Whole30 Update 6: The End Is Near…Or Is It?

Well, that’s that. My first Whole30 is technically in the books. Why technically?

Because as I’ve been trying to figure out how to navigate the recommended reintroduction phase, I’ve become more and more apprehensive about going back to old habits–habits or foods, really, that I know were not conducive to my health and, (at this point) more importantly, my weight loss.

I have had some huge Whole30 milestones. For example, in the past 30 days: 

  • I’ve lost 23 pounds. Day 1 I weighed 335, this morning I clocked in at 312.
  • The inches have been melting off and I’m seeing new muscle definition (I’m kicking myself for not taking measurements on Day 1!)
  • I usually have crazy high energy
  • Workouts are much stronger
  • My mood feels much more stable
  • My skin is clearing up (for the most part)
  • Best of all, I don’t feel the urge to binge. Like, at all. I had a frustrating day at work on Monday and it didn’t even occur to me that I should soothe my soul with a stop at the drive-through. My brain instinctively knew it needed to workout.

So, why would I give all that up now just to enjoy a few bites of non-compliant food? 

I did decide that I would follow a revised reintroduction plan, testing a handful of foods that I “miss” or that would make life more convenient/delicious. I posted about this a bit in a previous update, but here’s my official test list:
IMG_20140318_201406The way reintroduction works is you pick one of the four groupings (for me they are sugar, dairy, gluten-free grains, and legumes), and test each for a day, eating something from that group with each meal. Then you go back to strict Whole30 for two days to see how it affects you. I’m going to be testing each group, but if I don’t notice any odd reactions, I may only wait a day or not at all before testing the next group. I’m also not even entertaining the idea of bringing gluten back. That’s gone for good.

Day 31, today, I’m testing sugar and artificial sugars. My new version of junk food. I had sugar-free creamer in my coffee this morning, sugar-free syrup on my two-ingredient pancake (two eggs, a mashed banana, SO delicious!), and I’ll be eating sugar-free balsamic vinaigrette on my salad at lunch and turkey bacon with supper.
IMG_20140318_201309I tried the creamer in my coffee this morning–the recommended serving size of 1 tablespoon…and had to dump it out after maybe half a cup. It was so incredibly and artificially sweet. The taste is still in my mouth now, a few hours after the fact. Yuck. So, no, coffee creamer will not be going back in my diet.
IMG_20140319_102211The syrup on my pancake was also sweeter than I expected, so I think I’m going to ditch the fake stuff and “invest” in some genuine maple syrup. And I’m expecting similar results from the two remaining foods. I don’t know if any of these items will be going back into regular rotation. In fact, at this point, I highly doubt they will. Sugar is in everything, but I’m going to do my damnedest to avoid it.

Tomorrow or Friday I will be testing dairy: goat cheese and Greek yogurt, maybe some froyo. Probably not, but maybe. But again, if it doesn’t work for me, it won’t be coming back. I’m not about to sacrifice this progress, not when I’m seeing such amazing outcomes.

Everything finally feels like it’s clicking again. I feel in control, I feel strong. I feel like I’m once again Manda Kay, making it. 

Whole30 Update 4: Halfway Point

As of today, I am officially at the halfway point of my first Whole30 journey…and I can’t wait to wrap up the second half. I am so over this. Don’t get me wrong: other than feeling so incredibly bloated today (thanks to a lovely combo of my lady friend and the astoundingly accurate Whole30 timeline), I am still loving the results I’m seeing and feeling. I feel in control of my eating and my cravings, and that’s (obviously) not something I’m usually good at. But I’ve grown tired of having to be so careful and restrictive. No worries–it’s only two more weeks. I can do this.

How do I know? Well, let me tell you a little story from this past weekend. On Saturday, where I danced soberly for the first time in my adult life (Change! Positive body image!), I went to a wedding where the following was placed in front of my face:
IMG_20140301_180716Now, I had come to the wedding prepared: I ate beforehand, brought a healthy snack for during the meal, and even, sadly, ate the salad sans dressing. I guzzled water all afternoon and for the rest of the night. But when this, and the subsequent cupcake, was placed in front of me on the table, I nearly lost it. I got anxious. My foot started tapping and I felt like I couldn’t sit still. I watched intently as my tablemates cut into the chicken and buttered their warm dinner rolls.

