2 Months and 16 Pounds Down! Thank You Whole30!!!

I honestly didn't want to post these photos above of my mid-section (especially the top image), but I think the photo-evidence is pretty convincing that changing my diet and eating more healthy changed my body.  Thank you Whole30!  Disclaimer:  Whole30 is not a sponsor of my blog and they don't even know who I am, they just saved my life.

The top photo was taken when I was at my heaviest weight of my life, 146 pounds (I am 5 feet and 7.5 inches tall).  I wasn't really considered overweight by the medical community, but I was slowly putting on fat over the years and blaming it on my age (over 40) and  metabolism (which apparently couldn't handle bowls of chips and chocolate anymore…).  I would eat healthy all day and binge at night after the kids went to bed.  And it showed with all of that belly fat that I was hiding under my clothing.

My low point was when I ate an entire full-sized bag of Kettle JalapeƱo chips in one day, on my own.  I realized I had a serious problem that could potentially lead to diabetes or heart issues and I needed to do something right away.

So I happened upon the Whole30 website (I was going to buy a new cookbook and the reviewers mentioned the site) and purchased their book It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways, and my life really did change.

Whole30 asks you to give up grains, sugar, wheat, dairy, legumes, and alcohol for 30 days and then slowly reintroduce them to figure out if you have any food allergies.  Luckily we had already given up wheat so that made it a bit less of a shock.  It is not a weigh-loss program, but I did it twice in a row (60 full days) and lost 16 pounds and many inches off my belly, arms, legs (I have a small thigh gap!), and rear (I do miss my rear to be honest, it was quite nice and large).  I was squeezing into size 10 pants before and now I can fit in a 6!!!

I started off exercising too aggressively (jumping around like a maniac with exercise tapes) and my poor over-40 joints rebelled and I now have some knee tendonitis. That stinks when you have two active boys and a three-story house and your bedroom and office is upstairs.  So the last month I have just walked and biked 30-60 minutes a day several times a week at a moderate, comfortable pace to safeguard my poor decrepit knees.  I also need to add some core and ab work to firm up.

However, most of my body has not only held up, but improved!  My carpal tunnel syndrome, achy shoulder, and seasonal allergies are "cured" and my skin has cleared up and I have more energy.  My blood pressure is incredible (and I use salt on all of our savory dishes).  We don't eat out anymore because have found I love to cook and can make the most delicious foods using real ingredients.  I feel like pretty much like a healthy 20-30 year-old (who has run a marathon and has achy knees).  ;-)

Best of all, my husband and kids are happily eating healthy along with me without complaints or threats!

I am now finished with the Whole30-Times 2 (I did it twice because I had to eliminate my junk food cravings), and I have introduced some dairy back with no issues (I make homemade yogurt and I eat some cheese) and I also drink an occasional glass of wine.  But I don't eat any added sugar, grains, or beans and I don't miss them.  I do eat veggies (tons and tons), fruits, eggs, fish, dairy, nuts, seeds, and healthy meats (mostly grass-fed beef and lamb).    I get tons of fat with all of the coconut milk, oil, ghee, and avocados I eat; yet my body fat is melting away.   I eat huge, delicious, healthy meals and I never feel that I am missing out.

Thank goodness for Ghirardelli 100% Unsweetened Chocolate.  I buy it at the grocery store for less than $2/bar in the baking section.  It says it is a baking bar but if you are a chocolate addict like me, you might find 100% chocolate bars are delicious once you get used to the shock of no sugar.  Who knew I would ever eat AND enjoy chocolate without any sugar…  My kids love it too, but my husband hasn't come on board yet.

So this is not a diet, it is a complete lifestyle change.   My sugar and chip addictions are gone and I am still losing about a pound a week without even trying.  Now I just need to firm everything up.  And get rear implants.  ;-)

If you are struggling with your weight or just don't feel as healthy as you should, please check out the Whole30.  If you read the success stories you will see that those of us that take the challenge really feel it has changed our lives.  It is really that amazing!  Don't let anyone tell you that once you get "middle-aged" your metabolism slows down and weight gain (and "muffin top", see photo above) is inevitable.  Feed yourself healthy food and get out there and walk and you can change your body too!

Comment if you have done the Whole30! I would love to hear your story.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

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CoffeeShop Facebook Fix Photo-Resizing Photoshop/PSE Action and Huge ColorI Inc. Sale!

I wanted to mention that my favorite photo printing place, Color Inc, has a store-wide sale right now!  Everything is 20% off today and tomorrow (until Noon). Click here or on the ad below to get more information.   Get your photos off your computer and up on your walls!!!

Now, on to Facebook.  I get so annoyed when I upload a beautiful edit up to Facebook and it looks all grainy and horrible.  So the other day I finally decided to Google what is going on, and after reading a few sites I figured out how to write an action to resize images for Facebook.  I do want to say that Facebook changes all of the time so I can't make any promises how long this action will work, but right now it really helps your images stay lovely after uploading them.

The beautiful image I used in the ad above is from Royal Harrison Photography.

At this point in time all you have to do is resize your image to 851 pixels wide, sharpen a bit, and then save as a png (not a jpg).  Or run my new action, Facebook Fix, and get perfectly sized and sharpen images for posting on Facebook!

Download the free CoffeeShop Facebook Fix Photoshop/PSE action. You can also download it here.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures. 

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.

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CoffeeShop Photography Tutorial: Why I Shoot in Manual Mode!

Good Friday to you all!  I wanted to post the world's shortest photography tutorial today since I know many of you will be outside taking shoots of the little ones hunting for eggs and dressed in their adorable Easter outfits.

I am really lazy and often shoot in Aperture mode, where I select the amount of depth of field (how much blur is in front of and behind my subject) and let the camera pick the exposure speed.  But when I am taking posed portraits I shoot in manual mode if possible because I want to get a great SOOC image.

I also prefer to shoot in jpg because I hate messing with giant RAW files, so it is important to get a great exposure in camera.

I took this photo of Imp at the park with my 50mm f/1.8 II lens that I purchased five years ago and is still going strong.  I set the aperture to 2.8 because I wanted a blurred background, and I let the camera pick the rest of the settings.  The exposure was 1/800 sec.

As you can see in the screenshot above Imp's skin and eyes are a bit underexposed, even though I set my camera to expose for his skin.  I also shot this in complete idiot-auto mode and it looked basically the same.  My camera is pretty good, but not that good.

So how do you get properly exposed skin and eyes "in camera"?  The secret is to slightly over-expose your image.  Yes, slightly pushing up the exposure often gives you a perfect skin and eyes that need no editing!  This will also reduce the appearance of many skin imperfections.

In this second screen capture I changed to manual mode and kept the same ISO and aperture and just changed the exposure from 1/800 to 1/400 (I just dialed it up from what the camera meter was suggesting).

As you can hopefully see (these are screenshots so they aren't very clear), in the image above Imp's skin and eyes are nicely exposed and the image is so much better.  I didn't do any editing on either image, these are just screenshots from Lightroom.

In this photo I shoot completely  in manual and just removed a tiny bit of green tint in Photoshop (darn shady green background) and sharpened for the web. His skin is perfectly exposed and his eyes are bright and sharp.

OK, I had to post one more…  Don't you love it when you capture that perfect instantaneous moment when your kids are being themselves and not hating your camera pushed in their face?

Hope this little tutorial encourages you to shoot a few frames in manual mode on Sunday.  These days we don't have to be afraid to waste film, so go ahead and try different exposures and really play around with your camera.  You spent extra money to have manual options, and don't be afraid to learn how to use them!

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

♥ Read more!