Whole30 and The Stages of Change

Whole30 and The Stages of Change

So, my new favorite gym attire is this “Rehab is for quitters” t-shirt that my dad gave me. I can’t help but admire the play on words and of course it’s overall attraction. You know, it’s visual aid for some of the things you need to *quit* in rehab; gambling, drugs, alcohol, sex, the list goes on and on. Buuut, it’s probably going to be hard to find a “Rehab is for quitters” shirt proudly displaying  a cupcake, pizza and fried chicken.

Now that I’m on the road to my own recovery/healthy living I {still} can’t help but to make connections between my personal journey and that of my patients. Obviously “quitting” cupcakes and quitting heroin are two totally different scenarios but even still maybe the overall process is the same. Meaning, identifying the stages of change .

When I think back to the events leading up to the start of my first Whole30, I can clearly see the changes that occurred in my mind which had an end result of… changing my relationship with food. 

As a certified alcohol and drug counselor I find that as a part of any recovery attempt (regardless of the drug of choice) it is crucial to identify these stages. For me, it goes a bit like this:

1. Pre-contemplation

  • Denial. Blaming others. My borderline obesity is totally because of the genetic component and no other factor, at all whatsoever. So what’s the point in even trying to lose weight?

2. Contemplation

  • I am definitely overweight and I should probably do something about it. Maybe I can google some healthy recipes and make that my New Year’s Resolution……….in 6 months. 

3. Preparation

  • Hits up Pinterest and reads about every diet that ever excited, known to man, ever. Which one is the best one for me?

4. Action

  • & the winner is….. The Whole 30!!! Slowly but surely new behaviors are implemented as poor life style choices slowly disappear thanks to new found coping skills and relapse triggers. 

5. Maintenance

  • The hardest part. Well, after admitting you have a problem, is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Avoiding situations you know you shouldn’t be in, implementing a relapse prevention plan. Added meaning, value and self worth back to into a life that is now worth living. 

This is what makes W30 so awesome. The Hartwigs and the W30 team encourage you to embrace the hesitations you have in the contemplation and preparation stages. Set yourself up for success by educating yourself on WHY you should eat certain foods and WHY you should avoid others. Thanks to all the “sciency” stuff in It Starts with Food  I entered my first round of W30 with a peace of mind and understanding of why in the world I was doing what I was doing.
As I have made it through each of the stages I am reminded of the beauty of the amount of control I have over what I put into my body which in turn significantly impacts my quality of life. Good or bad.
“You’re either working on recovery or you’re working on a relapse” as I tell my patients, OR  as Melissa Hartwig says “The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy. Those are your options.”
This is where the difference comes in {in my personal and professional opinion} between my food addiction and that of my patients. My patient’s can’t seesaw with pain pills and live the kind of life that they want. However, they can learn new coping skills to deal with triggers that make them want to use instead of always resorting to self-medication when times get rough.
W30 has taught me how to do the same thing with my relationship with food.  live and eat realistically.

Treatment of any kind isn’t one size fits all. Through trial and error you can find what’s best for you and that’s exactly what W30 IS for me. A program that not only impacts the physical aspect but the emotional side, too. A change in my diet that can lead to shedding pounds and the shedding of negative self-talk? YES PLEASE.

Does that mean you should never, EVER, have a slice of birthday cake again? No, thankfully we can learn self discipline and eat A (one, single, slice) of cake without acting like a toddler on their first birthday.

I may not have to quit cupcakes forever. I may not have to quit pizza forever. In fact,
W30 doesn’t want you to! That’s where your personal  food freedom comes in (HURRY UP OCTOBER!)

Non-scale victories are awesome and it’s a huge self-esteem boost when you look in the mirror and you notice your shirt is loose, or that your wedding band fits better. But you don’t have to quit Thanksgiving dinner or summertime daiquiris forever. You can still have ALL of the W30 benefits and live a healthy lifestyle.

Set boundaries. Slay the sugar dragon. Stay in control.

Rehab may be for quitters…. but I am whole30, and you can be too.


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Whole30 and Non-Scale Victories!

Whole30 and Non-Scale Victories!

I’ve been a professional yo-yo dieter for as long as I can remember. Sometimes there was successful weight loss, other times not so much. However, the end result was the same in both scenarios: I always gained the weight back and I always felt worse about myself when I couldn’t stay committed.

Until I met Whole30.

