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!

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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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Photo Reveal: Korin at Wonderland Boudoir!

I had a blast back in April, modeling for The Boudoir Divas at their 2014 Boudoir Retreat. I met some amazing women on a journey to begin/improve their Boudoir skills, and I am so excited at the fact that photographers have been kind enough to share the images (they certainly don’t have to) and it’s so fun for me to share them with you! Check out my Photo Reveal with Agi M Photography, too!

I am inspired every time I enter that studio. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. It doesn’t matter what a scale says.

It doesn’t matter what a tag in a pair of jeans says.

You’re beautiful, and you deserve to see this side of yourself. It’s liberating, empowering, and just so dang FUN!

Here are some of the awesome photos from Korin at Wonderland Boudoir/Urban Jungle Photography:

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You can find Korin online (she is based out of Dallas, TX):

Wonderland Boudoir Facebook Page

Wonderland Boudoir Website

Urban Jungle Photography on Facebook

Urban Jungle on Instagram

Please go check her out, and see all of her beautiful work!

Thank you so much, Korin, for being so fun to work with! I love the photos!

‘Til Next Time!

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Clean Eating Challenge Day 2 & 3!

It’s been a doozy!

The hard parts? NOT going to Starbucks for my second wind after my 3 hour lunch break, not being able to indulge in bakery fresh cookies (I snuck one yesterday, and told myself the calories don’t count if no one sees me. I am terrible, and my detoxing tummy made me feel it!), and well…. that’s about it. Not really bad at all!

The good things? My water intake is way up, I feel more energized in the morning, and I know where each and every ingredient in my meals comes from… plus, I am cooking more! Cooking is one of my passions, and it’s really therapeutic after a day of insanity! I’m glad this motivates (and um, REQUIRES) me to do so!

Day 2 was awesome. I finally had overnight oats. And I LOVE them! So much so, that I substituted the day 3 yogurt parfait for another batch of overnight oats…. because otherwise, plain Greek yogurt and I are NOT friends.

Day 2 Recipes are here.  Day two was a little bland after breakfast, mainly because I was all excited for the cabbage wraps… but I am allergic to mango and avocado. So…I didn’t take the time to think of worthy substitutes. I bought an avocado anyways, but chickened out when I realized I was out of Benadryl and too lazy to go to the store. 🙂

Blueberry Overnight Oats with chia seeds

Blueberry Overnight Oats with chia seeds

Day 3 Recipes are here. Day 3 was awesome! The Asian chicken salad with leftover cabbage and almonds and chicken was great… and I really enjoyed the vinaigrette too! I forgot to add the tomatoes to the salad… so when I make it again after the challenge, I’ll remember that part! I skipped the yogurt parfait today in favor of making another batch of overnight oats… because. I love them! My new favorite healthy breakfast… and it would make a great snack, too! It’s really filling (thanks to those oats and chia seeds), full of protein (as a WLS post-op I need 60-80 grams per day), and I eat it slowly to savor it. It took me so long to eat it at work this morning, I skipped the avocado snack.

Softening the shallots and garlic for the lentils...

Softening the shallots and garlic for the lentils…

Bubbling away!

Bubbling away!

Cauliflower "Steaks" that sound weird, but are SO addictive!

Cauliflower “Steaks” that sound weird, but are SO addictive!

 

A quick tip? Lentils are a lengthy process! Prep them ahead of time… or cheat a little bit! I have always bought the Trader Joe’s steamed lentils in the refrigerated section with the other prepped veggies. For the sake of showing you all how easy the challenge can be, I followed the Buzz Feed recipe, but you could easily doctor up the already prepped lentils.

Trader Joe's Steamed Lentils

Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils

Same goes for the quinoa…TJ’s has it in the freezer section, and it’s ready after 2 minutes in the microwave!

Overall, the Buzz Feed Clean Eating Challenge has really been…..FUN! I love that the menu is so structured, without being daunting and skimpy. As a matter of fact, I am eating about 1/2 of the meal serving, which means I am eating about half of the nutritional value… so I am keeping an eye on that in the case I need to double up other supplements.

Have you tried the Clean Eating Challenge? If so, what are your favorite meals so far?! Which ones are you looking forward to? That’s all for now, but I’ll do my best to keep you posted as I go!

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Learning to See the Pretty…and Photo Reveal from Agi M Photography!

It may sound a little stupid, but I have gotten pretty used to being “pretty.”

A lot of people think I’m really vain, self-absorbed, or shallow… but the fact of the matter is, I am just catching up. I’m making up for lost time. Making up for all of the years, days, hours and minutes that I told myself I wasn’t good enough.

