How I Stopped Being Afraid to Eat How I Stopped Being Afraid to Eat
September 27, 2021
by Olena

How I Stopped Being Afraid to Eat

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by Olena

How I Stopped Being Afraid to EatI just want to let you know that posting myself in a swimsuit as a main shot of the post is completely outside of my comfort zone. But I need to make a point, so I will do it for you.

And who knows, maybe Alex will get a promotion. And I need to buy a new bottom piece before March, that doesn’t look like a Speedo.

It took me almost 6 years and many diets to develop a healthy relationship with food. It was not about an eating disorder but rather to find a comfortable middle between avoiding processed foods, eating healthy without going extreme and still looking good. One of 2017 resolutions!

“Oh, just eat normal food” wasn’t an option because unfortunately today’s norm in North America is the Western diet full of processed foods. It is not normal, people. The rest of the world doesn’t eat like that. I have seen normal where I grew up.

2016 was a breaking point nutrition wise because real life really slapped me in the face: raising two children properly (if that can ever be defined), taking care of myself, trying to keep a healthy marriage after 15 years together, do what I love and that generates income, and eating clean has been a hell of a task past year.

I lost patience. I lost last bits of patience for anything/anyone complicated that makes me tired and uncomfortable. I have no room in my brain for anything extra besides a bare minimum that keeps my family healthy, happy and balanced.

Now that January is here, and it is that time of the year when many people are trying to figure out how to become healthy going forward. Which is very confusing and scary, I agree.

Everyone jumps on Google and that is when majority of people throw in a towel after a few weeks.

Because it is just too much. Too much info, too many rules, too much load for any average North American family. Not if you are single when you have all time of your life (you do, trust me), but that is not about me. Me and Alex decided long time ago – there are people and then there are parents.

The other day, I was driving and listening to the radio. Some another BS cancer foundation was encouraging people to work out every day for the month of January to support cancer something. Here, a perfect recipe for failure. Nobody should or can do that for a sustainable long-term success. But they don’t care.

So, today I’m sharing my real food journey.

How I, as a busy mom, stopped being afraid to eat and gain weight.

How I stopped calculating.

How I stopped thinking about it all the time.

It is work in progress but I think I did it. I’m sharing my journey of figuring out what to eat from 2011 to 2016. It was one hell of a ride.

For you, busy moms who do it all and want to feel and look good.

So, you stop feeling bad when you see a perfectly groomed skinny food blogger eating a smoothie bowl for breakfast, sitting at a glass tabletop table with golden legs, and looking dreamily in the window. And then she goes to a yoga class deciding what to wear for 30 minutes. And then she comes home and makes a balanced perfectly looking buddha bowl for dinner.

I know exactly how that makes you feel. I know that that amazing human being looks freaking amazing and must have a good heart but has no freaking idea about my nutrition as a mom who is choking while eating. Lucky if I sat down to eat and lucky if I’m not eating my kids’ leftovers. She has no idea what pregnancy does to a woman’s body and how it is all downhill after that with every year. She just can’t teach me how to maintain my weight because no matter what she puts into her 20 something year old body, it will stay that way.

Before we dive in, I want to give big kudos to my friend, Jenn, who inspired me to write this post! While she was visiting in spring with her family, I served veggie burgers from Costco on a whole grain bun for lunch. What she said next, made a giant light bulb go off in my head: “You can eat this and stay so skinny?”. And later on I heard “You eat a lot!”. Another girl said this in her email to me: “I also loved hearing you say to have brown rice and sweet potatoes – so you believe that I can still lose weight eating some of these foods?”. Um, we have a problem.

Ladies, we have a problem and we are going to deal with this bitch right now. Grab a glass of wine because you can!

How I Stopped Being Afraid to Eat

2011: Counting Calories, Fake Foods and Crazy Workouts

I had my second child January 1, 2011 and ended up being 50 lbs overweight.

Somehow, I decided to be in the best shape of my life and get a six pack. My decision was mainly influenced by perfect Instagram selfies. And because I’m Ms. Can-Do-It-All. Social media is extremely dangerous for your weight loss success. Lesson learnt.

