New Year, Healthier Me

If you read Friday’s 2018 Goals Post, you know that I’ve dubbed 2018 a year of personal growth beginning with my overall health. When I started Style Souffle, I never imagined that I would use this platform to share my health journey, but after years of feeling par at best, and thinking there is a small chance that someone reading this also faces similar issues, I felt compelled to journal my story! While I have all the admiration in the world for women who fight their battles quietly, I’m opening up about mine in today’s post.


THE CULPRIT 

For years I have suffered the effects that hypothyroidism, and unbeknown until now, a rare autoimmune disease known as Pre-Mature Ovarian Failure, have had on my overall health and well-being. I came to learn of my condition at age seventeen when I began experiencing symptoms of extreme fatigue, irritability, dehydration and inflammation among a list of other things. After seeing numerous specialists and undergoing blood tests (being poked, prodded and scanned) it was determined that I was in early-stage menopause. My body had attacked its own reproductive system; the exact cause yet to be fully understood. Osteopenia, bone density, heart disease and the long-term effects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) all became health concerns for me at an early age. The onset of symptoms were quite abrupt and a crippling reality for someone who spent there entire life heavily involved and active throughout school, dance and the community. Now married, the innocuous question of “so when are you guys having kids?” by well-intended friends and acquaintances has became one more tough pill to swallow. But, that’s another story for another day.

 

THE ENEMY

Over the years I began to accept the above symptoms as a way of life. Terrible, right? Yes, and what’s worse is that almost 10 years passed before I learned that food may be a contributing factor to feeling so crummy – even the “healthy” stuff!

When prescription medication, that had a list of its own dietary restrictions, stabilized my blood levels but failed to make me feel better, my Endocrinologist suggested I see a nutritionist to try a process called an ‘elimination diet’, to figure out if the kind of foods I was consuming had any impact on my mental and physical health. After doing quite a bit of research, I learned that there was a community of people out there who had changed their lives by changing their diet in completing a challenge called, The Whole30. When I learned more about the benefits of the program I decided I too was up for the challenge. NO longer would I be a prisoner to my bodies dysfunction.


THE WHOLE30

Based on positive feedback from all of you (pat on the back for making it this far in today’s post, haha), I’ve decided to document this journey. Below I explain everything you need to know about The Whole30 challenge. I’ve even included a downloadable PDF to help you tackle grocery shopping. 🙂

Whole30 is said to change your life! Change the way you think about food. Change your tastes, your habits and cravings. Change the way you eat for the rest of your life!

In a nutshell, over the course of 30 days  you avoid eating: sugar, legumes, dairy, gluten, MSG, grains and alcohol.

You’re probably asking yourself, “What can I eat?” and the answer is this: REAL FOOD! If this scares you, then maybe you should consider the challenge. Real food by Whole30 standards includes: moderate portions of meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit, natural fats, herbs, and spices, and a handful of all-natural, Whole30 approved snacks. Among my favorite snacks include: dried plantains, dried mangos, nut butter, LARABAR’s, raw almonds, coconut flakes, and pistachios. Refer to this link for exceptions to the rule.

Weight loss is not the main goal of this program, although it’s inevitable that you will. In fact, it’s actually recommended that you toss the scale altogether and focus entirely on “non-scale victories” or NSV’s (the phrase even has its own hashtag). NSV’s are things like stress, happiness, self-confidence, energy, patience, mindful eating, less join pain, etc. Over the course of 30 days you eat three meals a day, starting with a good breakfast. Base each meal around 1-2 palm-sized protein sources. Fill the rest of your plate with vegetables. Occasionally adding a serving of fruit (this one is hard for me; I think I’m eating too much fruit). You can snack when needed, but to receive the full benefit of the program it’s encouraged you eat balanced meals (eating enough to satisfy hunger) during the three meal times.


THE KEY TO SUCCESS


House Prep
– Clean all the junk out of your pantry and fridge. Yes, you really need to do this! Whole30 is hard enough, so doing this will eliminate any added temptation to quit.