The non-scale victories were probably the outcomes I was most hesitant about. How was cutting out cupcakes and pasta going to make me happier? Skinner maybe, but happier? Meh. Looking back I am thankful for my skeptical way of thinking because it has made this learning process even more worthwhile. 
Around week 3 of my first whole30 I went to a dinner party with my husbands family, some of which didn’t know about my W30 journey. Our cousin looked at me & said, “Courtney, you are glowing, you look healthier than I’ve ever seen you.” {Keeping in mind, that I found out I had strep throat the day after Thanksgiving of 2015, and by New Year’s Eve I had come down with a double ear infection, a stomach bug and an upper respiratory infection with no help from 4 rounds of antibiotics.}
That night I revisited my wedding pictures, taken just a few short months before and it became all too clear. Being unhealthy had become a part of who I was! I expected to be sick all of the time…that was my norm, and unfortunately being sick became a defining factor of my character. That’s what people thought about me “oh she has the sniffles again.” It’s embarrassing and that became such intrinsic motivation for me to finish W30 and stay compliant so that the glow could continue and the sickness wouldn’t haunt me anymore. 

Now, I am several weeks post Whole60, reintroduction and I even threw in a Whole9, not because I wanted to see the number on the scale get lower, but because Easter threw me off a little bit and I felt like I needed to get back on track. THAT is a non-scale victory. Wanting to eat right and exercise to feel good not to look good. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t sworn off weighing all-together, but thankfully, whether I am happy or content with where I am in my life is no longer dependent on a number on the scale, so without further ado, here are my non-scale victories.

Physically, my clothes fit better, heck, even my shoes fit better. W30 has taught me a lot about inflammation and I had no idea that so many of my joint problems were enhanced because of the food I was eating. I am not nearly as swollen or puffy and I’m far less bloated all the time. The beauty of it is, some of these these things I didn’t even realize I was (like bloated) until I wasn’t anymore. I was able to stop taking my multiple prescription allergy medicines and narrow it down to just one to help me fight this crazy pollen, and I was even able to taper myself (with medical supervision) off of the antidepressant I had been on for 4 years. During the Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve “plague” I had, my blood pressure was dangerously high for a twenty-six year old and with clean eating I was able to bring it down and stabilize it without the assistance of any medications.

My job requires me to get up really early in the morning which usually is accompanied by dark circles under my eyes and the strong desire for an after lunch nap but since I’ve been on W30 I not only fall asleep easier but I can tell the quality of sleep I get is vastly improved (with no more dark circles in the mornings). My energy level is sustained throughout the entire day, even through my work out. I feel more alert when I am supposed to be, and when I am sleepy I am able to go to bed.

Comparing before and after pictures I can see that my skin was very pasty, sticky looking, and honestly, kind of gross, and now it’s clear with a natural, healthy glow. Plus, if I do break out it clears up FAR faster than before. Some of you who know me personally will find this hard to believe, and to be honest I am not exactly sure how this happened but… I’m more coordinated. Yes, still clumsy but I used to stumble easily, slip in the shower, was very unintentionally careless but that’s even gone away. My mind seems less fogged which is one of those situation where I didn’t even realize that I wasn’t as clear-headed as I could be until I was again.

It looks like I had just lost sight of what being healthy truly meant and with the guidance of Whole30 I was able to start the trek back to, well, towards, the person that I really want to be.

I’m sure it goes without saying that my self-confidence level has skyrocketed. Sure, knowing that I’ve lost weight helps, but that’s not what I am proud of the most. I am proud of the discipline that I’ve developed, the desire to better myself and to be an inspiration and example to other people. My unhealthy food cravings seized and preparing my own meals has become a passion. I have learned that I am in control over food and whether or not I put it into my body. Food is no longer a coping strategy or best friend, or enemy.  I have learned how to cook clean, delicious meals that make me stronger, healthier, happier. The shame and guilt are gone, the resentment of skinny people with high metabolisms…gone. My perspective has changed completely. My lifestyle has changed completely which is probably the best non-scale victory of all. The strict and conscious decisions I made at the beginning of my first W30 were very by the book because I didn’t want to mess up… but now, they’re practically second nature.

 I don’t gravitate towards the dessert table anymore, to be honest, I don’t even think about it. At the grocery store, I spend most of my time in the produce section and I don’t feel like my life is going to end when I say no to pizza.

