My Whole45(ish) Recap & Food Freedom Forever Review

I finished Food Freedom Forever a couple weeks ago. I also ended my Whole30 last week. I lost track of what day I was on, but it was day 45-ish. I just wanted something easy, so I decided on Chipotle. I ordered a chicken bowl (the chicken is cooked in rice bran oil, so it’s not compliant) with lettuce, mild and medium salsa, and—of course—guac (which apparently costs more now—ugh). I also got a bag of tortilla chips, because their chips are delicious (it’s the lime juice + salt).

It was good and 100% worth it. I didn’t notice any negative effects from the non-gluten grains, and the next day I went right back to eating Whole30. So far the slow-roll reintroduction method is working well for me. I’m only reintroducing foods I really want/miss and I’m only doing it when I’m ready. In addition to non-gluten grains like corn and rice, I’ve also reintroduced sugar. Not because I miss desserts (I don’t, and I’ve had just one brownie since my Whole30 ended), but because I really miss my egg-free mayo and it has sugar in it. I also tried some new maple blueberry breakfast sausages, which were also delicious.

Those brownies didn’t stir my sugar dragon, and incorporating a little added sugar makes my life so. much. easier. So while it’s unbelievably annoying that sugar is added to things like mayo, I’m willing to make it part of my diet occasionally to enjoy some convenience foods (chicken salad for the win!).

That’s what food freedom is all about. Finding what works for you and in the right amounts. I miss dairy the most, so I know I need to wait longer to reintroduce it. I also know from past Whole30s and allergy testing that dairy causes stomach and skin issues for me. And while my shoulder is still not doing any better, I’m pretty sure it feels worse when I go and eat a whole cheese pizza, so I’m going to stay dairy-free for a while longer.

My food freedom will change, and that’s kind of the point. Right now, I’m eating mostly Whole30, while incorporating non-gluten grains and a little added sugar with certain meals. Eventually I’ll reintroduce gluten and dairy, but not until I’m ready.

What I loved about Food Freedom Forever is Melissa Hartwig stresses that eating Whole30 100% of the time is not food freedom. Instead she gives you a plan to break the cycle of yo-yo dieting, bingeing, and “cheat days”. You start with a reset (ie the Whole30). Then you reintroduce and evaluate how those foods make you feel. The ones that don’t affect you negatively become part of your regular diet.

She also stresses to evaluate foods in the moment. So before eating something—particularly if it’s a food that might cause digestive distress, skin breakouts, and the like—ask yourself two questions: 1. Do I really want this? 2. Is it really worth it? If the answer to both of those is “yes”, then you eat the food and deal with whatever consequences there are. If the answer to either is “no”, you skip it.

Another point she makes is that you will slowly slide back into your old habits. Eating dessert every night after dinner whether you really want it or not. Having a glass of wine as soon as you get home from work every day. Bingeing on certain foods because “it’s the weekend” (which is not a special occasion). Fortunately, she emphasizes that this isn’t failure. It’s normal and happens to just about everyone. All you have to do is go back to your reset. You may or may not need a full 30 days depending on how long you’ve been sliding and how many resets you’ve done in the past.

After your reset, you reintroduce and redefine your food freedom. And that’s it. You go back to your reset as needed. You keep asking yourself if you really want it and if it’s worth it. What I love most about this is it transformed how I viewed my past Whole30s. My most recent one was my eighth (I think), and I felt a bit like a failure for having done it so many times. In reality, every time I do a round of Whole30, I’m reaffirming my commitment to my health. That’s a non-scale victory.

There’s a ton of great information in Food Freedom Forever. It will help you transform not just how you eat, but how you talk about food (and maybe even how you talk to/about yourself). I highly recommend reading it before or during your next Whole30 so you can start implementing the strategies immediately. It is by far the one book I wish I would have had from day 1.

Have you read Food Freedom Forever? What did you think? What does food freedom look like for you?


I Finished the January Whole30 But…

I’m not stopping at 30 days!

