Healthy Eating on a Budget

I get it: healthy eating can seem expensive but there are some great ways to save money at the store! Here are my top tips for eating healthy on a budget! 

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1. Be prepared for upfront costs // When you are ditching the white pasta and sugar-filled spices, you'll feel overwhelmed with the upfront costs of buying new oils, spices, nut butters, and staples. That first grocery trip can feel extra pricey so save up some cash for a few extra weeks to offset the sticker shock.

2. Don't buy single use ingredients // This might sound familiar from my #MealMethod post, but avoid buying single use ingredients that you would only use in one or two recipe. If you only need a tablespoon of an expensive oil or product, do a quick Google search to see what you can replace it with or leave it out of the recipe altogether. If the recipe can't live without it, go ahead and pick it up but then find other creative uses for that ingredient so it doesn't go to waste.

3. Ditch the pre-made condiments // Healthy staples like ketchup, mayo, and BBQ sauce come with a hefty price tag so either learn to make your own or live without dousing your food in condiments. Instead, use quality spices to add flavors and cooking methods that don't dry out your dish.

4. No pressure to buy organic // I'm a huge advocate for local, fresh, organic produce and locally raised grass-fed meats but I understand that it's not always plausible for each family. I think it's better to eat a healthy diet of meat and lots of vegetables, even if they're not the "cleanest". I like to stick to the EWG's lists for produce and buy the best meat I can find. You can read more about that here.

5. Shop the sales // My local Sprouts carries a really high-quality grass fed ground beef and every few weeks it goes on sale for $3.99 a pound. If you're not sure how that compares, I pay about $8 a pound from my local rancher. I love to support my local ranch, but can't beat 50% off! When you see items on sale like this, stock up on freezable or shelf-stable products! You can often find good sales at Kroger, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, Amazon, or the online retailer.

6. Weigh the cost + adjust your perspective // Healthy eating can seem overwhelming on your budget, but I'd encourage you to run the numbers of what you spend on doctor visits, over-the-counter medications, eating out, grabbing Starbucks, etc and see where you can cut back or move funds around. In 2015, Americans spent only 6.4% of their income on groceries -- the lowest amongst the 85 countries studied. We also have the highest healthcare spending in the world with an estimated 277 billion spent on chronic and preventable disease in 2013 alone. What if we viewed our grocery bill as the new healthcare? What if we viewed our health as an investment, not an expense?


Do you have any money saving tips or questions? Leave a comment! 

be well,

Cam

Introducing #MealMethod

When I first changed my diet, I was so overwhelmed that I picked up a few dozen cookbooks and made a meal plan based on the recipes. When I made the shopping list, it was full of odd ingredients I had never heard and quickly found out that they were quite expensive too. I became frustrated with buying a full bottle of one ingredient then only using a small amount in one recipe. Then every time I made dinner, I would spend hours in the kitchen trying to make a new recipe only to be disappointed with how it turned out. There definitely had to be a better way!

So about a year ago I ditched the idea of a meal plan and instead created a template I call "Meal Method". I found it was so much easier to make simple pairings with what I had on hand and allows me more freedom and less time in the kitchen.

Meal Method is a template that pairs one quality protein source with three different vegetables and any toppings, dressings, or sauces.

That's it! Simple, right?


Here's why I love #MealMethod so much:

1. IT'S CHEAP // Instead of buying expensive ingredients you won't often use, you can use ingredients that are readily available at any farmer's market or grocery store. You don't have to shop at Whole Foods or go to multiple stores to hunt down an ingredient. You can buy what's on sale and work that into your week.

2. IT'S EASY // If you can grill, roast, bake, fry, or chop, you're already there. You don't need any special kitchen appliances which is great for my fellow minimalists! You simply have a meat thawed each evening and decide what to pair it with and top it with. You don't need to learn any special cooking tricks (unless you want to!) or follow a recipe.

3. IT'S HEALTHY // Michael Pollan, in his book "The Omnivores Dilemma", famously sys "eat food, not too much, mostly plants". I couldn't agree more. When we include sufficient and high quality protein, we're then free to load up our plate with nutrient dense vegetables that are full of vitamins and minerals our body needs.

4. IT'S INTUITIVE // When I was an avid meal planner, I would often wish I had anything but what I had planned for dinner that night. That would lead to going out to grab something or eating something I didn't enjoy. When I just follow a template, I can easily adjust it to create a meal that sounds fulfilling and satisfying.

5. IT'S ADJUSTABLE // If you're following a low carb, high fat diet you can make a sauce from almond butter or avocado oil. If you need carbs to fuel, make one of your vegetables a starch like plantains, sweet potato, yucca, or squash. You can use the same template for any diet, protocol, or macro count you need and still keep it seamless without having to start an entire new meal plan.