I am well on my way to the best “me”that I can be, and to get exactly where I want to be, I know that, it starts with food. 

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Progress Not Perfection

Progress Not Perfection

It’s amazing how the farther I travel in my Whole30 journey the more similarities I find between my story and my hardships and those of my patients.
Just last week I facilitated a group on “the honeymoon phase” of recovery. You know, when you’re first introduced to something new that brings so much joy and happiness to your life, inspiration, love and hope– where you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and embracing the “newness” of it that you think will last forever? For my patients, it’s finding stability on a medication that makes them not sick or impaired, where they are finally able to see a life without chasing heroin.
For me it was new found pride and hope that I could finally manage my food addiction and cravings and see that I can make it through a day without binge eating or over-exercising.

Regardless, the honeymoon phase (for me at least) was full of motivation, inspiration and encouragement from others which kicked my will-power into high gear and allowed for a successful Whole30, and Whole60.  But like with any recovery process, it starts with you. It’s crucial to have a support system but you’ve got to believe in yourself first.

Now a lot of you that have kept up with my journey know that I did encounter some bad days. Nothing that resulted in devouring a dozen doughnuts, but there were days I wanted to, which is why I extended my Whole30 to Whole60.

As I was nearing the end of my Whole60 I noticed that I was starting to get complacent. I am very familiar with complacency because it is something that I remind my patients to be aware of all the time.  To you it may mean simply being satisfied with where you are in your life, but to me it’s becoming too comfortable with my current situation. And me, like my patients, we have adopted the motto of we are either working on recovery or working on a relapse. There’s always room to grow, room to learn, new triggers to identify.

If you’re not careful complacency can stare you straight in the face when the honeymoon phase is over, and that’s what happened to me.

No, I didn’t run wild through a bakery but during reintroduction, I wasn’t as methodical as I wanted to be. I reintroduced a few gluten free items and oats for breakfast which brought up a previous breakfast of choice which included lots of fruit. Yes, you can have fruit on whole30 but the excess fruit hyped up my sugar cravings.


and then Easter happened.

“I made it through an entire 60 days of clean eating so I deserve a 4 pack of Reese’s Eggs”

That’s the equivalent of telling an alcoholic that just got their 90 day chip to celebrate with a pitcher or two at Happy Hour.

I realize that no journey is perfect and from time to time we will fall into a rut and the the honeymoon phase will not last. But it’s maintaining a positive attitude (which I let get the best of me this last week) and go back to the beginning. To go back and remember why I started whole 30 in the first place and it was to change my personal relationship with food.

So, I am taking a step back and I am starting a Whole9 today to get back on track. The Honeymoon Phase is over but the journey has not ended.

I plan on staying Whole30 compliant for a little over a week and re-read the reintroduction part of my Whole 30 Book and write a plan of action so that I set myself up for success with reintroduction. Easter, my cousins wedding and a few other events hit back to back after I completed Whole60 and I rewarded myself too generously. I didn’t gain any weight back, but when that started to become my concern, was my first clue that I needed to take a breather.

One of the nicest people I’ve never met (think that one through for a second) told me earlier today that “everybody has their days/weeks/months and it’s great to express as that you are human, too. Being vulnerable means being human–simple as that.”

It’s taken me longer than my usual time span to get this blog written because I felt like a failure because of the way that I was feeling but, I’m human.  I know that we are our own worst critics, but I have learned the good, bad and the ugly about my relationship with food. If I don’t hold myself accountable, cut myself some slack, and have realistic expectations about this entire process… then how can I expect to help anyone else, which has become the second most important thing to me with my Whole30 story.  So I will leave you with this,

“Being defeated is often a temporary condition, but giving up is what makes it permanent.” -Unknown

Keep your head up Whole30’ers, there’s a ‘whole’ network of support systems for you out there, everything from The Whole 30 Website, blog, Facebook and Instagram and regular ole people like me. All we can do is take it a day at a time, strive for progress, not perfection and remember,  It Starts With Food 🙂

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Clean eating & get togethers

Clean eating & get togethers

This week, another popular question will be answered!

“What if you have a get together, birthday party or

holiday event to attend?”

To answer this question, let me start with this:

After reading The Whole30 literature I walked away with a clear understanding that you should set yourself up for success…meaning, don’t have a major holiday, birthday, celebration occur on day 15. Right smack dab in the middle of your 30 day challenge. 
In the first two weeks of my Whole30 journey I had a couple of spur of the moment events that came up… events with alcohol, fried bits of deliciousness and of course, desserts….lots and lots of desserts. 

