When to Protocol Yourself out on your own Limiting BS.

Note: I was three quarters through the “Hitting Save” blog post, when I was suddenly confronted by my own self-limiting BS / which led to this next entry following right on its heels. I finished the post, because there is good content in there that shows an important part of my journey: that there is never an end to the self discovery, or to learning more about myself and my health – or even to my own limiting mindsets that need to be crumbled and rebuilt.

In one of my last blog posts, here, I wrote all about excuses. Over the last 10 months, I have lost 50 pounds of fat from my body. That sounds pretty great, right? In the first 5 months, I lost 40 pounds; in the last 5 months, I have lost 10 pounds.  When I write it that way, it has less impact, but it does tell a story.  A story about an excuse that I conveniently left out of my last post. Something has gone a little sideways. And that something is my own limiting bullshit.

Back in June, I wrote this blog post about my experience trying (half-assing, is more like it) an autoimmune protocol. Looking back at that blog post now, I feel kind of embarrassed. While it felt genuine at the time, it now reads like an excuse. That protocol really marked the end of being completely engaged in my weight-loss.  Did I go off the rails, no.  I still move my body, fill my tummy with whole and organic foods, still sleep between 7-8 hours per night, and I am still generally kicking ass – if i was working to maintain my weight. The harsh reality is that I still have between 80-100 pounds to lose, and that is no joke. The good news is that now that I know better, I am doing better. I am engaged and excited about dropping the next 50 pounds.

So what happened?

I don’t think that any one thing contributed to the snails pace with which I have been losing weight, since May.  It is more of a combination of things. I realize now that I was, to some degree, still clinging to my old dieters mentality that to be successful, I needed it to be easy. Not to discount the first 40 pounds as completely effortless, but I don’t remember being particularly uncomfortable. Beginning a pretty restrictive protocol DEFINITELY made me uncomfortable. My pre-protocol mantra was, “I am a healthy person who can eat whatever I want – I just happen to mostly choose foods which support my health and vitality.” My protocol mantra was more like, “I am a healthy person who can hardly eat anything – I am miserable and I can’t do this.” I am actually cringing at my own bullshit, as I write this. How could I not see through my own self-imposed limitations?

I am Holly. I ran the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon. a fin conI have birthed two children out of a tiny incision in my abdomen. I once landed a job at Yahoo! while on a vacation, and then completely uprooted my life in Canada for a life in California one week later. I was one of a handful of people who got to attend Facebook’s IPO from the NASDAQ in New York City. Just a few weeks ago, I sat in front of over 350 people and interviewed sports legends Kristi Yamaguchi and Brandi Chastain for an hour, but an elimination diet can take me down?  I mean, come on Holly! I can accomplish all of this, but I can’t commit to eating veggies, fruit, and protein for 28 days?  It’s laughable! Only, not really.

So what happens now?

Well, just like I could never go back to my old bad habits, knowing what I know now – I can’t keep simply maintaining, now that I have been hit over the head with my own excuses. I need to up-level my game, re-engage, and start chipping away at the mountain ahead of me.

a mos burger

Dinner at Mo’s with the family – this AIP friendly meal did not suck.

In short, I need to shake things up again. In a text string with Jennifer this week, she wrote, “I still think AIP.” Quitting the original protocol was the first and only example of dissent against my coach since I started this journey back in January. Through Jennifer’s guidance, I got the first 50 lbs off – it only makes sense that the next 50 lbs will come off the same way. I don’t feel anxious about it this time.  I feel excited. Empowered. Unstoppable. It’s the same energy that carried me through the first five months of this marathon, and I am grateful that it’s back again.

a aip breakfast

An AIP breakfast that passes the sniff test.

