We Did It!

We Did It!

We’ve just completed our first Whole 30! If you’re not sure what that is, it’s basically giving up grains, dairy and legumes for 30 days straight, no excuses. You can read more about our experience here.


We feel great! Much more energy. Happily off sugar. CA’s caffeine addiction is no more. Vegetable and fruit consumption is way up. Chemical consumption is way down. CA has a new addiction to Brussels Spouts. James has a new found love of cashews. Fried plantains are the new donuts. We’re spending more time together. We’re eating great food. We’re doing great!

Now for the part you’ve all been waiting for.

Did I lose weight?

17 pounds!!!!

In addition to weight lost, I lost about 17 combined inches from around my body. Plus I have tons of energy, no cravings, and I haven’t counted a single calorie!


We love the way we feel, so we’re continuing on the path of deliciously good food. We may attempt to allow occasional dark chocolate and gasp dairy. But we’re going to pay close attention to what these things do to our stomach, and if they cause us gut pain, we’re taking note. Dairy, grains, legumes and added sugars do NOT sit well with my body, and I feel much much MUCH better without them.

Besides, I want to be my best self. I’m worth it.

Why I’m Doing the Whole 30

Why I’m Doing the Whole 30

As someone who has struggled with weight loss since elementary school, food is such a sensitive issue. I hate counting calories. I hate exercising on machines. I’m sure I have real psychological wounds from 20+ years of worrying about what I eat. That being said…

Last summer I tried eating Paleo for a while, and I loved it. Experimenting with new ingredients, making almond flour baked goods and trying new veggies was fun! I felt wonderful and full of energy. It was a lifestyle change that I could truly embrace. As a bonus, I lost 9 pounds in the first couple of weeks, and the weight stayed off- that is, until I came home from vacation and unintentionally went back to dairy and grains over the holidays (Oh, December, the best of times and the worst).

On January 1, James and I started the Whole 30. Basically, it’s a very strict Paleo program (no grains, no dairy, no legumes- AND no Paleo desserts) where you eat lots of fresh veggies and fruit, good quality proteins and no sugar for 30 days straight, no excuses.

Today is Day 16, and I feel great. The best part of this program has been that James is doing it with me. Having my husband by my side is HUGE! There is no way I could do this without him. He feels great too, and says he would like to continue eating this way, long-term. We love clean food!

The hardest part about this program has been the social engagements. Having to ask my mother-in-law and now my sister-in-law to please excuse us while we eat our own food we bring to their house is kind of uncomfortable. I feel rude and awkward and weird. This is the one part of this program I will not sustain after day 30. Starting in February, I will allow myself to be a nice house-guest again.

What do I plan to sustain after day 30? Everything else. Here’s how:

1. I WILL REMEMBER how much energy I have when I eat Paleo.

2. I WILL REMEMBER how rewarding it feels to know you are making healthy choices.

3. I WILL REMEMBER that a “healthy” American diet doesn’t work for me, and that the sugars in dairy and whole grain foods make me crave more food and make my body feel weighed down.

4. I WILL REMEMBER that even if I do not lose weight, the “happy healthy energy” feeling of Paleo/Whole30 is a reward in itself, and that my body deserves to feel this way. And my soul deserves to know that I am eating as healthily as possible.

And finally,

5. I WILL REMEMBER that if I lose my way, there will always be the Whole 30 to get me back on track.



Dealing with Life’s Cravings

Dealing with Life’s Cravings

I remember my mother telling me when I was little that you had to love yourself first before you could love anyone else. After reading some beautiful posts by writer Sage Cohen, I started thinking about this again. Loving yourself. It goes hand in hand with knowing yourself, doesn’t it?

Sometimes I forget who I am. I forget that I learn quickly and hate it when people talk loudly in the morning. I forget that I forget to go to bed. I forget that I love reading about history and looking at art. Sometimes, when I’ve been insanely stressed for weeks at a time, it’s because I have forgotten to remember what I like.

In yesterday’s meeting with my health coach, we were talking about cravings. Sometimes, when you’re craving food, it’s a manifestation of craving for one of life’s primary foods: a stimulating job, a fulfilling relationship, a balanced spiritual and physical exercise habit. I know that for me, as I sit here dreaming of carbs at my office in the auto body shop, there are several things lacking. For one, like many under-30’s today, I have yet to find a satisfying job. More importantly, I am still in a transition period where I’m waiting to create a new home.

I’m so excited to be getting married and starting a home with James. I want a place that’s safe, a place I can fill with my books and my singing, a place where I can write. I know myself enough to know I need a home. Maybe once I finally have a sweet, loving place to live, I’ll be able to grow in other ways, too.

