“I looked in the mirror one day and said enough was enough, so I changed. I fought my demons with every ounce of my soul, through blood, sweat, and tears….and I won. Through change, I am now determined to continue living a healthy life by accepting myself and loving who God designed me to be. I refuse to let the darkness come back into my life and consume who I am, ever again. I am worth fighting for.” Here is my story of becoming whole.
I remember waking up to another day of defeat, sadness and hurt. Most of my life, I lived as a broken human, walking around with a dark cloud surrounding me. Sure, people never knew how I truly felt and they would always tell me that I was pretty and sweet, but I didn’t believe them. There was always a piece to my puzzle missing. Since childhood, I struggled with insecurities of feeling worthless, ugly, fat and most of all, unworthy of love. I am not sure if this is a feeling most girls/woman feel, but it has certainly been a battle for me the majority of my life.
Self-hate and depression is something that is not easily explained, it’s just a feeling that comes in many different waves, forms, and stages. I have battled eating disorders, body dysmorphia and lots of depression in my 31 years. I could start from the beginning, but this would turn into a book, so let’s fast forward to my mid 20’s. All of the insecurities I talked about earlier, magnified and came to a head during this season of life.
I was living a beautiful life with my amazing husband, Joel, who literally worshiped the ground I walked on. We lived in a beautiful house, had great jobs and really had everything we needed. Even all of this wasn’t enough to feel, well, enough. We decided it was time to start trying for a family and began our journey of conceiving a child. In my mind, I thought this would be an easy process and we would have a new baby by spring, but this was not the case. Month after month, I would be left defeated yet again with a negative result staring back at me from another used pregnancy test. During this time, not only did my weight spiral out of control but the dark cloud that had always followed me became black and vicious.
There were so many days where I would sit in a dark room and scream. During this heartbreaking time, I felt worthless as a woman and was devastated that I couldn’t give my husband what he wanted most, a child. This amplified my lifelong battle with depression, self-hate, and value. I knew my husband loved me and would stand by my side no matter what, but it added multiple layers of unneeded stress. This extra layer of stress on a mind that was already unstable, lead to many dark days. My food choices became unhealthier and I relied on delicious treats to heal my wounds on sad days.
After trying for a baby and failing over and over, we decided to visit a few doctors in hope of finding answers. After running multiple tests, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, better known as PCOS. This is a hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with small cysts, in addition to, insulin resistance, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and depression…. check to all the above. A lot of women would be heartbroken at this diagnosis, but I actually felt relief and was so grateful to finally have some answers.
Once we knew the diagnosis, we still struggled to conceive for a while. My weight continued to rise and my depression hit an all-time low. I was at the heaviest weight I had ever been and I was barely holding my head above water. I struggled to even look in the mirror and life was miserable to walk through. I wanted a baby so bad and it would sting to see my friends conceive the first try. I became filled with bitterness and hate. This ultimately stole my joy from others who had babies, I was mad at everyone, especially God.
Finally, on a sunny December day in 2013, my tears and pain turned to joy, we found out we were expecting our first baby girl, sweet Eloise. You guys remember that dark cloud that followed me? It was still there, but it finally had rays of sunshine peeking through. A new chapter was starting and I was a totally different and happy person. I was overwhelmed with joy and loved every minute of being pregnant. When I conceived Eloise, I was at the heaviest weight I had ever been, and through 9 months of pregnancy, I gained an additional 30 pounds. I was so blessed to even be in the position I was in during pregnancy, my weight didn’t bother me. I refused to take this blessing for granted.
After Eloise was born, I didn’t experience normal postpartum depression, it was that same depression I had lived with in the past. That dark, black cloud I had lived with took a 9-month vacation and came back with vengeance. The struggle I faced after giving birth and looking in the mirror crushed every party of my soul. I loved being a new mommy, but all of my insecurities came crashing back all at once and hit me like a brick wall. I felt HOPELESS.
