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The “Whoosh”

I don’t know what your experience is with weight, but mine has been abysmal. I didn’t have to worry about my weight until after I had my son. My weight bounced up in my mid 20’s but only about 30lb, which wasn’t awful. It was still a decent weight for me. I felt comfortable still, my clothes fit, and its where I am ultimately hoping to end up back at in another few months!

My first official 5k Hike in about 4 months

I started hiking in September of last year, sort of by accident. I didn’t expect my route that day to be a hike, but I loved it, and kept doing it, 2, 3, 4 times a week throughout the year. I took my first comparison picture in October because I figured my weight was my weight and I wasn’t worried about doing anything special. Well, as I began to lose a little weight and thus it began.

A great milestone!

Since then, I’ve lost 25lb (11.3kg) total 🥳 the wild part: 12lb (5.4kg) of it has been since July!

From September to July, I did what is traditionally prescribed for weight loss: I had a nutritionist-designed eating plan and enrolled in a coordinating fitness program & support group. It went great from September till December… And then not so great. I lost about 15lb – about one pound per week until we hit the holidays. I stayed strict; I ate according to my plan. I kept working out. But that was the plateau. I changed things up, I ate less, I ate more, I worked out more, worked out harder, lifted more, hiked more times…. Nada.

During the last month of school, I was burnt out. I stopped working out consistently. I ate what made me happy. Thankfully, I only gained a few pounds back. Then I read The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung. Absolutely stellar, science-packed reading. I was intrigued. I started implementing some of the things discussed in the book and was amazed at how much my overall inflammation dropped like a rocket. I didn’t lose any weight during the first four weeks – but I also realized I wasn’t doing it right… and wasn’t being accountable to myself, if we’re being honest.

So, in July, I enrolled in a coaching program because I was ready to try something with solid scientific backing. I tend to never half-ass anything once I set my mind to it, even if it’s failing miserably. I am determined. But much to my surprise, each week, another pound gone. Some weeks, even more. That “weight loss whoosh” experience is delightful. And it has kept going. And I haven’t had to kill myself working out, doing workouts that are just *ugh*. I get my steps in, intentionally move, have obviously done a lot of lifting in the big move, and today I hiked for the first time in what feels like forever. I didn’t change much of anything, really.

Here’s what I do differently: I’m strict about the windows when I eat.

I know, it sounds ridiculously simple. Like a “magic” bullet that shouldn’t conceivably work. I don’t eat less. I only restrict when. In theory it is simple. In practice, its a real lesson in how we got in this position, especially in American culture, and a hard pill to swallow on my own habits and health.

We graze. We nibble. We charcuterie. Now that I am purposeful in my eating, I am fixing insulin resistance – the only “problem” that never showed up on my bloodwork, ever. No supplement fixed this. No diet. No exercise. Not “hormone balancing.” Not even my thyroid is to blame.

Will this work for everyone? Its hard to say, but I will bet a hefty sum that most of my American friends would benefit from learning how to manage their eating and health. I still enjoy pizza, ice cream, diary, CARBOHYDRATES of all kinds, all in moderation, all within my eating windows. And it works. So if you need more information, comment, message me, contact me on social media (that’s the quickest way to find me!) and I can help you get started. **I do NOT financially benefit from this program whatsoever** I just firmly believe that everyone can benefit from this methodology, as well as a support coach.

Be well! ~Jess

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Pride Month Celebration!

I am celebrating Pride in a special way! As a poly/pan ally myself, I am super stoked to work with my LGBTQ+ friends for a special discount this month!

Are you part of an LGBTQ+ relationship? Celebrating gender and trans inclusivity? Celebrating being your true self? Let’s connect! I want to capture diverse couples, triads (etc), individuals who want to celebrate their sexuality and/or gender in the most empowering way for them!

Throughout June, when you schedule an Exposure, Beloved, or Connections session with me, I’ll discount your session 20%! This also includes LGBTQ+ Forever sessions (elopements and small local weddings).

You must schedule by June 30th, session to be completed by August 31, 2022. Discount is based on the “honor system” – I won’t question you. Forever Sessions must be scheduled by June 30th 2022 and completed by July 31, 2023.


