My Whole 30 Challenge

Shoes: Lotus (15% off any online purchase with coupon code MODA at checkout), Jeans, T & Scarf: Old Navy, Watch: Micheal Kors, Belt: Target
Yo Yo Yo.

Some of you may know that a month ago (30 days ago today to be precise) I started The Whole 30. The Whole 30 is a program based on the book, "It Starts with Food".

The program (in it's simplest form) challenges you to ELIMINATE all :
  • SUGAR (real or fake)
  • LEGUMES (beans and peanuts) 
  • GRAINS ( no wheat, corn, quinoa, oats, etc.)

No "slips".
No cheats.
No exceptions.
If you "cheat"... you start over from Day 1.
30 days.
All in.
End of story.

It allows for:
  • EGGS
  • MEAT

You "cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the “reset” button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making. You learn once and for all how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day to day life, and your long term health." 

If I make it to midnight tonight (which of course I will... I have come too far not to), I will have completed my very first Whole 30 challenge. 

I decided to do a Whole 30 Challenge for a couple of reasons.

1.) To see if I had the will power to do so. I've always had a rather unhealthy relationship with food and used it as reward, pleasure, fun, etc. Attached to that food were fleeting feelings of happiness and joy followed by shame, sadness, anger and fear. I would eat too much or be preoccupied with restricting it. I would restrict and then go off the damn rails. I have NEVER challenged myself this way. So... a part of me just wanted to see if I could do it. I love experimenting on myself.

2.) To see if it would make me feel better. I know that when I eat gluten I feel like a steaming, hot pile of dog shit. But... eliminating gluten from my diet did not make all of the stomach issues I have had all of my life magically disappear. I still have a LOT of trouble going to the bathroom (you KNOW what I mean), I feel bloated, uncomfortable and all around "heavy" or weighed down. Every.Single.Day. I have never been regular in my life. And let me tell you. THAT sucks. I also don't sleep well. Like... at all. I sleep like shit. I stay up too late, am restless, wake up and am up for hours in the middle of the night, etc. It.Is.Miserable. 

So... what The Whole 30 Challenge like? 

Days 1-3 not too bad. 
Days 4-5 pretty freaking tough mentally and my stomach was a MESS. I'll spare you the details. 
Days 7-9 I felt like I got hit by a bus. Like I had the flu. I was SICK. Body aches. Headaches. My sinuses were a mess. I felt like hell. 
Days 9-23 where the HELL did this acne come from????? It was on the perimeter of my entire face and around my neck/below my ears in that area. THAT was a bitch. I have read you release toxins through your skin and holy geezus. WOW. But... now, it looks pretty damn bright if I do say so myself.
Days 23-26 UGH. I was on vacation with friends in the mountains. I couldn't join in morning mimosas toasts, afternoon cocktails, amazing dinners or the desserts everyone was sharing. FML. 
Days 27-30 I am a warrior. A goddess. I can do ANYTHING. I am master of the universe. I am half woman, half amazing. Move out of my damn way. All HAIL THE QUEEN. 

I just named some of the not nice aspects of the challenge. However... this is what I left out. 

  • I am regular for the VERY first time in my life. Maybe you need to read that again. For the first time in 35 and a half years. No stomach aches and I use the bathroom like a normal person. THIS is huge for me. 
  • Also... every morning when I wake up I have a really flat stomach. I even lift my boobs up out of the way and jack them up towards my chin to get a better look at the washboard that is my abdominal region (okay... washboard is a stretch... a BIG one, but it feels and looks flat every morning). 
  • I sleep better. I fall asleep more easily and stay asleep better. I wake up feeling refreshed. I am sure it is no coincidence that this happened when I cut out my nightly ritual of a glass (or 3) of red wine before bed. 
  • I do not really snack any more. I eat A LOT when I do eat my meals, but not much (if at all) between them. 
  • I have found that (contrary to what I feared) I can actually live without cheese. 
  • I do not sneeze or have a runny nose like I used to. I have a consistently runny nose. My manfriend is always giving me a subtle swipe of his nose in public to signal to me that I may need to wipe mine. I got to the point where I didn't even feel it any more. Like a 5 year old with snot running down their face. It was always just running. 
  • I lost about 6lbs. Not sure about inches. I wasn't really concerned with losing pounds though. If I was I probably wouldn't have eaten white potatoes, cashews and coconut milk every single day, multiple times a day (which I definitely did do). 
  • I got rid of my excuses. I had to "live" during this last month... celebrate birthdays, go on date nights, attend and host parties, cook for other people, go on vacation, eat out, be in bars, travel, stay in hotels, be on the road, go to work, have candy in the house for Halloween, etc. There is never a "good time". Okay.. well, maybe January 1 is a better time than the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but you know what I am saying. There are no perfect conditions.