FFC47689-CEF1-4C6C-8E10-193496F631AC-19105-0000117502365E44.jpgAs of today, I’m on day 32, and I’m going to keep going for a while. The past 30 days have been pretty great (I’ll get to my non-scale victories shortly), but it’s just not enough this time. My primary motivation for this round was to see how it would affect my shoulder. And while it has eliminated that 24/7 chronic pain I was dealing with, I think it could be better.

So I’m going to keep on keepin’ on for another 10-15 days at least to see just how much better my shoulder can feel. I also didn’t see as much improvement in my sleep and energy as I’d hoped I would (I mostly blame this on stress), so I’d like to see if those get any better as well.

IMG_2863.jpgMy experience wasn’t all negative, though! Before I get to all my amazing NSVs, I want to talk about the two books that were total game changers for this round of my Whole30. First, The Whole30 Day by Day is the journal I wanted to keep during my first several rounds but was too lazy to do so. I was able to keep track of how I was doing and feeling, the NSVs I was seeing, and it offered tips and tricks to help get me through those “kill all the things” days.

For those 30 days, I read and journaled in that book every morning and night. It became a familiar ritual (which I’m now replacing with journaling and meditation) that gave me some perspective on the day ahead and allowed me to reflect on what I learned. I’m not saying I couldn’t do another round without this book, but man, it would be hard.

IMG_2858.jpgThe second book that made a huge difference for this round was The Whole30 Fast & Easy cookbook. This book was full of new and exciting recipes to try, most of which involved few ingredients and minimal prep/cook time. I tried a bunch of them and they were all delicious (although many did not turn out nearly as pretty as the photos in the book!). I even got creative when I realized I was missing a few ingredients and/or bought the wrong things. Improvisation is not something I would have been comfortable with prior to this round.

And with that non-scale victory, let’s get into the list: IMG_2942.jpg

  • Tried one or more new recipes per week
  • Got really good at meal prepping
  • Relied on my allergy medicine less (I was taking one every night, now I’m taking it as-needed)
  • No more belly bloat
  • Fit back into my favorite pair of jeans
  • Tried beets again (still don’t like them, but I gave them another shot)
  • Clear skin
  • Lightened under-eye circles
  • Tried new Lacroix flavors and discovered I love the grapefruit one
  • Ran almost 55 miles over the month and started training for a 10k (more on that in a separate post to follow)
  • I met my goal of exercising every day during my Whole30
  • Created healthy rituals and routines that aren’t focused around food, like journaling each morning and reading before bed each night
  • Gained more confidence in my appearance and my abilities
  • Had the energy and courage to tackle hard things
  • Stopped waking up every morning with a headache
  • Fewer stomach aches
  • No more brain fog

I didn’t weight myself before starting and I didn’t take any “before” photos. The weight wasn’t that important to me—I just wanted my clothes to fit better, and they do! There are probably more that I’m forgetting, but that’s a pretty impressive list of NSVs if I do say so myself. Hopefully in another week or two I can say my shoulder is almost pain free and I’m sleeping better. Time will tell!

In the meantime, I’m reading Food Freedom Forever, which I started about half-way through my Whole30. It’s another game changer and I highly recommend it!

Did you do the January Whole30? How did it go? If you haven’t done a Whole30, but you’re curious, let me know how I can help!

*Please note this post contains affiliate links.

Whole30: Halfway There

I’m halfway through my Whole30! Find out how it’s going:

Yesterday was day 15 of my Whole30, which means I’m halfway there! It’s amazing how even though this is my eighth round (I think), I’m still learning new things. It’s also funny how some things get easier, but it’s a pretty safe bet that no matter how many times I do this, some aspect of it will always be hard (and it’s rarely the same thing!).