I started working out like crazy, 5 – 6 times a week, in my home gym. At same time fitness community was preaching lean proteins in abundance and keeping a food journal. I was surrounded by a few friends who drank diet Coke and ate I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, along with low fat sour cream and cream cheese, and counting calories with MyFitness Pal. I did the same.

I lost majority of baby weight, acquired loose skin on my stomach and still haven’t seen the abs. But I was so skinny and still I thought it wasn’t good enough.

How I Stopped Being Afraid to Eat

2012-2013: High Protein Low Carb Diet

Still determined to see my abs (because “determination” could be my middle name and “never give up” a last name) and influenced by “wonderful” Instagram #fitspo selfies, I embarked on a high protein low carb diet.

Because carbs. Those damn carbs. Ugh, I hated carbs with all my heart.

Still working out like crazy, my diet consisted 40% of protein, 40% of fats and only 20% of carbs.

How I Stopped Being Afraid to Eat

I got leaner, yes. But, man, was I obsessed with protein.

I was buying all sorts of animal products by tens of lbs. I was scared to eat outside of home because there was never enough protein anywhere and carbs everywhere.

Carbs, carbs, carbs. I became so scared of anything but meat and veggies. I was scared to eat fruit because carbs. It was a disaster.

For 2 years, I was super lean, with loose belly skin, without a six pack and completely hungry. All I could think of what am I going to eat next. And next meal always looked so sad except the cheat days.

2014 – 2015: Strict Clean Eating

In summer of 2014, during our camping trip I came across the concept of “clean eating”. Somehow, I got a hold of Clean Eating magazine and became obsessed.

I loved how Tosca Reno looked and food seemed normal. Like there was fruit, unprocessed sugars, lean meat, whole grain pasta, dairy, plant-based fats. It was all there. I could eat complex carbs. Yay. I loved it and I still do!

Finally, I stopped being hungry. So, I would say for entire 2014 – 2015 I have been a strict clean eater still eating quite a bit of meat but less. I wouldn’t touch a slice of pizza or a cookie during Holidays. And it felt fine. It was fine. I even didn’t have any kind of sugar or white flour in my house. All cool. I also stopped working out that much because still I haven’t seen my abs.

In last hopes to get a six pack, I decided to try a few other diets. Just to see what happens because I was still not 100% convinced I’m on the right path. I tried to eat gluten free thinking maybe, just maybe, gluten is the reason for my “extra fat”. I tried and failed at it miserably because it is a diet.

Sometime, in between clean eating, high protein low carb and gluten free extravaganza, my mom got diagnosed with a tumour, which we all thought was cancer, and I started doing my research on “what causes cancer”.

We started eating a lot organic on a budget. Somewhere around the same time, a friend posted an article on the side effects eating too much protein. Basically, an article about a typical Western diet and a diet of many fitness professionals. “But wait, I’m not eating a typical Western Diet. Am I? It just can’t be me.”

But it was! While I ate plenty of fruits and vegetables, I ate too much protein. Which can’t be healthy. It just can’t be. Too much of anything is not a good thing.

Considering my mom’s scary diagnosis, I had to let go of eating animal based products every day and dive into full of carbs plant-based dinners, lunches and oatmeal breakfasts. You can eat plant-based protein powder only that much. I was sick of it. So, I just let it go because having cancer is scarier than gaining 5 lbs.

Since then, I am very sceptical of high protein diets like paleo and Whole 30. No matter who says what, when I look at photos and posts of people who follow those diets, it is just too much meat. I can’t wrap my head around how wholesome carbs can be worse for us than a steak.

I am not stupid. And interesting enough, people embark on a Whole 30 month long journey and then they quit. Because it is a diet which is not sustainable. Whatever you lost, you will gain back. This is why I preach a healthy lifestyle vs. diets.

It has to be day in and day out comfortable eating. But we all learn, right?!

2016-Now: Real Food, Less Meat and Balance

In 2016, I turned 35. I felt like I have gained some life experience with which came confidence in everything I do.

The days when I questioned myself as a mother are long gone – I’m amazing! Past year I felt much more calm while everything around me was freaking out.

I started taking one day at a time and seeing my inner peace a top priority. I got so tired of the outside noise. All of it. I use social media and internet strictly for business and research purposes.

