We Did It! Our Whole30 Experience

When my prized pair of skinny jeans absolutely wouldn’t zip… and I seriously couldn’t find one outfit apart from yoga pants that I felt comfortable in, I knew I had to make a change. Here’s the real truth though: I’m great at working out – I love taking new classes and going for runs. But when it came to eating, last year, I made some pretty awful choices… over and over again.

Now, I’m not beating myself up too much – but instead of just going on some diet, I wanted to do something that would really, truly make a difference in my life. I didn’t want to stay on a diet for the rest of my life, but I needed a lifestyle kick to put my habits back into check, changes my cravings and get my portion control back on track.

My lovely roommate, Christina, had a brilliant idea: let’s do Whole30 together!

Pre-Whole 30!

Pre-Whole 30!

For those of you who are unfamiliar – Whole30 cuts out refined/processed sugar, dairy, gluten, grains, legumes and booze. After the 30 days are complete, you gradually add back in those things to see how your body responds – that way you know what’s good for you and what’s not really compatible with your digestive system.

We’ve both learned so much and seen so many changes in how we feel and look. See some recipes, our inches and weight loss, before/after photos and advice:

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16 Reasons Your Mom is the Most Important Woman in Your Life

I'm thankful for getting to enjoy Paris with my mama.

I’m thankful for getting to enjoy Paris with my mama.

As a 26-year-old single gal, I occasionally have difficulty imagining what the next decade of my life might hold: finally meeting a man I love, marrying him, and eventually having children. My mom married my dad at 25, welcomed me at 27 and for the last few decades, spent her life making sure I had the best, most loving life ever. From being my personal cheerleader to my European drinking buddy, I’m amazed every single day by the strength, love and wit that my mom effortlessly brings to my world. If you’re lucky like me, your mom holds a pretty big piece of your heart and and a pretty big chunk of data in your phone plan.

So without further adieu, your mom is the most important woman in your life because…

1. She encourages you to always carry lipstick, gum and a pen.
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl and when I declared this to my mom she said, “You better put a pen in your purse, then!” As I got older, she also suggested I always carry gum (you never know who you’ll talk to) and lipstick (you never know who you’ll want to impress). All three of these things are with me as I type this.

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6 Reasons You’re More Badass Than You Think

Quick: When you woke up this morning and looked in the mirror, did you say something nice or start criticizing flaws? In that work meeting you led a few weeks ago, did you pat yourself on the back, or nitpick every little detail?

When you’re always trying to improve, it’s easy to get caught up in a self-confidence spiral. But here’s the thing: According to several studies, the stories we tell ourselves directly contribute to our happiness level and day-to-day satisfaction.

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My First Week of Whole30, as Told in GIFS

My roommate and I both wanted to make a big difference in our health and lifestyle this year, so we challenged ourselves to do Whole30 – a program that cuts out sugar, booze (which duh is sugar), carbs (except in veggies), legumes (aka, beans) and dairy. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy thing to do, but after a year of overindulging in just about anything I laid my eyes on, I was ready to shed some weight and feel vibrant again.

We’re officially a week in (today is day 9 to be exact) and I do feel really, really awesome. I have so much energy, I sleep better, my skin is clearer and I actually crave carrots and green beans as a snack. (Yeah, I know, it’s weird!).

Even so, this week hasn’t been simple – and I’m sure the three weeks that I have left won’t be either – but I’m excited to see how much of a difference it will make to curve my cravings and shape my lifestyle. Though I haven’t weighed myself or measured (they advise not to until the end) – I already can tell a difference in the way my clothes fit.

If you’re thinking of making a shift in your diet or exercise habits… here’s how my first week of Whole30 has been… in GIFs:

Woohoo! Grocery shopping for healthy things. Look at all these pretty veggies. I’m SO excited. 

 

Holy moly. I can’t believe that’s how much I weigh. I’ve never been more ready for a cleanse…

 

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My Word of the Year for 2015 Is… (Hint: It’s Not ‘Love’)

Last year, I decided I wasn’t going to make resolutions anymore. Not because I don’t believe in making positive changes or giving up vices, but because it’s really hard to live by a set of rules – in life, in dating, in anything. So my mom made a great suggestion: just pick a word.

So, last year, I picked: ‘yes.’