This round I’ve had a lot of help from The Whole30 Fast & Easy Cookbook and The Whole30 Day by Day. The cookbook has tons of meals with short ingredient lists and fast cook and/or prep times. I’ve tried several so far and have enjoyed each and every one. That’s including the ones where I improvised because I forgot to buy something or didn’t read the recipe thoroughly so I bought the wrong thing.img_2858

I can tell you one thing. Improvising in the kitchen is not something I ever would have done during my first several rounds of Whole30. And certainly not before the Whole30. My kitchen skills have improved tremendously over these eight-ish rounds and it probably would not have happened if it weren’t for all the tips they provide on their social media and in their books.


In addition to trying lots of new dishes to keep things from getting boring this round, I’m also tracking things in the Day by Day book. It’s got tips, motivational passages, hacks, and more to keep me feeling motivated and to reassure me about where I am in the process. It also has spots for me to write down my NSVs (non-scale victories) and reflect on how I think I’m doing.

It’s everything I wanted for my first several rounds of the program but I lacked the discipline to actually follow through with (changing your eating habits is hard ‘yo). I basically carry it around with me all day (I work from home, so this is slightly less weird than it sounds) and write down what I ate and how I’m feeling. I also start every morning by reading the tip, motivation, and FAQ pages for that day. And I end the day by journaling about how things went and actionable things I can do to ensure success tomorrow.

While these two books have made a huge difference in how well this round is going compared to past rounds I’ve completed, I know a lot just has to do with me and my own motivation. I’m more confident in the kitchen, so I’m less afraid to try new recipes and buy weird-sounding ingredients (nutritional yeast, aka “nooch”, anyone?). I’m also really motivated by the pain I’m in.


I’ve been dealing with pain from a shoulder injury for almost a year now. After seeing two doctors, having two different sets of x-rays taken, physical therapy, and an MRI, I still have zero answers for what’s wrong with it. My sole motivation for this round of Whole30 was to eliminate inflammatory foods to see if it helps relieve some of my shoulder pain.

Guess what? It’s day 15 and I’m finally starting to notice a slight improvement. Enough so that I’ve started working in some light shoulder mobility exercises when I’m at the gym. That’s a HUGE NSV for me, and I hope I continue to see improvements throughout the next 15 days. I am fully prepared to extend the program if it’s improving but there’s still some pain at the end of the 30 days. Then I plant to tackle the reintroduction to figure out which foods are causing the inflammation.

Other NSVs I’ve experienced so far:

  • I no longer wake up with a headache every morning
  • My skin is much clearer
  • My belly isn’t constantly bloated/uncomfortable
  • I fit into a pair of jeans I haven’t been able to wear in over a year
  • My energy levels are higher and more stable throughout the day (I mean, I’m writing a blog post after working all day. If that’s not energy, I don’t know what is)

I’m still waiting for my sleep to improve and get more consistent. Part of my sleep problems are related to stress, I’m sure (stay tuned for a post about how I’m managing it). I’m also still waiting to see improvements in my running. Right now I’m not running much faster or farther than I was before I started. I suspect that will change soon though, and I can’t wait!

Are you doing the Whole30? What day are you on and how’s it going? What NSVs have you experienced so far?

2017 Reflections

2017 didn’t exactly go as planned…find out how I did on my goals for this year.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas! Now that the holiday stress is behind me, I can focus on reflecting on the past year and preparing for the next.

To say this year did not go as planned would be a gross understatement. I didn’t achieve many of my goals. I went from freelancer to full-time copywriter, and back to freelancer. I started running again and did it for 100+ days in a row. I gave up yoga (for now). I’ve struggled with physical pain and depression off and on for much of the year. I had great intentions on getting healthy but ended up eating a lot of pizza and drinking too much beer.