I found out that I am stronger than I thought I was, BUT I don't think I could have done it alone. I started a Facebook group for anyone interested in just silently checking out The Whole 30 or participating in it with me. There are 114 people in this group now. Only a small fraction of those people actively post and are doing their own challenges, but having that page held me accountable. It made this something that I had committed to. I would post pictures of food in it, throw some quotes in there, links to recipes and comment when other people did the same. This was a CRUCIAL factor of success for me, personally. If you want to be added to the group and you are on FB just let me know. I am going to keep this group up. I am not stopping and I have a feeling more people are going to join come January. All are welcome. Go to the website whole30.com or get the book It Starts with Food. Educate yourself on the program and if it sounds like something you may want to do you'll have a built in support system. 

If you feel like shit, battle with your willpower (or lack thereof), have an unhealthy relationship with food, get headaches, have arthritis, stomach issues, are dead tired ALL of the time, constantly bloated or constipated, drink too often or smoke (none of either is allowed), have skin issues or just want to challenge yourself to do something difficult then I would recommend it. IF you are looking to drop a ton of weight... be patient. You didn't pack on 30 lbs in 30 days so you're not going to lose it that fast either. Set realistic expectations and center them around your health, NOT your bullshit scale. 

I half expected to be counting down the days until this was over. I thought FO SHO I'd have a bottle of wine waiting for me and a grocery bag full of food I had been "craving" ready to be devoured on day 31, but surprisingly, I don't feel that way at all. I don't want to NOT feel this good, so I guess tomorrow is Day 31 of my 30-day challenge. I can't promise I'll never have a glass of wine again, but I feel too good to blow it now. 

If you have any questions... I am an open book. And.. shit, if you made it through this whole blog post and are still reading you clearly don't have issues with committing to something. That was a long one. My bad.



Skirt: Lotus Boutique- Charlotte (15% off any online purchase with checkout code: MODA),  Shirt: Ann Taylor, Shoes: Off Broadway, Watch: Michael Kors, Bag and Earrings: Target

Well Hello There.

The calendar tells me it's been 7 weeks since my last blog post.

I do this shit every year around September/October.

The summer comes to an end; I get depressed that I have to put away my colorful, light, breezy warm weather clothes and replace them with gray and black long sleeved items, so I wear nothing but yoga pants and leggings in protest and have no desire to contribute to a blog that features photos of outfits. Fall clothes, although comfortable, do not really inspire me much. Leggings, ponchos, boots, over-sized sweaters, flannel and scarves... bah humbug. I also don't do pumpkin spice lattes or Ugg boots, so I guess you can go ahead and pull my "White Girl Card" right now.

Take it. Go ahead.

Here's a recap of the last 7 weeks:

1. Style Night Out took place. It was THE SHIT. Best.Night.Ever. The fashion show was amazing, the venue looked beautiful, we raised a ton of money for a local breast cancer non-profit, my friends and family were there... and... I got to open up the show by singing along to Drake's "Started from the Bottom".  Onstage singing Drake? Dreams really do come true. HA .<<... started from the bottom now my whole team fkin' here>>

2. I started The Whole 30 challenge. I am on day 8 today. No sugar, dairy, grains, legumes or alcohol. I am trying to see if I feel better without foods that commonly trigger inflammation and an overall feeling of "shitiness". So far, so good. The only thing that's been inflamed since I started was my temper when my manfriend ordered Chinese food on Friday night. Baaaaaaastard.