Freshman Year Homecoming... circa 2002?

Freshman Year Homecoming… circa 2002?

Circa 2009...at karaoke with my Other Mother

Circa 2009…at karaoke with my Other Mother

All the time that I sat there and believed I didn’t deserve to be loved.

That was all, pardon my French BULLSHIT.

Your weight doesn’t determine what how much love you deserve. A bad haircut doesn’t instantaneously disqualify you from being treated with respect. It doesn’t work that way.

When someone says “You are so pretty!”  I smile, and accept the damn compliment with a “Thank you!” and I always try to genuinely return compliments as well.

But there is always that one person trying to rain on my parade and make me think that those compliments are undeserved. And lately, that person has been ME.

I literally cried when I saw that homecoming photo on Instagram. Partly because that point in life is hard to re-visit in general, but also partly because I needed a reminder that no matter how I might think I look or feel at times…I am NOT this girl anymore. I am so much stronger. So much braver. So much more confident in what she deserves.

I was honored and thrilled to be asked to model for The Boudoir Divas recently at their annual Boudoir Photographer Retreat, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I’d been considered in the first place!

I got there, got my makeup done, Candace came and did my hair…I put on my high wasted black panties, black bra, black bustier, and lace robe…and I felt ready!

I felt gorgeous! I felt secure!

As some of the photos made an appearance on Instagram, I started to feel less sure of myself.

As I mentioned awhile back, I ironically LOST weight on vacation in Hawaii. In the midst of my return, I was dealing with things being harder at work, Sean losing his job the day before I departed for Hawaii, and more… and next thing you know, the New Year is here and I’ve gained 20+ pounds.

I was so disappointed. I was so angry. More than anything…I was so ashamed. I pride myself on what I accomplished with weight loss, and here I was, failing. Gaining.

My immediate reaction was fear. Fear of becoming that girl again. So… when I saw these photos from the amazing and talented Agi from Agi M Photography, I was having a hard time seeing the pretty.

I was seeing the cellulite. The HUGE arms. The droopy thighs. The plain face.

(I should disclose that I opened this email Sunday morning at closing ceremonies for Relay for Life, after walking over 30 miles in a weekend, and operating on the one nap I took from 1-6 am. So, I was not the most aware of anything happening!)

You know what? My arms might be huge. But I can change that! My thighs might be droopy… but at least my surgeon said the first revision wasn’t perfect. My face isn’t plain. I’m just a tad dramatic when I see myself NOT smiling. Agi was so much fun to work with; so full of life, so excited, and so passionate about what she does. She is one of those people who you trust instantly, because you feel like you’ve known her forever (she is perfect for this industry, because you’ll recall I felt the same way about the Divas and their MUA Peggy when I very first ventured in. You can read more about that in this post)!

I decided to open the email and re-visit these images this evening, after showing them to Sean last night and sharing how I felt with him last night. If you know my boyfriend, you know he is a huge supporter, and that he loves me for me. And his perspective was not surprising. He said I looked great, and then helped me plan my next steps for fixing what’s really wrong: how I feel inside!

So… here are a few of my favorite shots. Check me out!

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Check out more amazing photos from some amazing women at the retreat in this Boudoir Divas Blog Post! Also, you can connect with Agi M Photography on Facebook! While you’re at it, you need to check out my super talented friend, Candace from Ah La Mode Designs. My phenomenal hair is ALL her doing! Also, the fabulous Peggy with His Blushing Bride who did makeup for all the girls! This was my second makeup run with her, and she is still as fun as the first time I met her!

I’ve rambled on and on… but the moral of the story is… sometimes you have to learn to see past what you hate seeing. See past what you’re struggling with, and know that you are captivating regardless of what a label in a dress or a number on a scale says. You’re not defined by how small your arms are, or how your thighs look. The best thing about boudoir is that it captures your beauty at any size. It’s not about being a Victoria’s Secret Angel… but the fact that you FEEL like one. And that you are captured in a way that puts you right up there with them in rank.

 It’s a gift to learn to see yourself in the eyes of those who capture you the way that Agi captured me. And once I took the time to see that, I found myself re-energized and ready to get back to actually working on those things, instead of avoiding the way they look in photos. I’ll be sharing more from these talented ladies, as I receive them!

That’s all for now… but I won’t be gone for long!

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#YWM2013 Wrap-Up: A Weekend to Remember!

Let’s be honest: Anyone can begin a “weight loss journey.” Anyone can start and maintain a blog.

But, me? I truly feel there needs to be an underlying passion to really advocate and educate an audience when it comes to the importance of these lifestyle changes, milestones, and victories!

