Theme: My Summer Vacation

Summer Sun

Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven with repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.

Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.

The dusty attic spider-clad
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
And through the broken edge of tiles
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.

Meantime his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy’s inmost nook.

Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes

Robert Louis Stevenson

Ahhh, summer. There is something about the extended sunlight, the extra outdoors time, and the smell of chlorine mixed with vodka that brings out the very best in us. We stay up a little later, we get out of town for a while, and we get a welcome influx of Canadian visitors popping in for a night or two on their way to Disneyland. We are sun kissed, well rested, slightly tipsy, and ready for F.U.N.

That’s how I remember it, anyway. For me, family vacations are a little like giving birth. The moments of physical pain, screaming, and crying seem to magically disappear – and all that is left are the warm memories of love and togetherness. I am sure we had to football carry one or both children out of a fancy restaurant at some point.  I am also fairly certain that a complete stranger approached our table to shame me because the kids were giggling too loudly in a lobby bathroom.  It is entirely possible that we sent the kids to bed early (and without dinner) for fighting the very same night we returned home. And I know for certain that I spent an uncomfortable 24hrs working through a stomach bug when we returned. But even that memory is lined with silver, because who wouldn’t enjoy, at least at some level, some effortless post-vacation weightloss (or, five the hard way, as it’s known under my roof)!

carmelWhat I do remember from our family trip to Carmel was our after-dinner walks to the 18th green, where we would let the dog and the children off their leashes to chase the wild turkeys across the fairway.  I remember the daily 1:00-5:00pm time at the adults-only pool with Craig, while the kids were at the resort “camp”. I remember the sticky sweetness of s’more’s around the fire pit at night, and I remember two young ladies approaching us at breakfast one morning to tell us that a) we were the most loving and adorable couple at the pool the day before, b) that we were their relationship goals, c) did Craig have any single brothers, and d) that they thought we were even more adorable, when they saw us with Walter and the kids at dinner.  I will never forget it; I felt so proud.

In some ways, summer can be a little stressful. The kids are out of school, and we are off of our regular routine. Also, the girls spend a lot more time together, which creates room for a lot more squabbling (like, a lot more). A couple of months ago, I was excited for the upcoming McGreggor / Mayweather fight – now I find I need such a break from the constant bickering that I can’t even sit down to enjoy Bachelors in Paradise, let alone a boxing match. The trade-off for summer fun definitely comes at the expense of our routine and good behavior. Yet, it is familiar enough for me to dismiss it as a phase, or at least somewhat normal. For me, the equity struggle between my kids is my own childhood with my sister staring back at me.  For Craig, an only child who is prone to hyperbole, the sky is falling: we have failed as parents, and we are raising thankless, lawless brats! Only until fall, I assure him. And by then, the memories of scratched backs, slamming doors, and my own yelling will fade with the extra sunlight.

GuinnessMy selective memory, it seems, is not just relegated to time with the kids. Craig and I managed to squeeze in a week long trip to Ireland (without our little martial artists). It was an unforgettable adventure which included quality time with my extended family and friends, gorgeous countryside, and the friendliest most lovely people in the entire world. I remember my cousins beautiful fairytale wedding, complete with a castle. I remember the night we spent in Tipperary reconnecting with good friends. And I still tear up when I think about the quality time spent with my mum and dad, the carriage ride through the streets of Dublin with Craig, and the incredibly talented father/daughters band that we heard in a tiny pub in the tiny village of Kinnity.

Forgotten are the stressful moments driving 100km down sidewalk sized streets on the other side of the road, no less. Moments made worse by my gripping door handle, heavy breathing, and pumping the invisible passenger-side brakes. The stress that I endured during those car rides was nothing compared to the piled on anxiety felt by my husband, the driver. The distilled version of the trip, for him, was time spent in the car = divorce / time spent in the pub = marriage.  You may be wondering why, if I am such a controlling hag in the car, didn’t I just drive? Because my brain is so fantastical that I simply could not grasp the concept of staying to the left. Every single time we pulled up to a corner, or a roundabout, or a highway on-ramp, I would simulate driving and pick my next move – and EVERY SINGLE TIME I failed and killed us all. So, we opted to teeter on the edge of divorce between villages and then erase any leftover tension at the local pub.

We arrived home from Ireland certain that the kids squabbling would signal the first and last time that a grandparent agreed to look after our barbarous, feral kittens for an entire week. Not that I would blame them. Age 4 and 6 is easier than age 3 and 5, but it is still far from being civilized. Especially during the very last week of constant togetherness before school starts. It wasn’t exactly an ideal setup, to say the least. We are, however, eternally grateful for the time away and fully recognize how hard it can be – particularly when you aren’t used to it.

The fighting didn’t magically disappear when we got home, either. In fact, I started to question my own theory about siblings, squabbling, and school being out. Shit, I thought to myself. Maybe Craig is right. Maybe we are raising violent, lawless kids! Then last night, just two days before school started back for both of them, we had huge win. ButterflyQuinn was in line to get her face painted at her friends birthday party. The artist was legit, and creating the most beautiful unicorn and butterfly designs. So of course all of the children wanted one.  I noticed Quinn waiting in line on and off, but was busy socializing with friends and didn’t pay much attention. It was just about time for us to head home, when Craig noticed Quinn sitting with the makeup artist getting her butterfly.  He walked over to snap a photo of her, when the woman asked if Quinn was his daughter?  Yes, he replied. She told Craig that Quinn waited 45mins for her turn, and that when she was about to sit down, Wrenn walked up and said she also wanted to get her face painted. Without missing a beat, Quinn asked the lady if her little sister could go in front of her? Sure, she said – but you will have to to the back of the line and wait again, since there are so many kids who have been patiently waiting.  That’s fine, Quinn told her, and ushered Wrenn into the chair before heading to the back of the line. Quinn waited another 30mins before her turn. The artist told Craig that in 7 years of doing kids parties, she had never seen anything like it. We joked with the lady about how we were at our wits end with the sibling rivalry that has plagued our house over the last month, and how her story helped restore our faith in our ability to help guide our children, and our children’s ability to listen and act in ways that mirror our expectations of them.

This morning, I told Craig that sometimes my blog posts write themselves. Yesterday, I didn’t know how I was going to tie all of this together – then Quinn pulled the sister of the year card and I had my happy ending! In some ways, I wish I had pulled out my laptop last night to wrap this one up.  In other ways, the photo below is a much better representation of the yin and yang of the family Fange.  This is Quinn’s bedroom door, which Craig just unhinged after she slammed it 4 times in a row at the end of an argument….with her mortal enemy…her sister.

DoorTonight, I am raising my pint glass of fireball to both kids starting back up at school full time tomorrow. Who’s with me??