EAT FOOD, NOT TOO MUCH, MOSTLY PLANTS
— MICHAEL POLLAN

Let's talk more about each piece of the template!

First, we start with one serving of quality protein like chicken, grass fed beef, pastured pork, wild caught fish, bison, buffalo, or pastured eggs. Typically, a serving size of protein is equal to the size of your fist but you can adjust that to your personal needs.

Second, add three (or more!) different vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, brussel sprouts, green beans, cauliflower, squashes, potatoes, zucchini, peppers, etc. The options are endless!

Last, add toppings, sauces, or dressings such as salad dressing, sunshine sauce, pesto, chimichurri, mayo, buffalo sauce, BBQ sauce, green onions, nuts and seeds, salsa, guacamole, cilantro, herbs, etc. Use the toppings and sauce to really combine the flavors of your protein and vegetables and make it a dish.


Here are three examples of #MethodMeals! In two of these, I use greens but don't think that you have to eat salad each meal! There are many different combinations!

Buffalo Chicken Salad Protein: Grilled chicken brushed with Frank's Red Hot Sauce Vegetables: Spinach, spring mix, celery, carrots, tomatoes, avocado Toppings: Green onions, Primal Kitchen ranch dressing

Buffalo Chicken Salad
Protein: Grilled chicken brushed with Frank's Red Hot Sauce
Vegetables: Spinach, spring mix, celery, carrots, tomatoes, avocado
Toppings: Green onions, Primal Kitchen ranch dressing

Greek Tuna Salad Protein: Wild caught canned tuna Vegetables: Spring mix, cucumber, tomatoes, avocado Topping: Primal Kitchen greek salad dressing, salt, and pepper

Greek Tuna Salad
Protein: Wild caught canned tuna
Vegetables: Spring mix, cucumber, tomatoes, avocado
Topping: Primal Kitchen greek salad dressing, salt, and pepper

Taco Bowl Protein: Grass fed ground beef with taco seasoning Vegetables: Red onion, bell pepper, zucchini, cauliflower "rice", grape tomatoes Topping: Salsa, guacamole, cilantro, lime

Taco Bowl
Protein: Grass fed ground beef with taco seasoning
Vegetables: Red onion, bell pepper, zucchini, cauliflower "rice", grape tomatoes
Topping: Salsa, guacamole, cilantro, lime


Your #MealMethod may look different than mine, but you can adjust it all to your needs and preferences, all while maintaining healthy portions of quality meat, vegetables, and good fats! While it may seem difficult to come up with combinations, you'll soon find that it's much easier to simply follow the template and you'll be creating healthy meals in simple ways!

So try the #MealMethod, snap a picture, and share it on social media using the hashtag! We can make REAL FOOD so much easier if we just get back to basics.

Questions? I'd love to help!

be well,

Cam

Collagen Chocolate Cake Cookies

When I was a kid (okay, and well into adulthood), I loved removing the tops of muffins and cupcakes and eating just that. There's something about the moist top of a cupcake that is just extra delicious. When I created these I was hoping for more of a volcano cookie texture but what happened was even more magical - cookies that tasted like cake but without the load of sugar and flour.

I know. I know. Like I said, magic!

These come together super quickly and come out of the oven warm, soft, and fluffy and have just a hint of sweet, making them lower carb than other cookies.

You can serve them right off the pan or if you're feeling really wild, you can top them with frosting. You didn't hear that from me! 

These cookies also contain my favorite ingredient: collagen! Collagen is great for hair, skin, nails, joints, gut lining, energy, metabolism, liver function, you name it! Vital Proteins is my favorite brand and you can find it on Amazon (because #Prime).

Ingredients
2 pastured eggs
2 T raw honey
3 T unsweetened almond butter
1 T vanilla almond milk (or 1 T regular almond milk + 2 tsp vanilla extract)
1 T ghee or grass fed butter, softened
1 c blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 T cocoa
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 scoops Vital Protein collagen, optional
1/4 c finely shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In mixer or medium size bowl, whisk eggs, honey, almond butter, almond milk, and ghee until well combined. Add almond flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa, cinnamon, and collagen and mix on low. Add shredded coconut and mix only until incorporated. Use a spoon to create 9 medium sized cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until tops are golden and you see slight crackling. Allow to cool before eating! If you have any leftover, store in an airtight container in the fridge!