My cravings weren’t quite under control yet but my willpower thankfully outranked how delicious the cream puffs looked. 

To me, at the time, the most difficult part about the party was that I felt awkward. Everyone standing around drinking and snacking on all of the finger foods. No veggie tray, just me and a solo cup of water and a growling tummy.

I’ve learned a lot of lessons since then &  here are just a few:

1) If possible, plan ahead. 

Offer to bring a veggie tray with homemade whole30 ranch (pg 316 of The Whole30 Book) to the gathering so you’re sure to have something to snack on. 
& if that’s not an option… 
2) Eat before you go. 
If you don’t have time for a full blown meal, grab a Larabar.  Larabars are all natural, super yummy bars with very few ingredients. They come in handy {for me} post gym. After I exercise I get pretty hungry so it’s the best guilt free option that satisfies me until dinner. 

3) Keep La Croix Water stocked in your pantry.
La Croix Water and Larabar’s (at least in my opinion) Whole30 in-case-of-emergency necessities. 

 La Croix water is extra special when you’re sick of plain water. I drink a ton of water {& love it} but even I want to switch it up every now and then. Well, The Whole 30 has lots of “fancied up” (Click Here For Recipes ) drink options using the La Croix flavored waters that you can make in a pitcher, which is perfect for any dinner party or gathering!

4) Host the party yourself


It may sound stressful and unappealing, and I don’t recommend throwing a dinner party during your first W30, unless of course you’re just a rockstar and can handle it, BUT I did throw a get together during my W60 after I had a few tricks up my sleeve.

– familiarize yourself with W30 compliant recipes. I highly recommend you by the book, link is listed under #1, and definitely follow Whole30 and Whole30 Recipes on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.

– At the time of the party, I had W30 ranch as a stable ingredient in my fridge. My hubby still eats regular ranch so offering both was no problem.

– I bought regular tortilla chips for my guests who did not prefer sweet potatoes, deviled eggs (original and avocado, both W30 approved), cucumbers with W30 ranch and regular ranch, 2 salsas, guacamole and fruit.

Deviled Eggs

Regular and Avocado (Whole30 Approved) Deviled Eggs

Like the ranch dressing, I always keep W30 Mayo on hand. See My Mayo Tutorial Here
It’s possible to make these according to the recipe that you usually use, just substitute regular mayo with W30 Mayo. For the regular deviled eggs I added mustard as well (which is W30 approved as long as you check your labels and same with the pickles/relish). I always add salt, pepper and paprika, and there ya have it. Easy peasy.

For the Avocado deviled eggs I cut the amount of mayo in half and add in the avocado. It’s all up to you on how avocado-y you want it to taste. I add a whole Avocado for 4 hardboiled eggs (8 halves)… because I am obsessed with them.

They were a huge success and loved by all.

– Sweet Potato Chips

I used smaller, thinner potatoes with these so they got a bit burned. I do recommend using a bigger potato but with thin slices to make it more chip-like. These were pretty small (but delicious nonetheless). 

  1.  Set Oven to 450 degrees
  2.  Using a mandolin slice sweet potatoes until desired thickness.
  3.  Coat with Coconut (or desired cooking fat of your choice)
  4.  Place coated sweet potatoes evenly on lined baking sheet
  5.  I always add course sea salt and pepper to them but occasionally to  switch  it up, I’ll sprinkle, cayenne, garlic powder, even finely chopped rosemary and thyme to the chips as they bake.
  6. Immediately after you place the chips in the oven lower the temp to 300-325 degrees. As the temperature lowers it allows the chips to start crisping.
  7.  Bake for 45 minutes to 60 minutes. (I rotate the pan every 20 minutes or  so to make sure they are cooking evenly)
  8.  Let them cool completely (they will crisp as they cool) before serving.

I served the sweet potato chips with Pace Organic Salsa (W30, which I bought at Sam’s) and another Salsa brought by a guest which was not W30 approved (mainly because of sugar and corn).
And of course, homemade Guac.


So, all in all, hosting a party or going to a party is not a Whole30 death sentence. But, will power and preparation go hand and hand. After time, I learned what situations to avoid and which ones to plan ahead for. I realize I can’t avoid social gatherings forever which is why Whole30 is so fabulous. It’s a realistic lifestyle change if you just give it a chance!

