To weigh or not to weigh?

I have always had test anxiety. If it hadn’t been for homework and research papers I would have definitely flunked out of school. Thankfully, I was disciplined and could master weeknight homework and lengthy research papers, even with topics I had little to no interest in. But it did not matter how I studied or how much time I put into studying… when it came to tests, mid-terms and final exams, all knowledge gained in that particular semester went out the door and I was left with [unwelcomed] sweaty palms, a racing heart and a fear of failure.

I remember the first time I went to take the SAT. Yes, the first time, and let’s be real for a second… between the ACT and SAT I took them a total of S I X times.

My first experience was a lost cause. I had a full blown panic attack right smack dab in the middle of the exam and left without even completing the test. #epicfailure.

The second time was a little better but my scores were not good… not good at all.

Cue all the negative self-talk.

“Courtney, you are stupid and so inadequate.”

“Courtney, you should be ashamed of yourself.”

 “You will never be successful.”

“You’re not smart enough for college.”

Finally, I went to Sylvan Learning Center where they taught me how to study and methods of mindfulness to practice while taking the exam to help avoid panic attacks.

Since then, my test anxiety has been nothing compared to what it was before. Not to say I don’t get a little nervous, because I do… but that’s natural. I was accepted into an excellent university, and graduated with a nice GPA. I got a job that I love and passed not 1 but 2 certification examinations. Because I dealt with the problem at its core and realized that asking for help is a strength, not a weakness I was able to learn that even when I fail in one area, I tend to excel in another.

I am willing to bet that you can relate to this in some way… even if it isn’t with test anxiety.

When it comes to The Whole30 a lot of people have scale anxietyand I know I am definitely one of them. As most of you know, I’ve had a pretty unhealthy ride with food and exercise addiction. At one point I was exercising 2-3 times a day and was being extremely restrictive with my food. Counting calories and weighing every single time I worked out. Sometimes that I meant that I was weighing 2-3 times in 24 hour period. During this time I had entered a weight loss contest at the gym and was determined to win. That’s when the true scale addiction began.

When we think of unhealthy behaviors we usually think of things that impact our health directly. Maybe, drinking too much alcohol or eating too much junk food. I justified my relationship with the scale as been not-so-harmful- because, really, what harm could it do? I didn’t view it as something I needed to correct because it wasn’t negatively impacting my life like maybe Taco Bell and a jumbo size Reece’s cup was.

But weighing myself that many times a day fueled my food restriction. Typically when I counted calories I would have 2 smoothies/shakes per day and only consumed on legitimate meal, which was dinner. When I became so obsessed with the scale and saw it fluctuate, the only thing left to cut out was dinner. So my evening meal turned into a blended glass of kale, peanut butter, some berries, protein powder and a lot of hopelessness and obsessive, compulsive thoughts.

I’d basically forgotten what it was like to chew.  

But hey, at least I looked good… right?

Wrong.

I was definitely slimming down but with no muscle, feeling tired, literally all the time. No endorphins or benefit from the gym because I was exhausting my muscles giving them no time to rest and no proper nutrients for repair.

Finally, I let the trainer blind weigh me to keep up with the contest requirements but I didn’t want to see the number because it was interfering with my life. That number was ALL I could think about.

Then guess what happened?

I didn’t win the contest. And I gave up.

Because the number on the scale was not what it “should” have been, that negative self-talk I encountered after my SAT experience came flooding back.

I told myself I wasn’t good enough, that I hadn’t been successful, I was never going to be thin enough and I was ashamed.

So I started eating my feelings, effective immediately and I gained nearly every pound I had lost, right back. I had lost all control. Again.

I weighed myself before my first Whole30 last January (2016) and again at the end. I had lost some weight but for the first time, ever, that number gave me no feeling at all.  

The Whole30 became the Sylvan Learning Center to my health habits and relationship with food needs.

Since then, I’ve been weighed on doctor’s office visits and that’s it.  I hopped on the scale for the first time on January 1st of this year, just as the January Whole30 (2017) was about to kick off and the batteries were dead. That was my glorious sign to step off the scale with control and not replace the battery.And I haven’t.

My non-scale victories serve the same purpose to me now as my homework and research papers did when I was in school. It’s the NSV’s that keep my head above water and my self-confidence cup overflowing.

I can have my dream job with a history of poor test scores because I am smart. That test score is no reflection of my  true intelligence.

I can have a truly beautiful life with improved health, habits and relationship with food without knowing how much I weigh. The number on the scale does not define me… and for the first time in my life… I don’t want it to.  I won’t allow it to.

