Coming Clean

by Melissa Hartwig

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves.” –Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Today’s post was both terrifying to write, and a gigantic relief.  I’ve been wanting to talk about some of my personal experiences and history on the blog for years now, but was afraid to be judged. Afraid that my past would hurt my credibility. Afraid that people would look at me differently.

But I’ve swallowed my fear, and Dallas and I are both ready to handle any repercussions, because we both think this is an important step for me to take.  So here goes…  You know that now-famous line in the Whole30 that says, “Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard?”  I know this to be true firsthand.

My name is Melissa, and I am an addict.

In 2012, I will have been clean for 12 years.  I spent six years in my early 20’s hustling for every powder, pill and chemical substance I could get my hands on.  I lied. I stole. I was fired from my job. I broke family members’ hearts several times a week. I was a terrible person, because when you are an addict, being a terrible person is your full-time job.

I’ve discovered that it’s hard for most people to reconcile this person (Addict Melissa) with the person you know today (Whole9 Melissa).  It’s even hard for Dallas, who knows all my secrets, but did not know me back then.  (For that, I am eternally grateful.) It’s okay if you find it hard to believe, or think perhaps I am exaggerating.  I’ll take that as a compliment.  I have come a very long way.

The day I got out of rehab was the day I first set foot in a gym.  For a while, exercise was my new addiction, because trading one for another is all too easy.  Eventually, I settled into a healthy, reasonable training routine.  I quit smoking.  I started eating better.  The rest is history.

Why am I sharing this with you now?  A few reasons.  First, I’ve never tried to keep it a secret.  When appropriate, I’ve always been open with gym owners, workshop attendees and consulting clients about my addiction and recovery.  At some point, I figured my history might make its way to the public eye, and I didn’t want it to come from someone else. I am not ashamed of my past, nor have I ever tried to cover this up.

But more importantly, I’ve learned (and taught myself) a lot about addiction and recovery in the last 12 years.  Thanks to my rehabilitation center and years of addiction counseling, I discovered and created recovery and maintenance strategies that worked very well. I also tried more than a few that backfired.

Why does this matter?

Because theoretically, food addiction isn’t that different from drug addiction.

I’m not saying it’s the same, because technically, it’s not.  According to the The American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-IV, addiction is classified by three factors:

  1. Desire, even in the face of negative consequences
  2. Tolerance to the effect of the substance
  3. Withdrawal symptoms when use is reduced or stopped

Food – particularly sugar – clearly satisfies the first two conditions.  The jury is still out as to the third, and I’m simply not comfortable putting sugar or bread in the same category as heroin.

But the term is also applied to behaviors that are not substance-related, such as shopping, gambling or overeating. In this common usage, “addiction” describes a recurring compulsion to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences (as deemed by the user themselves) to their individual health, mental state, or social life.

We will use the term “addiction” in this context going forward, because we think it’s a fair description.  We suspect that those of you who consider your behaviors around food “compulsive,” whose use food (or lack of food) as a coping mechanism, who are locked in an endless cycle of insatiable desire and crippling self-hatred, would agree.

So while our addictions may not be exactly the same, the recovery strategies are, in my opinion, strikingly similar. Conceptually, hopefully, the things I’ve learned in the last 12 years would prove useful to those of you who struggle with giving up certain foods; who use healthy programs like “Paleo” or “CrossFit” to mask their disordered behaviors; who eat compulsively, despite the negative consequences to your body, your self-esteem and your relationships.

But it would be hard for me to draw those parallels in any credible fashion without first sharing my history with you.

If I heard it once, I heard it a hundred times in rehab – “It takes one to know one.”  When I was struggling to get clean, the best advice came from other addicts. Unless you’ve been there, you really just don’t know.  So I wasn’t about to start sharing my “recovery” strategies with you without letting you know that yes, I’ve been there too.