If you make these babies, make sure you share a picture with me on Facebook or Instagram! Enjoy!

xo,

Cam
 

Paleo Baked Boneless Buffalo Wings

The other day a cooking video came across my Facebook news feed of baked buffalo wings. They looked delicious, but full of things I wouldn't eat so I set out to recreate them in my own kitchen! These boneless wings are grain free and dairy free but won't leave you longing for the less-than-awesome version. They're also low carb for those of you who eat low carb or keto, and cheap and easy for those busy weeknights.

Even better, they reheat like the all-stars they are!

You'll definitely want to make these for your next party, potluck, gathering, or simply for dinner. Enjoy!

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts, cut into medium size pieces
1 egg
2 c blanched almond flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp course black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 c ghee
1/2 c buffalo sauce or Frank's Red Hot Sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In small sauce pan, mix ghee and hot sauce on medium low heat until combined. Pour sauce in large mixing bowl and set aside to cool. On a plate, whisk egg and set aside. On second plate, whisk almond flour, garlic powder, sea salt, pepper, and paprika and set aside. Coat chicken pieces in egg mixture then place in bowl with buffalo sauce. Continue that until all chicken is in the bowl. Using tongs, mix the chicken in the sauce until everything is evenly coated then use the tongs to remove the chicken and coat in almond flour mix. Place the coated chicken on cookie sheet. Bake the chicken pieces for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and edges are golden brown. Serve with greens and Primal Kitchen ranch.

To reheat, place in oven and heat at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes. This will help them return to crispy texture and not get soggy.


If you make these, I want to see! I love seeing recipes come to life in other people's kitchens. You can send me a photo or tag me on Facebook at @lemonandfig or on Instagram at @_lemonandfig!

Happy Thursday!

xo,

Cam

Raw Paleo Brownie Truffles

Oh my. These truffles.

I don't know that "truffles" is quite the right word, but couldn't decide between balls, bites, or truffles and truffles sound the least weird. So here we are with some raw brownie truffles.

They're reminiscent of Larabars but pack less sweetness, more quality fat, and includes some super amazing ingredients. They're a delicious dessert (read: not a snack and never a breakfast) that comes together in just a few minutes!

Make these for your next par-tay, take them to work, propose to your girlfriend with them, mail them to me. Just make them.

Raw Paleo Brownie Truffles

Serves 9

1 c medjool dates, pitted
1/2 c cashews
1/4 c coconut manna
3 T cocoa
2 T unsweetened almond butter
2 T raw honey
1 tsp of vanilla
2 tsp hemp seed powder
2 scoops collagen peptidesoptional
Dash of sea salt
Finely shredded coconut, for rolling
Cocoa, for rolling

In a blender or food processor, add dates and cashews then blend on medium-high or until dates and cashews are chopped finely. Add coconut manna, cocoa, almond butter, honey, vanilla, hemp seed powder, collagen, and salt and blend until mixture is thick, sticky, and well combined. Roll mixture tightly into ping pong ball size truffles and roll in coconut or cocoa, then place on a parchment paper lined sheet. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge.


As always, if you make these, send me a picture or tag me online! I love seeing these recipes come to life in your kitchen. 

xo,

Cam

P.S. Need a coupon code for some collagen? I gotchu. Use code VPA-4647-0JHUA-THWG for 10% off at Vital Proteins.

My Top 5 Secrets to Weight Loss

I've always been a curvy girl. Growing up, I was always taller and heavier than girls my age which was a huge insecurity for me. You can read my entire story here, but the short version is that I've always had an unhealthy relationship with food. By time I was 21, I was very sick and recovering from trauma, battling depression, and tipped the scale at 221 pounds.

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After many, many, MANY failed attempts at losing the weight, I finally found what worked: real food. That's it. Just REAL FOOD. The weight loss didn't happen first, nor should it. Health happened first. You can lose weight by not eating much or working out a ton, but that doesn't promote health or long term results. I focused all my attention on correcting digestion, balancing my blood sugar, regulating my hormones, eliminating things my body didn't agree with, and learning to love myself again. As I did that, my body fell into it's sweet spot of manageable, sustainable, healthy weight loss (over 75 pounds!)

 

I didn't lose the weight to achieve the perfect body. I lost the weight to achieve a healthy body. That's the end goal. That's what gives me the freedom to travel comfortably with my husband, to run with my playful dog, to serve in African countries, to play tag with children. When we chase aesthetics, the world will change it's requirements. So let's focus on weight loss as a tool of health, not a marker of beauty.

So here are my top five secrets for losing that weight (and keeping it off)!

