What I Gained by Losing 30 Pounds

At the end of last year, I was so unhappy with my body. I was holding onto pizza and wine weight from grad school and college, and many of my clothes were tight and uncomfortable. I was exercising somewhat regularly, but I didn’t feel good in my skin. This unhappiness bled across my life: I was anxious often; I was lethargic. I knew something needed to change, but I didn’t know how.

9 months later, I’ve made it. I’m 30 pounds lighter. I am stronger and healthier than I have ever been. I have new clothes and a new outlook on life. I know that sounds unbelievably cheesy, but it’s true.

photo by the lovely Lindsey Foat
photos by the lovely Lindsey Foat, @lindseyfoat 

I lost 15-20 pounds pretty easily between January and March (thank you Whole 30), and another 10-15 have come off very gradually since then.

I’ll go into detail in a different post about the HOW of losing this weight, but a quick answer: Whole 30 and Gretchen Rubin’s book about habit formation. (All that getting up early has really paid off.)

I was hesitant to write this post. My brain is screaming at me: Weight doesn’t matter.

And I’m right — weight doesn’t matter. But health does. And the process of losing this weight has made me a healthier person.

I’m not going to lie and say the weight loss hasn’t been awesome. IT HAS BEEN. Needing to buy new, smaller jeans because the pair that used to cut into my waist are baggy? That feels amazing.

But I didn’t JUST lose weight. I gained muscle and strength, a better understanding of nutrition, a devotion to balanced living, and an actual desire to exercise regularly.

And I still eat pizza and drink wine. Just less often.

I know a post like this is often accompanied by before and after pictures. And this post won’t. Not because I don’t have before and after pictures, and not because I don’t see the value in documenting that visual change.

But that is not the focus for me. I’m more interested in the invisible progress, like a faster mile time and the steady energy I get from healthier eating.

Hiking Quandary Peak earlier this month was the most affirming part of this whole process. It was still hard, obviously, but I could do things I couldn’t before. When I slipped during the descent, I caught myself with my ab muscles. I felt them engage, and I was able to catch myself in a squat, instead of letting my ass hit the gravel.

This level of control has never been true for me before, and I am so proud of myself.

read more at The Fruitful Blog

30 pounds is a weird amount. It’s enough that I have needed to replace many of my clothes. It’s enough that my face looks different in photos. It’s enough that those closest to me — my BFFs, my sister, my boyfriend — have noticed the changes in my body.

But it’s not enough that I look drastically different.

Many people — even people that I see daily — haven’t noticed. If it comes up, they’re astounded. They say that they can’t believe I had 30 pounds to lose. This feels … weird.

In one way, I suppose it’s a compliment. And I’m sure that’s how these people mean it. They’re saying that I didn’t look fat before, so how could I possibly have lost that much weight?

It doesn’t always feel like a compliment.

It feels undermining — like my change was entirely cosmetic, and, therefore, vain. That since I didn’t “need” to lose weight, I shouldn’t have bothered. Or I should at least shut up about it.

It feels like I shouldn’t be proud of my hard work. That I should hide it.

But I am proud. Very proud. Sticking to a diet and exercise regimen is hard, man.

Making jokes at my own expense is part of my sense of humor. Teasing myself helps me take life less seriously.

But I cannot be self-deprecating about this. This lifestyle change has been too hard and too important to undermine in that way. So honesty is what work for me.

And, honestly, I’m working hard, but I am far from perfect.

I still throw sensible eating to the wind from time to time, and I sleep through my workout upon occasion. But, as my lifestyle guru Gretchen Rubin says, “what you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” Learning this lesson has helped me immensely.

My life has changed. Because now the healthy, nutritious, active choice is the every day, not the once in a while.

The best part of losing weight hasn’t been losing the weight. The best part is the new life I’ve created in the process.

Exercise is now a priority, not a line item on my time budget that’s constantly getting rescheduled. Junk foods like highly processed crackers and candy are now the treats they are meant to be instead of daily snacks. My brain is less sluggish in the afternoon; my fingers are quicker across the keyboard.

My life is better — and not because I am skinnier. It’s because I’m stronger.

Summer Meal Plan // 4

I got back on the meal prep train this week, and it made a huge difference in my after-work frame of mind. When I’ve planned and prepped ahead of time, cooking can be relaxing, even if I come home from work super-hungry. It’s when I don’t have a plan that I spiral into a hangry snack attack monster the second I walk in the door.

