Sparkly & Slimming….a Weight Loss Blog

Samantha's journey to slim down, while remaining sparkly!

Whole 30….Round 2!

You know how they say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb? Well I’m totally over lions. I hate winter. It’s been so freaking cold and miserable here in the suburbs of Boston – I’m ready for some sunshine and flowers! I’m going to gear myself up for a spring mentality (and a more fabulous summer body) by kicking off a new Whole 30 challenge this coming Monday. I eased myself in this week – cutting ties with bagels and homemade cookies (two things that were making more frequent appearances than they really should). I also embraced some new things like cilantro (formerly a hate – and I mean hate!) and raw red onion.I’m ready to rock the next 30 days!

Just in case you’re not familiar Whole 30 is an elimination/detox diet created by a husband and wife team who believe in organic, whole foods and no junk. The plan is simple to explain but terribly hard to execute:

Eat real food in these forms:

  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Tons of vegetables
  • Some fruit
  • Healthy oils, nuts and seeds.

Sounds simple right?! Yeaaa not so fast….

Don’t eat:

  • Sugar (any kind)
  • Alcohol
  • Grains
  • Legumes (which includes America’s favorite nut, the peanut)
  • Dairy
  • Carrageenan, MSG or sulfites (found in many processed foods)
  • White potatoes (along with Yukon, red bliss etc.) – the only potato that’s Whole 30 approved is the sweet potato

So, it’s a big change…but I’m excited to take it on. I did great last time although the headaches were pretty awful (not excited for those). My hardest challenge will be breakfast. I like eggs – but they don’t always like me back….so I need to get creative. This recipe for Banana Nut Porridge  sounds awesome and would be delicious with dates!  I have my nuts soaking as we speak and I’m hoping this is a tasty breakfast. I love oatmeal and I think it will be similar.

Sunday is veggie prep day and today I got help from Derek and Mom (thanks guys!) – here’s what we have ready in the fridge for the week ahead:

  • Roasted cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and broccoliflower along with asparagus, green beans and broccolini washed and ready to be roasted for dinners.
  • Spinach, arugula and spring mix for salad base
  • Raspberries (to add to porridge)
  • Vinegar pickled beets
  • 3 kinds of tomatoes (variety is the spice of life right?)
  • Sweet potato mash
  • Almonds, cashews, pecans (no peanuts!)
  • Power Salad fixin’s (I stole this from Panera after having one for lunch Friday!)

Here’s the salad I had Friday:

PowerSaladMy take: Spinach/arugula/cilantro base, fresh tomatoes, peppers (yellow and orange) and pickled red onions (homemade!) with roasted chicken and cilantro/lemon hummus. Super delicious and super excited to eat it! I’ll snap a picture later in the week! Derek loves cukes, I hate them so we’ll include them in his salad only. 🙂

Oh and here’s a shot of the garlic pickled red onions and roasted cabbage/brussel sprouts:

Roasted Veggies and Pickled Onions

They joke that Whole 30 is a commitment – but it really is! I’m not usually a big food planner (I find it constricting and stressful) so this will be a big change to have to think this far ahead. I think I’m most worried about giving up ice cream – I LOVE ice cream and a month is a long time! Oh and if you’re curious I will be having my beloved Starbucks coffee with coconut/almond milk instead of cream/1 sugar. 🙂 See? I’ve thought of everything! Now, let’s see if I see a difference in 30 days!

Some of the annoyances (besides of course the weight) are super, insane dry skin/eczema, random hives (possibly due to coconut so I’m not going nuts with coconut during the challenge) and psoriasis on my head. A lot of these ailments have been fixed with a clean diet – I can’t wait to see how I fare on April 12th!

Are you doing a Whole 30? Have you? Any tips or tricks?



Whole Lotta Veggies….and May Challenges

A bunch of people have asked how Whole 30 is going and how I’m doing….a few have assumed my silence means I failed. LOL. I’m happy to say I did not fail! I did cheat a bit – but I did not fail. I lost 16 pounds in 30 days – which is pretty phenomenal!

Overall it was pretty amazing. I had no idea how few veggies I was eating….or how much processed crap I was eating! I also didn’t realize how often I turned to carbs for cravings, bad days or boredom. Carbs are my consolation blanket. I can’t say I’m completely over my cravings for cupcakes – but I can say I will never go back to a gluten filled diet. Ever!

I focused on the healthiest options possible every day – and I found ways to make veggies work for my life. I don’t have time in the morning to roast vegetables and pack lunch. Hell most nights I end up working later than I should and packing lunch becomes a “shoulda done” before bed  (a post for another day). So instead I go to Whole Foods Saturday or Sunday and I roast veggies for the week then bag them up individually. Yes, I do realize tupperware would be more ecologically friendly – but I end up not washing it, forgetting it at work or in my car and wasting money. Plastic bags, for the win!

