Whole30: What?

Alright here we are… it has actually come to this.

I am doing Whole30 for the month of December. And, if you haven’t heard about it – here’s the skinny: no grains, no dairy, no sugar, no alcohol, no legumes.

Which, if you know me, you know I live and die by bread and cheese, and could care less about alcohol and legumes. Also, slightly shamefully, sugar has been quite the issue in the last, eh, three months. 

So. My thought process pre-Miss America was that maybe I would try Whole30 when I got home. I love a hard reset (see: repeated fan of juice cleanses) and I knew this would be a way to keep myself disciplined in the ways that I really truly needed to be. 

Well, now that I am back, and I have gained weight, I figured it was time.

And let’s get just a few things out of the way here first….

Yes, I’ll be doing this through Christmas. 
Yes, I will be done on December 30th (mhm, today is Day 2.)

Look, I love a good challenge. I mean, I chose to compete in Miss Vermont the first time before I even had a talent. That being said, I also think Christmas is exactly the time that I should be doing this. I am a holiday food glutton. Stuffing. Cheese and crackers. Holiday cookies. Pie. Rolls. Christmas Eve taquitos (which I thiiiink is just a my family thing, but whatever.) So,  I knew that I didn’t want to wait until January – because frankly, December would just be month of guilt.

And, yes, I have gained weight. I have been to Miss America. I have come home, to continue to work three jobs, and know that I don’t need to be on stage in a swimsuit. I have enjoyed Thanksgiving.  I have eaten pizza, and bread, and cheese, and homemade cookies, and M&Ms, and Cheez Itz, and Starbucks, and mac and cheese. And here I am. 

I am nine pounds heavier than I was on stage at Miss Vermont.

That’s it. In the scheme of things, that’s not much. 

But, it feeeeels like a lot. 

And no this is not about losing weight.  This is about losing bad habits.  This is about breaking the cycle that I have set up for myself with pre-workout snacks, and rushed breakfasts, and unplanned lunches. It’s not about nine pounds.

It is about how I look at food, now that I know I won’t have 5 people staring at my body.

My body is still healthy. I still workout. There is nothing wrong with how I look – wait, let me say that again, louder for those in the back  there is nothing wrong with how I look. But I need to change what I am eating.

And finally, yes, it is just 30 days, without a few things. I’m still going to be eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, and eggs. There is no lack of food here. It’s just a lack of bad stuff. It’s just a lack of the stuff that makes you feel like crap anyways.

Well, except for sugar in your coffee. 

That makes me feel like magic, and I can’t have it. But, whatever.

So, that’s it. I’m doing Whole30. I’m doing it in December. I’m doing it to press RESET on the way that I eat. 

My expectations are really simple right now too. I will have cravings. I will be tired. But at the end, I will be healthier, there’s really no doubt about that. I will be happier with my approach to fuel over food. I will be more focused on what is in my food. I might lose nine pounds – I might not. 

I’m hoping I have it in me to post at the end of each week. But nonetheless feel free to check-in, hop on, and give yourself a chance here. 

One of the simplest ways that I can say why this is going to be worth it…I am worth a 30 day commitment. I am worth 30 days of not putting crap in my body. So, let’s see where this goes.

Give Me Grace, and Give Me Carbs

I have been Miss Vermont for almost six months.

I came back from Miss America two and half months ago.

My body is different. That's it, that's the whole story. My body is different. It is not that I'm overweight. It is not that I am eating anything and everything in sight. But I'm not at stage-weight. I don't look like I'm about to be on a stage in a swimsuit anymore.

And that is hard. 

I know that plenty of girls stay at stage-weight through their time as Miss State. I would wager though that most of them don't also work two jobs while holding a title. And if they do - work, and stay at stage-weight - I truly hope they do it from a place of health and happiness. Because my weight right now? It's not stage-weight, it's just my weight. It's just my body. It's just what I look like now.

It is normal.

And while I would be the first to raise my hand and say that making this transition has been hard and has taken as much confidence as it does to get on the stage in the first place...I'll add that I would be no where near as comfortable with this if it weren't for the people that I have in my life. The people with which I surround myself are some of the kindest (and most forgiving, yes, I know I'm a whiner.)

The people that lift me up, the people that support me, the people that help me remember that I am busy, and I am working hard, and if that means I can't eat chicken and broccoli for every meal that is okay. Those people make this weird transition stage of life easier.

Because let's be honest, this "normal" is still hard to accept.