It was rough–rougher than rough–but I got through it. I also got through the following day with the temptation of my grandma’s cooking and the sinful breakfast my family devoured in front of me (how dare they!), and then I came home and meal prepped for the week.
20140302_16311220140302_16473220140302_163104Yes, I’m sick of restricting myself so intensely, but…I’m not finding it exceptionally difficult. That intense craving has finally passed. I’m not really craving the foods I “can’t” have…well, except peanut butter. I’d give up my first born for a tablespoon of peanut butter right now. But I digress. I’m feeling in control. I may have had a very vivid dream about binging on Friday night, but the fact of the matter is that I’m 15 days binge free. Huge.

I’m looking forward to seeing what battles and challenges the next 15 days help me overcome.

In little moments, day by day, change is possible. Strength is possible.

Wrecking Ball

Throughout my high school and college years, and really, up until I began this transformation, I was the queen of making excuses. Excuses about any and everything, but in particular, I excelled at making excuses to avoid uncomfortable social situations. I was afraid. Of what? I’m not sure I fully understand, honestly. That I’d be noticed? That I’d be ridiculed? That someone else’s words and actions or my own self-consciousness would force me to expose the me I worked so diligently to avoid?

The summer before my senior year of high school, I volunteered to be a freshmen mentor. It meant wearing a dorky t-shirt that read something silly like, “Ask me!” and required me to attend an orientation pizza party with all my fellow college application padding senior cohorts. Now, these were people I saw every day. I had grown up with these people. Most of these kids were my friends and I generally got along with all of them.

So why then, on the night of this lame and unnecessary shindig, did I proceed to slip on my t-shirt, get in my car, and drive halfway to the school before turning right around and going home? When asked of my whereabouts the next day, I claimed sick (as I so often did during those days).

In college, my excuses, and my general disposition, grew bitchier. Meaner. I wouldn’t go out with my friends to the bar because, “so-and-so’s crush would be there and if I have to watch them make-out one more time I’m going to vomit.” My friends would constantly attempt to appease me by switching plans, choosing a different venue, letting me decide what we should do…and I complained and begged off the entire time. I pissed a lot of people off. I spent a lot of nights alone watching TV and getting fatter. I lost epic friendships.

Post-university experience, I just kept on rolling. Destroying everything in my path, withdrawing more and more, until I ended up basically completely alone.

Case in point: after I’d backed out of her birthday party two years in a row (one that would involve strangers and boys! Gasp!), my oldest and closest friend called me while I was shopping at Target. She was rightfully angry: her dear friend hadn’t shown up for her in one of the most basic and celebratory ways a girl can. I’d be pissed, too! I listened to her yelling at me, terrified, trying to explain (falsely) why I wasn’t there. She hung up on me. I stood in the throw pillow aisle, crying. We haven’t been more than acquaintances since.

People mistook my excuses as me not wanting to spend time with them, me being difficult and judgmental, me being pathetic and infuriating. But in reality? I just didn’t want to see my peers succeeding where I was failing miserably. I didn’t want to get sloppy drunk and make mean comments about others (as I was wont to do), while they took ladylike sips of their cocktails and flirted with every cute boy in the room. I didn’t want to attempt to squeeze through the throngs of college co-eds, trying to maneuver my extra-large body around the space without bumping anyone and spilling their drink.

I didn’t want to go unnoticed. But I certainly didn’t want to be noticed, either.

I didn’t want actual proof that my life was ever-so-slowly starting to fall apart, lose control, pass me by.

Lately I’ve been feeling an urge to rectify the situation. To apologize to the people I’ve hurt most. It feels like some sort-of twelve step program idea, but I just want to explain to these people that I’m sorry for being a huge pain in the butt and I’m sorry that things have ended like this. I know it most likely won’t effect their lives, but it feels like necessary closure for me.

Whether or not I do ever apologize for my old ways, this painful analysis has also taught me that love is always the answer. Love and kindness. Towards yourself, towards others, in any and all situations. It’s something I try to live each and every day. Positivity and love. Because while you can’t go back and fix hurt feelings, lost relationships, or missed experiences, you can learn from the negative and use it to influence the light in your present and future.