Some of the veggies I simply cannot live without: raw peppers with olive tapende or just plain  -YUM! Spaghetti squash with pesto – oh em gee – SO good! Seriously, an awesome substitute for pasta. No it doesn’t *taste* like pasta – it tastes like squash – but it LOOKS just like pasta! Perfect. Oh and of course, cauliflower- especially purple (which they had at Whole Foods and was all the rage this week in my lunch). Love cauliflower!

So how did I cheat? I had dairy – both cheese (yum) and half and half in my coffee. Oh and I had coffee. I’m sorry, I can’t live in a world without coffee. I know the book tells you that’s crap – but it’s not. The caffeine withdrawals were awful. I couldn’t function one day because I was in the midst of carb flu and without coffee. If anyone decides to do this experiment – make sure you’re not traveling….or in back to back meetings. 🙂 I will also add that detoxing off a processed food laden diet is horrible, I was nauseous, I was dizzy, my thoughts were jumbled but I also was weak. I got muscle cramps places I never get cramps when exercising – and I was sleeping horribly.

Most importantly –  I don’t WANT to give up coffee. I have one Venti iced coffee with cream daily. That’s it. I’m not drinking it all day long and I’m not willing to live without it. Some things are worth fighting for! 😉

So what will my May challenge be? More of the same, with a twist. May I’m back to traveling – Phoenix, LA, Dallas and maybe a local trip down to CT. I need to be ON m game. No gluten. Lots of veggies, lots of lean protein, fruits. Oh and lots of moving.

Thankfully I have a little challenge to keep me motivated! Stef Sweeney is hosting a Bikini Buddy Challenge (thank god no ACTUAL bikinis are required – I’m a LONG way from there) and I signed up with my girl Layne. We are team Cantaloop Cuties – inspired by our favorite 90’s song ever:

The rules are super simple:

1) Pair up with a buddy.
2) Arrange a time to meet with me (before/after class, etc) to get your beginning measurements taken.
3) Pay $10 each – $5 registration fee; $5 to go into the Winners Pot.
4) For the next 6 weeks, get your booty into gear!! Stay on top of your working out/being active, eating healthy, drinking water, etc.
5) At the end of the 6 weeks, measurements will be taken again. The team with the most inches/body fat lost WINS ALL THE MONEY FROM THE WINNERS POT!!!!

So gluten-free, veggie heavy diet plus lots of Zumba and cardio (more about my new favorite cardio in the next post!) = Awesome track for getting myself slimmed down!!
Wish me luck – I feel like I’ve finally got a secret formula down for success – I’m looking forward to having a healthy summer!

Whole 30 ~ 4/8 – 5/8

I have been chatting away about life and love over at my new nook on the interwebz – but I decided to pop back here for a chat about my new nutrition focus. Tomorrow I am launching into 30 days of “Whole 30” – you can read all the details here. Here are the basics:

What is the Whole30®?

Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition (like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or fertility issues) that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms may be directly related to the foods you eat – even the “healthy” stuff. So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you?

Strip them from your diet completely. Cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the “reset” button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn once and for all how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day-to-day life, and your long-term health. The most important reason to keep reading?

This will change your life.

I just finished “It Starts with Food” and I feel like I need to try it. I need a life change!


So what can I eat?

* Lots of fruits

*Lots of veggies

* Lean proteins

* NO eat sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy or processed junk  (also known as most of my current diet)

Sounds crazy eh?  I’m excited. It’s the butt-kicking I need.

Now, I know dairy is not bad for you – but the program cuts it out and I think I can live without it for a month. Maybe. 🙂  (No cheese? Bah…maybe not)

What made me try this? Straight from the book and the website:

Here comes the tough love. This is for those of you who are considering taking on this life-changing month, but aren’t sure you can actually pull it off, cheat free, for a full 30 days. This is for the people who have tried this before, but who “slipped” or “fell off the wagon” or “just HAD to eat (fill in food here) because of this (fill in event here).” This is for you.

It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You won’t get any coddling, and you won’t get any sympathy for your “struggles”. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.


I need some tough love! I need some butt-kicking. 🙂

This is my fruit bowl right now (usually empty):


Had I not just bagged up all my veggies I would have snapped a picture of those too!

Breakfast is going to be challenging – I love oatmeal. Love it. No oats. No dairy (cottage cheese, yogurt) so I decided to go with a fruit smoothie made with a bit of coconut almond milk and this:

Hopefully it’s tasty – we’ll see tomorrow!

I’m already going to call it – not having my iced coffee with cream and sugar is going to be the hardest. I love me some Starbucks! Send me some willpower friends, I’m going to need it.

I’m going to snap a before picture before work – we’ll see if you guys notice a difference in 30 days!


