Whole30 Day 5-8 

Whew! 

Still going strong! Haven’t been able to get on here and update very easily between work, parties, meal prep, and….oh! Sleep! 

Today wraps up Day 8, and so far, so good! I’ve done remarkably well sticking to the program, and it’s been fun to come up with new meal ideas. Currently I’m obsessed with anything I can make on my Le Creuset grill pan, and roasted tomatillo salsa (aka medium salsa at Chipotle, but better).

I have made steaks. Carnitas. Chicken. Ground sirloin. Cauliflower rice. Green beans. Sweet potato hash. Roasted sweet potatoes. Piles of arugula topped with yummy ingredients….its been satisfying, easy, fun, and kinda life-altering. 

Here’s some of it:


My energy levels are all over the place, thanks to my work schedule. But aside from that, my skin and nails look good, my eyes are clear, my allergies haven’t been out of control, and I sleep more soundly. 

Today specifically is a rough day. I slept about 4 hours, and I was cranky all day. 

I found maggots under the trash compactor in the new house and had an absolute MELT DOWN. I think it’s part of the process.

Whole30 gives you a timeline of expected feelings/behaviors to expect at every stage of the program and I haven’t been experiencing any of the negative side. Until today. Lol.

Overall, I’m happy! I resisted temptation at the going away party for my best friend Alex this weekend, and stuck to my snacks I had brought with me. Still felt good, and still had decent energy. 

Lara Bars and Chomps 100% Grass Fed meat sticks have been my lifesavers when I’m out with no place to get Whole30 approved food. 

Hallelujah. 

21 days left! I got this! 

Don’t forget! If you’re Whole30 Alumni or currently doing one, please share your tips! 

More soon! 

Whole30…Day 3 and 4

I’m still alive, guys! 

Not gonna lie. I’m a little scared. 

Why isn’t this harder right now? Is this the calm before the storm? Am I too tired to be cranky? Am I insane? 

Why isn’t this as icky as I’d imagined it being the first few days?

Admittedly, my first couple of shifts this week, I was exhausted and barely hanging on for the last 2-3 hours. This morning, I didn’t battle that, or go to bed with an aching head. Also, I didn’t take melatonin before bed, and still managed to sleep until about 2 pm, which I previously could NOT do without melatonin assistance. That’s a win! 

Some of my fave things I’ve been eating are veggie scrambles with chicken sausage, and apples with a little almond butter. 

I also found one of my new Trader Joes staples! The Healthy 8 Veggie mix they sell in the salad section is chopped broccoli, carrot, celery, jicama, cabbage, onion and some other stuff I can’t remember. I sautéed it for a couple of mins with some organic EVOO then add my eggs and scramble and it’s SO GOOD! 

I’m going to try a sweet potato hash at work tonight (it’s my Friday!), and maybe make some crockpot carnitas when I prep this weekend.

It feels good knowing I’ve resisted temptations around me. Someone offered me some goldfish crackers this morning around 5, and I was all “Nah. I’m good.”

I love those little fishes.

Anyways, I know there are some anticipated hurdles for days 4-7, so I’m gearing up for those on my busy weekend and I’m optimistic! 

I finished both books, and I’m really impressed with how much I learned about my food and how it affects the issues I have. I’m inspired to maybe explore nutrition more on my own, to ensure it continues to be a part of my lifestyle. I go back to school in January and I’m seriously considering a program that opens a gateway to Nutritional Counseling. 

That’s it for now! Still gotta get through the night and two more meals, but I had Meal 1 about 1.25 hours after waking up today which is HUGE progress for me! 

More soon! 

Whole30…Day 2

Ok, guys.

I’m not dead, I’m not starving, and I don’t even feel cranky. 

I resolved to take melatonin when I got home from my night shift to ensure I got more sleep than I’ve been getting. Part of the reason for this, was that I had a massive headache in my left temple region when I got home! 

I slept until about 2:30 pm, laid lazily for about an hour, and then headed down to the kitchen to make some food…already doing better than yesterday! 

I prepped some chopped and par-sautéed zucchini and summer squash on Friday, so I grabbed some of that, some crumbled chicken Italian sausage (the fact that I have THREE types of chicken sausage in my house right now is hilarious to me), some shallots, and some eggs…and made a scramble! 

