Thursday, November 24, 2016

Food is...

Happy Thanksgiving! I woke up early this morning with a grateful heart. I admit, for the last week or so I've had a lot of mixed emotions and negative feelings. It all started on Friday... what would have been my stillborn son's 14th birthday. It's ALWAYS a day of profound sadness every year. Grief for a little boy that I only carried for 21 weeks and held for a little while outside of my body. That grief spilled into the weekend, and lots of tears were shed.

I spent some time at the beach on Sunday with my family and it made me feel better (it always does). My two day work week flew by and I am super thankful for 5 days off.

I had not planned on cooking Thanksgiving dinner. My heart and mind just wanted to avoid the holiday all together. Thanksgiving has always been my FAVORITE holiday. And it's because of all the wonderful memories made with my mom, and then my mom and I, cooking dinner and baking pies and cakes. It was always a big deal. Momma's dressing was the highlight of my year. At some point after I got married, she passed the dressing torch to me. When my mom told me that my dressing was officially better than hers, I was so happy. Then Thanksgiving dinner was my things... I would cook for my mom. We would cook together.

I can remember preparing our last meal together... 2010. And every year after that after she moved to Missouri with my sister, my little family and I would drive the 5 hours there and my sister and I would cook together for my mom. She would join us for the day from the nursing home.

Thanksgiving = my mom. And my mom is gone now and it's so hard.

But I know she would be so disappointed if I skipped the day. Because my own family loves this holiday, too.

So once I decided to cook something, my family FIRMLY told me that if they even SEE cauliflower in the kitchen they will go crazy. Clyde put his foot down... no sugar-free desserts, no faux food. They wanted the real deal Thanksgiving dinner.

Because it's just one day.

So after my 19-year old daughter got her paycheck and offered to buy groceries on Tuesday, we planned a menu. And I promised to make their carby favorites. But I also knew I could also make options just for me. I knew I could make it work. I am NOT making chess squares or caramel pie or any of my other favorite desserts because that would just be torture. But I AM having sweet potatoes, because I want them. And wine.

Last night Clyde and I had our nightly talk (this is how he unwinds after a long day) and we talked about my relationship with food and how I want to move forward in 2017 with my diet and journey. From HIS perspective, being super strict and eliminating entire food groups has just been another food 'behavior' that eventually I need to stop doing. He pointed out (correctly) that my addiction to food and my feelings surrounding food are all embedded from my childhood. I'm emotionally tied to food. He actually compared my bond to food to the way he feels when he is warm under bed covers.

When he was a child, he used to hide under the covers of his grandmother's bed when he was scared. That was his safe place.

He told me that food was my safe place. My security blanket.

And he's right. In so many ways. Because often our safety zone becomes the place where stop growing. We hide there and die because we are unable to move forward with life because of fear of failure. Fear of something different. Fear of getting cold and uncomfortable. At some point, our safe place becomes our prison. A house from an episode of Hoarders. Our fear of stepping outside suddenly becomes paralyzing and we need therapy and interventions and Xanax just to do something that most people consider "normal".

Will I ever be sane around food? Will I ever be able to handle moderation? Will I ever be able to eat "Thanksgiving" food and not obsess over carbs and calories?

I follow a variety of "food styles" on social media, and I have learned that food obsession can really go two different ways. Some people go from one extreme behavior toward food to another. Do I want to have peace with food, but still have to constantly monitor numbers and macros? Or do I want to learn how to eat intuitively and enjoy moderation on holidays? Do I want to spend hours a day on fitness? Or just move and exercise and have fun with it? Is food really just fuel? Or can it also represent love and family and friendship?

I made Clyde his favorite chocolate cake yesterday. And I know that while I was making that cake, I felt nothing but love. It made my heart happy to know that he was going to be surprised and happy when he saw it. As I was writing out the menu for today, I knew my kids would be overjoyed at having REAL macaroni and cheese. And that made me happy, too.

Food IS fuel for your body. But food is also love.

I don't want to obsess over food. I don't want to obsess over numbers... either on a scale or from macronutrients. I want to be healthy and I want to feed my body food that makes me feel good. 2016 has definitely given me insight to what foods work for my body, and which foods do not. It's been a learning process. Processed food and sugar are definitely out, because no matter what your food template is, they are poison to our body. But I do think I want to add more vegetables. I do think I want to eat less beef and pork (because my body just doesn't LOVE those two forms of meat).

I'm really just thinking out loud. Planning for 2017. Thinking about how to end this year strong and healthy. 2016 has been my most consistent year EVER and I'm so proud and grateful for all I've learned. For getting my HEALTH back. I've made progress mentally and physically and I am ready to make even more in 2017.

Friday, November 18, 2016

I need to write...

I need to write. Daily.

When I first started my blog 8 years ago, I started it as a journal. A way to document my journey and a way to write out my thoughts and feelings about my life. It turned into so much more... and as I've said many times over the past few years... At some point I stopped writing for ME.

I am so grateful for the friends I've made through blogging and social media. Blogging has afforded me some amazing opportunities (TWO trips to NYC!), and I've also received incredible encouragement and support from an online community of like-minded individuals.

But the larger that audience grew, the more I feel like I pulled back from putting my full emotions and heart into writing.

Because people are now watching. People I know in REAL life. It became hard to put my business out there.

Now, though... things have changed a little. It might be me, but I don't think people read blogs as much as they used to. Seems crazy, but I think Facebook and other social media gets all the views. Which may be a good thing.

Because I need to write. I need to blog again. I need the outlet.

Writing is my 'thing'. It's my talent. My creative gift.

And I need it right now. I need that outlet.

But I don't want to be censored. I don't want to have to pick and choose what I disclose. I need for this to be a diary again. Somewhere that I can be candid and emotional.

Because my life is going into a whole new realm right now and I need to process it in the only way I know how. By writing through it. By writing about it.

2016 has been a breakthrough year for me. I have gone from just existing to actually LIVING in my purpose. But finding my purpose and getting past fear has been so transformative that I am now facing a lot of... emotions?... that maybe I wasn't prepared for.

Life seems so BIG now. The possibilities for my future are so endless. And for the first time in my life I KNOW without a DOUBT that I am on the edge of greatness. But it's still a lot to process.

Because I'm not there...yet. Close. But not close enough.

My brain is always on TEN lately. I have a pretty long commute every day (2+ hours total) and I spend that time listening to Podcasts or audio books. I'm in a constant state of personal development nowadays. And I get so many ideas while I'm driving! So much inspiration and so many ah-ha moments. But then I get to my destination (work or home) and my role as teacher or mom begins and I am suddenly carried away from my thoughts or ideas and they take a while to come back.

So, I had an idea today. I need to start writing again. I need to make notes in a small notebook that I carry in my purse or keep in my car (don't worry... I won't do it while driving, lol). I can also make a voice memo on my phone. But then I need to immediately write about it. Whether it's in my journal, or via Blogger. I need to start writing about it all.

Because my thoughts are important right now. I need to document these feelings and what is going on in my life right now.

It might be helpful to someone in the future. Or even now. Or... it could just sound like jumbled rubbish and only make sense to me.

Either way... it will be here. So if you choose to read, that's fine. If no one reads, that's fine, too.

I'm going back to writing for me. Because I need to. And I give myself permission to do what's best for me.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

True Transformation

One of the most amazing parts of my journey has occurred over the last 90 days, and I didn't even realize how profound it's been until this morning. Beachbody has this thing called the "Four Vital Behaviors" and one of them is personal development. Since I started coaching at the beginning of August, personal development has become part of my daily routine. And it's been a game changer.