The two photos above are from the same place (Yountville, CA) and with the same subjects (me and my daughter Wrenn). The difference between the two photos is time (eight months apart). It is funny how quickly time passes, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable goals. When I started this wellness journey back in January with 100+ pounds to lose, I was skeptical because a) nothing had ever worked before, b) the goal seemed too grand to be achievable, and c) in an area where gratification is instant, the time it would take to actually lose 100 pounds felt too distant. Yet, here I am six months in and almost 45 pounds closer to my goal. Figuratively speaking, it has been the blink of an eye. It is hard to imagine what today would look and feel like for me, if I hadn’t seen that Facebook post about Jennifer’s journey. It is almost unbearable to think about, because it resurfaces feelings of shame, and the time I wasted swimming in self doubt and fear – versus how I spend my days now being more present, and practicing better self-care.

Being more present has, in some ways, changed my perception of time. I used to be a proud disciple of our lady of perpetual busy-ness – cultivating my self-worth by doing everything, and doing everything picture perfectly. For me, the problem was that I was a) stretching myself too thinly, and b) prioritizing my life backwards. Instead of putting the oxygen mask on myself first, I was putting it on my career first, then my family, then my chores, then my addiction to BRAVO television, then some online shopping, and oh, look, something shiny!! Not including yourself in your own damned list of life’s priorities is the surest way to get fat, it turns out.

I have spent a lot of time over the last few weeks thinking about what I have learned over the past six months, and trying to distill it into something more easily digestible. I want to keep these boiled down lessons in my tool chest for the days when I need the reminder of how far I have come, or to stay present, or how I will blink and be another six months in and x pounds down. Together with the tools and roadmap to success that my health coach has given me, here are the top three things that have been instrumental to my success, thus far.

1) The V word

I probably could write a thoughtful, or at least entertaining blog post about the vagina, but the V word I am referencing here is vulnerability. For something that is so essential to our own happiness, the majority of us really do a crummy job of practicing the art of showing up with our authentic selves. Which is too bad because when we fail to be authentic, we miss connecting with others more deep and meaningful ways. I have been thinking a lot lately about the role that my own vulnerability has played in my weight-loss journey.

Vulnerability, I am learning, is a bit of a paradox.  I want to see the real you, but I don’t want you to see the real me. Frankly, we don’t want to risk the judgment and potential shame. However, if we all agree that we are attracted to authenticity, then why are so few of us bold enough to show up with our true selves?  Because it feels like standing in a crowd naked, I suppose.

The hours leading up to hitting send on my first blog post were excruciating. I was getting my hair coloured at the same time as a distraction, but it didn’t help. Mostly, I struggled with why was I sharing my story? I hoped it was to find connection with others who were sharing similar struggles, or perhaps inspire someone who wanted to change but didn’t know where to find the roadmap. I also figured that boldly owning where I was at would help keep me accountable and motivated. Even though I was pretty sure my intentions were aligned with my values, I sat in a cold sweat for hours working up the courage required to push the send button.

Once I finally did work up the courage to hit send, I hoped that I would be hit with a wave of relief.. Instead, I felt the cold and familiar sting of shame – as if I had done something wrong. The rest of that evening was a blur.  I tried to shift my focus to my family, and the hockey game we were attending. However, the anxiety lingered. It was not until the following morning that I was able to dust myself off and shake the shame cloud. Why was this so hard, I wondered? After all, this was not the first time I had dabbled in real-talk, or humiliating public posts. It takes balls to write about ones experience with lice, for example.  Pssst.  Are you itchy?  I am itchy. 

Why was this different?  I suppose the answer was two-fold.

  1. This was the first time I was taking my writing more seriously than hiding behind the comfort of a Facebook post.
  2. I wasn’t sharing a funny story about a family experience that happens to everyone but nobody talks about – I was sharing a part of myself that wasn’t funny at all. Especially to me. I was sharing data and stories about myself that I had not even shared with my husband, let alone strangers.

Was daring to be seen naked worth the risk? Absolutely. Bucking the urge to keep myself to myself is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Even at this grand scale (haha, I said scale). The results have been beyond hope of connection, inspiration, and accountability. I imagine it is like a near-death experience, where one is left with the confidence that comes after facing their biggest fear and are capable of accomplishing anything!

2) Friends with benefits

One of the best things about sharing my struggles more broadly has been the outpouring of support and encouragement from family, friends, and strangers alike. There are the Facebook and blog comments that I receive – which I am truly grateful for, but was somewhat more prepared for.  What has absolutely floored me, however, is the amount of people who have reached out privately. Some have reached out to share their own struggles with weight. Others, may not have struggled with weight, but have wrestled with their own negative inside voices and self-doubt.

And then there are the women who have reached out to tell me that my story inspired them to contact Jennifer and start their own Project Healthy Body journey’s They are the ones who I treasure the most, because we are truly walking the same walk. The feeling that I am helping others, and they are helping me back is a powerful tool that will lead us all to success.

The support I have received, in all of its forms, has helped me immeasurably (or measurably, if we are counting inches lost). When I have been on a winning streak, the encouragement pushes me to keep going; when I have slipped back into some of my old habits and negative talk, the support helps me to get back on track. Actually, the support is especially helpful on the not-so-great days. Even though my first instinct is still to turn inward and fix things myself, I have learned that I cannot always right my ship on my own. That is one of the many benefits of having friends. It requires more vulnerability on my part – but if they do not know that I am struggling, they can’t help me dig my way back out. When it is our struggle, the possible seems infinitely more possible.

3) The G spot

Last, but not least, I would be remiss not to mention the role that gratitude has played in my journey to self-love. Being grateful for where I am, what I have, and for each moment in the day (even the shitty ones) has helped to keep me present and focused on what actually matters. I used to spend my time rushing through each day, or dreaming about the next big thing, or planning our next amazing event – often forgetting to see all of the miracles right in front of my face. An attitude of gratitude is the difference between longing for my best life and living my best life. It is the deep belief that every moment I have with my family and friends is life’s greatest gift. To savor the moment is to find true happiness. Of course, this isn’t always easy. Like all of the health changes that I am making, it takes practice and repetition.

When I feel that familiar wave of impatience, I consciously decide to stop and sink back into the moment. When we are getting the kids to bed and Quinn asks me to come back for two minutes and tell her the story of how she projectile pooped on Craig when she was a baby, and all I want to do is get them down so I can watch some stupid show, I tell myself to stop. Stop rushing and start connecting…for two whole minutes! Because I am going to blink and they will be off to start their own families. I am going to blink and they will no longer smell like grass and scented markers. I am going to blink and regret that I opted to spend my time with the New York housewives over time with my Willow Glen housekids – and my family is MUCH more entertaining, I guarantee it.

When I first started to practice gratitude more seriously, Jennifer encouraged me to start even smaller. To be grateful for running water, electricity, and the soft grass beneath my feet. To be grateful for movement, and going about my day without physical pain. To be grateful for the ability to take a long healing breath of air, or listen to my favorite song, or watch the majesty of a particularly beautiful sunset (or watch the majesty of a particularly unimpressive sunset).

