Today I have Cassidy, from cassidyeats, popping over here to talk about her journey with growing up overweight and how she found her balance with health and whole foods. I’ve been mildly obsessed with her almost from the conception of my Instagram and I’m psyched to share her story here. Make sure you’re following along with her on Instagram to catch her fun(ny) stories and her real life experience of being a 20-something trying to get, and stay, healthy.
I have struggled with my weight my entire life. I always thought, ‘I was meant to be this way’, ‘I’m just not going to ever be classified as ‘skinny’. When I was in 5th grade, not only was I bigger than all of my friends, at 5’9” I also towered over all of the boys. I never wanted anything more than to share clothes with my friends, but instead would cut the tag out of my jeans because I was embarrassed to be the size that I was.
I never felt like I fit in. Even when I was in college living with four other girls, I secretly hated that they looked so good in everything they tried on. I was telling myself I still fit into my size large shorts while in denial that I needed to go up a size.
I was raised on a diet that included Pop-Tarts out the door on the way to school and honey buns in my book bag as a snack. Fast forward, I went to college and did as most college students do. I partied and ate late night burritos. I thought I was being healthy during the week because I was eating frozen Lean Cuisine Pizzas for lunch.
I moved to Italy for a summer and ate my way through Europe. Although I don’t regret one single bite, I realized that my first instinct when looking at photos from the trip was ‘how can I crop this to cut out my body but not ruin the background?’. I hated that I didn’t realize how fast I put on weight and hated even more that I had so much fun doing it. I had the time of my life in college and thought that in order to be thin, I had to sacrifice it all. Was I willing to make this change?
The day I went shopping for some new shorts and NOTHING fit, not a size 10, XL, nothing, I cried.
I cried and felt sorry for myself. Why could all of my friends eat/drink the same exact things as me and not gain a pound? This was the spring of my Junior year, and I realized I had nothing left to lose (literally had all the pounds to lose) so I signed up for Weight Watchers.
I had no idea how it worked, but I was so desperate, I just went for it. The first few months of ‘tracking’ what I ate, I didn’t even weigh myself. I was too nervous that I was trying something that wouldn’t work and it would’ve been a waste of time. That summer, I dropped 35 pounds like I was melting. It was so easy, and I felt so great going back to school in the fall for my senior year. Everyone noticed, everyone said how great I looked, and I wore crop tops.
Me. Crop top.
Giving Whole30 a Try
I did Weight Watchers and lost all that weight, sure, but I was finding every calorie-free, low-fat, fat-free option I could. I still drank multiple Diet Cokes a day. This isn’t healthy?!
I found Whole30 through Instagram and after living in Colorado for a year or so where everyone is conscious about what they put into their bodies, I had finally had it. Although I had put on a little bit more weight since what I had lost in college, I wanted to focus on my health and not my weight for the first time in my life.
I downloaded It Starts With Food, which is one of the Whole30 books, and listened to it on my commute. This book goes a little bit more in depth as to why we give up all of the things for 30 days and explains the science behind it. Within a day or two of listening, I was mad I didn’t do it sooner!
Truthfully? It was so much easier than I had made it out to be in my head. I didn’t track anything (which for once was so freeing) and focused on the kinds of foods I ate in addition to how to build a meal. Before Whole30, I focused on how many Goldfish or Reduced Fat Cheez-its I could have with my food scale to still get my fix.
More importantly, for the first time my skin totally cleared up, I had more energy than I knew possible, and I slept better than I ever had! Why did I make such a big deal out of giving up Diet Coke? It’s only 30 days. You can do anything in 30 days.
Since then, I’ve done three separate rounds of Whole30 and about six months of an all Paleo diet. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning first-hand how food is medicine. When I had these experiences with my body completely changing during rounds of Whole30, my relationship with and perspective of food also totally changed.
I realized that any time I wanted to reward myself = pizza. Any time I wanted to catch up with an old friend? Food. Celebrating a birthday? More food. So much of what we do is tied to food and enjoying it together, so living with my fiancé and not enjoying those weekly pizza nights was an interesting way to switch up our normal routine and find other ways to spend time together. My life was all about food, all the time, and although Weight Watchers helped me feel better and make better portion control decisions, it didn’t help me with my food issues the way Whole30 could. I needed Whole30 like I needed to admit to myself years ago how unhappy I was in my own skin.
Now, I have found an incredible balance utilizing all that I’ve learned through Whole30 and plugging that into Weight Watchers. I’m officially one year out from my wedding day, so I want to lose just a few more pounds and feel like this is the ultimate combo to make it happen. I hardly drink Diet Coke at all (it kind of grosses me out now to be honest), and snack on fresh veggies and fruit if I snack at all. If you’re interested in hearing more about my journey, I’ll answer all of your questions over at cassidyeats.
Are You Thinking About Trying Whole30?
If you’re thinking about trying Whole30, feel like it’s impossible, or even just feeling overwhelmed by all the weight you want to lose.. You are not alone! I’m a normal person who never thought in a million years I’d see a day where my thighs don’t chafe when I wear shorts or dresses. I never thought I’d feel good enough to wear a skin tight body suit out with my friends. I also never thought I’d have to get rid of ALL of my clothes because I was swimming in them.
You deserve to feel like the best version of yourself and whether that’s getting your best sleep, having the clearest skin, or shedding 20 pounds, you deserve it. I won’t lie, it’s extremely difficult to break habits you spent 20+ years building, but when you start putting yourself first the rest just falls into place.
Another thing, take it one day at a time. Focus on how you can make those changes today and today only! It’s easy to idolize those transformation Instagram accounts who post shocking before and after photos, Bailey’s included! Her page is one of the first I go to when feeling unmotivated and ready to dive head first into a pint of ice cream. I also know that she has hard days too!
If this were easy, neither her or I would be here to tell you about it. We all have hard days, and you will too. But knowing we’re all in it together and at least headed in the right direction towards a healthier and happier life is all I need to keep going.
Below you’ll find one of my favorite recipes over the last year. It’s Paleo, but not Whole30 approved because of the tequila and honey. Try it out, let me know what you think!
*note about tequila- while strict Paleo says no alcohol- period, a quality tequila with only 100% agave and no grain alcohol is considered a Paleo alcoholic option.
- 2 large chicken breasts (I butterfly these and make them into 4 thin breasts)
- 1/4 cup tequila
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 3 tablespoons raw honey
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 mango cubed
- 1/2 red onion diced
- Juice of one lemon
- 1/2 jalapeno minced
- 1/2 cup cilantro roughly chopped
- (You can find a pre-made version of this that is paleo at Whole Foods)
- Whisk all marinade ingredients together
- Put chicken in a plastic bag and pour the marinade over the chicken, making sure to coat all sides Remove air from the bag and seal. Leave on the counter for 20-30 minutes or if you have longer, throw the bag into the refrigerator
- Combine all ingredients for mango salsa, cover and refrigerate until ready to use
- Mix together honey lime glaze and set aside
- Heat grill to medium-high for about 10 minutes. Add the marinated chicken and discard the marinade
- Cook each breast for about 4-6 minutes on each side, depending on thickness
- After you flip the chicken once, brush the glaze onto the chicken
- Transfer chicken to a plate and cover to keep hot and brush more glaze on both sides right before serving
- Top chicken with mango salsa and enjoy!