I know your struggle. I know the cycle of relentless hunger, fleeting satisfaction and long-term guilt, shame and remorse. I know what it’s like to disgust yourself with your behaviors, but to be stuck in this pattern because at this point, you simply cannot stop.  I know what it’s like to use the very behaviors that caused you pain to numb that pain.  I know how much it hurts, and I know how heavy a burden you carry.

Please, take note: I’m not a psychologist, an addiction specialist, or a social worker.  I’m just an addict who got clean – and who has managed to stay clean for the last 12 years without relapsing. And I am grateful on a daily basis for the support, guidance and teachings of every single person who has helped me get to and stay in this place.

So I’ll be writing a series of posts – strategies and concepts I learned while getting (and staying) clean – that you may find helpful in changing your own relationship with food.  

As I have a close and intimate relationship with addiction, I sincerely hope the lessons I’ve learned will prove useful to those of you currently struggling with your own food-related issues.  You don’t have to be a sugar or carb “addict” to struggle with cravings, so I hope those of you who simply have a hard time saying no from time to time can develop strategies from these lessons, too.

If you are struggling with true food addiction, I encourage you first and foremost to seek professional help.  Nothing I could tell you will prove as valuable as the guidance of a trained mental health counselor or experienced support group, and ultimately those are the resources that will help you maintain your new habits long-term.  But perhaps as you work hard with your chosen professional to overcome your own addictions, some of the techniques I learned and developed along the way will prove just as helpful to you as they were to me.

So there you have it.  I’m the same person I was yesterday, you just know a little more about me.  If this makes me less credible in your eyes, Dallas and I are both prepared to handle the fallout.  But every saint has a past, and every sinner a future – and without my past, I’d never be where I am today.

And I am very, very blessed to be exactly where I am today.

I invite your comments and polite discussion. And as always, we thank you for reading.

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  1. Donna says

    Hi Melissa, Thanks for the courageous post. I’ve been where you are in my teens and still bear the scars from it, but I would never be the person I am today without those experiences. Thanks also for giving me some perspective about doing some sharing and coming clean on my experiences. You are awesome!

  2. STaylor says

    Wow, Melissa. Thank you so much for posting. It shows great strength of character and courage to broadcast a past on the internet that is less than perfect. As someone who has struggled with food addictions replaced by exercise addictions replaced by more food addictions, I have even more respect and appreciation for you and the things you do here. In my opinion, you are MORE credible now because you truly have been to hell and back. I’m very much looking forward to your future posts. Thank you again for being such an example to us.

  3. Chris B says

    Thanks Melissa, being clean and sober for almost 17 years and I often try and use those strategies to help with my journey with food. I appreciate the honesty and, as you know, are not alone…nice to know I am not either. As was said earlier, everything that happened to me has made me who I am and my wife, whom did not know me before, is grateful for those experiences (and for meeting me after them!).

  4. Ryan Brown says

    I’ve been following you since your “Byers Gets Diesel” days and this is quite a plot twist, but I agree with STaylor. If anything, it makes you more credible. I bet I’m not alone in saying that I don’t care what you did for “6 years in your early 20’s” because for the past few years you’ve been dispensing awesome nutritional wisdom on the internet, for FREE. Thanks for sharing with us.

  5. Heather says

    Thank you so much for your honesty and this post. I have long sensed that I have a food addiction and that our personalities had some commonalities; addiction runs in my family. Congratulations on your evolution — you and Dallas have made such a huge impact on my food addiction. Thank you.

  6. Karyn M. says

    I just attended the Whole9 seminar in Austin this past weekend, and I’m quite impressed. I am a food addict, mainly sugar. I had weight loss surgery over 12 years ago, but never really dealt with my food addiction. I started Paleo almost 2 years ago, and I’ve never felt better. Once in a while, I fall off the wagon, like during the holidays when I ate my weight in cookies & treats. On week 2 of Paleo again, day 2 of the Whole30, I have maintained a headache since January 2nd. I feel fluttery and dazed, which is how I felt when I initially went Paleo in April of 2010. I believe that there is a very real withdrawal period once you get clean from bad foods.

