Meet Ashley S., a mama who reached out to tell us about her amazing non-scale victories. We had to share her inspiring #MyHealthyHappyPostpartum story in her own words. Do you have a Healthy, Happy Pregnancy or Postpartum story to share? Email us at mamas@whole30.com or connect with us on Instagram.

In Ashley’s Own Words…

I am currently in the reintroduction phase of my third Whole30 and, for the first time, I wanted to share my Whole30 story.

I completed my first Whole30 in September 2015. My second Whole30 was in January 2016. I thought it was a huge success because I saw a difference in my body composition. And despite the fact that I run a Whole30 support group on Facebook and am very familiar with the program, I never really addressed some of my behavioral and habitual issues with food. I was eating well, everything was compliant, and I felt great, but that never lasted long.

I unexpectedly, but happily, found out I was pregnant with our second not long after completing my second Whole30and because my motivations mostly revolved around my weight and how my body looked, I kind of backed off, knowing I’d do another Whole30 after he was born to help get my pre-pregnancy body back.

I had no idea.

Emotional Eating Takes Over

Two months before my son was born, I lost my biological dad to suicide, cruelly, on National Suicide Prevention Day. My son’s delivery did not go as planned and I ended up with another unplanned C-section and really difficult recovery. When he was 2 months old he ended up in the Pediatric ICU for nearly two weeks fighting for his life against RSV and pneumonia.

Through it all, I was at home on maternity leave, alone most of the day with a colicky newborn (surviving on caffeine), a spirited two year old and a house FULL of my mother-in-law’s holiday baking. Devouring a box of powdered donuts on the bathroom floor doesn’t even come close to the level of shame I felt finding comfort in massive amounts of treats. For the first time since I’ve been consciously aware of how I eat, I had seriously lost all control. I hated it, but I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do anything about it.

I started following Melissa Hartwig on Instagram and decided to read Food Freedom Forever.  It was kick in the pants that I needed.  I set the date for my next Whole30, got my Whole30 buddy on board, and jumped in wholeheartedly on May 1.  The first 10 days looked remarkably similar to my normal eating patterns, just with compliant foods.  I ended every night with a bowl of frozen fruit and coconut milk.  I’d graze on cashews and anything else I could all evening. Other than making sure everything was technically compliant, I wasn’t paying attention to how I ate. I was nervous about hurting my milk supply (I exclusively breastfeed), so I justified all the grazing and extra snacks.

On day 11 it hit me like a ton of bricks: I sought out Food Freedom Forever because I was desperate yet I was emotionally eating EXACTLY how I had always done, and justifying it because the foods were technically compliant. I went forward being far more intentional about how I was eating. Instead of lots of little snacking, I added a fourth template meal to account for breastfeeding and I avoided eating fruit on it’s own. I wasn’t perfect, but I made improvements.

Adding a fourth template meal each day is one of our top 5 tips for a breastfeeding Whole30. Click here to read the rest!

Celebrating My Non-Scale Victories

Fast forward to day 31. I lost maybe 5-7 lbs. My after pictures didn’t look too much different. I was disappointed for a second, but then I stopped and took stock of exactly where I was at and this is what I found:

  • I FELT so much better about my body and I knew it had changed for the better.
  • I discovered that cashews caused me some significant digestive issues.  I LOVE cashews, but the “worth it” level dropped dramatically after realizing this.
  • I am FINALLY building my breastmilk freezer stash.  My supply increased, and I am able to freeze an extra bottle each day!
  • I went out to eat multiple times for work and with family and was able to navigate every situation successfully and without any slips, despite the little voice in my head telling me “one glass of wine won’t ruin your reset.”
  • I was far more consistent with my workouts during my Whole30 than I have been previously.
  • I am happier because, good food, and because I no longer carry around a load of guilt and shame about my lack of self control around food.
  • Being intentional about food has carried over into increased intentionality in my attitude and relationships.
  • For the first time, I’m following the reintroduction protocol and I have not eaten All. The. Things.
  • A treat is actually a treat.  I chose to eat a fresh, homemade snickerdoodle last night and, I swear, it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever eaten.  I appreciated every single bite more than I ever have.

So while I did not see the same results as far as body composition goes, this has been my most successful Whole30 by far thanks to all of the non-scale victories. I can’t wait to see what the next stage of my food freedom journey brings. I understand that there will be setbacks along the way, but I’m so happy with the progress I’ve made and know I can always go back to my reset when I need to.

Final Thoughts: Advice for Breastfeeding Mamas

Here is my advice for other mamas worrying about maintaining their milk supply:

  • I ate sweet potatoes a lot — probably at 2-3 of my template meals.
  • I ate a hearty breakfast every morning with sweet potatoes, protein, and veggies.
  • I followed the four template meal plan, but usually would have one additional small snack between lunch and dinner because I’m up by 5AM every morning and have three template meals eaten by 1:30 pm.  
  • I drank at least 100 oz of water a day.  
  • I focused on healthy fats.  I added avocado, mayo, a Tessemae’s or Primal Kitchen dressing to every meal and made sure my snack included a healthy fat, too!

Looking for more support in your journey as a mama? Although our program is geared more toward pregnant women, our private Facebook group is full of supportive, real food mamas who are always willing to share with each other. Plus, if you purchase our program now, you will have access for any future pregnancies!

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