Looking Back at My First Whole30

Last fall, I became a believer in Whole30. I’m talking “Omg, why didn’t I do this sooner” kind of believer. I made the decision to do Whole30 after my manager started sharing some of the benefits that she’d been seeing since starting it. As she rattled off things like less headaches, less bloating, better sleep, and looser fitting clothes, I became even more intrigued. But, the true kicker was when she told me that Whole30 isn’t a diet. Say what? However, it’s true.

Whole30 is about restarting your metabolism by saying no to sugar (real or artificial), legumes, dairy, alcohol, and grains. Wondering what’s left? Ha! I remember asking that question myself. You can eat all of the whole foods that your heart (and stomach) desires. So, that includes meat, seafood, fruits, veggies, and eggs.

Thirty days seemed like a long time but it also felt doable. So, I made a Pinterest board, a meal plan, and grocery list and got ready to set out on this life-changing journey. The first two days were very hard on me. I spent the day before I started eating pancakes and apple cider doughnuts, so I expected some sort of “carb flu,” but nothing like what I got. On day one, I was shivering at my desk with a headache. On day two, I had a headache ALL day and felt like I was in a fog. However, things got better and by the end of the week, I was so proud of myself for successfully eliminating all sugar and carb cravings. My energy was bouncing back and I was starting to feel great.

Over the 30 days, I had some up and downs but I was able to maintain the program in spite of birthday parties, brunches, and a busy work schedule. However, I will tell you that planning is the major key to a successful Whole30. It is incredibly hard to be impulsive during this program. You need to have a game plan. And, when Plan A falls through, be ready with Plan B. For me, that included always keeping a sandwich bag of almonds and dried fruit in my purse and a couple of Larabars in my car. Those bars were a life-saver during the thirty days. Here are some other staples that I kept in my kitchen and tips that I rounded up during my first try.

My Go-To Products

  • Trader Joe’s Olive Oil and Lemon Juice
  • Pederson Farms Bacon
  • Tessamae’s Cracked Pepper Salad Dressing
  • Trader Joe’s Clarified Butter (Ghee)
  • McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • Old Bay Seafood Seasoning

My Go-To Recipes (Meaning they appeared on my meal plan at least twice)

  • Jerk chicken wings and sautéed cabbage
  • Chicken fajitas with guacamole and pico de gallo in lettuce wraps
  • Mini egg frittatas with veggies
  • Balsamic pot roast with carrots and red potatoes
  • Blackened salmon and mashed sweet potatoes

Biggest Adjustment: It’s a tie between eating eggs almost everyday and drinking my coffee black.

Greatest Result: I lost 13 pounds during Whole30 which was a major accomplishment. The weight loss got me back to my pre-baby weight and really boosted my self-confidence. It was great to finally get back into my old clothes without noticeable pudge. Even after Whole 30 ended, I was able to keep off about ten of those pounds.

After the holidays, I planned to go back on Whole30 for the month of January. My sister snagged me the cookbook for Christmas so I could really get it cracking on meal planning. I started my second Whole30 journey on January 9, but pushed pause on January 13. My planning was totally off and I didn’t have the same level of commitment that I had the first time around.

However, I’m restarted on Monday and plan to go at it for the next three weeks. I really do appreciate the discipline and control that I have during the program and the results don’t hurt either. If you are thinking about Whole30, do it! It really does change the way that you interact with food and helps you get a handle on cravings. The goal isn’t to keep you away from sugar, dairy, carbs, etc forever. You can add them back if you choose. The point is that you are more in tuned to what you are putting into your body. That’s a lesson that any of us could stand to learn.

If you want to learn more, check out the official website here.

Have you tried Whole30? What did you think? If you are thinking about trying it, what questions do you have?