    Thank you for being so open with us. Keep doin’ what you’re doin’!!

  7. dana says

    Thank you. As someone with close personal and painful memories of my own and, especially, loved one’s addictions, when I saw you write “I was an addict.” I thought “Another one throwing around that word…” *sigh* I was prepared to overlook it for the greater good, thinking “She has no idea what addiciton is/does,” and then read on to your next words.

    Thank you. Thank you.

    I look forward to your next posts.

  8. Joy G. says

    Thank you so much for sharing. Your post was very well written, and I can identify with this concept on many levels. Thanks for some much needed inspiration!

  9. Susan says

    Thanks for this post, Melissa. I so appreciate all of the knowledge you and Dallas bring to us. It’s great to know a little more about you. Congrats on getting (and staying) clean!!

  10. Erin says

    What a BRAVE post, Melissa. Like many of the other commenters, I come from a family where many members have struggled with addiction and I can not say how courageous it is of you to be so honest. You’re awesome!!!

  11. Meghann says

    Woot woot! I celebrated six years clean and sober in November 2011. There is a massive correlation between diet, addiction and depression. When I eat clean, I’m good. I eat crap, and the desire to drink and use comes back (not quite full force, but it’s there and it’s uncomfortable). I find it so hard at 12 step meetings when I see everyone drinking coke and eating junk food because I know firsthand the impact that can have on good, solid, genuine recovery. Sure, some people may judge you for this post but for this girl, the respect-o-meter just went of the effin’ wall (it was pretty high to begin with). Stay strong.

    And thanks.

  12. Amy says

    WOW! And thank you. Your story makes you even more inspirational and was just what I needed today (came to the site looking for a bit of motivation for Day 11!!). Thanks :)

  13. says

    You are a brave woman for coming forward. It can be so hard to let people know your deep secrets. Addiction can be such a source of shame, even long after you have made amends and gotten on with your life, even though it shouldn’t be. I hope you feel freed of any fear you may have carried by keeping your story private.

    I just recently came clean to the world about my carbohydrate addiction on Dec. 29. Part of the reason was because, after toying with paleo for a year or more, I was ready to give Paleo 100% commitment by taking the Whole30 challenge starting January 1. I was planning to blog about my experience, which I have been, so to start with, I told the story of my carb addiction and how going low carb on Atkins years ago helped me identify it and manage it after years of trying everything else to gain control. I have learned a lot since then and I know that eating a low carb diet with a paleo approach can help other sugar addicts end their suffering. I hope people with carb/sugar addiction will try your program and start to realize that it can help them manage and gain control again.

    Food addiction is a valid addiction that can lead to shameful and embarrassing experiences, feelings of despair, and being out of control, so thank you for the coming articles you will write, and for sharing your secret. I know you have the knowledge and the experience to help people without sharing this personal story, but it really makes it so much easier to receive help and advice on addiction from someone who understands what you’ve been through.

    I wish you continued success and am looking forward to meeting you at Paleo FX.

  14. says

    Thanks for taking the steps to being where you are now and who you are now and sharing that progression with us, your loyal readers and followers. Your story lends more understanding to true addiction and remarkable bravery and willfulness. If you can do it, anyone can.

    I can relate to the beginning of your post too….as one who beat cancer. While it was early stage, it was there. It was freaky scary and took guts and drive to be focused on the changes I needed to make in my life…namely clean, healthy eating and getting my a** into the gym.

    Thanks again. May you continue to be successful in all your endeavors.

  15. says

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, here, in such a vulnerable and public forum. Not only does this admission not damage your credibility, perhaps it makes your credibility that much more. It takes a very strong and committed person to face addiction and overcome it. I am sure many of us will think, “well hell, look at all Melissa at Whole9 has done to get healthy and be her best” — it really does put not eating that donut in serious perspective. Suddenly stepping away from the donut is really very easy. Keep sharing and keep doing good. We are all still listening!

