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




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

A Pound of Flesh

I am certain that Portia is not referring to an upcoming weigh-in day, when she exclaims “a pound of flesh” in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice – but it so aptly (and succinctly) describes the result I am hoping to deliver tomorrow morning.

I am scale obsessed.  If our scale is left on the floor of our bathroom, I will weigh myself every night, and every morning.  Craig (god bless him) has to find hard to reach places to hide it from me. If you believe there are no coincidences, then the cosmos were definitely aligned when they sent me a 6 foot, 2 inch man to marry.  Not just because I happen to be attracted to tall men, but because he could one day help me on my journey to self love by hiding our god damned scale in places that I cannot reach!

craig toilet


Craig’s first attempt at hiding the scale was a valiant effort, by any definition.  Not only was it unlikely that I would ever look up while standing in the commode closet of our bathroom – but even if I did spot it, surely it would be too much effort to actually try to attempt contact.

Oh husband, how you underestimate my willingness to risk humiliation and/or a couple of molecules of urine to qualify my body mass with data!

Like many divorces, the first attempt at separation did not take.  Specifically speaking, it lasted less than two weeks.  I spotted it after the first week, and then refrained from any spiderman-like attempts to retrieve said scale for a jaw dropping 5 more days.  I was just days short from my next “official” weigh-in, when I made the choice to reunite with my tile shaped nemesis. Craig was happily entertained with a video game in the living room, so I knew I had the time to do the crime.  I mentioned something about getting ready for bed, slithered back to the master bedroom, and shut the door. In the spirit of naked honesty, I was honestly naked.  Isn’t everyone when they are seeking an accurately low number on a scale? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?  Why I didn’t disrobe after retrieving the loot, I do not know.  Hindsight, amiright?? Though, given the bathroom mirror and my lack of clothing, I technically already had hindsight [whacka whacka].

I stand at a solid 5’7′ and not one centimeter more. Unfortunately, this was not enough height to reach the top of the cabinet – which meant that I had one of three options:

  1. Confidently waltz back through the living room and out to the garage without clothing or justification to get the ladder to reach the scale.  Or..
  2. Stand on top of the porcelain rim of the toilet in my bare feet to reach the scale.
  3. Spider scale the wall of the commode room like an American Ninja Warrior (see photo) to reach the scale.


Needless to say, I went with the second (still gross) option. I have, on occasion, been told that I have the footing of a mountain goat, so balancing upon a cold narrow ledge seemed perfectly obvious. On one hand, I was excited because I had dropped a significant amount of weight; on the other, I felt the familiar sting of disappointing myself.

Since that incident, I have had good weeks and bad, as far as the scale and me are concerned. If Craig forgets to put it away, I absolutely forget to remind him. When it has been put away, I have been slightly better.

“Progress, not perfection”

I hear Jennifer’s familiar voice in my head, when I begin to berate myself for not getting this 100% right 100% of the time. Instead of focusing on the number, I try to hang on to how I am feeling.  My fitted tank tops that are now puckered with the empty spaces that my flesh used to fill [a pound of flesh].  My bra that I now wear on the third and final set of clasps. The teeny tiny gap of light I noticed between the top of my thighs, when I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror at work yesterday.  Surely, these are far more meaningful examples of progress than a scale that I am only certain is accurate when it is in my favor.

Here is a letter that I wrote to my younger self – or to someone else who, like me, places too much weight on the weight….

Dear Holly

Knowing what I know now, I would like to save you countless hours of letting a square piece of plastic dictate how your day is going to go.  If I could count the time spent standing on a scale, I would probably burst into tears at the wasted time – and that is nothing compared to the impact that number has had on my life.

To start each day disappointed in myself for being fat, shaming myself for not being good enough, and berating myself for not having the will power to be healthy, is a tragic waste of time.  Time that I could have been feeling good about myself for the person I am inside, and all that I have achieved thus far.

Thanks to a number, I have missed social events like the Facebook holiday party, and even denied myself the experience of wedding dress shopping with my mum and girlfriends – instead, I bought a gown online and told myself that I was awesome because it was only $240 and that my wedding was about us, not a dress.

What I wish most for you is to love yourself, as much as the world loves you. Do not deny yourself the happiness that comes from adoration. Be as authentic about the space you inhabit, as you are in your writing.  Set boundaries when others try to drink from your positive energy to help fill themselves up and leave you drained. Take care of yourself in the same way you take care of everyone else – starting with food.

Food is not a reward.  Food is not a Band-Aid. You are not entitled to food because you had a good day, or a bad day, or you are bored, tired, or drunk.  .