It's not hard when you remember you get to eat pizza again, and you don't feel guilty for eating a slice of pie. It's hard when you think about it in terms of "this is what I have time for." Listen, I'm still in the gym 5 days a week, but that takes effort, and it's rarely seven days a week. That is hard to accept. I'm still making as much of my own food as I  can. But not having time to go to the grocery store and having to ask other people to help me cook because I simply don't have the time, that is hard to accept.

That's a normal that I didn't see coming. I knew I wouldn't live at stage-weight. I knew that part would take a little getting used to.

But the not having time to...maintain some semblance of control over my day-to-day, and having that lack of time be the thing that really forces your body out of "prep," that has been hard. Truly, it forces me to remember that I have three jobs. I work every day. Y'all, I go to the grocery store maybe every two and half weeks. That is hard.

You think that the consequence will be that you feel obligated to look a certain way. You think you know that what about your body is going to concern you once you've won. It's not that I don't wake up and see abs every day. It's that I don't have time to put in the same amount of work now, that I was putting in for the eight months that lead up to the pageant.

It's that this being so busy so often just leaves me feeling so lazy in other parts of my life.

And that's not real. I still bust my butt seven days a week, but even then, I might not have time to get to the grocery store. I still might not have time to go three Pure Barre classes, and run, and get to the gym. That frustration is real. That disappointment is real.

However, six months into this, the understanding - the grace I have to give myself on this one - that is the most real. I'm human.

So sure, losing my leanest body ever, I expected that. I just didn't expect to feel like I'm constantly in a hamster wheel, never quite finishing every single thing on my proverbial plate. I didn't think that that is the feeling that would leave me looking in the mirror, and thinking, well this isn't the body I planned on.

But I've come to a place where I can say, as much as I was prepared to give my post-stage-weight body grace and as much I was prepared to learn to accept how that looks, this is different, and this is hard, but it deserves just as much patience. We all know there's no one path to being happy with the body you're living in. We all know is a fluid place, and some days you just won't be overjoyed by what you see in the mirror. But I think knowing where our sticking points are - knowing why it feels so hard some days, that's where our extra patience is. The extra push to turn away from the mirror today, to accept the body that you see, and make tomorrow a little better.

Thank You, Again

I'm going to do one of those grateful posts that you see around this time of the year because frankly, it's another day of the week that I get to say thank you, and I so appreciate it, and thanks so much, and every other variation under the sun to all the people that deserve my endless thanks.

But thank you....

...if you supported me before I won the opportunity of a lifetime.

...if you have supported me since they put that crown on my head.

...if you have helped me keep my head screwed on tight in the last six months.

...if you have cooked me food, bought me food, or otherwise fed me.

...if you have handed me clothes out of your closet.

...if you have let me whine about the exhaustion.

...if you have driven or ridden with me anywhere this year.

...if you have supported me from afar.

...if you even considered voting for me for People's Choice.

...if you have invited me to an event, fundraiser, meeting etc.

...if you have remembered that I am still just Rylee.

...if you have helped me in anyway, been part of this life at all, thank you.

Girl, Bye

You know the feeling you get when you think everyone is talking about you?

Sometimes, they just are.

Welcome to being a Miss State.

People will talk about you behind your back, on the internet, and right to your face. People will criticize what you wear, how your hair looks, and how you do your makeup. They will talk about your talent. They will talk about your interview. They will talk about your smile. They will talk about your body. And 9 times out of 10, they've never even met you.

But worse than that, that means sometimes, they have.

Often the same people that will actively spend hours of their own lives finding ways to critique you while you're giving a year of your life to serve your state, actually know you quite well.

That is rotten.

And that is the job, right?

They tell you when you start out in this pageant-world, don't listen to the haters. You've got to do your own thing. Run your own race. Block out the people that want to talk about you. Know your own worth. If they are talking about you it is because they're jealous. Don't worry about the strangers on the internet.

That is all true, 100%.

You absolutely have to come into a job like this with an open mind, and a steel trap around your self-esteem. Your first night on the job there will be people in the audience critiquing your every move. Especially if you weren't "their" girl. Move on, block them out. And understand from night one that people begin to think that you are an object, not a person.

Because when you get this job, people start to believe they get have a right to you. You're a "public figure" now. Which, to some people, means that you are subject to any and all public scrutiny, regardless of the fact that you may be a normal human being who doesn't love that. When you get this job, you get a stamp across your forehead that says, say anything to me and pretend like your momma never taught you manners or basic humility. 

This will happen, this notion that you are present only to take on useless criticism, often.

But that's not the job. That's rotten, and does not need to be a prerequisite for being a Miss State.

Sure, plenty of people that you meet during your year will say things that make you go, seriously?! But the people that know you, the people that are supposed to support you, the people that are telling you they are on your team do not need to be those people. Anybody that has the gall to pick at how you dress, how you look at all, how you speak, or who you are as a person, needs to go.