I can’t say with certainty that I will never weigh myself again. However, I am pretty confident that when I do, that number will no longer give me anxiety and steal away my self-worth like it has so many times before. I can also say with confidence that that number will no longer determine what I eat, when I eat and how much I eat. I love being able to prepare, eat and enjoy my delicious, nutrient dense meals.

There is a reason that getting rid of the scale during your Whole30 is a RULE and not a recommendation. Terminating your relationship with your scale does not mean you have lost all control. It’s hands down one of the most liberating victories you will experience.

 
reset, refocus, rebuild, repeat.

reset, refocus, rebuild, repeat.

I’ve taken a hiatus on writing which should have been my first indicator that I was on, as Melissa Hartwig calls “The struggle bus down food freedom road.” Writing is therapy for me, an outlet for expression and accountability that often times I let slide when I am not making the best choices.

It all started during Thanksgiving. I had done a mini reset, you know, a Whole7 or a Whole9 just before the visit to my hometown for the holiday, in hopes it would help me stay in control. But lifetime of poor behaviors and emotions came flooding back as I stared at the counter full of food. Turkey, ham, dressing, mac n cheese, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, my all-time favorite dinner rolls, casseroles galore and not to mention the most delicious looking desserts I ever did see.  I did okay though, I got a small portion of just about everything but somehow just ONE spoonful of EVERYTHING was the justification I needed to fill my plate higher and higher. But (at that point) at least I said no to a dinner roll.

I made it through the meal and managed to keep a few bites left on the plate so my neighbors at the table wouldn’t think I was a total pig (as if my family members were truly concerned about how much I was consuming), but I was worried about it so I assumed everyone else was, too.

I let those thoughts camp out in my mind and suck the Thanksgiving spirit right out of me so on my way to bed that night, I snuck into the kitchen when no one else was around, and took three dinner rolls and took them to bed with me— and ate every, not worth it, bite.

So my gluten crash the next day totally interfered with the 5k I had been preparing for since my spinal fusion back in June. I pushed myself really hard to make it in under an hour (walking) which is what I wanted, and that’s what I did, but the guilt and shame from the bread binge the night before was really all I could focus on. Those thoughts occupied my mind when I should have been celebrating this accomplishment.

When I got home from Thanksgiving I was still so embarrassed and ashamed of my behavior that I continued to ride the struggle bus and I hit a major setback. Made excuses to not exercise as frequently and take the easy way out with meal prep and self-care (or lack thereof).

Finally, I reached out with desperate hands and a lot of tears to my support system and thankfully they helped me see that, at that point, the last 10 months had not been for nothing as I had suggested to them with my skewed way of thinking.

I re-read Food Freedom Forever and refocused. I was afraid that if I showed weakness that I would let those of you who look to my blog for inspiration down. That you would get discouraged and I didn’t want to be that person who screwed up. 

But guess what? We are all that person which is why Whole30 is designed the way that it is. You do a reset and build the tools you need to succeed and when you slip up during your food freedom you go back to where it all began and reset again. And maybe, again after that, and perhaps one more time.

I’ve spent more years than not consumed in unhealthy thoughts about food and exercise but I have found a plan that works for me. However, just because #Iamwhole30 as the hashtag proudly states, doesn’t mean that triggers aren’t going to surface from time to time… just like the overwhelming feeling at Thanksgiving. But, my friends, that’s all apart of the process. 

I did another quick reset (for the right reasons) between Thanksgiving and Christmas to make sure my tools and coping skills were sharp and on point.

Also, during the Christmas holiday I had an accountability buddy who helped me through it, who would have literally held my hand if I wanted them too. There was just as much food but I changed my perspective and I altered my actions. I went last instead of first around the buffet to alleviate the anxiety of someone being behind me watching me make my plate. I drank a full glass of water prior to the meal so I didn’t feel SO hungry going in.  I followed the Whole30 meal template (yes, even at Christmas dinner and yes, even with noncompliant foods), and I told myself, “Hey, you don’t have to eat until you’re going to explode. If you want leftovers tomorrow, you can have them.”

And you guys…. It worked.

Christmas was wonderful. I didn’t feel self-conscious or judged by anyone else, including myself, which lets be real, we are our own worst critics.

With that being said, I want to say thank you. Thank you for reading this and believing in me despite my vulnerability and flaws. It’s because of the support system associated with The Whole30 (my family, friends, blog readers and W30 team) that I have been able to gain the confidence to write for you (and me) and share my struggles…and my victories.  I want you to learn from my mistakes because this is a community where we can learn and grow together.

