if it's the "miracle diet". This post is about learning how to love my WHOLE self, including my insides.
I'm hoping by sharing this story it will help others to learn to love themselves as well.
I'm not going to lie, I was graced with good genetics. However, if you think about it, humans in general are graced with good genetics! We're all built to do absolutely incredible things. Yet there I was, completely disregarding my inner health and eating like a child. It wasn't until about junior or senior year of college that I was at my heaviest that I've ever been. I felt miserable, my clothes didn't fit, , sleep-deprived, I just assumed this was what it was like to be an adult. I kept saying to myself and to my friends, "I really need to lose weight". Do you know what they would say?
"You don't need to lose weight! You're so skinny!"
I cannot express to you how toxic this simple sentence is.
I was seeking support and guidance to feel better, be healthier, and not have to buy a whole new wardrobe to accommodate my growing waist size. Yet the people I considered my support group would roll their eyes or tell me I was being ridiculous for wanting a change.
When I graduated in 2015 I decided to take a trip to the UK in October to look at graduate school options and just get away from the repetitious cycle of my life. I was gone for almost 40 days and came back weighing 20 lbs lighter than when I left.
What was the great miracle that happened in 40 days?
Well, I went from being fairly sedentary to walking an average of 7 miles each day. I also only ate one or two large meals and a few snacks in between. I was not choosing healthy options at all, but just the sheer amount of calorie burn vs calorie intake saved me. Now I didn't go to Scotland with the idea in mind that this would help me lose weight, and I'm not saying you have to travel internationally to lose weight.
It was simply doing something that I wanted to do that made me happy, and I was active and social.
Since then I have fluctuated up and down as one usually does, but I have never been close to how heavy I was in college. I have also not been as light as when I came back from Scotland. I have had to learn that when I was so light as a teenager and young adult it was healthy then, but as a grown woman of my stature that weight is not healthy.
I've learned to ignore the numbers on the scale because that is not as important as how I feel on the inside.
I've been with a personal trainer for almost two years now. I kept working out and training with him and I just wasn't seeing results. I asked him what I was doing wrong and he asked me what I was eating... he said that was definitely what was wrong.
Apparently you're not supposed to eat like a 7 year old child when you're 25!
He told me about Whole30, it seemed impossible, but I really just had to do something. My depression was still severe, I was still sleeping poorly, and just did not feel well.
The self-love had come leaps and bounds from where it was during college, but I would still beat myself up for being so unhealthy with my habits. I was back to being sedentary, I would stay up too late and sleep in, I ate junk food as my every-day meals.
It was time to love my WHOLE self. Inside and out.
My husband and I started Whole30. I'm going to briefly explain what Whole30 is, but this blog is not sponsored by, nor related to this eating style. Whole30 is an elimination diet in which you cannot eat grain (including corn), dairy, sugar (except that which is naturally occurring in fruits & veggies), or legumes (don't ask me why). Everyone immediately responds with "what CAN I eat?". You can eat meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts & seeds. Believe me, this is all you actually need in life! You eat like this for 30 days, then you slowly start to reintroduce the eliminated food groups to find your specific "problem" food group. For me it is most definitely sugar.
Sugar is the literal devil.
Sugar makes me tired, irritable, worsens my depression, worsens sleep quality, makes me bloated, I really don't think there is anything worse than sugar. The problem is I also love it. I love desserts. This is a huge conundrum for me. I have to cut sugar out of my day-to-day and only eat desserts on special occasions, which kills me sometimes. Sometimes I cave, I feel worse for it physically, but mentally I am very happy that I ate the sugar. This is where loving your WHOLE self comes into play!
Here are my rules when choosing healthy eating habits:
Love yourself first, no matter what!
You have to start eating healthy with the mindset that it is to better yourself and how you feel, do not start eating healthy with expectations of anything incredible to happen immediately. You have to let go of those thoughts and just know that you're doing this for your happiness, no one and nothing else matters. Love yourself first.
Do not call it a "diet" call it eating healthy.
I feel like there is bad vibes that come along with the word "diet". It implies that you are restricting and punishing yourself for some reason. You are beautiful and wonderful! You just want to treat your body better! You are making healthy choices, not dieting.
Do not call it "cheating" & do not beat yourself up about it!
I hate the term "cheating" or "cheat days". I did Whole30 without cheating ONCE, which is only 30 days. Ever since the first time, I have done a modified Whole30 that fits with what my needs and wants are. The same goes with ANY healthy eating choice. If you are choosing healthy choices more than 50% of the time you're doing a great job! You do you. If you're out with your friends and you want to get dessert, then get it! Yes, everything in moderation. But if you cave and eat something that is not within your healthy eating guidelines do not punish yourself for it! This creates a really toxic relationship with food. You should love eating and you should love yourself.
Do not worry about what others think or say.
This is really the golden rule for life, and it's much easier said than done. We grow up our whole lives being taught to judge other and learning how to avoid judgement ourselves. We really need to move past this. Especially when it comes to eating habits. Yes, there are always "preachy" eaters, and these stereotypes are ruining healthy eating for others who don't like to be as public about their eating habits. Again, you do you. If you aren't allergic to gluten, but you want to be gluten-free, do it! Don't let judgement stop you from making your own personal choices.
Stick with it! You can do it!
This is probably actually the hardest one. When you're feeling shitty and you just cannot get over that 10 day hump no matter what you do and you cave it can really make you believe that you will never be able to do this. Just know that when you change your eating habits your body needs to kind of re-calibrate itself. It needs to relearn it's habits just as much as you do. Push through it. Find support. You can do it.
When I stick with my healthy eating choices I truly feel better, and I find that my appearance starts to reflect the good feelings on the inside. Now whether there are actual physical changes, or if it's just my self-confidence helping me love myself more, I don't know! Frankly, I don't care either.
I am happier and I feel better inside. That is what is most important.
Of course there are always times I feel worse or down, but I can't control what my hormones or brain chemistry do. What I can control is what I'm putting into my body and how I take care of my body, the rest follows suite more often than not.
Love your WHOLE self. <3