Check me out in People Magazine!

People...I'm in PEOPLE! It's still kind of unbelievable to me and it all happened so fast. An editor reached out to me via email just a couple of months ago. She asked me if I wanted to be featured in a segment about chefs who have lost weight in their annual Half Their Size issue. 

I said, "HELL YES!" Duh.

She interviewed me, I sent some photos, and then I kind of got lost in the holidaze. Until one of my clients called me (hi Kerry) on January 12 basically screaming in the phone that she had just gotten home and opened up her People magazine subscription to see ME. She was so excited. It was adorable. I had no idea the magazine was already out! 

 Admiring...MYSELF! Check me out on page 82 in the January 23, 2017 issue.

Admiring...MYSELF! Check me out on page 82 in the January 23, 2017 issue.

The thing about this that I am most proud of is that I'm the only woman featured...AND the only person of color. The food industry is, like many other industries, dominated by white men. However, that doesn't stop me. I hire women, I service (predominately) women, and I make it well known that my business is owned by a PROUD, Black, queer woman. 

This experience and the exposure that's come with it are invaluable to me. I am grateful for all the new customers, fans, followers, and people who have been reaching out from around the world to let me know how inspirational I am.

Stay tuned, cos I'm not done yet!

I think you can still find this issue on the racks now so go grab one! Love you all! 

Cookie Dough Protein Balls

Prep Time: 15 minutes       Chill Time: 12 hours      Yield: 8 balls

1 ball= 130 cal (9g P, 5g netC, 9g F)

 

WHOA. First of all, I haven't written a blog in over 2 months! How did THAT happen? I apologize...as I'm certain you've missed me! ;) 

So, my awesome friend and WOD buddy Lexi gave me some protein balls recently that I was skeptical to try. It's rather unusual for me to eat balls so you can imagine my hesitation. Plus, I'm just not a fan of "proteiny" things that aren't usually proteiny. I mean, I'm sorry but there is NO substitution for a warm, ooey, gooey chocolate chip cookie! A REAL cookie. And don't ruin my Sunday brunch with some nasty, dry, dense protein pancakes! Anywho...the original recipe for these came from Goddess knows where, but it doesn't matter because this is my version anyways! Enjoy! 

WAIT! Here are some important tips and advice to consider:

  1. The caloric and macro outcome for your balls will vary depending on the brand and type of ingredient you use.

  2. Use a protein powder that tastes GOOD on it's own to you. Like, you could make a smoothie using it with just water and ice and you'd enjoy it. I think this is KEY!

  3. There are obviously a million and 1 variations you could play with for this. Vanilla powder, peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, coconut, etc...to infinity.

 

 

WHAT YOU NEED

  1. 92g plant-based chocolate protein powder

  2. 30g dark chocolate chips

  3. 12g coconut flour

  4. 96g crunchy almond butter

  5. 1-2 tsp cinnamon (to taste)

  6. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  7. several tbs water

    • kitchen scale

    • mixer

    • container

 

WHAT TO DO

  1. Add ingredients 1-5 to your mixer bowl and mix on low speed until somewhat combined, about 1 minute. There will be loose powder, it's OK!

  2. While mixer is still running, add vanilla extract and water 1 tbs at a time until uniformly combined. I use 5 tbs.

  3. Now, if you want to be exact or you have OCD like me, you can weigh the dough and divide the weight by however many balls you want to make. This recipe makes 8 larger balls but you could make 12, 16, etc.

  4. Divide the dough up and smash together in your hands before rolling into balls using your palms.

  5. You could eat them now, or you can allow them to chill and harden a little in your fridge or freezer. It's up to you!

  6. Store leftover balls in a ziplock bag or airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

 

Why I Chose to Keep My Loose Skin

So there's this one time, and I can't believe I haven't shared this with you already, that I decided I was going to have a tummy tuck. It was just a couple of years ago, but it's something I've thought A LOT about over the past 5 years or so. Blogging about my most personal experiences, dilemmas, challenges, and achievements helps me sort through my own feelings and ride them out with raw honesty and an open-mind. I tell you this story for myself; and hope that is resonates with at least one other person.