And wow – did I wear that word out! In any situation where I would normally turn my head or turn something down, I decided to jump in. I had one more drink. I went on another trip. I booked another fitness class. I ran another half-marathon. I moved apartments and doubled my rent. I changed jobs so I could be at a company that I truly believed in. I bought that Kate Spade wallet (cough, on sale) that I really, really wanted. I wrote things from my heart that I usually wouldn’t have admitted. I gained weight because I overindulged in mostly anything. More than any of the other years – probably combined – I truly, 100 percent lived.

2014 was really the year I went for it – and in 2015, I’m going to learn to be excited about everything I’ve found, created, mastered, tried and loved the past few years. Generally speaking, I’m a pretty positive person, but just like anyone else, I can get in some really, really bad downward-spiraling-out-of-control ruts where I feel like nothing will ever work out how I so badly want it to. And maybe because of my wild sense of ambition… I’m never really satisfied with where I am.

But I want to be content with today. Right now. This moment. This half-hour that I sit here with coffee, listening to jazz and writing this blog. I want to find peace in the present and … thrilled with all of the things that I’m thankful for.

From friendships and my health to dating and my career, here are the ways I’m going to make ‘happy’ my word of the year for 2015:

A happy body.
As hard as is it is to type this (and thus, making it real to me): I’ve gained nearly 15 pounds in a year. I suppose I’m lucky in the fact that it usually doesn’t show (too much) on me, but I can tell in my clothes. And my face. And in how I feel when I’m standing naked in front of the mirror. I’ve been putting off changing my diet and limiting those late-nights out for fear that it would be impossible to go on dates or be social with my friends, but I made the decision to change my lifestyle for myself. Until I feel healthy and happy about the way I look and feel, I won’t be able to exude confidence like I used to. I’m training for my third half-marathon in April, and I started the Whole30 Food Challenge yesterday, and I’m signed up for 6+ fitness classes this week – wish me luck!

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7 Things I Do Everyday to Be Happier

I went on a date on Sunday… with my literary agent.

If you could see me right now, you would see a grin ear-to-ear, and if you could get inside my heart, you’d feel it beating frantically out of its chest. There are very few words to describe just how happy – and excited and thankful! – I feel to have someone actively trying to turn this little ‘ole blog of mine into a book. (When it happens, you will all be the first to know, I promise!)

Even so, I was nervous to meet him (and afraid he wouldn’t like me) – but my gut was right: it was two hours of constant rapport, brainstorming and storytelling. And then he said something that just about made me cry:

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My Dad: The (Cancer) Fighter

Last April, after too many phone calls from my mom at the hospital, I decided I needed a few days off of work and a few days at home. My father had three surgeries since that February and though my parents never said it was serious, something told me to go to North Carolina.

 Just go home.

When my mom picked me up from the airport, my father wasn’t with her. She was coy about the reasons why, just saying that the incision from his appendix surgery was deep and painful, and that riding on bumpy Southern roads was difficult for him. I wanted to pry for more details. I wanted her to come clean.

I wanted her to tell me what was really going on.

But she didn’t divulge and I didn’t press, instead I tried not to look at her as we drove the two hours back to Asheville from Charlotte, her blue eyes glowing in the traffic and car headlights. They looked sad and tired, and though I told myself it had just been a stressful few months for her – with the medical billing, hospital trips and all – I knew it must be more than that. My mama doesn’t lose her spunk for any ole’ reason, it has to be something major.

My dad was awake when we made it back home, but he didn’t greet me with a big glass of red wine, like he usually does. He wasn’t playing his music from the satellite radio that he’s explained how it works about a million times to me. He wasn’t asking my mom to dance in the kitchen, in their matching Kmart slippers, kissing her in the same way I imagined he has since they first met in 1985. He couldn’t hide his smile – that one that’s just for me, just for his little – and only – girl, just for his daughter that broke his heart by moving 800 miles away to New York City. But I could tell he was uncomfortable and exhausted, distraught and full of thoughts he wasn’t sharing.

Again, I didn’t ask too many questions, I just curled up in the corner of his chair on his side, like I always have and laid my head on his shoulder, careful not to touch the gnarly stiches I was afraid of brushing up against. He smelled like Old Spice and soap, and I let out the first big exhale since February when my mom called to say my dad’s appendix had burst and he was going into the ER.

Should I come home? I can catch a flight tonight? I asked, holed up in a conference room at work, trying my best not to think the very worst.

No, no. It’s not a serious surgery, she said. I’ll tell you if you need to come back, don’t worry sweetie, she said.

Two weeks later, I called my mom while walking Lucy, our morning ritual, and her voice was frantic: Your dad’s stitches came undone during his sleep last night, we’re at the hospital getting staples instead.