Stranger Sessions

Let me play matchmaker, even if it only lasts through our session!

Stranger sessions are an exciting adventure for myself, and both mystery subjects! Its a blind date, a photo shoot, and a fun experience all in one.

These sessions will be taking place for just a few hours on Monday, July 11th at 9am and Tuesday, July 12th at 9am, both in Allentown PA.

Volunteer to be either Female or Male straight Subject, or LGBTQ+ Subjects (any gender – when you fill out the form, you’ll select what kind of Stranger Couple you’re comfortable pairing in).


Have any other questions? Reach out!

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Is it Over Yet?

Depression and anxiety have spanked me this year.  I have always dealt with my anxiety.  What that really means for me is, its just manifested in “non-traditional” ways, like being short with people, having very narrow focus, retaining ridiculous amounts of stress, avoiding a wide variety of situations, and being extraordinarily moody for no apparent reason.  Basically, I’ve just lived with it and not acknowledged it.  You know, very positively!

Now my struggle with it is far more visceral. I can’t sit still.  I can’t move either.  Sometimes I can’t catch my breath.  Thoughts race – even the most ridiculous things seem true, imminent.  Thoughts feel thick, like wading through a tub of coconut oil.  There’s too many thoughts, but I can’t escape them.  I feel like I’m on the brink of complete collapse sometimes.  When I can gather enough clarity, I take a few pumps of oil and I can start feeling freer in 15 minutes or so.  Its as though I line everything up, like little toy soldiers on a wall and I can start flicking them off the wall, one by one, every wild, racing, over-the-top thought and fear.

Since I was in high school, depression has floated in and out of my life.  When I sought treatment the first time, someone close to me said “I just can’t understand what you could possibly have to be sad about.”  And that’s when I stopped constructively dealing with depression.  Sometimes I’ve anticipated the lows, and other times, I have been blindsided.  I’ve picked up, carried on, and dealt with it.  Its what we expect people to do!  Quietly, privately, and with as little emotion as possible.  No mess, no fussing, no drama.  That’s what I thought I was accomplishing after Matt abruptly passed.  I was dealing like a champ.  I was pushing forward, growing, kicking ass.  In reality, I was definitely surviving, if not even thriving, but I was completely failing to heal the hurt.Introvert inclusion

I have trust issues.  There.  I said it.  I find myself not trusting people about the DUMBEST stuff.  There are a million reasons running through my head why anyone isn’t doing what they claimed.  It isn’t even based in reality!  I was trained, systematically, over a long relationship, that I wasn’t worthy of the truth.  I wasn’t worthy of being included.  I wasn’t important enough to anyone. I wasn’t worthy of my own husband telling me what he’s actually doing.  Its a daily struggle of insecurity.  Who is excluding me from stuff?  Why didn’t I get invited to something?

The more I have been sorting out, the more I realize.   And the more I wonder.  I wonder why I gave so much trust to someone who repeatedly broke it.  I wonder why I believed someone who routinely fed me stories.  I wonder why I wasn’t valuable enough to get the truth.  But I also realize that this wasn’t my shortcoming.  I did what I was supposed to do.  I trusted the person who was supposed to take care of me and my son.

I’ve been talking with close friends lately about my purpose and what I want from life.  One of my greatest aspirations in life is to be a wife and mother – explains a lot about why I was so eager to please someone who would have pushed me off a cliff if it suited him.  I’ve felt this since I was young.  I feel for me personally (NOT everyone!), there is no greater calling than to have a fulfilling relationship and raise good humans.  That in turn gives me the framework to then achieve professionally and otherwise.  And don’t worry, I don’t think my value rests solely with a marriage.  Its just something I find extremely valuable personally, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

What I want to bring to you, dear friend, is the awareness about yourself.  If you’re struggling similarly to myself, the first step is getting help.  Get perspective.  I don’t mean from your goofy friend with all the opinions. There are some easy things (from an implementation standpoint, anyway) that you can do that will help you get on the right path.