Each of these practices and awakenings bring me closer to my family and closer to myself. Not only am I lighter in mass than I was six months ago, but I am lighter in spirit. I felt the weight of my weight in every step. It consumed much of my thoughts and my time. Time that I could have been spending telling Quinn the now infamous rocket-poop story, or getting more steps on my Fitbit, or tasting the delicious sweetness of an apple. Vulnerability, connection, and gratitude are, for me, part of something that feels like becoming – which reminds me of my favorite quote from the children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbit…

He said, “You become. It takes a long time. That is why it does not happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”


When to protocol it quits


Look at me now!

One month into the year long Project Healthy Body, and the results are good – but they could be better. The first month kicked my ass with a 28 day autoimmune protocol / elimination diet.

  • no nuts
  • no grains
  • no beans or legumes
  • no eggs
  • no nightshade vegetables (like tomatoes, or peppers)
  • no sugar
  • no caffeine
  • and *gulp* no alcohol

I don’t want to diminish the progress I made, because did lose both weight and inches. I lost the weight I gained back during the break between sessions, plus one additional pound and I lost another 4.5 inches.  But although I made progress, the AIP really took the wind out of my sails.  The good news, however, is that this is a life-long journey with peaks and valleys – not an all-or-nothing sprint to the finish line. It is trial and success, and it is trial and error. I am learning what works well for me and my body, and what doesn’t.

Most notably, I learned that the script matters to me. At least for now. For the first four months, I operated on the notion that I was a healthy person who could eat whatever she wanted – I just chose healthy foods that supported my vitality. Simply thinking abut food in a different way made all of the difference for me. Instead of feeling restricted and leaning on my own shaky will power, I felt empowered.  And that empowerment led to making good choices again and again. Just knowing that I could have the pizza, or the pasta, or the burger if I wanted it, magically made me not want it. It freed me from the handcuffs of restriction and opened my mind up to fill my home and my body with fresh and colorful whole foods.

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….

From day one of the protocol, I thought about all of the foods that I could no longer have. I thought about our morning smoothies that wouldn’t have almond milk, or the tablespoon of walnut butter. I thought about my salads that wouldn’t have sliced almonds, or tomatoes in them.  And I thought about my famed antipasto platters that would no longer include pistachios, a couple of slices of 12 month aged manchego cheese, crisp sliced red peppers, and freshly blended hummus to dip it all into.  No eggs to turn into a frittata in a pinch, when our schedules were crazy and we needed something fast. Handcuffs led to anxiety, anxiety to panic, and panic to failure.

It seemed the harder I tried, the more I failed. And my failures were with foods that on any other day would be perfectly healthy. Foods like a little hummus with my raw vegetables, a sliced red pepper on my salad, or a little almond milk in my morning smoothie, instead of the AIP friendly coconut milk. Each time I caved and introduced one of these restricted foods, I felt the familiar sting of shame and anger.  Shame that I couldn’t stick to the protocol 100% for more than one week (maybe it was less).  Angry that I was berating myself for having a god damned red pepper! And stunned that after so many months of feeling like an A student, I was suddenly feeling like I was on a performance improvement plan. I was confused and should have reached out for help, but the competitor in me, plus the good student status I had self appointed urged me to try and figure it out on my own. Get back up and start again, I told myself. No more shitty red peppers!

The month-long endeavor was not without significant wins and powerful lessons, though. I zipped up (without too much effort) my all-time favorite pink strapless dress. I haven’t been able to zip that beauty up for over seven years. My wedding rings suddenly slip on and off of my finger without effort, and even my undergarments are getting too big!  I also did another clothing purge and purchased new jeans (size 18) and three new bras – and not because my ginormous jugs eventually put so much strain on the fabric that the underwire popped out (which has typically been the case).  In fact, I once made small talk with a particularly notable silicon valley CEO – while, unbeknownst to me, the unearthed underwire of my bra began travelling through the fiber of my sweater until it landed in it’s final resting place just under my chin.  Nay, this time, I needed new bras because the circumference of my chest was smaller than the smallest rungs on the clasp. If this is not monumental success, I don’t know what is!

In addition to these positive changes, I also slept more, read more, and spent more time just being. My husband and I spent less time watching TV and more time holding hands by the firepit. I woke up and read to Craig every morning, and I made our bed before I left for work. We also increased our physical intimacy, which is good because that has been an issue we have struggled to get back on track. I mean, when you can’t eat anything, you might as well get it on, right? Honestly, this counts as a double win because not only were we having sex, but we were having SOBER sex!!  Holy hell – talk about uncharted territory! Short, shameful confession…we almost named our second child Martini, if that gives you any insight into how we sexy-time. At first it was a little awkward, and at one point we even bonked heads which made me laugh at an especially climactic moment that gets ruined by laughter. But even though it was a bit of a circus at times, it helped us reconnect. And that alone is worth one month of struggle.

So what’s next?  Well, I am going to give the protocol a break and go back to flipping the script again. I am going to be more disciplined about portion sizes, and keeping dairy and grains to special occasions only.  I can’t afford to slip into my old habits, or take my foot off the gas – because although I have been doing well and I have never felt more proud of myself, I need to be doing better and pushing myself harder.  I still have 65 pounds to lose before I am no longer obese. I need to charge forward and be more comfortable with a little discomfort. Especially when the discomfort equals better health and longevity.  The stakes have never been higher, and I need to remind myself of that. Because failure means death.  And as horrible as it feels to type that, it is the truth.  My children deserve better, and so does my husband – but most importantly, I am going to do this for me. The gift of self love and a longer life from me, to me.

I am a healthy person and can eat whatever I want, but I choose to consume whole and healthy foods which support my vitality. I value good sleep, intense spin classes with music that makes me feel like I’m dancing instead of biking, and bonking heads with my hunk of a husband. I strive for true intimacy and connection with my family over charmed but fleeting moments with strangers. I choose a slower and more purposeful pace over the fake allure of being perpetually busy. And I seek progress over perfection. These are the habits and values that, over time, will get me to my goal of being my true authentic and happy healthy self.

Ch-ch-ch changes

There was a scene in Sex and the City, where Samantha tells Smith (an aspiring actor), “first come the gays, then the girls…and then the industry.” For me, weight-loss follows a similar cadence where first my friends noticed, then my husband…and then me. I haven’t suddenly lost another chunk of weight, but it’s like things are settling and my body is adjusting.  I have a waist again, my face is less round, and even my feet seem smaller somehow. I have had to do another purge of old clothing, and even more satisfying, started fitting back into some of my old clothing. I am far from a hoarder.  Just ask my husband Craig who is often annoyed with how easily I part with our possessions and keepsakes in an effort to stay clutter-free.  But I have always kept a handful of my favorite items items that hard to find, or that seemingly never go out of style. I am  nothing, if not hopeful and positive, it would seem.

