Holly and the amazing technicolor dream coats

One of the things that Jennifer (my health coach) encourages us to do is to get rid of any clothing items that no longer fit. Sell them, donate them, or give them to a friend – just get them out of your closet because they no longer represent you. And even more important, they won’t represent you in the future, either. This process of discarding any ill-fitting items has been an absolute joy for me. I have exactly ZERO attachment to the tents and mumus that used to drape over my limbs in an attempt to minimize my fatness. Girl, please! Minimizing strategies are such bologna anyway. No vertical strip could ever hide the fact that I was 300lbs. And the only thing that wearing Spanx accomplishes at that size is to push all the fat up in one direction, and push all the fat down in the other direction – resulting in the words most unsavory and blorping hour-glass shape imaginable. So, yeah, I am gleefully bagging up anything and everything that doesn’t fit, and then swiftly showing it the door. Bye, Felicia!

In contrast to tossing out my fat clothes, I have always kept a smattering of beloved items that either no-longer fit – or frankly, never fit (like, not even one time) but that I loved enough to drag from county-to-county and home-to-home for years and years. Two of my favorite items that have remained in my closet despite never ever being able to wear them, are brand new (with tags) Lululemon jackets. Brand new when I purchased them nine years ago, technically speaking. I remember buying them with my husband Craig. I tried them on in the store and they almost fit. We discussed how they could be my goal jackets (I just laughed out loud typing that). I must have been on some kind of diet or exercise regime that had resulted in dropping a few pounds, which gave me the confidence that I would indeed someday soon be wandering around the streets of Palo Alto in my fancy “goal” athleisure-wear. Although, in my defense, these jackets are pre-Luon debacle and of the highest quality.

Anyway, as you can guess, I never did reach my goal. Not even close. In the years that followed that trip to Lululemon, I gained close to 100 pounds. Every time I moved or reorganized my closet, I would find the two jackets and feel sad. Still, I kept them just in case I ever got my act together and lost the weight. And thank goodness I did, because last week, I was purging my closet of things that no longer fit and came across my two goal jackets. I lifted them up, holding them up against the light and wondered, “what if..” I must not have had much confidence in them fitting, because I didn’t even take the tags off as I slipped the first one over my head. LuluOMFG it fits, I thought. At least, I think it might fit. I went for the second opinion and asked my husband if he thought I could wear it out in public. “Absolutely!”, he shouted. It looks great, and you’re rocking it, he crooned. So I wore it to the kids soccer practice, and three separate moms asked me where I got it and if I thought there may be any left. Only if you have a time machine, ladies – this swag is thoroughly vintage. The next day, I wore the pink oxford striped jacket to work, and had the same reaction. Where did you get that, and how can I get one? It sounds so crazy to be dedicating an entire blog post to jackets, but this is honestly one of the most significant and profound happenings of my weightloss journey so far. These to jackets have meaning, and are representative of who I wanted to be for so long, but couldn’t get out of my own way to get there. Until now.

I am a good skier. I grew up spending most of my weekends on the mountains around Vancouver, Canada. It is one of two sports that I am truly confident participating in. I love golf too, but that has more to do with my husband stocking our cart with cocktails and teeing up my errant balls in the middle of the fairway, than actual skill. I love the feeling of gliding down a snow packed slope. The cold wind in my face, and the promise of a warm fire and a cold beer waiting for me at the bottom. Plus, it is one of two sports that am better at than Craig – and I remind him of that frequently (there aren’t many things that I can do better than my man). I love skiing, but I haven’t been on a slope for almost a decade. The first year or two of missing out likely had more to do with being in love and buying a house, and barely being able to afford the grilled cheese sandwiches that we lived on.  Still kind of a bummer, but totally excusable. And sure, there were two years when I was pregnant, but the rest of the years off were because I couldn’t zip my ski jacket up. Instead of buying a bigger jacket, I alternated between berated myself for allowing things to get so off track and using my ski jacket as a goal to reach. What is with my goals being tied to jackets? Needless to say, I never did make it back on the mountain. Even when we took trips to Tahoe, I offered to watch the kids so that others could go. Because, you know, nothing says fun like taking 8 kids to Build-A-Bear on a gorgeous bluebird winter day. Fact: Build-A-Bear is why they have cocktail stations on ever corner at Northstar. Also a fact: if you disguise your cocktails in coffee cups, the Build-A-Bear employees turn a blind eye. God bless the compassionate folks at the Northstar Build-A-Bear. Amen and pass the vodka.

