Review: NEW BariLife Lemonade Multivitamin Powder!

It’s no secret I haven’t been around!

June was busy with a trip to Mexico, and heading off to my highly anticipated trip to Greece!

Before either of those trips, work got especially crazy with new staffing policies that resulted in my existing 12-hour shifts becoming 16-hour shits 2-3 times a week. It’s been rough.

I’ve been home for a couple of weeks, and slammed at work. I have been a little down in the dumps about how crazy work has made me feel, and feeling like I need to really get back down to business with my health and wellness.

I connected with BariLife at my very first Your Weight Matters Convention with the Obesity Action Coalition in 2013. What I loved most about this company was that these products were developed by a Bariatric Surgeon who saw holes in the available supplements for his patients. He created a line of his own, to ensure that they got what they needed as post-ops, and to sustain far after their journeys commenced. I am huge on supporting people who support others, and BariLife is the epitome of that concept.

I’d tried a few of their protein bars at a couple of conventions, and loved them!

Recently, BariLife was kind enough to send me some of their new Lemonade Multivitamin Powder to try, and it’s a came changer.

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Most bariatric post-ops are all too familiar with the vitamin struggle. Some surgeries require mass amounts of vitamins every day for the rest of your life, others require a multivitamin and whatever you end up being deficient in as your body adjusts ( for me it was B-12 and Vitamin D). This multivitamin powder also meets all of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) Guidelines!

This lemonade multivitamin powder is unique in that not only is it formulated as the ideal multivitamin blend for a new post-op to use for the first 4-6 weeks of healing after surgery (and it even comes in unflavored or other flavor varieties), but it’s also something you can use as a more seasoned post-op such as myself!

I struggled a lot as a new post-op, because I am disgusted by any and all milk based products. The protein shake life was a tough one for me to adapt to! But since then, I’ve grown really used to the lifestyle and convenience of shaking up what my body needs and using every last drop. This product allows me to do that-and ensures that I get an extra 8 to 10 ounces of water in while I’m at it!

You can purchase BariLife Multivitamin Powder in travel-sized, one scoop packets, OR in 60-scoop tubs. These packets are going to make a great addition to my locker at work (for those days where my shift is extended and I know I won’t be home to my routine for awhile), and I’ll be needing a tub to have on the kitchen counter next to my blender, too!

But how does it taste, you’re wondering? I love that this powder mixes well, isn’t too chunky, and it’s true to claim-it tastes like lemonade! In addition to drinking it by itself, I can see it being a really good addition to some summer recipes…maybe a strawberry lemonade popsicle?! 

Overall, I am really glad I had the opportunity to try this product! It’s a welcome addition to my routine, and such an easy way to get more vitamins and water into my body! 

Not sure what you should be taking? Check out the BariLife Bariatric Vitamin Guide! It’s a great way to find out which BariLife products are best for you, and your post-op lifestyle!

What are your favorite multivitamin products? What works for you? I want to know! 

 

The “B” Word.

I don’t actually know how to start this.

All I know for sure, is that since I can remember, writing has been my outlet. It’s how I handled all of the madness, pain, and joy. It’s how I archived all of my greatest secrets, feelings, failures, and achievements.

I’ve spent so much time trying to find myself. Then, I felt like maybe I’d figured out who I am and what I want from my life. So, I figured it was time to fine-tune.

Time to focus on my health, and maybe finally find a solution to the one thing that has followed me around for my entire life: my weight.

Most of you know that I had weight loss surgery in 2011. I’ll never forget the moment my Primary Care doctor asked me if I’d ever considered the procedure. He said “I see you’ve tried several methods for weight loss, and you haven’t been successful in the long term. This could be a good move for you.”

I went home, and I felt so…..ashamed. Is this my life? Am I at the point where I have no actual control over what is happening to my body? Am I so devoid of any self control or self discipline? Do I really have to have surgery to ever get ahead of the dreaded “Obesity” mark all over my medical records?

I did my research, I accepted what felt like defeat, and I started the process. And for a long time, things were looking pretty amazing. I started running. I didn’t enjoy it…but my body could do it. I was eating less food, and anesthesia had initially ruined my taste buds to the point where most sweet things made me sick thinking about them. I ate smaller portions, I focused on “protein, protein, protein” and I kept thinking “I am finally going to be skinny. I am finally going to be like everyone else, and my life is going to be amazing.”

Fast forward to know, almost exactly 5 years later. I have since, been in a committed relationship, moved 4 times, switched jobs three times, found my career path, and regained approximately half of the weight I’d lost.