3. I decided that leather falls under "business casual". I wore this skirt to an event at work last week in a kind of quiet rebellion of Corporate America. (Black leather may be the only thing I appreciate about the weather getting colder.)

4. I almost quit. Teaching my evening Pilates/PiYo classes that is. I've been teaching almost every day in some way, shape, or form for over a year and a half. But lately, attendance has plummeted and I started to take it really personally. I got sad, then kind of pissed. I doubted myself as a teacher, started to wonder if holding classes (especially for $5 a person after a full day of working my corporate job) was worth the time and energy it takes to prepare them and spend in and on them. I would see a lot of people sign up for classes and cancel last minute, just not show, or stop coming all together. Not showing for weeks and months on end. I thought... it's not worth the money I spend renting the space out every month. It's not worth getting home at 9:15-9:30pm 3-4 times a week. It's not worth getting up early on Saturday mornings. Not seeing my friends, having to schedule "date nights" for the one night a week I am free after 7pm. Then... I remembered that I used to be that person. The one who would be committed for a while then get unmotivated. It was never anyone else's fault. I just didn't want to workout. Staying in was easier. Sitting on the couch reading fitness articles and "pinning" workouts I never actually did was enough.  Envying the strong, healthy bodies of other women was just part of life. They must have been "born" that way, or that there was no way they were as busy as I was. I told myself I would start again "next week". I was not that unhappy with how I felt. I was too tired. Too stressed. I had too little time. My commitment was fleeting. My motivation, temporary. I never once stopped working out because of any outside influence. It was all me. It wasn't my teacher's fault.
So... I decided not to quit. I decided that I would still make a weekly schedule and sign up, still post it, still create workouts, spend the time and money it takes to get certified in new things, and still show the hell up. If I quit what was I saying to the people who do still come when then can??? To the people who leave their homes at night, after work, when it's dark and getting colder (when it's easier not to)? Fitness and health are very personal, emotional things and if I was going to be dedicated to it (for myself and for other people) that I had to be dedicated to it when it was easier not to be.

Quitting is easy, but it sure as shit never gets you anywhere worth going. 


Style Night Out 2105 #local

Dress and Shoes: Lotus (15% off online with code MODA), Bracelets and Cuff: Celene Stones (15% off when you mention this blog and email Krista at CeleneStones@gmail.com. Her instagram is CeleneStones)

There is a big push (at least in rhetoric and hashtags) for people to their support communities. It's kind of the "in" thing right now. People are always talking about eating local, shopping small, dining farm to table, supporting local artists and craftsmen, going to farmer's markets, shoping at locally owned and operated businesses, getting their beer from local breweries, and supporting the "Mom and Pop" shops of the world.

There has been a big push for it over the past few years and I think it's FAN-FRIGGIN-TASTIC.

We have Small Business Saturday (the day after Black Friday) urging you to shop small, and a lot of restaurants I have been too lately have the names of the local farms, breweries, and wineries they get their meats, cheeses and produce from.  I even see a lot of hastags on social media boasting when people #shopsmall #supportlocal #eatlocal #drinklocal etc. It's kind of a "thing" right now and I hope it stays that way.

I love it.

I like the blood, sweat, and tears of it all. I like knowing that my money is going to support someone's family, their dreams, their passions and rewarding them for hard work. I appreciate the fact that I live in a city that gives us lots of options.

I moved to Charlotte when I was 23 years old. I have seen it change (and grow) tremendously in those 12 years. We have major-league sports teams and stadiums, amazing concerts, and every kind of food you could dream of. There are condos, high-rises, lakes, farms, fields, parks, and tree-lined neighborhoods. We have museums, shops, fairs, festivals, and outdoor parties. There is high-end shopping and dining and art districts with consignment and thrift shops full of treasures. Charlotte is more diverse than people give it credit for and there is SO much to DO. It kills me when people say... "UGH... Charlotte is kind of boring. I'm from ____ where there is just SO much to do." Whatonearthareyoutalkingabout??!??!?!?!?!?