I topped it with some roasted tomatillo salsa from Trader Joes and it was SO GOOD! 

It’s weird, because you know, being half Italian and all-around human, I generally consider cheese a given in a scramble. I didn’t even miss it. 

I went to a paid marketing group before work, but when I got to work at 9:45, I had 15 mins to whip up some food from the cooler bag I bring and keep here on my work days. I had some chopped rotisserie chicken, some sliced avocado with fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper, and grabbed a nectarine too. 

Now, it’s almost 3 am and time for Meal 3, and I’m not starving. I’m going to have some of my chicken and apple sausage I grilled last week, and some melon chunks with some bell pepper strips.

While I’m not really missing the sweets I craved hardcore at work recently, I won’t lie…I stared at my gummy vitamins EXTRA hard today and considered taking seconds. 

I didn’t do it…but I definitely thought about it! Doesn’t seem out of place on Day 2, but I’m looking forward to when that’s not such an issue. 

At the market research study, they had a table full of snack mix and sodas…I grabbed a cup of water and didn’t even pine for the sugary canned goodness…although I’ve never been much of a soda fan outside of ginger ale and Diet Coke anyways. 

I’m late posting this, but mainly because I have time to do it now, and something to actually report! 

Today I weighed myself and had Sean take some “before” photos for me. No more scale until the 30 days is over! 

Check in soon! 

Whole30…Day 1

Did you know that the whole reason I started this blog was as a means to hold myself accountable?

It worked for me, for so long! 

And then somehow, I got away from what worked for me. My life went into this tailspin of all work, no sleep, hardly eating, not eating what I should…you’ve all heard some version of this story, or maybe you’ve even lived it yourself! 

I recently saw someone I admire raving about Whole30, and looked into the book that started it all: “It Starts With Food.” 

I was so, so fascinated by the idea that our hormones are affected by the food we eat; our weight and health is affected by our hormones. Shoot, the way we feel on a daily basis is even impacted by what we eat!

So, all those days I ate a quarter of a sandwich and nothing else for 12 hours at a time, on top of not sleeping more than 2 hours in a row? Definitely part of the problem. 

So, I decided to give it a shot. Protein. Veggies. Healthy fats. Even fruit? I can DO this! 

And I’m gonna do it right here. Where people can see it. And where, if I don’t complete it, it’s a constant reminder every time I look at my site if I didn’t complete it. 

I went grocery shopping Friday and prepped my food. I carried an insulated bag and put it in the fridge at work for these five 12 hour nights, and I’ve got more in the fridge at home for when I’m not working, too. 

It’s not going to be perfect. I’m already hardcore struggling on day one…not because I’m cheating or craving anything…moreso the problem I’m having is the not eating part.

I got off work at 6:15-ish this morning, went home and passed out until 11:30 am, got up, got ready for an appointment I had at 12:30, and then got home at 3 pm. And laid in bed again. I got up at 5, went to pack some extras I bought to take to work, and headed in. 

Got to work, and there were no plates. So I had some chopped melon, and decided to wait for my first break to enjoy my chicken and veggies and maybe a clementine. 

When I take my lunch break, I’ll be scrambling an egg with some bell pepper and chicken breakfast sausage that I pre cooked (and added some turmeric to, because I’m a little trend-obsessed with turmeric right now), and I’m not gonna lie, if 3 am rolls around for my last break and I’m not hungry? I just may not eat.

This is part of my problem. And this is one of many areas where I seek a solution, and a Non-Scale Victory….also known as an “NSV,” from here on out (fellow Weight Loss Surgery peeps know the lingo). 

Other things that can happen with Whole30 in your life? 

  • Better skin 
  • More energy (although not right away…you gotta work through the hard part for that)
  • Decreased allergies
  • Decreased Asthma
  • Weight loss 
  • LONG TERM HEALTH OVERALL 

I mean, this is doesn’t even touch the ifs printable checklist you can print on the Whole30 site. They even have a page dedicated to free printables to  help guide you to success. 

It’s 30 days.