Back in February of this year, I tried on my ski jacket for the first time in a very long time. I was getting real with where I was at, and my ski jacket represented both were I was, and where I wanted to be. I love my ski jacket. It is a black and somewhat puffy North Face jacket that I splurged on, a) because I loved it so much, and b) because it fit. Even though I weighed much less than 325 pounds (the absolute highest I ever got to), I still wasn’t the kind of broad who could just waltz into a J Crew and have a shopping spree. North Face was another brand that wasn’t exactly made for my body, so I jumped for joy when it fit (one decade ago). I pulled my arms through the sleeves and heaved it over my shoulders. The sleeves were above my wrists when I held my hands in front of my body, if that gives you an idea of how ill-fitting it was. I moved to zip it up. The sleeves were essentially a clown car! Deep breath. Now try zipping it up, I thought. I couldn’t get the two sides of the jacket to meet within 10 inches. TEN INCHES! I tried to laugh it off with my husband, hiding the shame. If getting honest about where I was in this process was the intention, this was like shock therapy. I don’t know how I had the balls to do it, but I asked Craig to take a photo of me. And then I went on with my life and forgot all about it.

Next week, the family and I are heading to Northstar for Thanksgiving. Naturally, I have been thinking about what we’ll need to bring with us, so while I was puttering around the house on Sunday doing chores, I noticed my ski jacket hanging in my closet. I brought it down and noticed the dust that had accumulated on the shoulders. I gave it a shake and held it up – yup, I still loved it as much as I ever did. The last time I tried it on, I knew there wasn’t any hope that it would fit me. The last time I tried it on, it was a joke. The last time I tried it on, I felt the hot sting of shame rise up in me.  The thought of “what if” entered my mind, just like it did when I tried on the two Lululemon jackets. I went for it. First, sliding my hands through the sleeves and holding them out in front of me. The clown car was gone. Next, I grabbed both sides of the jacket and pulled them together. They touched! Lastly, I held on to the two sides of the zipper. It slipped inside and zipped up almost effortlessly.  I stood in my bedroom and stared at myself in the mirror. Warm tears of surprise and redemption streaming down my face. I ran to show Craig. He was so proud of me. I was so proud of me. We recreated the same photo in the same spot, where I had last worn the jacket back in February. It still blows my mind to think that I am 10 or more inches narrower than I was at the beginning of this year. I feel so effing proud of myself. I am lighter in every way – and while I still have a long road ahead, I know that I am unstoppable. ski

Vodka sales in the village are going to take a dive next week. If you’re looking for me, try the slopes. I will be the one in the black puffy North Face jacket.


Resistance is futile

Hard is where the change is. I have heard Jennifer say this at least a dozen times. Every time she said those words, I agreed but thought it somehow didn’t apply to me. That it was probably someone else in my group who needed to heed that advice – because I was doing just fine. I had lost about 45lbs and could just keep doing what I was doing, because it was working for me. Never mind the fact that my weight-loss had slowed to a snails pace, with no signs of recovery. And never mind that I chose not to participate in the 30 day autoimmune protocol with most of the rest of my group, because it was “too hard” (see the first sentence of this paragraph). And certainly don’t take into account that I actually have two autoimmune disorders, and could almost guarantee results and really important information that could lead to increased vitality for me. Uncovering this blind spot, for me, has been one of the most eye-opening discoveries I have made through this journey.  Of course, it also highlights the idea that growth is a continuous process and that I should expect more of these “a-ha” type happenings in the future.

Hard is where the change is. This lifestyle is not a get rich quick scheme. It is a metamorphosis from living a pretty great life, to living my absolute best life. Considering that we have only got one shot on this rock, we owe it to ourselves to aim for our absolute best life. To go from point A to point B means a lot of change and a lot of hard. It also means a lot of pride, and a lot of self love.  Which is in stark contrast to the amount of pride and self love I was feeling last year at this time.

Last year around this time, I was spending a lot of time thinking about what I could wear that day to look skinnier. Last year around this time, I was catching my reflection in windows and berating myself for letting myself go. Last year around this time, I was planning my next meal – and it was going to be THE BEST MEAL EVER / or I was planning my next diet – and it was going to be THE BEST DIET EVER! But if you asked me back then, I would have told you that my life was a 10/10! And not because I was lying – I actually believed my own fantasy. rosewoodLast year around this time, I took a romantic overnight vacation with my husband and posted posted this photo of us. I posted it on Facebook because, at that time, it was the best that I could look. I put makeup on and tried to wear something “cute” on the golf course. I wanted my husband to be proud of me and the way that I looked – while at the same time I was pointing my fat finger in his direction over our dwindling sex life (full disclosure, that shit is still dwindling – but we are committed to getting our groove back).  When Craig sent me this photo last week, I was shocked. I felt both proud of how I look and feel today, and ashamed of how I looked and felt in this photo. But my life was a 10/10, right? I look at this photo and I see sickness. I see inflammation, and I see what Jennifer meant when she told me that I was “literally fighting for my life.”

Hard is where the change is, and I am putting that to the test. 20 days ago, Jennifer urged me to give AIP another shot. As soon as she typed the words, “I still think AIP” it was like a light bulb went off, and I was suddenly confronted with the ways that I was still lying to myself. Still telling myself “I cant.” Still blaming. Still accepting something less than my very best. I told Jennifer that I thought she was right, and that I wasn’t even afraid. Failure isn’t an option, when I am practicing self love. Resistance is futile, leaning into what’s hard is where growth is, and I was ready for the next phase of my healing journey. I published a blog about it, because I find that publicly sharing my story helps keep me accountable – and has also led to others reaching out and sharing their own similar struggles and successes. The day after I hit publish, Jennifer sent me the following letter. (Note: Felicia is the name I gave to the negative-talk person inside of me)

Dear Holly.