  16. Wendy says

    Congratulations Melissa! What an incredible story. You have overcome so much to be where you are today and you have inspired so many along the way. Your story only makes you more credible! You are not only providing inspiration for those suffering from addiction, you are giving hope to all the families out there with loved ones caught in the addiction cycle . . . thank you! Thank you for being honest and showing the world that it is possible to persevere. If you changed anything from your past, you wouldn’t be the person you are today: a leader, a motivator, an educator and a blessing!

  17. says

    We were offline yesterday for our “Tuesday,” and came back to so many comments here! I’m floored by the show of support, the number of emails I’ve received with your own brave stories, the number of Facebook messages and posts. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who took the time to comment. It means so much to both of us, and I am eternally grateful to be a part of this community, both here at Whole9 and the bigger Paleo/CrossFit/health and fitness community who have been so, so good to us for so many years.

    With love and gratitude,
    Melissa & Dallas

  18. Beth says

    I am so proud of you! You are such a beautiful person, inside and out. I have even more love and respect for you – and Dallas! Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  19. Xande says

    Incredible Melissa. Thank you so much for sharing. There is no better feeling than to get it all off your chest. Huge inspiration

  20. Melissa says

    This is my first visit to yall’s site….and what an amazing first post to read! Thank you for sharing! I started CF last year and began dabbling in Paleo last October. I appreciate your addiction comparison. I am a southern girl and was definately addicted to food! I still have cravings (and occasionally give in) but this whole lifestyle change has been amazing. I absolutely love it that this community is so well connected and willing to help whoever, whenever and however! Thanks again for sharing!

  21. says

    Yes, this was indeed courageous and heroic in so many ways. I remember the first time I shared my story. I was in my 30s, and I was ashamed – not brave and unapologetic like you. I feared that everyone who heard it would abandon me. I know that my food addiction began b/c of hiding. Still working through that with your help. My story is different – not addiction to drugs, but I grew up with emotional (hate you, wish you were dead from my mom), physical (black eyes, daily smacks, taught me about fire by sticking my hand fire), and sexual (multiple men, multiple times) abuse. Food became my friend, and at first, it was socially acceptable. Little did I know or understand what my addiction would do to my health and self image. Reclaiming now with the help of your program, a great garage gym, and an amazing husband. One of my favorite truths – my yesterday does not define my tomorrow! :)

  22. says

    Melissa, It’s stories like yours that are the most helpful to people I think. Whenever I go to make some sort of change that requires hard work and willpower, and I look to a role model to help me make those changes, I always get the impression that they are perfect people who have never had to struggle with anything. You know the kind, those peppy early morning rising sons of bitches who give you the sense that if only you were better somehow, or had the right gear, or better hair, that you could be perfect and blissful just like them. Which is not.helpful! While I feel sad to hear that you struggled with a very dangerous addiction, I am happy that you have worked to overcome it. And while I understand that it will require lifelong dedication and effort to stay clean, it’s important to note that because it’s not like we get to some place and just say, “that’s it..I’ve done this and now I am perfect…I can stop trying.” Maintaining one’s health is a lifelong process that we engage in every day and the skills you learned in rehab are very likely the same ones that you use today to keep doing the right thing with food and exercise. Kudos to you for coming out with your story.

  23. StephanieM says

    First, let me say thank you so much for being willing to share your experiences and offer help to those of us who are struggling. I too have a past with addiction and have been 6 years free of “every powder, pill and chemical substance I could get my hands on” and 4.5 months completely sober after kicking the “herbal” habit. Since my adolescence I’ve struggled with weight and food intake to the extreme and I can honestly say that, for me, my food “addiction” has been just as difficult to overcome. For me, it has encompassed all three of the classifying factors of addiction. I am looking forward to seeing what new advice you will be providing on this topic as I’ve been following your blogs for a while now and they have already been a TREMENDOUS help during this transition to a better and healthier lifestyle. Again, thank you!!!!

  24. Lauren G. (Whole9 Envoy) says

    Thanks for the post, Melissa. Just one more reason we admire and respect you. We’re behind you 100%!