Whole30 Recap


On Your 1st Birthday


Dear Caleb,

Today is your 1st birthday. I hope and pray that this is just the first of many celebrations in your honor. This past year, you have taught me how to love, how to be patient, how to care, how to pray, and how to truly smile from my heart. You are the sweetest baby that I have ever met and I am not just saying this because you are mine. Your spirit and energy lights up any room that you are in. Your eyes remind me that God is real and so is a mother’s love.

The fact that you were born on World AIDS Day was by divine design. I know that you will be a God-fearing young man who thinks globally, acts locally, and always cares about improving your community.

I thank God for you everyday but, on today, I feel especially blessed to be your mother. It has been my honor to watch you grow and continuing on this journey as long as God allows.

Happy birthday, baby boy.

Mama loves you.


Monday Motivation: Sticking with a Gym Routine

About three months ago, I walked into the fitness center at work, reactivated my membership, and started on a journey to a stronger and more confident me. Over the past few months, I’ve seen awesome weeks where I have gotten in five workouts and then I’ve had not-so-great weeks where I’ve clocked zero sweat sessions.

However, I never stopped. When I went in for my 90 day check-in last week, I was super happy to see that I was making progress. My body fat has dropped by seven percentage points and I lost fat and gained muscle. The overall number on the scale hasn’t changed but I’m stronger, getting leaner, and my capacity for cardio is getting better.


With no travel on my schedule until December, I’m looking forward to consistently getting four 45-minute sessions in every week. I know that I can do it. Heck, I’ve been doing it off and on. It’s just time to be super consistent. These past three months, I’ve been tapping into different tips and mental tricks to keep me on the path to slimming down and dropping these last ten pounds of baby weight.

First up, accountability is key. I track my workouts using my trusted Fitbit. I rely on it to help me monitor my diet, my steps, calories burned and so much more. My current one is falling apart so I’m counting down the days until I get my hands on the Charge 2. Amen for the upgrade! Aside from the Fitbit, I find motivation in the form of my fitness coaches and my husband. My husband is always checking in like, “Did you get to the gym today?” It helps that he is on a similar fitness journey, even though his results are blowing mine away!


Want to know another fun accountability tip? Try rewarding yourself with stickers. Yes, real stickers. Last month, I came across The Happy Planner Fitness Planner Stickers during a trip to Michael’s and have been hooked ever since. The stickers are a mixture of inspiration (“Strong is the new sexy”), goal-setting, and tracking. I usually place a gold star on workout days. It is so simple but it gets me hype!

Also, I buy cute workout gear and I keep my gym bag packed. At the beginning of the week, I place three workout outfits in my gym bag along with all of the other supplies that I will need. I leave the bag in my locker during the week and just bring home the dirty clothes each day. This helps me cut down on having to pack and repack a bag daily. I don’t get to wear all of the cute workout clothes to my work gym because I’m self-conscious about wearing sleeveless tanks and mesh leggings amongst colleagues. I like to save them for group classes, like Soulcycle (my new obsession).


Lastly, I always visualize a strong body and connect each workout to a deeper purpose. If you read this post or follow me on Twitter, then it probably won’t surprise you that Kim Kardashian West is my #BodyGoals inspiration. Since giving birth to Saint, she has dropped over 70 pounds and she looks GOODT. Her VMA look is ingrained into my brain. My goal isn’t to get my body to look exactly like hers but I’m hella inspired by her fitness journey and she pops into my head when I’m tempted to jump off the treadmill 10 minutes early. Beyond my body shape, I also center myself to tap into my mental strength. Mind over matter is very real. During my initial evaluation, my fitness coach asked me to think of a motivational quote to channel during workouts. I chose, “You are stronger than you think.” What’s awesome is that I see these words when I log in to the machines so that I always have a reminder before I get to work.

There’s no magic bullet to the end goal but I feel more prepared for this journey now than I ever have in my life. Do you have any motivational tips that keep you on track with your fitness goals? I’d love to hear them!