No sugar( I mean, NADA. Not sugar, not honey, not maple syrup, not sugars cousin Splenda, not sugars baby daddy Stevia….nothing). No grains. No alochol. No legumes (beans, and so forth). No nitrates, MSG, or carrageenan (google it). No dairy.

Read the rules here.

It sounds like “WHAT THE ACTUAL F*** IS THERE TO HAVE WITHOUT ALL OF THOSE THINGS?”

But guess what? My shopping trip was super easy, because I pretty much hit meat, and produce and skipped endless aisles of temptation. Endless choices. Endless foods that build me up and then break me down.

I only ate melon so far today. But I’m not dying for tortillas or cheese…yet. Also, I didn’t stop at Einsteins or Del Taco (aka the only acdeptable form of fast food in my world) on my way to work, either! 

It’s going to get harder before it gets easier.

But I’ll get healthier! That’s the goal! 

So, feel free to follow me on this journey. I can guarantee daily check-in posts, and as I get more acclimated, I’ll share some of my prep tricks and tips and meal ideas! 

If you’ve tried Whole30, help me out! I want to know what you love(d), what you hate(d), and what helped you make the most of it and SURVIVE. Lol. 

Don’t get me wrong-don’t mistake my overdramatization for dread. I’m actually happy. I need this challenge…and I REALLY need the benefit to be gained from it! 

I just maybe need a little help sticking through it when it feels lonely? 

More soon! 

Following Through.

Some of you may remember that to commemorate my 27th birthday last year, I came up with a list of 27 things to do before I turned 28.

Obviously, my 28th birthday has come and one, and I still have a LOT of the list left to complete. In the year since, however, I have re-configured my life, and now have more time off, and therefore less excuses to not get these things completed.

So, I am challenging myself to complete the remaining items on the list, and I’m adding an extra for good measure. Any local friends who are interested in helping me, please let me know!

Here is my amended list (I’m still on probationary status with the Fire Department as a new employee, so I have to be a smidge more practical than before….but I’ll eventually graduate to the ability to do some of the big things again)!:

27 Things for My 27th Year

  1. Sunrise hike at Cowles Mountain with Ashley!*
  2. Go Skydiving (I am TERRIFIED of heights)!
  3. Write cards/letters to 27 people. Near or far, I am bringing back the classic with written sentiments to express love and gratitude 
  4. Go to Stagecoach to see Tim McGraw and Miranda Lambert (wear shorts and fringe tops!) OR go see Mariah Carey (aka, The Chanteuse) in Las Vegas!!! (thanks to my amazing friend Michaela, this is happening in JUNE! AHHH)!
  5. Sunset/Sunrise or Beach Yoga Class
  6. Have a date with myself: Massage, Facial, Shopping, and Dinner…just me!
  7. Take a class at The Cheese Store of San Diego
  8. Have brunch at the Hotel Del Coronado
  9. Volunteer with Urban Angels Soup Kitchen*
  10. Take a spin class
  11. Host a dinner party
  12. Gondola ride in Venice, Italy (or in Las Vegas until I actually have a long enough window to bid for vacation..we made it to Italy last year, but not to Venice!)
  13. Ride a bike (I haven’t since I broke my wrist on one in 10th grade)
  14. Visit the Museum of Tolerance (and Kelly H.) in the City of Angels!
  15. Do Stand Up Paddle Boarding again
  16. “Free Hugs” at Balboa Park
  17. Thursday Night Throwdown (Line Dance Lessons) at  Moonshine Flats/Incahoots (I WILL learn to line dance)!
  18. Write a letter to my 35 year old self
  19. Hot Chocolate 15K
  20. Picnic in a pretty park (finally use that dang picnic basket I bought in 2010).*
  21. Get the SeeSondraSlim Facebook page to 500 likes!
  22. Learn to play a song on the guitar
  23. Buy Starbucks for strangers
  24. Surprise 5 people when they least expect it (Document on FB/Blog/Instagram)
  25. Book my next International expedition
  26. Be published in a magazine/publication
  27. Bingo Night at a casino
  28. Re-enroll for my Italian conversation classes at the Italian Cultural Center in Little Italy

 

While I’m pretty disappointed this didn’t all get completed last year, I’m really excited to be able to look forward to all of these adventures again this year! I’ll be posting some events in my #HNS Girl Gang San Diego group page on facebook, and reaching out to others to seek their help in completing some tasks that seem like they’ll be a lot more fun with a little help from my friends!

