I’m currently halfway through my fourth January Whole30 challenge and feeling its benefits more than any year prior. Looking back, it’s almost shocking to see how much has changed since my first time.
When my friend Andrea originally encouraged me to try Whole30, I was about to turn 30 years old. Working at a company where I never felt like I fit in was causing me to eat my feelings. Both my stress levels and weight were the highest they’d ever been. My asthma was so out of control that I couldn’t finish a sentence without coughing or wheezing- let alone exercise. Something had to give.
So my husband and I committed to doing Whole30 for the new year. It surprised me that we made it through and loved it so much that we made it an annual tradition. That first time, Holden lost 30 lbs by the end. My weight barely changed. It was frustrating, to say the least, but I shrugged it off- telling myself it’s easier for guys.
And that was my mistake. Each January – when we would do Whole30 – I’d change what food I ate, but not much else in my lifestyle. I was still in a (different) stressful job, not sleeping well, not exercising, not taking care of myself mentally. Last year, the pressure I felt starting my own business was constant.
But this time around has been a literal breath of fresh air.
Trying on my jeans yesterday, I realized they barely stayed up on my hips. Even though we can’t weigh ourselves during the challenge, I can tell the difference in how my clothes (don’t) fit. The strange thing was that I haven’t changed our typical meals or food intake from the other years of Whole30. In fact, we’re probably eating more carbs since I discovered the glorious air fryer and how easy it is to roast potatoes in it. I’m still not exercising like I should be, except for taking one of my friend Martha’s dance classes last week.
The difference between this year and the others is that I’ve now done the outside work to heal myself emotionally and set boundaries to protect toxic energy from overwhelming me. Mindful morning rituals help me start the day peacefully. I know how to handle impulses better, acknowledging their root causes instead of indulging. I’m free from the stress (and extra cortisol that came along with it).
I feel like myself again. And that’s the biggest win, no matter how much weight I lose.