Big Bully

I’ve been debating whether or not to write this post for awhile now, and while I’m still not entirely sure I want to/should push publish, I have to just say my peace and be done with it…

There’s a person I know who has a nasty cyber bullying habit of poking fun at people who are different than they are. This person’s favorite targets are frequently, but not always, overweight women (in addition to homosexuals, people of color, women in general, nonathletic men, etc). I know they are not the only, nor the first person to do so, and that their pathetic insults are symptomatic of a much, much larger cultural problem, but…enough is enough.
4efcf949530ddf844ecb86d42c71997fIf I’ve learned anything over the past two years, it’s that no one is allowed to criticize me for simply being me. I am 100% allowed to look, think, feel, speak, and do as I please (within the realm of law and reason, of course). If I want to take a few dozen selfies of myself and post them to my Instagram, I can do that. You don’t like it? Don’t look. I can wear yoga pants in public even if I don’t have a thigh gap or if they aren’t a size small. You don’t like it? Don’t look.

You are always allowed to be exactly who you are. Always.

I could sit here and go on about how our personal confidence is what matters, that our differentness should be celebrated and not judged, and preach love for ourselves and others (ahem), but instead, I want to ask a seemingly simple question:


Why do you do what you do? What do you gain by tearing someone else down? And if who I am, what I stand for, or what I look like bothers you that much, then why bring attention to it passive-aggressively on a public platform via social media and not say it to my face? Who are you to make any one person feel less than? My dear Bully, you are not perfect—not in any sense of the word. You’ve screwed up, made mistakes and bad choices. But that’s okay. We all have. We’re all flawed. So, really, not one of us has any right to point out another’s misstep.

Finally, I have a request for this person and all other bullies out there: if you’re going to make fun of me at least be clever about it. Recycling the same fat jokes over and over doesn’t just make you mean. It makes you lazy, boring, unintelligent, and mean.

But forgive me, I’m not here to judge…and neither are you.

Well, This Is Weird

Something weird is happening, you guys…

In between all the craziness of this season, all compounded by the fact that I’m in the process of moving, I’ve been reflecting on 2013 and starting to focus my energy on 2014. I’ve mentioned it throughout the year that, while the weight loss things hasn’t so much been happening, in 2013 my mental shift has been astounding. And never has that been more evident than over the past few days.

Everyone knows that when the holidays pop up each year, all single people are simultaneously supposed to fall into a deep, dark depression because they are so sad and lonely and all coupled people are so nauseatingly in love and complete. That’s how I’ve always felt, anyway. Christmas has always been a bittersweet affair: I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to spend so much fun, quality time with my amazing family. But then Love Actually comes on TV and I feel oh so alone and hopeless. I’ll never have love like that, I think. I’ll always be alone.

Somehow, this year, things are different. I feel hopeful. I feel like 2014 is going to be a monumental, life-changing, best ever kind of year. Maybe it’s the whole new calendar year thing, maybe it’s because I’ve seen myself change so dramatically on this journey, so I know all hope is not lost. Or maybe, nearing 30, I’m finally moving out of my arrested development and growing up. Whatever it is, I like it.

Two of my team members received promotions at work this week. Normally this would send me into a tailspin of binging, sleeping, and more binging. But this time, I felt sorry for myself for about two minutes and then I went along with my day. I told myself this is purely motivation to keep kicking ass at my job–I am doing a good job, I’ve been told so repeatedly. It’s just not my time right now. And that’s okay. 

Yesterday, an old friend announced she was pregnant. And then my cousin announced her engagement. Again, old Manda Kay would tailspin. Like, big time. I’m deeply embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve never really felt happy for anyone else’s success. I’ve always operated from a place of jealousy–why not me? But yesterday I was genuinely excited for another human being. It’s a very odd feeling, but a good one.

I spent this morning talking with my beautiful, newly engaged cousin, and I realized that I am truly, honestly, so excited for her and her new fiance. I can’t stop smiling about it even as I write this. For the first time in my entire life, really, I don’t feel jealous of someone else’s success because I believe deep down that I will find the same thing some day. I just feel happy.

