My health issues began when I was a teenager, over two decades ago. I suffered from an autoimmune disease, Endometriosis, with symptoms that ranged from painful to debilitating. This was my normal. I thought most everyone had unbearable cramps & felt weak because I seemed to not be able to handle them as well as everyone else. I eventually sought help from several doctors & I thought I had done everything I could do to improve my situation. Suffering in pain was life as I knew it, so I just did the best I could. I lost days of my life, tethered to my heating pad in misery.
In January, 2015, I began to experience new, seemingly unrelated symptoms. I developed a wicked rash between all of my fingers. I focused on treating the rash from the outside & nothing worked. The itchiness & pain continued to worsen. I was incredibly desperate & worried.
At this time, I had the chance to meet up with an old college friend. He & his wife were nearing the end of their first Whole30 & happily told me all about the program. He had already experienced some improvement with skin issues. That was all I needed to hear. When my family left the gathering, we went straight to the bookstore, purchased (the only published Whole30 book at the time), It Starts With Food. I read it late into the night and started my first Whole30 the next day.
Let me pause to stress what starting Whole30 would change for me:
*I hadn’t eaten red meat or pork in over 20 years. I thought bacon was disgusting. I’d given up poultry in college to become a vegetarian. Years later, I began to eat fish & seafood & lived as a pescatarian ever since then.
*I was obsessed with cheese. All the cheese, all the time, all the days. I really, really, really loved cheese. A LOT.
*Same goes for bread. All the bread, all the time, all the days. Not cheap sandwich bread. The good stuff. Baguettes, fresh Italian loaves, whole wheat. And I had perfected a delicious, homemade bread that I was super proud to eat & share.
*I was a fan of beer. The fancy stuff. Nut browns were my fave. And wine. And vodka. I didn’t drink every day, but I hadn’t ever intentionally gone a month without alcohol & I really didn’t want to try. At all.
*I ate plenty of soy & legumes. Edamame, tofu, hummus & high-quality peanut butter were staples for me.
*Pasta was my go-to cheap, quick dinner & we ate it at least once a week. And we all really enjoyed it. With mounds of fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
*Oh and sugar. I DRANK SO MUCH SUGAR. And ate it, too. I paid ZERO attention to the amount of sugar I consumed. I was a “healthy” pescatarian, after all. I started every day with the sugariest coffee you can imagine. I became a Pepsi addict when I was a kid. I drank it every day, all day, for so many years. It never occurred to me that it was a problem. I had finally stopped drinking it when I was pregnant with my daughter. I continued to abstain while nursing her. But I still really wanted it. Especially at restaurants & gas stations. Fountain Pepsi was my jam. Even without Pepsi, all of my drinks were sugar-fests. I drank sweetened tea & juice. I was a total sugar addict & I didn’t even realize it.
*My habit was to start each day drinking sugar-laden coffees for hours & not eat breakfast. (And feel like crap).
*I was feeding my family of 4, who were very accustomed to how we ate.
*My husband loved to cook, & had been making meals since he was 11. All of his go-to meals included also non-compliant foods. Remember, I decided to start Whole30 just 12 hours after I heard about it. I was all – Guess what, Babe? I’m changing the whole way I eat…tomorrow. – That’s a lot for even the most supportive spouse to adjust to.
*So yeah, every meal we cooked & ate consisted of something I would have to give up to complete Whole30. Every. Single. Meal.
Following the advice in the book, I told a few friends that I was taking on the Whole30 challenge to set up some support & accountability. I remember explaining the rules to them & then jokingly saying: So basically, I just have to become a different person. That’s all.
THIS IS HOW DESPERATE I WAS FOR RELIEF. If not for the brutal, raging rash on my hands, I never, ever would’ve thought that I could complete a Whole30. Because, cheese.
But, lucky for me, desperation can lead you try some seemingly impossible things.
No one in my life had heard of Whole30. I was totally in it alone. I devoured the book, studied the website, started an Instagram to find people & recipes & found answers to all of my questions (#questioner). I chose to follow the AIP version of Whole30, which requires removing even more foods, because I was not playing around. If I was doing this, I was DOING THIS. If changing my food would heal my rash, then I was all in it to win it.
I followed the rules & didn’t cheat. I started to eat meat. (My husband was thrilled!) I tried new recipes & created delicious meals for my family. I got more comfortable with the rules & in my kitchen.
It felt like magic. I changed my food & my body, my mind and my life changed with it! My rash DISAPPEARED. GONE! My energy & sleep improved tremendously. My skin glowed. My faced beamed. My Endo symptoms even improved! Whaaaat??!! I ate meat & I understood all the hype about bacon haha. I lost 25 pounds I wasn’t even trying to lose. All just by eating platefuls of delicious, nutritious food.
Whole30 changed & improved my whole life.
Pretty incredible, right? And this is just the beginning of my story. Part 2 of my story…coming soon.
If I would’ve had any idea how amazing my results would be, I would’ve taken a much better “before” pic. That rash was Bad. News. Bears. Hopefully you still get the idea. That vicious rash DIS-A-PPEARED!