Is Jewell Bro? (My Story)
My Quest into Wholly Holistic Living &
How Whole 30 Changed My Life
Hello, my name is Julia Shealy. You found this blog on my website, where the homepage consists of the links and cover for my single, "Present". This is because my first passion is music, and I am an artist. I write, sing, tickle the ivories, and am working on becoming a producer. My husband, James, is already doing all of those things, and extremely well might I add. We live in downtown Atlanta and teach music lesson to the kids in our neighborhood for a nonprofit called Friends of English Avenue. We lead worship and freaking love it and the Lord. James and I are currently working on our first collaborative music project and I cannot wait to show the world! The best part of all, is we do it all from our home studio/creative sanctuary. I am a work in progress.
So, that is me in a nutshell.
I created this blog mostly to share my story, and tips to healthy living. I am very often asked the same questions about how I live the way I do, and I thought it best to write it all down where it is easy to share. Who knows what it will become! Before I get into anything, since you aren't with me in person I feel the need to share a couple things, incase you don't already know. I do have a silly/sarcastic sense of humor. At the same time, I am never afraid to be transparent, honest and straightforward, especially when it comes to basic anatomy and the functions of our bodies. I am sorry if I offend you or come off as pretentious or demeaning. The truth is, I probably care as deeply and fiercely about your health and happiness as I do my own (I am a "2" on the Enneagram). I am also no English major, so this may include typos and run-on sentences. I apologize in advance. I write like I speak. Regardless, I hope you enjoy!
I figure it is best to begin a blog like this with my back story. First and foremost, I am not a certified nutritionist. I am a certified Occupational Therapist Assistant, so I do understand a good bit about the human body and behaviors, however, I acquired my knowledge on nutrition from experience. I have learned through trial and error, nutritionists, reading blogs/books/research, and observing the lives of those living holistically around me and on instagram. The only thing I consider myself an expert on is my own experience.
I would love and be honored if you would allow me into your valuable mental and emotional space to share a bit of how I changed my life through whole foods and healthy habits, and how you can too. I hope you can set your shame, fears and disappointment aside as you read and try to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Growing up, there was a fraction of the information there is now out there about holistic living and whole/natural versus processed foods. My sweet mom always reminds me of how sorry she is she did not know more whilst she was raising us about the matter. She was always intentional, however, of not letting us buy a surplus of Lucky Charms or other sugary treats, like my friends had around, that I would beg her for. We had balanced dinners, and I took to making healthy choices early on in high school when I was competing in the Miss America system’s teen program. I was never a big fan of sweets, candy, or junk food. I loved me a good swiss roll, honey bun, or bag of Doritos here and there, but I did not become addicted to sugar until halfway through high school. I can’t pinpoint when or why this addiction formed, but that is roughly the era it occurred. It wasn’t until 3 years ago (I am now 24 years old) that I realized the effect that sugar, and several other ingredients I was consuming, had on the quality of my life.
I will now jump right in and share with you all a bit of my insecurities and struggles I had prior to holistic living. For my entire life, I dealt with constipation and acid reflux. Those conditions alone can lead to a whole gamete of additional complications, for example, hemorrhoids. In high school and mostly early college, I could never seem to get rid of the same few patches of tiny clusters of acne on my face and back. In this time, I also fought deep dark circles, joint pain, bouts of depression, mild anxiety, massive mood swings, chronic fatigue, God awful periods, diagnosed ADD, visual deficits, and probably a lot more. For these conditions, I tried it all. Organization, healthy routines and habits, calming techniques, beating myself up for the mood swings, massive amounts of concealer and makeup, yoga, acid reflux meds, going just lactose free and then just gluten free, Adderall, birth control, coffee, glasses honestly you name it, to no avail. Starting to sound familiar? As I studied Occupational Therapy in college, I witnessed patients of mine who were miserable in their old age due to poor choices made throughout their lives. I was working daily to help them heal at the root of their problem, whilst not dealing with my own. I felt it was time for me to seek the Lord and figure out what his plan was for me, because if He is the loving God I trusted Him to be, this just could not be the way.
One glorious day, a friend of mine in my small group introduced me to Whole 30.
She told me of how it changed her life. My initial thoughts were all doubts and insecurities:
"Will my husband take part in it with me? I can’t cook, therefore, I will fail, no doubt. All those hippie health foods are too expensive. How will I find the time to cook and meal prep? I am not organized enough for this. Thanksgiving is coming up, I definitely can’t sacrifice that day for this. I don’t think I’m even allergic to any of these things, so what is the point? BUT I LOVE CHEESE SO MUCH!" And so on…
After much consideration and trust in my friends’ testimonies, I bucked up and bought the book. I read the entire front section and learned so much about inflammation and this elimination diet. Long story short, my husband and I both committed like champs to it for the entire month of November… yes… we did Whole 30 through Thanksgiving. Why? Because we are crazy, and I was at my wits end with feeling like garbage all the time. We threw out all the old and brought in the new. Whole 30 basically aims to eliminate addiction or dependence on certain foods. For 30 days, you are not able to consume alcohol, all grains (gluten, rice, even quinoa), soy, legumes, sugar of all forms and fashions, DAIRY, baked goods, and processed foods and oils. All of these items are inflammatory, and in order to truly know what your body is sensitive to, you have to eliminate them all before you incorporate them back in (that is, if you choose to do so in the end). This leaves natural meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts like almonds and cashews, and all the spices and herbs you can get your hands on. You may think that is not a lot, but I can promise you it is if you get creative. It is amazing what God has created for us to choose from.