It actually started in June or July when I started listening to podcasts in my car every day. It started out with The Chalene Show and The Ketovangelist Podcast. I think I listened to every single episode of the Ketovangelist podcast on the way to and from Georgia to drop off my nephew in July. But eventually I added Keto Talk with Jimmy Moore & The Doc, Build Your Tribe, Team Beachbody Coach Podcast, The Model Health Show and MLM Nation after I committed to being a coach at the end of July. Now my car is sort of a mobile university, lol. I learn something new almost daily. I've now graduated to audio books from Audible and have listened to several that have literally had me pulling over and taking notes. So far my favorite has been the 10x Rule by Grant Cardone and Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I just got Be Obsessed or Be Average by Grant Cardone and I'm excited to start reading/listening to it this week.

So, this morning I was listening to a fairly new-to-me podcast called The Model Health Show and the subject was on TRANSFORMATION so you know that my ears perked up in happiness. Because, you know, I'm in the midst of a MAJOR transformation this year. But Shawn was talking about Five Steps for Transformation. They were:
1. A trigger that leads to transformation
2. A model of someone who is doing what you want to do or where you want to be
3. Getting out of your comfort zone
4. Staying the course despite obstacles (falling off the wagon)
5. OWNING your GREATNESS (this is the one that punched me in the gut)

As I was still driving along, savoring the information that was given and thinking about it's practical application to what is going on in my real life, another podcast came on that is also new to me called Achieve Your Goals with Hal Elrod. And damned if THIS one was talking about having morning rituals and how by doing so you can achieve so much more than you realize. One quote that stood out at me is, "You can not fail when you act in alignment with your strengths and priorities. You can only learn, grow, and riterate." I can't wait to listen to the rest of this one later.

During my one hour drive this morning, I really received some confirmation that I need to get back on my early morning routines and rituals. I was doing so well for a while with waking up early to exercise and read, but lately... no. First excuse... it's SO DARK OUT. It's literally not daylight until I'm approaching work at 7:30 a.m. That makes getting up at 4:30 a.m. seem like the middle of the night. My body wants to sleep! I do go to bed fairly early (around 9-9:30 p.m.) but waking up is hard. My clock is set for 5 a.m. and I usually hit snooze 50 times.

But I must do better. Because from here on out, I need to be on my A-game. Seriously.

I have a huge announcement to make soon, but just know that I have something major in the works. Not with Beachbody, but something else. Yes, something else besides my job as a teacher, my life as a mom, and my Beachbody business (which is doing very well!). OH, and don't forget that I am still making my diet and exercise routine a priority no matter what.

So, I've decided that the next phase of my own transformation will finally address my own spirit.

See, I've got a pretty good handle on body and mind. I've been nourishing my body all year, and the constant reading and personal develop is definitely growing my mind. But my spirit is lacking. I know it is.

I'm not religious. I don't go to church. I don't read the Bible or anything like that. But for several years I've been really interested in practicing meditation. But I've never been consistent with it... not ever past a few days. But I want to be. Because I REALLY need to clear my mind of all the windows that are constantly open. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed about the future even though it's something that I'm totally in charge of designing and I'm happy with the direction my life is going in. But I need to be... centered? Balanced? I think meditation will help me. My personal development (podcasts and books) always recommends the practice and I know of so many that love it.

So I'm going to commit. I think I will start with a guided meditation of some sort... I haven't had much success with the other kind where you sit in silence. I have no practice with shutting my brain off like that, lol. Any tips? Suggestions on how to get started?

I am also going to commit to writing more. It's so therapeutic for me. To be honest, I don't know how many people actually read blogs anymore. But I'll do it for me.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Staying the course...

Good Sunday morning!

I wanted to share what's been going on in my world, but this is way too long for a social media post!

Two weeks ago I made the decision to deviate from my low carb, high fat way of eating. I had just completed my Diet Bet challenge group and was about to start my 21-Day Fix Challenge, and after researching and reading up on the eating plan that goes with this program, I decided to do it with my challenge group. The plan is based on clean eating and portion control for 21 days. The reason that I wanted to change up was just impatience and frustration at the scale.

You see, my September challengers ROCKED it. They all lost 12-20 lbs and while SUPER excited about their progress, I was a little envious! I "only" lost 4 lbs (but I did lost almost 10 inches). So, I thought, hey... I'll do the plan they are doing and see if that helps!

I had listened to a few podcasts about metobolic resistance and how your body adjusts to whatever you're doing to lose weight, and sometimes you need to switch up to start seeing progress again. Makes sense, right? So I thought it wouldn't hurt to try a clean eating/paleo-ish approach for a few weeks to see if that would help.

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I've been on a downhill slide for two weeks.

The first few days weren't so bad. I only added sweet potato to my diet and it was delish. I've missed sweet potato! But by the weekend, the cravings were back. Even with my Shakeology (which usually helps with cravings for me...). I also noticed that my constipation was back (again, even with my Shakeology that has made me very regular). I noticed that I would have little cheats here and there, because why not? I don't have to be THAT strict anymore, right? The decrease in dietary fat made me feel unsatisfied so I was constantly hungry... something I forgot all about. With low carb, high fat I'm NEVER hungry and always satisfied.

So let's add STRESS to this past week and OMG... my eating has been terrible. My refrigerator went out on Monday and all of my prepped meals for the week went bad. All week, we haven't had a working fridge and only had coolers full of ice as sort of a bandaid for the problem. Dealing with the property management company and no way to feed my family of five except for eating out... STRESS. I noticed that I was melting down and crying over stupid stuff (like my 10-year old being her usual bratty self) mid-week and KNEW something was off! I don't even take my happy pills anymore since being LCHF... so why am I suddenly an emotional wreck?

Because my diet is allllll off. My body isn't used to this food anymore. I felt so out of control... mentally and physically.

By Thursday, the joint pain started again. My foot pain flared up and I've been limping ever since. I'm not sleeping well, either, which probably explains a lot of the emotional feelings.

So, I'm cutting this little "experiment" short. I'm back on plan starting TODAY. I went to the grocery last night and got my staples... bacon, eggs, avocado, butter, cream cheese. I already had a delicious breakfast and I've planned my meals for the next day or so (since the refrigerator situation still hasn't been resolved, I can't plan out too far). I plan on storing my food in my fridge at work until I know mine is fixed.

Bottom line... my metabolism is damaged. I've been on a diet for 30+ years and have wrecked my body. I am also dealing with food addiction. What works for everyone else just doesn't work for me anymore. Ketogenic and LCHF doesn't just help with weight loss, it's a way of eating that helps me mentally and physically as well. My body thrives with healthy fat and minimal carbs. With the addition of Shakeology, I've felt sooooo good and have lost a lot of inches. SO screw the scale. I will get back into ketosis and just stay the course. At this point, I would rather FEEL good than see the numbers move. (and because someone will ask, YES, I am able to keep my carbs under 25g with the Shakeology. It's only 13g net carbs -I drink vegan chocolate- and by monitoring my blood sugar while on it the first week I know that those carbs do NOT cause me to spike. Email me if you have more questions about Shakeology.)

Lesson learned.

I'm glad this happened, though. Now I know. I have to do what's best for ME.

I will always advocate clean eating and portion control to anyone who hasn't tried it. Just eat real food, ya'll! Cut out the crappy processed food and added sugar. Don't be afraid of good fat. Eliminate as much dairy as you can. Start there!

But if that doesn't work after at least 90 days of trying WITH NO CHEATS, keto or LCHF might be for you.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Telling my story...

Happy Saturday, ya'll! It's been a super busy, crazy week, so I'm so happy to just have a slow morning to sip my coffee and enjoy breakfast with the Mr. before he heads to work.