The "Queen City" is a city made up largely of transplants. That is what I love most about it. So many people who live in Charlotte, NC came here from other parts of the country and other parts of the world. They came and they built their lives here. They planted. Grew roots.

That's a long, somewhat sentimental introduction for Style Night Out 2015, but it touches on what I love so much about it.

Style Night Out is (in my opinion) the BEST.NIGHT.OF.THE.YEAR in Charlotte, NC. 

SNO is a fashion show and fundraiser for Carolina Breast Friends (a local non-profit). It features Charlotte's very own models, hair stylists, make-up artists, photographers and small businesses.

It's a runway show that showcases all of the fashion from our local boutiques. It's promoted by a local promotions team, produced and directed by a local business-owner and is the one night where our entire community comes together to support one another. Plus... the proceeds from every single ticket sold goes back into the community to help women battling breast cancer.

It's an incredible night of fashion, bright lights, lots of cocktails, and great music <<spun by one of Charlotte's best DJ's, Kosta X Housiadas... NOT an ipod shuffle>>. It is grown and sexy and SO.MUCH.FUN.

Style Night Out was created by Charlotte, showcases Charlotte, and gives back to Charlotte.

If you love that our city has variety, soul, artistry, edge, diversity and a heart... get your butt to Style Night Out. Support your community with your attendance. Put your money where your mouth is. Grab your man or your girlfriend(s). Get dressed and experience the city you live in. Buy a ticket, book a sitter, call an Uber, find an outfit and go. If you love this city, go. If you are new here and don't quite love it yet.. even better. We will help you fall in love with it.

What: Style Night Out 2015
When: Thursday, October 1st
Where: Center Stage NoDa (indoor venue and free on-site parking)
Time: Doors Open at 6, show starts around 7:30-8
Tickets: www.ticketssoeasy.com 


Like a BOSS... only nicer

Shoes: Lotus, Dress: Vestique, Purse: Marshalls

 Like a BOSS
Boss Bitch
Boss Babe
Girl Boss
Boss Moves

The term "BOSS" is very "in" right now.

It's normally used to describe someone who hustles, gets things done, doesn't let fear, temporary failures, the opinions of others, or even the odds deter them from their goal. Most of the time it is used as a compliment. Especially to women from other supportive woman. You'll see lots of inspiring quotes thrown around  social media about "being a boss", acting "like a boss", describing something as a "boss move".

And I for one friggin' love it.

I like women who cut to the chase, get shit done, have dreams, goals, opinions, take leadersip positions, have something to say, somewhere to be, somewhere they want to go, vision.

For far too long women have had to choose between drive, motivation, education, careers and traditional attractiveness, partnership, or being judged as "too much". Some women feel that they are "too much" of one thing so they have to be less of another.

If you're "too" attractive you have to play that shit down because people will assume you are too attractive to also be smart, opinionated, funny, or driven. And... if you aren't traditionally "sexy", well then you're probably really intelligent, dedicated, humble and wholesome. If you're "too aggressive" people will get turned off, "too direct" well then you're a bitch. But if you're "too quiet" "too shy" "too meek" then you'll get steamrolled over in life. If you get financially supported by a man, then you're a gold digger, a leach, not self-motivated. If you don't, that's okay... but don't make more money that that man because that's emasculating. I'm generalizing of course, but there is a scene in the first Sex and the City movie that sums it up perfectly...

Carrie and Miranda are in a drugstore looking at Halloween costumes lamenting about how  the only choices for women are the "Sexy Nurse" or the "Ugly Witch". They start to laugh it off and then pause for a moment and comment on how that scenario is pretty much an analogy for the proverbial boxes women are put in by society. Pick one, you're either a sexy slut, or an ugly bitch. Those are your choices.

