At first glance, it may surprise you to learn that I didn’t try Whole 30 to lose weight. It is a common misconception that all plus-size, overweight, or fat (there I said it) people are longing to be thin. It’s simply not true… at least not for me. I’ve never been thin, so I honestly don’t know what that feels like and I’m actually OK with it. I don’t look at being plus-size as a negative attribute that must be fixed at all costs. I’m comfortable in my own skin, I am loved, and I know my worth. Being in a larger body does not decrease my value as a person.
So, you may be wondering, “Why Whole 30 if not for weight loss?” Well, I tried Whole 30 as an elimination diet to figure out why I was suffering from chronic hives. A condition that is totally unrelated to my weight. I learned that Whole 30 is not a diet at all and the benefits so happened to include weight loss for me.
Before Whole 30, I was under the impression that my husband and I ate pretty well. He’s in the military and must meet weight and physical fitness standards. So, I cooked healthy meals for us. However, I was skipping meals, sometimes eating just once a day. I wasn’t trying to starve myself intentionally. I allowed “busyness” to keep me from taking better care of myself. I was suffering from chronic lower back pain that was debilitating, not sleeping well, and stressed out most of the time.
Then I learned that I was pre-diabetic… right at the cusp of diabetes! That was a turning point for me. It was the wake-up call that I needed to get serious about my wellness journey. The scare of diabetes looming over me helped me complete my first round of Whole 30. I was laser-focused and determined to beat the diagnosis without medication. Since that time, I have reversed the diagnosis and my numbers are well within the normal range. Through physical therapy, my back is healed. I’ve lost 75 lbs. and counting. And I sleep like a baby.
For the past two years, I’ve completely focused my attention on healing myself. I’ve systematically addressed my nutrition using the Whole 30 meal template, sleep therapy, physical activity, stress reduction, and mental health. I’ve eliminated toxic products and people from my life. I’ve literally been shedding weight both mentally and physically. So, the outside is reflecting the work I’m doing inside.
I truly believe in holistic wellness. Healing the whole person inside and out. Whole 30 addresses the nutrition component which is the foundation for optimal health. Eating whole, unprocessed foods and eliminating foods that don’t meet the “Good Food Standards” makes sense to me. Use Whole 30 as a tool to create a healthy relationship with food and lasting lifestyle changes. Remember to be kind to yourself. No negative self-talk. I live by the mantra, “progress, not perfection.” We don’t need to be perfect. We just need to keep doing our best. Flowing, not forcing.
Here are five things YOU can do right now to jump start your own wellness journey!
Commit to completing a round of Whole 30 (or a mini reset if you’ve already successfully completed a full Whole 30.) Unless you’re fueling your body with foods that are optimizing your nutrition and making you healthier, the other elements won’t matter as much. Have you ever heard the saying, “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet?” I also strongly encourage you to read It Starts with Food to understand the “why” behind Whole 30 and your personal motivations.
Prioritize sleep. For me that meant undergoing a sleep study, learning that I have sleep apnea, and getting a CPAP. For you, it may be as simple as turning off the TV (or other distractions) and going to bed sooner. If I have trouble falling asleep, I use the Relax Melodies app with a sleep timer. I love it and it’s free!
Find a physical activity that you enjoy and get moving. It doesn’t have to be strenuous or costly, just move more. Take the stairs, go for a walk, have a dance party by yourself just for fun.
Reduce stress and seek counseling if you need to. There is no shame in speaking with a mental health professional. There doesn’t need to be a major crisis for you to do so. Maybe you just need a listening ear and someone that can provide helpful feedback. Many companies offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that provides services free of charge. You can also check your insurance benefits. Many area support groups are free as well. Google “free or low-cost counseling” in your area and see what’s available.
Decide to make yourself and your wellness a priority. Take inventory of your life and health and note the areas that you’d like to improve. Then make a plan and do it. Creating a vision board has helped me tremendously! Having a daily visual reminder keeps my goals at the forefront. It’s an amazing feeling when something on my vision board comes to fruition.
Jennifer Amoako is a holistic lifestyle ambassador, proud military wife, and a winner of The New Primal Whole 30 Coaching scholarship who recently became a Whole30 Certified Coach. She lives in the Washington, DC metro area with her husband. Follow her on Instagram @ajenniferyourthoughts!