No sugar, no legumes, no dairy, no grains, no alcohol, no cheating. Wait, what? I’ve heard it all:

What do you eat?

What’s the point?

That’s not real life!

Whole30 is a cult.

Life’s too short to skip the bread basket.

I have felt every emotion possible when it comes to rearranging one’s lifestyle including guilt, sadness, frustration, and ultimately peace. Some believe this “diet” is extreme. It has been met with quite a bit of criticism. I myself had to make a decision: Put my blinders on and move forward, doing the right thing for me, or listen to all the critics who don’t seem to have time to listen to the success stories.

Whole30 results/ success stories are what keep me going. I am human. I love the before and after shots of people who have lost weight and are proud to show their results. I think it’s amazing how this lifestyle can, after 30 days, give someone the power to show the world what they look like in a bikini. However, I prefer the emotional before and after stories. I love to read about how people discovered a whole new world, life, and perspective because they took control of what goes into their bodies. (What I think is one of the braver things someone can do.) The food/mind connection is what has propelled me to stay on this road. I live what I call a “WholeLife”…And I have never been healthier, never been happier.

Like many of you reading this, I’ve fought my weight my entire life. I’m almost 37 I have spent over half my life playing the role of victim. My genes suck. The cards I’ve been dealt are why I feel this way. I’ll never recover. Because of this said role, I lived uncomfortably for a long time. I blamed my depression, my anxiety, my eating disorder, on the boys that stood on the corner every morning as I walked to middle school. Sixth grade through Eighth, 1986 to 1988…they were there. “MOOOOOOlly”, they’d yell (loud). It was torturous and I believed them. If they were determined enough to wait for me to walk by every morning for three years, I must be worthless. I must be a cow. I trusted their behavior. And I became a victim.

Like many of you, I used food to numb my emotions and to escape the torture. I used food to remove myself from a cruel world. I abused it like alcoholics abuse booze. I sought it out like heroin addicts seek their next fix (I’ve watched far too many episodes of “Intervention”). I abused food until I was at an all-out war with myself that lasted far too long. While in the victim role, I not only gained and lost weight, I gained and lost friends, trust, money, and opportunities. I have regrets, yes. They say not to, but I do. But I’ve found a way out of my war. It didn’t happen at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Connecticut in 2004. It didn’t happen when I was approached (or not approached) by family members. It didn’t happen on a beautiful summer day while walking the dog through a pasture. It didn’t happen in therapy.

The journey to my WholeLife has been a process. The process began about five years ago when I gave up gluten because I read that it was linked to food addiction. I initially had terrible withdraws but adjusted eventually. Giving up gluten wasn’t enough, though, because I was still playing the role of victim. You know, my genes, my cards…blah blah blah. I learned about Paleo two years ago from my amazing Aunt Kim, who, at fifty-something, still has springs on the bottom of her feet (convinced) and has the most positive outlook of anyone I know. I took my girls to see her (about an hour drive) one summer afternoon. We went to her community pool and watched the girls leap from the diving board. I couldn’t help but notice Aunt Kim’s aura…her skin was glowing, her hair looked amazingly full, and she radiated pure health. What is it?, I asked. “Paleo”, she responded. She recommended a cookbook and off I went, still hanging tight to the role of victim. I adopted the paleo lifestyle but mixed it together with my old issues (because I know everything and do everything my way), and VOILA! I was still a hot mess. I was a Paleofied Hot Mess.

About a year later, face down on a massage table (I found Groupon for a 2 hour massage. It turned out to be the best decision I ever made. My advice: buy the damn Groupon). I was in such a state of deep relaxation that I swear I had an epiphany. This next part is deep so hold on to your pants: My epiphany was—drum roll–I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I decided that day that I was going to do something extreme. I was going to take life by the handle bars, stand in the middle of the storm, take the road less traveled and make a freaking change.

I did my first Whole30 in August of 2013. I felt amazing. It went on for over one hundred days. I was finally fixing myself (I can imagine what my family and friends thought: “Here she goes again, fixing herself”. I’ve cried wolf a lot in my 37 years–guilty.) I gave it all up that very day. All of it.  Sugar, Grains, Dairy, Legumes, Alcohol. I said goodbye to my ten diet cokes per day.

And then the winter happened. Victim, She Wrote. I had a miscarriage at Christmastime, 2013. I gave it all up again, but this time I gave up all of my hard work, all of the healthy changes, my positive outlook, my newfound hope. Insert my genes, my terrible cards, my perfect excuse to play victim once again.

It takes a lot of energy to play the role of victim. I takes a lot of energy to wake up  each morning and not put your big girl pants on and face the world. It takes even more energy to replay what’s happened to you in your past over and over in your head every damn day. It takes a lot of energy to hold tight to your addiction and self-loathing. It takes a lot of energy to turn your back on responsibility and relationships. All of this became too hard. On April 30 of this year, I stopped. I stopped for good. I stopped pretending I was a victim of anything. I stopped eating said foods that trigger emotions, moods and behaviors that take away the luminous, smart, funny, and kind Molly.

Committing my life to Whole30 has flipped my world upside down. It’s given me an authentic life back. I no longer worry about what I am going to put into my mouth. It has simplified buying groceries and meal preparation. I know how I am going to feel each morning. Whole30 has been the catalyst for so many positive changes in my life. I am NOT a victim. I have a story and wisdom and insight to share. I have a family who love me, I have beautiful daughters who have a healthy mom. I have a husband who continues to tell me I inspire him and actually showed me by adopting this lifestyle, too (and when he has a beer or a cookie, he laughs). Glennon Melton’s book, Carry on Warrior and her amazing blog and facebook page entitled “Momastery”, along with It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, have solidified my decision and both books act as my go-to when I need a reminder as to why I chose this lifestyle. Glennon states, “We Can Do Hard Things” and she’s right. We can. I’ve done it. The Harwigs say that the Whole30 lifestyle is not hard. Chemotherapy is hard. Losing a loved one is hard. Releasing yourself from the role of victim? That’s up to you. I have decided to “carry on” by “starting with food”. I take life day-by-day now. I have started a Facebook page entitled “Never Healthier, Never Happier.” I hope that my story will touch someone out there. I hope they can relate and when they find the strength, I hope they contact me.

For answers to our typical Whole30 Results questions, see her interview here!