The sisterhood of the traveling pants


My lady-bird

Segues are overrated, and my mum is a stunningly beautiful woman. And she has been stunningly beautiful her entire life. Of course, we are surrounded by gaggles of traditionally, and undeniably beautiful ladies, but someone has to carry the torch and light the cauldron, and I am suggesting that it is almost certainly my mother Mary-Ann (also known in close circles as “Birdie” or “the bird” or “lady-bird”, as she would prefer to be nick-named).  To support this claim, I can tell you that my high-school boyfriend once joked (kind of) that he was only dating me to get to my mother, and that my entire group of friends in college referred to her as a “yummy mummy” behind her back.

Not only is she a beautiful woman, but she also has enviable taste, when it comes to clothing, art, entertaining, and design. I once asked her what she would cite as the single most important fashion advice for women. “Buy the best and highest quality pants that you can afford”, she quipped. Although, she may have referred to them as trousers, or *cringe* SLACKS, but I digress. She also added that in addition to the very best pants that we can afford, we should also have access to the best tailor in town.  “Nobody ever tailors clothing to fit their bodies anymore”, she lamented.  She also seemed to suggest that I should mosey on over to Escada or St. John to procure said pants, which I never did – not because I couldn’t afford it if I started putting quarters in my swear jar, or stocked my apartment with cheaper wine for a couple of months.  I didn’t because I was too fat. There is a good (and a little sad) reason why my closet is filled with pretty handbags, and shiny accessories. When you are over-weight but you have a deep appreciation for fashion and design, you probably have nice handbags and great jewelry.  Unless I missed the Carolina Herrera rack in the Encore section of Nordstrom, or the Oscar de la Renta area of Lane Bryant, then I am sorely mistaken.

Back when I was still shopping in semi-regular stores like the Gap, I found a pair of pants that I could never seem to part with.  I’m sure that some of you will sympathize – but one does not simply give away the perfect white wide-leg linen trousers. They have a button, not a band or an elastic. They have pockets that lay flatly against my hips, and the linen is high quality such that it doesn’t stretch out four more sizes throughout the day when I wear them. They are timeless, and they look great on me.  Or, they did over seven years ago when I last had them in the rotation.


The pants: now (2017) and then (2010)

Until ten days ago, my weight-loss was mostly numbers and data. The numbers were great, but it is even more satisfying when they translate into more tangible milestones like crisp white linen pants. I hauled them out of the bowels of my closet, just to see what would happen.  I was certain that I wouldn’t be able to button them up, but perhaps by the summer we would reconnect.  Only they did fit. And perfectly, at that! I honestly almost cried, I felt so proud of myself. The last time I wore those pants was just a few weeks after I found out I was pregnant with Quinn – and not because it was inching closer and closer to Labor Day, either. Could I wear them, though? We were still another two weeks away from Memorial Day long weekend. Luckily, the answer I gave myself was HELL FUCKING YES!

A suit that suits me

bathing suit

The suit that now suits me

You would think that I would immediately dive into the rest of my closet to see what else I could bring back into play with my new hot bod, but it didn’t occur to me until almost two weeks later. I was packing the family up for a pool party, and searching through my short-but-shameful pile of swim dresses. At least I was looking for the smallest swim dress, I reasoned. Then I remembered a bathing suit that I had purchased years ago because I thought it was too adorable not to own.  Only, when it arrived, I couldn’t even get it on.  Like, I literally broke a sweat trying to pull it past my hips. Like, it still had the tags and even that pinchy plastic pantyliner still attached. Holding it now, years later, it is a little more sailor moon than I might choose today – but I still thought it was adorable. I looked at the tag, which read size 16. Size 16…oh gawd, there is no way.  Why am I going to torture myself by reattempting to pry it on without at least buttering myself up first?  Craig and the kids were still outside enjoying the fresh morning air, so I decided to go for it. I almost typed that “magically” it fit!  Magic schmagic –  it fit because of all of the hard work I have done to unpack the “why” of my fat. It fit because I am learning to care for myself, and value my health and vitality. It fit because I sweat my balls off, and ate so much spinach that it turned my poop green! When I asked Craig whether or not he thought I could wear it to the pool party, he said yes. And my friends all commented on how good it looked, and how good I looked – and must have been shooting sunbeams of pride out my eyeballs, toes, and fingertips, because that’s how good it felt to soak in the sunshine and all that I have accomplished.

In so many ways, things are getting easier and easier. I used to hate seeing photos of myself. They never matched how I thought I looked, and I would immediately feel the sting of shame and the reality of what I had slowly and steadily done to my body. Now I see photos of myself and feel a rush of pride, and the warmth of self-love. That is, when I see current photos of myself. It is getting harder to look at the person that I used to be.  Even though it was only a few short months ago, it makes me feel embarrassed.  Glad to be on a good trajectory, of course – but still hard to accept.

Today, Quinn brought home the most adorable bound book of her experience as a kindergartner. We flipped through the pages as a family together: Halloween, thanksgiving, beach day, the day the bee-keeper came to school.  And then there was a first day of school photo that made me tear up in disbelief. st chrisI wanted to rip it off the page, so that Quinn would someday flip through that book and feel proud of me – like I always did about my mum.  My beautiful yummy mummy lady-bird. It has taken me a few hours to process the shock of seeing myself like this.  What it means to look back at myself and feel shame instead of empathy, and embarrassment over compassion – and how I can get better at unraveling that. Owning where I am at, and where I have been. Being vulnerable and bold with my sharing (both the good and the not so good) seems to be a big part of what is working for me thus far – hence the reason why I am including the photo here. Turning to face the strangeness of these changes.

Changes – David Bowie
(Turn and face the strange)
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time


The bad, the ugly, the good, and the great.

The bad

I was left to my own devices for two weeks between the three month Project Healthy Body and the year long program which started this week. For the first week, I made great choices. I ate whole and vibrant fruits and vegetables. I upped my daily step goal to a minimum of 15k steps. The front desk ladies at Lift were starting to know me by name (which I suppose is not that impressive with a last name like VonDemfange) because I was there so often. And best of all, by the end of the first week, I was another two pounds down – bringing my total to exactly forty pounds since January. I was confident. Too confident. It was that over-confidence, the assertion that I had this all figured out, and that I was impenetrable, which invited back the voice that I had quieted for so long. The one with a sense of entitlement toward food.  The one that whispers, “better have it now, because the party is over next Monday when Project Healthy Body starts back up.”

It didn’t happen all at once. Old habits are like that. They creep back slowly, so you don’t even realize you are in trouble until it’s overpowering. It started simply with eating too much of the right foods. Another handful of pistachios, another scoop of hummus, or a larger bowl of fresh berries. “It’s fine”, I told myself. “I am just hungrier because I am working more”, I reasoned. Mid-cycle period? Early menopause? Psychotic break? It’s amazing the excuses I can come up with before getting real with myself again.

The ugly

Still, the self-awareness wasn’t enough to slow my roll – which felt particularly defeating considering all that I had juts finished learning and practicing in the three month Project Healthy Body. The meals that followed were like death from a thousand paper cuts. Nothing on its own is a horrible transgression, but in aggregate it is no different than how I used to treat myself.

