Hi! I’m Bethany, the Dr. Frankenstein between “Half Year | Whole30.” Let me share my story, what this crazy “Whole30” is, and what this site is all about.
I’ve been overweight for most, if not all of my life (I think when I was a baby I was okay, but it was kind of downhill from there). I remember as a youth being called a “fat ass” many times in Italian by family members, being told to lose weight so I would be popular (I was pretty popular even with the chub, Grandma), and being shown old pictures of myself and was told “look at how thin you used to be.” I was between 8 and 14 years old when I was on the receiving end of these comments, and internalized a lot. Combine that with cruel comments from kids at school, no concept of nutrition, and I was an emotional mess. At one point, I gained 40 lbs. in one year.
My sophomore year in high school, I began to work at Subway, which caused me to put on even more weight. I spent my high school years missing out on “normal” teenage milestones like boyfriends and proms, because I was so ashamed of myself, and thought that my worth was dependent upon my appearance. Even though I was outwardly very confident and outgoing, inside I was depressed, anxious, and felt very alone. Fast forward then to college. My college years were great, but the dining hall provided an opportunity for me to eat unlimited garbage. I graduated college about 60 lbs. heavier than when I entered, and I went through a period of depression afterward when I had difficulty finding a job, and was just feeling like a fat, miserable mess. All in all, between my freshman year of high school and my senior year of college, I put on about 120 lbs.
Around the beginning of 2008, I got serious about my nutrition. Around this time, I was following a popular website/newsletter that advocates recreating (what I would now call) garbage food with low-calorie, low-fat, processed ingredients. I was hooked. Through calorie restriction and regular walks, I lost about 25 lbs. It was unsustainable for me, though, and just left me angry and starving. Following several deaths in the family, I ended up gaining the weight back and then some.
After a couple years of feeling like more of a miserable failure, I came across Paleo. I was basically an underpants gnome, collecting my pile of underpants and hoping it would one day give me the health I was craving. My friend Blake (a bearded, Game of Thrones-watching Presbyterian minister) suggested Whole30 to me, and the more I researched it, the more I decided that it just made sense… it wasn’t about deprivation, restriction, or counting calories…. just eating real, nutrient-dense food that had been consumed for thousands of years.
In February/March 2014 I completed my first Whole30, and I was receiving many comments from people saying that I was “looking good” and asking what I was doing that was different. I did not follow the reintroduction protocol, and essentially undid all of my good work. I attempted to re-start a Whole30 many times (more times than I can count!), and in July/August 2016 I completed my second Whole30, this time attempting to follow the reintroduction protocol. All it took was two meals with cheese in them, and I was back to my old ways of eating, careening further off the tracks.
It was at this point that I realized my whole relationship with food was seriously, seriously screwed up, and I might need longer than 30 days to address it. I attempted Whole30s again, but with no success longer than 10 or 14 days. I decided, therefore, to do an extended Whole30 starting January 2, 2017 – this time for half a year, making it a “half-year Whole30.” I believe that this extended period will help me in seeing food as fuel and not as a comfort or the solution to problems. I have found a great support system in the form of Facebook communities and a couple “Whole30 buddies,” and it’s going very well! I’m hoping that the accountability of a website will help me stick to it, and I’m excited to look back on all my hard work when I reach Day 182!