You may be thinking.... Geez-US... who pissed, Melissa, off today? Well, if you know me personally you know that this soliloquy  is not actually out of character. I wear the badge of feminist quite proudly. However, some shit did go down today.

I had a mid-year review today at work. I was told that I am..."incredibly skilled, valued, intelligent, and a strong leader with exceptional communication skills". In the next breath however I was also "suggested" that I be "mindful of my tone, not be quite as direct, and be careful of how aggressive I can come across... oh, and double check to be sure I am not short with people when I am communicating".

You see, I work in a corporate setting. This corporate job requires me to be clear, consice, direct, strong, influential, to work in the midst of a lot of change, oh... and to deal with mostly men who are older than me, educated in an entirely different field then me and to negotiate with them about money. Lots of it.

When I first had the review I was a little "put off" but when I got off of the phone call I kept thinking a bout it and I got full fledged pissed off. The skills I need in order to survive and thrive in my job are the same ones I am being warned about. I'm told to influence, to not be a pushover, to get a lot of information communicated in minimal time and to get things done in an environment that is ever-changing... but today's conversation made me feel that I should do it with a smile, not forget to leave out the pleasantries, and make other people feel warm and fuzzy. Don't be a "bully" (yes... that word was used). I couldn't help but wonder if the guys on my team, who are also great at their job, are ever lectured about being a bit more "soft, kind", and friendly"? Hmmmmm... probably not.

I care about people. A lot. I show gratitude for my team members, co-workers, family, and community pretty often. I get excellent reviews from my business partners and take the time to train  my teammates to grow and thrive. However, I also get shit done. I talk fast, move fast, don't avoid conflict, give my opinion, and am not overly concerned with winning Miss Congeniality. Being nice is great but it is not enough, you also have to get the damn job done.

I'm pissed that in a conversation today I was told "you're great at your job, but you don't want to come off as short or bullish do you"? Well.. you know what?

Maybe I do.

Maybe being "bullish" has served me pretty damn well so far.

I wonder if the soft, kind, sweet, conversational women on my team were given a bonus last year simply for being nice? I doubt they were. I'm sure they were told to lead, be more aggressive, less of a pushover, influence more, to be stronger.

I hate thatyou have to straddle the line... never being "too much".

We can be both.

We can be good at our jobs, we can get shit done, wear short skirts, do our hair, take care of our bodies, read Russian literature, care about politics, go to church, be stay at home moms, choose to go to get our doctorates or stop after high school to make babies and be around to raise them. We can be a bit loud, opinionated, smart, sassy, and take the lead without being made to feel like we are bitches. We can be single, married, work outside of the house or inside of it. We can be soft-spoken or not. You don't have to choose pretty versus intelligent. Soft versus strong. Saintly versus heathen. Materialistic and superficial versus deep.

You can be whatever you want.

All of it.

**And a special shout-out to my manfried who listened to be vent, sent me a supportive text, is proud of himself AND proud of me, respects himself AND respects me and isn't the least bit turned off about how "too much" I am. BIG props to you.**



Romper: Lotus (15% off online with code MODA at checkout), Shoes: Nordstrom, Turquoise Cuff: Celene Stones (15% off when you mention this blog. Email Krista at CeleneStones@gmail.com or find her on Instagram at CeleneStones), Other Bracelet: Stella & Dot, Ring: Levian (Jared Jewelers)

Friendship is so weird... you just pick a human you've met and you're like "yep, I like this one" and you just do stuff with them.

That was a quote from Bill Murray and when I read it I thought.. "Man, that is spot on... and kind of strange now that I think about it."

Friendship as a kid is easy. You live on the same street, go to the same school, are on the same teams, in the same clubs. It just kind of happens. As an adult it's a little different. Everyone's lives are crazy; you don't have all of the opportunities you used to as a kid, teenager, or young adult to just "hang out".  You have to find time and make it for meaningful friendships. Which, isn't always the easiest thing to do when there are what seem like a million other things competing for any free hour you may have.