We took my youngest to Benihana for her fourth birthday. I told Craig and my health coach that I was going to reign it in and get back on track.  I would skip the fried rice and have the salad and chicken without the sauces. I had the fried rice, the chicken, the sauces – oh, and I also got myself  nice and sauced on cheap wine spritzers. But I skipped the cake because, you know, moderation! The concept was no different than how I used to order fast food from the drive-through. I call it the Diet Coke phenomenon.

Operator: Welcome to McDonalds. What’s your order?

Me: Hi there. I would like a Big Mac combo, please.

Operator: Would you like that super-sized?

Me: (pretending to think about it) Hmmmm, ok, sure! There’s a first time for everything!

Operator: What would you like to drink with that?

Me: A diet coke, obviously.

From there, things went from bad to worse. The closer I inched toward the start of the next Project Healthy Body, the more my old bad habits showed up. By Sunday, I was in full blown “send-off” mode and treating every meal like I was on death row…but with a diet coke.

I was a very hungry caterpillar.


On Saturday, I started strong with a banana/spinach/nut-butter smoothie (diet coke phenomenon), and then ate through two carnitas tacos from La Victoria (with “orange sauce” of course), one order of gyoza, two tempura rolls, a couple strips of teriyaki chicken (for the children), and one huge piece of chocolate cake. On Sunday, I started iffy with a cheese, turkey, and yellow pepper scramble, and then ate through a gluten-free (diet coke phenomenon) pizza with bacon and pepperoni, one large piece of leftover birthday cake, a handful of tortilla chips, one huge carnitas burrito, and a big piece of leftover birthday cake – and no, i did not accidentally repeat myself.

Only in the end, I didn’t turn into a beautiful butterfly, like the Eric Carle version. In the end, I cost myself a few unwanted pounds, some self-disappointment, and a lot of regrouping.

The good

Monday, and the start of a 28 day AIP Protocol (elimination diet, essentially) to kick off one year of Project Healthy Bodying came as a relief. No coffee, no dairy, no grains, no beans or legumes, no alcohol, no sugar, and no night-shade vegetables. But mostly, no burritos, no cake, no more hungry caterpillar, no diet coke phenomenon, and no death row.

Six days post-stumble and I am back in black. I am reading more, sleeping more, and being kind to myself again. I wake up and take five minutes to read something positive and soulful out loud to Craig, before getting out of bed. Before leaving for work, I open the blinds and fully make my bed. Because when I start each day with intention over panic, and being present over being five steps ahead, it makes all the difference.

Just six days post-stumble and I am re-losing the couple of pounds that I gained back. It is shocking how quickly the weight can come back.  Stay humble and stay mindful, I repeat to myself. I will stumble again. Many times, probably. But the difference now is that stumbling doesn’t equal throwing in the towel. For years, I would try some diet (low carb, no carb, vegan, cabbage soup, weight watchers, jenny craig, nutrisystem, bullet proof, skinny girl, and others) enjoy mild initial success, stumble once, then completely go off the deep-end and gain all the weight back and then some. I am afraid of many things, but my weightloss success is not one of them. Failure is no longer an option, because I now have the roadmap to true healing and becoming my authentic healthy self. And there is great comfort in that. This is not a diet; it is a lifestyle (not to be confused with the lifestyle which is a completely different concept).

The great

IPOThis week marked five years exactly since Facebook’s IPO, which was truly the most memorable time of my career. It was my first (and only) trip to New York. The action packed 24 hour trip included sitting next to Craig of Craigslist on the way out, pulling up to the Four Seasons hotel and having someone standing there with my room key, dinner with the coworkers and friend who worked tirelessly on that project, visiting NASDAQ and the Morgan Stanley trading floor for the opening bell, and 3 hours and access to a driver who took me to central park to wander around Barney’s and have a real NYC hot dog. In spite of all of those magical moments and unforgettable experiences, I wasted more time feeling uncomfortable in my clothing, stressing over what to wear, and feeling ashamed of how unhealthy I looked, than being truly present and enjoying myself.

Five years later (to the day), that same group of coworkers, ex-coworkers, and great friends gathered to share memories and raise our glasses to FB’s IPO adventure. Only this time, I was excited about what I was going to wear, comfortable in my clothing, and wasted no time feeling ashamed or looking unhealthy. I enjoyed meaningful conversations with people that I care deeply about, gratefully accepted compliments about how I looked, and support for my weight-loss journey. I didn’t undo a button, or endure weeks of numb toes from squeezing my feet into shoes not meant to support my weight. It’s possible that I didn’t even drive home that evening; I may actually have floated.

And when I got home, I received a notification that I had been tagged in a group photo from the event. This is typically a nightmare for me, where I take a look at the picture, feel the sting of shame in how I look, and lament over whether or not the original poster will notice if I untag myself out of pure disgust and shame. Nervously, I clicked to open the picture. For the first time in a very long time (20 years), I saw myself as a normal healthy person, and not someone who stuck out like the token fatty in the group. I looked vibrant, and healthy, and confident.  I felt like I looked like a peer, and not the funny fat one, or the chubby one with a heart of gold, or the squishy one who gives great advice.

I felt like I belonged there. group




Dude, where’s my village?

A couple of weeks ago we took the kids to a local amusement park, where I had two back-to-back experiences that left me asking the question, “When did we become so afraid of other peoples children?” Since then, I have been tossing this question around my head like the load of whites which I have washed three times since Friday (laundry that I STILL forgot to transfer to the drier this morning, damnit). Before I opine on why I think that we have lost our village, I will first describe the incidents that caused me to ask the question in the first place.

Local readers are likely familiar with Happy Hollow (the amusement park and zoo geared toward small children in our neighborhood) – and if you are familiar with Happy Hollow, then you probably know about the crooked house – and if you know about the crooked house, then you know about the tube slide that transfers children (and playful adults) from the second floor to the ground level. Of course, I am using the word transfer diplomatically. The sunflower yellow tube slide is decidedly quaint juxtaposed against the Victorian architecture of the crooked house. At first glance, it is the most unassuming slide in the entire park! But as most families discover, it is actually an aeronautical rocket booster that is just shy of breaking the space/time continuum.

Every time, and I mean every time we visit the park, I sit in bewildered horror (ok, it is actually more like psychotic delight) as kids and dooped adults sling-shot down the tube slide, before rock-skipping 5-6 times across the slivery tanbark pond at the bottom. Someone with an entrepreneurial spirit and an iPhone could easily take first place in an upcoming episode of Americas Funniest Home Videos, based on crooked house slide footage alone! And why, god, why, is there ALWAYS at least one family who cannot resist the urge to launch their 9-12month old baby down the thing? What could possibly go wrong, they must ask themselves? Ummm, it’s a god damned baby, not a pilot trying to prove their ability to withstand G-forces! There should be a disclaimer at the top which reads, “must have prior centrifuge experience to ride this slide.” This is a slide that turns babies into men and women, and men and women into babies. As a spectator, it is well worth the price of admission, I assure you.