I am so grateful that Sean and I were able to make it to the Obesity Action Coalition Your Weight Matters Convention in Phoenix this year.

I met so many amazing people, and learned so much useful information that I am excited to use to keep going through my transformation, and hopefully, utilize to inspire you on YOURS.

There were multiple speakers and educational sessions that really taught me a lot, and also, some that validated the feelings I have had at my heaviest, and as I transition to the newer, healthier, fitter me.

Sadly, we weren’t able to make it to Thursday’s Member Mingle and Advocacy Training, but we arrived just at the beginning of the breakout sessions on Friday morning, and from the moment we walked into the conference hall, I could feel the energy!

Our first session we attended was “Weight Bias: Changing Public Perception Starts with Me.” I felt like this session was the best way for us to start the day, because a lot of people don’t realize that images and stereotypes of Obesity are perpetuated by society without even thinking about it. How many times have you held a bias towards someone who was Obese, or even too thin? We all do it, and more importantly, we can all help BREAK THAT CYCLE! I am pretty well-known in my circle of friends for being very vocal when people try to attack my size or the size of others in general (just attack-y people in general). I feel a need to really put these people in their place, and make them realize that 1) people can HEAR them and 2) it’s NOT ok to treat people that way. What I walked away from this session, is that I can use the information and resources I have from organizations like the OAC, or even my personal experiences, to educate people, and break those biases.

Other sessions we attended?

Everyday Advocacy: Simple Ways to Make a Difference,” “Planning, Shopping, and Dining: Practical Tactics for Good Nutrition,” “Who’s Staring Back at You in the Mirror: Improving Self-Perception,” “Understanding and Managing Food Addiction,” “My Everyday Routine Matters: Sleep, Stress, and Other Factors Impacting Weight,” and “Weighing Success Beyond the Scale: Identifying and Maintaining a Healthy Weight,” and “Expectations of Your Body After Weight Loss: Plastic Surgery and Other Options.”

All in all? So much good stuff! The OAC will be providing attendees with access to the powerpoint presentations within a week or so, and I’ll be sure to get access of all of you, so that you can see all the amazing lectures and statistics we got to learn from!

Friday evening, there was a Welcoming Ceremonies Dinner, and Sean and I sat at an empty table by the door. We were later joined by 4 others, who just so happened to all be representatives from the Platinum Sponsor of the convention, Eisai Pharmaceuticals. This company has just launched a new weight loss drug that uses neuro-science and triggers the signal in your brain that tells you that you are “full.” They were so interested in my opinion of the American Medical Association declaring Obesity a disease, and what my thoughts are on their product.

It felt so AMAZING to be sitting with this group of professionals and talking to them about something that I wish would have been a more prevalent option back when I was talking about Weight Loss Surgery with my Primary Care Physician. I was honored to have my opinion regarded so highly, and it was an awesome networking opportunity, as well. One woman shared her personal weight loss success with me, and said she was going to have her sister check out my blog.

In general, I made some new friends, and they happened to be some of my most favorite WLS/Health/Weight Loss bloggers! It was AWESOME! Twitter shout-outs were happening all weekend!

It was 114 degrees all weekend, and Saturday night after the awards dinner as I was headed to the bar with some new friends, it was actually raining, and there was lightning…but it was STILL 100 degrees! Crazy!

The resort was beautiful. The OAC truly picked an ideal location, and we enjoyed all of the amenities of the resort that we were able to use during our visit.

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One cool thing about the event was that at the Welcoming Ceremonies Dinner, the location and date of the 2014 Convention was announced!

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Will YOU be there? Because if so, you’ll run into me! We are already planning to make sure we can fit this into the budget, and I am hoping we can make it our first real vacation together, as well! No way we are going to Orlando and not going to their Sea World (and maybe even DISNEYWORLD!?!?!)

We shall see what happens 🙂

This event got me even more excited and inspired for my next convention in October, and it is really cool that some of the new friends I have made will be there, so I won’t be the totally new kid this time around! I cannot wait!

If you’re interested in starting your experience with these amazing, inspiring, educational events, you still have time to register and join me at the Obesity Help Convention in Anaheim October 4-5 and experience the magic for yourself!

That’s all for now, but stay tuned for those amazing presentation powerpoint links coming soon!

Sean and I are off to use our “Planning, Shopping, and Dining: Practical Tactics for Good Nutrition” education this weekend, and prepping all of our meals for the week after we hit up Costco and the Farmer’s Market to do some nutritious damage.

Now? Time to work on the thigh lift post you’ve all been asking for, before this Percocet kicks in again and makes me snooze for the next 6 hours!

‘Til Next Time!

XOXO