Team Work – There is NO WAY I would’ve made it past the first few days if I were doing this alone! So before you even consider trying this program, my number one piece of advice is to do it with someone else. Thankfully, my husband is also doing the Whole30 program and helping hold me accountable and balance the responsibility of cooking. Plus, we can complain together! 🙂

Meal Planning – Preparation is the key to successfully completing this program! One thing I underestimated was the amount of time and preparation that goes into eating all “real” food. Since you’re eating-in almost exclusively, it’s important to plan meals each week, just-in-case snacks, and emergency food. Finally, go grocery shopping and stock up on essentials (like ghee and coconut milk) and what you’ll need for your first few meals.

The Whole30 Day-By-Day Guide – This daily handbook keeps you motivated, inspired, accountable, and engaged during your Whole30 journey. It forecasts what you will likely experience mentally and physically each day providing a piece of mind that your experience is normal.


THE GROCERY LIST + RECIPES

Below are a handful of recipes we have made and highly recommend…

I’ve included a grocery list for you below. Click here to download and print.

(Illustration by: Simply Jessica Marie)

*Note: All things should be “unsweetened” and “unsulfured”.


– Click Image for Recommended Pantry/ Fridge Staples –

 

In using the Day-to-Day Guide, I’ve been recording my feelings, struggles and meals, and am happy to circle back and share that with anyone who is interested. My goal is to carry these new healthier habits with me beyond this 30 day period, especially if means changing my life. Please, please, pleassssee – if you are reading this, I would love any feedback you have in the comments section below. This is not easy! So if you have completed the challenge, it let me know. If you’re interested in taking up the challenge, let me know. If you have similar healthcare issues, let me know! I would love to hear from you and connect!

x, Taylor-Rae

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  • Nicole

    I am 14 years removed from thyroid cancer surgery and treatment, and I can tell you that Whole 30 has made a bigger difference in my life than any medications! I started it Dec. 2016 after my endocrine doctor had no real answers as to why I was feeling bad again. I followed it strictly for 90 days, and while I did lose weight, the best benefit was how I felt! Not to mention my A1C dropped,bad cholesterol went down more than 50 points, etc. My family doctor said she had never seen results like that without medication! It has totally changed my mindset about food and my overall health. I’ve loosely followed it for over a year now, and when I need a reset I go back to being strict with the guidelines. Definitely check out Moms Can Be Fit on Instagram – she’s treating her Hashimoto’s with diet and having great results. I think you’ll like her! Congrats on taking this first step!! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • I actually posted our favorite Whole30 recipes/go-to meals on my blog today! I know it’s so tough, but you can totally do it! Will be praying it helps with your symptoms too–here’s hoping it’s a game changer! xoxo

    https://somethingprettyblog.com/2018/01/11/our-favorite-whole30-recipes/ReplyCancel

  • Debbie

    Thank you TR for sharing! As we all reflect on the past year and looking for self improvement with the start of the New Year, both physical and emotional health are SO important. I appreciate your willingness to share your personal story and I think it resonates with a lot of women. Best of luck with your Whole30 journey!ReplyCancel

  • Thanks for sharing, sweet friend! I have a few issues that my mom swears is due to food choices so I really do need to make my health and eating habits a priority. I love the cutest grocery list you created!

    Zelle | Southern Style ReplyCancel

  • Christine

    Hey Taylor-Rae,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and information about the Whole30 challenge! I’ve suffered from low energy and extreme fatigue for my entire life. My doctor has advised that I exercise more often and manage my stress better. While it was helpful advice, I still feel sluggish and tired early in the day and I often wonder what else I should be doing to help myself as this has been a lifelong issue. I may try the Whole30 challenge for myself and may also pull my boyfriend in on it. He also has hypothyroidism and experiences negative effects from a lot of foods, though we haven’t quite figured out what those foods exactly are yet. This may be a good option for the both of us. Thanks again for sharing! I hope you will continue writing about your experiences.ReplyCancel

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