My elimination diet experiment

Four weeks ago, I set out on an adventure to live life gluten- and dairy-free. After a challenging 7 months of ups, downs, and life transitions, I had not been feeling my healthiest. I wasn’t ready to commit to a full Whole 30, but I felt these were 2 things I could reduce, if not fully eliminate, from my diet. After all, my endocrinologist suspects my thyroid disease could be Hashimoto’s aka autoimmune … and a gluten/dairy/soy free lifestyle support health in AI cases. (I’m generally soy free most of the time except the occasional soy sauce with sushi.)

At the same time, I stepped up my fitness. I took 13 Jazzercise classes, practiced yoga 3 times, and completed 2 sessions of a women’s health yoga workshop. I also did bonus activity by joining a second line in my neighborhood and logged about 21,000 steps that day!

My results:

  • Lost 3.7 lbs (at one point in the month I was down 5.5 lbs!)
  • Lost 5.25 inches (most notably, 2 inches from my abs and 1.25 from my hips)

Here’s what I discovered on my four-week journey:

It’s easier to be gluten-free than dairy-free. Particularly when eating out, I found it much easier to find gluten-free friendly options not requiring additional modification, but often would need to ask for cheese to be skipped. CHEESE. IS. ON. EVERYTHING. I never realized that before this experiment.

As for gluten-free choices, I started first by focusing on lean proteins, fruits, and veggies. It was only later in the challenge that I allowed myself first quinoa and sweet potatoes, and then rice and white potatoes. I think if I keep going most of the time on gluten-free, I’ll probably limit rice and white potatoes where I can. I didn’t always feel my best after having them.


I don’t want to give the dairy-free life a total bad rap though. I found I really like almond and coconut milk creamers; I feel this is a substitute I can keep in my life. I also found going dairy-free made it easy to avoid added butter, when it was presented to me.

Catered events are generally a nightmare. First, there is no way to know HOW the foods were prepared. Many times, butter is involved, so that kills the dairy-free plan. Second, I never noticed how many catered event options were gluten- and dairy-heavy until I chose to avoid them. Cheese and crackers. Pasta. Sandwiches. I attended a gala in this time frame, and had some gumbo from the buffet, even though the roux was made with white flour because there weren’t many more options for me on the menu. There were also a few bites of fried items during the month, which likely also were violations.

I did find I had more fruit during this time period than I normally do at such functions. And one breakfast meeting had Kind Bars along with the muffins. I did find in week 3 a few times where I did slip a half and half tub into coffee at such functions; I am just not a person to drink black coffee. But I normally would use two, so that was progress.

Meal planning is critical. One of the weeks, I had lunch meetings/events almost every day of the week, so I chose to skip grocery shopping and just stop to buy salads at various outlets each night. While I may have spent close to what I did for a week of groceries, it was a little exhausting to take on each night, and that didn’t really leave me snacks for the week. Snacks are important on this adventure! I really came to love popcorn and fruit.

The weeks that I spent the weekend prepping meals for leftovers, it was super easy to stick to the plan and avoid the temptation of eating out and possibly veering off plan. My lesson learned is to stay healthy, I need to plan nearly all my meals each week.

Adding exercise makes a difference. It was serendipity that at the same time I started this challenge, a Jazzercise challenge started. The goal is 40 classes between June 1-July 31. I set a goal to do half this month. I achieved 13 classes so far. While short of my goal, that is one of my most active months this year in class, and I think it’s where the inches lost came from.

I also signed up for a yoga studio membership at the end of May, so adding this to my workout schedule offered balance during times of stress and kept me from emotional eating. I noticed a few times where I craved carbs (evidently, I find po boys healing!) but I was able to stay on plan and avoid the temptation.

Abstaining makes treats worth it. I had breakfast tacos, queso, and fajitas today, and it was AMAZING. And, I’m also totally okay with not having those things again for a while! The gains I’ve made in how much better I feel are worth the tradeoff. I do think I’ll spend the next month experimenting with small quantities of dairy, such as butter on a baked sweet potato, or light cheese on a gluten-free pizza. At some point, I’m going to want that po boy, and when I have it, I’m going to savor it and then save the next one to be another treat.


Emptying yourself and balancing energy

It’s been a rough six weeks personally. Major things have happened in life, either one after another, or overlapping. Family (especially sweet Ava’s surgery and recovery), Pretty Momma Honda, the apartment…almost no stone has been left unturned, except maybe the awesome health news I received that another thyroid module resolved, and I’m making progress on my gum health (which is important as it is linked to heart disease). For someone who tries to find the positive in everything, it’s been fairly trying.