Some quick overarching things I learned during this process was, first of all, the human mind and body is WAY stronger than we could ever know!
1. There is not excuse valid enough to refuse to try a diet change of this nature if you are tired of feeling (or looking) crummy.
2. Sugar is the enemy.
3. Inflammation is so easy for our bodies to become used to and learn to suffer through. It is also not okay to live with constantly.
4. None of my health and mental problems were too great to be dealt with through this change.
5. You can do Whole 30 as student, whilst working full time, and you do not have to be a good cook when you begin to succeed.
6. You will not go broke or much over your prior weekly meal budget. I never spent over $130 per week for James and I both. That counts for three meals a day 7 days of the week.
I’ll go into more later, but most importantly I learned:
I am not a victim. Nothing is impossible to overcome.
Over those 30 days, and as I have continued Whole 30, every single struggle I listed earlier, is gone; even the constipation. (I realized it was the dairy and breads. I remembered that even in my healthiest days in high school, I STILL consumed yogurt and sometimes cheese every day. Since it was “organic” I thought it was not the cause)
I was able to use natural hygiene and beauty products because my body was cleansed and not full of toxins to release. I did incorporate things back in like the book walks you through, however, I cut them right back out afterwards. I will admit, I am not as strict on occasion with things that I feel little to no side effects from. For example, I love wine, and gluten through sourdough bread from my local farmers market, baked paleo/whole 30 goods, soy through peanut butter and hummus, quinoa, and corn through tortilla chips. I just learned that every single thing I cut out effects me negatively, so I do my best to stay disciplined to maintain a consistently higher quality of life. (For the record, my husband discovered the same results as well from whole 30) My digestive system reacts the worst to legumes and dairy, my energy is depleted when I eat gluten and rice products, my skin reacts the worst to dairy and sugar, my mental health is most effected by sugar, and my acid reflux rears its ugly head whenever I consume soy products. Alcohol causes headaches and nausea for me. Almost all of these products including how dehydrated I was chronically all combined effect my mental sharpness and attention. Now that named A TON OF AREAS!
Ya’ll, might I add, these ingredients you are not allowed to have are in almost everything in your local grocery store and restaurant. Trader Joe's and Aldi have saved my life with natural, sugar free, prepared meats, seasonings, meals and ingredients for me to throw in a pan for a quick lunch or dinner. Kroger (for my southern readers) can trick you sometimes with the added sugars, but they have an excellent natural foods section for a large chain grocery store.
I learned so many recipes from ones I looked up and others I followed from the Whole 30 book, including how to properly cook meat to retain moisture, and most importantly use spices, herbs, coconut/nut milk and natural oils to moisten and add flavor to my foods.
One final thing I want to touch on is a common question I hear which is, “I will be hungry all day if this is all I can eat. I need carbs!” I will say your body goes through a phase in the beginning of working hard to get through cravings and figuring out what works for you, but there is a common misconception I can’t wait to debunk for you… healthy carbs to keep you going do not only come from breads, pastas, sugars, and baked goods!
I was privileged to join our gym, Irontribe, last year while they had a certified nutritionist on their team. I was worried because those I have talked to in the past all recommend things like yogurt and “whole wheat toast” in their meal plans. This wonderful woman assured me she does not need to do that to help me form a plan. She educated us on a better way to consume carbs and fats, and how to keep each meal and snack balanced that we eat. This meant they all would include a green, protein, carb and fat. Refer to my next post for my sources of healthy carbs and fats.
In summary, my sweet friends, your body is a temple and your days are numbered. How many more are you going to choose to “just get by” rather than thrive? What if today is your last? That sounds dramatic, but if you really think about it, it absolutely is not. My hope for everyone I meet is that they value their life and live high quality days. I can promise you, cheese and cookies are NOT worth your suffering now, or later on in life. Plus, whole foods and of course Paleo and Whole 30 goodies/desserts are delicious enough once you are weened from sugar and crave what your body is supposed to crave again.
I encourage you to at least borrow or buy the whole 30 book and read about how it all works. It can’t hurt to try because you never truly know what works best for you until you clean your slate and start from the beginning. I have learned in healthcare that there could be vital organs failing within you when you have no idea. Your arteries could be clogged, mental health could be plummeting, and other organs could be shutting down due to the meds you take and Monsters you drink to stay awake and conscious.
If you decide you want to use food to heal and thrive at the end of this, I am here to tell you, YOU CAN AND YOU WILL DO THIS! I started without belief in myself and here I am, three years later, living my best life. Your testimony will keep you disciplined and change others lives as well as your own.
Peace and love fam,
P.s. - I want to add that I said holistic living this entire time because I try to be all around holistic. For example, I use all natural cleaning products, deodorant and beauty products. I rest, diffuse essential oils and consume water, lemon, and herbs when I am sick. I do not use antibiotics or take any kinds of medication besides ibuprofen here and there when I injure myself or cheat and suffer for it. I also have several other beliefs about a lot of things, many related to healthcare that I won’t share on a blog. If you are interested, I am happy to share in person or via messaging/the phone. I have tons of suggestions for products and natural remedies. Anyways, as the legend Tiger says, TTFN!
Follow me on Instagram for more recipes and tips: @juliashealy