I should probably back up and tell you why this all came back to me. I happen to have a very large and passionate interest in human sexuality (and everything about people and the human body that we don't get to learn enough about in school). So, I read a lot of research papers, articles, blogs, etc and I watch a lot of documentaries. About a week ago, I watched a documentary about the shame and secrecy behind intersex births called Intersexion, which I highly recommend. I was fascinated by the stories I heard and felt that I could relate to many of these individuals. Often they used words like "wrong" and "disgusting" when they talked about how others viewed their bodies. The narrator mentioned that when an intersex child is birthed, the standard procedure is to "fix it, shame it, and hide it." That is exactly how I used to (and sometimes, but very rarely, still do) feel about my own body. But, in order for that to be the proper procedure, it would mean something would have to be WRONG in the first place. And there is nothing wrong with my body. 

I've gone back and forth with wanting the surgery, then not wanting it, thinking it was an absolute must, to thinking it was the worse idea in the world. I've felt excited, scared, guilty, ashamed, happy, relieved, anxious, angry, wrong, and happy about the idea of not having loose skin on my body. Yeah, ALL of those feelings. But the one thing I never felt was RIGHT...it just never felt right. 

But, that one time, when it was feeling like a really good decision, I got as close as scheduling a consultation with a plastic surgeon. Mind you, I've done a lot of research about this procedure (get the gist yourself here.) And, I've researched doctors like crazy too. I've watched videos, read blogs and visited forums all about the joys of having a flat, tight, tummy. And, I wanted that joy. Even though the thought of voluntarily and surgically removing a section of my body made me ill. 

So, I submitted my info online for a consultation with a surgeon in Alameda. Within a few hours, I got a call from his office and the person on the other end wanted to confirm my appointment with me. She proceeded to tell me about the procedure from consultation to recovery and even though I already knew EVERYTHING she was talking about, when it was discussed within the context of ME, I suddenly freaked the fuck out. I kept thinking, "What the hell are you doing? This isn't what you want!" But then I argued with myself as she continued with the timeline of events..."Oh you're just being cheap, you do want this, you just don't want to pay for it! Imagine what you'll look like when it's done and you're all healed up, it's a small price to pay! Wait, what the hell?! You're seriously OPTING in to having someone put you under and cut into your body for no good reason? You're not ill, you're not trying to prevent illness, this is totally ridiculous!" 

So, I thanked her for her time, apologized, and asked her to cancel my appointment. I just could not imagine myself going through with it. I didn't want to pay $6,000, that is certainly true. But I also didn't want to be put under. I didn't want to not be able to stand fully upright for weeks. I didn't want to be in pain. I didn't want a fake belly button. I didn't want to put my life on hold. Not for the sake of vanity, at least. And it was then that I realized that having this procedure would go against everything I believed in about myself, my life, and my body. It would go against everything I teach others and work so hard to help them believe. But you know what, that's not even what mattered most to me. I give myself permission to change my mind, to change what I believe, to challenge myself in different ways, to do things I wouldn't normally do, to be different versions of myself. I do. I think that's what makes me the person I am, a self-loving mystical beast. I know no limits when it comes to personal growth and change. I'm all about it. What mattered most to me was that it just. never. felt. right

And so, after all of that was said and done, that's the only conclusion I could come to that made sense to me. And it helped me understand why so many others opt to have these procedures done. Because it felt right for them. Cosmetic surgery is such a personal thing. There truly is no right or wrong answer. It's a means to an end and some of us use it, while others do not. I chose not to. Will I change my mind later and decide to go for it? It's highly unlikely but I guess it's possible...

But for now I am super glad I decided not to do it. Since that day, I've literally changed and shaped my body in ways I never thought possible (see photo timeline below). And it feels amazing to know that all I used was my own power, heart, determination, and commitment. I feel like my body reflects who I am on the inside, and never in my life was I able to say that until now. I'm strong, nonconforming, present, and beautiful both inside and out...naked and clothed. And THAT, feels right!  

P.S. I used to think of my loose skin and stretch marks as sort of "battle wounds" of the body...little snippets of physical evidence of my journey. But, what's funny is that the more comfortable I get with my new body, and the more I accept it as perfect and beautiful exactly how it is, the less I differentiate each part. I am WHOLE, no longer broken. 