At the end of the day, I’m more tortoise than hare…and I’m ok with that. The important thing is reaching the finish line…which I WILL do!

What are some things you’d add to your list?

See Sondra Sign-off-stacked

I Miss 320 Pound Me.

I never really realized how much I loved 320 me.

I don’t think it was until I was about 11 years old that I even realized that I was bigger than most girls. That’s around the age that people started calling me fat, or singing the Jenny Craig jingle to hurt my feelings.

I had size 11 shoes from 6th grade on, and my dad took me shopping in the women’s section at Target starting in 7th grade (before Target was a place to find the cutest stuff).

All of that aside, I never looked at my body with disdain. I never felt like anything was wrong with me, and I never felt like my life would somehow be better if I were skinnier.

Fast forward to high school, where kids are a little more brutal, but at least I dress well and typically get the “You’re pretty for a big girl,” or “You have such a pretty face!” Full disclosure? Pretty is better than skinny to me.

I’d rather be nice, kind, smart, pretty, talented, popular, and loved than skinny. But all of these people pointing this “flaw” out made me start doubting that conviction….maybe I did need to be smaller. Maybe all I needed was 100 pounds lifted off of me to make up for everything I wasn’t.

I wasn’t completely happy. I went home everyday to an alcoholic father who would “borrow” my babysitting money to go to the bar until the early hours of the morning, and wake me up upon his arrival to slap me around because there was lint on the floor, or a dish in the sink.

I was disconnected from my mom, and jealous of all of my friends who had mani/pedi dates and trips to Cancun with their mothers.

I begged my dad to send me to an expensive “Fat Camp” at the beach, hoping I’d be the smallest fat girl there, (and that they’d have karaoke) and my dad always said no. But then he’d criticize my weight, telling me I needed to “do something about my problem.”

I moved to San Bernardino my Sophomore year of high school after running away from home the last time my dad hit me. I was determined to be more than “the fat girl,” and it worked! Then, I fell hard for a guy I couldn’t have, and felt like maybe if I was skinnier, it would be different…but that wasn’t enough for me to break my neck trying.

I loved getting ready every morning. I color coordinated my outfits with my makeup and lived for each compliment or praise.

I loved me. I loved being me. And I figured that with most everything being pretty awesome in my life (for once), I could deal with being bigger than most girls. Didn’t bother me.

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Then I got out of high school. And into college. And then I became responsible for my own life…housing, feeding, clothing, providing for myself.

I was going to school full time, and working four part time jobs simultaneously. I drove more hours than I slept.

At that point, my health became a huge concern: I don’t want to doom myself to a fate of diabetic issues, heart problems, or general decreased quality of life…and my weight could potentially cause ALL of those things.
I tried Phentermine pills, Atkins Diets, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, The Military Diet, and The Best Life diet. I skipped meals in the hopes the loud gurgling noises would mean if finally lose five pounds. FINALLY.

I struggled, because most 18-21 year olds don’t count calories or hide Little Debbie snacks under their beds to make their stomachs be quiet in the middle of the night after a day of eating only pickle spears and sugar free jell-o cups. I didn’t feel carefree. I didn’t feel like I had any control over my eating, even though that’s what all of these programs promoted. And I never lost much weight, especially not long term.

Almost 5 years ago, at 23 years old, I had weight loss surgery.

Before my eyes, I started shrinking. I went from 320 lbs to about 260 in the first 4 months. A year out, and I was 85 lbs down and running my first 5K without an asthma attack.

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I went to Hawaii in 2014 and wore a bikini that I bought at Victoria’s Secret, after having a tummy tuck and thigh lift covered by insurance because of all the excess skin I had after losing the weight. I celebrated the achievement, but not necessarily because I was genuinely happy with my new reality…It was mostly because I could say I did it. I booked an amazing vacation, wore a bikini, and spent six days on a beautiful beach in a different bathing suit everyday. But everyday, I felt self-conscious about the back rolls, or the looks I just knew I was getting from people on the beach, or people on the streets as I walked the streets in a bathing suit and a crochet cover-up, with my thighs occasionally slapping together loudly.

