My changes for 2016 // Halfway update

I returned to online life a month ago and posted about metaphorical seasons. Because lately, I’m feeling this lesson hard. Changes. Ebbs. Flows. Ups. Downs. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m coming back home to myself. Last year, I finally decided to take responsibility for issues I had been facing my entire life. I wrote about them over here. I committed to not run from myself anymore. Instead, I vowed to take time to stay with myself even when it was uncomfortable. Especially when it was uncomfortable.

I started an intense yoga practice. I began meditating and was diligent about colliding with the present moment. This sounds sparkly and fun and mystical, but let me tell you something: it was arduous most days. Granted, I am a sensitive person too fragile for her own good, so I felt the full scope of the good, the bad, the joyful, and the unbearable.

The thing is, after I got my Masters in Food Studies & went to cooking school (which was the best year of my life up to that point), I traveled to Europe for 3 months and came back home on a high note because well, duh, I was on vacation in paradise and a shiny new reality was about to set in. I knew during grad school that I was going to make a career out of doing something 1. meaningful 2. SOLO & 3. The clincher, I had ZERO idea what it was. I knew I wanted to help people cook. I wanted to help people feel sane around food. I wanted to make it easy. I wanted to change people’s thinking. I had no idea whether it would be a store, an online site, or private cheffing. I remember telling my frazzled dream to one of my professors and she was like “yeah, you need to invent your career.” That sounded promising.

I slowly followed the path set before me, breadcrumb by breadcrumb, and began to do some private chef work as potential clients appeared seemingly out of thin air. About six months later, I got a high profile client who I worked for exclusively for two years (while doing some freelance stuff & projects on the side) which was integral to my growth. That job stretched me thin because I dedicated every ounce of my energy to it. I worked tireless nights and every single weekend, but consequently, gained a newfound confidence that had been forever absent from my life. Not only about cooking, but about myself.

I learned how to stand up for myself, how to dig deep, how to be strong (and then stronger), how to do gritty work I didn’t feel like doing, be firm, think fast and hard, and believe in myself. Because I HAD TO if I wanted to succeed. And man, did I want to succeed. Giving someone something to eat that you made (sometimes multiple times a day) is a vulnerable thing, like giving away a part of your heart. With every piece of positive feedback, that confidence grew. With rare negative feedback, my confidence took a blow, but simultaneously lit a fire beneath it.

That job was no longer for me after those two years, and I decided to go back to working on my own. I’ve had the same steady clients for years now, and I can honestly say I love what I do and I love all my clients. But for a while, I’ve felt that I can give a lot more to the world through educating & writing about food, nutrition, body image, and the mind/body/spirit connection. I was stuck in concrete about how to take what was in my head and what I know I can offer the world into a real, living, breathing, money-making thing.

This stuckness infested my life for the past two years, resulting in me being a stressed control freak and feeling off all the time. I knew deep in my heart that I could do more and I wasn’t moving in the right direction. My gifts were stuck inside of me and I didn’t know how to sort them out to create something new. This balled up energy (whether positive or negative) can be toxic if left unexpressed.

My relationship with food reflected that. I became obsessed with eating clean and subsequently reverted back to “dieting” without really knowing it, because I needed to eat clean in order to feel like I was okay. For a long time, I didn’t eat sugar, fruit, or even a damn sweet potato, because that was too starchy and too sugary. I’m going to write a blog post about the detrimental effects of a low carb diet (for some people, others have had great success), so stay tuned for that.

I became sick of feeling like I wasn’t moving, so I took the first step by signing up for training to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, and then became one. I’m currently working on building that practice and have decided to take the plunge to do a whole rebranding of my business and a brand spanking new (and much overdue) website to encompass my entire brand. It feels scary to take this step. But it’s scarier to let the aforementioned inertia continue to pull me down.

I just wanted to give you guys a backstory on what’s going on, because I have transformed so much in the past two years in my mind, body, and spirit, and I finally feel ready to share the details about it. First up, here’s an update on the changes I set forth upon at the beginning of this year.

Write every morning.

I write in the morning several times per week, but not every day. I don’t set a limit (although Julia Cameron from The Artist’s Way suggests 3 full pages but homegirl ain’t got time for that), and usually do a 1 page braindump in my moleskine. I just write whatever comes to mind which is almost always me freaking out about stuff I shouldn’t be freaking out about. I love peaceful early mornings (I get up at 5:30-6), but once I begin to think of what I need to do during the day I immediately get overwhelmed. Instead of unloading these stresses onto my eating, or on procrastination, or on Derek, they go on the page, where I can evaluate whether they are true or not. 99% of the time, I realize I’m imagining the looming demise. I know this is a habit I need to do every day, but I’m happy that I went from nothing to 3-4 times per week. Sometimes, I just want to sit quietly and read with my coffee, and writing my thoughts down when I’m half asleep feels excruciating. In those moments, I know it’s probably most beneficial, but I’m not being crazy with myself about it.