I am several days post Whole60 and have reintroduced very little, not because I don’t feel deserving of it, but honestly, I haven’t wanted it badly enough to bother trying it.

Reintro is however super important and I am still just taking it a day at a time.

Keep the questions coming! (email, instagram, facebook or below) I am happy to answer and help any and all of you that I can!

Until next time,


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Choice, Chance, Change.

Choice, Chance, Change.

I don’t know that there are enough blogs I could write to explain what I have learned in the past 60 days. Two months of eating healthy may not seem like a big deal, in fact, I know to some people it seems petty, difficult, obsessive–a fad diet that will soon be forgotten and left behind. 

Thankfully, I’ve been lifted up more than I’ve been torn down. I’ve had my inner demons surface several times throughout this journey but thanks to my new found self-confidence {& discipline} I was able to defeat the demons, negativity and that vengeful sugar dragon. We are human and it seems nearly impossible to eat the best of the best ALL time. In fact, that’s what I love the most about Whole30 –it is realistic. 

I never imagined a life without cheese, French fries or pasta but now I can (and it’s my choice). I’ve worked hard and I’ve built this new regiment and expectation for myself. Not anyone else. 

After 30 days I was not confident enough to methodically reintroduce foods without binging but now, after 60 days I can imagine successfully trying new things. It’s because I have changed my expectations not my standards. 

As I was scrolling through Instagram earlier this morning I came across a post from the one & only Melissa Hartwig and it seemed extra fitting for my thoughts today:

How many times have you ever said “I’m going to start my diet on Monday.” or “I’d go to the gym today but my meeting lasted 30 minutes longer than expected so I don’t have time.”  
I’m guilty for sure. Using time as an excuse puts the blame on the rest of the day and not on the fact that it’s not high on our list of priorities. 

For example, I have terrible lower back pain almost all of the time so it was always the perfect excuse for me. “My back hurts so I can’t go to the gym today.” But the fact of the matter is… It wasn’t a priority. I had low expectations AND low standards for myself because it was the life that I had learned to accept. That is no ones fault by own. 
So, thanks to the past 60 days I have gotten over the embarrassment of saying no thank you to dessert or to the glass of wine. I’ve managed to respect myself enough to avoid Olive Garden and their endless baskets of breadsticks and unfortunately it took saying no and setting boundaries for people who didn’t quite understand how important this was and IS to me. It took me becoming honest with myself and the people around me, especially my support system. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… “It’s high time that I practice what I preach on a daily basis and accept that I, just like my patients, am stronger than my excuses.” Life. Is. About. Choices. The food you put in your body is YOUR Choice, it’s MY choice, and at the end of the day its either healthy for you… or it’s not. 
I tell my patients on a regular basis…life is all about the 3 C’s. 
Choice, Chance & Change. 
You must make the choice 
to take the chance if you 
want anything in your life to  change
It took me being sick for about 3 months straight, it took me constantly judging myself and wishing, begging that I could be smaller so I could “fit in”, it took me loathing myself staring at my wedding pictures to finally decide to change the expectations and standards that I had set for my life because I did not like who I was becoming let alone who I already was. 

I am worth so much more than the negative, hurtful way that I used to talk to myself. My health and well-being is a priority. Putting myself first & forking out the extra money and time for meal prep is a priority because I am. I am making myself a priority because it is a necessary action, not a selfish one. 

I get one chance at this life and the choices are left up to me on how I want to live it. So thank you Whole30 for teaching me the techniques I needed to know for meal planning and cooking as well as all the “scienc-y” stuff that made me understand my patients on a completely new level. 

I am beyond thankful for 60 days of practice for this new found love for clean eating and for the new sense of self respect that I have. 

It all starts with a choice and a willingness to change but most importantly… for me…

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Girl Scout Cookies & Accountability

Girl Scout Cookies & Accountability

I still don’t think it’s hit me what an incredible past week this has been. When I first found out that the Whole30 team was interested in sharing my story I couldn’t have fathom what a true honor it really would be.