You get what you give. You can’t feed the Universe jealousy and anger day after day and expect love and happiness in return. Love begets love. 

More than ever, I am so looking forward to the new year, to seeing what the Universe has in store for me and what I can help create, to continue building this crazy beautiful life. My time is coming, this I know.

So Good

I’m frightened to admit this. I don’t want to jinx anything or be a Negative Nancy. But…

Life is really good right now.

I seem to be striking a rare balance in all aspects of my life—career, personal, wellness, financial, etc—and that rarely, if ever, happens. I just eel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, as history as shown always happens whenever I’m feeling this great. But for now, let’s focus on the positive in the hopes that putting good energy out will bring good energy back in. Shall we?

Home: Next month, I’ll be moving to a new home. I’m staying in my same city and literally moving about 500 feet from my current place, but I’m moving nonetheless! I’m picking out paint colors, brainstorming design ideas, and purging my useless stuff. My last day in my current place is December 31–which, if you think about it, is a neat sort of coincidence: starting a brand new year in a brand new home, closing the door on this five-year long chapter of my life that was full of destructive, unhealthy behavior…this move is going to be so, so good.

Work: My job is going super well—a huge accomplishment for me. While I still loathe the idea of actually having a 9 to 5 (I just want to be a stay at home mom, shop, cook, clean, and workout…or be Ina Garten), I love what I’m doing right now: I get to write, be creative, spend time thinking and planning, maintain a flexible schedule, and, best of all, once I leave work, it’s done. I don’t carry any of it home with me, physically or emotionally. It’s a beautiful existence.

Health: I’m fully recovered from my late summer slide. Mentally, I feel strong. Physically, I’m getting there. I’m back into my group classes at the gym, and in an effort to run more, I’ve started running a mile or so before each class as a warm-up. Not only does it help me get loose and ready for class, but, hey, guess what? Running is getting easier! I’m also back into my yoga practice, which makes my soul super happy. I’m going twice a week and looking at visiting a new studio for even more goodness.

Social: My social calendar is packed through the end of the year with tons of fun stuff (Weddings! Family time! Concerts! Holiday parties!), so basically, you guys, I’m firing on all cylinders. And it feels amazing. And I don’t want it to end. I’m just going to continue working hard, expressing gratitude to the Universe and any other forces at work in my life right now, and smiling.

Always smiling. Lots of smiles 🙂

A Bunch of Big Losers

Lately I’ve become a big fan of silver linings. Trying to find the good to cling to in any bad situation is so, so important–you have to remain positive no matter what is thrown at you. You just have to. Look for lessons in the negative, appreciate the sun shining on your face when saying goodbye to a loved one, savor the motion of putting one foot literally in front of the other when running a 5K. Seek out what you can gain when you lose.
As I mentioned earlier, some of my family members and I traveled over to Wisconsin this weekend to run the Biggest Loser Run Walk. My aunts, my mom, and a couple of my cousins and I met up for a little fun on Saturday before the race on Sunday. We popped over for packet pick-up…and we are nothing if not classy ladylike ladies while out in public…20131020_10501420131019_14510820131019_150209While there, we also got the chance to meet a few of the Biggest Loser alums. I don’t really know much about them, but one of them called me beautiful. And that’s always nice to hear 🙂
2013-10-19_14.59.31Naturally, the next stop on our whirlwind Wisconsin tour was the mall. There, we proceeded to continue our ladylike ladies streak by indulging in much needed massages. Well, kind of…
20131019_17551720131019_175246Chair massages for everyone!

After a scrumptious steak dinner, we said goodbye to my mom (who, sadly, couldn’t join us for the race) and headed back to the hotel for a few more laughs before turning in early. Seriously, I so enjoy spending time with these girls. It’s been pretty amazing to see how close we’ve all become since my grandpa passed away earlier this fall.

Race day dawned with gray skies, freezing cold temps (literally), and an on and off drizzle. Brrr…We had a half-mile uphill hike to the starting line and then, solely to stay warm (haha) we proceeded to have a dance party (amidst the crowd of almost 4,000!) while waiting for our chance to run. Like you do.