When my girls and I get on a group text to try to figure out when we can all get together it sounds like this:

Hey! I miss you guys.
Let's nail down a date we can get together.
Ohhh... this month is bad, but the month after next I am wide open.
Weekends are tough.
Weekends are the only time I am free.
Okay. My husband is out of town then, so that won't work.
Really? Shit. It's literally the only weekend I have open.
Okay, okay...
It's set..
9 weeks from now, on Friday night we are doing it.
We are getting together.
No bailing.
Remind so and so... tell her to write it down.
Now, are we hanging at someone's house in yoga pants or are we getting showered and dressed? Dressed.
HOW dressed are we talking?
Are we just doing dinner or are we going out?
Like on a patio, for dinner, at a club?
Fk you.
I am not going to a club.
Let's get a table at a club.
Are we too old for that?
Shit. I don't know.
I don't go out.
I don't have anything to wear.
I do. I have a closet full of shit I buy but I never go anywhere to wear it.
This mom needs a drink.
Lots of drinks. 
Let's get fking DRESSED. Like... DUUHHH-RESSED.
Ahhh man. I hate getting dressed.  
Now I'm stressed out.
I'm not.
I'm already picking out what I am going to wear.
This bitch....

*Then an entire other string of messages ensues to figure out what we are doing in our allotted time and to what level of "dressed" we may or may not be.*

Now, that may be more dramatic and drawn out than your conversations with your girl friends but I think you can probably relate to trying to find free time, coordinating with other busy adults, and working out the logistics.

But somehow... even if months go by in between we always seem to make it work. Be it for lunch, an hour on someone's couch, dinner out, a double date, an impromtu breakdown session filled with more tears and hugs than words... whatever it is, somehow my bonds with these women are maintained.

I am a REALLY low maintenence friend. Some of the people I love the most in this world I go months without talking to. But, they know and I know that they are my people... MY TRIBE.

Your tribe are the people you choose.

Sometimes they include your relatives, much of the time however they don't. They are your friends. New friends, old friends. Friends who live close, those you only see on social media or once every 15 years. They are people who know you. They may not know the daily workings of your every day life, but they know who you are. They were with you when shit went down, when you needed support, when your heart was broken, they had your back, were your cheerleader. They comforted you. Made you feel not quite so alone in this world. They made you laugh. You fought. Made up. They know your secrets. Your good shit. Your bad shit. You have known them for 25 years, or maybe only just met them but clicked so fking hard you had a feeling you had just spent your first 2 hours with a friend you are going to have for life.

Your People.
Your Homies.
Your Bitches.
Your Aces.
Your Pack.
Your Ride-or-Dies.

However you slice it, whatever you call it. Whether it's same sex or co-ed (two of my best friends, Ali and Court are men and I most CERTAINLY include my love, my dude, my ace, my Manfriend in my tribe). Find your people. Make time for them. Whatever that means. An hour lunch once every fiscal quarter, a text message every other week, a shout-out on social media, or spending every weekend with them... whatever works.

You're tribe are the people who get you through this life. They should represent you, reflect you, but not be clones.

In my tribe we look different, grew up differently. We are from different parts of the world. We speak different languages, are different races and ethnicities. We are married, single, separated, divorced. We are 25 years old and over 40. We are mothers, step-fathers, childless by choice or otherwise. We vote differently. We are white-collar and blue collar. We are struggling to make ends meat. Hustling. Soaring. Some of us believe in God. Some aren't sure. We could not be more different, or more the same.

Your tribe does not have to be big, but it must be strong. Don't take them for granted. If you are thinking about them, tell them. If you miss them, say so. If you need them to make time for you, ask them. Life is hard, we all need our people.

I have been working on making time for my people lately. New friends and old. When I see them and talk to them I always leave happy, energized, cleansed, rejuvenate, inspired, relieved. I have new perspective. My cup is full.

It has been my experience that you approach life with more courage, more zest, more energy and less fear when you know you have an army of your own choosing behind you.