Whole30 Survival Tips

Whew!

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!

 

See Sondra Sign-off-stacked

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!