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“If I am good all week, I totally deserve a margarita, a basket of chips, salsa, a chocolate chip cookie, maybe some ice cream and definitely a diet coke on Friday night.”
“Food Freedom” is a phrase I have been running towards my entire life. It’s one of those things I have desperately yearned for but always struggled to accomplish. Literally, my whole life I have fought a battle of being completely addicted to food, not “eat all things” always type of addicted, but more of a diet/binge, healthy/unhealthy cycle. My emotions were always based around food and it was the focus of my thinking 24/7. “Monday I am going to start this diet, Tomorrow I am not going to eat carbs, Next week I am going to be in a size 2, Friday I may eat chips and salsa if I am a good girl all week, I am going to lose 30 pounds by the end of the month.” This was the voice inside my head 95% of the time and not only was it unhealthy, but it became completely exhausting. It was like having the devil on one shoulder and an angle on the other. I went through phases where I was an “angle” in eating healthy, then I went through other phases where the devil got the best of me and I would binge and eat “ALL THINGS.” There was no consistency in my health and this lead to depression, low self-esteem, and continual weight gain.
I never thought that annoying little voice in my head would ever go away until 4 years ago when I started the Whole30 Program. Before this time, food consumed every thought and stole a lot of my joy and happiness. Not to mention, absolutely drove my husband insane with how much time I consumed thinking about food and not on other important issues in life. I don’t think I ever enjoyed food without feeling guilty or ashamed. Food to me was either a reward or punishment, it was bondage. My first Whole30 was a life-changing experience, there was a total healing in my body, not just physically, but also mentally. That little crappy voice in my head got a little softer after the first round, it was still there, but not as loud.
From the beginning of my journey, I decided to take the word “diet” out of my phrasing. When I discussed my new lifestyle with others, I would say “I am changing my lifestyle and habits, not dieting.” My new outlook became identifying my daily growth in overall health and not just the number on the scale. I reflected daily on how I felt, my attitude towards myself, body and mind, along with my energy as a mother, wife and teacher.
“The past is your lesson. The present is your gift. The future is your motivation. Stop fighting the old and start building the new.”
Every day I grew and became aware of my body and more in tune with what foods were triggers and how these things affected my overall well-being as a human. I no longer used food as a reward nor a punishment, I now used food to nourish my body and I finally felt a positive connection. By changing my thought process on how to get healthy. I was now able to look at all of the positive things that were happening in my entire life and not just the number on the scale. I became addicted to the feeling of “good.” This was so different because I had always looked at the negatives and questioned one thing constantly, “Why am I not losing weight?” During the transition to Whole30, I never asked this question because it was no longer the main focus in my life. My new mission was to become a new person in all areas of life. Becoming a new person starts with accepting and reflecting on why you need and want to change in the first place.
As an elementary teacher of almost 10 years, I have always been very reflective in taking notes and analyzing what did and didn’t work in a lesson or a strategy. By reflecting, it allowed me to acknowledge and accept my strengths and weaknesses as an educator. Through this constant reflection, I was able to build upon my strengths and identify how to improve my weak areas. This allowed me to grow and become a more effective teacher. Seeing the effect that this kind of thinking had on my teaching allowed me to transfer this type growth mindset to other parts of my life. It especially became a great learning tool while completing 15 rounds of Whole30 and practicing Food Freedom.
Growth is something that is constant and that we should be striving for on a daily basis and not have a specific timeline planned out as to when our growth will stop. The number on the scale shouldn’t be the main motivator to get healthy and change, it should only be a small part. We should reflect constantly in all areas of life whether it is becoming a better mother, wife, friend, and, teacher…the list goes on. Daily reflection and questioning is the only way to really achieve growth. When you think you have it all figured out is when you will start slipping back in your old habits. The devil that used to sit on your left shoulder will come out to play with a big ole bag of Lays potato chips and laugh in your face. Don’t get cocky and love the seasons of life you are in and grow and learn from every moment.
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to your success is found in your daily routine.”
Those 3 numbers staring back at me on the scale does not measure my self worth nor does it put me in any category to compare myself with others. Through constant change, I have found power in loving myself for who I am and who I am constantly becoming. I am better than I was yesterday and plan to be better tomorrow than I am today. It’s something I look forward to and get excited about. When I was dieting I felt like I was always falling 2 steps back and never moving forward. The Whole30 Program taught me that freedom comes in many different phases and it’s continual. You don’t just wake up and have freedom from food one day, it is a constant growth that allows you to identify and answer hard questions logically as to what foods you want to eat and why.
Here is the deal y’all, you are the only one that can find your food freedom. There isn’t guide written that will tell you exactly what your freedom looks like, that is for you to find out. Set a purpose as to what you want your life to be and strive every day to be the best version of yourself. Be happy in the choices you make with food, use strategies and tips from all of the Whole30 resources and make your health a priority. Love yourself enough to want to grow and reflect each and every day. Of course, there will be hard days and many days of doubt, during this time make a list as to why you started this new journey in the first place. Stay positive and know there isn’t a timeline to reach your freedom, freedom is living in the moment and learning how to cope in difficult situations. Be happy and love the journey you are on. We are all so uniquely different and that is the beauty in in this program. Find peace in eating foods that help your body thrive and strive to always be a better version of who you were yesterday.