  25. says

    I would never recommend your path to anybody, but I must admit that it gives you some real credibility about what hard really is. It also gives you real perspective on what’s really important.

    Thanks for sharing.


  26. Cori says

    Thanks for your honesty!! I felt like I was reading a post that I had written myself. I started running when I got sober, and I started CrossFit 1 year after that. I will have been clean and sober for 5 years in March.

    Not only am I allergic to drugs and alcoholic, but my body also behaves differently when I consume sugar. It wasn’t until I began my journey with CrossFit and a “primal” diet that the absolute truth of the statement “my body behaves differently when I consume sugar” was revealed to me.

    As I always say:
    – I’m one drink away from the liter of vodka.
    – I’m one cigarette away from the whole pack.
    – And I’m one m&m away from the one pound bag.

    Evertime I mention this third statement to a client, a lightbulb tends to go off in their eyes, and I usually can relate to them on an entirely different level.

    I think your experience is touching and brave. A lot of times, clients tend to view “us” (trainers, crossfit coaches, box owners, seminar holders, etc.) as “perfect,” with never any struggles. I think this simply adds to your credibility….ten fold.

    Keep on keeping on.

  27. Sharon Ward says

    Melissa YOU are a hero !!! Your story so touched my heart. You have NOTHING to be ashamed of. I hope that you feel that the weight of the world has lifted from your shoulders. You should be so proud of yourself for what you have overcome and accomplished.

    Thank you for sharing !!

  28. says

    Wow- what a great day! I was pointed to this “Whole 30” thing today by my acupuncturist…what a gift! After reading through the program I am already convinced my body is calling for the next 30 days, but then there is this WAY COOL community of support that goes along with it! BUT THE KICKER? to read this AWESOME post by Melissa. Way to go girl on your success with sobriety and beyond and what a gift for you to share with all these people! Talk about courage. You just totally opened the door for loads of people to have a more connected honest experience with your program. I am really impressed with what you and your husband have orchestrated and lead; it takes solid, honest and free people to exert the energy that you convey, and through a web-site at that!

    Thank you!

  29. Jeanye says

    My hope and prayer is that there will be no “fallout” whatsoever. I, for one, am grateful that you are willing to share. and that you have the support of Dallas as well.

  30. Jennifer says

    I am what I am…the good, the bad, the ugly. It are the difficult and tragic experiences in life that make us who we are today. Without this, you may not have taken this path. Cheers!

  31. Jim says

    oops – I posted that in the wrong discussion thread. Sorry, I’m the jerk! Melissa – you rock. Thanks for sharing!

  32. says

    Thank you for sharing your courage. Your honesty is wonderful and “it is our weakness, not our strength that most binds us to each other”. I have been in OA for 17 years, and it’s a daily journey, especially with food because you don’t get to put it away. But a HUGE blessing because I rely on a higher power to guide me each day, which is why, a week ago, I found you guys.
    Keep up the good work,

  33. says

    Ironically, I was just coming on here to say that I have determined this weekend that I truly am addicted to cake and cupcakes and to look for some “help.” I know that sounds funny and like I’m cracking a joke but I’m actually trying not to cry my eyes out as I type this.

    Long story, short (I will probably write more and post it to my own website), I was doing GREAT on Whole30, was a little hungrier than I’d like but had made it to day 16. There had been some dreams of eating cereal and milk (followed by panic, until I realized I was dreaming) but nothing major. Until “the birthday party.”

    I don’t think I could have prepared any better – my husband and I ate a big dinner of some awesome ginger beef and green beans so that we would more easily avoid the pizza and cake being served at the party. However, as soon as we walked in the front door of our friends’ son’s party and my eyes fell on the DOUBLE DECKER Cars 2 birthday cake, everything got a lot more difficult.