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I had a really hard time with the thigh lift, because I wasn’t able to “bounce back” like I did with my other procedures. My incisions kept splitting open, my drains had to stay in a week longer than planned and I couldn’t drive myself around or walk very far without pain. It took months to get back into my fitness ability, and by that point I could barely find my motivation.

This was the person I became. A person who was no longer concerned with her health, but how skinny she could LOOK now that she lost this weight. I could only see the sagging skin, the back rolls, the cellulite on my thighs…I lost focus of that bigger picture. I was healthier than ever, and couldn’t find that authentic happiness anywhere.

Ironically, the more obsessed I became with my body’s new image, the more weight I regained. I was my own biggest distraction. I slept less, because my mind raced with what I was or wasn’t doing. I skipped meals out of convenience, hoping it’d make a difference. I would think to myself, “Getting sick wouldn’t be the worst thing ever…maybe I’ll drop ten pounds!”

I stopped going to yoga, because I started feeling like I didn’t belong there. I didn’t feel small enough to be on my beautiful mat, in that beautiful room. I avoided exercise that sounded fun, because I felt like I wouldn’t fit in or be able to do it. I began to eat my feelings again, graduating from Oatmeal Creme Pies to gourmet cupcakes and $15/ lb tri-tip.

And here I am now, fighting for my independence from this mindset that cripples so many people everywhere.

I am eating organic food and trying to ignore anxiety-induced sugar cravings when they hit. I’m taking Pilates classes and ignoring the fact that I’m 5″ taller and 100 lbs bigger than everyone else. I’m looking for a therapist to help me check these negative emotions and dangerous behaviors. And all these changes led me to realizing that I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY miss the 320 pound version of myself who did, said, and wore what she wanted before she decided she wasn’t good enough for all the good things happening to her.

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It’s not easy. It’s my reality. And I don’t mind admitting my failures and defeats, as long as I can share them with people, maybe help them see they have someone else with a similar struggle.

320 pound Sondra loved herself so much, despite moments when life didn’t always love her back. I tell everyone they are beautiful. I genuinely believe it. I mean it each time I say it. I exist some days merely in the hope that I can change this mindset in myself, and in others. I plant seeds of love and compliments and affirmations for others, for the peace and love I feel inside myself each time I do it.

I’m working on being that girl again. And while I do, I’m hoping you’ll hear more from me. And I invite you to share what makes YOU cultivate and maintain that oh-so-important self love on a daily basis. I’m in a constant state of self-evolution and always looking for new ways to live happily! But I’m learning more and more every day that it can be a lot of work, and work worth doing!

Until Next Time!

See Sondra Sign-off-stacked

Oh….2016 is Here Already?!

I don’t know about you, but I feel like 2015 started and ended I barely noticed.

I am so grateful to go into 2016 with a less stressful schedule, more time to dedicate to the things I love (like this blog), and a clear(er) mind.

With that, I have some goals for 2016. I don’t want to go so far as to call them resolutions…because I’ve always resolved to do them…I simply didn’t have the time or energy. These shall be known as goals, because they’re not impossible, and they’re not on a super stringent timeline. The important thing is that they get done THIS YEAR. And I am trying to make more attainable goals, at that.

  1. Get my Healthy is the New Skinny SD Girl Gang up and running. I am so excited to share time with some of the amazing women in my city and have great adventures with them as we work towards overall wellness!
  2. I want to be my healthiest. My personal health habits really suffered with last years 90 hour work weeks and lack of sleep…and I need to get back to things that made me feel really good…like juicing, eating breakfast, getting 7-9 hours of sleep, and working out 4-5 days a week.
  3.  I am going to be more diligent with my blogging. I am creating a new, spectacular, fancy-looking media kit, and I am going to pimp myself out to the amazing opportunities in the blogging world to take this thing to the next level.
  4.  I am going to focus more on having adventures versus having things. I am promising myself at least one 1 week vacation a year, and I am going to make the most of my time off and money to take trips around the grand ol’ US of A and see the majesty I was always singing about.
  5. I am going to find the perfect apartment. One that has a space for a bookshelf for all of my cookbooks, and sunny windows in my bedroom that make me happy and grateful to wake up each day, and space to do yoga on the floor when I feel like it.
  6. I am going to try at least ten new things this year (more on that in my next post). I want to push myself out into the world with all the time I’ll have on my hands, and find something new to love.
  7.  I am going to journal everyday. I haven’t decided if it’ll be first ting in the morning, or just before bed at night…but throughout my life I was always the girl with a journal. Getting away from that has really had an impact on me…and I not only miss journaling, but I miss how it made me feel. So, I am in search of the perfect journal, and I’ll be back to that, as well!
  8. I am going to seriously evaluate the relationships I’m in at this point in my life. I’ll be 28 in about 6-7 weeks, and I am feeling like it’s time to change how I view certain people and things in my life…especially now that I can’t blame stress or a lack of time on dealing with it anymore. I know the importance of having people who contribute to your success and mentality around you…and it’s high time I put that back into practice.