 

That One Time I Exceeded My Own Expectations

Actually, I'd be lying if I said that this has only happened to me once. I blow myself away on a regular basis. Dare I even say it happens everyday? Yup, sure does! It's because I have a ton of love and respect for myself. And I take a moment everyday to check in on my badassery and acknowledge myself on the inside and out.

That's usually when "it" happens.

Some days it's as simple as, "Wow, I can't believe I got up and made shit happen at 7am!" or "Damn, I just cooked an insane amount of food in just a few hours!" Other times it's more monumental..."Did I really just toss that cookie simply because I didn't like it and felt not even a smidge of pressure to eat it all?" or "Are you fucking kidding me, I'm at 15% body fat?"

That last one happened two weeks ago, and I'm still a little shocked about it. 

I've never had my body fat measured via hydrostatic testing before. This is also known as a "dunk tank." The last time I had my body fat measured with any accuracy at all was when I was a teenager and it was also the first time I had ever had my body fat measured. I had no idea why it was important or what the numbers meant. I just knew my results (45%) and what the technician told me (you're morbidly obese). Devastation, guilt, and shame set over me and I carried it with me every where I went. 

Am I killing myself? How much bigger am I going to get? What happens now? What am I supposed to do? How did I let this happen? Why did I let this happen?

The only answers I ever seemed to get led me to extremely low-calorie diets, a deep sense of self-hatred, and a neverending cycle of binging and purging. It was the darkest and loneliest time of my life. 

My weight has been a topic of discussion, an issue, a THING for nearly my entire life. I was almost 10lb when I was born...so I've been big since Day 1. From a big baby, to a chubby girl, to a pretty face, to nobody. People seem to get uncomfortable around fat people. Especially fat adults. Because if you're a fat kid, it's not your fault. But if you're a fat adult, you're lazy and pathetic. Even though I was fat, I used to compare myself to other fat bodies and wonder if I looked as grotesque or disgusting. I always came to the same conclusion...no. What I saw and thought never had anything to do with the person I was looking at or thinking about, it had everything to do with me. I felt ugly. My body seemed grotesque. I was disgusting. But deeming others worse off than me made me feel better. I was a bully.

Fast forward to 2006 when I left the country for 14 months and was officially reborn. It took me that entire time away to realize who I was, what I wanted for myself and my life, and why I had become the person I was. A person I was desperate to love and accept. I felt my potential exploding within me and I wanted so bad to let it out. When I finally did, my whole world changed. And it wasn't until that moment, when I just let go and embraced me in my entirety, that I became the person I had always wanted to be. 

When I returned home in late 2007, I was finally ready to reveal my true self to the world. Between now and then I graduated from college, paid off all my student loans and other debts, rekindled some precious relationships within my blood family, came out to my family as a gay woman, got certified as a personal trainer, then as a fitness nutrition specialist, then as a health coach, traveled to 3 different continents and explored more countries than I can list, met the love of my life, moved in with the love of my life, proposed to the love of my life (she said yes), adopted two furry kids, started a business, and have been financially self-sustaining and independent for two full years now. None of any of that would have been possible without my own self-love and acceptance. 

So where does the weightloss come in? Notice I didn't mention that in my grand list of achievements. Why not? Because my weightloss was a byproduct. As a result of me embracing myself in my entirety, I made my health my number one priority. And then, I defined what it meant to be healthy. It was easy for me to do that once I stopped listening to others. Health = happiness. Simple as that. What makes me happy is being outside, helping others, exploring, cooking, eating, traveling, dancing, animals, good people, and love. So, I just cranked up the volume on all of those things and left everything else in the dust. Consequently, I lost 140 lb. But because I stopped focusing on the numbers, how hard I was working, how often I was exercising, how long I was on the treadmill, etc., the weight came off of me like a snakeskin. Slow, bit-by-bit, and revealing a brighter version of the same person underneath. 

I stopped weighing myself, I stopped caring about carbs and sugar, I stopped worrying about calories, I stopped restricting foods from my diet. I ate what I want, when I wanted, and however much I wanted. Nothing was off limits. Nothing was a "bad" choice. I wanted to be free of my abusive relationship with food and that's how I did it. 