    My brain literally got fuzzy, my heart started racing. My field of vision narrowed. For literally the next 2 hours, all I could think about was how I wanted to sit down and eat the cake. NOT A PIECE OF THE CAKE. If it was just a piece of the cake, then I would not claim to have an addiction. I wanted to eat THE WHOLE CAKE. As more got served, the more I wanted it. As I sat 2 feet away from it, getting my nails shellacked (that’s a whole other story as to why my girlfriend was shellacking my nails in the middle of the party :)), I kept looking over at the grandstand of cake (remember, it was a race track- the track had been eaten by this point), thinking about how much I wanted to eat cake after the Whole30 was done.

    I made it home without eating anything besides some celery sticks and some bell peppers – but then ate 2 packages of beef jerky and I don’t even remember what else. I was in a ROTTEN mood, snapped, barked and screamed at my kids to hurry up and get in bed so I could relax.
    Saturday morning wasn’t a whole lot better but I managed to get through – only to go to a birthday dinner for an adult friend and have a gigantic double chocolate cake surface at the end of the meal. The narrowed vision, heart racing, and inability to think of much else returned. They went out dancing, I went home and ate more jerky, some trail mix, and again the rest is hazy.

    Sunday, my husband and I planned what ridiculous food we were going to have for the Superbowl – which I know is a “no-no” and defeats the purpose of the Whole30 process but it was survival mode at this point, to keep from blowing day 18 by going to the grocery store and buying a double layer coconut cake and eating the whole thing (which I’ve done – some times followed by purging, sometimes just the guilt – which means I’ve done it more than once),

    I have now committed to turning this first Whole30 into a Whole45. And, at this point, I plan to not eat cake until I can 1) be in the room with it without feeling like I’m about to lose control and eat the whole thing 2) can actually be happy eating just one piece of cake. Now I will likely need to extend this to cookies, brownies, etc. since I have been known to eat a lot of those in one sitting, as well. And I’m absolutely afraid that I will just replace the one addiction for overeating something else. So, I will just have to see what happens.

    I know people will think I’m absolutely crazy because I’m making such a big deal over eating cake. I know, technically, eating a cake once in a while isn’t as detrimental as an actual heroin or cocaine addiction, particularly if I can keep the binge/purge cycle under control.

    But I wanted to post on here in the event that there is someone out there that has actually been able to establish a “healthy” relationship with sweets and could give me some hope. Again, I know for some of you this sounds totally crazy but I’m really freaking out about how out of control I’m still feeling about this one area of food.

    Melissa, thank you for sharing your story. I’m totally new to Whole9/30 so I don’t know any different but I’m always a big proponent of open-ness and try to go by the ideal that “the people that matter won’t mind and the people that mind don’t matter.”

  34. says

    Again, thank you to all for your support, your thoughts, your emails and your messages of hope and encouragement. It means the world to us.

    Vita, you are not crazy, and it’s not your fault, I am so, so proud of you for resisting what I know can be overwhelming temptation and sticking to your guns. The more you can create distance between you and the thing you crave, the closer you are to freedom. I posted your comment on our Whole30 Facebook page, as I know there are others there who are willing to share their words of encouragement with you. Come on over, and give yourself a giant pat on the back for taking such good care of yourself over the last few days. You’re doing fantastic – one day, one moment, one piece of cake at a time, sister.


  35. Sharon W. says

    Vita I totally understand how you feel. This is for me also, my first time on whole30. It has been very up and down for me. I have my sister and niece supporting me which has probably saved my life. I also catch myself dreaming about what I am going to eat someday. I know that way of thinking is not helping me at all, so when I snap out of my daydream I have to talk to myself about how I can’t go back to that way of eating.

    Vita you are doing awesome. That took great strength to walk away from the cake. Just know that every good day is a day closer to your goal. Hang in there Sister, they keep telling me it will get easier and I so believe the people that are telling me that.

  36. Steve says

    After reading this post, I must judge you.

    My Judgement is you are brave enough to overcome your addictions and then you are even braver to share your story with us.

    We all have demons we fight, but most us hide our demon fights and deny others the benefit of learning from our victorys.