To be clear, this is not an indictment against the park in any way. We absolutely love and happily support Happy Hollow. We are there almost every weekend, and I will be truly sad when our kids out-age it. And lord knows, I would slip into full protest regalia and hit the streets, if there were even a whisper of making modifications to that amazing slide.

Ok, less tangent, more story…

We had just finished the zoo portion of our usual tour de la hollow. The kids were heading to the top of the crooked house, while we made our way to the viewing area at the bottom of the slide. Craig and I were stationed stage left and stage right respectively, in anticipation of what was sure to be an entertaining slide-show. However, instead of the usual dose of pure parental entertainment, I was left gobsmacked by the unwillingness of other adults to participate in the social construct of the village  that it takes to raise children, sometimes.

First up was an absolutely adorable little girl, who couldn’t be more than four years old. For anonymity-sake, we will call her Velocity. I could hear Velocity’s mum from the top of the slide assuring her that it would be a grand time and that she would meet her at the bottom for a hug and a commemorative photo. It is an odd feeling baring witness to a child’s final moments of complete and utter parental trust. You can almost taste its sugary sweetness.

Three, two, one, blastoff!

Out shoots Miss Velocity, in a manor that was true to her fake name. With an exactly zero chance of sticking the landing, she skidded, face-first, before coming to a complete stop. There were no less than eight parents standing around this child, mind you. And every single one of us knew that it would take a minimum of 45 seconds for the guilt ridden parents to find their way back down the stairs to their shocked and dirtied child – because lord knows that even the sounds of their kids wails couldn’t move them to save themselves 29 seconds with ride down the hell-chute. I mean, we all love our children, but hurling myself down a black hole to Bruiseville isn’t going to help anyone. I was arguably the farthest adult in the pack, yet I was the only one to offer any help. I ran over, picked her up, and started excavating the wood chips from inside and around her mouth. Then, to the perceived horror of the crowd, I gave her a hug and told her it would be ok. Why am I the only one helping this kid, I thought? How have we become so afraid to step in as proxy for each other? Dude, where is Velocity’s village?

I suspect that it may boil down, in some part, to the loss of community / or the village we used to attribute to the business of raising children – and if we drill down even further, to a general sense of fear. When we set aside the 24/7 entertainment porn coverage of daily tragedies in this country and consider the actual data on crime and violence, we learn that we are living in the safest period in American history.  It has literally never been a better idea to kick our kids out the front door to play. Yet the thought of letting our kids explore the world in absence of child proof gates, fences and barriers, leads parents to examine every worst case scenario imaginable! The things that we are afraid of have very little, if any actual data to back it up. I mean, if we take a second to get over our own self-importance and really think about it, nobody actually wants our damned kids. Not even the straight A students, or the ones who go to bed without any objections! We think nothing of strapping our kids into 70 mile per/hr tin cans every day, but lament over 10mins of playing in our front yard without being under the watchful eye of Sauron.  The overwhelming majority of actual monsters aren’t strangers at all – they are people we know and trust!I don’t know when we started to go wrong, but I fear that the consequences of childhood experiences that are devoid of unstructured, adult-free, adventure (and occasional trouble) will seriously and negatively impact their abilities to lead joyous, fulfilling, and independent lives.

You may be wondering what the hell this has to do with the concept of the village. A lot, I suspect. Part of the reason our parents let us wander the neighborhood so freely was because they had confidence that other adults would intervene if they were in trouble, or needed help, or were acting like assholes. It is also probable that they weren’t entirely sober, but I digress (and no judgement).

Which is a great segue into my second story from the crooked house that day: assholes. Children are no different from any other random groups of people. You’ve got some kind ones, some cute ones, some smart ones, some hella funny ones, and one or two assholes.  Two, in this particular case.

Not five minutes after Velocity’s unexpected high-fiber wood chip lunch, I had a front row seat at another baffling example of adults who were completely unwilling to take reasonable action in the name of the village. Two twin boys came traipsing around the corner, who were about Wrenn’s age (4). I will call them Vader and Chucky, even though it is highly likely that those are their actual names. Immediately, they began gathering armfuls of tanbark and dirt and throwing them up the slide just as other children were rocketing down. When you hit a three inch puddle of tanbark doing mach 3, you’re going to have a bad time (hello, sliver butt!). All eight of the surrounding adults looked at each other to see if anyone would lay claim to the little scamps – but either they were too embarrassed, or they were not present. So I pulled up my villager boot-straps, and stepped up to the plate. “Hey guys”, I said politely. “No more throwing the bark onto the slide, ok?” I remembered what it felt like to have a villager reprimand me as a kid, so I was careful to be friendly. I figured that I had squashed the issue, and returned to my post.

However, Vader and Chucky were not phased by strange adults and their demands. Instead of stopping, they upped their game and began throwing handfuls of dirt and bark onto the children as they came down the slide. Maybe they didn’t hear me, I thought – or perhaps they didn’t speak English, i reasoned. I scanned the area again for signs of a parent before approaching them again. “Hey, guys – knock it off. NO MORE throwing dirt at kids coming down the slide. Do you hear me?”

My hand to god, they both looked at me completely amused, pointed at my face, and laughed maniacally before bending down to grab two more handfuls of dirt-bark and running away.  I was half bewildered at the kids reactions, and half shocked at the secret fantasy scenario playing in the movie of my mind. The one where I carry them in a football hold (one under each arm) and promptly toss them out the Happy Hollow gates to the sound of a standing ovation behind me.

Only, they hadn’t left. They had merely climbed the back stairwell to the top of the slide and launched their nastygrams down the slide for the next unsuspecting child to scrape through. When they came back down (via the stairs instead of the slide) to grab more dirt, a woman came up to me and whispered, “you’re doing great.” The sentiment, although supportive, only succeeded in circling my mind back to my original question of when did we become so afraid of other peoples children? Granted, Vader and Chucky were in a class of naughtiness that I had never before experienced (classholes, ha!) – but we collectively had a couple hundred years of experience and age against them, so come on! Use your big girl voice!

Admittedly, I had lost my cool at this point. Given that this was the third round of reprimanding someone else’s children, followed by laughter and ignorance, I was about three seconds from sinking to their level (terrible, I know). Sensing the embarrassment and imminent jail time, Craig stepped between me and the twins and asked diplomatically, “should we take the kids to brush the goats?” Even though I was red hot, I knew he was right.  As turned to leave, I saw a woman sitting alone at table across from the crooked house. It was Chucky and Vader’s mother. I can’t explain how I knew that this was the woman who had spent the last four years of her life catering to every demand, I just knew in the way that only a mother can. She was nose deep into her ipad and completely oblivious to angry crowd still watching her kids throw dirt on others, and my secret fantasy of ejecting them from the park (the crowd goes wild!).