So it’s fitting that something the Archbishop said during the ordination Mass last Saturday has stuck with me. He encouraged the ordinands to empty themselves so God may fill them with the Holy Spirit (paraphrasing here as I don’t recall the exact words). As I continue to develop my spiritual health, this was a reminder to keep giving it over to Jesus…to empty myself of worry and doubt and let Him fill me with what was meant to be in my life at this time.

And this also brought me back to a heightened awareness of energy. A friend shared this article a few months back about masculine/feminine energy in our lives. You have to get past it being posted on a dating site, but it is some awesome advice, especially if you are a Type A like me … a doer and achiever. Basically, when we feel WIPED out, it is because we are spending too much time on that achiever end of the scale, and not as much on the creative side.

The more I work to include creativity, movement, and fun opportunities in my life, the more painfully aware I have become that my two sides often battle! But I’m glad I’m making space for the other side. I loved to craft and dance as a kid, and putting these and other things like regular yoga practice into my world have made me feel more whole lately. They even gave me the confidence to work on my nutrition this month … and after a week of being gluten and dairy free, I’m down a good 3 lbs! (Again it’s balance. I’m not giving up po boys forever, but I can see doing this for weeks at a time to balance out the amazing life and food we have access to here in New Orleans.)

What do you do to balance your energies? How do you empty yourself out so you can be filled by good?

Find moments for joy

It would have been easy to let today be “one of those Mondays”…first day after springing forward (never easy for night owls!), first full week at work after Mardi Gras, nine days out from first big event at the new gig. If you’ve ever managed an event, you know there’s many details that pop up as you approach the day, which takes time away from other duties. It’s a fine juggling act, to say the least.

But even in moments of high activity, we can pause and find joy both for ourselves and others. At lunchtime, I took a break to walk to a nearby sandwich shop. As I walked in, Journey’s “Separate Ways” was playing…one of my all-time favorites from them. It sparks good memories for me, and the wonderfully cheesy video was filmed right here in New Orleans more than 30 years ago (yikes, that’s been a while!).

So when I heard the staff behind the counter discussing how it was also someone’s favorite, I had to ask if they knew about the NOLA tie. They did not! So I happily told them about it and encouraged them to Google to get the full story behind the video.

It was the smallest moment, but one which sparked joy for several people at once. So the next time you have a day that’s busy, stressful, or not going how you hoped, I challenge you to look for a spark of joy. You never know what it can do for you or someone else!

Starting the journey back to healthy with self-care

It’s been a good 18 months since I’ve posted here. Much has happened in my life since then! Ava and I are now NOLA girls (though I’ll always be a Houdat at heart since most of my life has been spent in Houston). It’s been great to be in a city where living life to the fullest is a value, but jumping from one fundraising capital campaign to another, and everything that goes along with a major life change, have been rough on my health routine.

The facts: I’m at my highest weight ever, and my measurements are up there, too. Nearly 10 of those pounds have been since I moved here, but honestly, it’s been a steady climb the last 3 years with about 30 new pounds (middle age is cruel!). It’s to the point where I don’t feel the same in my body, or my clothes, and that needs to do a 180.

So that’s why I’m here, because the first step is to realize a challenge, and the next is to ask for help. Friends, I’m asking for your support as I make the baby steps back to the healthier me.

Today’s baby step was to focus on self-care. I read somewhere recently about “self-care Sundays”…and with today being the first day without plans in 10+ days, I went for it. I slept in, and took a nap! I’ve been hydrating, because I’ve been horrible about that lately. I used two of my favorite Beautycounter products: my sugar scrub and plumping facial mask. And of course, Ava was by my side all day.

My goal will be to add good habits back in over this next week, so I can enjoy fun days like Jazz Fest without guilt. My focuses:

  • 7+ hours of sleep a night
  • Activity every day…I plan to start with 30 mins and increase from there
  • Clean eating: smoothies for breakfast, lean proteins, fruits and veggies for other meals and snacks, at least 64 oz of water

It sounds simple, but I know it will take mindfulness. And encouragement. Feel free to join me in this adventure, or simply encourage me to do the best I can. I’m especially interested to learn what health hacks work for you, especially those of you who also travel or are in jobs where there’s often entertaining involved (and no input on menu offerings).

Beautycounter Morning/Night Routine Review

Thanks Liz for testing out the Nourishing Line! 🙂

Liz Lauers

Did you read my last post about safer beauty awareness?

The reason the topic of safer beauty even came up was because of a Beautycounter event I attended that gave me the opportunity to try some products for a few days.