And yet, if you look at my life (sometimes I have to step outside of myself and look at my life, to roll my eyes at myself and stop wallowing), you’d see that I AM living an amazing life.

I just returned from a trip to Italy, and I’m planning my trip to Greece for a photo shoot in June. I work full time in an industry that often stresses me out, but always makes it so that I go home feeling like what I do is important. I have a place to live, a car, a person who loves me, a family that’s slowly mending to resemble a functional one, and I am surrounded by amazing people I’m blessed to call friends.

So why on earth is this still such a problem? Why is it so hard? Why do I still feel ashamed when it comes to food and my weight?

I’ve gone back to my doctors and bariatric team on several occasions for help. A dietician and my surgeon told me that my schedule and my industry make it hard to find permanent solutions. I sought therapy, and was told the person who deals with food related issues wasn’t accepting new patients (and they were over 20 miles away, to boot). I started seeing a regular therapist-because better than nothing-who said she was amazed that given all I’ve overcome, I remain positive.

And so, although I felt I was trying so hard to get help…I go home every night feeling like I’m beyond help and that this is just who I’m destined to be. This is just my life, and that’s it.

Until recently.

Isn’t it funny how the smallest interaction can give you the biggest feeling of hope?

I recently came across an ad looking for participants for a clinical study on regain after surgery, and when I tried to qualify, I didn’t meet the criteria. I hadn’t regained enough and I didn’t have co-morbidities (insert eye roll here). I got a call from the woman who screened me for that study, asking if I’d be interested in participating in a new study for Binge Eating Disorder.

First thought? “McScuse me???? BINGE EATING?”

Then, I paid attention to what she was saying. She asked me several questions: “Do you often feel like you can eat more than most people in similar situations?” “Do you feel guilt or shame after eating?” “Do you eat past the point of being uncomfortably full?”

And I was answering them with an honest, and shocked “Yes.”

You hear it all the time: Weight Loss Surgery doesn’t solve the real issues that most people face when it comes to food.

I remember being young and not having any food in the house. My mom worked so hard, but we lived on top ramen packets and got excited when we got a candy bar. We’d get “good food” and I’d feel like I had to eat it all, because we never had it. I remember in high school, after leaving an abusive home and feeling like an inconvenience to my aunt and uncle who took me in, hiding boxes of Little Debbie snacks under my bed or going to the cupboards when everyone was asleep and eating spoonfuls of peanut butter or other random things I didn’t think anyone would notice missing.

I don’t actually know what hungry feels like. Most times, when I proclaim that I’m hungry, its largely because its been awhile since I last ate. I have long stretches of time where I don’t eat at all, because the thought doesn’t occur to me until I see a specific photo/video of food and I’m like, “OH! I haven’t eaten.”

I associate food with time. With feelings. With life.

I don’t eat to live. And I don’t necessarily live to eat, but I sure don’t like to miss out on the opportunity to do so!

It never occurred to me to explore this idea. Binge. Eating. Disorder.

I don’t like to justify my behavior with a diagnosis. That is why I was so put off by weight loss surgery-putting a name to these things mean that I have a problem. It feels like failure, and it feels like another label I can’t shake….like “fat,” or “ugly.”

So here I am, doing my research all over again, and thinking “How didn’t we think of this before? How did no one else suggest this all those times we explained that we won’t eat all day and then eat a whole roll of Oreos, feel sick, and then do it all over again later?”

I don’t have an answer for that. All I know is that I’m grateful that someone listened to me, and then thought of me when an opportunity to help me came along.

I’m dealing with a lot of emotions over this. I feel relieved, and hopeful. But I also feel like I almost can’t handle anymore diagnoses or processes. Eating disorders aren’t something cavalier. They impact millions of lives, and they are some of the hardest to overcome….because a lot of the work is WITHIN yourself. Medications and therapy help tremendously, but it seems to me that moreso, success and health are achieved when you accept that this is your struggle and you work really hard to overcome it in every aspect.

I’m not shying away from the work or the challenges that I’m expecting to face. I’m not denying that this is potentially something I’ve left untouched for far too long. And I’m not afraid.

I have to keep looking forward, and keep believing that a good attitude will produce a good outcome!

In the meantime, here I am sorting out all of my thoughts publicly, in the hopes that someone else who can relate knows they aren’t alone!

Life is a learning process. I’m learning something new every day, and I’m grateful for every opportunity that comes from it. This is just another chapter in the big book I’ve compiled so far!