Mom, do I need to come home? Is he okay? What’s going on? The hospital again? I asked, stopping in the middle of the street as Lucy looked up at me confused. My mom reassured me that all was well and I should just keep my phone on.

Two weeks later, I called after work and asked about their day and my mom so casually said, Oh, your dad had another surgery today. No big deal, sweetie. Everything is fine. Don’t worry!

Mom, why did you never want me to come home when dad went to the hospital all those times? I don’t understand, I asked that night after dad went to sleep well before we did, something that almost never happens. What’s going on, mom? Again, she refused to divulge anything, and I dropped the issue, reminding myself that if something was wrong, they surely wouldn’t keep it from me.

Forever, anyway.

The next day we went for a long walk as a family and then to the Lucky Otter, one of my parents’ favorite watering holes. We sipped on margaritas and we all ignored the awkward tension between all of us, the big secret that no one wanted to say, but needed to be said. We made small talk and I tried my best to stay positive, just waiting for the shoe to drop and smash the conversation. I watched my dad give my mom the look to reassure her and she gave her encouraging smile, a quick nod of the head, and a huge gulp of her drink. My dad sat his down and said words I still hear crystal clear:

You know when I had that last surgery, Linds? He started. I kept eye contact. Well, when my appendix burst, they tested the organs around, just to make sure everything was fine and unaffected. And they found cancer. I had some of my colon removed and I find out in three weeks if it’s gone completely. They caught it early, so it’s probably going to be fine. I didn’t want to add stress to your life or worry you before I needed to. You’re an adult, you should know, but I wanted to protect you.

I thought I might burst into tears, and they started to fill my eyes (just as they are right now as I type this) and in front of all of the people at this restaurant, I walked over and sat in my dad’s lap and hugged him. And I did cry. He did too. But mostly, I just felt relieved. Relieved to know the truth. Relieved that his surgery went okay. Relieved that I would know his diagnosis in just a few weeks.

Relieved I was still able give my dad a big bear hug, as we’ve always called them.

And by some miracle of the best kind, his cancer is still gone today. He goes every three months for testing (I hold my breath all day long on those days) and he’s had other issues since then too, but he’s mostly at the end of a very long road of recovery. One that’s tested my mother’s patience, my father’s courage and my strength.

One that’s changed our family.

My father has always been this brave, resilient man in my eyes – someone that’s capable of absolutely anything, and who always encourages me to take risks. He’s lived a big, full and exciting life, and more than that, he’s let love guide him every step of the way. A true romantic, a funny guy and a tormentor – he’s had my heart my entire life, and frankly, it’ll take quite a man to ever compare to him.

And though ‘cancer’ is a very scary word, one that I didn’t fully understand until it affected me directly – my dad fought it. He refused to let it bring him down. He wouldn’t let it define him. A little over a year later, he’s riding his bike. He’s looking forward to swimming at our lake house this summer, his stitches cleared by the doctors and only a scar left to remind him. He’s planning a big trip with my mom next year – their 29th year of marriage. And he’s sending me letters every few weeks and leaving me funny voicemails nearly everyday.

He may seem more human now to me – instead of a superhero. But I treasure him more. I value his advice, his words and just being able to hear his voice. I think about him more often and I miss him more than before. And though I didn’t think it was possible, I’m a bigger daddy’s girl at 25 than I probably was at 12.

On Father’s Day and every day, I’m thankful for the wonderful, incredible and loving man that I’m lucky enough to call dad. I can’t wait to introduce him to the man I’ll marry, call him when I get that book deal (and yes dad, buy you a new boat when I do), and watch him hold my future children.

Thanks for teaching me to never, ever give up. And dad – thank you for never giving up either. I love you from NYC and back, and I’ll always be your butterfly.

Burgers and beers with dad in NYC, 2013

Burgers and beers with dad in NYC, 2013

My first half-marathon in October 2013

My first half-marathon in October 2013

Labor Day weekend, 2013

Labor Day weekend, 2013

Dad's attempt at the selfie.

Dad’s attempt at the selfie.

First trip to NYC!

First trip to NYC!

First photo at home together

First photo at home together

Hamming it with daddy at 2

Hamming it with daddy at 2

Right after the big news at the Lucky Otter. Cheers to life!

Right after the big news at the Lucky Otter. Cheers to life!

Christmas in NYC, 2013

Christmas in NYC, 2013

"Holding" my bottle at 1 week old.

“Holding” my bottle at 1 week old.