I wanted to write this morning because I've been asked a thousand times this week... what's your story? How are you doing this? I know I have a lot of new friends following my journey because a lot of people in my tribe were inspired by a transformation picture I posted on Thursday. I've had the pleasure of having lots of conversations and connections for which I'm so happy about! I love telling my story. I always hope to inspire someone to never give up!

Most of you remember the days when I first started blogging on SkinnyHollie exactly EIGHT years ago this month! Crazy, right? When I first started blogging, I had reached my highest weight ever (333 lbs) and was desperately working the Weight Watchers plan to try to get my weight down. I was CLUELESS about nutrition and fitness back then. But I knew how to count points... My favorite low-point treat was toast made with white bread and jelly before bed every night (side-eye).

Since starting my blog in 2008, I have literally tried every fad diet on the market. When Weight Watcher's didn't work for me anymore, I tried MULTIPLE other things, including Medifast, Isagenix, Body by Vi, Garcinia pills, Phentermine, B12 shots, low carb, very low carb, green smoothie cleanses, juicing, starvation, Slim Fast, pre-packaged food, low fat, high protein, 1200-calorie SADNESS... you name it. And in my lifetime, even before blogging, I've done it. I've literally been on a diet since I was 7 years old.

At age 7 I was 160 lbs. I remember the day in my pediatrician's office where my doctor told my mom I needed to stop gaining weight. Even to my young ears, I knew that translated to "she's fat", but I already knew that. Kids made fun of me relentlessly. Not only was I the only mixed kid at my school, I was also nerdy and fat. So I cried all the way home. Until my mom stopped and bought me an ice cream cone to make it better.

But I remember the salads in my lunch box. I remember being given 7up instead of my usual Pepsi (I guess momma thought that clear soda was better than dark soda?). I remember Sweating to the Oldies with Richard Simmons and being made to ride momma's old exercise bike while watching TV after school. But it didn't make me lose weight. It taught me to binge.

Instead of eating less, I learned to eat in secret. Since my house was still full of processed, sugary foods, I started binging on bowls of cereal before my mom got home. I learned how to hide food in my room to eat late at night. I stopped at the convenient store for candy and soda on the walk home from school. I had my ways. And it was the beginning of overeating feeling like guilt and shame.

In sixth grade I wore a size 16 from the women's section. By middle school I was a size 18/20. I graduated from high school at a size 24 women's and hung out at that size for quite a while. Until I discovered Phen-Fen when I was around 20. My mom and I would drive from TN to KY every month to see a doctor there. And we were both successful! It was the first time that I saw that restriction and starvation could work! And these magic pills made it easy. I got down to around a size 18 before they were removed from the market and I got pregnant with my first child. And of course, regained every pound.

By the time my daughter was two, I was back up to 280 lbs. This is when I met my husband, and very quickly after getting with him I was 300+ lbs (lots of cooking and eating).

I stayed here for about 3 years until we both weighed ourselves at one of those electronic scales outside the restrooms at the mall one day.

329 lbs. Again, I cried all the way home.

Because Clyde was also at his all-time highest weight (304 lbs), he decided that we needed to lose weight together, and that did help. But we were CLUELESS about nutrition or how to cook and eat healthy. So we literally started eating Special K cereal every morning and Lean Cuisine for lunch and dinner. This makes me laugh NOW, but we were trying! We also walked at the park every evening for exercise. And guess what... we did see success! He lost weight really fast (because he's a man, duh) but I stalled out around 270 (story of my life). That's the first time I tried Weight Watchers, and with that plan successfully met my goal of 100 lbs lost (229 lbs) by my 10-year class reunion in 2004.

Eventually Weight Watcher's stopped working, so I did have a period where I went back on Phentermine in 2005 and starved myself down to a size 16. I look at pictures of that time and CRINGE because I looked so unhealthy. But it was also a time that my marriage was on rocks and I was drinking most of my calories in booze. But we reconciled, and I got pregnant and had a very hard pregnancy. I was on bedrest for 20 weeks. And since my husband doesn't cooked, I survived on a diet of fast food and processed junk the entire time. So guess what?

I gained all my weight back AGAIN.

That span of time after my last child was born until the conception of my blog in 2008 is a dark blur. Lots of depression. Lots of sadness. Lots of unhappiness. My marriage ended in January 2009. I blogged through that disaster, and it was then that I discovered that I could receive support from an online community of friends that I'd never even met face to face.

Since 2009, my life and diet have had lots of ups and downs. But one thing that has been constant during that time is the amount of learning I've done about diet and exercise. I love learning... it's why I'm a teacher! But over the years, with every failed diet attempt, I've grown in knowledge from the experience. I've met others who have various plans that have worked for them, and through those people I have also learned what does NOT work for ME. I've tried to be vegan and discovered that beans and legumes make me feel like crap. I've tried juicing and green smoothies to discover that long term I get horrible bloating and still HATE vegetables. I've tried low carb with high protein and discovered that I'm not satisfied and BINGE terribly when I convince myself to have a 'cheat'.

But one thing I learned in recent years, is that even though it almost always ended in binge behavior, low carb DID work for me, and with the elimination of sugar I felt so much better and had results on the scale. The only thing that kept me from being successful for a long time is that I felt DEPRIVED. I never thought that the low-carb lifestyle was something I could do long-term, because who can live without sweets forever? Not me! Birthday cake, ice cream, and CARBS are part of life, right? I mean, that's what EVERYONE says! Why should I eliminate these things from my diet?

You see... this was my stumbling block. I didn't understand food addiction for a long time. I didn't understand that food can be a drug to your body, just like cocaine or alcohol. I didn't 'get' that to kick this habit, I would have to be abstinent from my drug of choice. I had to learn that some foods are off limits, not because they are bad or because most of society looks as them as harmless 'treats'. Everyone SAYS that moderation is okay, but why didn't that work for me? Why did 'moderation' always lead to binge-eating and guilt?

Because moderation is not for everyone.

I had to eliminate these foods because they were killing me.

Everyone has to reach their point of being sick and tired of being sick and tired. After being semi-successful for a few years (2013-2014), I started really struggling again in 2015. I was in constant pain (due to PCOS and horrible endometriosis). I was planning a relocation to another state. And I was preparing to send two kids to college. After finally having a full hysterectomy in June 2015, and then moving to FL a week later, I was starting to feel like I was going to see a light at the end of the tunnel. But then my mom passed away, and job stress started killing me. I stuffed my feelings down with sugar and lots of delicious food and wine.

On Christmas Day, 2015, I looked at a picture of myself with my kids on the beach and I was shocked at what I saw. I was big. as. hell. I mean, I knew that I was well over 300 lbs again. My body told me every day. I limped around for hours each morning. My feet and knee pain were excruciating. My sciatica and back pain required constant Ibuprofen just to get around every day. My skin looked terrible. I was bloated ALL the time. None of my clothes fit. I was miserable.

And it had to stop.

On December 28 I woke up and said that it was time to get started. I made a goal to lose 50 lbs by my 40th birthday on May 26, 2016. I tried to start out slow by lowering my carbs and eliminating just sweets for the first couple of weeks. But my cravings were terrible and I was struggling to stay on track. I was DETERMINED to not be one of those people who fail by the second week of January. But it was so hard.

One day as I was crying and feeling frustrated, Clyde suggested that I just stop what I was doing and go see a bariatric doctor. "Just have the surgery, Hollie." The thought of quitting wasn't an option, but maybe surgery was what I needed. I'd tried and failed everything. I made an appointment to go to a seminar on January 14. But I knew. I just KNEW that surgery wouldn't help me if I didn't get my MIND right. I only know of a few people that have been successful long term with weight loss surgery. But I know COUNTLESS people who have had the surgery and after some success, gained back everything they'd lost.