1. Don't count calories. Calories only tell us the energetic output of a food item, and they can be massively manipulated by food manufactures. What calories don't tell us is the nutritional value of food, or how our body reacts to it, or even if it's a healthy food. Furthermore, when we limit our calories to the "diet standard" of 1,200, we are under eating which eventually backfires. Our body won't let us lose excess weight storage if it senses a famine. Lastly, counting calories isn't typically sustainable. If your weight balances in being a slave to MyFitnessPal, you will eventually fail. We want a healthy relationship with food that relies on common sense and our body's own signals.

2. Eat fat. The demonization of fat began in the mid-1950s and has been, in my opinion, the single most detrimental food myth of all time. We fear fat and instead buy things that are labeled "fat free" or "reduced fat". The problem is that fat gives flavor and food manufacturers know this, so they add an addictive substance back in where the fat was removed. That substance is called sugar and we are hooked. The CDC predicts that by 2050, 1 in 3 Americans will have Type II diabetes, a disease built on insulin resistance brought on by the onslaught of processed foods and sugar. So why did fat get the bad rap? Well, you can read about that here

Quality fat keeps our blood sugar balanced, our inflammation down, our brain health top-notch, and YES, our heart healthy. When we eliminate the excessive processed carbohydrates and sugars and replace it with quality fat, we stay fuller longer and with more energy too! My favorite fats come from avocados, coconut, wild caught fish, grass fed meat, pastured eggs, raw dairy, organ meats, and olives.

3. Don't overtrain. I recently saw a woman on Instagram who works out FOUR HOURS per day and is frustrated by her weight gain. This is because of cortisol health. When we send our body into a stress state, we release cortisol in order to keep up. Chronically elevated cortisol can increase your fat storage and impair insulin sensitivity (source), which is counter-productive to healthy weight loss. I recommend "short but smart" workouts like HIIT or Crossfit a few times per week. For those who are recovering from adrenal dysfunction or thyroid dysregulation, start smaller with yoga, walks, and mobility training.

4. Find what works for YOU. There is no "one-size-fits-all". Some people do better with a lower carb approach, some (like me!) do better with a higher carb approach. Some people can incorporate quality dairy, other's can't. We are all so different! The key is finding out what works with your body and what works against your body. I started with the Whole30 program, going through the full reintroduction phase. This gave me a clear picture of how my body fuels itself and set me up for long term success. I know what foods my body thrives on and can make conscious decisions about what I choose to eat.

5. Don't forget self-care. Self care is so important! It not only lowers our stress levels (remember cortisol and adrenal health?), but it gives us the space to love ourselves. We have spent so many years in a cycle of negative self talk, abusing our bodies, stressing over things we can't control, and it becomes so exhausting to our body and mind. Spend 30 minutes per day in self-care. Maybe that's a long walk with a podcast on, taking a bath, doing yoga, praying, reading, watching your favorite show, or drinking a cup of coffee on the patio. You are valuable, your journey is valuable, so treat yourself like it. Treat your body well. Love it, nourish it, use it to change the world -- you can't pour from an empty cup.


My secrets sure sound different than the mainstream advice of the low fat, calories in/calories out dogma, don't they? Good, I'm glad! That advice doesn't work and we have a nation to prove it.

So give my "secrets" a shot and see what happens! I'm here to help you and cheer you on.

Questions? Just ask!

xo,

Cam

Season Favorites // Summer 2017

Hiking. Camping. BBQ. Green grass. Windows open. Vacations. It must be sweet, sweet summertime! 

I am obsessed with summer and welcome the warm, bright Colorado days after an entire winter of slushy wet snow. I love the winter, I do, but when it's dumping snow in April, I just get over that magic really quick.

This summer will be full of exploring, adventuring, hiking, creek swimming with the pup, and DISNEYLAND for our five year wedding anniversary! I'm ready for my favorite season with my favorite things. Here are some of my latest obsessions for the season!

 

1. A Mind of Your Own // This book is a game. changer. for women who battle any sort of depression or anxiety. Kelly Brogan is straightforward and takes quality medical research and translates it for easy understanding. If you're ready to take control of your mental health this year, this is your go-to book!

2. Tarte Cosmetics Shape Tape Contour Concealer // Tarte Cosmetics is a stellar brand of clean(er) beauty products. They recently released this contouring concealer and it's seriously perfect! It goes on thick, but not cakey, and even though the price point is a little higher, the tube will last you forever! It's perfect at concealing undereye circles, blemishes, and redness. It's my holy grail of makeup.

3. Vital Proteins Collagen Beauty Water in Melon Mint // Vital Proteins is known for their quality collagen peptides that I believe EVERYONE should be taking, and this product kicks it up a notch and adds probiotics, vitamins, and minerals to aid in glowing skin from the inside out. It's perfect for those bare-face days!