Cupcakes and Condoms Is Heading Your Way

cupcakes condoms

Last month, Red Pump announced that we are bringing Cupcakes and Condoms to ten cities this fall. The first stop will be in St. Louis on August 20th and will be hosted by yours truly!

cupcakes condoms STL

For those unfamiliar with Cupcakes and Condoms, it is our sweet spin on an educational townhall. We create a safe space for women and teen girls to get information about HIV/STIs, hear from a panel of women’s health advocates, and ask plenty of questions. Oh, and yes, there are desserts.

Over the past six years, we have hosted this free event in cities like Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Charlotte, DC, and Birmingham. It is always one of my favorite activities and has such a relaxed vibe.

If you are in St. Louis, you can RSVP here. To learn more about the other tour stops, please check out CupcakesandCondoms.org.

Cupcakes Condoms Tour Red Pump

I hope to see some of you on the road!


Leave These Three Things Out of Your Donation Pile


Everywhere I turn, it feels like there are just piles of stuff in my house. It has always been this way but the addition of baby items has just added to the collection. These piles aren’t unruly but I could stand to create a more organized home. In fact, that was one of the goals that I spelled out on my Powersheets. Over the weekend, I started with the room that I can’t keep organized to save my life: my closet.

My go-to method for clearing the clutter has always been to create three piles for the stuff: keep, donate, or trash. In the past, my “donate” pile has always been bigger than my “trash” pile because I have this thing about throwing away clothes. It has never felt right unless the item was totally destroyed. So that means that I have donated some things that weren’t in mint condition. It’s not something that I have done often, but I’m all about doing better as I get older.

This time around, I made sure to keep these things out of the donation baskets.

Any old college/event/freebie t-shirts – I should be ashamed of the number of t-shirts in my drawers. However, I know that I’m not the only one. Over the years, these have often been the first to go during a wardrobe purge. However, I skipped putting these in the donation pile for now and just trashed them. If you prefer to go a more eco-friendly route, you could always make a t-shirt quilt or use them as rags.

Shoes in less than ideal condition – “Less than ideal” means having damaged heels, worn leather, or stained suede. I’m not going to trash these shoes but decided that I would do my best to get them in better shape before donating. We all know that shoes can make or break an outfit so I want the recipients to feel that magic as soon as they receive a pair from me.

Clothes from the previous season – I’ve always been one to purge my wardrobe at the end of a season which means that I’m donating summer dresses while everyone is preparing for another Chicago winter. Given that most charity thrift stores and shelters have limited storage spaces, many of these locations do not accept items out-of-season. An easy solve for this will be to go through my closets at the beginning of winter or summer so I know that the clothes will be of use at that moment.

Do you have any donation tips that you want to share?



Why Are You #DoingIt? [Video]


Today is National HIV Testing Day. If you are unsure about your HIV status or if you are due for your next screening, there is no time like the present to get tested.

Getting tested for HIV on a regular basis continues to be a priority for me. I talk about in this video shot last year as a part of the CDC’s #DoingIt campaign.

To find a free HIV or STD testing location near you, visit GetTested.CDC.gov and enter your ZIP code.

I’m #DoingIt. Are you?




The Bite-Sized Believer

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6


Faith is an incredibly personal journey and is something that I plan to instill in Caleb. Even with the selection of his name, it was important to me to call him something that had a spiritual connection and could help set the stage for the God-fearing man that I desire him to grow up and be.

As such, I’ve been keeping a running tab of items that combine style with scripture. Here is a round-up of my three favorites.

First Steps


I was introduced to this brand of moccasins after Luvvie sent a pair to Caleb. I loved the style, but really swooned when I saw that the soles showcased Proverbs 22:6. With so many colors, these are the perfect accessory for a cool kid look.



Photo Cred: pintsizefaith

Caleb is too small for the pictured “Jesus Loves Me” tee, but trust that I will be buying one of these classic black and white designs as soon as he is a little bigger. Pintsizefaith was launched by the beautiful blogger behind milk n honee and her husband. She recently wrote about updates to the line and you can read all about it here.