 I had to TRY to do this myself before I would submit to surgery. I logged onto Instagram and saw a post by someone that I wasn't even following at the time that would end of up changing my life.

So I started doing my research on the ketogenic diet and decided to go all in the last week of January.

I had tried keto before, but looking back, I really didn't know what I was doing! It's more than just cutting your carbs low. You HAVE to get over our fear of fat and eat lots of it! You also have to make sure you're not eating too much protein. I invested lots of time LEARNING about this way of eating from people who were very successful. I followed Katrina and found other's through her and with the help of the Ketogenic Success group on Facebook. I quickly discovered this isn't a DIET, but a long term lifestyle. So I committed to it. NO cheats.

Knowledge is power. I had to re-learn how to eat. I've been conditioned in diet dogma for so long (low calories, fat is bad, eat every 3 hours, exercise a lot, etc) that I had to unlearn everything and start over. I read countless books and online resources that open my eyes on the food industry and the lies they tell. I learned about insulin resistance and how some of us just can't lose weight with restriction of calories. I finally began to understand why every diet failed me. I knew how to move forward and guess what? I've never looked back.

I've been eating a low carb, high fat diet for 9 months now. I did struggle a bit during this summer because after I reached my 50 lb weight loss goal for my birthday I started cheating. Big mistake. But one I learned from. Those cheats stalled my weight loss, but I just had to decide to stay the course. I know this way of eating works for me, but it only works if I stop cheating myself and my goals with food that is terrible for my body. I made a decision in August to STOP ANY cheating and to concentrate more on nutrition and fitness, and that change has helped me move past my plateau and start losing pounds again.

I've also decided to start coaching and mentoring others on this journey who want to live healthier lives and overcome food addiction. Over the past several months I have been able to help dozens of people lose weight and finally see that they have the power to take their lives back. If the ketogenic diet and lifestyle is not something you're interested in for whatever reason, I also coach people to adopt a clean, nutritious diet along with portion control.

Losing weight is not a quick fix. It's hard work and it takes determination. Self-discipline and consistency will get you healthier and increase the quality of your life. If someone offers you a quick fix or a gimmick... run the other way. Diet and nutrition are KEY. Fitness is good, but don't use it as punishment for bad food, or a substitute for diet and nutrition.

I hope that my story will inspire someone to not give up. I pray that you will be motivated to learn about nutrition and give yourself a chance to live the best life possible. Obesity is not something that you have to define yourself by. It's possible to LIVE and not be miserable because your weight has made you sick and hopeless. Reach out to people around you and others who are fighting this battle. I will keep fighting for myself and everyone who needs my help. I've got big plans in the future to help people not only in my community, but EVERYWHERE end the trend of obesity. It can be done. I will never give up. Neither should YOU.

Reach out to me at Be my friend on Facebook and Instagram. I will help you in any way I can.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Week of 9/5 recap

It is my GOAL to start blogging weekly about this new "phase" of my journey. I've always loved blogging as an outlet to express what is going through my mind during this process, but it also helps me document my journey better than social media.

I started my first challenge group on 9/5 and I'm super excited about this process. It's one thing to challenge yourself, but to be in an intimate environment (a challenge group) with a small group of individuals doing the same program you're doing... well, it's a game changer. I am coaching the challenge with two other coaches, Tara and Denise. So the group is a mix of challengers from all of our worlds. It's awesome.

So, as you're supposed to do before every challenge, I took before pics and did measurements. I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome of the measurements... I haven't taken measurements since February. And here is my OFFICIAL before pic.

After you complete the challenge, you can submit your before and after pics to Beachbody and you get a free T-shirt. You are also entered into a contest where you can win $500! I'm all about that!

Another thing I'm doing differently this week is I'm back to tracking. With the addition of Shakeology to my diet, I'm being EXTRA careful to make sure my carbs are still low, and only coming from my shake and veggies. So far, I'm pleased at my ratios! I am usually at about 35 total carbs, 22-25 NET carbs.

Call me crazy, but I decided to start ANOTHER challenge group that began yesterday. It's a FREE challenge for the new 3-Week Yoga retreat. I thought it would be a good addition to Country Heat (my challenge program). So starting yesterday, the plan is to do Country Heat for my morning workout, and yoga in the evenings.

Friday brought another NSV (non-scale victory) when I pulled an old pair of jeans out of my closet that I haven't wore in quite a while. What a difference from a year ago! I'm very proud that those back rolls are disappearing!

Saturday was a day at the pool with the baby. She had fun and I got to relax a bit! I love living in Florida where the weather is summer-like far into the fall!

I ended the week with a productive Sunday. I got two workouts in (because I missed one during the week) and caught up on a lot of follow-ups.

I know how skeptical I was in the beginning... but I am loving my Shakeology. I FEEL so much better since I started drinking it. My energy has increased to the point where I don't even require coffee anymore. And my chronic stomach issues... gone. I am now having normal BM's daily or almost daily. Which is a miracle because I can go a WEEK without one, sometimes close to two weeks. And I get so bloated and incomfortable.

Best thing? My hair isn't falling out at all anymore. And you can see where all these new little gray hairs are growing in like crazy! I'm so happy.

Bottom line... my body NEEDED this nutrition. As healthy as ketogenic and LCHF is, it wasn't giving my body everything it needed. And that's why Shakeology is wonderful. Dense nutrition without all the fillers and fake chemicals that other protein shakes and meal replacements have. It's worth every penny.

Last but not least, I do have a scale victory to report. I'm down to 262.2 lbs as of this morning. I've been unable to break 265 lbs since MAY. And this week I've lost almost 3 lbs. It's working, y'all! Just more proof to keep trying, keep making changes, and it will all add up!

Until next week!

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Moderation LIE

This morning I saw a post on Instagram that ruffled my feathers a bit. It was posted by someone I've followed for a while, who has recently switched from low-carb to IIFYM. I see this sort of thing A LOT, so I usually just keep following to see if they eventually come back to low carb. If their food posts get out of hand, I'll usually unfollow unless I really like them.

Let me just say... I base who I follow on Instagram on their posts, not if I like them or not. I can perfectly like someone and think they are a cool person and choose to unfollow them based on what they post. Instagram is too visual to follow someone who doesn't post what I'm there to see!

Anyhoo... the post went like this...

"Indulging is not the end of the world. Vegetables are good for your health but pizza is good for the soul. You are never a bad person for what you chose to eat. I want you to read this over and over again. Food does not define you."

Ok... I was ready to look over that part about pizza being good for your soul. I really was. Because the end of the post is right... food does not define you.

But then in her commentary she went on to say things like having "balance" and that life is not about "deprivation".

Ummmm. Let me step up on my soap box.

It pisses me off when people assume that eliminating sugar and processed food from my diet is "deprivation". It pisses me off even more when people with very large followings preach that people should eat what they want in 'moderation".


Kudos to YOU if you are able to have a few slices of pizza on the weekend and it doesn't send you into a full out binge. It's GREAT if you can have an ice cream cone that doesn't trigger cravings and uncontrollable cravings.

But there are people... people like ME... that don't have that luxury.

Not everyone is able to handle moderation. Because that one cheat can be so destructive. One cheat can undo weeks and months of hard work. One slice of pizza can trigger a binge that lasts for weeks. An ice cream cone could spike someones blood sugar and cause an insulin response that could make them sick for days.

I wish people would just stop it. STOP assuming that diet and weight loss and the journey we are all on is the same. And STOP giving people permission to dig their grave with a knife and fork.

Food addiction is real, ya'll. WE DO NOT GET A PASS when it comes to eating food that is not on our food template. We. Can't. Have. It. And just because someone on Instagram with 62,000+ followers says its ok doesn't make it OK!