If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, or want to learn more, make sure you check out the National Eating Disorder Association website

Here’s to the learning!

See Sondra Sign-off-stacked

Model Meals Week 3!

Still going strong y’all! 

Still haven’t spent excessive amounts on fast food/eating out, still have room in the fridge (kinda), and still living for these convenient and delicious meals! Model Meals is really changing up my lifestyle in the best way! 

As usual, if you don’t see a photo it’s because I forgot before eating! (But I took photos of the next batch in advance, so week four won’t be lacking!)


Super excited for all of these:

Buffalo Dill Egg Salad

This was actually meant to be a “snack” on the menu, but I used cucumber slices as “crackers” and had some berries and it was a full meal for me that way! Amazing flavor, and a refreshing way to have eggs as my protein.

Lettuce Wrapped Beef Burfer + Root Wedges with MM Secret Sauce 


Root wedges are my new jam. I’ll be making some soon! The burger was tender and flavorful! Still blows my mind how you can taste the difference between factory meat and the grass-fed stuff. So delicious! 

MM McMuffin with Sweet Potato Bun + Fruit Cup


I’ve never been a big McMuffin fan, but this seemed like a fun addition to my week! The “bun” was a good complement to the sausage and egg, and I didn’t feel all heavy and overstuffed after! 

Pork Carnitas Fajita Bowl


Model Meals has the carnitas game on lock! I had the carnitas with salsa verde recently and when I saw this on the menu I knew I had to snatch it up! 

Chinese Chicken Salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing 

This salad was so good! I loved the snap peas in it, and the combo of the cabbage and lettuce made for a satisfying crunch! Chicken was perfect, and the dressing was delicious! They recommend you enjoy the dressing at room temp, and it definitely makes a difference! 


So, another successful week of Model Meals! Still supplementing with Whole30 compliant food at home, and really enjoying the ease of having meals I can grab or go for my shifts at work or on the days I babysit! 

These meals are designed to be Whole30 compliant, which means they’re free of dairy, soy, grain, alcohol, or added sugars. 

I notice a huge difference in the inflammation I normally notice in my body, as well as my general energy levels with this elimination reset, and the relief of being able to have meals ready without hours of shopping and prep is a lifesaver! 

I’ve already ordered my meals for this Sunday’s delivery (my friend Jen cashed in on my hype and started delivery too, so we are ordering together to save on delivery fees), and I’m SO EXCITED! 

There’s still time to order if you’re in San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, or Santa Barbara. Just head over to the Model Meals Website, and tell them Sondra sent you! Use this link for $10 off your first order

Bon Appetit! 

Model Meals Review Week #2! 

Once again, Model Meals came like a thief in the night and left a box of happiness on my doorstep Sunday night! 

I pre-order my meals the Sunday before, so that I can ensure I get what sticks out as the tastiest on the menu! 

This week, I was super excited for the Green Chile Chicken Soup (I love soup and consider it a food group in its own right), and the “Paella,” and Beef Taco Salad! 

Here’s what I ordered this week: 


Shrimp and Sausage “Paella”


BBQ Pulled Pork with Southern Slaw 

I forgot a photo of this. Inhaled it. Whoops. 

Beef Taco Salad with Chipotle Ranch 


Hot Wings with Dill Potato Salad 

Also inhaled…..

Green Chile Chicken Soup 

Same story…..

Scotch Egg with Breakfast Potatoes 


I tried really hard to remember to take photos of all the meals this week! If you follow me on Instagram, or on Snapchat (@ SeeSondraSlim), you probably caught some pictures of my delicious meals there! 
If you’re in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, or Santa Barbara you can try Model Meals and use THIS LINK for $10 off your order! 

I’m really grateful for the stress factor(s) Model Meals deliveries have taken out of my busy life! 

I was originally worried it’d end up costing me more money in my food budget, but having these meals on hand has SAVED me money! I don’t eat out, there’s always food in my fridge, and I was spending the same amount or MORE weekly going to my usual stores. I supplement these meals with some Whole30 basics I keep on hand always in my house (quick meals that are always easy to prepare). 

Also, it’s fun to look forward to new menus on Sunday and to “shop” for my next batch of meals! It’s so helpful to be able to choose food without even thinking about what I can or cannot have…#whole30problems 

Here’s the menu I just ordered from on Sunday for my next delivery: 


Looks like I’ll be sticking to this for awhile. I’m spreading the word, too, because I officially am obsessed with the good food and convenience! 