I’m not sure how everything will work out, but I am grateful for the ability to be excited about these things again. For awhile, everything was starting to seem so impossible to accomplish. I finally feel like I can actually MAKE THINGS HAPPEN again. That feeling fuels me!

What are some of your goals for 2016? Are you making any? Are you just hoping to make it through another year in general? I want to know! Your comments are always welcome!

‘Til Next Time!

See Sondra Sign-off-stacked

7 Changes I’m Making for a Better Me

First, let me just start by stating the blaringly obvious: Being an adult is exhausting.

Photo Credit: Google Images

Photo Credit: Google Images

Not only are you responsible for maintaining a source of income, a mode of transportation, any personal relationships you value, and important things like personal hygiene….you have to maintain your overall well-being, too!

The last 15 months have proven to be both impressive and tiring. Working two jobs, between 80-90 hours a week (if you know me personally, you literally hear the words “two jobs….90 hours a week” out of my mouth at least three times in conversation on a regular basis) have really taken a toll on my whole entire life. My sanity, my relationships, my health….it’s all suffered to some extent.

I recently started seeing a therapist, because a huge shift happened in my romantic relationship with my boyfriend’s family, and it pushed me to “Shut Down” mode. I haven’t felt that way in YEARS! I work really hard to be a do-er, and to keep going when nothing seems to go right, and it’s paid off for quite awhile. But you know those monumental moments in life that happen and just make you feel like hiding in a blanket fort with every Sweet Valley High book and Nicholas Sparks movie? I’m having more of those lately than I care to admit!

The purpose of my new therapy was to support and reinforce the promises I’ve made to myself to make this feeling go away. I also am fortunate to work in a holistic environment five days a week, and participate in a “BreakThru” Life Coaching program that helps with this, as well.

Ultimately, everyone just keeps telling me I need to focus on myself. Stop worrying about how what I feel or want conflicts with the feelings or wants of those who I care about. It makes me laugh (sarcastically, and with a not-so-flattering look on my face), because this is advice I’d give to anyone in my situation. But alas, I sit here constantly questioning my desires and dreams because of how it may make other people feel. This, in fact, was the catalyst with my boyfriends family. I made the best decision for ME, and was called selfish…because they didn’t like that.

It’s prompted me to take any free time I do have since then to do things that make me feel happy, fulfilled, and at ease. And in these past months, I’ve thought about what I could do to “bring my happy back.”