If you are sick with diabetes or fighting a food addiction, MODERATION IS A LIE. It will make you sick and eventually kill you! Because moderation doesn't exist for us. Our brains aren't wired that way! I'm sad to break it to you, but you will have to deal with food and restrict certain foods for the rest of your life. It is what it is.

Drug addicts don't do drugs in moderation. Alcoholics don't drink booze in moderation. Food addicts can't eat pizza (or anything with sugar and refined carbs) in moderation.

And don't even get me started with the word "deprivation". Let me make this clear:


Just because I can't eat certain foods doesn't mean I'm deprived and I'm going to sit in a corner and cry over all the delicious foods I can't have.

Child, please. I eat WELL. I eat delicious foods all the time - hot wings, juicy burgers, BACON, butter on everything... you name it! I just CHOOSE foods that are good for my body and that don't put me in a food coma or a sugar high. I don't feel left out. I feel empowered for making the right choice! I mean, what exactly am I deprived of?

High blood pressure?
An extra 50-100 lbs?
Joint and back pain?
Increased quality of life?

Exactly. Seems like I have WAY more to gain than I have to lose by making the right choice and doing what's best for ME.

My whole point is... Don't feed into the lie of "moderation". If you suffer from weight-induced health problems or food addiction, don't buy into that crap. What you are gaining from a healthy lifestyle outweighs what you are giving up for the temporary pleasure you get from food.

The people you follow on social media (myself included) are not experts. Do your own research. Go with your gut (literally) and find what's best for YOU. Don't let someone else's weekend shenanigans give you an excuse to fall away from your plan because it convinces you that you're depriving yourself. Because you're not. You're choosing LIFE. And that's what most important.

Email me at :)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Why Beachbody?

As promised in my last post, I wanted to communicate WHY exactly I decided to sign on as a coach for Beachbody. It wasn't an impulse decision, but one that I've actually been pondering for quite a while.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I have absolutely no reservations about using products on this journey. Whenever I read someone who likes to brag about not using "pills, wraps or shakes" or having an "all natural" weight loss (meaning no surgery), I usually roll my eyes. One thing I've learned after many years on this journey is that the products or method you use only works if you do the work. So use whatever tools you want! You're only wasting your own hard earned money if you're not willing to do your part. I just want me and everyone else to be successful. What ever it takes.

Back to Beachbody.

My love affair with Beachbody started in 2007 when I ordered Slim in Six and completed the entire six week program. This was pre-blogging days, btw. I was captivated by the infomercial and decided to go for it. And it worked! Until the six weeks were up and I started binge-eating like crazy and gained all the weight back. This was WAY before I had accepted or even KNEW what food addiction was and that I had it.

Fast forward several years. To the days of social media. I started following someone's blog (Yum Yucky) and then someone else on IG (Erika at MessyMomHustle) that were both beach body coaches. Both had an amazing transformations. Erika and her hubby would do these at-home workouts together and it looked like so much fun! I also knew Tara from the blog world (wortheveryounce). And then I started following another person, and then another, and another and they all used Beachbody products. Someone even sent me a sample of Shakeology once. I thought it was SO nasty because it wan't sweet enough (now I'm rolling my eyes at myself).

But even though I saw the personal success (each of them!), the transformations AND the fact that they all had thriving businesses, I always looked at them and didn't believe I could actually pull that off.

So I continued to follow all of them on social media. And even several more! And I could see the continued personal results. But I could also see other things.

One person I follow QUIT HER JOB and offers Beachbody full time. Another person, a stay at home mom, was just able to buy a new home because she had earned so much with her business they paid off all their debt. I continuously saw weight loss and maintenance. I always saw success.

But what I didn't see is them SELLING anything at all.

Their posts never looked like an infomercial for a product. It was never pushy. It sincerely looked like these people were happy with their Shakeology and home workouts and sincerely wanted to help people with their own transformation.

About a year ago (when I started this blog as opposed to SkinnyHollie), I decided that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I felt like it was one of those things that had been calling me for a while, but fear just told me was unattainable. I could see myself working from home. I could see myself spending more time with my children and family. And honestly, more time at the beach! After starting my teaching assignment here in Florida, I knew I was burnt out. I needed a change.

I wanted to work at home. For myself. I signed up with Mary Kay in October and knew after a few months that wasn't it. I LOVE makeup, but it wasn't my passion.

What IS my passion?

I asked myself that a million times. And as I stated in my last blog post, at some point after finding success with Keto this year, and becoming more active on social media, and actually trying to teach and HELP people with the knowledge I'd acquired... my passion became evident.

It's serving. It's teaching. It's helping people become the best, most healthy version of themselves. It's allowing people to use me as a source of inspiration and motivation and accountability! Through helping others, I help myself. It makes me happy. It fills me in a way that I've never been filled before.

While typing this I just got an amazing text from someone I've met on social media (through my Like page) and that is also now doing keto. She has already lost a lot of weight and inches! It's such great news and I just had to smile from ear to ear. I helped her. I was an example for her. And now she is getting healthy and leading her family by example.

Yes, she is doing the hard work. But I feel so happy inside getting to watch her transformation!!!

A month or so ago, the whole stay-at-home-wife-and-entrepreneur-mom thing started rolling through my brain again. It's summer, and instead of staying home with my kids, I went out and got a summer job. Yes, it was easy and fun and the pay was great. But I missed the summer with my kids.

I only have two kids left at home. And they are turning into mini adults. Fast. Time is flying.

And it got me thinking...

What happened to my dreams? My plans of being a work from home mom? What could I do that would allow me to do something I'm passionate about AND make enough money that I could accomplishing that goal?

One morning a few weeks ago as I was pondering this on my way to work, I ran across a podcast by Chalene Johnson. If you don't know who she is, then shame on you. (I LOVE HER). But she is the instructor on several Beachbody programs (TurboJam, Piyo...). I had subscribed to her podcast back in May (I think) because she had someone on her show talking about a low carb, high fat diet and lifestyle. So on this day, I was searching for something to listen to on my long ride to work and came across one of her shows on personal branding that REALLY got me thinking.

The answer was in my face this whole time. Beachbody. It's a reputable company. EVERYONE knows about their products (duh, infomercials!) They are a leader in health and wellness. It's a brand I already trusted.

I came home that evening and started following Chalene. Then I started going back and stalking everyone I follow on social media that's affiliated with Beachbody. I contacted my own Beachbody coach and started hammering her with questions.

Her response... "Honey, you're already a coach. You just haven't made it official."

But I still wasn't ready.

So I dug out my PiYo dvd set that I'd ordered MONTHS earlier. After we moved, I knew I'd have space to workout at home and thought PiYo would be a good way to start. But it was more challenging than I expected. I did the first three days and it started collecting dust. I got busy and... all the other excuses. BUT, I was ready to give it another try.

After the first or second workout, Chalene started talking about Shakeology after a workout segment. The word "probiotic and digestive enzymes" got me curious so started researching it AGAIN. Since going keto, I've been plagued by chronic constipation and hair loss. The reviews stated that Shakeology helped with BOTH. Definitely higher in carbs than I would have liked, but it actually looked like a good meal replacement. I could pronounce all the ingredients and it was (in my opinion) clean! So I ordered a sample pack. 7 days worth.

So quietly, I tried it for a week. I only told a few people because LORD HAVE MERCY I didn't want the negativity. And guess what? I liked it. I adjusted my carbs (eliminating most of my dairy and my daily servings of pecans) so I could still keep my carbs around 25g daily. And within TWO days I was having daily bowel movements. AND my hair stopped shedding. Now, my hair had already decreased shedding significantly, but while drinking Shakeology it STOPPED.