I walked into Whole30 really desperate and have, with the support from so many people,  finally started maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The true definition of healthy. Not the false version that I had convinced myself I was living. 
Don’t get me wrong, not all days are easy. Like Friday for example. It was 2 days after my story aired and readers were commenting so many encouraging words and I was getting messages left and right. In disbelief that I was actually going to be able to help somebody in their whole30 journey… Well, I went to Target to pick up a few things and I quickly departed from cloud nine to the unfortunate reality of the Girl Scout cookies being sold at the door. This was the time of year I’d buy several boxes and freeze one or two with the wishful intention of saving them for another time. But the true reality is that I’d probably eat them all in record time, making myself sick, stashing the trash and then work out 30 minutes extra a day to create some healthy facade to trick other people and myself into thinking I didn’t have a problem. Or maybe just masking it so no one else would notice. 
So, as I sat in my car, afraid to walk in I began looking at pictures on my phone. Maybe to get some type of inspiration and I came across this gem. 

The project I had Women’s Group work on at work this week. In celebration of St. Patty’s day and good fortune I had my patients write down what their “lucky charm” is in their recovery… Meaning, what keeps them afloat and accountable. And it hit me. The dark green shamrock on the left side of the board reads “telling on myself.” How amazing is that? When her triggers surface she calls her support system for accountability. Now, I understand that a box of Somoas and Thin Mints don’t equate to IV heroin but in that moment I was so terrified and afraid that I didn’t have enough self-discipline to walk past that table and not buy those cookies. So, I tattled on myself. I made a phone call for support and got my shopping done with no interference from delicious cookies! I was at that point and still am in single digits of completing Whole60 and it was not worth giving up all my hard work. Am I going to be without Girl Scout cookies for the rest of my life? No. But right now, it’s not something that is going to positively contribute to my journey…. and that’s okay. 

So I am standing strong on day 53 and am hopeful that the next week is going to be one to remember.  
Thank you all SO much for standing by me through this. I am hoping that many people will be touched by my story and in turn will find the motivation to not only change their lives but can inspire others to do the same.  
If you haven’t read the article but would like to check out Whole30.com! 

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“Drinking your coffee balck. Is. Not. Hard.”

Today is a big day.

It’s the last day of Eating Disorder Awareness Week AND it’s my Whole45 finale. (I am this close to Whole60 so here’s to 15 more days).

Speaking of eating disorders,  I had several friends growing up who were hospitalized due to their eating disorders. Anorexia consumed them, nothing but skin and bones, with big hearts and tiny waist lines. Helpless and hopeless. Bulimia, the other extreme. Beautiful girls–you would’ve have never guessed in a million years WHY they visited the bathroom so quickly after each meal and then the overeaters, the “lazy” ones who used food to cope.

Much like opiate addiction, eating disorders do not discriminate.

I questioned my path for a lot of years but now as I am faced with my own demons I can see how every step I’ve taken was purposefully planted right in front of me.

I’ve been around the family business of treating addiction my entire life, never, ever thinking one day I would have the privilege of being a certified counselor.

College days rolled around and my passion quickly turned from being an ESPN side line reporter (after all, there is only ONE Holly Rowe ;))  to helping those who suffered from addiction of any kind from eating disorders to pain pill, heroin and/or alcohol abuse.

My best friend was a victim of addiction and it was my eye opener to see such a beautiful, family oriented, hard working, best friend and mom struggle with this disease.  Good and bad days came but she taught me that with loyalty to herself and meetings that life could be lived drug free. It was up to her what she put in her body.

One week after graduation I started my first “big girl” job at Magnolia Creek- a residential treatment center for woman with eating disorders. That is when I first saw the connection between eating disorders and addictions… while still being blind to my own problems.

I was the staff counselor for the graveyard shift. I had it “easy” because that’s when everyone was sleeping. Well, supposed to be sleeping. Sometimes the nightmares kept them awake, or just the anxiety that breakfast was only a few hours away plus the morning weigh in. It was hard for me to understand WHY portioning out cereal could be such a devastating task for some people.

I get it now.

It’s not just about control, compulsion and obsession. I understand that there are genetic and environmental components to eating disorders and addiction but it’s important to understand what lies beneath. Mental illness is not something to taken lightly and no one is immune. As an advocate for both with personal & professional experience, be careful who you judge and why. These mental illnesses impact more people and families than you think.

This week I’ve had the honor of sharing part of my story that I am just now coming to terms with,  with my patient’s in our group sessions. I was able to bring awareness to eating disorders and co-occurring disorders of many kinds.  It’s all starting to make sense. Past experiences were my building blocks to my career and identifying who I am and why I am the way that I am.

At Magnolia Creek I had patients I would drive to 12 step meetings because when they could not have control over food they substituted with drugs or alcohol.

