Whole30 Survival Tips


January is here and Day 6 of the January Whole30 is almost over! While I’m not one for the pressure of resolutions…I am a BIG fan of starting the year off with Whole30.

Why? A few reasons:

  1. The group support via Social Media
  2. The Daily Updates and periodic emails from the official Whole30 site/social media
  3. I feel like I’m starting the year off on the right foot….with self care and self awareness where I struggle most
  4. It’s a great way to catapult into healthier habits…especially before a trip to Paris in March and a photo shoot in Mexico in May!

I have a few handy tips/tricks that make Whole30 a lot easier and more manageable for my lifestyle (because 16 hour night shifts pretty much are the ultimate road block to Whole30 success and I need all of the help I can get)!

  1. I source out some of my meal prep to Model Meals. They’re meals are all Whole30 compliant, and while the founder Danika Brysha is inspirational enough as a total GirlBoss, the meals she and her team come up with are always a hit…plus you can order RX Bars, fresh pressed juices, bone broth, and other essentials…straight to your door (SoCal only for now). I use these meals to supplement my own meal prep and especially for easier meals during my 16 hour shifts at the dispatch center. Use this link for $25 off your first Model Meals order!
  2. I live at Trader Joes. Tons of compliant salsas/tomato sauces, grass-fed meats, sugar free chicken sausages, cage free/organic eggs, cauliflower rice, RX and Lara bars (emergency food only), and pre-chopped veggies for roasting or salad-making. Affordable, convenient, and all in ONE PLACE.
  3. See Also: Amazon and Thrive Market: They have a ton of Whole30 compliant brands available for purchase all in one place. Tessemae’s sauces/dressings, NutPod creamers, compliant bone broths, La Croix sparkling water, and soooo much more! Use this link for 25% off of your first order with Thrive Market! Check out their really cool Whole30 starter kits!
  4. I have a folder of Whole30 “Cheat Sheets” on my phones desktop. This way, if I need to know whether an additive is compliant, or refresh on appropriate portion sizes, I am good to go, ON the go.
  5. I keep the Whole30 books close to me. I just purchased the Whole30 Day-By-Day book via preorder from Amazon and was so excited when it arrived earlier in December! Its got a kind of running “timeline” of how you may/should be feeling day by day, and spaces to put notes and track your progress and feelings as you go along! It’s like self-guided coaching, which I thought was really cool! Plus, I always have It Starts with Food close to me as well, to remind me that these lifestyle changes are about so much more than what it feels like I can’t have, and that its all about feeling better than I’ve been feeling-all by choosing to eat whole, minimally processed foods and making a few more dishes!

Are you doing the January Whole30? What are your foolproof ways to succeed and stay on track! Leave a comment and let me know!


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Traveling with BariLife!

You guys.

This last month has been an absolute whirlwind. I don’t know where August, let alone 2017 even went.

I was fortunate enough in August to be able to go visit my mom in Connecticut for her birthday, and while there, we spent two nights and three days in New York City. It’s become standard for us to hit the Big Apple whenever I come to visit (gotta love that its less than 2 hours away by train)!

I went on this trip wanting to make sure that I could keep up with the changes I’ve made in my daily routine. I was fortunate to receive some goodies from my amazing friends over at BariLife, and they came in SO HANDY!

You may remember my last post about the newer Lemonade Multivitamin Powder I tried from the fine folks at BariLife, and those convenient packets they are available in? They are absolutely perfect and just small enough to throw in your carry-on or personal item when you’re on the plane and on the go! I got a tub of it, and its super easy to put in snack-size bags, or in the dispenser of your choice for travel, as well!


I also recently began using the BariLife Probiotic capsules and BariLife Vitamin B1 capsules, which are both just as easy to throw in your bag or organize in your favorite pill box.

I am terrible at eating breakfast, and vacations/trips are always a little hard for me because the time differences and adjusting back to a regular day time schedule, I can’t bring myself to eat for awhile after waking up. I have started carrying scoops of BariLife Natural Whey Protein so that whether I am on a plane, in a hotel, or even out and about, I can just add water and make sure I have the protein and nutrition I need to conquer all the adventures I set out on! This powder has 24 grams of protein, only 1 gram of sugar, is made with milk from hormone-free cows, and sweetened with stevia! They also sent me some cool cereal packets that I threw into my carry-on for a snack option. I have a BariLife Breakfast Sampler I haven’t gotten into yet, but as soon as I do, you’ll hear more about those items, too!

Also, I think I’ve mentioned I am absolutely obsessed with the BariLife Peanut Butter Crunch Bar which packs a punch with 14 grams of protein, is gluten-free, and low sugar. I have them in my locker at work, in my snack basket at home, in my work bag, in my “travel bag” and in the console of my car. I tried some other flavors this time around, and  I am also a huge fan of the Lemon Crunch and Cinnamon Raisin Crunch, too!

Traveling as a post-op can be tough, even 6 years out. I constantly have to evaluate the meals available on flights, to make sure I’m getting everything I need, not eating too much of what I certainly don’t need, and feeling good while I am on the go! I am so grateful that BariLife makes the perfect products to help me stay sane and healthy when I’m out exploring this big world!

I head to New Jersey this Saturday for the Curvy Kate Star in a Bra Live Audition, and I’m feeling great about being able to not only have BariLife keeping me on track as I try to be a little more health-conscious this week (because, um, its a lingerie shoot), but to take with me easily to stay on track while I’m across the country!

Want to learn more? Don’t forget to check out the BariLife Bariatric Supplements 101 Guide! It’s been tremendously helpful for me, as I keep trying to improve my personal health and wellness!

Don’t forget to follow them on the BariLife Instagram, and you can always see me on the SeeSondraSlim Instagram and SeeSondraSlim snapchat too,  where I’ll be showing you how BariLife comes with me on my adventures!

*These products were sent to me at no charge in exchange for my honest review.*

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Curvy Kate Star in a Bra 2017….I’m a Finalist! 

You guys.

I entered the Curvy Kate Star in a Bra competition week before last and I was super excited when I got an email last week to set up a time for a FaceTime interview with this amazing UK based brand! 

I learned I am one of the TWENTY FINALISTS! I’ll be flying to New Jersey in a couple of weeks for a “Live Audition,” and the photos from that photo shoot will be used for the official contest! 

One winner gets a modeling contract with True Model Management, as well as the opportunity to shoot for Curvy Kate’s Spring/Summer 2018 line on-location in Europe! 

Soon as the contest is live, I’ll update you all so you can hopefully help me win! YOUR votes determine the winner! 

Look for me and the other contestants on the latest Curvy Kate blog post! Make sure you check out their website too, for ADORABLE lingerie and swimwear for D+ cups! It’s a fantastic company to support, because they have both an amazing product AND message! 

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.


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!

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