Through all of this self-hate and depression, my sweet husband told me I was beautiful every single day and stood firmly by my side. He encouraged me to find my happy so I could love myself as much as he loved me. So, I embarked on a new challenge, to heal and find my purpose. For me, accepting that I had a major problem with food addiction, depression and self-hate was a BIG DEAL. I woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and told myself I was going to change for myself and for my family. I knew they desperately needed a whole momma and wife, not a broken one and I recognized that it was time to break-up with the dark cloud that lingered in my life for so long.
The next week was filled with lots of research and trying to find something, anything that could change my life. This time I had a different strategy, I wasn’t looking for the miracle magic pill or the “7 Days to Skinny” I was looking for something that would actually change my habits and better yet, my mind on food. I was scrolling on Pinterest one evening and came across The Whole30 program and I became curious. The next day I woke up with excitement and began to research the program and was anxious to begin. I literally began the program that weekend and have not looked back in 3 ½ years. My first round wasn’t even hard because I had changed my mind and was determined to find something that worked. The hardest battle is getting your mind on board, and I had mentally prepared to fight to become a different person.
I was hooked after the 1st round and just continued my rounds with reintroductions and food freedom. I learned what foods affected me and what foods made me feel amazing. I had started in the fall and by Spring I was a new shiny person. That dark cloud became blue and I walked a little taller and had a new pep in my step. I had found something I never had before, self-love and acceptance. This change totally transformed my marriage and my husband was able to tell me how beautiful I was and I could accept that he meant it. He had loved every part of me for so long, he glowed at the fact that I was starting to see what he saw. I was a better wife, teacher, mother and overall person. Guess what I did, I changed my mind and it totally changed my life, that simple. The first year of the program I had dropped 60 pounds and felt amazing. I had energy and a new outlook on life and health.
Through 14 rounds, I dropped a total of 80 pounds and found a new love and relationship with food and better yet, with myself. Today, I am no longer struggling with the symptoms of PCOS due to my success on the program and we are now pregnant with our second child and conceived the first try! This program cured what medication couldn’t and totally healed and transformed my body.
If you looked at me 3 1/2 years ago and told me I would be where I am today, I would laugh in your face. My struggle was so real and so deep, I never thought I would be able to find myself, especially since I never knew who I was in the first place. Being able to find true self-acceptance and love proves that this program can heal you from the inside out, mentally and physically. I am forever grateful to Melissa Hartwig and her dedication in designing such a sustainable and life-altering program. Not only her but my amazing husband who never gave up on me and literally held me up on days when I felt like I couldn’t go on another minute. He never once lost hope and he loved all the shattered parts of who I was. He is my gift from God and I am thankful that I get to spend my life with such a gracious, kind and Godly man. He helped me save myself.
Although my journey has been hard, I fought for myself every step of the way. The tunnel was dark, but I have come out shining brighter than ever. I searched so long to find my purpose in life, and I’m honored that God allowed me to walk through that storm so that I could find my rainbow. My struggle has given me the opportunity to reach out to the hopeless and offer a little piece of hope. I am walking proof that The Whole30 Program can take a broken person and make them WHOLE again.
There are still days where I question my worth as a woman, but I think it’s because I hated myself for so long. I have accepted the growth mindset and my goal is to strive to be a better version of myself every day. As the days pass, I accept myself and love the strong woman I am becoming. Change takes time, not just a month or 2, but true healing and change can take a long time. It’s truly a process and each day if you choose to fight, your light can shine a little brighter and change the world. I am determined to continue the path of living a healthy life by loving who God designed me to be. I refuse to let the darkness come back into my life and consume who I am, ever again. I am worth fighting for and I choose to fight the battle every day to stay grounded and whole.
Fast forward to today, I am now a Certified Whole30 Coach and an advocate for finding self-acceptance and love. I believe we can fight our demons if we mentally prepare ourselves for the battle ahead. I am so honored to have the privilege of sharing my journey/story and supporting others who may be walking through the same storm I survived. If you’re lost and hate the season of life you are in, please don’t give up…your missing puzzle piece is hiding, you just have to find it. You may have to fight with all you have to find it, but it’s there…I promise.
That smile you see on my face is real, it’s whole, and it’s the best part of who I am. I finally found my missing puzzle piece and it was worth every storm I walked through.