Have you tried Model Meals, or other meal delivery services? What is your favorite thing about them? I wanna know! 

‘Til Next Time! 

Model Meals Kitchen: My Review!

I’ve been a big fan of Model Meals for awhile now.

I started another round of Whole30 after getting back from Italy and starting to prepare for my upcoming photo shoot in Greece this summer.

In an effort to set myself up for success this time around, I decided to invest in Model Meals meal delivery to save myself some time, money, and sanity.

Working 12 hour night shifts on weekends, I have a hard time getting motivated to meal prep and actually use all of the food I buy. It’s easy enough to get all the shopping done, but then once the food is in the fridge, my life suddenly seems harder.

Enter: Model Meals!

I got my delivery on Sunday, May 7th. Currently the service delivers to Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, and Santa Barbara.

I ordered from the current menu:

  • Sonoma Chicken Salad + Market Greens with Balsamic Glaze
  • Chicken Fried Veggie “Rice”
  • Meatloaf with House Ketchup + Carrot Parsnip Pilaf
  • Pork Carnitas Taco with Celery Root “Tortilla”
  • Chorizo Scramble + Sweet Potato Hash
  • Bone Broth (there was a 2×1 special this week!)

Correct me if I’m wrong, but all of this sounds amazing!

I tried to get a few different items that sounded really good. Due to having my weight loss surgery in 2011, all of these meal portions really equate to 2-3 meals for me. So it’s a perfect way to get through the week, and I have some food on hand to prep for “filler” meals, as needed!

I’m really excited to try the bone broth also. A suggestion was to add a scoop of my Vital Proteins Collagen Powder and a teaspoon of ghee before bed as a “miracle potion,” and I’m ALL ABOUT that life.

So let’s get down to business-because I’m sure you’re wondering how the food was…some dishes don’t have photos…because as usual I was too excited to remember to snap one before eating!

Sonoma Chicken Salad + Market Greens with Balsamic Glaze


This is definitely one of my fave things EVER! It reminded me of my favorite chicken salad I usually buy at Trader Joe’s, but in totally compliant form! Also, the balsamic was pretty good…and I just came back from visiting a Tuscan balsamic estate, so I’m kind of an expert! Lol.

Chicken Fried Veggie “Rice”

I’m a big fan of the “riced” veggie trend, and this was interesting because it was a sweet potato rice! It was the perfect compliant way to enjoy fried rice, and it was a filling and hearty meal! Total comfort food, without the food coma! The flavor was different than I’d expected…really tangy due to I think the lime juice combined with the sweet potato made for a sweet/sour versus savory taste. Different, but still satisfying!

Meatloaf with House Ketchup + Carrot Parsnip Pilaf

Meatloaf is my jam! Oddly, I love tomatoes but despise ketchup. I started scraping this ketchup off and not even trying it, but then considered maybe without a ton of sugar, ketchup wouldn’t be so gross. And I was right! This added a little tang and zest to the meatloaf without that sickly sweet syrup-y taste. And the pilaf? Back to those riced veggies….love!

Pork Carnitas Tacos with Celery Root “Tortilla”


This dish had me at carnitas! The meat was tender and reheated well! It wasn’t bland or flavorless and I was really impressed with the texture of the tortillas! Also, the salsa verde was tangy, delicious, and the perfect consistency. Never in a million years would I have thought of something so clever as using celery root!

Chorizo Scramble + Sweet Potato Hash


I hate eggs. I hate them. I eat them out of necessity because it’s a fast and easy way to get protein and one of the staples for my successful Whole30. These eggs weren’t so bad. My eggs have to be cooked “hard,” but when I put my hash and chorizo in the skillet with some ghee, I added the egg and diced it up fine like the chorizo and it’s like they weren’t there! Also, that hash is an A+! I’m a fan of chorizo, but typically find the grease to be so overwhelming that I can’t eat it. That wasn’t the case with this bad-boy! I ate every bite, and my mouth didn’t feel like an oil slick!

Bone Broth

Every batch I’ve ever made has fallen short-but this stuff is good! With or without the addition of collagen peptides and ghee, it’s great for sipping on before bed, or even as a filler when I’m not totally sure if I’m actually hungry. It’s satiating and comforting and I take extra comfort in knowing it’s good for me.