In terms of eating. What do I eat now?! In 2016, I came to a complete peace about my food as well. I stopped freaking out about every single food item being wholesome, organic and good for me. It just isn’t possible. It is not real.

I am still eating clean 80% of time, the rest 20% I eat what there is to eat. We still eat a lot of organic. I mean, we still eat VERY clean but I do buy an occasional salami for kids for lunches, organic ice cream with sugar instead of making my own with honey, sprinkles for Christmas cookie making.

Because I am too tired to go to 10 different stores to get best ingredients possible. Tired to make dinner some nights. Want to relax with friends and at restaurants where I have less control over food. Want to let it all go sometimes. However, I still make best choices possible most of the times. At restaurants, I wouldn’t order fries, pasta or burger because I just don’t crave it! I order salads, quinoa bowls, lean protein etc.

How I Stopped Being Afraid to Eat

But the main thing is that I let go off my fears of eating something that might contain sugar or white flour. I eat a bit of it and I am good.

  • I now eat whole grain bread.
  • I seriously stopped stressing out about food 100% of times.
  • I buy wholesome foods 90% and allow some room for our and kids’ treats.

We eat what we want to eat but here is the coolest part – we do not crave junk! We don’t. Very little. And that is why real food diet is such a cool way to live. I did say clean eating is not a diet but a lifestyle. Your taste buds get clean, you crave physical activity, you drink water without forcing yourself and you live happily ever after.

During these Holidays my kids were offered so many sweets. Guess what? They ate some, they did. But half the time they said “no”. A neighbour couldn’t feed them any pretty icing sugar coated cookies. They didn’t want any. They find majority of baking too sweet. Unless I make it. See?

I’m not even stressing out anymore. I don’t have to. I will be posting more on the topic of how to make your kids eat healthy and clean. As always, my very different outlook from the rest of North America. I beat my kids to eat kale and quinoa, call social services.

What about my weight? Of course, after jumping off the high protein band wagon and allowing more healthy carbs in my normal life now, I gained some weight. Of course, I did. Maybe 5 lbs, maybe 10 lbs.

I honestly don’t own a scale. I don’t care about a scale. I fit into majority of clothes (pants are a bit of a challenge but that is what Lululemon is for).

How I Stopped Being Afraid to Eat

Do I look fat? Alex loves my “extra meat” and I love drinking cold white wine under hot Mexican sky. Worth it? 100%.

This picture is so me. Like this is real me. The way I am.

The reality is what happened is that I gained back what I am supposed to have. I was unnaturally too skinny for my body type. It was artificial. Six pack is artificial. Anything that you have to maintain with a special treatment is artificial. It’s OK if you are enjoying doing that. I wasn’t.

By age of 35, I finally realized that personal trainers are not health professionals and know it all. Nope. They know how to work out. Nutrition wise you have to use your common sense and do your own research. I honestly wouldn’t trust anyone to tell me what to eat because it could have a life changing effect.

And I definitely offer only my own story. You have to use your own common sense and do your own thing when it comes to eating. It’s like asking a friend for a divorce advice. Um, excuse me. No, nobody should advise on that. No, thank you. Let them figure it out on their own.

What about workouts? I still work out 2-3 times a week. I like strenuous DVD workouts to a certain extent mixed with long walks, bike rides and skiing, with occasional lazy days. I love how exercise makes me feel. And yes, it helps me to maintain weight. For sure. My weight fluctuates with seasons, like anyone’s. Now winter time, I miss my walks because I gained a few lbs. While in Mexico walking on deep sand every day I lost those lbs. Sure, I would love to be leaner a bit but that will come if I want to and start moving a bit more with warmer weather. So, things like those. I hope this post helped you a bit to figure out your relationship with real food.

The bottom line is that I am not afraid to eat anymore while still looking good and being healthy!

P.S. And I have bit of cellulite on my butt. I do. Whatever. It is covered by a swimsuit and underwear. Alex still says he can’t see it so who cares. In fact, all my friends and family love my butt, girlfriends want my butt. I am not a butt person but I will take it. Fine. If they insist. So really, extra bit of fat is not that much of a problem, my friends.

You can eat real food! All of it!

