This week, we’ve headed up North to beautiful Canada to feature Mylene. Having an eating disorder is no joke and she put in A LOT of work to change her mindset and her relationship with food. Her commitment is both admirable and inspiring. Mylene, thank you so much for sharing your story.
How many times have you done Whole30? When was your first round?
I’ve only done the Whole30 once. I started on April 16th, 2018 and followed strictly the program for 40 days. After that, in social settings, I allowed myself to eat non-compliant, but I continue to follow the program and eat only compliant food 98% of the time. My husband joined me in the program but didn’t complete the Whole30 days, but he continued to eat what I would cook and therefore would follow the program with occasional cheating with non-compliant food. We haven’t done a proper, scheduled reintroduction yet as we want to continue to eat mostly Whole30 and I personally eat non-compliant only on special occasions or when I feel something is really worth it. Therefore, there is some types of food I haven’t eat since April 16th.
How did you hear about Whole 30 and what made you decide to do it?
The first time I’ve heard of Whole30 was in 2017 through a good friend who introduced me to CrossFit. At first I was reticent about the program as I suffered from eating disorders for most of my life and was keeping away from anything that looked like a diet. In the past 10 years every time I would get to a point where I couldn’t stand my weight anymore and would start to control my food and eliminate types of food, I would end up at the hospital in a special program for eating disorders. And every time that would happen, I would end up gaining even more weight than before I started restricting.
Following another treatment for eating disorders, in 2015, I and my husband got married. It was a lot of adaptation for the both of us and our health wasn’t that great which led us both to adopt unhealthy eating habits which included a lot of takeout and we gained a lot of weight. With the added weight came some more health issues, including low self-esteem, low energy, more inflammation, more heartburns, etc…
Therefore, when I started CrossFit in 2017, I was the heaviest I had ever been, which was making it difficult for me to do as much as I would have wanted while training. However, the friend with whom I was training with was eating Paleo and we would often have discussion regarding nutrition which was motivating me to be more balanced and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Being highly overweight for me and my husband, it was impacting a lot our life quality and we were both suffering from a lot of inflammation, me with my asthma and knee pain as I got to do more CrossFit, and my husband with his injury to his sciatic. Furthermore, being so in love with CrossFit, I was getting frustrated to be limited in my movements due to my weight and my inflammation and even more frustrated that despite all my efforts, I wasn’t losing any weight, nor improving my health that much.
At the beginning of 2018, we moved for work to a very remote location where we don’t have access to restaurant, fast food, take out, etc… I wanted a change for us, I wanted my husband to stop suffering so much from his inflammation, and I wanted us to be in better health. At one point, on Facebook, I saw a friend’s post mentioning she was doing a round of Whole30, that’s when I remembered that my CrossFit friend had told me about that program and I became more curious about it.
I started to make a lot of research about Whole30 and bought the Whole30 book that I read cover to cover. As I read about it, I loved the principles behind the program, I felt it was healthy, balanced, and made a lot of sense. I felt like I had found our solution to improve our lives and health and it was decided that we were going to do the program.
At that point in my life, I felt more in control of my eating and felt like I was ready to try the program without fearing too much that it would lead me to relapse into my eating disorder. Furthermore, being in such a remote area, months at a time, where a lot of temptations are non-existent, I figured it was the best setting to try the program. So for weeks, months, I planned the beginning of our first round and we had decided to start it on April 3rd, however circumstances out of our control made us postpone to April 16th, where we started for real!
What scale and non-scale victories have you had as a result of Whole 30?
There is so much to say about the results! One of the most obvious result is the weight loss. For me, according to the last time I weighted myself, I lost 36 lbs in about 2 months. As for my husband who didn’t weight himself recently, he had lost 25 lbs. Yesterday, he showed me that he can now buckle his belt 5 wholes smaller. I can now wear clothes that couldn’t fit me for years.
In my line of work I need to travel by plane almost every week. At first, I needed an extension to buckle the seatbelt, but about a month after the beginning of the Whole30, I could now buckle without the extension and this week I noticed, that not only can I buckle without an extension, but also I need to tie it up even more!
In terms of non-scale victories, both my husband and I have less downs of energy in the afternoon and I feel like I have more energy in general. I now sleep very easily and soundly. In addition, I no longer have constant difficulty with my asthma and my husband has less pain to his sciatica. We no longer have any heart burns and almost no gas.