I wish I had been brave enough to share my setback with you sooner because it’s not slipping up that’s the problem, it’s continuing to dwell on it with no changes. So, here I am recovering from my slip and doing all I can to continue to strengthen my relationship with food and make sure to acknowledge when I am starting to lose control.  

I trust the process of Whole30, of my health habits and relationship with food. I trust that I can recover from food addiction and I believe that I can and will continue to succeed…. even with bumps, and sometimes meteor size pot holes in the road.

So, in the spirit of believing in yourself and making progress I am happy to announce that I am coming up on my one year *wholethirtiversary and am feeling super proud of that.

AND in other exciting news, I am fortunate enough to be taking over Whole30’s snapchat on FRIDAY 1.6.17!  Tune in and see a day in the life of Courtney on Whole30… which to those of you who follow me on snapchat already, is just like any other day. This is my excited face. 

<3

Courtney

*wholethirtiversary = one year anniversary of a persons first whole30 😉

Pizza is not always the answer.

Pizza is not always the answer.

The struggle was real today. 

 
Well, it *would* have been before my whole30 journey.
 
I implement my food freedom usually on weekends, while staying  mostly whole30 compliant throughout the week because that’s what keeps me focused, balanced, and my best.
 
I didn’t have time to eat breakfast this morning as I hit the ground running at work to take care of things that were priority and that meant sacrifice my precious breakfast time. I’m talking, didn’t even have time for my emergency food. 
 
I stayed so busy I cruised right through the morning, straight through lunch… still never touching a cup of coffee. 
When things  settled down and I was finally sitting at my desk, I had one thing on my mind.
 
Pizza.
 
Now, I knew INSTANTLY that was emotions talking and not my stomach. I was tired, drained, hungry, flustered, relieved and proud the day was a success. All emotions I know (thanks to whole30) trigger me to dip out on my food freedom & choose the easy way out. (Eating food you think has all the answers to your internal and emotional turmoil but really just makes it a billion times worse). 
 
I knew this gem was waiting in my mailbox for me today and it was just the fuel I needed to eat my compliant chicken salad (that is the bomb) and think through the whole scenario before hightailing it to Papa John’s.
I am still exploring my food freedom, what it means to BE and STAY confident with my relationship with food. It’s discipline, and desire to want to live healthily but it’s about being realistic. Pizza was so not going to lessen the amount of stress I felt. It was actually going to make me feel bloated and guilty. 

Not. Worth. It. 
If you need me, I am going to be nose deep in this book learning new tips and tricks on how to rock my food freedom forever… because, what happened today… is real life stuff! We are all going to have bad days and I know healthy food choices keep my bad days to a minimum. 
 
& on a side note, CONGRATS September Whole30ers. You did it!
 
Court
Journey to food freedom.

Journey to food freedom.

“I’ll do better tomorrow.”
This mentality or way of thinking is what got me into this mess in the first place.
This mess being, my unhealthy relationship with food.
Being a “foodie” for me is different than it is for most people. Food was my best friend and my worst enemy. There were times in my life where food was the last thing I thought about at night and the first thing I thought of in the morning. The kitchen was my safe haven and my biggest temptation.
Thankfully, conquering and successfully completing several Whole30’s has taught me more than I even thought possible, but it doesn’t mean I’m “cured.”
Just like my patients are not “cured” of their pain pill or heroin addiction, my relationship with food, like any other relationship, is something I am going to have to put effort into for the rest of my life.
I didn’t realize my thoughts had backtracked so much until I was talking to my sister in law this morning. Our conversation made me think back to my husband. I cooked dinner last night and left a plate for him in the microwave. He came home, took a shower, watched some TV, played on Facebook a little bit and finally ate dinner.
I don’t think I could have done that. Would I have been able to focus on anything knowing there was a plate of food with my name on it in the microwave?
That was a shocking realization for me and a definite wake- up call that I have become complacent. The thing is, I’ve seen the warning signs and have ignored them.
 