I am writing you this note because I want you to remember this date forever. October 18th, 2017…the day you stepped up to the plate and owned your bullshit. That’s a big day lady. I know…I still remember my day…February 23rd, 2015.

Here is the thing about this day, you can never ever go back. It’s not the day you decided to get healthy. It’s not the day you discover what it means to love yourself. It’s not any of the days you chose YOU over and over again. These are all good days, and they are all progress…but today, this was your day.

The day you step entirely off the cliff and trust that the net will appear is the day you quit lying to yourself. The day you own your imperfections and fears. Perfectionists manipulate and spin things to fit into the tidy picture we have created in our own minds. We tell our story when we have the happy ending and all the chapters play out as we planned them. In other words we attempt to exert our control over everything. We hold on tight because we are scared if we let go things will get messy.

Anne Lamott wrote, “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It… is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

I spent years looking at my feet. I only did things I knew I could succeed at and if I did something and found I wasn’t succeeding I just told a new story so my actions matched up with the narrative.

Your “When to Protocol it Quits” post was the day you hit pause on your weight loss, and your journey to healthy. Why? Because it is the day you let Felicia sell your bullshit to the entire world and your authentic self…HOLLY handed over the keys to the journey.

You knew you weren’t being authentic…deep down inside you knew…but you had to explain why you were choosing to stop being compliant, stop being coachable, you saw an out with AIP and you took it. It was an escape hatch. You rebelled. The problem? You knew it, and that left two opposing forces at work right inside of you. This made more weight loss…impossible.

“The benefits of an autoimmune protocol are not lost on me. It is made for me.  I have two autoimmune disorders: hashimotos, and vitiligo. It is highly likely, if not an absolute certainty that I am reactive to nightshade vegetables and other common food sensitivities. Committing to discovering what exactly works best for my body can only improve my health. Moreover, many of the women in the group were getting amazing results, which I also wanted.  And yet….”

FUCKING FELICIA! That’s what I ended that paragraph with when I was reading this…sitting up in bed…my jaw dropped open! GAH!

The last few months are still a win. You maintained. You kept your new healthy lifestyle in check. You showed up for our calls. You do your homework. You didn’t quit. But you took a giant pause and in this space you realized you want this. So owning your bullshit in the group today makes this your day.

“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life.” This is from Brene Brown and I could not agree more. You just unzipped your shield and stepped into the rest of your AMAZINGLY HUGE MESSY UNKNOWN FABULOUS LIFE!

Today you took the keys back….kicked Felicia out of the car “Bye Felicia!!!!” and you hit the gas!!! This highway doesn’t have a speed limit so hit it lady…I am up ahead, waiting for you…the sun is shining, there are bright beautiful beach cruisers everywhere and I even have a green drink on ice for you!

See you soon beautiful person!

I cried when I read it (and re-read it), and not because I was hoping for a vodka soda with lemon instead of a green drink. I cried because Jennifer’s support reaffirms that I am on the right track, and that I am not alone. I feel like this year has been broken into three separate phases. Each one necessary before advancing to the next. January through May was the ramp up phase. I spent a lot of time learning the basics of Jennifer’s program. I also dropped a significant amount of weight during this stage. May through October was a different kind of breakthrough. One where I learned that change isn’t always easy, and that if I wanted any more success, I would have to buckle down and lean into the discomfort. Most importantly, I learned that I can’t spin and manipulate my way out of this rut. Truly being my authentic self means letting go of the perfectionism that has plagued my past. I also learned that I am good at maintaining my weight, which will come in handy later.

Hard is where the change is. It has been 20 days since giving the AIP a second chance. It has been 20 days of confronting my own limiting bullshit head on. And it has been 20 days of feeling better than I have in a very long time. In 20 days I have lost 13 pounds. My skin looks better and more radiant. I have more energy. My joints don’t hurt. I am not constantly clearing my throat. And best of all, I am not even finding it challenging to stick to the restrictions. My perception of food has changed from “event-focused” to “fuel-focused.” Instead of asking myself, “what is the best and tastiest thing I can have?”, I am asking myself, “what will nourish and fuel my body?” Total TMI, but my poop is literally green – so you can imagine how much spinach I am consuming. Honestly, I should have dressed up as Popeye for Halloween today – alas, this stripped down Pink Lady photo will have to do.


Hard is where the change is. It is also where the greatest rewards are. Hard is where growth lives. Hard is where our best most authentic and successful selves are made. This past month has been a journey from food as comfort to food as fuel. It is also the next step to figuring out who I truly am, and what living as my authentic self means. It means answering important questions like, am I using my unique gifts to the best of my ability?  Perhaps that will be better answered in whatever the next phase of my transformation brings. What I know for sure is that I am changing, and that it is hard, but I couldn’t be more grateful