    Lastly your words save lives. I know this to be true, because your words help me to save my life.

  37. MArie says

    Thank you for sharing your life. Our family just went through the shattering experience of addiction. The last 5-6 years ahve been “hell” in our home. Many enjoyments, but the shadow of “Is she going to come home tonight?”, “Is she going to be found dead?” “What else will be missing the next time?””Do I let her stay here, or fend for herself?””Call the cops or not?”.. constant, “What do I do because I love her so much, but she’s killing herself?”
    Happy to say, she is sober. She is ready to live, and just delivered a healthy baby girl. She and the baby are healthy.
    I was reading various Paleo articles when I came across your “Coming Clean” article. I had no idea that it was about addiction.. so it caught me off guard. My daughter and hsuband were sitting there. I read out loud a few of the lines because I was choking back tears on the rest… but I did manage “12 years “. So much hope was given to me in reading your blog last night. Thank you for sharing, you’ve put a healthy ahppy life in reach of alot of people that didn’t think they were good enough or perfect enough to achive high health driven goals. God bless you, Marie

  38. says

    Thank you for sharing your story, Melissa. We all have a past, that is for sure. I think telling your story makes you more credible in my eyes. It tells me you are human and you have had your struggles too. And, you make a commitment everyday to make good choices in life. I enjoyed your workshop in San Diego and am working on making the best choices everyday. It can be a struggle, but I feel so much better. Thank you!

  39. mrs.eater says

    This post… just wow. If I ever needed a slap in the face I got it. Yesterday I bought a pack of cigarettes again. Which I haven’t done in ages. And now I’m sitting in tarter with a cheese pretzel and more story cookie and I know I’m allergic to gluten! I will be sick tonight but my addiction is so strong. I have back pain that flares up to point of putting me in tears because I’m so large and I know the foods I eat inflame it yet I cant stop!
    I look forward to your upcoming posts

  40. Fearless says

    Melissa, Thank you, thank you soooo much for your post! You have helped me tremendously. I have been multiaddicted over my entire life…anorexia, bulemia, alcoholism, over- spending, bulemia, alcoholism…..OMG! I cannot seem to do anything at half speed. I also developed a sometimes healthy, sometimes not-so-healthy relationship with running and exercising. But it wasn’t until recently (which is why I started Whole30) that I realized my food issues are going to continue to resurface until I truly deal with them. I recently got in the best shape of my life, only to completely derail BIG TIME! I have yo-yo’d between the same 8-10 pounds for the past 3 years, and now I know WHY! Thank you, thank you, thank you for making dealing with food addictions real. I will continue to check in with suggestions and what others are doing to help themselves as to how we can all finally rid ourselves of addiction and stop obsessing over random things at random times! :o) In the meantime, thank you again, and we are glad you are here. (Day 2 of Whole30 complete!)

  41. Fearless says

    Oh, and BTW, what is up with peanuts? I could eat an entire jar of natural peanut butter…as I write this I am finding all kinds of peanuts that I miss…raw, cocktail nuts, wasabi nuts, dry roasted…good grief. I may never know but I am so glad I am committed to this 30-day challenge. I may have the peanut answer by the time I am done, after 28 more days of clear-headed existence. :o)

  42. Kellie says

    Melissa, you absolutely rock and I look forward to more posts on this often cunning, baffling and powerful topic! Kellie – 9 years clean & sober

  43. kathleen says

    Wow, you are so awesome for this post. Congrats on your successes. I know all about food addiction as I am struggling with this constantly. It was easier to quit smoking cold turkey 6 years ago than it is to quit letting thoughts of food consume me. I did well for a couple of years with working out and eating clean (and doing a couple runs of the Whole 30 at it’s infancy). Felt amazing then BAM! One stress after another over the past year has had me on a binge that feels out of control. A 20 lb weight gain in 6 months and no gym time for the same. I have been feeling the need to get it under control then I saw this post. Thank you :)

  44. Funke says

    As I read this, tears welled up in my eyes. I have never been a drug addict, and my addiction to coke (the drink) pales in comparison. When I read your post, I didn’t see a former addict, I saw strength, I saw courage, I saw empathy, I saw love. Thank you for showing this side of you. If I never meet you in real life, please know that the phrase “Beating addiction is hard, beating cancer is hard…..” has a new and profound meaning!