Reduce time on social media.

This is one I haven’t kept up with. I feel like I’m still attached to social media and check it several times per day. A good key for me is not to start the day on social media, but rather have set times throughout the day where I can check it in bulk, rather than in addictive little spurts. We actually get dopamine hits (like when we drink or eat sugar) when we check our likes, follows, and comments, so our social media addiction is actually no surprise when we look at science. Also, snapchat was invented, and it pretty much ruined my life.

Begin periscope-ing.

I didn’t periscope, because shortly after I posted my initial post, periscope kinda went down the tubes and seems like a black hole of shade. I don’t see people doing it as much anymore. What gives?

Autoimmune Paleo Protocol

For ten weeks, beginning on January 2 of this year, I buckled down and did the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol. AIP is a temporary diet meant to heal the lining of your intestines so you can reintroduce potentially inflammatory foods. I had been talking about doing it forever due to remaining stomach issues and decided it was now or never. It’s paleo (already eliminating grains, dairy, sugar, soy, legumes, alcohol) plus I didn’t eat nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, white potato, plus the spices derived from them), nuts or seeds (or the spices derived from those like cumin, fennel seed), any gross oils (which meant no restaurants), eggs, or coffee. I also did not eat much garlic or onion because those are known to mess stomachs up too.

The ten weeks were definitely rough. But because I was crazy focused on finally feeling better once and for all, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. My biggest issue was the mentality. As someone with a past of disordered eating faced head-on with restriction, I really had to differentiate this time period as something I KNEW would give my stomach a break and make my life easier in the long run as opposed to being a “diet”.

When you’ve spent your entire life with those types of thoughts, it’s hard to make it new again. I was not doing it because those other foods were “bad” or I was a bad person for eating them. But there was a reality at stake here, and the reality was the original diet didn’t accomplish what I needed it to anymore, and I knew I needed to dig further to finally heal myself and my body. It seemed crazy restricting even further, but after talking to so many people that had similar experiences to mine who got their life back because of AIP, I knew deep down I had to do it if I wanted to have a functioning belly and venture out of my food comfort zone. It had been difficult to travel, eat at restaurants, or other people’s homes without feeling like garbage afterwards. I began to view the diet as a way to get my life back, rather than a punishment. In actuality, it was a gift.

After the first day being AIP, I became MUCH more regular in the bathroom than I ever had in my entire life. My stomach felt calm without any irritants. I made sure to eat plenty delicious, high quality food. Although it was restrictive, I made it a point not to deprive myself. I stuck to plain roasted vegetables, proteins, fruits, healthy fats, and avocado. I seasoned with tons of herbs & citrus. We did not eat out once during this time. If I went to other people’s houses, I brought food or made it there myself. I couldn’t taste the food that I cooked for my clients. I wouldn’t have survived without Derek’s support. He is the light of my life and the reason why I got through it, as he reminded me daily to dig deep for my strength and how much easier life would be once this temporary period was over.

I slowly and strategically reintroduced foods once the ten weeks were up. Things like tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplant felt great. The seed spices had zero ill effects. Nuts were ok, too, but nuts in a quantity over a tablespoon upset my stomach and I don’t like the way they make me feel, so they will continue to stay out. Eggs still make me feel gross, as do really processed seed oils.


Derek and I went to Austin for his birthday in March, and we decided that that would be the time that I would begin the real reintroduction. On his birthday night, we had a spectacular and memorable meal at Uchiko. I had a sushi roll for the first time in like three years because rice used to have the same effects as gluten on my belly: instant bloating, and further discomfort for about 5 days. But after that meal and AIP, I woke up with zero effects. We also ate Mexican food, and I had a couple bites of corn tortilla and refried black beans, potato salad, gluten free breads, chocolate, ice cream, more rice, gluten free flours, and tons of barbecue (which has seed spices). I ate them all in moderate quantities and never, ever felt stuffed. None of these foods affected me. And I have zero doubt that it was the gift AIP gave back to me.