It's that simple.

Listen, have you met Rodney? No? Well, they need to be cut out of your bubble.

It took me six months of this job for me to turn around and wave buh-bye to people that clearly didn't have the right intentions in their hearts when they acted like they were supporting me. It took me six months to see that some people will always be critical, or jealous, or just mean. It took me six months to see that the people are still genuinely supporting me on this crazy endeavor are the only ones I want there.

And look, I know about trolls. Sure, the internet can suck. And no, I don't recommend looking to see what people have said about you online. Because for every kind comment there are 6 nasty ones. But the internet is not my problem.

After all, I had already been prepared to not listen to the haters, to run my own race, to know my own worth. I came into this truly believing that strangers on the internet had nothing on me.

They still don't.

But now, neither do the people in my life, that say things out loud, that are downright shameful.

But You Ain't Seen It Shine

I used to have this really crippling fear that my life was never going to look the way I wanted it to, and that I'd always have these big dreams that weren't coming true.

Slowly I started to prove myself right. Around the time I graduated high school was the first time I really panicked that everything was very quickly, and very obviously not going as planned. I clearly remember driving home one night, just before I left for college, and thinking, Oh my gosh. I'm never going to be happy like that. That is never going to happen  for me. 

It was crippling. It was so damning to hear myself realize that some things were never going to happen for me and that was just going to be how it was. End of story.

This continued, here and there through my time in college. And finally my senior year, you might remember, I had some pretty literal come-to-Jesus discussions with myself. Well, it finally occurred to me that if things weren't going to happen for me, and I wasn't going to fall in love with so and so, and I wasn't going to instantly move somewhere, or get a certain dream job - that I was going to be just fine.

See it took oh, let's go with five whole years, of periodic sheer panic at the changes in my life for me to realize that those were the best changes that I could have never predicted. That no matter how set on it I had been, no matter how sure I was, no matter desperate I was, that these little things would prove to be true - I was wrong. 

Falling in love with my childhood crush? I would have never even recognized the accomplishments I have under my belt today.

Taking that internship in Orlando? I would have regretted leaving so many important things behind, in an effort to chase something that might have damaged me.

Not taking a year to live quietly in Montpelier after school? I would have been dead broke and wildly unhappy.

And here I am today, repeatedly stunned at the turns my life has taken. I'm constantly surprising myself when I say things like: I live in Burlington. I'm Miss Vermont. I'm a wedding planner. I ran a half marathon. I've been to Miss America. I'm happy with this weird chaotic version of a life I imagined.

So, recently, as I have been catching myself saying, Uh oh, this isn't going like I thought it was supposed to, I've been forced to remind myself...well, that is the plan.

In the last few months especially it has been important for me to recognize that, every time I feel even a centimeter of panic about the changes and the shifts in my life. Down the road, maybe a day, maybe a month, or three years, when I realize I am downright blessed by the sheer magnitude that shift, I always look back at those single moments of panic and think, see? See, it takes only a second of life feeling so royally effed up to generate a freakin colossal onslaught of happiness.

That patience though, to wait for the colossal onslaught of happiness? Well, we know how I do with patience. And we also know I'm quite good at taking a centimeter of panic and letting it turn in to a mile of misery. So it's been...a lesson, recently. It has been a bit of a test, you know, to see if I can keep from making myself crazy as I wait for the little problems, the big annoyances, and the scary things that weigh on my heart, to pass into something great.

The cool thing is, I can see it now. It's not as downright terrifying as it used to be. It used to feel like everything was passing me by. It used to feel like every amazing thing that came my way, was promptly ripped right out of my hands.

Now, I can't say that changes aren't ever scary. I definitely still sometimes feel like I was meant for things that I don't get. And yes, things have exited my life when I was so not ready. But now, at least know, it serves a purpose.

I know if I can wait it out, the good stuff comes.

And you guys, I know I've been quiet, and I know things have clearly been a little harder lately...but the good stuff? It's real. As hard as these few...weeks, have been. As rough as some things are...the good stuff is so real.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

This is me saying that some things have been really hard recently.

Not everything, not even mostly everything.

But a lot of things have left me struggling bit in the last week. I think part of it is exhaustion. I know some of it is fear. Plenty of it is confusion. Any way you slice it though it includes one panic attack, quite a few tears, and not enough long mornings in bed.

And I'm saying this not for sympathy, but because I think many people would be surprised to hear that this is this hard. Particularly because so many good things are happening. Particularly because it (hopefully) doesn't look like that is the case. Particularly because I promised we would talk about this. I promised I would make my voice heard on this one.