It has been five days of AIP part deux, and I already can’t believe how much easier it is this time around. It really reinforces for me the notion that mindset is 90 percent of the battle. I can, I will, I am over I can’t, I won’t, I am not. Jennifer is always telling us to be mindful of how we can up-level our game. Like everything else that I have learned from her this year, it is a practice. It is layering good habits on top of each other. Progress, not perfection. Process, not perfection. It is falling down 8 times and getting up 9.  And the good news is that I am not even falling anymore. I may have been coasting, but my days of falling and failing are few and far between. And that, in and of itself, is a major win for me.

I am starting to place more weight (no pun intended) on how food makes my body feel, instead of how food falsely makes my mind feel. Food as fuel, instead of food as comfort. I am sure that getting older has something to do with it, having a family and wanting to be around for as long as possible also has something to do with it – but whatever the reason, vitality is suddenly important to me. It was not something I considered, before. I also believe that connecting more with fresh whole foods connects us more to nature in general. And when we are more connected to nature, we are a kinder, more gentler version of ourselves. We can see how we are a part of this ecosystem, and how the ecosystem is a part of us. Taking care of my body, doing the hard-but-good work of regaining self-love, and practicing gratitude for all that is good around me and in the world (even, and especially during these times of great tragedy and human/natural disasters) is what this journey is truly about – and I am thankful to be exactly where and who I am in this moment.


Hitting Save

When I first started working with Jennifer, the weight practically fell off of me.  It was effortless. Not to take away from the work that I was doing, or the commitment that I made, which was significant – but it just seemed to come off without much discomfort. Like I was in some unstoppable zone. My biggest fear back then was tied to my old dieters mentality of “how long will this last?”  I was, at least at some level, suspect of the process. There was a place inside of me that feared this would be like all of the other times I tried to lose weight. Because they all started off the same way, with an initial bump of weight-loss which would eventually taper off until I threw my hands up and said, “fuck it – let’s go to In n Out!”

Now the script has flipped, and I am fighting for every pound – but the fear of eventually giving up is completely gone.  Almost laughable! In the most humblest of ways, I am confident that I will never, ever, EVER go back to my old habits. I like who I am becoming. I feel good in my skin. Great, in fact. What I struggle with now is not getting discouraged when the weight-loss is slow, or seemingly non-existent. Or worse, when the numbers on the scale fluctuate a bit. It is during those times that I usually have some kind of off-scale breakthrough, or a “save.” a lift picSome of my past saves have been trying on old dresses that suddenly fit, or needing to order a new bra because I have run out of rungs to cinch them up. In some ways, it’s those moments that are the most profound reminders of how far I have come. Over the last few weeks, I have been pushing myself harder. I am extra mindful of what I am putting into my body, and leaning into the discomfort a little more. I am not snacking at night.  I am up-leveling my steps and my cycling classes While the scale isn’t responding as quickly as I had hoped, there have been a few notable differences.

a underwearFor example, the other morning, my hand to god, I thought to myself, “girl, you need some new underwear!” Now, I have thought this thought before. But it has been because of pregnancy, or weight-gain, or general unsightliness. Until the other day, I could count on NONE fingers the amount of times that I needed to procure new undergarments because of shrinkage!

And speaking of clothing, I have also vowed never to step foot in a plus sized store or department section again. Do you hear that, Encore section of Nordstrom?  We…are never, ever, ever, getting back together!  Like, ever! It has been a few months of clothing purchases in regular stores – and while I am not completely out of the woods yet (like, if I needed a pair of trousers, I would probably still need a size 18), I am going to make due without any help from those particular manufacturers. a dressTo celebrate, I tossed all of my 2X and 1X workout gear and did some bold online shopping at Lucy’s. Five pairs of XL sized pants arrive, and 5 pairs of XL sized pants are now in my rotation. I still had to fight that knee jerk reaction of avoiding disappointment by ordering the wrong size, but the fact is that the XL is what fits me now – and that makes me feel really proud of myself. While we’re on the subject of normal clothing, I also purchased and sort-of / kind of / partly zipped up a god damned designer Kate Spade dress, which is my goal dress for New Years Eve, this year. Even at my absolute skinniest, I never would have dared to bare my arms. But I am changing. Becoming more properly proportioned, perhaps.  Or maybe I’m just not looking at myself through poo-poo colored glasses any longer.