In the past couple of week I’ve found myself:
  • To be restless at night
  • Irritable during the day
  • Bloated
  • Sticky complexion
  • Zits that have appeared on my face
  • Even worse PMS Cramp
Now, most of these things I’ve listen were non-scale victories I had after my first Whole60! I was sleeping better and had energy and positive spirits during the day. I was NOT bloated, had a much better complexion and less painful cycles!
Which tells me one thing… the way I’ve been feeling is due to how I’ve been eating. Or, how I have NOT been eating.
It’s really easy to get off track and thankfully, even easier to get back on track when you start to re-implement whole 30 principles meaning, your habits and your RELATIONSHIP with the food, not just the food or how it is prepared.  
I was watching Melissa Hartwig’s live video on Whole30’s Facebook page where she talks about the Whole30 Concept of “Sex With Your Pants On” (20 ish minutes of inspirational, humorous tough love that’s worth your while- promise).
During this video she said something that resonated with me (also, no matter how many Whole30’s I complete I still find there are always things to learn and revisit or to improve on. Remember, I don’t consider myself “cured.”). So, she was discussing the re-creation of certain foods that might influence the out of control relationship that you have with this certain, delicious dessert or pancake, and all re-creating it does is allow you to abuse it even though it’s a little healthier. It’s not quite the same but still good… cue SWYPO.
That’s not the point. Just because cashews are whole30 compliant doesn’t mean you need to eat the entire bag. Just because you can make a Whole30 compliant brownie doesn’t mean you should…
I find myself (lately) eating to satisfy an emotional or mental craving not a physical one. That my friends is a major issue that can lead to health problems and obesity. Learning the difference between the two is crucial— at least for me. I am longing to be able to enjoy my food freedom and I do think I’m headed in that direction, I just may not be there yet.
So no more of this “I’ll do better tomorrow” nonsense…
I don’t know about you but I DO NOT want to spend another day with low self-esteem, feelings of restlessness or bloating OR have a sticky, zit crazed face.
I want to feel good about myself and even though sometimes I forget, and I make mistakes it always comes back to one basic thing. When I eat well… I feel well.  It can’t be a coincidence every single time.
“You are what you eat” may not be the best analogy but I definitely think I suffer the consequences of what I eat when I am not in control but.. when I am in control I reap the benefits of all the nutrient dense foods I consume.
If you’re doing the September Whole30, PERSEVERE! It is going to be so worth it.
Or, if you feel like food controls your life and consumes your thoughts more than it probably should… contact me for more information about Whole30.
If you’ve done a whole30 before and you feel like you’ve lost your way… It’s okay. Reassess where you are, be proactive and implement those skills you learned before. That’s the beauty of Whole30. It never left. That lifestyle is right there waiting for you to take control of the reigns again.
 
Let the journey to food freedom continue <3

 

Peace, Love & Whole30.

Peace, Love & Whole30.

Today’s blog has been a work in progress in my mind since June 11th. The day that I found out that my favorite former ‘Voice’ contestant Christina Grimmie had been shot and killed after her concert in Orlando, FL. Just to find out that in that same week a terrorist attack would hit a night club in the same city.

Following many more shootings, deaths, violence and acts of hate on our country, in our country and others, including Nice, France.

Initially my thoughts were consumed with me. With my upcoming back surgery. With the pain and numbness that the degeneration in my disks created for me each day. Night after night watching the headlines scroll across the screen quickly transferred that pain and numbness to a different area. My heart was broken for these lives being taken; Black lives,  White lives, French lives, Law Enforcement lives, Gay lives, Turkish lives and the life of a youtube sensation and rising star with the voice of an angel.

Life is short. 

All of the breaking news segments definitely changed my perspective on my, then, upcoming surgery. I was excited, nervous, and felt guilty for how much it was going to cost. Life is short, look at all the hate in the world…is having this surgery even worth it?

Yes.

My husband looked at me in my tear filled eyes and said, “I want your quality of life to be better and this surgery is going to give that to you.”

So it was scheduled. June 23, 2016, and it went as smoothly as it possibly could have.

I have been out of commission for the past 26 days which has resulted in a lot of time to think and, well, over-think.

Due to all the hate pouring through all social media outlets and television it was hard to stay positive.

I remember prior to my surgery everyone telling me that this was an “old persons” surgery and that I was way too young to be having it.

Well, that’s true but it didn’t change the fact that I still had serious medical issues that could result in far more damage if action was not taken.

I remember prior to my surgery everyone telling me that I should eat whatever I wanted to because of the “delicious” liquid diet I’d be forced to comply with for several days post surgery.

I remember prior to my surgery everyone telling me that I should get used to the ceiling because walking was going to be difficult, painful and uncomfortable.

Notice anything? They’re all negative.

Did I only have people that care about me tell me negative stuff? NO. But, it’s all that I remember because unfortunately that’s how our minds are geared. So, I had to tell myself OVER and OVER again that I was worthy of this surgery. I had to turn the negative into the positive and FOCUS so heavily on the optimism and encouragement that I did have from so many people.

This is an “old persons” surgery and unfortunately I was dealt a crappy hand of joints in my genes, but that’s okay, and there’s nothing I can do to change it!