  1. Dating Myself: You know how when you start dating someone, you get all crazy when it comes to making them feel awesome? Well, I decided to transfer a little of that philosophy to my own personal self, and it’s been one of my favorite additions to my life. Generally, I love going to movies alone on my Tuesday half days. I only work mornings that day, and so if there is a movie I really want to see, I head over to the $6 show at Ultra Star and see whatever tickles my fancy. I get to see a movie I’ve been excited about, and just kind of zone out and enjoy the show. I get a “kids pack” with a small drink, a decent amount of popcorn, and FRUIT SNACKS!!! And I sit still for awhile without panicking about things that have to be done when I have time, or work. I get to just “be,” and genuinely enjoy something! I also frequently treat myself to a decadent snack or a new book, or other little activities that make me happy. I also splurge more on pretty perfume or new shoes, like I’d buy for Sean regularly.
  2. Volunteer More: Thanks to my friend Ashley, I volunteered with Urban Angels recently, and I’ve decided to do it more. I had the best of intentions to go back, but then got inundated with a lot after the fact. I am going to pledge one Tuesday a month to getting back there and helping out. As someone with her own history of homelessness, helping those who aren’t as fortunate as me keeps me connected to that part of myself that promised we’d be better. Also, I’ve learned the quickest way to turn around my bad moods are to do something nice. I bake cookies or make food for my co-workers, or google awesome/inspiring GoFundMe campaigns and donate to a strangers dream to lift my mood…and do good in the process! It’s become evident to me that focusing on helping others keeps me really centered. And I cherish that experience and its benefit so much!
  3. Make time for Downtime: This shouldn’t be so hard-but it is! ALL of my free moments are allotted to extra naps or fun times with friends/family. I don’t know how to do nothing anymore…it’s terrible! My new promise to myself is that if I have to do SOMETHING, it has to be something enjoyable for myself. Reading a book at the beach/park, taking a walk alone, baking cookies in an empty house, dancing to “Love on Top” in sparkly shoes and a dress at home alone….these are all on the qualifying list(s).
  4. Create/Maintain Rituals:  I can’t pinpoint when exactly all of my organized routines flew out the window…but over the last year…it’s not happening! I’ve been working on waking up 15 minutes earlier and “getting ready” more. I used to wake up, wash my face and brush my teeth, make a smoothie, put my makeup on and do my hair….and my routine has become devastatingly basic since the career transition(s)! When I spend a little more time preparing for my day, it seems to go a little better. So I’m getting back to that, slowly but surely.
  5. Identify My Support System: I’m fortunate (and #BLESSED) with family, extended family, friends that are like family, and some pretty awesome work family, as well. I can depend on multiple people in a time of need, and I enjoy spending time with the people that mean most to me. For all the hard times I’ve faced, I recall those that got me through those times more than the times themselves. It is not lost on me that many people cannot say that. Over time, I’ve also realized some of the people I was closest to, have been outgrown. There’s no love lost, but in an effort to close certain chapters of my life and allow new ones to thrive, I had to let those relationships close with them! I had to stop giving everyone everlasting credit for the moments that mattered, and move on when necessary.
  6. ASK for Support: After just describing how awesome everyone is, it should be easy to do this part. But, it’s not. I have a tendency to shut down inside for at least 5 minutes when stressful/bad/sad things happen. That’s just how I cope, and it works for me. The hardest part is reaching out to someone, even just to reiterate the situation/solutions out loud, when the five minutes are up. I’m getting better. And I see a big difference! Being a “cry-in-bed-and-get-over-it-you-have-shit-to-do-today-Sondra” person was a temporary solution and didn’t contribute to my peace of mind in the long run. As soon as that feeling creeps up, I know that my situation warrants reaching out to someone…and yes, more often than not, that someone is my Mom!
  7. Refocus: With such a chaotic schedule, I find it very easy to let little things I mean or need to do for myself to the side. When I’m really overwhelmed at my 911 Dispatch job, I let my partner know I’m going to get away from my desk for a few minutes to refocus. When I’m stressed at my Chiropractic job, I know that I can always take a minute to walk around if needed. Outside of work, I grab my journal and jot down any thoughts in my head, if I don’t have a long diatribe to record at the time. Some other strategies include doodling mindlessly for 5 minutes (and I keep saying I’m going to buy one of those fancy coloring books), playing Candy Crush (no idea why it calms me down), or sitting in my car and listening to a favorite song. By taking even just a few minutes to separate myself from the chaos and stress, I’m able to re-focus and center myself!

It comes down to this: Maybe I do need to spend more time on myself and what I want to do. I’ve taken that to heart, and adjusted accordingly! These seven things help me accomplish that, but allow me to insert people I care about when necessary, too! We are in a constant battle with the pull of technology, the fear that we aren’t working hard or long enough, and a fear of missing out or falling behind. That’s how I landed two jobs and no sleep in the first place, right?

Taking the time to isolate ourselves with what we love, and giving ourselves time to absorb what those moments actually do for our mental health and overall well-being can be so powerful, and it’s SO NECESSARY!

What are some ways that YOU create a better you?