Having a plan was extra-necessary last Friday.

Friday: I got home from work starving, but had done some brainstorming on my drive home, and walked into the kitchen with a plan: saute all the veggies in the fridge (which ended up being a pound of baby bella mushrooms YUM) with garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes, toss with linguine, slightly smashed white beans, and vegan parm (My boyfriend has a dairy allergy, for those of you that don’t know). I added frozen green peas to the pasta at the last minute and served it with broiled salmon.

It was on the table in thirty minutes and it was the perfect Friday meal: quick, didn’t require a trip to the store, and a little fancy-tasting. I ate it with a side of Real Housewives.

Saturday: I’ll often make a big meal for lunch on the weekends with the intention of leftovers carrying us into workweek lunches. I made my own riff on this awesome street chicken and rice recipe from BuzzFeed. I served the chicken and rice with shredded romaine and sliced yellow tomatoes on the side, and instead of the yogurt sauce, I thinned hummus with cashew milk and red wine vinegar.

For dinner, I had a ✨magical✨ slice of pepperoni pizza at Pizza Bar. (Also, I ate this pizza before I saw 98 Degrees perform. Yes, you should be jealous. They were incredible.)

Sunday: For lunch, I had the most delicious salad I have ever eaten. Promise. Romaine, green onion, avocado, yellow tomatoes, nectarine, pistachios, pepitas, leftover salmon, and balsamic vinaigrette.P1000057

My sister and I tag-teamed a taco bar dinner. Ground turkey, black beans, flour tortillas, and all the extras. She made brown butter blondies that KILLED. I brought this single-serving flourless peanut butter cookie for G, as brown butter is one of those things that doesn’t have a dairy-free alternative.

Monday: After a heavy weekend (hello pizza, tacos, and dessert), I wanted to start the week with lots of veggies.

I made corn and zucchini chowder (subbed the half-and-half for full-fat coconut milk and smoked paprika for the bacon), grilled chicken breasts, and sliced cantaloupe.

Tuesday: leftovers! I was exhausted after a stressful day at work, and G didn’t get home until 7:30 or 8, so it was seriously the best feeling to have a fridge full of prepared food that I could just reheat.

Wednesday: I made Potsticker Noodle Bowls from Iowa Girl Eats, and, wow, it was yummy. I used brown rice noodles and ground turkey instead of ground pork.

For a side, I roasted cauliflower and okra until they were brown and crispy, and whisked mayo, sweet chili sauce, and chili garlic sauce together for a dipping sauce. I found a red bell pepper in the depths of the produce drawer and sliced that up too. That sauce, though, was the real star. G stirred some into his noodles.

🌟Hot tip🌟: When I really have my planner hat on, I’ll prep the kitchen for dinner in the morning: group ingredients together in the fridge and lay out the pans and dishes I’ll need. It probably doesn’t save me a lot of actual time, but it streamlines the process in the evening, which I usually need post-commute.

Meal prep tip: In the morning, gather all of the ingredients for dinner together in the fridge. For more, visit TheFruitfulBlog.com

Thursday: I went out with some girlfriends for sushi and drinks, but wanted to be sure Grant had Thursday dinner and Friday lunch, so I made this tandoori quinoa and chickpeas in the morning before work. It was so quick, maybe 30 minutes, and a lot of it was simmer time. I ate breakfast and enjoyed my coffee while it finished.

Breakfasts: Breakfasts were good this week, you guys. (Besides the usual Ezekiel toast and green smoothies, which were obviously tasty.)

Sweet potato “oats”: On Sunday afternoon, I shredded a few raw sweet potatoes in the food processor. In the mornings, I threw a big handful of the shreds, cashew milk, and half a banana into the microwave for five minutes, then topped the bowl with sliced banana, hemp hearts, coconut shreds, jelly or honey, nuts, etc, etc, etc.

Banana-egg pancakes: Yep, just mashed banana and eggs whisked together and fried up like pancakes. I’ve made these forever, but I tried this recipe, which adds almond meal and baking powder to the egg and banana. These ingredients added a little more structure.

Lunches: leftovers and salads, nothing too exciting, except for a perfect farm stand cantaloupe.

Have a good weekend, friends!

What did you eat this week? Any recipes I need to add to my rotation? Are there other things I could share to make these posts more useful?