And that's why I, again, exceeded my own expectations two weeks ago. I had no idea just how hard I've been working, how strong I've gotten, how much muscle I've built, how much body fat I've lost. No idea because I'm happy as hell about everything in my life, therefore I know I'm healthy! So, fuck numbers and scales! That's not how I measure my success. But, it's an amazing feeling to know what I was/am capable of and to see the physical transformation I've made. Ready to see my results? :) 

 About to go in! We went with  Fitness Wave  for their mobile testing service and they were AMAZING! Highly recommend them. 

About to go in! We went with Fitness Wave for their mobile testing service and they were AMAZING! Highly recommend them. 

 Getting my resting metabolic rate analyzed. Apparently, I have a faster than average metabolism, SWEET! P.S. Breathing through your mouth for 10 minutes, into a tube, while your nose is plugged, is seriously difficult!

Getting my resting metabolic rate analyzed. Apparently, I have a faster than average metabolism, SWEET! P.S. Breathing through your mouth for 10 minutes, into a tube, while your nose is plugged, is seriously difficult!

 Getting weighed, something I stopped doing regularly a long time ago. 168 lbs. A meaningless number to me. 

Getting weighed, something I stopped doing regularly a long time ago. 168 lbs. A meaningless number to me. 

 I'm going in! The water was warm thank god! 

I'm going in! The water was warm thank god! 

 Getting prepared to submerge myself under water and have my water weight measured. 

Getting prepared to submerge myself under water and have my water weight measured. 

 Aeron (dude on my left)  told me that I sink like a stone in the water...which is an indication of someone who has lost a lot of weight and has a low bodyfat percentage. 

Aeron (dude on my left)  told me that I sink like a stone in the water...which is an indication of someone who has lost a lot of weight and has a low bodyfat percentage. 

And now, the numbers:

  • Previous weight: 300+ lb 
  • Current weight: 168lb
  • Previous body fat: 135lb or 45%
  • Current body fat: 26lb or 15.9%

Before the test, Aeron asked me what my body fat goal was. I promised the participants of my current 90-Day Program that I would join them on their journey every step of the way, so I knew I had to have a goal to work towards just as they do. So, I just threw out a random number that I felt was attainable in that time frame given a lot of hard work...

My answer: "20%" 

How to: Perfect Spaghetti Squash Noodles (Squoodles)

EVERY time I post a photo of spaghetti squash noodles, I get a ton of messages about how I get them to be so PERFECT. Why...thank you! They are indeed perfect. In fact, I haven't made a "bad" batch of squoodles in years! So, because I'm such a nice person, I decided I should share with you all exactly how I make my squoodles. This method may have a few more steps than folks are used to but it's worth it for perfectly al dente squoodles without a pile of mush and a puddle sitting at the bottom of your bowl (you know who you are...)

 

P.S. A quicker alternative to this would be to microwave the squash. Check out my Instagram video on how to do that here

Step 1

Preheat your oven to 450F. Take your spaghetti squash and poke it multiple times all over with a fork. Then, place it on a baking sheet.

Step 2

Bake your squash for 20-60 minutes (depending on size) or until a fork can be pierced through the skin into the flesh with just a bit of force. You do not want it to slip in easily, the squash should still be a little firm! 

Step 3

Wearing gloves or using a hand towel, transfer your squash to a paper towel lined surface. Cut it in half widthwise, and use a large metal spoon or fork to scoop out the inside seeds and soft inner flesh.

Step 4

Using that same fork or spoon, scoop out the entire contents of each half by running your utensil along the underside of the skin from the top edge, down to the bottom. Then, use your hands to break apart the intact squoodles and spread them out over the paper towels. This will prevent them from cooking any further and will allow the moisture to steam off. Excess heat and moisture are the main culprits for overcooked squash! 

Step 5

Enjoy! I love to toss them in olive oil and fresh chopped basil or add your favorite pasta sauce like pesto or tomato. If you are not planning on using your squoodles right way, allow them to cool COMPLETELY before transferring them to a container for the fridge. 

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