Now, I feel SO MUCH happier that I have been able to add back so many of the foods that I love. I’ll always be gluten free & dairy free, but I’m reintroducing things that work for me within that framework like gluten free toast, Mary’s crackers, butter, corn, popcorn, rice, beans, etc. Even little bits of sugar & chocolate every single day. This makes me happy because for a long time, I thought I could deny myself these foods I love when in reality, as humans we are wired to enjoy life. And for me, a lot of my enjoyment in life comes from enjoying delicious food with people I love, and for a long time I felt completely ostracized and denied myself this simple pleasure. That was a huge loss of identity for me, but I’ve reframed it, because my body is my body and I know what works and what doesn’t, and just because I can or can’t eat a certain food has nothing to do with whether or not someone loves me.

In a sense, I quit paleo. I quit the stringent rules. I quit having to be perfect all the time. I quit the low carb bullshit, because it’s basically the worst for me. I will write more about my thoughts on low carb diets, because it had such a detrimental effect on me that I hope I can help someone going through that struggle.


I also have to mention that after I was able to reintroduce some of my favorite foods and subsequently gain some sanity, I lost 10 pounds. I used to think that if I ate perfectly or cleanly all the time, that my body would reflect that, but that isn’t the case. When I did AIP, I was the heaviest I have been in years. Adding the foods back took away the diet mentality because in diets, there is an equal and opposite binge for every restriction that you put on yourself. It’s a law of physics, people. If you feel sane with your food, you won’t act out with it. Because you can have it all at any time. This is the way I eat now and I can’t convey how much a sane relationship with food, not feeling deprived or hungry, and eating things you love can uplift every other aspect of your life. I can’t wait to write more about it in time to come.

No Coffee.

I eliminated coffee for the ten weeks I was on AIP and I thought I would die without it but honestly, it wasn’t a big deal. Total TMI but whatever, I use coffee to go to the bathroom in the morning, and believed it to be my saving grace. During this time, I switched to ginger tea, which got the job done without the lingering anxiety and stomach upset that coffee so lovingly provides. I also love the coffee ritual of waking up, brewing it, pushing down the knob of our french press, revealing the elixir of life. But I realized I could do the exact ritual, sans coffee. I did have a solid headache for the first week I eliminated it, but after that, I felt alert most days the moment I woke up, but the effects were not earth shattering like other people have suggested or frankly, like I expected. I emerged alive from the experience. I have since re-introduced coffee, and it still does give me the most miniscule amount of stomach upset and a bit of anxiety for about half hour around the time I drink it, but I love it so much that its minor ill-effects are worth it to me.

No Alcohol.

I stuck to zero booze for those ten weeks I was on AIP, and broke it at a friends wedding. I had a whopping two glasses of wine and a shot of tequila and spent the entire two next days completely hungover and worthless. When we went to Austin, I drank moderately almost every day, and felt like crap because of it, too. Now, even if I have one glass of wine, my body knows it for 24 hours. This is a far cry at 30 from how I was at 18, and sometimes I wish I could go back to drinking up a storm with my friends in a haze or even have a cocktail and feel normal. But nine times out of ten, I gravitate naturally towards not drinking, even though people think I’m weird, and even if I feel weird being the only one not drinking. Because it isn’t worth it most of the time for me.


This isn’t to say that I will quit drinking, because I do enjoy it socially, especially over dinner with people I love (and I am going to Napa in four weeks and you best believe I will be swimming in Zinfandel & Cabs). But going forward, I will do it with the awareness that I will need time to recover and take care of myself and probably be a little mean and unproductive for a couple days. I’ve also learned that if you don’t make a big deal about it (don’t announce “I’M NOT DRINKING” upon arrival to wherever you are) and you have something in your hand (crucial), then it’s not a big deal. No one cares or notices you. Plus, having fun with your friends and then waking up the next morning feeling amazing is the most I can ask for.

No Sugar.

Again, I didn’t have sugar for ten weeks while I did AIP, and nothing earth shattering happened. Yeah, I felt clear and good in my body, but I did miss having my chocolate and I realized that I feel more in control and more able to stick to feeling good about my food if I do incorporate some sugar. I’m actually eating sugar daily and more than I have in YEARS, and I’m at my lightest weight. I have cinnamon sugar, maple syrup, chocolate, jam, and other little treats probably every single day in very modest portions.

I never thought I could get to this point again after doing Paleo and having the Gods of Paleo shun sugar forever and ever amen, but keeping it in makes me not be a lunatic. Not eating it just gives more charge to whatever I’m craving, and when I inevitably give in, I GIVE IN. Like, bad. I overeat it and feel like garbage in my head and body.