Full disclosure: I have not yet purchased these items because some products I have (though not as good as these) haven’t run out yet; and if you’ve read some of my other posts, you know I like saving, not being wasteful and maximizing when I can. BUT, I will let you know which ones I plan on purchasing. My hope is that this post will give you a glimpse into other products so that you may try for yourself and make your own decision ❤

READ MORE: Better Beauty: Awareness for Safer Products

I tried products from the Nourishing Face Collection and the Face Oils. The steps I followed were…

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Better Beauty: Awareness for Safer Products

Thanks Liz for this great post about the #saferbeauty movement and how you can be involved!

Liz Lauers

Recently there has been a sort of craze over being more natural. You’ve probably seen biodegradable, homemade or the all-natural products out there to use in your everyday life. There’s even a craze over paleo diets. All of this is amazing! Not going to lie and say that I don’t use Windex, or eat the occasional frozen pizza, but I like being as natural as possible. I want to improve my well-being; and being more natural in the products I use is a great way to start. Not only is it safer for me, it’s safe for the environment.

But while we tend to focus on the better (read: organic) foods and finding alternatives for harsh cleaning chemicals, we forget about what we are putting on our skin. We forget about the stuff that we are directly applying to our legs, arms, face, which penetrates into our system. I mean…

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Cooking with Chef’d 

First up on my food delivery service trials was Chef’d. I chose this for my first one because, unlike the other services, they do not require a subscription. There’s an a la carte option, so this what I chose. Shipping is free on orders $40+, so I picked a meal for 4 to get the free shipping. I figured this was a lot like my usual week’s cooking where I cook once and eat the same thing 4-6 times.

I placed my order on a Sunday, and 3 days later, my box arrived:

I picked Verde Chicken and Calabacitas with Creme and Spinach Garlic Rice. Here’s what was in the box:

The meal was pretty tasty, and I came away from the experience with a recipe and technique for tomatillo salsa. But, it took 90 minutes, twice the 45 promised. They were off on the sizes of pans needed (no way do a dozen tomatillos fit in a medium saucepan). Some of the directions were a little confusing. And, they don’t have as great of promos to start as the others (you get $10 off the first order for registering for email newsletters).

The food was restaurant quality, and I got 5 servings out of it, which dropped it down to $7-9 per meal (with/without promo).

Delivery days: Weds/Thurs/Fri options

Cost: $45 for 4 servings ($35 with my promo); varies based on meals selected. Subscription option available.

Nutrition: not listed

Delving into home food delivery

I feel like I’m busier than ever, and I think my scale and pocketbook are showing it. So when I heard about the concept of food delivery services, I figured it was worth looking into.

The concept: ingredients for meals are shipped straight to your door. No dealing with the grocery store, so that saves time. Only what you need is sent, so that saves food waste.

The catch of course is as a single gal, I need to be sure it is weeks I would eat 6 home cooked meals, as most services are a minimum 3 meals for 2 people. But…that’s at least more variety than me making one mega meal and eating it 6 times.

Noticing that many services have deep discounts (up to a week free) for trying them, I figured this could save me some big money upfront, and maybe some savings if I stick with any of them (with meals averaging around $10 a serving, it’s more than scratch cooking but less than eating out).

So starting in mid-July, I began my trials. I’ll post individual blogs on each as I go along but here’s the services I’m trying (along with referral links if you’d like to try at a discount!):

#holidaysweat #sweatpink challenge starts today!

sweat pink holiday 2015

Want to stay healthy through the holidays? The #holidaysweat challenge starts today! Each day, we’ll be challenged to be active and eat as many freggies (fruits and veggies) possible.  The fine folks at will send prompts and ideas each day (so go sign up!). I’ll be sharing them here too. Here’s a sneak peek at week 1!

Use these prompts to get you going each day! Share your reponse anywhere and everywhere: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, your blog… at home!

Monday, November 9: What’s your minutes goal this week? How will you get there?! #pranastyle @prana #holidaysweat @runtothefinish @fitapproach #sweatpink

Tuesday, November 10: Show us your sweaty style! What’s your favorite workout outfit or gear? #pranastyle @prana #holidaysweat @runtothefinish @fitapproach #sweatpink

Wednesday, November 11: Show us how you take your workout outside when it’s cold (or even snowing!) #pranastyle @prana #holidaysweat @runtothefinish @fitapproach #sweatpink

Thursday, November 12: Squats? Pushups? Planks? What’s your favorite strengthening move? #pranastyle @prana #holidaysweat @runtothefinish @fitapproach #sweatpink

Friday, November 13: FREE FRIDAY! Show us what you’re up to today… sweating, eating, cooking, you name it! #pranastyle @prana #holidaysweat @runtothefinish @fitapproach #sweatpink