  45. Lindsey says

    Wow, Melissa. Thank you so much for being brave and posting this. Regardless of what flack (if any) you receive, honesty is always admired. You and I have a lot more in common than I thought at first. Maybe that is why I have always felt close to you, even though I don’t know you that well. Thank you for putting this out there. And, ROCK ON for being clean for 12 years! That takes guts.

  46. says

    This is a great post Melissa and it makes us to know “more” about you. Honestly, I don’t care about your fact I’m amazed how you’ve come thru. It’s even hard for me to imagine you being an addict knowing the current you..And as always I really like what Dallas and you’ve been putting up on your Whole9 blog, Facebook etc. :) Hopefully I would able to talk to you more at the next Paleo gathering like AHS12 (since I can’t go to PaleoFx)

  47. Jessica says


    I truly admire your transparency. The first round of the Whole30 DID change my relationship with food and I hope to gain even more insight as I enter into round #2. I struggled with an eating disorder for 11 years of my life and have found such freedom and healing in the last statement of your blog post, “Every saint has a past, and every sinner a future – and without my past, I’d never be where I am today.”

    I did not find true healing until I surrendered my life to the Lord and through the Whole30 I was given the tools to continue to actively participate in the healing process.


    Philippians 4:6-7

  48. says

    Lindsey, Jos and Jessica,

    Thank you for your comments, and your support. Jessica, I’m happy you’ve found a similar place of grace through your spiritual efforts, and the Whole30.


  49. Heather Beck says

    Melissa, I could write a novel back to you but I just want to simply say, THANK YOU! For me you have even more credibility now! I have hope to kick this awful self image issue.

  50. Mariah Thompson says

    Woah, reading this, I feel a real sense of solidarity. I was a methamphetamine and cocaine addict, smoker, alcoholic, and everything else imaginable from age 16-21 before I got clean, found exercise, and made my way to the place I am today(with fits, starts, and an eating disorder in between). Thank you for having the courage to share. You aren’t alone. There are many of us. I am still, 5 years later, learning what it means to be “stable” and this community, as well as my CF community and my partner, have a lot to do with that. Thanks for bearing your soft-spots, Melissa.

  51. Maggie says

    I agree with all the others who say you are even more credible now. It’s encouraging? humbling? gratifying? to know that someone that I perceive to “have it all together,” struggled and fought to get to the place where they are today. It gives me hope.

  52. says

    As I have been following the threads on the forum where people have been struggling with food addictions and having a hard time following the Whole 30, I was wondering if you did write some posts after this one about how you dealt with your addiction. I can’t seem to find any. Please let me know where they are if you already have. If not, and you are ready to in the future, some more posts on how you have handled recovery would be really helpful to us struggling.

    Either way, thank you for sharing this post, it is very helpful and really lets people know they are not alone. Many successful people, like yourself, never share that they ever have had struggles and then they give lots of advice about how to have a good life to other people. We try to follow it and then we struggle and think it must be because we are weak or have no willpower because it seems like the person we look up to just decided to change their life one day and never had a problem again. In reality, learning about their journey helps us figure out our own journey to wholeness.


  53. Crystal C. says

    Hi, My name is Crystal and I’m an addict. I also just did a Whole30 in August and had no idea we share a similar path. I “came clean” to a friend over the weekend who is Paleo and he said “Hey, did you know…” Thanks for sharing.

  54. says

    @Maggie, Rev. Katie, and Crystal, thank you so much for your kind words. It’s totally gratifying to know you are not alone in this journey, and I really appreciate the outpouring of support this article has generated.

    Best in health,