But the biggest, and definitely boldest revelation came during a recent business trip to Austin. While getting reading early one morning, I caught myself in the bathroom mirror – and for the first time (I don’t know, maybe ever) I thought I looked beautiful. a pic of meI have had other moments this year when I thought I looked really good – or I could clearly see the difference I am making in my health and in my body. But standing in front of a mirror in my undergarments has never been a particularly positive experience for me. As I stood there and studied my body, I thought about the two beautiful babies that it made.  I thought about how this body carried me down an aisle toward Craig, through 26.2 miles of marathon hell, across most of Europe with nothing but a friend and a backpack, and all of the most significant moments of my life. I noticed the stretch marks on my hip, and the white patches of skin with no pigment (vitiligo). I looked at all of this, and I felt grateful, and I felt beautiful. And I still do.  Of all that I have accomplished over the past eight months, being beautiful is easily the most rewarding.

Excuses, excuses, excuses…

The majority of my writing about my weight-loss is centered around physical changes and data points. For example, I have lost 52 pounds and over 24 inches since January. Of course, they are important and exciting metrics to share, but equally as important are the internal changes that I am making. From gaining self confidence to unpacking how I got here in the place, there is so much more going on than just the numbers. Digging into the non-metric related areas is key to long term success. Basically, if I don’t fix what’s in here…


I will never fix what’s in here…


In hindsight, I can’t help but feel feel compassion for Holly BPHB (before (Project Healthy Body). Any logical person can see through the utter bologna I would spread about why I was different and why the laws of physics didn’t apply to me. It is much easier to side-step responsibility than to get clear on where you are at. It means digging into the shame and embarrassment of being fat. It means working through the “why” of my fat. It means completely dismantling every unhealthy habit, and rebuilding new and healthy ones. It means toppling the self-righteous, know-it-all, not my fault wall that I had built around myself with food. It means humbling myself to the hard work of change, the hard work of facing fears, and the hard work of learning to love myself more.

Here is a smattering of some of the rubbish excuses that I used and wholeheartedly believed before getting really real with myself and with my fat.

Excuse: I have a thyroid condition.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had some blood-work come back with concerning results. I was sent swiftly to an endocrinologist who diagnosed me with Hashimotos, a type of hypothyroidism. Essentially, my immune system attacks my thyroid gland leading to reduced thyroid function. The symptoms include fatigue, weight-gain, thinning hair, and joint/muscle pain. It is a legitimate autoimmune disorder, to be sure – and I will have to take a synthetic thyroid replacement pill every day for the rest of my life.

For me, it was also the answer and the excuse that I had been searching for. Suddenly, I had something to blame for my fat. “Here I am, practically perfect in every way and doing absolutely everything I can do lose weight – but the cards are stacked against me”, I thought (and explained to anyone who challenged me). I read every book and saw a bunch of doctors. And if my doctor du jour didn’t agree with my medical opinion, I looked for someone who would.

The year before I contacted Jennifer at Project Healthy Body, I was running 3-4 miles every morning, and keeping a gluten free diet. Basically, doing just enough to completely recuse myself of any responsibility. I had built a cycle of victim-hood and outside blame that was bullet-proof. The running, which to be clear, had many benefits – meant a lot of calorie burning, but also an increased appetite. And my super duper healthy “gluten free” lifestyle was really just a pile of calorie dense “gluten free” breads and pasta with melted cheese. Two double-doubles “protein style” from In-N-Out, while mighty tasty, isn’t exactly going to grace the cover of any respectable health magazine.

While I did manage to lose 30 pounds that year, it was all in the beginning – and slowly but inevitably, my horse-shit plan caught up to me and I ended up gaining all of it back. It was the same self-fulfilling cycle of defeat I had been on for years, disguised in a legitimate autoimmune disorder. The truth is that yes…I have a medical condition – but that medical condition is not an excuse to be unhealthy, and it’s also not an excuse to believe that I cannot lose weight.