How I’m Getting My Life on Track

I am a list-writing fanatic. A compulsive lister. Whenever I feel stressed out, I find myself frantically making lists. To-do lists, goal lists, lists of things that make me happy, lists of things not to eat, lists of future lists to make… it goes on. Last night, I finally figured out why.

Last night, my mom and I dinner with our cousin, who happens to be a health coach. We’re going to start a 6-month program to get ourselves healthy. The great thing about this program is that it’s not just about dieting. It’s about taking your whole life into perspective and realizing what you need to do to be healthy mentally and physically.

During this meeting, I figured out why I gained 15 pounds in the last year. Prior to Nov 2010, I was a freelance SEO writer, I worked out daily (often at the local park) and I cooked a LOT (usually healthy food) to relieve stress. Now, I have a sedentary job that I don’t love, I don’t have a home to go back to, and if I want privacy with James or with my mother I have to go out to dinner. I no longer have a private kitchen to cook in so now when I get stressed, I give into cravings. WOW. What a life style change! With all the stress making me feel hopeless, making lists is my frantic grasp at taking control. I try to organize my life on paper since it’s so disorganized in reality.

So what now?

I’m really excited to have a health coach for 6 months. I’m looking at this as having someone to help me stay on track with exercising, choosing healthy stress-relief outlets, and learn some new, better ways of eating.

The minute I got home, I made a list (no surprise) of healthy stress-relievers: exercise, prayer, writing, blogging, organizing my room, and making lists. I’m so excited to start this new program. 6 months from now, I’ll be interested to see the final results!

How to lose 10 pounds permanently

A little update on my New Year’s Resolution… it’s working! Not super fast, but that’s fine. Everyone says that when it comes to losing weight, slower is better because it’s more permanent. I mean just look at the past winners of The Biggest Loser. People who lose weight quickly almost always gain it back. I even lost 20 pounds once in a month, and then (once I couldn’t keep up with running every single day) it came back.

This time it’s different. I’m using Lose It!, and iPhone application that allows me to keep track of my daily caloric intake. It’s slow going, but it’s been easy. I haven’t felt like I’m sacrificing. And today at my “weigh-in”, I found I lost 10 pounds!

I even “cheated” a little… which is probably why this weight loss is going much slower than planned. But still, the fact is that it’s working. I’m so excited!

How to do this without an iPhone or iPod Touch:

I don’t work for Apple, so I can tell you that honestly, you can make this work without buying an iPhone and downloading Lose It!.  Basically, keep track of your daily caloric intake and your exercise, and figure out a daily calorie goal that’s low enough to lose weight and high enough that you’re getting the food you need. (It’s pretty simple, just keep a journal.) Also, there are “filler” foods (like lettuce and other green vegetables) that you can eat a lot of without destroying your goal. This is what I used to do, before I had and iPod Touch. Now, Lose It! just makes it simple for me.

Losing 25 Pounds before May

My mother always told me that there were three parts to a person: a mental part, a spiritual part, and a physical part. In order to be truly happy, you had to take care of all three. My problem, she told me once, was that I had taken great pains to build up my mental and spirital parts, but had neglected the physical. No more Mom, no more. 2010 is the year I finally strike a balance. This is my New Year’s Resolution. There will be more about the “spiritual” and “mental” parts later, but today, I’ll tell you about the “physical” part of this.

Here I am, January 5th, and despite my best efforts not to gain weight over christmas, new years, and a fabulous vacation in Colonial Williamsburg… my clothes are tight.

Yesterday, when I stepped into Borders, I was ambushed by hundreds of diet books. I wasn’t actually looking for any, as I’ve tried a bazillion weight loss methods over the course of my life (beginning in 4th grade), and have become completly jaded about the whole concept. However, I did see a book called The Mediterranean Diet, which caught my attention. Being raised in an Italian family full of people that struggle with weight management, I have my doubts about eating “mediterranean”.  As expected, the book preached the goodness of olive oil and wine, minimal amounts of butter and potatoes, you get the idea. Nothing we haven’t heard before.

However…. I was intrigued. My dad had mentioned something once about eating for your bloodtype, something about different genetic types requiring different types of food. Being mostly Italian, maybe eating more like my ancestors could be a good thing.