The Talking Shirt

The Talking Shirt Fearfully Made Shirt

Photo Cred: The Talking Shirt

While browsing Zulily, I was introduced to The Talking Shirt and their cute raglan tees. If you head over to their website, you will find this shirt along with several others. Bonus: They have shirts for adult men and women as well!

Honorable mention… Not an apparel line, but a book. God Is Watching Over You“has been in heavy rotation during bedtime for the past two months. It is seriously one of the cutest books from the visuals to the words. I can’t wait until Caleb learns how to read it on his own.

Do you know of any other cool faith-based brands or items for little ones? If so, please share!


Just Keep Swimming

I have been muttering those three words to myself over and over again for the past two weeks.

I have placed so much value on doing things perfectly that I often fail to celebrate the art of just getting something done.

However, I’m in the middle of learning that any forward-moving progress HAS to be celebrated. For many, this is such a “duh” concept but I’m a perfectionist-in-recovery. The fear of not doing something right (whatever the heck that means) would keep me paralyzed with anxiety for days, weeks, or even months. I would rather not do anything then to deal with feelings of imperfection.

Wondering exactly what that looks like? It is hiding from friends because life feels “less than” and I’d rather not sit in a group setting feeling that tension. It is avoiding my Red Pump inbox for days because I knew that I couldn’t accomplish 100% of my key tasks at that moment. It is leaving the 13:13 series unfinished because I realized that I couldn’t complete the challenge in 13 days like I wanted. It is walking away from fitness goals after two days with more eating that exercise.

So, I would stop moving. I would stop doing. I would stop connecting. I’d let the water rise to my eyeballs before “fight or flight” forced me to get busy and make something happen.

The issue is that I was sacrificing results at home, with Red Pump and with several other dream projects and the guilt would consume me. So, I started praying about it and God placed this idea of “progress” in my spirit. No matter how imperfect, messy, or slow I am, what matters is that I keep going and don’t stop.

Just keep swimming.

As Lara Casey wrote in this incredible blog post,

I will not “do it all,” I’ll simply do what God wants me to do every day.

Doing what God wants me to do every day means I have to listen, be open, and always do something to move forward. That is the only way that this works. The. Only. Way.

If you are feeling stuck or stagnate, you gotta get going too. Let’s chop up our big goals into tiny ones and start working towards the greatness that lies ahead.

You ready??? Let’s go!


It’s All About the Lemonade, Baby

When someone brings up the word “lemonade” now, Queen Bey comes to mind. But, long before her album was released, a young girl named Alex started a lemonade stand to help raise money for childhood cancer research. In 2004, Alex passed away after her own battle with cancer, but left behind a legacy and an organization that is doing incredible work for this cause.

GapKids and babyGap have collaborated with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to create a line of tees that give back. When you buy one of these supercute onesies or t-shirt, 100% of the profits will go to the nonprofit.



Why don’t they have these shirts in my size? Hey Gap, can you make this happen? I’ll be waiting patiently…


Give This: Mama’s Morning Survival Kit


One of the things that has made my transition back to work easier is the support of a couple of friends who are in the same boat. Their babies are a few months older than Caleb and so they have been great about warning me what’s next (hello, sleep regression), celebrating small victories with me, and making me laugh with their tales of working motherhood.

While tackling a pretty demanding week recently, I decided that I wanted to send these ladies a little something to let them know how much I appreciate them. This care package is pretty simple but full of three things that working moms love and need.

  1. Words of encouragement
  2. An eye or face mask
  3. COFFEE… Well, a gift card for coffee

Oh yeah, there’s confetti too.

The best thing about this idea is that it is budget-friendly, cute, and personal. If you know anyone who is tackling long nights and early mornings, send this as a reminder that you are thinking of them and help make their day!


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