The Verdict

Model Meals is a dream! It’s convenient. It came right on time, with text alerts when it was en route and again when it was delivered. I don’t have to stress about what is or isn’t in it, and even when not on Whole30, the menu offers a lot of variety and food that tastes great across the board! Also, while the meals may seem pricey, it’s not as pricey as what I spend sourcing organic/grass fed/etc ingredients and driving all over town for them (I’m talking to you grass fed beef knuckle bones), these meals are what I’d spend or less than eating a decent/healthy/compliant meal at a restaurant. And for the added convenience of doing nothing more than pre-heating them-although they’re mostly all created to be eaten cold/room temp if need be-I’m not complaining!

I have a special part of my heart reserved for companies that go above and beyond to really hear their customers, be sustainable, and take pride in the integrity of their product. I love that Model Meals scores high in every aspect, and I’m already looking forward to my latest delivery….especially a Green Chile Chicken Soup! I promise I’ll try to be better about photos next time.

If you head to the Model Meals website and sign up for their email newsletter, you’ll also get a new recipe in each edition!

I got my latest order this week:

  • Scotch Egg with Breakfast Potatoes
  • Shrimp and Sausage Sweet Potato “Paella”
  • Green Chile Chicken Soup
  • Buffalo Chicken Wings with Dill Potato Salad
  • Beef Taco Salad with Chipotle Ranch
  • BBQ Pulled Pork with Southern Slaw

Have you tried any meal services? What are your favorites? How do they help you? I want to know!

Bon Appetit!

Pisa, San Gimignano, Chianti, and Siena!

My first trip to Italy was the type of vacation where we had a lot of ambitious ideas for what we’d like to do, but got there having done so much at home that we ended up truly vacationing. Walking, drinking a lot of wine, eating a lot of food, and then drinking more wine….if it was too late for more caffe.

This time, we wanted to make sure we saw the things we didn’t get to see last time around! One of the main places on our list was San Gimignano in the Tuscan hills!

It turned out, I found this amazing tour for under  on Viator (you get $10 off with that link!), and it took us to Pisa, San Gimignano, stopped in Chianti Classico for lunch and wine tasting, and then to Siena to round out the day before heading back to Firenze.

As I mentioned before, I’m not too bougie to book a tour when it comes to traveling! It’s a great way to cover a lot of ground in a day, and to make sure you don’t miss the highlights!

Speaking of highlights, here is the best of this day tour through Tuscany!

Pisa

We started early in the morning at the Santa Maria Novella Train Station (and got there just in time to grab cappuccino and cornetto before the morning started), and boarded a double decker charter bus on our way to our first stop- Pisa! We were dropped off just outside of the famed Miracle Square, home to the Leaning Tower, church and duomo.

This part of Pisa doesn’t have much to see outside of the main square, which even early in the morning on an overcast day was full of people on the ground, in the air, and just all over the place trying to get their own tourist-y photo with the tower! Pisas beautiful historical center is a marvel with the detailed marble buildings and walkways!

San Gimignano

After we boarded the bus from Pisa, we started through the rolling hills of Tuscany toward San Gimignano.

On the way, our tour guide mentioned that the main piazza there had Gelateria Dondoli, famous for the Best Gelato in the World. I didn’t honestly hear much else after that….oh except something about the Great Pilgrimage, and how the rich built their homes up in tall towers so they could always see who was coming, and how of the 72 original towers, 14 are still there. Whoop, there it is.

San Gimignano is a very picturesque city…every street you take leads to an amazing photo opportunity, and there is an amazing white wine called Vernaccia that is specific to a type of grape only grown in this region! Of course, I bought some.

Also, yes we got gelato! I got organic strawberry and Zainab got a Saffron specialty flavor. Both were definitely amazing, but it’s hard to say the best in the world because all of the gelato in Italy kinda tastes like the best in the world…am I right?

Chianti Classico

Speaking of wine! After heading out of San Gimignano, we headed to Chianti Classico to the Casa Frassi Winery for wine tasting and lunch.

I cannot stress to you how much I love this place. From the moment we pulled in, it was the enchanting scene you dream about when you dream of a winery in Tuscany. The owner walked us through three of his wines as we overlooked the ever-rolling hillside, and then we went into what used to be a monastery (and is now the dining room) to enjoy a three course lunch. I snuck out of lunch a little early to buy some wine and olive oil to ship home, and took the opportunity to profess my love to him in the hopes that he’d let me move there and live happily ever after-which didn’t seem to woo him much. Lol.