Later on, I mention the mom to Craig. Why didn’t I approach her, he asks? I tell him because I suddenly was struck with the thought that perhaps she needed that time alone. Maybe she knows they’re assholes, and maybe she figured there would be one villager in the crowd to step in and try to get them under control. I imagined how shitty I would feel if I explained what had happened and she started crying. So I said nothing. Of course, it is absolutely possible (likely, even) that she would have chewed my ass out for speaking to her precious little poopsies.

Regardless of what this mother’s reaction would have been, I am standing firm in my belief that we need to bring back the village. Even if we don’t get it 100% right 100% of the time, at least we would be acting as a community. Besides the benefits of helping raise the next generation of independent adults with the ability to think critically, the village mentality also helps parents realize that they aren’t alone. Parenting is hard, but it is less hard when you know that your village has your back. Even if you are too afraid to stand up to a four year old jackhole, for the love of god, please run over and pick up the next Velocity that you watch yard sale all over the playground. Show her that she has a village/community who will help dust her off. And then take that same sentiment and apply it to every single person you meet. That’s what villagers do.


This is the end; this is the beginning.

February 28th vs May 5th

February 28th vs May 5th

One week ago today, I completed a three month commitment to weight-loss and improving my overall health and wellness. For me, the end of the Project Healthy Body is met with mixed emotions. On one hand, I am radiating with pride over all that I have accomplished. I have lost 40 pounds, and countless inches (I say countless because stupidly I didn’t start measuring until 1/3 of the way through the program). I have also dropped two dress sizes. Most importantly though, I am armed with the tools and knowledge that will keep me on the road to success.

In other ways, the end is bitter sweet.  I have shared my inner most feelings of shame and struggle with the women in this group – and they have shared their inner most feelings of shame and struggle with me. In the short period of just three months, we have built a deep connection based on vulnerability, empathy, support, and trust. It feels odd, and slightly sad to put an expiration date on that connection. The group has become part of my routine, and I have equated, in part, that routine with my weight-loss success. It is like the feeling you get when you walk out the door without a bra: it is freeing, but damn, these danglers could really use the support!

So what’s next? Well, I am over the moon excited to be transitioning into a one year long Project Healthy Body led by my health coach (Jennifer). It is going to be intense, and challenging, and fucking awesome! My life has already changed so much in the four months that I have been working with Jennifer – I can’t even imagine what I will look and feel like one year from now. Maybe I will be so damned healthy, I won’t even need a bra anymore! Swing low sweet chariots, and watch out world!

Some things that will probably happen over the next year (not limited to, and in no particular order):

  1. This dress. Because gingham, because shopping in regular preppy girl clothing stores, and because god damn, I love a ball skirt with pockets!
  2. Increased awesoMEness – and by that, really just mean continuing to treat myself like I would my best friend. By practicing how to see myself as the world sees me, and then standing in that greatness with confidence and humility.
  3. Pursuing the impossible – daring to consider the things that I previously thought were impossible because of negative self-talk. Then taking action on those dreams despite my own fears, and my self-doubt. Answering hard questions like, “why am I here?” and “what is my purpose?”
  4. Big make-outs – our first dance as a married couple was to Marvin Gaye’s, “Let’s Get it On.” At the time, it was representative – but somewhere between that dance and careers/commutes/kids/getting fat, we lost our mojo. It is time to carpe his diem and get us back on track.
  5. Looking good / feeling good – in the movie of my mind, it will look something like this clip from one of my all-time favorite movies

In some ways, the future is up: momentum up, standing up, head up, chin up, push-ups, and sit ups. In other ways, the future is down: weight down, inches down, dusted down, sized down, stripped down. Every pound I lose comes with so much more than just a data point. The work that I am doing is not a diet. It is tunneling deep into the why, and the how of my issues with weight. It is a sustainable, and enjoyable way of thriving that I will be practicing for the rest of my life. It is about so much more than the food. It is about connecting with my authentic self – and I am so excited to find out what this next year will bring: the ups, the downs, the ends, and the beginnings.

Weathering the self-drought

At my last weight and measure check-in, I was 36 pounds lighter than when I started working with a health coach back in January.

That was three weeks ago.

Since then, I have hit a three week slump. Ok, not a slump, but a plateau (because everything sounds less alarming in French). I knew that eventually my weight-loss would slow down – at least for short periods of time. I had prepared for this. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it any less frustrating when it actually happened. Unraveling half a lifetime of insecurities when it comes to my weight does happen in three months, in theory. In practice, I am still wrestling with some of my old experiences and habits.

All-or-nothing mentality. Historically speaking, I am an expert at kicking off a diet and sticking to it. That is, until I make one mistake. Then it is back to a steady stream of Netflix and Taco Bell, or the “fuck it diet” or “plan F” until I hate myself, or feel disgusting enough, or inspired enough to start again. Looking back, it seems obvious that I was doomed to failure each and every time. Healthy people do not have all-or-nothing mentalities; healthy people live a healthy lifestyle. They value movement, and whole foods, and self-care, and the occasional slice of pizza – because healthy people are balanced people. All-or-nothing is the antithesis of balance.

When the needle on the scale stopped moving, I could feel the familiar pangs of my all-or-nothing past knocking at my psyche – trying to seep in and derail me. I have the tools to silence this now, but I still need to stay humble to the process. Because just when I think I am unstoppable and have this all figured out, she checks in to see if it is finally time for me to stop this healthy living nonsense and go back to the comfort of fatness.

Negative self-talk. When I started running back in 2016, I enjoyed an initial boost of weight loss (about 28lbs). After the third month, the pace of my weight loss started to slow, despite of the fact that i was still running Mon-Fri. Although there were many positives that came from the miles I logged, none were ultimately as important to me as getting a handle on my weight. burritoEventually, like the rest of the things I had tried, the effort no longer matched the results and I went back to the F-plan – probably just in time for the second season of Narcos. Nothing pairs better with a tyrannical, power-hungry, bad hombre than a bean burrito, amiright?

By the time I hit two weeks without a change in the scale, I started to hear a familiar voice. What if you don’t ever lose another pound? What if this is just like the running? How humiliating for you! Especially after you were so convinced that this was finally the answer.  And you shouted it from the highest mountain top!  You even purchased some Facebook ads, to reach beyond your own circle. How fraudulent. What will Jennifer think? She believed in you, and you are letting her down.

This all sounds pretty depressing, but let me explain why it’s actually good news. I have struggled with that inner voice for most of my life. There have been stretches of time when I hear her a lot, and stretches of time when she seems to have disappeared. What makes this different from any other period of my life is that at no time have I even considered throwing in the towel. My F-plan days are over. I am fully awakened and there is no turning back. I know how the sausage gets made.

In the past, I could hide behind excuses – only I did not know they were excuses. I truly believed that because I have a thyroid condition (Hashimotos) I was doomed to fatness – and it was not my fault.

Poor, Holly. She works so hard, but the cards are stacked against her through no fault of her own.