How I Stopped Being Afraid to EatHow I Stopped Being Afraid to EatHow I Stopped Being Afraid to Eat

53 comments on “How I Stopped Being Afraid to Eat

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  1. Olena, I haven’t tried your recipes yet, but I love your attitude and outlook on life! I’m sure I am going to really enjoy your recipes!

  2. Thank you so much for this article. Finding a healthy balance in life, especially for women, is challenging. I found your site while searching for healthy dinner ideas and ended up reading your other blogs as well. This article hit home for me. I’m 54 and have spent a lifetime wrestling with my relationship with food, body image, weight, ever-changing “do’s and don’t’s” and while I’m sure that giving up alcohol and eating a completely organic, plant-based diet would make you feel amazing, always seem to chalk that endeavor up to something I would never be able to sustain. Who am I kidding? I’ve never even gotten through day 1! Anyway, what I hope for my daughters, myself, and all my sisters out there is that we learn to embrace who we are, our essence, our amazing bodies and spirits and minds, and become everything we have the potential to become…within reason, of course:) Thank you, Olena, for your transparency and honesty! You’re making a difference!

    1. I agree. It’s hard to strike a balance in life for women because of all the messages we are being bombarded with. That’s why I’m against any diets, they ruin our relationship with food. It’s very important not to follow the herd but rather listen to your gut and be honest with yourself.

  3. Hi Olena! I just discovered your sight while searching for clean eating / plant-based diet recipes. My family has been on this adventure of eliminating processed foods since my middle child was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease last winter. I have not been able to find a nutritionist I trust to help her with food choices so we’ve been relying on the internet. There is so much confusing and conflicting information!! Thank you for sharing your journey. I’m looking forward to trying many of your recipes. I’m looking forward to the healthy benefits of clean eating, both nutritionally and emotionally. If you know of anyone, or websites, you trust with information about IBD-safe clean eating I’d love to have you share with me. Take care! <3

    1. Hi Heidi. I’m truly sorry to hear what you have to go through. Food is our medicine, so you are on the right path for sure. A few years ago, I have met a local nutritionist, Desiree Nielsen, who seems to be making sense and is popular in Vancouver. Check her out. Good luck!

  4. Fat? No, dear, you look healthy and beautiful… I have anorexia-related issues myself. I suffer every day- still working on this… 🙁 I wish I’ll come at that point too

    1. It takes some hard work to reset your mind and get rid of all stigma that has been projected on us by social media! Limiting social media in my life has helped tremendously to improve my mental health!!!

  5. Olena, my dear!!! You spoke to my heart! Let me repeat what others have already told you: thank you for beying honest)
    I believe that many of us, mothers, have similar struggles….
    I had to hear these words(or read)
    such an encouragement!
    think of it as saying words of encouragement and giving hand to the one who has fallen …
    Hugging you!!! Be blessed?

    1. Hi Viktoriya. We all have these struggles, even me, I still do sometimes. This stupid noise in our heads…hate it. But we can make things better together by helping each other, by saying truth out loud and sharing our feelings. Glad I could help!!!

  6. Just read this post , Your amazing your sure humor and determination kept me reading,I guess because I share similar experiences, I Ma a chef whom just retired after 40+ years as a executive Chef with many accomplishments,and I love my work I been doing some blogging for some time but only cause I enjoy it but now since retiring I am going full steam ahead.we share weight issues which you have done a great job overcoming , for so many years I struggled with weight problems , always to busy now I too have started a healthy eating and slowly but surely seeing some improvement, maybe not real noticeably, but after some daily walks and eating right, it’s been what I am beginning to push on my blog. I so agree with you and found your post most inspiring I signed up get your post , I like your blog thank you once again for your post, I truly enjoyed reading it .
    Chef Ernest

    1. Hello Chef Ernest. You are way ahead of majority people of your age. Healthy living is simple, you got it – eating right and moving. eager awaiting your blog content as I am sure I could learn some things from a seasoned chef.:) All the best to you and please don’t give up – change is slow but you will love the result.

