Let’s talk about why I started Everyday Maven and tell you a little bit more about me. For as long as I can remember, I had a tendency to lose and gain weight. Usually, it was the same 10 to 15 pounds, up and down, up and down, up and down. I found myself attracted to fad diets, quick fixes, cleanses, fasts, thinking about diet pills, extreme exercise, really anything that would give me somewhat instant results and not require me to make too many long-term or permanent changes. Can you relate?

When I was in my late twenties, I put on a substantial amount of weight (about 40lbs) after an ankle injury. The injury wasn’t really to blame – it was me and my yo-yo eating habits, not being in reality about portion sizes, too many carbs, too much cheese and not facing the fact that loving food isn’t a free pass to eat whatever you want. The ankle injury was my excuse at the time, laziness was my choice and the result was a lot of extra weight.

Paleo Chicken Pot Pie from www.EverydayMaven.com
Paleo Chicken Pot Pie

My then boyfriend (now husband) and I quickly picked up the pieces, got our asses to the gym (him doing it more for me since he has a superb metabolism and can pretty much eat whatever he wants for the most part) and I proceeded to drop the bulk of the weight. Later, we got engaged and with a dream wedding looming in the near future, I quickly upped the ante, watched my portions, counted calories and began doing P90X. I felt good about where I was at for our wedding but still beat myself up over not being “thin enough”, not “losing enough weight”. So much negatively and brow-beating and clearly not someone who had made peace with any food demons or really conquered bad eating habits.

I coasted for a while and used all of the after wedding parties, celebrations and the impending holidays as a new excuse to eat whatever I wanted without moderation and soon found myself pregnant.

Arugula Salad with Lemon Balsamic Dressing from www.EverydayMaven.com
Arugula Salad with Lemon Balsamic Dressing

You know where this is going right? Yep, I enjoyed my pregnancy, probably a little too much. Cravings are real and I will NEVER tell a pregnant woman not to indulge or enjoy but again, it’s all about balance and that is something I just didn’t have. So, I gained weight. A lot of weight. Like 70lbs. I blinked and found myself with a new baby, a body I hated, low self-esteem and a general sense of discontent.

It took me a while to face reality and accept that I was responsible, not my pregnancy, not cravings, not breast-feeding problems, not pregnancy-induced sciatica, nope – just me and my choices.

Paleo Pesto Meatballs from www.everydaymaven.com
Dairy Free Pesto Meatballs over Zoodles

I high-tailed it to Weight Watchers, hit the scale, almost had a heart attack when I saw how much I weighed and committed to myself that I was going to do whatever it took to make the right changes so that this cycle would finally be broken.

The WW program seemed easy enough — control portion sizes, everything in moderation, nothing too extreme, exercise is good, power foods are better and fruits and veggies are free. But, behind that was counting Points Plus and knowing what is in your food.

Twisted Tuna Salad
Twisted Tuna Salad aka The Best Tuna Salad You’ll Ever Have

If there is anything I had picked up along the way, it was that clean food mattered and organic, whole foods were the way to go. Oh, yes, I had managed to get fat on whole foods (for the most part). It wasn’t Doritos and Soda that took me down, it was Artisanal Cheeses, Freshly Baked Baguettes and Organic Dark Chocolate. Too much food is just too much food – no matter what kind!

I scoured the internet for whole foods based Weight Watchers recipes and found few, if any. I found food blogs with great photography but not consistent food, blogs with semi-clean recipes but that needed substitutions and work to be good, but what I mostly found were blogs promoting the same old, same old processed crap calling it “low fat” or “Weight Watchers Friendly”.

So, I started creating my own recipes and sharing them with like-minded people. And with that, Everyday Maven was born!

Paleo Cashew Pancakes from www.EverydayMaven.com
Grain Free Cashew Flour Pancakes

I successfully lost over 55 pounds of that 70 that I had gained but it seemed that no matter what else I did, I couldn’t lose another ounce. I spent months restricting my Points, eliminating wine, late-night eating, exercising more, etc. Nothing worked. Nothing! Nothing at all.

That is when I heard of a friend who had just completed a “Whole30″. If you are not familiar with the Whole30, I highly recommend starting with this book – “It Starts With Food“.

It is essentially an elimination diet that focuses on real food. No gimmicks, no starvation. Just one-month spent eating really cleanly to learn more about your body, digestion and potential reactions to certain classes of foods (dairy, grains, sugar, etc.).

That is when I feel that I “woke up”. I thought I ate clean but I realized that food that comes in boxes, bags and cans isn’t usually real food. The Whole30 was a wake up call for me and changed my relationship with food and subsequently my entire family’s eating style.

Italian Sausage and Cabbage Soup from www.everydaymaven.com
Italian Sausage and Cabbage Soup

I get a lot of emails asking me if I still do Weight Watchers. The short answer is No. The longer answer is here.

What you will find here are real food recipes for families that don’t take all day to make. Recipes that are full of flavor and span the globe with cultural influence. I hope you find my dishes enjoyable and I genuinely appreciate you reading my site!

Thank you for listening – I know that was a lot and I have to say, it wasn’t exactly easy to write and put myself out there like that but, I think it’s necessary and if I inspire just one person to make real and lasting change, it is worth it.