I set 12 goals for myself for 2017. Here’s how I did with each:

  1. Strength Training: This goal was at the top of my list. January was off to a good start, but after I hurt my shoulder, I eventually gave it up altogether. I am attempting to slowly rehab my shoulder, so maybe I’ll make some gains in the strength department in 2018.
  2. Yoga: Similarly, I had lofty goals of making yoga part of my daily routine. That didn’t last long after I injured my shoulder. I’m hoping once it heals, I can work yoga back in, as it will be great cross-training for my running.
  3. Travel: I did pretty well with this one. I went on my first vacation alone to visit my best friend in Savannah in October. We also went to Kansas City a couple times, twice to Carmel, IN, and way back in April we went to Pensacola. We’ve got some big travel plans for next year, too! So I’d say this one was a total success!
  4. Write: As a professional writer, I don’t do nearly enough writing for myself. Finally, I made journaling part of my morning routine. It’s not the next great poem or novel or anything. It’s mostly just to clear my head. But it helps. I also added two publications to my portfolio this month! The first was an article I wrote about the benefits of massage, which you can read here (and my husband adorably framed it for me and hung it in my office as part of my Christmas gift). The second was a feature I did about a line-dancing teacher in Cape who’s keeping seniors active, which you can read here.
  5. Read: I set a goal to read just one book a month and I totally and utterly failed. There’s always next year, though. I’m trying to incorporate reading at least a chapter before bed each night, so hopefully by starting now, it will be easier to continue with next year.
  6. Business Plan: I wanted to create a business plan this year, but this is basically impossible when you have no idea what you really want to do. Maybe next year.
  7. Volunteer: I don’t think I volunteered at all this year. I do, however, have some volunteering opportunities already lined up for next year, so that’s something.
  8. Sustainability: With this one,  I’ve made progress, then I back-tracked. Then I make progress again. I think this will always just be a work in progress.
  9. Minimalism: This one was harder than I thought it would be. And it’s nearly impossible to accomplish when you and your husband are not on the same page.
  10. Marriage: I really wanted to focus on investing more time in our marriage and really focus on us, but that’s really hard since my husband travels a lot for work. I think, fortunately, all marriages are a constant work in progress,  so we aren’t necessarily failing.
  11. Social Media: I wanted to spend less time on social media and I have done miserably awful with this goal. I just can’t seem to do it. Any time I’m bored, I start scrolling through Facebook (which is also pretty boring, to be honest). I need to come up with a solution that will get me to put down my phone and do a meaningful activity instead when I’m “bored” (or have writer’s block).
  12. Outside: I wanted to simply spend more time outside this year. And while I didn’t do so hot with this one for the first half of the year, my running streak certainly made up for it! Thanks to my streak, I’ve spent a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes outside every day for 100+ days. Not a terribly long time, but it’s a start.

Stay tuned for my post about my goals for 2018!

What were your goals for 2017?  Which ones did you achieve? Are there any you’re carrying over into the new year? Or are you giving up on some altogether?

Race to the Shrine 5K Recap & Other Updates

Find out if I PR’d in my most recent race and what I found out about my shoulder.

Another race, another medal.

I ran my first race of the year on Saturday! The weather was perfect and the course was hilly.

After 60+ days of running, I expected to do a little better than I did. I was disappointed in my pace and overall time. My official race time was 36:57 with a pace of 11:54.

Despite being disappointed in my time/pace, I was proud that I only stopped to walk twice, and that was at two of the water stations. Aside from that, I kept on running—something I don’t think I’ve ever done before.

Although I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, I know why. I haven’t been pushing myself lately. Part of that is from pure exhaustion (4:30 a.m. wakeup calls from a 5-month-old puppy are ruff rough). But it’s also because I’ve been kinda lazy. I haven’t wanted to put in the work.

Penny, Copper, & Me. They suck at selfies.

I haven’t pushed myself much to improve my speed. And I haven’t been taking the time on weekends to run longer distances. Finding the time to get enough sleep and run more than a mile has been really difficult lately.

That’s all changing as we speak, though. You see, I quit my job yesterday (for reasons I won’t discuss here). So until I find another job, I’m back to freelancing, which is definitely not the worst thing.

Basically, now I get to make my own schedule again. So if I want to go run a 5K in the middle of the week instead of on the weekend, I can. While this certainly isn’t how I wanted things to happen, I’m going to make the best of it.