The same thing can happen here at Private Clinic. Regardless of the amount of work put in to ANY recovery program, it’s important to learn new coping skills so that you don’t substitute one addiction for another. For many of my current patients it’s food. After years of putting drugs before food those roles reverse quickly when entering rehab.

 My all-time favorite Whole30 quote that has been known to cause some controversy is a certain truth that I finally understand.

{Whole30}  “It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. “

While I know that Whole30 was NOT designed as a “cure” for eating disorders, it WAS designed to assist men and woman to change their relationship with food. And maybe that’s the start with any addiction or eating disorder. Figuring out why your drug of choice, be it heroin or cupcakes was a temporary solution to your problems.

I am thankful for Whole30 because it brought me an understanding of WHY I was craving all these calorie dense foods (the “scienc-y” stuff as the Hartwigs phrase it) and why it is important for my patient’s to understand as they begin the journey of drug addiction recovery.  It has been so helpful to me as an individual and to my profession.

It’s more than just losing weight, it’s fueling your body to function how it was meant to in the first place.

Did I learn new coping skills from removing bread and cheese from my diet? Did I learn new coping skills because I make my own mayonnaise and ketchup?

No. I’ve learned new coping skills because I acknowledge that I have an unhealthy, toxic relationship with food and like with any vice, it could lead me further down a road to major health problems or premature death.

Whole30 has made me a better counselor, a better accountability partner, a better & healthier wife and daughter. I am finally able to put all the pieces of my life together and realize my purpose and my passion. And for me to be the best that I can possibly be…. It starts with food.

Resources if you or anyone you know are struggling with eating disorders or opiate addiction.
http://nedawareness.org/                 http://www.magnolia-creek.com/
http://www.pccolumbus.com/         http://www.pcalbany.com/
http://privateclinicnorth.com/          http://www.tlcclinic.net/

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Eat like you love yourself

Eat like you love yourself

I have to say that in the past 36 days I have adopted the motto below. I have good days, and bad days. I still have anxiety from time to time, but I have to remember that I am human. Just because I’ve removed cupcakes & fried chicken from my life doesn’t mean I’ve got it all figured out. Life is not perfect but there are so many things I have control over. Like, what food I put into my body. If I choose to go to the gym or not. If I smash self-destructive thoughts as soon as they surface. So many times I have gone from diet to diet to try and look better for other people or to fit in. This go around, I am doing this for me. I am giving myself permission to be selfish & to change my life, because I am worth it.
Like I’ve mentioned before, lots of questions come my way when people see me bring my own salad dressing to a party, or if they see me say no to dessert for like the first time ever. The question of the week has been, “I guess you never get to go out to eat now do you?”
Is it the easiest thing in the world? No. Is it hard to say no to delicious, cheesy, fried appetizers? Yes.  Have I had a successful Whole30 friendly date night? YES. 
The hubs wanted pizza the other night, so I looked around at different restaurants and noticed that Mellow Mushroom had a build your own salad option. Well, as mentioned before I’ve been bringing a small Tupperware container of my homemade dressing when we eat somewhere other than our house.  But I forgot it and kinda panicked. Our waitress had already caught on to the fact that I was being “picky” based on the fact I attacked her with questions as soon as we were seated. The good news is, she was fantastic. I asked her about marinades and how the ingredients are prepared. She asked what “diet” I was on, and I explained that it was something similar to paleo.
Much to my surprise she knew exactly what I was talking about. So she got out the menu, walked me through the list of veggies and salad toppings and told me what would be appropriate and what wouldn’t. She went so far as to have the chef skip out on the marinade for my chicken and just grill it with olive oil, salt and pepper AND she brought me a delicious and whole30 approved dressing.  So, shout out to Becca at the Mellow Mushroom in Columbus, GA for not making me feel like one of “those” customers who make waiting tables so complicated. Needless to say, she got an awesome tip & we’ll be going there again!
On to different news, it’s pretty clear, I mean very clear, that during the first 30 days of Whole30 you are not to weigh. You weigh on day 0 and on day 31. Since I was extending my 30 days to 45, and maybe even to 60 I had decided that I was going to wait until I was ready for reintroduction to weigh again. Well, day 33 was a struggle for whatever reason so instead of eating my emotions for temporary satisfaction, I got on the scale.  Along with the increased energy and overall better quality of life… I have lost 14.7 pounds. WHAT!? I didn’t see that coming. That’s the true beauty of it. Whole30 isn’t about how many pounds you lose, it’s about being good to your body, physically and mentally. Losing weight is just a side effect.
So, here’s to 36 days of loving myself & looking forward to the days to come! <3
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“You can’t put a time stamp on recovery. “  Yet another phrase I frequently say to my patients. I encourage them to set realistic goals, make a plan and reevaluate when and if it’s necessary.