20131020_083621And then run we did! As always, I was neurotic and anxious. I’ve thrown up after my two previous races, I haven’t been running consistently, I was running the race in mostly new shoes, I haven’t done a cold weather run in awhile…on and on. You know, my typical neuroses. Oh, and side note: I really have to work on stopping that negative self- talk, too. I’m not sure why that’s started up again, but enough is enough.
IMG_1625I felt okay during my run. I was all stuffed-up-runny-nose-coughing-up-a-lung throughout, and my hips were sore, but overall I felt okay. Then the hills started. Nothing too outrageous, though, at least not until we reached the last half-mile or so. We had to run up the hill we’d walked up on our way to the starting line. It was rough, I tell you!
IMG_1626But as I rounded the last little bit and saw my aunt cheering me on–I smiled. And when I saw my cousins yelling at me to get going–I smiled. And then I finally crossed the damn finish line and saw my other aunt–and I smiled even bigger and teared up a bit. I finished, I didn’t throw up and I PR’ed. So proud.

By the way–this is amazing–I initially thought I had cut 30 seconds from my time, but I just checked Sunday’s official results against the results from the WRTC run last month, and I actually cut one minute twenty seconds. YOU GUYS! I’m blown away by that! My cousins and aunts also did amazing, all of them placing in the top 10 of their age groups. So, basically Team Manda Kay rocked it big time 🙂
This weekend felt like exactly what I needed to get my lazy, mopey butt back on track. I feel rejuvenated and re-motivated. Focused.

In life, when you lose–weight, your loved ones, emotional baggage–look for the upside and realize how much you gain.

Another Day, Another 5K

I’ve been putting off the writing of this post for way too long. Why? Well, I haven’t felt like writing. At all. And I never want this blog to feel forced–this precious little piece of the Interwebs is only meant for me. And you. But mostly for me. I want this space to be nothing but pure honesty for both you and me. Ok?

That’s why it’s been so difficult to write this post about another 5K that I’m going into half-assedly. I’ll spare you all the whiny over-analyzing (I’ve been doing plenty of that over on the Twitter and the Insta, and I’m sorry) and just tell you this:

  1. I don’t want to run this race. Not one bit.
  2. I’m so tired of wasting money and energy on these races that I still can’t complete properly.
  3. Along with this (warranted) awful funk I’ve been in lately, numbers 1 and 2 above have me all jumbled up in the head, completely de-motivating me and turning me into a ball of mush that wants to do nothing but cozy up in bed.

But come Sunday morning, despite the potential wintery mix and freezing temperatures we’re expected to receive, I’ll be in Wisconsin participating in the Biggest Loser Run/Walk! Like with any other race, I’m nervous. We all know I’ve not been progressing my attempt to force this 300+ lb. body to run. But given that it’s a Biggest Loser race, I know I won’t be the slowest, most out of shape person there (something I’m selfishly always terrified of), and I’m betting that the atmosphere will be pretty darn inspiring and motivating. I’m kinda looking forward to the race just for that.

Plus, two of my aunts and cousins are actually going to make the trek over there with me and do the race, too, and Mama Ruthie’s going to make an appearance at some point. Pretty awesome, right?

And that’s what I’m clinging to right now: I have the support of so many amazing people. I can’t let them down. I can’t let me down. And I have no intention of doing other. But it’s time to get my ish back together, suck it up, and start making everyone (myself included) proud once again. And that starts with this race, with every step I take.

See y’all on the other side! Looking forward to sharing the race experience with you…and really looking forward to things getting back to normal around these parts very, very soon!

Full disclosure: The fine folks of the Biggest Loser Run/Walk provided me with a free entry into the Eau Claire race this weekend, in exchange for posting about my experience.

Push Through

Happy Monday, friends! I posted something over on Instagram today that I wanted to share with you all. When we experience especially rough patches in life, it’s easy to give in, give up, and forget your ‘why’–why am I on this journey? Why am I trying to lose weight and live a healthy life? Why do I wake up every morning? But as I’ve been reminded over and over (and over and over) lately, you only truly fail in life when you stop trying. The struggle is, ultimately, part of your success.

Remember your ‘why’. Smile through the struggle. Keep your head up and your heart strong. You got this. We got this.