  7. Lol Yes! It kills me when I see instragam posts stating that we are a family allergic to everything! Hooray for no gluten, diary, etc…I’m trying to find my happy place as well in terms of how I feel about my body. Shopping is therapy. 😉

    1. Honestly, I have removed myself from social media except for very minimal work related interaction. I deleted my Facebook, I do not browse Pinterest – only post my recipes, and very minimal interaction on Instagram. Honestly, it made me unhappy with my body and life all the time, and simply just made me angry with all the fakeness. I feel so much better as I stopped competing and live in present! Why do I need to see what other families are eating and doing unless I need to learn?!
      Your weight loss is amazing!!! I think it is nearly impossible to feel 100% happy with your body after having kids. So much happened and so much is happening now raising them. And that is OK, we have to learn to accept that graciously – our bodies should not be ripped and lean, but at same time they shouldn’t be obese and unhealthy. Living a realistic healthy lifestyle and doing what you can without overworking yourself is the goal. Again, no social media helps a lot. Majority of the stuff is not real life!!!
      I haven’t shopped for years for reasons that I was always on a way to a better body and then I will shop. I finally gave up this nonsense, am almost happy with my body (working on that) and started to shop again – feels and looks much better. You just have to start and then you can’t stop haha. All the best to you, my dear!!! It is VERY HARD to raise 3 boys (they are so loud and busy) and you should give yourself a slack, seriously, we all should. We are too hard on ourselves! I’m working on that too.

  8. Great post as usual! I get SO sick of hearing about the whole30, gluten free etc. Honestly, different bodies tolerant different foods and that’s ok! If truly your body is intolerant of a group of foods then don’t eat it. I just feel like people think its cool to be gluten free or vegan or whatever the case may be. Real food is the best medicine. You look amazing! Any woman who is confident in their own skin no matter the size is beautiful!

    1. You got it, I feel like you. Fad diets are cool in many ways – cool for those who make money off of them, and cool for their followers because let’s be freaking honest – every human being LOVES extra attention and feeling special. Many looooooooove having allergies, real or not, just like kids, seriously. My 10 year old LOVES to tell everyone he has “a pop” allergy, like LOOOOOVES to talk about it.
      Thank you, I think I’m almost happy with myself – I’m working on it, getting there! You nailed it – confidence, isn’t it like a magnet?! I have always been attracted to women who are happy and confident because they are such a pleasure to be around, and yes you are right – they are beautiful, they glow (again I won’t pretend that rolls down to knees are beautiful, sorry, can’t do that).
      I bought myself a different bottom and I think if I took a photo like this one now, I would be happy. It pays off to shop as your body changes LOL.

  9. Olena, I stumbled across your website when searching for a recipe and I am so glad I did! I have had an eating disorder (all different types) for 20 years and am at a point in my life (33 years old with a 17 month old and a 14 year old) where I am done! I have immersed myself in a body love/ body acceptance community online and it has really opened my eyes to how messed up our expectations are for thinness and for being “fit”. There is so much research showing that health is definitely not size specific even though the media and most medical professionals tell us the only way to be healthy is to be “lean”. There is a wonderful new documentary out called “Embrace” and it is life changing! Definitely watch the trailer! Thank you for your open and honest post and thank you for sharing all your wonderful recipes, can’t wait to try them with my family! Cheers!

    1. Wow, you are 33 and have a 14 year old. You have outdone me lol. That was very brave of you!!!
      Definitely we are dealing with extremes today re: body image. On one side, we have women whose underwear is not “cutting” into the flesh, and on another hand we have “any size is beautiful” propaganda. Extremes of both world. It is hard. We need to talk more openly about health and balance, not extremes. My vouch for this year – I won’t be holding back what many are afraid to say out loud.

  10. Love Love Looovveee your post. I have been through this same issue about clean and dieting. Having lost about 30kg, I have finally cemented my relationship with food. I eat what I want and I eat a lot even my colleagues at work can comprehend how I eat that and still stay lean and I always say to them, ‘just eat right’, don’t eat crap and you’ll be fine. Forget diet, eat well and treat your self once in a while. Thanks again Olena, this is a really great post.