I haven’t bought the book (yet), but I have been newly inpired. I normally work out daily anyways, but now I’m going to try a slightly different way of eating. I’ve always been scared of strict weight loss methods, and lose interest long before progress is made. So I’ve decided, this time, I’m not going to be strict about it. I’m going to try being nonchalant about a few dietary changes (such as more salads and less bread), but I’m not going to go nuts like the time I nearly developed an eating disorder and lost 20 pounds in 4 weeks.  Today, for example, I had coffee for breakfast and a salad for lunch, but I alowed myself some bittersweet chocolate to go with it. Still way under my daily calorie goal, but feeling satisfied as well.

I’m going to keep a record of all of this on my iPod, and I’ll let you know what happens to me over the coming weeks. So far, mathematically speaking, I should lose 25 pounds by April 30.

My biggest problem is snacking. Keeping in mind that I really don’t really like apples and carrots, does anyone know of any good snack options that won’t kill my calorie goal?

Losing Weight Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

Time to celebrate! This morning I stepped on the scale, and a few more pounds have disappeared! For the first time in my life, I’m losing weight in an easy, natural, sustainable way.

It’s called eating heathly and exercising more.

I know what you’re thinking. No brainer, right? But I’ll tell you something: I’m one of those people who hate exercising. I cry at the thought of running. And I don’t like giving up my evening dessert either.

As someone who’s struggled my whole life with weight issues, I’ve tried all kinds of ways to look and feel better. I tried those fad diets like South Beach, where all I did was grieve over my missing carbs. In high school I tried weight loss bars and shakes, but the only thing that happened was I felt sick all the time.

When you try something like bars, shakes, or giving up an essential food group (like carbs), not only does your body miss out on essential nutrients, but also you get sick of eating the same things all the time. That was my problem. It’s hard to eat the exact same thing for lunch every day. Sooner or later you go back to your old ways–as well as your old weight.

Variety is essential if you want to be able to sustain your weight loss. I’ve been eating different foods every day. I’ve still been eating all of my favorites, like salami and provolone sandwiches, chicken and dumplings, stuffed shells, cheesesteak sandwiches, brownies, and ice cream. The trick is I define reasonable portions for myself–portions that keep me satisfied so I don’t snack between meals.

The other essential part of my plan is my morning workout. 6 days a week, I do 15 minutes on my elliptical followed by 18-30 crunches and 10 sit-ups. All of this happens while my country music is blaring. I think it’s the music that makes is bearable. But the great part is, it leaves me feeling good about myself all day long.

For the first time, losing weight doesn’t leave me feeling sad, deprived, and frustrated. Finally I’ve found a way to lose weight that’s letting me feel happy and good about myself. And the best part is–it’s working!

The #1 Killer of Self-Esteem

This morning I woke up, and, like most mornings, stepped on the digital scale in my bathroom. Ugh… who really enjoys that? Even if the number is lower than it was yesterday, it’s still not low enough. If the number is higher… let’s not go there. Luckily, this morning the scale had good news: yesterday’s exercise paid off. Encouraged by the loss of a few pounds, I decided to keep up the trend. I spent 10 boring minutes on my elliptical, followed by sit-ups. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s usually enough to keep the pounds melting, in my case.

In the afternoon, I went to the mall with my cousins Genna and JJ. This was more exercise, walking for miles though shiny halls full of goodies. We were looking for dresses, actually. Cousin Tony is getting married in September, and my friend Andrea’s wedding is in November. I’ve made up my mind to look absolutely stunning at both events.

I found a beautiful dress at Lord & Taylor. It looked perfect. My cousins agreed. We sent a picture to James, who also loved it. But, almost inevitably, it wouldn’t zip all the way. This is the problem with dress shopping. You find something perfect… but it doesn’t zip. And they didn’t have any bigger sizes.

I’m usually pretty happy with the way I look. I never think much about it. Leave it to dress shopping to bring out all of my insecurities. Really, why should I care about my weight? I think I’m beautiful (usually), and James is crazy about me. What more is there? The only reason I really care is for dress shopping. Shopping would be so much more fun if more clothes fit.

Leaving the mall empty handed, we went out to dinner. I decided I was going to get a salad. I couldn’t let all that walking go to waste. It was all going to be great. Enter Don Pablo. Mexican food is my biggest weakness. I ordered fajitas, thinking that chicken and veggies would be safe. Pile on three tortillas and guacamole. I was completely stuffed. I feel like my day is completely blown to pieces.

Maybe I’m exaggerating. It was a lot of food, but it wasn’t so bad for me. At least we didn’t have dessert. Regardless, I am completely terrified of my scale. I don’t want to see the number in the morning. I don’t want to see all my work gone to waste.

Maybe it won’t be so bad. Maybe I’ll be encouraged enough to continue with my work-out routine. The worst thing I could do is give up.

I really want that dress.