Excuse: entitlement

When I was a kid, my father used food as a reward. Win a game? Get a good grade? Reach a goal? How about a Slurpee? It was also a band-aid. Didn’t get invited to a birthday party? Scrape your knee? Lose your favorite toy? Let’s get a happy meal. I am not throwing shade in my fathers direction. He was, is, and will continue to be the most supportive, altruistic, loving father any kid could ask for. He was also, like me and most other parents, doing the best they could with the tools they had at the time.

I used this concept of food entitlement throughout my life. And I took it to an extreme. When times were good, when times were bad, when I was feeling lonely, when I was feeling amazing, when I failed, when I succeeded, when I was with a friend, when I was by myself – every meal was the meal of my dreams! Food entitlement was an excuse not to face what was actually going on with me.

Excuse: I don’t have time

Poppycock!  I have exactly as much time for myself as I am willing to make. The problem was that as far as priorities go, I was perpetually putting myself last on the list and then wearing that like some kind of badge of honor. The laundry list of time-related excuses was huge. Here are just a few:

  • I have a long commute
  • I have a demanding job
  • I have two young children
  • I have to watch [insert Netflix/HBO/BRAVO series]
  • I have to Doordash dinner to my family every night
  • I have to finish all the vodka
  • I have to do the laundry, and the dishes, and the lunches, and the outfits, and Christ..did Quinn do her homework?

All of these excuses and more were the things that were eating up my time. Most of these things, but not all, STILL eat up some of my time. What has changed are my priorities – and priority number one, two, and three are me, myself, and I. And guess what? Not only has the world kept turning, but I find myself with more time than ever. Now that I find the time to take care of myself, I also find the time to sleep more, read more, exercise more, meet up with girlfriends more, and live a more balanced life.

Excuse: my life is a 10/10

Having an attitude of gratitude is essential to healthy living. Over-pivoting and using gratitude as an excuse, though, is just another way that I was hiding behind my fat. The very first sentence from the very first homework assignment that I wrote to Jennifer was, ” I am uncomfortable not announcing that my life is a 10/10.” If I believe that my life is a 10 out of 10, then what is there to solve?  Nothing, because [queue Lego movie characters singing] EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!

Looking back, I see so clearly how I was using this as another excuse not to get real with where I am at. And boy, did Jennifer get real with me. She calculated my BMI and informed me that I was morbidly obese, and that I was literally fighting for my life. It was the first time that I truly considered that my unhealthy choices could cause me to die. I am a wife. Together, my husband and I built a love that is as true as love can be. We have two young children who are combinations of the very best in each of us. Life together is everything I ever hoped family life could be. In that moment with Jennifer, I suddenly understood the table stakes. It was as profound as any life event that has ever happened to me. I had to get my shit together this time, and I had to get it together today…NOW.  Not on Monday, when all diets start. And for good this time. For me, for Craig, and for my children.

Excuses, excuses, excuses…

Look, all of these reasons that kept me from gaining my health back have a kernel of truth to them.  Yes, I have a thyroid disease. Yes, I learned to have a bad relationship with food as a kid. Yes, I have a very full life with kids, commuting, and careering.  But none of these kernels of truth equal an inability to get healthy. They were, at best, a diversionary tactic. A way to keep my real problems conveniently veiled.

Thanks to Jennifer and Project Healthy Body revolution, the veil has been lifted. And while my life will never be a 10 out of 10 (because..spoiler alert: nobody’s life is), it is a life that I am truly grateful for – and a life that I am actively showing gratitude for by making healthy choices that support my vitality instead of playing Russian roulette with it.

Today, food is an expression of self love.

Today, I am a healthy person.

Today, I make time for myself and for my health.

Today, I am out of excuses.