August 8, 2014

How the Whole30 Helped Heal My Unhealthy Relationship

Whole30 burger Melissa Joulwan

Today’s guest post is from Karen Simpson, a holistic health coach

Karen’s Story

When Jay and I met almost two years ago, we fell for each other immediately.  Before I met him, I felt as though the whole “love at first sight” concept was something that could only be found in a Nicholas Sparks novel.  I was so wrong. The first year was absolute bliss for us even though we were living two hours apart.  We spent every weekend together laughing at and loving all up on each other like teenagers at a drive-in.  We then decided to get a place together, and were faced with the stress of the move, his reduced income, and being in each other’s personal living space for the first time ever. By the time that our relationship had hit an all-time low, I was extremely unhappy with my eating habits, my physique, and with the way I felt.  I knew a Whole30 was exactly what I needed to get me out of my funk but didn’t think I could do it alone.  At first I had trouble convincing my extremely fit, powerlifting boyfriend to give up his pizza, ice cream, and pasta and do a Whole30 with me.  Then I explained how much it meant to me, and that I really needed his support in order to succeed. (I may have also mentioned that it had the potential to increase my sex drive.)

Enter the Whole30

The first week was challenging, but since we had mentally prepared ourselves for the “kill all things” days, we made it through.  We experienced many of the usual symptoms such as headaches, irritability, and fatigue. The second week was more challenging than the first because that’s when the intense cravings hit.  All I could think about was devouring an entire batch of freshly made chocolate chip cookies while my boyfriend fantasized about Dunkin Donuts flavored iced coffee with extra cream and sugar. By the third week, we felt better physically and our cravings had subsided.  We still had challenges, however: namely, Jay and I consume a ridiculous amount of food.  We are both over 6 feet tall and have very active lifestyles, so our bodies need more nourishment than the average person. To keep the costs down, we shopped at our local wholesale club and visited the butcher shop in our town to stock up on fresh meat. We also made meals in large quantities so that it would last for a couple of days. Planning out our meals ahead of time and cooking at home were other keys for staying within budget. At the start of the program Jay was worried that he would lose some of his strength if he lost any of his body mass.  His worries were erased when his numbers in the gym continued to climb after losing 15 pounds.  When I asked him how the Whole30 affected his performance in his training as a powerlifter, he said: “I had greater longevity in the gym.  It would take a longer period of time for me to reach a point of fatigue.” For me, the list of positive changes went on and on. My stubborn muffin top was finally starting melt away, my skin was clearer and eyes brighter, and I had more energy. I finally started to feel confident in my own skin again and I found myself so much happier with life in general.  I also didn’t have one single day where I felt bloated (aside from a little puffiness during the first few days). Not even when I was PMSing! Fun-and-Play

Beyond Physical Improvements

We both felt and looked better because of the high-quality fuel we were putting in our bodies, but the impact went beyond physical improvements. Before we began the Whole30, Jay and I would cook, prepare and eat different things every day. Then he would sit in front of the TV to eat his meal in one room and I’d be at my computer eating my meal in another without saying a single word to each other. That all changed with the Whole30.  We started to plan, shop for, cook, prepare, and eat our meals together.  We finally cleared off our kitchen table and started to have conversations with each other over the meal we made.  On Day 26, we even had a very productive conversation of how we could incorporate the Whole30 way of life beyond Day 30. The most profound impact of the Whole30 had to do with the quality of our relationship and communication. Somewhere during those 30-days that love-at-first-sight kind of love that we used to have had crept its way back into our lives and I began to experience butterflies in my stomach again when he smiled at me. It’s now been three months since our first Whole30 together, and our relationship has never been stronger. We still eat plenty of whole foods, share meals together, and talk to each other about everything, including our opinions on the latest Walking Dead episode, our training schedules and goals, emotional issues, feelings, wants, and needs.  He tells me that I’m beautiful every day, we dance around the house awkwardly like we did when we first met, and we share what we are grateful for before we fall asleep.  I didn’t think it was possible, but I grow more and more attracted to him every single day. And you know what we came to realize? That it all started with food.

bio-pic Karen Simpson, the Healthy Green Flamingo, is a holistic health and nutrition coach, blogger, and writer living in the Greater Boston Area with her boyfriend Jason.  She helps women take control of their hormones, happiness, and health using a natural, holistic and bio-individual approach.  Also an athlete and environmental scientist, she finds that her body prefers a paleo-based diet and advocates for real food and healthy movement every chance she gets. You can find her on Facebook or read more about her here.