Biscuit Face (or adventures in gluten)

2 weeks without blogging make me a sad panda! Sorry guys, I had a ton to say – but I never found a half hour to sit and write it all down. Ironically I’m wide awake @ 3am on Sunday morning this jotting all this down on my Blackberry. Eh, such is life! 😉

Right before I left for 2 weeks in LA I started reading up on gluten-allergies. I don’t think I have celiac disease – but I do think I may have a sensitivity to gluten. All the things I’ve ignored for years (stomach aches, bloating, cramps) can be attributed to gluten! Who knew?! I started chatting with friends and friends of friends (Judy!)  and time after time the book “Wheat Belly” was mentioned. So here I am in LA realizing just how much gluten I eat (oatmeal, sandwiches, crackers, pita chips, baguettes w/ soup…) – the list was INSANE. One of my LA co-workers and friends, Darren is gluten-free. I bombard him with questions for days (poor guy). Then I’m at a dinner party he and his gf are hosting and I stop in the hall to chat with someone – staring at me from a bookcase is a copy of “Wheat Belly”! So I borrow it – and man is it ENLIGHTENING! I highly recommend it. Speaking of – I need to mail that back. LOL!


The author jokes that as a society we are obsessed with wheat. So much so that he could have called the book wheat belly or biscuit face or pretzel butt. Biscuit face me me giggle.

Rather than try to go 100% GF in Los Angeles, I decided to try tracking my food in regards to what I ate with gluten and how I felt after. Indian without the naan? No stomach ache! (Side note: I always thought it was the spices in Indian that made me feel yucky – now I wonder!).  Mexican w/ tortillas + chips? Stomach ache. London broil with parsnip/cauliflower puree and asparagus? No stomach ache. Flatbread pizza with garlic, pesto + pine nuts? Cramps, stomach pain + horrible bloat the next day. In fact the pizza (from 800 degrees) was phenomenal tasting but I actually woke up in the middle of the night feeling like I might die. So the meals with gluten gave me the sicky feeling?   Hmmmm I might be on to something here!!

Like I mentioned, I’ve always had these yucky stomach feelings but I’ve ignored them – or chalked them up to something else (sensitive stomach, waiting too long to eat, hung over from the night before). Now I’m thinking I actually was suffering from a wheat hangover! My go-to foods are always carbs – bagels w/ cream cheese, crackers and cheese, cake (and cupcakes), pasta with sauces and garlic bread. I am *addicted* to wheat! And honestly, I think most of America is!!

So how did I do with the rest of my challenges in LA? Good I think. You guys know dessert is my weakness – well I only indulged 3 times in 13 days! Once I split a brownie and twice I had crème brûlée. Not bad. I even avoided a delicious looking piece of coconut layer cake and a mocha fudge cupcake! I did indulge in wine – but at 125 calories a glass its a far better caloric choice than coconut layer cake at 600 calories a slice! :o) Exercise? Yeaaa well I did OK. I walked my ass off. I got 10,000 plus steps EVERY day – win! I only got 2 gym workouts and 2 barre workouts in – not my best effort.  I stuck to my calories nearly everyday but I sucked at getting my water in – shocking given that’s usually the easiest thing for me! I definitely felt the effects of that all weekend. I was retaining water terribly and felt like the marshmallow man. Awful. I’m happy to say today I’m back to 100% (and looking forward to a barre ASS KICKING from Jess tonight in legs – yeah!)

I am sad to say I fell off on elf4health – a few of the challenges while I was away were near impossible. Clean out your fridge? I’m in a hotel – no fridge. Planning meals? Eh not really plausible when you’re at a customer’s facility at their mercy for meals. 🙂  But, no excuses! Onward – upward!

This weeks challenges are:

Monday, December 17  Do a circuit workout today!

Tuesday, December 18  Treat yourself to something you’ve been craving!

Wednesday, December 19   Bake cookies! Find a healthier recipe to try or make some healthy swaps to an old favorite

Thursday, December 20  Winter is the perfect time for casseroles! Make a casserole for dinner tonight. Add extra veggies and go easy on the cheese and sauce.

Friday, December 21  Pay it forward! Do something nice for someone else.

Saturday, December 22  Going to a holiday party? Eat a snack before you go, choose water and split dessert

Today’s circuit may be this one:


Saturday is Derek’s birthday dinner – I think we’re doing a family thing at a nice steakhouse so I know dessert will be tempting! That challenge falls perfectly. 🙂

Oh and I have a new elf for last week and this week!  She is an American living in Kuwait! Check out her blog here: Jessie Loves to Run

Shout-out to my previous elf, Christy whom I’ve kept emailing. So cool to meet people from other walks of life!  Seattle scientist mom of 2? Not someone I’d normally encounter ~ now I’m glad I did! 🙂

So, now that I’ve read “Wheat Belly” and survived 2 weeks of travel what’s next? How can successfully avoid gluten in the coming weeks during holiday chaos? Compromise. I know I shouldn’t eat potatoes – but I *really* shouldn’t eat garlic bread. I can keep within my number + still feel satisfied without all the carbs – I know I can! It’s going to take some thought – because carbs are my default food. But, I think I’ve got this. I’ll be interested to compare how I feel (and what I weigh) a month from now!

Have any gluten-free recipes/foods you love? Please send them my way! I’d love to hear about new foods (or new combos) I need to try. Have a “Is there gluten in this food?” Android app? Please let me know! 😉


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