  • A therapist is a great neutral sounding board.  It might take a few tries to find someone that you’re comfortable with. That friend with all the opinions might be eager to listen, but they might not always have time to carefully consider your concerns – after all, they aren’t paid to listen to you.  They might also have ulterior motives.  God forbid they do not have your best interests at heart or don’t care who they share your personal business with.  It will only compound the problem to know that someone is speaking about your issues with others.  Find someone who is truly neutral.
  • If consistently visiting a therapist is out of your budget (I know it can get expensive!) look into some self help books and/or workbooks.  You don’t even need to pick something deeply self-exploratory.  Start with something that doesn’t feel too inflammatory and work your way up (just don’t let yourself off the hook before you get there).
  • Start journaling. Good old fashioned pen and paper, not on your phone or computer.   Take 10 minutes each day.  If you’re really committed, spend 10 minutes when you first wake up, writing about things you’re grateful for, and 10 minutes before you go to bed, brain dumping, so you can go to sleep with a blank slate.  Ten minutes is just a guideline – it gives you a set window of time to commit to the process.
  • Really want to go all in?  Start doing guided meditation.  Use YouTube videos like this one to help you.
  • Figure out if you would like or if you feel you need medication.  I weighed the options medications to help with anxiety and depression and I couldn’t balance the weight of not being lucid against the potential benefits.  Of course, I’m a huge advocate for hemp oil because of its lack of negative side effects and overall health benefits.  The hemp and cannabis plants are extraordinary in their benefits to humans and even pets; get good stuff in your body, however you choose to consume it.  There are tons of things to look at when you’re looking for a brand of oil (I’ll explore it in another post), but you can get the best here.

Accepting that you’re going to have good days, you’re going to have bad days,  and its all just part of life, is the first huge step to working through things.  Explore your reactions to things and situations.  Analyze why you’re reacting to things a certain way.

~The only thing we control in this world is how we react to things~

Read that until you understand it.  You can’t control what anyone else does; you can only control your reaction to the situation.  Stop letting other people’s stupidity send you over the edge.  Stop letting someone else’s inconsistency, arrogance, ignorance, selfishness, lies, jealously, etc etc control how you feel!

This is all just the tip of the iceberg, but its a great start.  Much love & light to you today!

Want more on the topic?  Drop your comments and questions below!

~ Jess

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Finding a Voice

I’ve been trying to be vocal about my mental health struggles over the last year.  Trying to be a voice for those who don’t feel strong enough to speak on their own; to help others seek the help they need, too.  I made a big step in my life – I’ve been in therapy for a little over a month now.  So far, its been a lot of the usual background jabber, so its brought up a lot of extensive, deep-seated issues.  “Not too bad,” I thought.  Silly me.

All the emotions, all at once.  Mix it in with how I was already feeling; lost, confused, unsure of myself and future, and you’ve got a whole mess.  At exactly the same time, I feel like the most determined, self-assured, strong person, and also the least successful, least useful, failure.  Imagine bringing up essentially everything that has ever deeply impacted me over a few short visits.  Its like knowing your hair is already on fire, and then dumping gasoline on it.  Its not fun, but I know that it has to be done.  I really like the therapist I’m seeing and I feel like its a good match for where I’m at.

Every day, I’m grateful for my oil.  After a dose, I can feel myself coming down from a very overwhelmed place.  Sometimes my day requires more than one dose.  But its vital.  I am choosing this path because I don’t want to feel less.  Feeling is vital, or I won’t learn to do better in the future.  I’ve thought about the different medications I could be on, and both my therapist and I agree that its not a necessary step at this point.

Its been a few months since I’ve felt more “myself.” But what does that truly mean when your life has been in a whirlwind of harsh transition for the last year and a half (but really longer). In the last 9 years, I’ve moved 8 times. Not because I wanted to.  Mostly because of lost jobs and selfish decisions.  We had a tumultuous 6 years together, with children, adding a child, losing homes, separating, getting back together, so many lies and half truths.  I learned a lot of valuable lessons, but I also learned a lot of unfortunate ones.  Like who or how I can trust. That’s a lot of change, and while I thought I was figuring things out on my own, I found myself even more lost than before.  It has felt like I’m being swallowed whole, into a very dark, quiet, absent space.

