5 Years Later: What I've Gained From Giving Up

5 Years Later: What I’ve Gained From Giving Up

Five years. Looking forward it seems like a long time. Looking back it’s gone in a flash. And as the cliché goes, hindsight is 20/20. That about sums up how I feel about the last 5 years of my life. One seemingly small change in how I chose to start eating and fueling my body has since spiraled into transforming my entire life. That is no exaggeration. What started as “going Paleo” and learning to eat real food has led to changes nothing short of miracles in my life. And it’s only been 5 years.

I often hear from clients, friends, family, and even strangers that they could never give up gluten and/or dairy. They go on to tell me how they just love their <insert gluten or dairy food item> too much. “I could never live without it!” It’s here that I remind myself to pause, take a deep breath, and remember that I felt the same way not too long ago. I didn’t see how it was possible that bread, pastries, and my beloved French cheese could in any way be related to my migraines, fibromyalgia, chronic bloating and constipation, and struggle with depression and anxiety. Nor did I want to. 

If the last 5 years have taught me anything, it’s that we are all on our own journey.  We pass various checkpoints at different times and in our own ways. This is the human experience. 

Giving Up or Gaining Up?

There is a common theme that I hear often from others that still irks me on the inside though. It always has something to do with being “restrictive” or “giving something up” or “can’t eat this”. I think what bothers me about these types of comments most is that it is such a negative mindset. These comments are coming from a place of lack, rather than abundance. What if instead, we focused on all that we are gaining rather than what we are letting go of?

This shift in perspective is what has  made all the difference for me. It’s what has kept me motivated, dedicated, disciplined, and ultimately, healthier. I’ve chosen to focus on the abundance rather than the lack.

It’s easy to focus on what we are are “giving up” because we are going from what we’ve known to the unknown. We know what it is like to eat gluten and we don’t know what it’s like to not eat it. What is even more challenging is remaining open to the possibilities of what we will gain by not eating gluten. I’m using gluten as an example here, but this can really be applied to anything. 

Change is so hard because it means stepping into that place of the unknown. Let me tell you though, that resistance you feel, the edge where it is scary… 99.9% of the time that is where you need to go. Growth happens when we get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

When people comment about how difficult it is for me to give up certain foods, I remind myself that they just can’t see all that I’ve gained. Cause if they could, they wouldn’t see it the same way. They would see what I see… 

5 Years & What I’ve Gained:

  • I may not indulge in birthday cake or ice cream but I get to be there! I have the energy to travel to celebrate occasions and not have to leave early because I get a migraine. There is no food that can provide the joy of being able to celebrate the ones you love. When I think about the countless events I missed because I had migraine, I’m happy to not eat cake, so don’t feel bad for me.
  • I’ve given up many convenience foods and fast foods that make eating on the go seem easier. In return I’ve gained the ability to cook some pretty amazing meals, so much so that this is what my friends love to talk about. They are always asking me to cook for them!
  • I used to think the best way to experience a culture was by enjoying all the local foods. Now I’m a little bit more particular about what I’ll enjoy, but the fact that I can be there and have that opportunity is what I’ve gained. The best way to really experience a place is just to be there! Now I get to travel full-time and experience as much of the world as I want. Gaining my health back has allowed me to experience far more than a croissant or cannoli 😉 
  • I used to think that the farther I ran, the more I could eat what I wanted for dinner, and more importantly dessert. Running did not suit me, in fact I hated it and it hurt my body. I’ve gained the understanding that you can’t trade calories burned through exercise for food and calories in. Giving this mindset up has allowed me to gain the joy of moving my body in ways that feel good to me. I swim and do yoga and walk because they make me feel amazing! I don’t worry about the calories, I just eat real food!

These are just the tip of the iceberg of things I’ve gained that far outweigh the things I’ve “given up”.  One simple choice, to choose to eat real foods and let go of gluten, dairy, and soy has led to infinitely more in just 5 years.

I’ve started a business as a Transformational Nutrition Coach and have been able to help others find similar health transformations in their life. To imagine that I would not only end my own suffering with migraines but be able to help others with theirs still feels surreal. I’ve traveled to Europe where I lived in France for 4 months, learning French and spending time with my extended family that live there. 

My newfound energy has allowed me to rediscover my love for swimming and being in the water. I have been able to spend time volunteering for causes that I am passionate about like supporting our active duty military, honoring our veterans, and participating in international volunteer travel. Now I live in an RV and travel full-time, something I never could have done when I was tied to a location where all my (practically weekly) doctors appointments were. What once seemed like a far-fetched idea, is now my reality! 


Navigating Changes in Your Social Life


One last thing I want to say on this topic of giving up versus gains, is that of social situations. This seems to be one of the biggest stumbling blocks to success, or to even getting started. To be honest and totally transparent, it isn’t easy.  Making any sort of change, once we decide to do it, is hard enough. Then we realize that we are asking others to change with us. 

In the beginning, I felt very awkward in social settings that were based around food. I would often bring my own food to avoid a scenario where I wouldn’t be able to find anything I wanted to eat. It was challenging to eat at restaurants where I felt like I was asking the waiter to recreate their menu for me.  I found a lot of discomfort in asking others to accommodate me and my new food preferences.

With time though, I realized two things that were very powerful: 

1. The people who really love me grew with me. Maybe they didn’t change anything for themselves, but they allowed me the space to make my change. They accepted me. With time, the people who didn’t accept my changes slowly drifted from my life and made space for more people who were in a place to grow with me. I grieved the loss of those relationships but found that I am ultimately healthier for moving on.

2. People who love me would rather have me there, with all my quirks, than not. These food choices were challenging, but they meant that I got to show up. I get to be there for all of the important moments because I finally feel well enough to do so. No migraines, fatigue, drug side-effects,  stomach pains, depression or anxiety to keep me from spending time with these beautiful people in my life any more. What is better than that?


Like attracts like. Whatever the change is that you are working on, I urge you to remember to focus on the gains. Open your mind to the possibility that you will gain far more than what you are giving up. Focus on where you are going rather than where you were and the ride will be a little less bumpy. You never know what you might be celebrating 5 years from now 😉  

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments, I love hearing from you! Spread the Love and share this post with someone!

If you would like help creating lasting, healthy change in your life, then Transformational Nutrition Coaching could help!

Book a FREE Discovery Session with me today and let’s work together to create a plan and transform your life!

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Disclaimer: The information in this post is not intended as medical advice, or to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional. Marcelle encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research, and in partnership with your doctor, licensed dietitian, or nutritionist. The information provided in this post and the entire contents of www.marcellephene.com are based upon the opinions of Marcelle Phene and are for general educational purposes, and have not been reviewed nor approved by the FDA. You are solely responsible for your health care and activity choices.

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  1. John says:

    So true. For me the initial “feeling good” never trumped my addictions to all the other things I was “giving up.” It took time. I never imagined I’d get to the point where I no longer thought of it as denying myself something. Today I’m making positive choices, and they come easy, naturally even. It’s a beautiful thing. Great post Marcelle.

    • mphene says:

      Thank you for sharing this, John. I agree, for some, it does take more time to “flip the switch.” It’s helpful to know that for those who need a little more time, the benefit is on its way!

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