  11. Hi Olena, I have been following your site for a few years. You have lots of good stuff on there and your site is my favourite one. I can relate to many things you are saying having immigrated from Germany to Canada in 1999. One question: when you refer to the extra fat that you are carrying – I am not sure *where* you think your body has extra fat. I think it is brave to put your pic up on your site. Thank you for being so honest and for all the great recipes 🙂 Take care, Ella

    1. Thank you for your kind words.:) I guess it doesn’t. After dieting when I was leaner, I’m still learning that what I have on my butt is normal for me. I’m still getting used to it a bit. You are right. It is my body type and nothing is wrong with me. If I ate differently maybe I would have thought so. I’m almost there – without a noise in my head. Let me just revamp my closet and I should be healed.:) Amazing how much damage can be done to a woman’s brain by today’s marketing.

  12. You’re completely adorable Olena. I love this post, and the more personal posts you’ve been doing lately! I miss reading your blog– as you know, motherhood can zap all your free time, especially if you are trying to start a business! But your blog inspires me, so I need to read it more often. I have had similar struggles gone through so many cycles– but I am with you. Clean eating, lots of produce, and not restricting anything too much definitely helps me feel sane.

  13. Amen sister. I’m 61 and have had the same fears. Good to hear your voice about this. Keep up the good work and for your honesty. Refreshing! Nancy

  14. GREAT POST–This needs to go viral. Your approach is MUCH healthier than all those silly “let’s jump on a food trend so we can make money” blogs which are NOT based on real science. I have struggled with an ED (anorexia) and am now at a life threatening weight. I got here following all those damned paleo, vegan what have you blogs and diets and im sicker than ever. I am however moving forward, ditching my scale and joining you Olena in your approach–let’s let sanity and TRUE health reign supreme!

    1. Absolutely, Pam. Go with your heart! Your gut is always right although it has no science behind it. Just common sense. Ugh, seeing “bestsellers” on Amazon that preach “my way or highway” makes me feel disgusted with their lies and money grabbing tactics. Just like big corps. Then I see the author and go “yeah, you clearly do not live a real life of a busy working family; that is why all this time for BS”! And people fall for it. Sucks. Hopefully, my posts like these will help open the eyes of some although I am fully aware I’m swimming “against the flow” in the blogging world. BUT again, I’m a 35 year old who can do what she wants to do, thank goodness! Good luck to you and be healthy!!! Let me know which recipes you try.:)

  15. Olena, such a perfect post! It sounds as though you have finally figured out what really matters… and it is family and life, not how much we weigh, etc. It has taken me years (I am ever-so-slightly older) to figure out that eating and life and living need to be in balance. And, I can tell you from experience, life goes so much faster than we anticipate. Our children grow up, our parents pass away, our friends continue to search for answers to life along side us. I love your post because you remind us that we cannot have everything. We have to choose. So choose to spend active time with your family (not in the gym all the time), eat good, nourishing foods that sustain us, and enjoy life. I read so many blogs on the internet, and rarely follow any, but I am curious about your journey, I want to try your recipes, and I think you are a rarity on the ‘net… an honest, real woman who is doing the best she can. Thank you for an encouraging start to 2017!

    1. Hi Deborah. You are right. Somehow after I had my 2nd child, I realized how fast life goes by. One day I was a 19 year old worrying only about myself, then I was a 24 year old with one child, and here I was 29 with 2 kids reliving baby stage again and didn’t I just have my 1st baby?! And I still felt like 19. How fast did it all happen?! Don’t we all feel that way?! I quickly realized I don’t want a picture perfect life but rather want to live in the moment and have fun. Balanced eating became part of it as I am trying to live my dream as nobody has all time in the world for everything picture perfect. Thank you for your kind words and I will try to be the most honest myself this year blogging in order to be helpful to all of us, girls, instead of worrying about what I have to do. Screw that.

  16. As a young woman who’s 2-years into my recovery journey from anorexia, I thank you for this wonderful post. I have come such a long way and restored much of my health, but every once in a while I struggle with disordered thoughts (being afraid to eat a particular food). Your post is just what I needed to see and reminded me that I am MUCH stronger than my eating disorder and can enjoy foods in a healthy way for me. Thank you 🙂

  17. Olena! You know I’ve been with you for almost as long as you’ve been blogging! Mostly because your upfront honest, sharing of information, as you know it at the moment, is just my style! Yes I could be your mum, but I believe the younger generations can learn the most if we open ourselves to our children and even our grandchildren! (I have an 18, almost 19 year old granddaughter!)

