Since New Year’s resolutions never seem to last, my fiancé and I started 2017 with a slightly smaller challenge – the Whole30 food program. For the month of January, we committed to eating only whole foods for a healthy start to our big year. As it turns out, eating clean had a lot to teach me about life with vitiligo.
Whole30 ended up being more than just a food program – it was an educational journey that raised my awareness of how I treat my body and what it needs. Besides the energy-boosting results of a healthy food regime, I experienced unexpected benefits as I watched my mental health, body image and overall happiness improve. And that holistic impact is vital to my confidence and well-being, especially because of my vitiligo.
The thirty days might be up, but here are the lessons that I’ll be taking with me:
Being happy can actually start by being healthy
It turns out that I was doing it wrong. For all of the hours I’ve spent scribbling away in my gratitude journal or meditating on my bedroom floor, nothing compared to the grounded wellness I felt after thirty days of eating clean. With grains and sugars replaced with vegetables and protein, I was sleeping sounder, staying energized longer and overall just feeling happier. I also handled stress better. With no chocolate ice cream to serve as a security blanket, I was forced to mentally deal with situations and move on. I learned that when you feel better physically, you also start to feel better mentally.
It is possible to see past your vitiligo
As someone living with vitiligo, I can’t help but notice my skin when I look in the mirror. It’s the first thing I see, and often the only thing. Yet as I watched my body tone and tighten over the past month, I began to focus more on the shape of my body. It was the first time in years that I’ve looked in the mirror and noticed my figure before even thinking about my skin. That’s huge as someone obsessed with self-tanners. It’s also a perspective shift that is launching my journey to a better body image.
Committing to a lifestyle change puts you back in control
It takes determination and dedication to commit to a lifestyle change – especially one as dramatic as a new food regime. It wasn’t easy. I had to relearn how to eat while my options in the grocery store were decreased by almost 80%. But I did it; I stuck to the program for thirty days without fail. I even switched my daily white mocha habit to black coffee, something I didn’t think was possible. And that change is empowering. I might not be able to control my vitiligo, but I can control the way I treat my body and that puts me back in control of my life.
Have you ever tried a lifestyle change? Share your experience below.
Erika Page is the Founder and Editor of Living Dappled. After getting vitiligo at the age of seven, she lost 100% of her pigment to the condition and today lives with universal vitiligo.