Finding yourself doubting every last word from people is a horrible way to live.  If you tell me the sky is blue, I’m still going to look.  And then I’m going to try to figure out what the underlying motive could be. This is how messed up your mind gets. You even question the people you love and trust the most, even though they aren’t the ones manipulating your mind.  You can’t even trust yourself – what if you aren’t understanding what’s being said?  The sickest part about it all, is that you’re really not stupid.  You don’t have trouble reading people.  You’ve been trained to believe you don’t understand.

I try to remind myself every day that I don’t have trust issues; I am healing my trust issues.  I am speaking into existence the healing I need.  Every day, I work towards getting acquainted with who I am today, not who I was, who anyone thinks I should be, but who I am now.  Its a difficult road.  A lot of scary grey areas that are hard to sort through, but have to be, so I can move forward.  The grey areas of life are the parts that no one ever wants to handle.  We spend our time avoiding it.  Yet, its where life really happens.  Healing comes when we sit down with our crap, shake hands with it, interview it, find out where it belongs in our life, and decide whether it deserves that place, and if not, we dismiss it from our life.

It will be a long process, but its worth it.

Love & light ~ Jess

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Day 10… not so bad!

Day 10 – you’d probably imagine tearing your hair out at this point.  I for one never expected to feel so good or see so much dramatic change in a little over a week!

The first few days were exhausting, waging a mental battle against meaningless cravings.  It was easy for me to pinpoint when I wasn’t hungry, just looking for something to do.  I had 2 specific times a day where it was BAD.  When Nicholas naps, the first thing my body wants is to eat.  Why?  Who the heck knows.  Probably because its the first time all day I have to sit in peace without demands aside from my own.

Nighttime cravings are my second biggest enemy.  You can relate, right? Those cookies calling to you, that sliver of cake, that chunk of chocolate…. UGH.  I’m not hungry.  Its habit.  Now that I’m aware, I can talk myself off the ledge.

Here’s the real kicker (Gross Alert if you’ve never had to deal with the horrifying

day 10 whole 30
No makeup.  No filter.  I haven’t even brushed my hair yet!

effects and humiliation of acne)

I have struggled since I was 13 with horrible acne of varying types.  There was ONE stretch in TWENTY, yes 20, years, where my skin was clear.  I used a specialized cleanser that cleared my skin but made it so dry I couldn’t move my face.  So obviously that wasn’t really a great solution.  Then they got in trouble with quality inspections, the FDA or someone, and stopped making that particular cleanser. Doh!  If you’ve ever struggled with your skin, you know the pain.  Guess what.  10 days in, my skin is almost completely clear.  Clear of the hormonal crap around my chin.  Scabs from recent breakouts are healing faster.  No new breakouts.  My nails are actually strong and long for a change.  My hair is less oily.

Of course, now I begin to panic. Everyone was right all these years, and I’m practically devastated.  What does this mean for my future dietary restrictions?  Can I never enjoy a pizza or a donut occasionally again??  Well, at this moment, here’s my outlook:  I will reintroduce each removed category (dairy, grains, sugar) one at a time, for two weeks and see which is affecting me the most, and then work around it from there.

This has been a major step for me, and I’m sure other people are having big revelations as this month goes on too.  My eating has been extremely lax over the last 8 months, but has never been super under control prior to this.  I have never had a horrible diet as an adult.  I enjoy a large variety of foods and eat reasonably well most of the time.

Whats disturbing to me, is how we have accepted that all these ingredients are “normal” and safe

This is just “life” as Americans.  Prepackaged food.  Preservatives.  EVERYTHING has sugar in it (try reading labels real closely for a few grocery trips – your head will spin).  We take food shortcuts because our lives are busy.  Food planning takes extra time and effort that most people don’t have.

The bottom line is cost. It might cost you some extra time to plan a grocery list, retrain your tastebuds, and actually cook. But not doing it can truly cost you your health.

Hugs and Delicious Wishes,

-Jess