And it wasn't a fluke. Because after being OFF Shakeology for three days I'm already back to not having BM's at all.

The Shakeo didn't make me bloat or have cravings. I was still able to maintain ketosis. My body liked them. And so did I.

So, after all the research on the company. And being a guinea pig for the product. And actually doing one of the workout programs and seeing progress, and being excited about doing a few more (Cize!) I was ready to pull the trigger.

But I was still scared.

Until on Saturday morning and I logged on to Instagram and saw this picture.

This is from Beachbody's annual conference, Summit, that was held in my hometown of Nashville last week and last weekend. This picture is 25,000 people doing a group workout on Broadway downtown.

I went to high school on Broadway. I know that area well. And to see THIS MANY PEOPLE working out, changing their lives, and so committed to a company... I just knew. This is where I'm supposed to be.

It will be with the help of this company that I get to earn a living doing what I love to do. And it will also be through this company that I will finally realize my own weight loss and fitness goals. With the combination of my own knowledge of the ketogenic and low carb diets, and with the training and resources that Beachbody provides on clean eating and portion control, I can help SO many people. And I can also participate in and offer fitness programs to fit ANYONE's style and needs. Fitness that can be done from the comfort of your own home (no more driving to the gym or packing a workout bag).

Someone commented on my last post that she hopes I don't turn my blog into just posts about product sales. Never have. Never will.

What you will continue to see is my progress. My workouts. More about my eating plan. And if you see something that interests you, you can contact me! I'm not a sales person and don't want to be one. But I will help you reach your goals. With or without you purchasing products from me. Because that's what I do. That's my passion. It's what I believe God put me here for.

All the starts and stops. All the struggle with gaining and losing weight. All the failures. All the damage I've done to my body. I see now that it was all part of a bigger plan.

I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. And now I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. My story, my testimony, will help others. I want us all to transform.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Jumping off a Cliff...

Just warning you... this post may be long. I've been procrastinating on writing this for a while. But it's time.

I want to share something that makes me scared. Because it opens me up to judgment. To ridicule. To cyber eye-rolling (and I know I get this from the GOMI trolls). 

I feel a little vulnerable. But my friend Tara tells me all the time that vulnerability is courage and brings connections. So here I am. Ready to jump off a cliff.

I am ready to make my passion my career.

I think everyone reading this blog today, or that follows me on social media, knows what my passion is. What sets my soul on fire.

I love helping people. I am passionate about weight loss and the many ways to achieve it. I am relentless in learning about how food can affect your body. I love spreading my new-found knowledge about diet and how to overcome obesity and food addiction. I get so much out of watching people transform as a result of hard work and discipline.

I have admitted to myself and those close to me in the past few weeks that this is it. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life. The feeling of helping someone reach their weight loss and health goals fills my soul in a way that is indescribable.

Over the last seven months, I am finding my place in my own weight loss journey. After almost EIGHT YEARS of blogging about my struggles, I feel like I have found success that is lasting. Permanent. Born of hard work and dedication instead of a quick fix diet. I have found a lifestyle that is just that... a LIFESTYLE. A way of eating that I don't have to deviate from for holidays or special occasions. A food template that will allow me to continue to heal internally, and that will most likely give me an even better quality of life as time goes on.

And there's nothing more I'd rather do that share this with those around me. And I have been.

For months now, I have been coaching friends and helping them "go keto". Through texts, phone calls, emails, and direct messages through social media, I have helped them with their eating plan, grocery lists, and even talked them out of cheats and situations that might hinder their success. And I've watched them lose weight! And claim non-scale victories as well! Smaller clothes, the ability to do things active with their children. 

And I love it. Helping others keeps me focused and accountable to my own journey. It makes me want to learn more about not only the ketogenic diet, but other ways of eating that are healthy and sustainable long term. Because let's face it... keto isn't for everyone. But there are other plans out there that can help people achieve their goals. I feel a need to know MORE. To do MORE.

But lately, I've had to face the fact that although helping others on their diet and weight loss journeys is something I truly enjoy doing, it's very TIME consuming. And it's also very emotional at times! Sometimes I invest a lot of time in people I've grown to care about and really want to help, but they aren't ready to really invest 100% in themselves. And that can be frustrating.

One evening after dinner, Clyde gave me a nudge. Well, it wasn't really a nudge. It was a push. He told me that since I spend so much time trying to help other people with their weight loss goals and healthy lifestyles, I really needed to make a business of it. Let my passion turn into a stream of income. At least, then, I could justify the TIME that I was investing.

To be honest, his suggestion, at first, PISSED ME OFF. How dare he suggest I do such a thing? Turn my passion into a... business? I couldn't do that. I don't have time, first of all. And who would want me, a weight loss FAILURE, to help them and actually PAY ME to do so?

But the seed was planted. And I begin to think of possibilities. I mean, I was already investing the TIME. I was already seeking the KNOWLEDGE. And I already have the heart of SERVICE. I sincerely want to help people.

One morning a week or so ago as I was driving into work, every idea that I'd ever had relating to making a business out of my passion came flooding into my brain. Because even though I was afraid to admit it, I had many times thought about "what if" I ever reach my goal weight and I could do "this or "that". So I pulled over and wrote everything down. All of those ideas that I'd squished all the way down. My secret dreams and wishes. That I would have never uttered out loud to anyone.

Because FEAR held me back. Fear of failure. Fear of being laughed at. Fear of someone telling me, "how can your fat ass help someone else lose weight?".

Fear that this time... THIS year... I might actually meet my own goals.

And then what?

You know, the story in our heads can REALLY mess us up sometimes. Even if everyone around you that loves and believes in you shows you something is totally possible, if you don't believe it that vision will never come to fruition.

But it was at that point that I KNEW. Just KNEW.

It's time. I can do this.

I will not let my fear of failure keep me from moving forward. I will not let vulnerability and self-doubt keep me from pursuing my passion and possibly turning it into a chance at entrepreneurship. I believe in myself. And I know I am capable of helping, teaching, and serving others. So why not allow myself to earn a secondary stream of income around my passion?

So what now?

Honestly, I don't know all the details. This is all in the development stages. But like everything else on my journey, I feel the need for 100% transparency before I move forward. I've been so scared. Terrified of saying these things "out loud" or putting it all out for the interwebs to see. It makes it real. It makes me feel vulnerable. So this is me, jumping off a cliff. Putting it all out here.

So now it's done! I am formally introducing TransformingYOU. 

I would actually love feedback about what YOU want from me? How can I best serve YOU? What tools and services would best allow me to help you transform?

I have been asked several times for a food plan, so I am in the beginning stages of developing that right now. I will test it out on myself starting August 1. This food plan will be ketogenic and just a guideline to get you started. I didn't realize how overwhelmed some people feel when trying to learn about this lifestyle. So while you are learning, this food plan should get you started until you're able to feel comfortable enough to do it for yourself.

I am also thinking about developing an easy, go-to recipe guide. I share SO many recipes. Yes, they are all available online. But I know some would prefer to have them in an easily accessible format. Sometimes I even get tired of hunting through posts and screenshots to find what I want! Maybe this will help someone.

I will begin to offer coaching. And it will not be one size fits all. Some need accountability and encouragement that a Facebook group can provide. Some need more personal interaction via texts and messaging. And some need a person that will walk them through the entire process. I am working with a friend right now that has no idea where to start. Who has type 2 diabetes, and so does her husband. This sweet friend knows that she and her husband need help for themselves and their two children immediately because it's life and death.

And I'm going to help her. Because I believe this is what I'm called to do. As someone commented on an Instagram post yesterday, "...this is where God wants (me) to be."