For seasonal meal ideas from The Fruitful Blog, click here!

Midweek Links // 1

A weekly roundup of what I’m reading, coveting, and listening to. 

The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert: I didn’t love Eat Pray Love, which is the book Gilbert is most famous for, but The Signature of All Things was seriously one of the most engrossing novels I have ever read. I read 90% of it on the drive home from Breckenridge earlier this month, and I could not put it down. It’s about a nineteenth century woman botanist, which sounds boring, but it’s NOT. The plot is expansive and detailed, but never feels confusing. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Joy the Baker made poundcake, grilled it, and served it with strawberries on top. YES, PLEASE.

The Girls, by Emma Cline: A fictionalized account of life as a Manson girl. I’m obsessed with true crime, so this was a win for me.

The most recent episode of the Radiolab podcast, Playing God, is incredible. It’s about strategies for rationing healthcare in times of crisis: how do you choose who gets oxygen? Who is airlifted out first? When do you stop administering care? There are interviews with clinicians who have made these decisions and clips from a town hall discussion where regular people discuss this moral tangle. Thought-provoking and sad and very, very interesting.

Present Over Perfect, by Shaua Niequist: I absolutely love this author. She is so raw and honest.  This book is a collection of essays about prioritizing slow living and family connection over the go, go, go of career hustle. Many of her strategies for coping are faith-based, but her writing style is so open and inclusive that it’s easy to make those passages fit with whatever your beliefs are or aren’t. A great book to reflect on and relax with before bed.

Tracy from Shutterbean posted about her ladies craft night, and I want to do this soon! Cocktails, snacks, and adult coloring books?! Who’s in?

What are you guys reading? I’m always looking for recs. 

3 Secrets to Getting Up Early (even on the weekend)

On weekday mornings, my alarm goes off at 4:45.

I know.

I guess I should be more specific: Grant’s alarm goes off at 4:45. He has to be at work by 6 a.m., so the early alarm is a must.

When his work schedule changed, and he started getting up this early, I decided to embrace the change with him. Falling back asleep for an hour or two is rarely restful for me, especially since G is getting ready for his day in a bathroom that is five feet from our bed.

Before this change, I got out of bed at 5:30 a few mornings a week to work out, so 4:45 didn’t seem too bad.

And I was right — for the most part. Some mornings, 4:45 feels like 6. Early, but not terrible. Some mornings, 4:45 feels terrible. It just does. But I push through because the added hours in the day are worth it to me.

The secrets to getting up this early are simple, I promise. By keeping these habits, it seems almost easy to wake up way before dawn.


  1. Just put your feet on the floor.

This tip is the easiest and the hardest all at once. But just do it. Don’t hit snooze, don’t roll over for a quick snuggle. Just get up.

My feet hit the floor within literally five seconds of the alarm ringing. I may walk to the bathroom and then the kitchen with my eyes closed, but I am doing it.

The secret to getting up early? Planning. Read more at The Fruitful Blog.

  1. Plan, plan, and plan some more.Have a plan for your morning before your feet hit the floor. When you know what you’re supposed to be doing once you get out of bed, you can do it without thinking and while you’re waking up. My morning schedule changes from day-to-day, but the basic structure is the same. Every weekday morning, I want to get ready, pack lunches, water my plants, write, exercise, and leave for work on time.

    Getting up at 4:45 means I have three and half hours between the time my feet hit the floor and when I need to leave for work. That’s so much time. Planning out how I’ll spend this time means that I can make the most of it, instead of accidentally looking at Snapchat (👻: @cait326) for an hour.

I love being productive in the morning because it means that I can truly clock out at 5 P.M. Not only am I leaving my day job, I’m leaving behind many of my daily responsibilities. I can go home, cook dinner, relax with a book (or Bachelor in Paradise), and not stress out about fitting a workout in. Because it’s already done.

3 Secrets to Getting Up Really Early (even on the weekends)

On a weekend morning, my schedule is more relaxed, and my wakeup time is a little later, but I still plan in out. I get up relatively early, too, like 6 or 7. I do sometimes sleep in, but it throws off my body clock and makes it harder to get up at 4:45 that coming Monday.

On Sunday, I woke up at 7 and did laundry, cleaning, writing, and exercise, all before noon.

Getting these chores done in the morning means that I have time in the afternoon to relax (maybe even take a 30-minute nap) or hang with my family. Frontloading chores lets me have long, unstructured afternoon hours, which feels like a vacation.