    This is, of all your posts, my very favorites! I have made many, many recipes from your collection, and loved almost every one of them!

    But this one post is the one that touches me the most. Having fought eating disorders (mostly bullimia..occasionally anorexia) from my early 20’s to my mid 30’s, I completely get why and how anyone could get caught up in a diet, and seeking a certain body area, like focusing on the elusive 6 pack! (Though I’m not calling that in any way an eating disorder!) In my rollercoaster of youthful food games I have been very underweight and I have been very overweight. At 5’2″, 83 lbs, and a top weight of 237lbs, which led me to weight loss surgery because my doctor believed it was the right thing for my off the charts blood pressure and cholesterol.

    I have spent the last …at least 20 years trying to learn to moderate and make peace with my relationship with food and find the perfect healthy balance in nutrition. All the while balancing a normal weight without going to extremes in wither direction, both of which I had visited before and needed not to redo! Uncussesful, I gave in and had gastric by-pass surgery 11 years ago. Then every possible thing that could go wrong with the surgery has gone wrong during that first 6 years. First my gallbladder had to be removed, then I had terrible stomach ulcers that caused me to vomit most of what I ate, so the surgery had to be amended to remove the ulcers. I had issues after that when the stitches used did not dissolve and more issues with my shortened intestinal tract not absorbing some nutrients and I needed an IV backpack of nutrients for 9 months. Really, it has been and still is, a nightmare!

    Your healthy living blog (and I say living not so lightly) has gotten me through many days of not knowing where to turn for ideas for our next healthy meal, and your living healthily outdoors by taking family walks and hikes has encouraged both myself and husband (I prod him!) to get up and get out in the fresh air! We might not have the gorgeous scenery here in IL USA, but your photos are encouraging enough to get us up and out in the cold!

    I feel sort of like we are growing together in thing, the clean eating lifestyle! And if a donut or a piece of decadent chocolate sneaks in once a week, I just think about how we’ve come and how much better off we are to have that treat occasionally! It used to be daily, for gosh sakes!

    Olena, I think you are truly beautiful as you are now! And I’d be proud to sport your butt in those Luluemon’s! Mine has all but disappeared, running down my hamstrings! Seems like should be able to scrape it back up with a spatula and pile it back up where it belongs…

    Anyway, I truly thank-you for all you have done for me. The recipes, the confidence, the research and no nonsense information that you put out there for anyone that wants to learn.

    1. Awe, Laurel. I think you just gave me a new perspective on my butt for the rest of my life until it drops. I will love it from now on!
      I wish I had my blog 11 years ago so maybe you wouldn’t have gone through that damn surgery…Oh well, you have come a long way and are doing great! My mom doesn’t eat like you and she knows better but still…Thank you for everything you have said. That was a lot typing with which, I have to admit you, you don’t seem to struggle anymore. 😉

  18. You Rock!! You have seriously made my life so much healthier!!! I love to bake now, all of your recipes are easy to follow and taste delicious. I have made close to 20 of your recipes and have loved them all. Thank you so much xoxo

  19. Yay! I am cheering for this post. I’ve done the same thing- high protein, no grain, high-fat, etc. etc. diets even all under the umbrella of clean eating and exercising, and my health and weight have been ALL over the map. This past year or so I’ve finally said “I am going to nourish my body by actually listening to what is does and doesn’t need and wherever I end up is what my body will look like”. I’ve stayed at the same weight for months and finally feel comfortable which for me is the best feeling.
    It’s so awful how women think about their bodies- I can’t tell you how much brain space, time, and energy I’ve completely wasted obsessing about my weight or about food. UGH! Never again!

    1. 100% true that, Laura! Me too, I have dieted under the clean eating umbrella. Very well put.
      If you eat clean majority of time, lead an active lifestyle and enjoy life, there is nothing to worry about the way you look. You will end up looking what you are supposed to be looking. Definitely not obese. Just normal beautiful self without a six pack or whatever.
      The problem is when women do not eat clean and gain a lot of extra weight, but that is not about us or this post. It is a totally different animal. Good for you!