I used to be very much into sugar, but I no longer have cravings for fast-food or sugar. The only cravings I experience now is of a great meal with protein and veggies. I feel more confident in the kitchen, taking a lot of pride out of doing everything from scratch, like mayo that I had never done before. I also learned to cook more with spices to my husband’s great joy.
My skin is clearer, breaking out very slightly only when getting my periods. We both feel more comfortable in our skins. I started to pamper myself more and look forward to shopping for clothes, whereas before I would avoid shopping at any cost. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to go to one class of CrossFit lately and despite not having gone for several months, I improved of 150% in at least one movement (wall climb).
And, probably, one of my dearest NSVs is that I can now wear my wedding ring again. I couldn’t wear it before, not because it wouldn’t fit, but because the metal would burn my skin, probably due to acidity, but it no longer does that.
What helped you to succeed the most on Whole 30?
Planning. For the first 6-7 weeks, I planned everything. Every week, I would make a meal plan and it helped me a lot. Also, having my husband do the program with me helped me a lot as I wasn’t alone in this journey. I think that just realizing all the benefits that came with the program made it so much easier to continue. And, of course, the setting of where we live made it easier for us as the temptations are almost non-existent.
Reading the Whole30 book was a big help for me. I knew what to expect, but also I understood the ideology behind the program. The main concept I keep reminding myself of is the fact that it’s not because something is in front of us that we have to eat it, but rather, we have to ask ourselves if it’s really worth it when the food is non-compliant. Asking myself that question has helped me find balance and food freedom, something I had never achieved so far.
What’s your favorite Whole 30 recipe or go-to meal?
Both my husband and I have found some very good recipes, some that are very quick and easy and others that take a bit more preparation, but are so good. One of the easiest and delicious one is now our Friday night tradition: Shrimps cooked in ghee and garlic on top of zoodles! So simple, but so good.
Another of our favorite one for weekday lunches is a salad nicoise. A bed of lettuce topped with half of a can of tuna mixed with mayo and a hard-boiled egg, surrounded by other veggies (often sweet pepper and cucumber), olives, and artichoke heart. Sometimes, I add some pieces of almond and we eat this with a homemade vinaigrette.
Another recipe I do often that is so quick is a piece of salmon on a cookie sheet topped with olive oil and garlic and surrounded by asparagus. It all goes in the oven and cook together.
Other favorites are all the recipes of bowls, especially the Mexican ones, like burrito bowl or spicy chicken on cauliflower rice, and another favorite is the walnut crunch pork tenderloin.
How has your life changed since Whole 30?
I would say I now spend my life cooking and doing the dishes! LOL. But more seriously, I feel it improved so much aspects of our lives. I listed a lot of the benefits when I talked about the scale and non-scale victories, but I believe on top of that, it completely changed my relationship with food. I now truly choose what I put inside my body. It’s not all guided by my emotions or by my mind, it’s a balance of both.
I’m also more aware of what is contained in food as I constantly look at the ingredient when I want to buy something new. Furthermore, I don’t dread going grocery shopping as I did before, because now going grocery shopping is synonym of putting together some great meals with amazing ingredients. I am no longer afraid of healthy fats. Most of my anxiety and guiltiness regarding food as disappeared because I know I truly make good choices now, even when I eat non-compliant.
In addition to Whole 30, did you make any other healthy lifestyle changes at the same time?
At this moment, I cannot think of any other changes. Being in a remote location and working a lot, I no longer train like I used to when I was doing CrossFit, however, as we don’t really have any means of transportation, I do walk more, especially when it’s time to do the grocery. Therefore, the main change in our lifestyle is keeping up with the Whole 30 even if we are not officially on a round.
What message/inspiration do you have for those just starting the program?
Be honest with yourself. Changing our habits is difficult and it’s a process. Don’t rush the process, when you are ready it works and it sticks. Be compassionate toward yourself and find the help and support you need. No matter the outcome, make sure you take the time to be proud of yourself. Remember the program is not just about compliant or non-compliant ingredients, it’s about your relationship with food and beyond! Don’t ever give up on taking care of yourself, only you can do that for yourself.