Because this is important. It's important to say that not every day is the end of the world, and not every day is easy. Even the days with good food, and some laughs, and plenty of water, and almost enough sleep...even those days are not great sometimes.

That's okay.

Remember, that is okay.

But I'm saying it here. Because some days hurt, and that's okay. Because I'm still going to go to an appearance and enjoy myself in live entirely in those moments, and that's okay. Because I'm still going to acknowledge this, and work with it. Continuing through each day with a smile that takes effort isn't ignoring it. It's living with it. It's learning that hard days make good day brighter. It's asking for help when you don't feel like it. It's sending the text that says, I know this is stupid but I need to freak out about this for a few minutes. It's not wearing makeup to work, because heck yes extra sleep. It's saying out loud that this is not what broken looks like. This is just what I look like. This is just what my brain and my heart have gotten together to create.

That's okay.

I don't feel guilty about taking care of myself.

I don't feel guilty about saying that some parts of my life are really hard right now.

I don't feel guilty about this life being messy, and full.

But I sure as hell would feel guilty if I kept quiet about this struggle when I know that saying something has the potential to help someone. 

More Practice, Less Perfect

I don't know if it's a me thing, or an everyone thing. But I would say around the time that I was in high school I started to realize that there was a distinct difference between who you are in "public" and who you are "at home." You know, you don't burp at the lunch table. But you would totally burp in your kitchen at home.

Wait, that one is definitely a me thing. Sorry.

Anyways you get it, right? That moment when you actually understand what it means to focus on your authenticity. That moment when you realize that you get to present exactly who you are to people around you. Or you get to decide not to.

I think somewhere in my first year of high school is when I realized that I could taper my own authentic self. I figured out that I could be the weirdo that loved Disney, and sang off-tune, and really could not kick a soccer ball to save her life. Or I could be the girl that was likable, and not too annoying, and still not too pretty - but slightly funny, and quiet when necessary.

Luckily for all of you, I gave that up somewhere in the end of high school, and dove head first into being this authentic balls to the wall weirdo day in and day out.

In doing that, I do still try to be a lot of things. I try to be kind, humble, compassionate, forgiving...but I still am doing it while being wholly me. And it has been interesting, really in the last six months, how people respond to that. You know, not everyone will support you being authentically super weird. Not everyone will get it.

Actually, heads up, a lot of people will just shoot you dirty looks. It's cool, smile back.

But I think what I've found most important is that while you're out there singing Disney songs, and taking a strong stance on pineapple on pizza, and being really sure that leggings are your most flattering piece of clothing...you've gotta remember, there is nothing to be gained from being anything less than everything that you already are.

Right? You don't become someone stronger, or kinder, or more capable because you've pushed parts of yourself to the wayside. You don't become someone who supports the individual weirdness of others, by not letting your weirdo banner hang high.

I look at this way, I am a living breathing testament of the power of working hard, and honestly trying so hard not to give up, and not always being patient, but trying so hard to follow His plan for my life.

My life is just one long example of putting faith over fear, going to bed saying forgive me, and waking every morning to renewed grace. That's it. That's what I've got on my side when it comes to living my whole life as just...me. And if that is what keeps my head above the water, and my little lifeboat from capsizing, well that's not enough for me to justify thinking that my authenticity is any less weird than someone else's.

You dig tuna salad? Watch horror movies? Mess with numbers for a living? Wear corduroy? Man, more power to you. That is so not my shade of weird. If that's you, living your best, authentic, life. I say, go for it. Let me stand back and you ride that motorcycle.

I think that's also probably why it's been hard for me to keep reminding myself that it's okay if other people aren't riding this train. Because I just don't care. So long as your weirdness isn't also, I don't know, racist/sexist/homophobic/xenophobic or otherwise just hateful for no purpose - girl, you do you. Right?

Right. Usually. And yes, to some degree it's a consequence of the job I have, that people will look at me, scrutinize me, and attempt to decide if how I live my life measures up to how they think I ought to be living. But just as the input of others doesn't sustain me, it doesn't destroy me either. As hard as it can be. As rude as it can be. As ridiculous as it can be, to hear other people attempt to sway you.

Well, above all of that comes this really outrageous bout of peace and fulfillment, when you recognize how your pursuit of this authenticity will so perfectly lend your heart to kindness, compassion, humility, and downright happiness.

Look, it's not easy. It's not easy to just put all of what you are out there and say, accept it, or don't. I think every day I keep some weirdness in, because it's scary. But I think that if you can give yourself some room to be uncomfortable, at least for a little while, you'll really learn to love what it's like to know you aren't hiding the parts that make you whole.