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#6 Cheese, Please!

To say I love cheese would be an understatement.

I adore cheese. I admire it’s complexities, varieties, and it’s uncanny abilities to bring together people, and how it makes wine taste BETTER.

I learned about The Cheese Store of San Diego late last year, and eagerly anticipated it’s opening earlier this year. Before my italiano classes at the Italian Cultural Center in Little Italy, I’d go enjoy a pretty cheese plate and glass of wine, or a sumptuous grilled cheese, or a decadent mac ‘n’ cheese treat. I learned they’d be offering “Cheese 101” classes at the store, and I was utterly devastated (but, not surprised) when I went to register only to find the class had sold out in a hot minute! So, when I got my CSOSD e-newsletter last week and saw they were hosting another class last night, I registered immediately and let my friend Quane know, as well!

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If you’ve been tuning in to my 27 Things for My 27th Year journey, you know that there is a smattering of local things and simply ridiculous things to accomplish. I was very, very excited for this one particularly, and I got so much more out of it than I ever could have hoped for!

First, I arrive early (because parking in Little Italy is like….no) and get a glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Vallevo 2013 to enjoy on the patio while I wait. Do not waste time trying to pronounce it. Just buy, sip, savor!  At 7 pm, we enter the store and sit at a fun communal table with candles, rustic boards with sliced baguette, and little dishes of dried figs and apricots, and wine glasses a-plenty. I have another glass of red (the house red is amazing), and look over the materials at each seat. Little did I know there would be a real-life Cheese Monger there to take us on a trip around the cheese world (or at least the main 7 categories of it)!

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Jenny Eastwood is not only knowledgeable, but she expresses her passion seamlessly when she describes cheese-making processes, origins, varieties, and the like. I learned so much more than I’d imagined about cheese and it’s health benefits, it’s differences that present from the USA to foreign varieties, and what flavors and notes you could find in cheese if you spend a little time with it (rather than alternatively inhaling it’s deliciousness without a second thought).

Had to get a photo with the Cheese Monger herself!

Had to get a photo with the Cheese Monger herself!

Jenny originally frequented a well-known, and historic NYC cheese shop called Murray’s, when one day, she told us a story about walking in and seeing a notice about hiring a “Cave Intern.” Next thing you know, she’s worked down in the cheese caves over a year, aging fantastic cheese and becomes a Cheese Monger upstairs next!

It was a treat to try 7 varieties (and nine samples!) of cheese, and to get to know the people around us and learn the unique characteristics of each piece as we went along!

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Once the class ended, Quane and I got some goodies to enjoy from the cheese case (class attendees get 10% off purchases the night of), and then headed up the street to Monello for dessert-you know, to walk off the wine- and had yet another decadent and sinfully wonderful experience! Monello is the “little brother” restaurant to Bencotto in Little Italy, which I had the pleasure of dining at for lunch yesterday as well!

Quane ordered the Tiramisu and I opted for the Torta di Mele (apple pie/tart). Both desserts were perfectly portioned, adorably presented, and delightfully tasty!

Tiramisu at Monello Little Italy

Tiramisu at Monello Little Italy

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Torta di Mele at Monello Little Italy

I am so, so thrilled with my entire experience, and I cannot wait to attend more of the events at The Cheese Store of San Diego! How amazing is it to have little treasures like this in our very own backyard? I highly recommend that you stop by! And remember, they do cheese trays for your events, are very knowledgeable about the cheese they have, and their menu items are phenomenal!

It feels really great to slowly knock items off of my 27 Things for My 27th Year list, and I love that some of them get to be so dang delicious!

Stay tuned for more adventures! You know they’re coming your way!

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Speedier Shipping and a New Namesake Label at ModCloth.com!

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links.**

On a quest to pack the perfect suitcase for my Roman/Florentine holiday, I’ve been scouring the ModCLoth site for Sophia Loren-inspired looks to make my trip both stylish and memorable!

I was thrilled to snag this super cute travel wallet: It holds ID, passport, cards, boarding passes, a pen, cash, and more! It’s even got little labeled pockets and sections! Throw it in your purse or carry-on, and all of your documents and essentials are in one convenient place!

Some of the looks that hit my closet lately?


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