My story starts with a moment of thanksgiving. I am thankful to my friends who walked the journey with me. I am thankful to Melissa Hartwig Urban for saying “yes” when the universe asked if she was willing to pioneer this program. I am thankful to God, my higher power, for meeting me where I was, and using Whole30 to align my physical well-being and strengthen my spirit.
A few years ago, an acquaintance of mine showed up at a holiday party looking drastically different from the last time I had seen them. Their appearance had changed so much, I couldn’t find a non-socially awkward or not potentially offensive way to ask about it. To be clear, this person didn’t look sick. In fact, they looked better than ever.
Finally, after much eavesdropping I overheard them mention “Whole30.” I immediately Googled it and filed it away in the back of my mind. I thought, “Perhaps someday, I’ll be worth doing what they’ve done, but not today.”
2016 was a memorable year for me. My health spiraled out of control and I felt hopeless. I was diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, which is a fancy way of saying I had a handful of obesity-related health complications. My blood pressure was high, my cholesterol was even higher, and I was a few years away from a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. I started multiple medications, knowing they only postponed the inevitable. My body was dying, and my mind and spirit were malnourished.
2016 rushed by. Twice, I tried to do the Whole30. Each time, I made it to Day 3 before quitting. I just wasn’t ready.
Finally, in May 2017, I was ready. I accepted the fact that I didn’t have the answers. I couldn’t follow my truth, because I didn’t have one. My body, mind and spirit were disconnected. I didn’t have the answers, which left me with one option: believe in something else, outside of myself, that had proven success.
I thought back to my acquaintance at that holiday party. I called my best friend and said, “Hey, wanna do the Whole30 with me?”
“Oh my gosh, you lost a lot of weight.” I hear that a lot now, but my “thank you” is always followed with “I feel good.” Feeling good goes beyond the scale, beyond the new wardrobe, and beyond the things you can see from the outside.
My first non-scale victory (NSV) came in the middle of the second week of my Whole30. Prior to that point, my nightly routine included 800mg ibuprofen to calm the swelling in my knees, and 2 Tylenol to numb the pain I felt in all my joints. My poor liver! One night I was in bed, eyes closed, when I popped up all of a sudden. I forgot my pills! I wasn’t in pain, my knees weren’t throbbing, my ankles and hips didn’t hurt. I laid back down and I slept.
My second NSV came at week three. I could button my jeans without the big inhale. Sounds small, but let me tell you! I used to loop a rubber band through the buttonhole, and latch that to the button on my jeans. It hurt, it was embarrassing, and always at the forefront of my mind: “What if that rubber band breaks?”
I had found something good. I didn’t touch the scale, but I felt and saw change occurring. I never wanted to stop.
I finished my 30 days and weighed in. I no longer share my weight, only because I never want anyone to hear it and think, “that’s my goal.” I was pleased with the number, but it’s my number and it cannot and will not give anyone else power or improved results. For some, it becomes a roadblock, because it positions their Whole30 posture towards me, when it should always be positioned towards you, in your favor.
The one number I do love sharing, is my cholesterol number. Fasten your seat-belt for this NSV share.
In January 2017, my overall cholesterol was 349mg/dl (the desired range is <200mg/dl). In August 2017, it was 202 mg/dl.
My LDL (bad cholesterol) was more than twice what it should have been at its highest, at 276 mg/dl (the desired range is 74-131 mg/dl). In August 2017, it was 151 mg/dl.
My triglycerides were 272 mg/dl (the desired range is 25-151 mg/dl). In August 2017, it was 103 mg/dl.
There is still room to improve, but gee whiz, I get goosebumps each time I read those numbers. My body is healing itself.
NSV’s become benchmarks in healing, and those benchmarks create momentum, and momentum is what keeps me going day after day. Momentum doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to push you forward.
I recently had my annual exam, and again had improved numbers. My healing is continual, and stays as consistent as I choose to be. The Whole30 principals still guide how I choose to nourish my body. Please note, I said “guide,” not “dictate.” Whole30 is the standard to which I continue to draw close to, and if I feel my healing is losing momentum or isn’t optimal, I cling closer to the principals I know to be true.
Now, I have something to draw on. I’ve taken ownership of the answers found in Whole30, and made them my own. Of course that truth has evolved over the last year, but it never becomes less. Some components of my truth were seasonal, situational, or even just for an hour or two, and that’s okay.
My truth isn’t about figuring out life, its about figuring out how I am going to navigate through the success, trauma, achievements and disappointments that make life so colorful and worth being around for. Whole30 was the first step in my journey of body, mind and soul. – Aaron R.