Siena

Siena has some of the most breathtaking architecture I’ve ever seen. Grand churches and squares and even the banks are built with crazy details like heads carved into the trim of the building. This part of Italy is also very strict to this day on neighborhoods and family, and being born into your neighborhood. We actually were there on a “Bank Holiday” and got to see a parade, and all of the 14 flags/crests of each commune. It was pretty amazing!

Just before it was time to head home on the bus, we stopped at a cafe and had a coffee granita drink and it was the perfect end to a long day on our feet!

A Day in Cinque Terre

A rainy Sunday was the start to our second full day in Tuscany, and it wasn’t any less delightful!

I’ve seen photo after photo of these 5 coastal villages-and yet I still wasn’t prepared for how amazing they are!

When planning this adventure, I actually opted to book this Day Tour through Viator (new customers get $10 off their order when you use my link!), because it eased a lot of the transportation concerns for us. We left at 7:30 in the morning from the Santa Maria Novella Train Station on a bus and drove just short of 2 hours to La Spezia, an industrial city just at the base of the mountains leading to 5 tiny coastal villages ranging from populations of 300-3000 people.

On this trip, we visited 4 villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Monterosso, and Vernazza.

The weather made for some overcast photos, but I like to think they still captured the beauty of the villages and the fascination that surrounds the brightly colored buildings and blue waters.

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My favorite thing about taking tours like these, is that there is someone to guide you to the best photos and history in the area, but you also get the opportunity to explore independently and find your own gems. Plus, you’re sure to meet some interesting people-and even make some new friends!

Some of my favorite shots from this trip (PS, all of these photos were taken by Zainab and I on our iPhones!):

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When it comes to shopping, none of these villages really tickled my fancy. There are lots of small, rather pricey shops-which I’m sure ties into the whole “Population: 300” thing.

We did have an amazing blackberry tart at a small cafe in front of the ocean in Vernazza, some super strong caffe correto (espresso+grappa) in Monterosso, where I think we also found the small place that made fresh lemon slushes….and had an option to add vodka.

We added vodka, obviously.

I think moreso than anything, I was too busy taking in how beautiful and well-preserved these little villages were to get too preoccupied with the wares they offered. I saw a lot of the same kitschy and touristy trinkets and small bottles of liquor and oils that you can find most anywhere in Italy…so I stopped worrying about where to shop and what to buy and just enjoyed the ocean instead.

It’s worth noting that there is a train that goes from La Spezia into the villages. It’s very fast, and rather efficient! At the end of the day, there were at least 400 of us piled on the platform waiting for a train that was delayed over 30 minutes…and things got real. People were pushing and arguing and being rude! And it took FOREVER to get off of the train and to the meeting point with our bus because of the crowding and lack of manners!

But I had expected way more tourists and crowding, especially on a Sunday. I was pleasantly surprised at how we had a lot of room to breathe as we made our way through Cinque Terre, moreso during the first half of the day!

This trip really made me want to focus more on the Italian coast on my next trip (although I just have such a love for Florence, and will probably start/end there always), because it really is one of the most beautiful, natural wonders. Sprinkled with history and character, it really draws you into its charms!

Have you been to Cinque Terre? What were your favorite things to see and do?

Happy Travels!

See Sondra Sign-off-stacked

 

 

 

Another Whole30: Week 1 Update

Man.

Remember how I kept saying during my first Whole30 last year that I was shocked at how easy it was? How impressed I was with myself for sticking to the script and making all of my meals and throwing parties while managing to stay compliant? Remember my post about Whole30 being life changing?

Well….this round isn’t that easy. My sugar dragon is my mortal enemy. My headaches were insane the first three days. I feel super sluggish and really sleepy. I have visions of sugary treats and cheese dancing in my head.

I was actually pretty disappointed in myself. All this healthy and delicious food at my disposal, and I’ve considered throwing it all away for Del Taco? Who even AM I?

But here’s the thing: it matters more to me to look and feel good, than it does to taste that Del Taco.

That can really be hard to remember when you’re doing Whole30. Especially in the beginning, and most especially when it’s not brand new to you anymore.

I’ve been putting myself under a lot of pressure for the upcoming photo shoot at the end of June in Greece.

I have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be captured in one of the most beautiful places in the world, accompanied by some of the most beautiful people I know (seriously, amazing people over there at The Boudoir Divas/Boucher, Inc) and I keep just feeling like I’m not….worthy.

In an effort to practice what I preach, I’m gonna take that back. I am worthy.

I. AM. WORTHY.

However, I am also human. And the human in me knows we can do and feel better. And I’m committing to Whole30 again, because the results were worth every moment of frustration for me every time I’ve done it.