In the past, I would have folded under my own entitlement issues. I believed that I deserved the food.  I deserved a treat because I worked so hard, or because something bad happened, or because something great happened, or because the Sharks were in the playoffs, or because it was Arbor day!

The difference between then and now, is that my knee-jerk reaction now is to figure out why and then push harder. This time instead of folding, I got online and scheduled more time at Soul Cycle. This time instead of saying “fuck-it” I hunkered down and counted calories, meal by meal. This time instead of filling my anxiety with crappy foods and self loathing, I filled my body with whole foods, and self-love.

And it worked. I weighed myself one week later and was down another two pounds. Two significant pounds. Significant because they were hard earned pounds. They were eff-you pounds, because that’s what I was saying to the negative inner voice inside of me. Not this time, lady.  Never again, in factor because something great happened, or because the Sharks were in the playoffs, or because it was Arbor Day

The two pounds were also significant because I realized that I am only one pound away from my pre–baby weight.  I am almost thinner than I was before I had children. I am also two pounds away from being 40 pounds less than I was four months ago. If I can manage another two before the end of April, I will have lost 40 pounds in four months. I have never lost 40 pounds in my entire life!

Holly 2

November 2016                                                                        April 2017

I still have a long road ahead of me, and there will be more plateaus in my future. But next time I will be more prepared. Next time, I can put that voice to bed earlier because I know that if I just stay in my lane and keep working what I now know, my body will eventually follow.

An open letter to a mighty good man.

Craig (my husband) is a good man. He is supporting me in my weight-loss goals in the best possible way – he is doing it with me. In fact, he is so committed to our health goals, he has lost 20lbs since January!  That is not the only reason Craig is such a good man. Here are just a couple of the reasons why I love him so much:

It is the little things. Craig shows me how much he loves me every single day. He makes me coffee every morning. He would never dream of starting to eat a meal until I am sitting beside him. He has a reminder on his phone every Sunday to make sure I have enough of a charge on my car Monday morning. He holds my hand proudly wherever we go, and walks on the traffic facing side of the street to make sure that I am safe. I am his best friend, the person he loves most out of everyone in the entire world, and he is my biggest fan. As if that wasn’t reason enough to follow him to the end of the earth, he didn’t even roll an eye when I asked if he would include some feminine products in his haul from the drug store, last week.  Because he is a very good man.


Protection for my mysterious lady-parts

He is open to doing the hard work that makes us better. When Craig and I first met (online), I was scared that he was too good looking for me.  I know, typing that kind of hurts my heart – but it’s true. I liked him soooo much, and that brought up some insecurities for me – so I had my best friend secretly stalk him at a sports bar where he was watching a Sharks playoff game. I share that story because I am sure that there have been friends who have wondered how we ever got together, given that he is a good looking guy and I am overweight. Maybe that is uncomfortable for you to read – or you may have the knee-jerk reaction to think that it’s preposterous because you know and love me, and think that I am beautiful (I am). Going through this process has really opened me up to my owning my story.  Even the hard parts.  Especially the hard parts. The truth is that broken people find broken people – and there was something in each of us that was a little broken when we met. In no way does this concept minimize the great marriage we have. In fact, we have found that the more we expose our most personal experiences and challenges, the deeper our connection grows. We are each others safest space – and we are both committed to healing our broken parts.

He makes time for me. I don’t mean that he carves out a slice of his precious time to hang out with me; I mean that he is stepping up the housework, so that I can make time for ME! Working with a health coach, and taking better care of myself has exposed some inequality in how we have historically split the household responsibilities. While we did not go from point a to point b without any friction, Craig has been incredibly open to being supportive and finding true balance. It is absolutely possible to achieve what I’ve achieved thus far without the support of my spouse, but it would be SO MUCH HARDER. I am truly grateful to have a partner who is open to change and sees the bigger picture.  Because the changes that he is helping me make will mean more time together, and more time with our family – and that is the most precious gift.

So thank you to Craig for being the best partner I could ever hope for.

I love you.


Inches and Champions

dadI am sure that my health coach (Jennifer Joffe) would agree that being highly coach-able is something that I come by honestly. My father [John McDowell] played for the Green Bay Packers under legendary coach Vince Lombardi. Over the years, my dad has recounted many fascinating stories from his football career – but I have always been particularly drawn to the ones about his coaches. So when I was thinking about what to title this post, I was suddenly struck by one of Lombardi’s most famous quotes:


“Inches make Champions” – Vince Lombardi

For those of you who read my previous blog post about my obsession with the scale, you may have wondered what the outcome of weigh-in day was. I am happy to report that I was another 3lbs down bringing the grand [wacka wacka] total to 261lbs. Of course, I was happy with the loss – but the absolute whopper of a statistic came from my measurements.

I have never really cared about measurements. In fact, I placed such little weight [wacka wacka] on the inches, that I didn’t even bother to measure myself back in January when I first started this adventure. Boy, do I regret that now. It had been one month since my last tale of the tape, and I was down a shocking 11.25 inches! It really put the weight-loss into perspective for me. Until that moment, I was only thinking of myself as weighing less, and not necessarily as taking up less space. The weight-loss is great, of course – but it keeps me focused on the number, not what that number means or how it is applicable.

Here is what taking up less space means to me:

  • It means never having to ninja my way into the drivers seat of my car via my trunk – or squeeze myself into the 12 inch space between my open door and my seat like a human kidney stone.
  • It means watching the musical Hamilton in San Francisco with hundreds of coworkers and focusing solely on enjoying the performance, and holding hands with my husband – which is a far cry from back in November, when I was at that same theater watching The Lion King and sitting uncomfortably sideways just to fit.
  • Lastly, and perhaps most notably, it means wearing a seat-belt when I fly the friendly skies. When I was at my heaviest, I flew from San Francisco to Minneapolis to meet my father who was being inducted into the hall of fame at his high school for football. I boarded the flight, sat down, and tried to buckle my seat-belt – only it would not buckle. Like, not even close. Like, not even within six inches. The flight was packed and I was too humiliated to ask for an extender, so I left it unbuckled. I flew across the country without a seat-belt because I was ashamed. I am a wife, a mother of two young children, a daughter, a grand-daughter, and a hard-working employee – and none of these reasons were more important to me than my utter shame at that moment. Looking back, it breaks my damned heart, and brings tears to my eyes. Because ultimately, that is how little I loved myself.

You are only your next meal, or your next walk, or your next inner thought away from making a choice supports your vitality.

I suspect that there will be a few people reading this post who can relate to some of the scenarios above. Know that you are not alone. You are also only your next meal, or your next walk, or your next inner thought away from making a choice supports your vitality. And a choice that demonstrates self-love over self-loathe.

Undoubtedly, this is a little heavier [wacka wacka] than my usual posts. But it is when I dive into the hard, truly own my situation, and share the heavy, that I am both mentally and physically lighter. Inch by inch.


Self portrait – 4.9.17