I do have limits on my sugar though, and save things like cakes and cookies and ice cream for special and rare occasions. The other day I made a gluten free chocolate cake with creamy chocolate icing last Sunday because I felt like it, and for two days, that cake controlled my life. I knew it was in my house, and I swear it called to me. Once I found myself eating that cake at 11 in the morning and shaving slivers randomly throughout the day, I knew baking these things had to go for a while.

The key is to know yourself. Don’t listen to anyone but you. Sugar is bad, but having a relationship with food where you feel like a psycho fiend is way worse.

Travel & relationships.

Since Derek and I live together, a lot of our time is spent working, doing chores, errands, and other adulty things. Although we have fun wherever we go, going on vacation with him and worrying about nothing feels divine. We’ll have taken four trips this year (2 mini ones) and I look forward to many more in the future.

I’m also putting in more time and effort into my friendships. I have issues with isolation and it’s a piece of cake for me to sit at home for days without seeing anyone but my boyfriend and brood. But that’s toxic, too. I realized that in order for me to exit my abode, I must make myself. Like, literally put one foot in front of the other and force myself into my car. Once I’m out there being social, all my anxiety about being a hermit melts away as my soul gets filled with the vital energy of relationships.


(My best friend, Michelle, & me in Key West)

In my worst moments, I sometimes thought that I’d always feel better alone (even though I do have many solid sisterly friendships), but this is the bad part of the mind talking. Get out there, be social, even when you don’t want to. I’ve also learned about how relationships are about the actual relationship with the person, and what you eat and what you do has nothing to do with the connection you have with someone, an idea that blossomed only recently.

I will always treasure my alone time and do have boundaries around it, but all I’m saying is nurture and value your relationships as much as you can.

Fitness stuff & fitting back in my clothes.

I’m happy to say that I fit back into 90% of my original clothes and I’m not going to sugar coat it, it feels amazing. Body image talk is omnipotent these days and has created movements. I have a lot to say about it because I still struggle and suspect I will for the rest of my life.

I struggled with body image even when I was stick skinny and had a “perfect” body, so that’s why I think actual physical bodies have zero to do with body image. It has to do with how you FEEL in and about your body, your self worth, and how much you value yourself. You will always have a body, but how you feel about it is up to YOU.

The physical part of this is huge because often times if we are heavier for our frame, we end up feeling bad. At least I do. And it has more to do with how I FEEL in a heavier body. When I gained a little weight these past two years and did not fit in my clothes, I felt like garbage, physically. I couldn’t move in the same way, I didn’t feel light, I just didn’t feel like me. I know I can speak for myself when I say that my outside reflects my insides at any moment in time. Feeling is key.

I’ve also been active this whole time, but I kind of took a break from exercise for a while to give myself a freaking break. I still walked, did yoga, some BBG stuff, and lots of stretching every day, but lately I’ve gotten back into lifting weights and intense exercise because I feel that I am ready for it. Exercise makes me feel alive. Afterwards, no matter the suckage involved, I think to myself, “man, this is how I am meant to feel.” I will also keep up my yoga practice several days per week. I reached headstand, which took me two years to build up to, and was the greatest test of patience. My next goal is an unassisted pull-up, which I hope to get by the end of the year but we’ll see.

No workaholism.

Although I work hard (and was going to school part time for the first half of this year), I make sure to rest A LOT. If I have a day off, I try to have zero guilt about sitting on the couch and not doing shit except stare at my dog or watch reality TV. I need these breaks. I used to think I could go go go go go all the time, but this does not work for me. Something that has, though, is the  pomodoro method where I work focused for 20 minutes, and then take a break for 5 minutes, and repeat.

There’s a lot of things I learned during the past two years. Mainly, not to be too hard on myself. Restriction doesn’t work. Opening up does. Bodies don’t matter but how you think about them matters, so body image actually has nothing to do with bodies. Low-carb diets suck. AIP will heal you. Know yourself, listen to your heart. Take nuggets of wisdom from people out there, but do your own damn homework about yourself. Be opening to evolving & changing, because we always are.

I hope you keep reading, because there’s a lot to come.

Leave a Reply

  1. Santiago Pardo says:


  2. This. All of this!!

    Thank you so much for sharing. I feel like I’m in so many of the same places, and it’s refreshing and wonderful to hear your take on this all. I love that you’re not sugar coating anything, and that makes me feel like I’ll get to a healthy point with my food relationships one day too. Cheers to making it happen, even when you have a couple ‘mistakes’ 😉

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