Treat Yo Self

A friend of mine jokingly posted on Facebook about a daily countdown until school is back in session. Which was funny to me because there is a kernel of truth to it. Summertime, at least with young children, has been a mixed bag for us. On one hand, our usual strict schedule lightens up, we spend lots of time jumping into pools and lakes, and our grill and garage bar get a lot more use. On the other hand, there is fighting – and so much of it. Is it the increase in time spent together at camp all day that turns them from bosom buddies to mortal enemies, or the drops of pool water that transform them from adorable mogwai to destructive gremlins? I am sure that for some lucky parents, summer memories are all noodle salads and lily pulitzer dresses, but that has hardly been our experience. We are more likely to measure our summers in bottle recycling and property damage.

However, I am nothing if not an eternal optimist, so I decided to try something new. The plan I came up with was essentially a treasure-box full of summer experiences which the kids earn by doing their jobs and having kind hearts from Monday through Friday (when we’re at our most desperate for compliant behavior). Meet our “Treat Yo Self” box of treasures, inspired by this scene from Parks and Rec


Apropos of nothing, but I can honestly tell you that wrapping this empty amazon box in low quality wrapping paper is the single most CRAFTIEST CRAFT I’VE EVER CRAFTED. Which is good practice for me because I’m about to become a legitimate dance mom, and I have a feeling that dance mom’ing and crafting go hand in hand.

Back to Treat Yo Self. I figured that it was important not to fill the box with a bunch of useless toys like LOL dolls and squishies, so I stuck with the same game plan that we apply to birthday celebrations – experiences over stuff. Some of the contents are arguably toys, but they are “doing” toys. Here is the complete list of items (with amazon links) and experiences that can be earned each Friday, in case you want to replicate for your own gremlins. I also added an end of summer big ticket item for extra incentive.

The stuff

The experiences

The end of summer big ticket item (earned through relative program success)

  • Fifth row tickets to see “Wicked” in San Jose

While we are only one week into project “Treat Yo Self” the results, thus far, have exceeded expectations. I did, however, have to make one small adjustment to the overall requirements by making the “kind hearts” (aka no fighting) rule specific to camp-only. Why? Because I want to set them up for success, and just making it through 8hrs/day 5 days/week would be hugely successful. Also, it’s in line with the original goal of not getting kicked out of camp and having to move to middle America where we can afford to have one of us stay home.

Did they earn the reward this week? YES! They absolutely crushed the first week, and have been taking out their unchecked aggression on their newly earned Nerf guns. Side note: you know how they spray cops-in-training with pepper spray to give them an idea of when that use of force is necessary? We did the same thing with the Nerf guns last night. Every family member (except Walter) had to get shot in the butt at close range to fully understand what it feels like, before taking possession of their firearms. There are nerf bullets in our trees, in our hair, in Walters tail, in the neighbors yard, in the toilet, and in my slippers. It definitely feels like it’s going to be a good summer at the VonD house. Also, how perfectly does the photo below represent each of my children? Even though I am on the couch with a nasty summer cold/cough, I can NOT stop laughing!

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.

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.


The road ahead is paved with humble pie.

I am a healthy person.

I don’t even say that to myself as an affirmation, or self-fulfilling prophecy.  I truly am healthy.  My body is filled with all of the vitamins and nutrients that only whole foods can deliver. I get somewhere between 7-8hrs of quality sleep every night. I am making time for exercise, girlfriends, the arts, and even nature!  I literally picked jasmine and stuck it in my pigtails while on a walk last week…AT WORK! Every time I turned my head, I was reminded of how much I love the smell of spring.

I have shed 32lbs of self doubt, people pleasing, and unresolved wounds from my body.  I have worked closely with Jennifer (my amazing health coach) to identify and even name the voice inside of me who tells me that I am not good enough (we call her my negative roommate).  I named her Felicia, because at the time I was still leaning heavily on my sense of humor.  “Bye, Felicia.”  Ba da dum, chhhh!

Jennifer asked me to describe Felicia, so that I could recognize her, put her away, and begin to unveil the true Holly (the one I have silenced with food and fat).  Here is what I wrote…

Meet Felicia

If you look up the word “indulgence” on Wikipedia, that is Felicia.  Felicia is a very, very good time.  Felicia is larger-than-life and has an ability to have the most fun that anyone can have at any given moment. 

She loves all the best food – from fast food, to hole in the wall gems, to 3 Michelin star rated culinary experiences.  She loves excess: all of the food, all of the wine, all of the fun and all the laughs with all the friends all the time.

With my fat friends, Felicia is always game for another “send-off” before starting the next diet. That might include the greatest hits from all of your favorite fast-food joints at the same time – but even a day on the couch doing nothing but watching back/back movies all day and all night, while ordering doordash all day and all night is fun with Felicia.

When I am making good choices with my health, Felicia starts shopping. She loves clothing, jewelry, house hunting, online browsing, and filling up carts instead of filling up my belly. 

Felicia does not like to be still, or bored, or to nothing exciting to look forward to.

Felicia is WANTY

Felicia can be restless and exhausting.

Bye, Felicia.

My success thus far has been wonderful, and I am truly proud of myself. My initial success has also introduced a measure of complacency and cockiness. The idea that I have this all figured out and can just coast into the finish line. I need to be careful about that. Stay humble, Jennifer says. I have 100 pounds to go, and Felicia is waiting for me to think I have this all figured out, so that we can get back to the comfort of our cohabiting.  She is ready for this upswing to be over.

  • Stay humble.
  • Keep cleaning your soul and your environment.
  • Keep doing things that feel hard; hard is where the change is.
  • Stay in your lane.

Along with the sage advice above, Jennifer dishes me a slice of humble pie and it hits home…

“You can gain back 30lbs in half the time it took you to lose it. So there’s that. Stay engaged!”

I am a healthy person, but I am also a humble person. I have made great strides in sorting all of this out, but I am just scratching the surface.


WhatwouldI have been thinking a lot about what I want this blog to be.  Should I narrow the focus and write only about my health goals?  Or, do  I treat it like my personal Facebook page and write about my journey to self-love, how to find the will to move on after a lice outbreak, or the very personal decision to still keep our dog Walter after he consumed a feces filled diaper?  I have concluded that the latter is the way to proceed. The most important and most relate-able aspect of my writing is its authenticity.  If my focus is too narrow, I think I will feel pressure to produce content – and therefore lose the one thing that makes my perspective unique: its bold honesty.

I will use tags in each post, so that readers can more easily find  and read the content that is most relevant to them.  I also thought it would be fun to pull some of the more popular stories from Facebook and turn them into the occasional ‘throw-back Thursday’.

Maybe this strategy will end up being too broad and I will have to regroup – but that’s fine, too. Like everything in my life, this is a process – something I’m dipping my toe into as I search to answer deeply challenging questions like…

Why am I here?

What is my purpose?

I should note that because I am currently hyper focused on personal growth (or shrinkage, if you’re technical), my writing will heavily lean toward the struggles, successes, and things I am learning about myself along the way.

At least for now.

I will still write about the occasional plague that hits our home, or how-to manuals for getting cranberry booyah lipstick off of a wall and/or fire engine conjunctivitis nail polish out of your couches and carpets. Family life is what sparked the itch to story-tell in the first place, so I will continue to make that the core of my inspiration.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…