My mind is clearer. I make better food choices. I feel more powerful around food and in situations where I normally turn to food for comfort. These are all really good reasons to do it, if you ask me!

So, has week 1 been a little challenging? YEAH.

Am I any stranger to a challenge? NO SIR.

Some strategies for success I’ve employed this time around?

  • I’m obsessed with Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Blueberry Pomegranate Green Tea. It’s great when I get tired of drinking water, and gives me caffeine for my night shift when needed. I quit coffee when I’m on Whole30, because I can’t do it black and don’t want to use the “cheating” of using date paste, blah blah (read…LAZY).
  • I set up my Model Meals delivery order! Use that link for $10 off of your first order! These meals are not only Whole30 in their entirety, but they are delicious and there’s a ton of variety. I have had the pleasure of meeting the founder/creator Danika Brysha…who is absolutely phenomenal in her own right. Not only is she an IMG-represented model, but she started this business from her parents garage and totally turned around her own relationship with food. She’s actually the reason I found out about Whole30 in the first place! My delivery started Sunday, 5/7 and I place my order every Sunday for delivery the following week. This is great, because it takes the stress and time of the prep and shopping somewhat out of the equation. I buy 4-5 meals and supplement them with other food in my house. Also, it takes a lot of the guess work out in terms of finding completely organic, pasture raised, grass fed meats and compliant condiments-which I find to be the most difficult and expensive part of the program, anyways
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Danika and I at the Food Freedom Forever book signing last year!

  • I’m back to journaling, and trying to be better about blogging too. I was talking to my friend Molly about Whole30 and how she also struggles, especially in the sugar department. She asked if I blog about my experience, and I thought “Why am I not more committed to this part?” If I can support someone else in their Whole30, I am happy to!

I’ll keep you all updated. I didn’t weigh myself this time, because I’m not focusing on numbers as much as focusing on how my body feels. But I’m sure I’ll see a shift from the last numbers on the scale when this round is over! After that, I have a Girls’ Weekend in Phoenix right as the round ends, and then I’m back at it until I head to Greece…where the food is fresh and delicious and relatively healthy!

Have you tried Whole30? What are your tips and tricks for staying strong and on track?

‘Til Next Time!

See Sondra Sign-off-stacked

 

A Tuscan Adventure

I got back from Italy about a week ago, and I’ve had a little trouble adjusting back to that pesky thing we call reality.

My love affair with Italy started before I can remember, largely due to my heritage being partially credited to the country. I love authentic Italian cuisine, music, and culture.

This year, I took what I learned from my trip in Fall 2015 to try to make an even better experience possible, and I’m pretty pleased with how it all worked out!

For this adventure, I scored a $668 RT flight out of LAX and right into Florence, Italy where I planned to stay. I booked this flight last October, but I was tracking the flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight tracker/predictor site, since May!

Once my flight was locked in, I hit AirBnB to find the perfect apartment to use as my Florence launchpad for my Tuscany plans.

When I originally started planning, I didn’t even have a travel companion. But I had dates, tickets, and reservations….and faith that everything would work itself out accordingly. But of course, my amazing friend Zainab once again came through and was my travel companion!

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Zainab and I outside the Cieto Chiarli Winery in Bologna

There is truly something to be said of friends who travel together. I look forward to more adventures with her…and we will succeed in stealing Alex away with us next time!

Once all of the most important arrangements were made, I had plenty of time to “map out” an itinerary of sorts, to make the most of Florence and the surrounding areas. Last time, we spent 4 days in Rome and 3 in Florence, and I regretted not having more time in the heart of Tuscany!

Ideally, I wanted a few free days to roam the city and re-visit some of our favorite things from the last visit (which actually weren’t places, but more along the lines of specific types of potato chips and candy bars, lol), and also a few days outside of the main city exploring-there will be more involved posts for each day trip, soon!

My favorite way to book Day Tours and experiences is using Viator, a site/app that books for you via the various companies across the world to get you amazing deals on even more amazing adventures. Get $10 off anything you book when you use this link.

Some of the highlights:

Day 1: Piazzale Michelangelo…and a GELATO FESTIVAL

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Day 2: Cinque Terre

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Day 3: Exploring Firenze: Profumo Santa Maria Novella and the best dessert espresso drink!

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Day 4: Pisa, San Gimignano, Chianti Classico, and Siena

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Day 5: Bologna-The Food Tour to End All Food Tours

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Day 6: More Romaing Firenze…Really Making Our Last Day Count! The Leather School, The Central Market, and more!