I am young, but I am able to have this surgery because of the strength that I’ve gained since beginning my Whole30 journey in January of this year. My core was strong, my body was well-nourished. I finally found a surgeon that was willing to do whatever it took to RESOLVE the issue and not just put a bandaid on it because I was finally STRONG enough to handle it and HEALTHY enough to handle it.

I had the energy and the drive to start physical therapy as soon as I was cleared to do so and work so hard that I am (hopefully) going back to work after just 4 weeks post op!

Thanks to W30 and the lessons I’ve learned throughout this journey my actions have resulted in SUCH a better quality of life ALL the way around.

In the midst of all the hate and negativity in the world (which I am in no way comparing a spinal fusion to hate crimes and terrorism) but it is up to me to find happiness in my day to day life.

Life IS short. So does that mean, throw in the towel to the hate in the world?

No.

Life IS short. So does that mean, eat whatever you want and throw in the towel to your diet; to your health?

NO.

Since life is short, lets put down the excuses and look at how much the world does have to offer if you simply work for it. But, you have to want it.

Let’s shift the perspective. The old me would have said, life is short so lets eat Reese’s Cups, pizza and fried chicken every day and binge watch all things good on Netflix, never exercising!

The new me said, clean food makes you happy. Exercising makes you happy. Netflix makes you happy and dark chocolate makes you happy. Find the balance, people.

For me, W30 goes far beyond the food that I eat. It taught me more about myself and has challenged the way that I look at things simply because of the non-scale victory of being happy, of feeling good and most of all, feeling that life is too short NOT to care about yourself and your health.

You may not can change anything you see on the news or know the recipe for world peace, but you do have control and the ability to change your own life.

I promise, it starts with food.

Working hard in therapy with my I am Whole30 shirt for inspiration!
Sweet husband by my side!
Comparisons, judging & then some

Comparisons, judging & then some

Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out I get a hypothetical punch in the gut  (aka, reality check) that {thankfully} kicks me off the pity party train I’m prone to jumping on. Comparison truly is the thief of joy and that’s what I’m experiencing lately. 


I find myself getting frustrated that on the conclusion of my 3rd #whole30 I’m not seeing the physical results that I want…that I desire. But desire for who? Do I truly want to shed the pounds for me? OR is it to look like the beautifully bronzed goddesses of Instagram with their sculpted abs, gorgeous hair, teeny bikini with the good kind of junk in the trunk that everybody swoons over?

 The crappy thing about comparisons are that most of time they are totally useless. Through my fading self-esteem, I can sit back and mope over the bronzed goddess thinking, wishing, that somehow I would channel her inner beauty & wake up with less jiggle and more confidence with a skin tone that magically makes my face look just as flawless as the Valencia Instagram filter does but no matter how hard I try.. 

It’s still my same ole face. My same ole beautiful face. That thanks to the whole 30 is clear, with a glow and less puffy. THAT face that I’ve lost sight of because of my hormonal mind getting the best of me. Yes, I’m getting in my own way. 
Comparisons either make us feel “superior” if we are putting others down or just not good enough if we are constantly trying to be something we’re not. Either way nothing positive comes from this unrealistic train of thought.
 I think in the world we live in its pretty easy to default our thinking to the negative. We have to make a conscious effort to build ourselves up, so today, as I saw my self-confidence plummeting, I decided to take a walk. Get my endorphins pumping, feel the sun on my skin and just have me time. 
As soon as my feet hit the ground  and the music started playing I started remembering the days I wouldn’t have even set foot outside my front door with a tank top shorts on. 90 degrees or not. { give that #nsv a high five) & before I knew it, 30 minutes had past and I felt better. 

Remember ladies and gents. We are human. Unfortunately it’s in our nature to wonder all about the if and when’s and woulda, shoulda coulda’s of the world. 
But the ONLY thing you can change in this crazy thing called life is YOU.
Comparing myself to these models is leading me no where fast. So, my personal goal for the beginning of bathing suit season is…


No more comparing myself to all the things I’m “not” & instead, remembering and APPRECIATING all the things that I am. 
I am Courtney, I am a work in progress, I am married to my dream guy with a kick ass support system and my non-scale victory cup runneth over and well, #iamwhole30. 

So here’s to continuing to learn
who you are and where you want to be. I’m not there yet but I’m well on my way. For me, it starts with food. For you it may be different but keep your head held high beautiful. 
We will get there together. 
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.

 

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. 

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.

Oh,

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”
Wrong.

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 🙂

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,

Court