Real food is energy.  It is life.  It is all the colors of the rainbow and it is healing. Real food is literally and figuratively medicine. The food you eat is poison and covering up your feelings of abandonment and entitlement.  You can start healing yourself inside and out with food.  You can have energy and vitality like you’ve never imagined with food by using the following formula: eat real food, mostly plant-based, and not too much (and include Fiber, protein, and a healthy fat with every meal).  It is the key to unlocking the one thing you want most in the world: becoming your authentic self.



Tomorrow is weigh-in day. In many ways, the results won’t matter – because it will not impact how I move forward. Even if I never lose another pound, I will continue to nourish my body with whole healthy foods.  Even if I never go down another clothing size, i will continue to exercise and move my body.  Even if I never experience what it is like to walk the earth in a smaller body, I will keep learning how to see myself as the world sees me: nothing short of absolutely beautiful.




Hey sister, soul sister, go sister, soulcycle.

2016 was the year that I committed to running every morning (mon-fri). I ran alone. I listened to loud music that pushed me harder and made me feel strong and confident. For the first time since having children, I was carving out time just for me – and doing something that tapped into my inner strength.  I was getting back to me, and it felt good.

Unfortunately, I started to get discouraged when the weight-loss slowed and then eventually stopped.  Because I wasn’t integrating healthy habits in the rest of my life (other than avoiding bread), they caught up with me and I couldn’t out run them.

When I started working with my health coach (Jennifer at Project Healthy Body) , we agreed that I needed to focus on nutrition and portion sizes, at least initially.  Not because exercise wasn’t important (it’s super important), but focusing on everything all at once might have overwhelmed me.  Plus, running does make me hungrier, and therefore more challenging while I was working on shrinking my stomach back to something a little smaller and less vacuous than say a black hole.

I have been steadily dropping pounds since January and had kind of forgotten about the benefits of more strenuous exercise than just walking. When Jennifer asked if wanted to join her at a Soulcycle class, I immediately said yes. Not because I was just dying to spend 45mins gasping for air and bruising my lady-bits – believe me, I don’t have to drive all the way to Palo Alto for that. I said yes immediately because everything Jennifer has ever asked me to do has only brought me closer to self-love and a life of absolute freedom from the scale.

I arrived early (as all nervous people do) and sat in the parking lot blasting my favorite Metallica song – you know,  like all the other 42 year old moms at Stanford Shopping Center. It was essentially the live action version of this scene from Monsters University.

When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had done something wrong, or a little icky by exposing my innermost self in my first blog post. I questioned whether or not I should have done it at all, and even whether or not it was my authentic voice, or an obvious ploy to gain attention. It’s possible that Jennifer and the universe conspired to help me work through those feelings gifting me my confidence back in the form of vigorous exercise.

To say that Soulcycle was just what I needed is an understatement. I walked in with shoulders and spirit down, and walked out with my head high and spirit lifted. At one point during a particularly amazing remix of Under Pressure [Freddy Mercury, am I right??] I hit the wall and wanted to sit down. Instead, I dug down deep, and thought about the words written on the wall beside me…


As I rode, I visualized inhaling self-love and exhaling self-doubt – and I began to cry. Like, really cry! All while peddling like an uncoordinated crazy woman! I left all of the nonsense I’d been feeling all morning right there on my bike. Now I know why it’s so dark in there. Who wants to watch some broad with yesterday’s mascara running down her face bobbing and sobbing on a god damned bike?

I left the studio confident, relaxed, and feeling so strong. I used to workout to help negate some of what I was eating. Today I worked out and went to Whole Foods for a green drink, and to replenish the ample supply of vibrant fruits and vegetables that now reside on my kitchen island. Selfie

Anyone want to ride with me next weekend, if I promise not to cry? Green drinks after are my treat!




This is me distilled down to my most honest state: free of makeup, thick rimmed glasses, statement necklaces, and/or instagram filters.

I am sure at some point all decent Canadians have the urge to quote the Barenaked Ladies.  In fact, I believe there is a verse in the national anthem that reads, “with glowing hearts, we quote these guys, the bare nae ked lay deees.” So it was of no surprise that when I finally committed to turning my writing into something more than a Facebook post, I woke up with these lyrics repeating over-and-over in my head…

“I had a dream that I was 300lbs – and though I was very heavy, I floated till I couldn’t see the ground. Somebody help me, I couldn’t see the ground.”


Cheers, to rock bottom!

Only it wasn’t a dream.  I woke up on January 1st, 2017 and was just shy of 300lbs.  How did I get here – and, even more challenging, how to I begin to unpack the years of slowly but steadily piling on and carrying around this extra person?  All previous attempts at cracking the code had failed, though not completely.  I suppose my journey really started in February of 2016, when I committed to one year of running.  I will write more about my year of running later, but sufficed to say that one of many lessons I learned (and there were many lessons) was that I could not outrun my weight issues.