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Again, this is a mere taste of all we did! There will be smaller posts later with tips for all of these amazing places to see if you head to Firenze/Toscana!

Want to follow me on the adventures to come (only 53 days until I head to Greece)?

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Snapchat: SeeSondraSlim

I love to post my favorite shots on social media, and I always have behind the scenes fun on Snapchat! I’d love to take you along on my adventures! I still have Phoenix, Greece, New Orleans, Palm Springs, maaaaybe New York City, and San Francisco planned for this year!

Happy Travels!

See Sondra Sign-off-stacked

Making Things Happen.

I try so hard to live an amazing life.

I firmly believe that the best opportunities in life are created by us…that they’re simply choices and we carry them out with tenacity. With hope. With faith. And we just MAKE. THEM. HAPPEN.

The last couple of years have been really difficult for me. I left a job in 2014 that was pretty cushy in terms of pay and hours due to a growing amount of stress that was starting to cause a lot of negativity and sadness in my life. In order to maintain my lifestyle (ahem, pay my bills), I ended up having to take two new jobs. I worked for one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met, Dr. Brew, at Vitality Chiropractic, and I also started working for an ambulance company.

I was working upwards of 90 hours a week, with only every other Sunday off. Living off of 2 hour naps, sleeping in my car between jobs to make sure I would never be late, and always trying to keep a smile on my face and bring my “A” game to work….it was rewarding, but exhausting.

I was fortunate to find the job at the ambulance company (thanks, Lidia!), because it introduced me to the field that I wanted to begin my career in. I continued to learn, and applied to work as a Fire Dispatcher for San Diego Fire-Rescue in 2015. I was hired and training by the end of the year, and just celebrated my one-year mark with them in December.

It’s been a long road. But it’s been worth it.

The issue is, now I still feel so…..tired. I work 3-4 days a week, 12 hour shifts…and I have so much more time on my hands. Somehow, I still haven’t slept enough to make up for that 21 months of insanity.

This year, I decided, I have to keep on pushing like I did working crazy hours, and do some things to shake my life up and live it like I said I would.

So, I planned a trip to Italy in April. I just found out Zainab is officially going with me again, and I am SO excited! We are flying into Florence and staying in a beautiful apartment while we use the beautiful city as a home base to see Tuscany (there is a day touring prosciutto, parmesan and balsamic factories involved, y’all).

The end of this month, I’ll be road-tripping to Arizona with my friend Brian to see one of our favorite country duos, Dan + Shay, and catch a game while the Padres are at Spring Training! I’m also insisting on stops at Dateland (every kind of date, date shakes, date ice cream….I buy dates for Whole30 goodies here) in Yuma, and a Cracker Barrel….because obviously!

I am going to Greece at the end of June with The Boudoir Divas (I believe they opened one more coveted spot last minute since the four original ones went so quickly) to do a photoshoot in Mykonos and Santorini. Going on one of their International trips has been on my bucket list FOREVER, and Greece has been on that list, as well!

I flew to DC during my birthday week to see my family. My “sister cousins,” their beautiful babies, and the aunt and uncle who took me in during my teen years.

I flew to Denver in January to visit my Bestie in her new home state, and even brought Zainab along and managed to surprise her!

The end of summer, you’ll find me in New Orleans with the Obesity Action Coalition, attending my third Your Weight Matters Convention. Pretty excited to be in the big easy with people I love, expanding my knowledge and working to be a better advocate for Obesity treatment and bias-fighting!

I’ve got some other plans pending for this year, but I think I’m off to a pretty good start! I’m also starting another round of Whole30 this Sunday, to get my mind and body ready for all this jet-setting and indulgence. I need to feel my best to live my best. I hate how growing up makes you actually respect realities such as these (and if you don’t, you’ll find yourself vomiting Jack in the Box tacos and cursing yourself for eating like you’re 19 again, so…there’s that).

Moral of the story? Don’t forget to make room for LIVING. Life is too short.

Sean’s grandpa, whom I affectionately thought of as my own, passed away the day after my birthday, on March 2nd. He is one person who always said “I’m blessed!” when you asked how he was doing, and always made it a point to tell the stories of the amazing 93 year-long life he lived. We will be celebrating his life today at his wake, and tomorrow at his funeral.

I want to be a person who lives to tell of the adventures, and says with pride that she did it because she could. Because she MADE IT HAPPEN.

Life is waiting for you!