My journey... can help people. It has already helped and it WILL continue to help people. I might only have a small platform, but from now on I will use it to not only continue to save myself, but to also help transform others..Transform YOU. We can all succeed. We can all lead healthy lives. Together, we can do it.

I have also decided to invest in another way of earning income while helping others. I am officially (as of today) a Beachbody coach. I have been doing PiYo for almost two weeks, and have also subscribed to Beachbody on Demand (you can stream many of their workouts instead of buying all the DVDs). I HAVE to make a bigger effort to include fitness in my journey, and I will achieve this goal with at-home workouts. Signing up as a coach for the discount alone just makes sense. There are a few more programs I really want.

I will do another post soon on exactly HOW I came to this decision (it's basically another one of those things I've been too scared to do). But after watching so many people that I follow on social media post about their experience at Summit this year (Beachbody's annual conference), I am soooooo excited about the opportunity. I believe this business fits into my goals and plans perfectly. It's another way I can help people. Beachbody has been a market leader in fitness for a LONG time. It's not something I have to SELL (because we all know I suck as a sales person) so don't automatically assume I'm going to turn into a spammer or a pushy salesperson. I'm just going to ask that if you are interested in a Beachbody product, you please buy it from me!

I want to end this post by thanking everyone who has stood beside me on this journey. I have made so many real life friends through my blog and through social media. For every negative person or comment I've received through my blog or social media, I've received 10-20 positive, uplifting, or encouraging ones. I am grateful for the support this community has to offer.

I know this is what I'm meant to do. I am a coach. I am a friend. I am a support system and someone who can mentor and encourage people who are on the same journey I am on.

Together, we will continue to do great things. I am excited about the future!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Vlog #1... Transparency about cheating

Check out my very first vlog. Maybe vlogging will be a new outlet for me. I have so much to say sometimes and not enough time to write!

Friday, June 10, 2016

What I eat on the Ketogenic diet

If I'm asked anything more than what is and how to get started on the Ketogenic diet, it's,

"What do you eat?"

Well... let me start from the beginning.

I think when anyone goes low carb, they begin by eating a lot of eggs. And bacon. And cheese. These three things were staples when I first started. If all else failed, bacon and eggs for the win.

Eggs are so versatile. You can boil, fry, scramble, make them into an omelette. But soon, I got sick of eggs. Now I eat them on occasion.

I eat all meats. I don't particularly care for beef, but since going keto I have started to enjoy a burgers without the bun. I have also discovered that chicken drumsticks and thighs WITH the skin are yummy when baked or fried and the skin is crispy. And I eat LOTS of chicken wings. Chicken wings drenched in ranch or blue cheese are my a favorite. And now I can eat this with NO GUILT AT ALL. It's part of my plan!

I have never been a HUGE veggie eater, but keto has actually introduced me to some veggies I'd never had before. Like Brussels sprouts. I eat LOTS of cauliflower because it's WAY more versatile than I'd ever imagined (think twice baked cauliflower, mashed cauliflower, roasted cauliflower, cauliflower breadsticks or pizza crust). I love roasted broccoli. I still eat salads on occasion, only with delicious FULL FAT dressing (blue cheese and ranch... the real stuff in the salad section... only has 1 carb per serving most times).

The only dairy I really eat is cheese and sour cream and heavy cream. Milk is high in carbs, and I don't drink milk anyway (gross). Some people on keto like cottage cheese. I was going to try it, although I've always thought it LOOKED to disgusting to eat. But when I checked the label it looked high in carbs so I gleefully skipped it. Someone I follow on Instagram says the Daisy brand is lowest in carbs, though.

Ok, lets talk about FAT. Ketogenic is high in dietary fat. If you're not willing to increase your fat, this is not the diet for you. But hear me out... fat is satisfying. It keeps you full, and it makes you happy while you are eliminating carbs. I use lots of coconut oil. Lots. I fry my foods in it. I also put it in my coffee (more on that shortly). If you don't like the taste of coconuts, get the refined kind. It's tasteless. I use both. I also use TONS of butter. REAL butter, not margarine.

If you are still using margarine... please stop. It's a chemical shit storm. It's fake and full of harmful fats. Just pay a little extra for the real stuff.

Once you add in cheese, leave the skin on your chicken, and add a few eggs here an there, getting a high percentage of good fat isn't hard. If you like avocados, eat those, too. (I do not like them). Don't be afraid. Your body will respond well to fat if you're cutting the carbs.

The most important part of the ketogenic way of eating, besides high fat and very low carbs, is to EAT. REAL. FOOD.

Skip the Quest bars and protein shakes. Skip the Adkins crap with all the sugar alcohols. If it's labeled, "low-carb" just skip it. Some people still love to eat this stuff, and can lose weight while doing so. But it's not all that good for you. And aren't we doing this for overall health, not just weight loss? Yes, I still have sugar free pancake syrup and some sugar-free coffee syrup on occasion. And Coke Zero is still my favorite. But I've cut WAY down on this stuff.

Eat real food.

I also want to add that eating out on keto is super easy. Only ONCE in six months have I ever NOT been able to find something to eat at a restaurant. And that is when we went to a Caribbean restaurant on Valentine's Day and they refused to make me anything without rice or plantains. I sipped a diet soda and refused to go off my plan!

Usually when eating out I'll have wings or a burger with no bun, add bacon and cheese! Lots of fast food chains offer lettuce wrapped burgers, or burgers in a bowl. Salads are a good option without all that extra stuff. Cobb salads or ceasar salads are usually compliant. The important thing when eating out is to ASK for what you want. Restaurants usually are very accommodating. They will happily bring you a side salad instead of fries.

But be always mindful that sugar is hidden in EVERYTHING. Since being keto, I've found hidden sugar in so many products, even those labeled with zero carbs! For example, the heavy whipped cream in the can. I was enjoying this on sugar-free jello in the beginning (I've since ditched the SF Jell-0 because the sweetener in it triggers cravings). It said zero carbs on the can, but the second ingredient was sugar! WTH? Um, no. So, my advice is to look at the ingredients, not just the nutrition label.

It is also my advice to you to count TOTAL carbs for everything except for vegetables. For vegetables, net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) is okay. People in my keto group mostly agree that they lose better when following this rule of thumb. See, there really isn't a 'real' thing as net carbs. In my opinion, the manufacturers made that crap up to market stuff 'low-carb'. But again, every one is different. Some can subtract fiber and sugar alcohols and still lose weight counting net carbs. My body doesn't.

Things to avoid:
All grains.
All fruit.
All legumes.
All starchy vegetables.
All sugar.

Some people on the ketogenic diet do eat berries. I have had strawberries on occasion and been ok. But fruit is frowned upon for the most part.

I'm gonna wrap this post up with another disclaimer... I'm not a keto expert. My knowledge comes from being on this way of eating for almost 6 months. I've researched. I've used trial and error. I've Googled. Spent hours on Pinterest looking for recipes. My purpose for providing this information is to help spread the word. This diet just might be what someone needs to FINALLY get off the diet roller-coaster. This is a way of eating... something that does not have an end date for me. I've found a food template that I can do for the rest of my life and be happy. I hope this will be that for you, too.

If you think you want a full-fledged keto coach, please visit and check out the monthly coaching programs. I've followed Brian, Mary, and Katrina from the beginning. They know what they are doing. 

(and for the blog trolls that talk shit about me on GOMI, I have not been paid or asked to endorse this service)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

A ketogenic diet, also known as keto, very low carb, or LCHF (low carb, high fat), is where you force your body to produce ketones in the liver to be used as energy. On a high carbohydrate diet, your body produces glucose and insulin. Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy, so if available, your body will choose it over any other energy source. Insulin is produced to process the glucose in your blood by taking it around your body. Since the glucose is used by your body as it's primary energy source, your fat is not needed and stored instead.