  1. Go to bed, dummy!

This one is the most important — find a bedtime that works for you and stick to it. The “dummy” in the tip above is me. At least twice a month, I find myself scrolling, scrolling, scrolling on my phone way past my bedtime. There is no reason to do this — I’m not learning anything and I’m certainly not really enjoying myself. It’s just mindless distraction that ensures that I’ll be tired tomorrow.

I turn the lights out around 9:30 every night. Hopefully, I read for like 45 minutes first. It’s true what they say about books before bed — even the most intense and stressful thriller of a novel winds me down for sleep better than iPhone time.


Sometimes, this early bedtime doesn’t happen. Sometimes, there’s a great T.V. show on (um, Bachelor in Paradise), and I don’t go to bed until 10. Sometimes, I’m out with friends on a weeknight, and I don’t make it to bed until even later. I brush it off and get back to my schedule the next day.

While these are my habits, I am sure as hell not perfect. The Wednesday morning after my monthly book club (and the wine and cheese that goes with our discussion), I will often go back to sleep after G leaves for work. And that’s okay.

What’s not okay is allowing one day of sleeping in to backslide into a whole week of it. Because that leads to lunches purchased in the cafeteria, skipped workouts, and no time to write.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of giving up on a habit because you screwed up once, but — MAJOR KEY ALERT 🔑 — if you *start from scratch each day* that trap can be dodged. Yesterday sucked? Fine. Today will be better.

I know the saying is “the road to hell is littered with good intentions,” and I do think that’s true, to a point. A plan with no follow through is worthless. But a positive habit that you keep 85% of the time is worth a lot. Even if you do hit that snooze button from time to time.

What time do you get up? How many cups of coffee do you drink? How many times do you press snooze? 

If you’re a night owl, teach me your ways. 

Summer Meal Plan // 3

I missed out on my normal weekend grocery shopping and meal prep this week, since we were out  of town until past my bedtime on Sunday. I felt off-balance all week because of it, but I made it through. Barely.

Saturday and Sunday: Junk, junk, and more junk in Breckenridge! My friend Nichole and I tag-teamed a homemade dinner Saturday evening, though: baked salmon and trout, balsamic sauteed Brussels sprouts, and a risotto with white wine, garlic, and onions. I didn’t use a recipe for the risotto, just stirred my little heart out until it was creamy and delicious. Let me know in the comments if you want the basic proportions and method I used.

Monday: I went grocery shopping after work since we got home so late on Sunday. Hot tip: I made the grocery list before we left for our trip. #lifesaver

After the store, I made Chicken Tinga Tacos from How Sweet It Is. So much flavor and so quick. I served the chicken in blackened corn tortillas with mashed avocado and pico de gallo (with garden tomatoes!). On the side, we had seared bell peppers and canned refried beans. I didn’t use a recipe for the pico, per say, but The Pioneer Woman’s recipe is a great one to learn the ingredient proportions. (Holy vintage Pioneer Woman photos, guys.)

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Our favorite daal with sweet potatoes and green peas. I use this yummy recipe, but sub 2 cups of the water for a can of full-fat coconut milk. YES, full-fat. It’s worth it. We had quinoa and watermelon on the side. And, no, daal is not pretty, but it gets the job done.


Thursday: Leftovers again! I went to a happy hour after work with the goal of not ordering any food. I would like to report that I was successful — but I did make a quesadilla when I got home. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Breakfasts: Lots of Ezekiel cinnamon raisin toast with nut butter and green smoothies. I did make eggs for myself once or twice (and served them on an Ezekiel English muffin with leftover tomato sauce from the chicken tinga. *party horn emoji*).

I made extra quinoa Wednesday night, so G and I both had breakfast quinoa Thursday morning. There are several ways to make this, and I definitely took a shortcut: adding cashew milk, mashed banana, nut butter, and fruit, then stirring and microwaving. Like oatmeal, but more protein.

Lunches: The regular: salads with leftover protein for me, dinner leftovers for Grant.

See you next week for a better-planned meal plan! I considered not posting this week’s, since it was so sparse. But I think it could be helpful to see what a week with less planning and less prep work looks like — we still ate well, but with a little more weeknight stress for me.

If you need more seasonal meal inspo, check out other summer meal plans here and here.

summer meal plan 3