The proverbial other shoe wouldn’t drop until December 17th, when I stumbled upon this this [click to read] article that Sheryl Sandberg shared on Facebook.  Jennifer’s bold and courageous story drew me in like drunk person (me) to Taco Bell. In many ways, she was me – only she had discovered the road map to regaining her health and vitality.  After a few hours of binging (punny, punny) on every word she had ever written, every article she shared, and [stalker alert] her personal and professional Facebook pages to learn as much as I could, I took a leap of faith and reached out for help one more time.

Please, let this be the last time, I thought.

Hi Jennifer

I just spent the last hour pouring through your story and your coaching site, after reading Sheryl’s post. What an inspiration you are – particularly because I can relate to it.  I would be super interested in setting up a consultation when you have time. 

Warmest regards,


Now, I realize that the “few hours” that I admitted to you, and the “one hour” I noted to Jennifer do not exactly match up – but [stalker alert] this is no different than the universal data manipulation one finds on any online dating profile.

Single woman: I am voluptuous [I am 50lbs overweight]

Single man: I am 6 feet tall [I am 5’9”]

I was hopeful that Jennifer would agree to help me, and she did.  I was cautiously optimistic that she would give me the road map and the tools to help me lose weight, and she has.  But it’s honestly so much more than that.

On our first phone call, she told me that she looked up my BMI online and that I was literally fighting for my life. Of course, I burst into tears.  I had never thought of myself as unhealthy.  Fat, obviously– but not unhealthy.  I ran 3.6 miles a day for 10 months – and on the days that I did not run, I almost always got my 10,000 steps in.  I have never had high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, and I am not pre-diabetic. YET.  All of those data points had only been reinforcing the lie I had been living.

Healthy people do not weigh 300lbs (which, incidentally is the equivalent of 1361 blueberry muffins).  It does not take healthy people 30 painful steps before the joints and tissue loosen up enough to walk normally.  Also probably good to include on this list: healthy people could never even fathom spending $100 at Taco Bell.   [insert photo of fanning money outside a taco bell]


First ever mirror selfie, 25lbs healthier

It has now been three months since I have been working with a health coach, and life for me looks very different.  I AM A HEALTHY PERSON.  I can eat anything I want, but I choose to eat whole, vibrant foods that support my vitality.  My skin is clear and youthful, and my hair is thicker and less brittle.  I have gone from wearing a size 22 to a size 20, and even those are getting roomy.  Oh, and did I mention I’ve dropped 30 pounds? I have also gone from a BMI of 46.4 (which basically made it impossible for me to drown, or dive down to the bottom of a lake) to a BMI of 41.7.

The changes I am making aren’t just physical. My life, my house, and my health all looked pretty good on the outside. I have a fulfilling career at Facebook, a beautiful home filled with love, a smokin’ hot and supportive husband, and I spent almost all of 2016 gluten-free and physically active AF!  Everything passed the sniff test with flying colors.  Unless you looked under the hood, opened a closet, or slid open the wrong drawer – where much of my life, my home, and my body was a mess.

10 of the 12 women in the Project Healthy Body(the group my health coach leads) rated their lives a 10/10 in our first homework assignment.  When Jennifer told me that, it stopped me in my tracks because it meant that I was no different than any other over-weight person.  My situation wasn’t unique. Looking back, it seems so transparent and obvious that a) no one’s life is a 10/10, and b) mine certainly was not!  I am not minimizing the wonderful life that I have built.  I have been living the absolute best life I can possibly live, given the tools that I had.  Now that I have the tools, I’m chipping away at the one thing that has been keeping me from living my best life: self love.  How am I getting there? I am melting the layers of fat and uncovering my true authentic self. How am I melting the fat?  By learning how to love myself.

Self-love: regard for one’s own well-being and happiness

Some of the changes and progress that I have made thus far have been easy. Eating only whole and healthy foods that support my vitality has been shockingly easy. Even shifting to proper portion sizes has been easy.  Other changes have been more difficult. Confronting an unbalanced dynamic in my marriage has been more difficult.  Exploring the reasons why I started filling empty spaces with food in the first place has been difficult.

It takes courage and humility to truly own where I am at and where I have been.  And even that is easier than the courage it takes to share those things with my husband…and still more to share it with you. But I know that I can’t rebuild what isn’t fully exposed (figuratively, not literally – unless I end up really, really, super good-looking at the end of this journey…then, maybe literally, too).  I also know that the helper in me gets a great deal of positive energy and inspiration (and accountability) from connecting with others who can relate to some or all of my own experience.  I will say it out loud so that you don’t have to!


When you’re no longer holding onto the weight of your past, you are free to hold yourself up in your present

Project Healthy Body is three months long, and ends in April.  However, I won’t be short of material to write about because I have just signed up for a year long extension of this program.  I can only imagine what my life will be like one year from now. The clarity of mind, shrinking of body, and wholeness of being that I have gained thus far feels incredible – but I know it’s just the beginning of something truly amazing. I just know it.