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!

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!

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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!

 

I Hate This Part Right Here.

Bonus points if that made you sing a Pussycat Dolls song when you read it.

If you have been following (or even just reading occasionally since I started this blog, you may remember it all started with 30 Day Updates.

Every 30 days (or so), I posted a photo of myself in my under-stuff so that I could track my weight loss journey.

The main reason I did this? Purely for accountability, and to give myself a reason to KEEP. ON. GOING.

Alas, shit happens.

Here I am, 5 1/2 years later and the amount of life changes I’ve faced in that time is kind of mind-boggling to me. On top of changing jobs approximately 5 times, moving 3 (or was it 4?) times, beginning a serious relationship, a really weird and blurry 18 month old period where I worked upwards of 90 hours per week without sleep….I don’t really have any concrete excuses for what happened.

All I know is life got crazy, life got hard, and here I am trying to get back to the lowest weight I ever hit: 198 pounds. Or at least somewhere close to it, kinda sorta. Really, I just want to feel as amazing as I did then. I want to be able to do everything my body could do then, again.

You may have seen my most recent post about Whole30 and how since I discovered and tried it last August, I’ve made a lot of changes for the better.

Although I feel those differences, I was really struggling to physically see any changes. So I thought to myself, “Why don’t you start back at the beginning?”

When I began my first round of Whole30 on August 13th, 2016 I had Sean take a photo of me to compare to throughout my process. I actually felt so great and was so happy that my scale moved 13 pounds….I forgot the photo.

So, I took a new photo today before leaving home for work, and begrudgingly pulled up the old one for comparison.

I wasn’t looking forward to making this collage…but I am glad I did. Not only was it important to me to see the difference, but I thought it might be helpful to those who are trying Whole30 or struggling through these types of situations to see that my story and experience are real.

And so, Sondra in her underwear photos have returned.

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August 13, 2016 and January 12, 2017

And so, thats where I’m at. It’s not perfection, and it probably never will be. But I’m ok with that.

How do you track your progress? Does the visual make you feel more accomplished, or do you prefer to track by weight and measurements? I wanna know!

Until next time!

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How Whole30 is Changing My Life

If you know me at all, you know I’m obsessed with the Whole30 since last Summer. We could be real-life friends, you could follow me on Instagram, or occasionally watch my Snapchat story….but regardless, you know.

I learned about the Whole30 when I was introduced to Model Meals last year, and the founder, Danika Brysha, is passionate about a Whole30 diet and turned it into a (delicious) meal delivery service.

Whole30 is not a run-of-the-mill “diet.” Rather, it’s the opposite. It’s a fundamental approach to eliminating specific food groups from your life for 30 days, and then gradually reintroducing them after the 3o days to pinpoint what foods are affecting your health and wellness.

While Whole30 is a way to tackle issues with your overall health, I definitely considered it for weight loss, as well. My initial thoughts were that Whole30 could help me combat a serious sugar addiction I’ve been battling with over the past couple of years (but really, my whole life) pretty fiercely.

I thought it was going to be the end of my life. That I would be hungry and miserable and cranky and sad. But lo and behold, after the first three days, I was feeling damn near invincible. With the exception of some morning headaches (I’m attributing those to sugar withdrawal and having gone back to night shift at the same time as starting Whole30), I felt so much more in control of my life. Of my kitchen. Of my meals. Of my true health.

I first read “It Starts with Food,” then the “Whole30” book. I preordered “Food Freedom Forever,” and “The Whole30 Cookbook.” I immersed myself in the information. I made note of the cues discussed in It Starts with Food, and felt relieved to know that the food I was eating was indeed likely the reason I was facing fatigue, an inability to lose weight, uncomfortable bloating, and skin issues. This spoke to me and said “It IS you….but you can choose to change it.”

I began my Whole30 in August, using it as a catalyst to change my habits before an upcoming trip I had to San Francisco, Connecticut and New York to spend time with my mom and brother. I wanted to put myself on the right track, and be ready to enjoy this trip without feeling so out of control and sad about my choices.

30 Days. It actually became so normal for me, that I lost count of my days. I used social media to get a virtual support system. I used my Instagram and Snapchat to share my experience, and ended up making new internet friends who were Whole30 newbies, alumni, and absolute pros. I even inspired a couple of people to give it a try, and got to share in their successes.

At the conclusion of my Whole30, I was 13 pounds lighter, my skin was glowing, I didn’t feel like the world was over if my dinner wasn’t followed by dessert…..and it was so liberating!

Fast forward to the end of November, and I was feeling even more empowered with the new Food Freedom Forever (and hearing Melissa Hartwig speak at a book signing in San Diego and meeting Danika there, too!) and I decided another Whole30 reset was just what I needed going into the holiday season. I knew that following these guidelines and resetting before the New Year was the best way to avoid the excessive cravings and mindless eating that I generally face during that time of year.

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With the amazing Melissa Hartwig for the Food Freedom Forever Book signing in La Jolla

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It was pure luck that I got to see Danika Brysha of Model Meals at the very same event. I spoke with her for a few minutes and she’s seriously the most phenomenal woman. Model, Entrepreneur, and beautiful person? #Goals

It worked. I planned my reset so that I could be done on Christmas Day. I wasn’t tempted by all of the treats around me. I indulged in some of my very favorite things, and I listened to my body when it felt full. I questioned whether I was actually hungry or not when treats appealed to me, and I continued to learn more about myself. I continued to acknowledge that I am not as helpless as I was feeling…I just hadn’t found what worked for me.

I am so grateful for the tools Whole30 has given me. While I purchased all of the books, one of the best things about the program is that you can use their website for printable for all of the things you need to make sure that your Whole30 is successful! The books were important for me, because I felt the need to have something tangible in my hands to refer to when I was feeling weak or conflicted or just downright confused (you will read so many labels, and you will constantly be googling foreign words to find out if an item is compliant and that book helped me so much lol). Since my first Whole30, Im down 18 pounds total, and I feel like I have found a lifestyle that works for me. Because of Whole30, I am able to make choices based on what food is actually doing to benefit my body, but I am learning that I don’t have to be afraid of food that isn’t “real” every once in awhile.

I’m still a serious work in progress, but I’m creating a balance that works for me.

Today is Day 10 of the January Whole30, but you can start whenever you’re ready! Check it out, and plan when to begin your journey. I hear people pass on the opportunity because this wedding is coming, or that event is almost here…but the fact is, I did my first and second round of Whole30 while throwing a going away party for my best friend (catered by San Diego’s amazing Daniela’s Kitchen), working 12 hour night shifts, on a 3 day, 2 night Catalina Island Bachelorette party, and between Thanksgiving and Christmas when all the potlucks at work happen.

If I can do it? Anyone can!

What are some of the ways that you “reset” when you feel your food relationship getting out of control? Have you tried Whole30? Have questions? I want to know! Drop them in the comments!

Here’s to Happy and Healthy (and hearing a lot more from me about it in 2017)!

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