It will give me the opportunity to find the perfect job, while also prioritizing my health and my goals.

Speaking of health, I got the results back from my MRI on my shoulder. Fortunately (I think), there was nothing visibly wrong with it. My doctor said it’s possible there’s a microscopic tear the MRI didn’t pick up, but the only way to find out is through surgery.

She recommended I continue taking anti-inflammatory meds and doing strengthening exercises and that we only consider surgery if it continues to not improve, or gets worse.

Obviously, something like surgery is out of the question anyway since I quit my job, but I wasn’t really considering surgery to begin with. I’m frustrated that I have no real solution for my pain, but I’m also relieved it doesn’t require surgery (at least not yet).

So there you have it. No race PR (unless you count not stopping to walk as a PR), no job, and no solutions for my shoulder.

It all sounds rather negative. And just a few short months ago, all this probably would have been devastating to me. Right now, though, I feel like I’m in a really good place. I’m only looking at the positives of all this.

Not getting a PR means I can improve before my next race (Turkey Trot). Quitting my job means I’m creating space in my life for a much better opportunity, whatever that may be. And having a negative MRI means I can heal my shoulder on my own, without painful and expensive surgery.

What’s going on in your world this week? Any recent PRs? How do you handle negative issues and tough situations?


Shoulder Woes

A non-update/rant about my injured shoulder.

I thought I’d have semi-good news to report, but I don’t. In fact, I almost deleted this post altogether, assuming I’d have some news. So far, I don’t know anything new.

To recap, my shoulder has been hurting since February. I suspect it at least started as an overuse injury.

I went into the New Year at full speed, doing both strength training and yoga every day. By February, I couldn’t do basic yoga poses without feeling some pain in my right shoulder.

The pain has has never been excruciating—more like an annoyance on most days—so I kept putting off going to the doctor thinking it would eventually go away. It didn’t, so I finally went to my primary care doctor.

To start, they did a basic exam and then put me on anti-inflammatory meds. I had terrible insurance at the time, so I put off getting x-rays. Eventually, after getting new insurance through my current job and still having pain, I went for x-rays.

My doctor said I had a bone spur and wanted me to do physical therapy. Well, after about 5 sessions of that, my shoulder was feeling the same, if not worse. So they sent me to an orthopedist.

The orthopedist did more x-rays. After looking at the x-rays, discussing my symptoms, and looking at my range of motion, she said it’s likely that I tore something. But since I’m only 28 and otherwise healthy and active, she wanted to take a more conservative treatment approach.

So she gave me a cortisone shot in the office (and holy hell was I in pain the rest of the day) and told me she wanted me to try another 4-6 weeks of physical therapy now that we had a better idea of what’s wrong.

A couple hours after I scheduled my first PT session, they called me back to let me know my insurance wouldn’t cover more sessions since I haven’t met my deductible. This meant it would cost me $130 per visit. That’s a whole lot of money in just a month’s time.

I canceled the appointment and called my doctor’s office to see if there was another option. Instead of PT, she decided to go straight for an MRI (an arthrogram—meaning they use contrast dye—to be specific) to determine exactly what’s torn and where.

My MRI was originally scheduled for today after work. They called me yesterday to confirm the appointment, and then called back a couple hours later saying they needed to reschedule. Apparently when they made the first appointment, they didn’t pay attention to the fact that my doctor wanted an arthrogram.

I could have rescheduled for Thursday, but I’m flying to Georgia that day, so I had to push it to the week after I get back. So my appointment is a week from today. A week more of pain and a week more of wondering whether or not I’ll need surgery to fix whatever’s wrong.

Really, I’m just bummed. I’ve been dealing with this since February, which is frustrating. I’ve spent more than half the year injured and in pain. Sure, part of that is my fault for not getting it checked out sooner, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

How do you stay positive when injuries or other ailments are causing you pain and keeping you from being as active as you’d like?