As day 30 comes to an end I think it’s time to do some reevaluating. For the past week or so I’ve been getting extremely nervous, well, anxious about reintroduction.

I’m not ready….and that’s okay.

I was talking to a friend about it earlier and she had some positive words to say, “But Courtney you’ve done so great and you haven’t cheated once!”

She’s right. I haven’t.

I’ve been in the car, alone, with a pizza and won.
I’ve been face to face with chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, and won.
I’ve been to Starbucks, and won.
I’ve been around my favorite wine, and won.

I’ve gone t h i r t y days without cheating.

I’ve had a significant amount of willpower but willpower isn’t the only component to a successful lifestyle change. Just like with my patients, there is a psychological AND physical aspect of their treatment and recovery that they have to face. In groups, quite often, we talk about their recovery being a 3 legged stool, the legs being emotional, physical and spiritual. It’s about balance.

I’ve worked really hard and I don’t think by extending my thirty days is setting me back. I haven’t obtained the balance I’m “craving” (see what I did there?)

I need to step up my exercise game and become more committed.
I need to continue to learn new recipes so that I don’t become bored of the food I am cooking. The last thing I want to do is lose excitement in the kitchen!
I need to make sure that I’ve done what I can to learn new coping skills. When I am bored, even after 30 days, my thoughts go straight to food… chocolate… fries… you name it.

So, I’m not ready to let go of this *strict* structure quite yet. It’s holding me accountable so I am going to add another 15 days, make this a Whole45 and reevaluate then. If I need to make it a Whole60, I will. I know my thoughts of overeating are becoming fewer and farther between but I am not yet confident enough in myself to slay the sugar dragon if it presents itself.

However this is the face of that same  “5’10, curly headed girl who’s supposed to have meat on her bones.” And for the first time in as long as I can remember my pant size changing has been the least of my concerns. 

I am proud of how far that I’ve come… #IAmWhole30 and I am even more excited about how far I’ve got to go <3

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Happiness = A Clean Kitchen: Day 22

Happiness = A Clean Kitchen: Day 22

It’s hard to believe that 3 weeks have come & gone! As day 22 comes to an end, I’ve been pondering some repeat questions  I’ve been getting from friends and family.

– How do you stay disciplined?

– Do you still have cravings? 
– Is it worth the extra time and money? 
– What if you don’t feel like cooking? 
– You really can’t have a glass of wine? 
These are great questions, most of which I had myself before starting this journey and I’m sure they will all be answered in blogs to come. 
There’s one that’s stuck with me for several days now. 

What if you don’t feel like cooking?
For starters, because of the nutrient dense food I’ve been fueling my body with, I have far more energy and motivation to cook dinner when I get home.. Or plan. Yes meal planning. A friend told me that I would go through some serious Tupperware and boy have I.  I’ve learned that with planning ahead I set myself up for success. I can make a weeks worth of breakfast in 30-40 minutes which makes my early mornings easy peasy and a lot less stressful. 

The second thing that keeps my inner chef alive, is having a clean kitchen. Before Whole30 I like to think I kept a clean, neat and sanitized kitchen but I was far more lazy. Keeping dishes from after dinner in the sink until the next day, putting off running the dishwasher, cramming in every last utensil until nothing else would fit.  Well, let me tell ya. For me, there’s nothing that drains the motivation and excitement out of cooking more… than a messy kitchen. 

So, I make sure to clean up as I go, and as much as I can before I eat my meal.  I separate leftovers into separate to go containers and store in the fridge. Whole30 goes beyond what you’re eating but how much and how often. Putting the food up before eating dinner is a “closure” deal for me. After I finish my plate there’s nothing else to snack on so I focus on being satisfied. Not every meal needs to make you feel like you’ve just eaten Thanksgiving dinner at your grandmas house. 

My motivation grows each and every day! I’m ready to tackle this last week of my first Whole30 which is just the beginning of the rest of my life! 
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