By using lowering your intake of carbs (preferably to under 20 grams), the body is put in ketosis. Ketosis is a natural process where the body produces ketones from the breakdown of fats in the liver. The end goal of a ketogenic diet is to force your body into the metabolic state known as ketosis. You don't have to starve to get here, but you do have to be VERY low carb. But if you take away the carbs and increase your fat, your body will burn ketones as the main energy source.

I guess the next question I always get is... What do I eat?

Ideally, your macronutrient ratios should be around 5% carbs, 20-25% protein, and 70-75% dietary fat. This is really what works for you. Some are successful with 80-85% fat. Some eat up to 10% carbs. Some advocate for higher protein. But the graphic below, in my opinion, is the sweet spot.

Your carbs should mostly come from vegetables, nuts, and dairy. DO NOT eat wheat (breads, pasta, cereals), starch (potatoes, beans, legumes) or fruit (berries are ok on occasion). Dark and leafy greens are best choice. Fatty cuts of meat are great (leave the skin on the chicken!). Put grass-fed butter on meat and veggies. In the beginning if you need a snack, eat cheese or almonds. But the longer you are keto, the less you need to snack. You're simply not hungry as often as you used to be. The high fat curbs your appetite and keeps you so satisfied.

Now, some get very caught up in macros and tracking. There are some sites that will provide calorie calculators ( has a great one) and some people track religiously. I did at first. But with keto, you really don't HAVE to track calories or macros. Many people who have been super successful do not. But in the beginning, I think it's helpful until you have a grasp on WHAT to eat and how much. Overeating is overeating. You want to get to a point where you are eating when you are hungry, and stopping when you are full. Eventually, calories won't matter. Your metabolism will be burning strong despite low calories (more info on that another day).

Just eat lots of GOOD fat. Keep your protein moderate. And stay under 20 g of carbs. You'll be good.

There is endless diet dogma and misconceptions about being keto or very low carb. Don't listen to the negativity or bad information. Even from doctors. They are studies that were published 30+ years ago that show high amounts of fat and low carbs are good. It's high fat and high carbs that are bad for your body. And the low fat/high carb recommendations are just bad information that has led us into an obesity epidemic. Don't believe the hype. Educate yourself on this lifestyle and you might even teach your doctor a thing or two. If you have Type 1 diabetes or pre-existing kidney problems, DO get in touch with your doctor before starting keto because in these cases it may put a strain on your kidneys. But don't worry about high cholesterol or heart disease... keto (and any high fat, low carb diet) has been well known and documented to help improve these conditions.

Benefits of a Keto Diet

  • Cholesterol. A keto diet has shown to improve triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels most associated with arterial buildup.
  • Weight Loss. As your body is burning fat as the main source of energy, you will essentially be using your fat stores as an energy source while in a fasting state.
  • Blood Sugar. Many studies show the decrease of LDL cholesterol over time and have shown to eliminate ailments such as type 2 diabetes.
  • Energy. By giving your body a better and more reliable energy source, you will feel more energized during the day. Fats are shown to be the most effective molecule to burn as fuel.
  • Hunger. Fat is naturally more satisfying and ends up leaving us in a satiated (“full”) state for longer.
  • Acne. Recent studies have shown a drop in acne lesions and skin inflammation over 12 weeks.
When you first begin a keto diet, get ready for the dreaded "keto flu". Your body is used to using carbs as energy, so when you take them away your body is unhappy at first. But as you get adjusted to a ketogenic state, your body will use up all the glucose and transition into burning ketones. This makes you generally feel like crap for a few days. Get ready for headaches, brain fog, and flu-like symptoms. Many say that increasing sodium helps to replenish electrolytes and makes it better. But it will go away in a few days regardless. Just ride it out.

Another wonderful thing about the ketogenic diet is that once that keto flu and initial week of feeling like crap is over, you feel GREAT. Your cravings lessen each week, you suddenly get all this energy, and the aches and pains go away (due to reduction in inflammation). And the stomach fat/bloat goes first, so your pants are loose and you almost instantly feel the inches going away. It's been my experience that your body changes are way more dramatic than the numbers on the scale. You really have two ways to measure your success. I used to weigh almost daily, but now I could care less what the scale says. I feel fabulous.

On my next post, I will tell you all about the specific foods I eat on the keto diet.

*** Most of the information from this post was taken from, which is an EXCELLENT source for beginners. And as mentioned earlier, it has a keto calculator on there if you need an idea of exact calories and macronutrients. The other information is MY OPINION and advice based on what I have learned. I am not a doctor or nutritionist or an expert.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Ketogenic Diet

Over the past several weeks I have had countless people email, text, or message me on social media asking if I can help them or give them information about the diet that I'm on. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that since the end of January I have been following a ketogenic diet plan. It's really not a diet... more like a way of eating. High fat (70-80%). Moderate protein (20-25%). Very low carb. And by very low carb, I mean that I typically eat less than 20 total carbs daily.

This is where I lose most people.

"How in the world can you eat less than 20 carbs!" (it's easy)
"Don't you eat fruit and vegetables?" (veggies, no fruit)
"I can't live without my carbs." (in that case, continue to eat them)
"Doesn't all that fat make you fat?" (absolutely not)

I have to admit, I started out in January with the same "diet" mindset that most of America had and just REALLY wanted to lose weight. I was back up to 316.4 lbs. My feet, knees and back HURT EVERY DAY. I was sad. I was out of breath. I had no energy. I was miserable in my skin. I had to do something. But after 3 weeks of trying to lower carbs and make good choices, I was struggling. The food addiction was still so real. So I just knew... the carbs had to go. Completely.

So on January 30 I just made the jump. I was going to try Keto one last time. But this time I REALLY did my research. I got into a great support group on Facebook (Ketogenic Success). I read. I read, And I read some more. I counted my macros and made sure to stay in the prescribed ranges. And guess what? I started losing. Steadily. Pretty much every week for the first 90 or so days.

But even more important is that I STOPPED dieting.

Somewhere along the line eating this way stopped being a diet. It didn't feel like restriction. I lost the desire to cheat. I was full, satisfied, and happy. Finally... peace with food! And the pain was gone. My feet, back, and knees were no longer painful. My energy is through the roof. My mental clarity is back.

Oh, and as of May 25, 2016 in officially down 50 lbs.

It's amazing.

So, in the keto community, there is a thing called "ketovangelizing". It's where we've learned this totally new "way" of eating, and we feel the need to share it with anyone that is also on a diet struggle. Especially if it involves Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes (because this diet makes it practically vanish). I have been ketovangelizing to many, and so many around me (both in person and online) are now trying this way of eating.

And guess what? THEY ARE LOSING WEIGHT. I had a co-worker just tell me last week she has lost 21 lbs in a MONTH. People who try it love it.

I've decided to start blogging about this lifestyle. Giving some basic information about this way of eating to hopefully help get someone started if they want to.

This isn't about products. This isn't about spending a ton of money on groceries or impossible ingredients (you'll actually save money). No gimmicks. Just real food.

And peace with food. Recovery from food addiction. Freedom from calorie counting or obsessing about macros.

It's truly a lifestyle. And I love it.

So over the next few days I'm going to give some information on the ketogenic diet. I am also going to share a little about what I've learned about the lies that have been fed to us (excuse the pun) by the diet industry that have made us fat and unsuccessful at diets. I might also touch on intermittent fasting (something new that I'm learning about that goes along with the keto way of eating). If you're interested, please read. You may learn something new. If you are unable or unwilling to CONSIDER there might be another way, or that fat is not the enemy, please keep scrolling through the inter-web.

Knowledge is power. Sharing is caring.