  20. Great post, Olena! I am feeling information overload with all the eating possibilities that you have gone through (I’m a few years behind you-into meat and veggies right now). It’s almost paralyzing how many options there are and trying to figure out what to eat. I think that’s why I like your posts about “what I ate this weekend”.

    1. Well, you will figure out what works for you eventually. I think we should eat what we are meant to eat – real food. At least, this is where I am at at last. I have a very hard time to believe that chickpeas, quinoa etc. real ingredients produced by nature can be bad for us. WIAW posts will resume on Monday.:)

  21. Hello my friend!! As always, I love your honesty and how brave you are to share your growth and reflection. You inspire me with how hard you work and balance the fun and what’s ‘really’ important. Family and friends.
    You look beautiful as always in all your photos!!
    Have a great night! Xo

    1. Oh, my friend. You have no idea how much you taught me as I was able to see the other dark side of the processed food world LOL. I still remember how you said that raising a child on processed foods should be considered an abuse. So true! You are doing amazing out of everyone who I ever met with similar history. And your kids are one of the best eaters, after mine haha. Love you! xoxo

  22. You are always on point Olena. That is what I love about you. First off, you look like a beautiful healthy mom. Doesn’t get much better than that!!
    I needed to read this today, I’ve had a challenging few months and the lbs are up and I don’t feel good. But I just had a wonderful dinner filled with vegetables & potatoes, a little meat & cheese…and that felt good. Real good.
    The info is confusing, especially this time of year. I know better yet I still fall into the traps. Kudos to you for quieting your space, Im desperately seeking quiet in my space. Thanks for talking real, mom to mom. Happy new year friend. xo

    1. Um, no time for BS LOL. Thank you, my friend. I finally feel good about myself. I finally feel like I grew up (literally) and realized I just can’t expect a 20 year old body back after that body carried 2 babies and has been raising them for 10+ years. I finally got real with myself BUT without letting it all go South LOL. Happy New Year, Aggie! Go for walks – they do wonders! More walks and you will see lbs coming off. Especially in Florida go now before it gets so hot. xo

      1. You are absolutely right (everything) !!!! This is my walking season and I’m glad you reminded me because I miss it desperately in July. Walking good for mind and body!

  23. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your post. Thank you for being so open and honest. And yes, we do have problem – I have a problem – with my relationship to food. Addicted to processed food and bouncing between a free-for-all eating and such restrictive eating that gets results but it totally unsustainable. I am going through the same feelings as you right now. Feeling like I want all the “clutter” out of my life and head. Just want things to be simple and joyful. I am getting there – thank you for being a light on this path. Very grateful for you. xoxo.

    1. I hope this post helped you a bit! Last night we went to a friend’s new house, enjoyed wine, ordered sushi and had a great time. Today both, me and Alex, are working out. I ate sashimi, brown rice and a few pieces of California roll. Few glasses of wine and beer. Slept with almost no regrets. Working on getting last bits of noise out of my head. Tonight will make butternut squash soup for dinner. So, it is all about balance.
      And about the inner peace and quiet, I think it is a stage for any mom with small/middle aged kids. I feel like I’m in a sandwich between demanding kids, a wonderful husband (who has no memory because he is a man) and my mom who is, to be honest, kind of like another kid (sorry, mom).

        1. I’m tuning them out when I have had enough. All of them, little and old, even mom. I am doing it. It is gonna be about me too from now on. A separate post to follow LOL.

  24. Great, great post! A lot of us needed to hear all that! Honest and sincere as usual, so thank you for that. By the way, I would kill for your figure…you have great legs and nice arms….what else do you need? No one besides a few strangers on the beach or the husband ever see the rest, so enjoy what God gave you and what you’ve worked hard to maintain while keeping your sanity. Thanks!

    1. Somehow part of me still thinks I should be a bit thinner around thighs. But I think it is just the noise! I’m working on it. When I look in the mirror now I want that part thinner, but when I look at pictures of myself I like everything. Somehow mirror and photos are different things. I need to work on last bits of noise because I know 10-20-40 years later I will be looking at today’s photos and think “what did I complain about?”. Majority of us will. Isn’t that how it goes?! So, working on getting rid off last bits of noise. Almost there! Thank you for your kind words. Heavy weights leg workout to maintain what I have today. xoxo

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