Before I sat down to write this post, I looked back at old posts from 2013…during my first experiences with the Whole30. It was eye opening, and exciting to see how I’ve changed and learned from this program! I’m happy to say, where I am today is very different from my starting point!
I’m thankful for the Whole30, for teaching me how to improve my health overall. But more importantly, I’m grateful for the huge shift in my perspective, body image, and relationship with food! Like anyone else, I still have tough days. But, I have a whole new set of coping skills and tools to get through the times I struggle!
This is a before/after post, but let me be clear, I’m not a fan of before/after photo comparisons…
I recognize that for some, they can be motivating. For me, they have potential to be a trigger. I prefer not to have one “ideal” image or moment in time to think I have to live up to/should look like at all times. Because the truth is, we are constantly changing. Our lives, circumstances, and bodies change all the time as we age and go through this life. It’s important to me to model for my daughter and son, that taking care of your body and feeling healthy are waaaay more important than what it looks on the outside or a number on the scale.
I’m sharing a before/after photo today in an effort to show your weight/size doesn’t have to change in order to experience immense improvements in your health and personal growth! I know for some, weight loss is a real health goal. But, even if it is, it shouldn’t be the only goal!
One of the things I love about the Whole30 is it emphasizes paying attention to Non-Scale Victories; how your body feels, and health above all. You aren’t supposed to weigh yourself for the 30 days, instead focusing on all the other important changes happening. It forces you to think beyond changes in appearance, and focus instead on how your moods, emotions, sleep, energy, lifestyle, (and more!) change over the 30 day period. Diets don’t work (long term) because they only focus on weight loss, not a shift in mindset or lifestyle change. (Food Freedom Forever, by Melissa Hartwig really delves into this…it’s a must-read!!)
The photo on the left is from late 2012, my very first photo shoot when I was starting this blog! Andrew was about 18 months old, and I was back to my pre-baby weight/clothing size. I was happy with how I looked, but I didn’t feel great most of the time, had a raging sweet tooth, and my diet was very inconsistent. The photo on the right is from 2017, four years later…
I had no idea I could feel so much better just by changing what I put on my plate! Now I know how to listen to my body and give it what it needs to thrive, while enjoying sustained energy throughout the day. Plus, I feel more capable and confident in my own skin! #NSV
As I read my thoughts from 2013, the fear and stress I felt at the time were very real. I was afraid to let go of the habits I thought were keeping me on track, such as weighing in and counting calories. I didn’t realize it at the time, but those habits were also making me miserable and preventing me from truly having a healthy relationship with food.
After reading It Starts With Food, I was convinced to push past the fear and give it a try. It was a total game changer! I did four rounds of Whole30 in 2013. I know that sounds like a lot, but for me, it was necessary. I had years worth of unhealthy habits and ways of thinking to undo. Everyone’s health history is unique, you have to find what works for you!
I’ve listed my Top 5 NSV’s from 2013-the present…and I continue to refine, evolve, and learn!
NSV #1: My body has found a “happy place.”
I feel more energetic and strong since I changed how I eat. Thanks to the combination of training and the Whole30, I’ve gained muscle and my body composition has changed! On top of that, I see an improvement in my performance during workouts and I feel stronger and move better overall. How I feel about my body is no longer dependent on being a certain weight. Until I did the Whole30, I didn’t realize I actually felt tired most of the time. It was like the fog had been lifted!
I never thought I could be so intuitive about food, not overanalyzing every choice in fear of gaining weight. I finally trust myself and my body has found it’s natural “happy place.” I’m mindful of the choices I make considering if they are nutrient dense, but I don’t have to over restrict anymore to feel like I’m in control.
I’m content where I am. Looking back, much of my 20s I was on a yo-yo diet cycle. For the most part, I’ve figured out what I can “get away” with, while still looking and feeling the way I want to. I’ve created a plan that works for me from what I’ve learned about my body, through the Whole30 and Food Freedom trial/error, showing myself a whole lot of grace along the way…
NSV #2: After a holiday or vacation, I bounce back faster!
Pre-Whole30, it was hard for me to get back on track after a holiday or vacation. I’d find myself stuck in the cycle of food guilt. I’ve learned how to savor and enjoy less healthy foods as part of my food freedom, and then move on. I mindfully evaluate what’s worth it to me, and I don’t beat myself up over food choices anymore. Even during times like these, I try my best to eat as healthy as I can between indulgences, not because I have to, but because I know I feel better when I do. Through the Whole30, I’ve created strong habits that help me feel in control!
NSV #3: I listen to my body!
I had to do a lot of work to find Food Freedom. I’d been in recovery from disordered eating for several years prior to doing the Whole30, and I had to re-learn how to listen to my body’s hunger cues. I had ignored them for years and had to spend some time learning how to properly nourish my body. I finally relaxed around food and didn’t see it only as good or bad.
NSV #4: I’m honest with myself about when I need to reset…
Life happens. Stress happens. I fall off the wagon. It’s OK! These things are to be expected. If I start to feel out of control, I know exactly what to do to reign it in. I start by looking at the whole picture and honestly evaluating my eating, sleeping, and coping habits. Sometimes I use the Whole30 (as a 30 day or mini reset), but not always. Sometimes just adjusting a couple of things I know are not serving me (such as sugar or alcohol intake) does the trick!
NSV #5: I enjoy meal prepping, cooking, and eating at home!
Before the Whole30, cooking was not among my favorite things to do. If you would have told me nine years ago I’d be blogging about cooking and grocery shopping pretty regularly, I would not have believed you!
Leading by (quiet) example can bring people together over healthy food. Through the Whole30, I started to enjoy my time in the kitchen, preparing meals for our family. Its become a source of stress relief for me! And, it’s brought us together in ways I didn’t expect. Now, all of us spend more time in the kitchen, kids included! It’s even brought our extended family closer…sharing what I’ve learned with them, doing the Whole30 together, and gathering to enjoy healthy meals.
Feel free to comment with any questions, or to share your own NSVs! Thanks for stopping by…
Images: Jennifer Cortes / Beckley & Co.
*If you have an eating disorder or other chronic health condition, please consult your doctor before you start the Whole30, to help you decide if its the right choice for you…