4. Earthpowder Charcoal Tooth Powder with Peppermint // This product is brand new on the market! I've tried a few different tooth powders in the past but they all taste like baking soda and salt. Earthpaste launched these toothpowders and they don't taste like a mouth full of ocean water. The charcoal is a great natural whitener and the ingredients are squeekly clean without fluoride, artificial colors, microbeads, or glycerin.

5. Healthy Human Stein Water Bottle // If you've ever seen me in person, you know that my Healthy Human cruiser is always in my hand. The cruisers are great for every day but I've been eyeing this stein for the summer! It's great for hiking and will be perfect in Disneyland, keeping water cold for hours! This company is small and ran by some incredible women so I love supporting them!

6. Kite Hill Almond Cream Cheese // THIS CREAM CHEESE. It's my latest food obsession. It's made with almonds so its perfect for those who don't do dairy, but tastes just like the real deal. I love serving it with green apples, Simple Mills crackers, cucumbers, or with dates. You can find it at Whole Foods and Natural Grocers. 

 


What are you favorites for summer!? Shoot me a comment or find me on social media and tell me!

xo,

Cam

This posts contain affiliate links, meaning if you purchase something I get a small kickback. It doesn't cost anything extra for you and simply supports my blog! Thanks for the love!

Paleo "Cream of Wheat"

When I was growing up, my favorite breakfast was a bowl of Cream of Wheat with a ton of brown sugar and pancake syrup. It was a simple meal that unfortunately filled me up with gluten and sugar. I tend to avoid those things these days, but still hanker for the delicious breakfast some times.

Enter THIS RECIPE.

Oh my goodness. It's warm, lightly sweetened, and protein packed. What's the secret? 

Cauliflower.

I hear cauliflower is the new kale, and for all the right reasons. It's versatile, cheap, and takes on the flavors it's mixed with without being overpowering. That makes it the perfect vegetable addition to breakfast.

You can find pre-riced cauliflower at pretty much any grocery store these days or you can make your own.

Seriously, this breakfast is so easy!

Paleo "Cream of Wheat"

Serves 2-3

Ingredients
2 c riced cauliflower
1 c unsweetened almond milk
1 egg
1 large banana
1/2 c shredded coconut
2 scoops of collagen peptides, optional
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
coconut oil or ghee

In a blender, combine all ingredients until smooth. Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat with enough cooking fat to coat the bottom of the pan. Pour blended mixture into skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the cauliflower is fully, smooth, and most of the liquid is reduced. Top with cinnamon, coconut, maple syrup, honey, fruit, almond butter, or nuts!
 


Enjoy!

XO,

Cam

Thai Inspired Chicken "Noodle" Bowls

It's Monday! I love Mondays. They bring a fresh start and endless possibilities of what the week will hold. You know what I also love? Almond butter in pretty much any form. My favorite form is in a thai inspired dish with cilantro and red pepper flakes.

This dinner comes together super quick and easy and is pure comfort food. It can seem like too many steps and parts, but I promise it's more simple than it looks! If you're the type to meal prep, you can spiralize your zoodles, make your sauce, and dice your chicken ahead of time making it an easy process when dinner comes around.

If you don't have a spiralizer, no worries! You can find packaged spiralized sweet potatoes at your local health food store. Also, another helpful hint: rumor has it that Trader Joe's now carries coconut aminos for $2.99. That's half the price you'll find it elsewhere!

So let's dig in, shall we?

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Thai Inspired Chicken "Noodle" Bowls

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
Sauce:
1/2 c almond butter
1/2 c coconut aminos
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 dashes of fish sauce
1.5 T minced cilantro
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
1/4 tsp sea salt

Noodles:
3-4 medium sweet potatoes, spiralized
2 T avocado oil

Protein:
4 chicken breasts, diced into 1" cubes
1 lb broccoli florets
2 T avocado oil
salt + pepper, to taste

Optional Toppings:
Cashews
Green onions
Bean sprouts
Cucumber slices

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk all sauce ingredients together until well incorporated. Set aside. On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, toss broccoli florets and chicken in avocado oil, salt, and pepper. Place in heated oven for 25-35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. While the chicken is roasting, spiralize sweet potatoes and cook on medium-high heat in a well oiled skillet for 5-7 minutes or until soft, stirring often. Stir in almond butter sauce with potatoes, reserving about 1/4 cup of sauce. To serve, add chicken and broccoli on top of sweet potato noodles, and top with remaining sauce and optional toppings. 


If you make this, tag me in your pictures! I love to see healthy meals in your kitchen.

XO,

Cam

WOMEN WHO CHANGED THEIR WORLD // Becca's Story

I’m so passionate about stories. I want to hear the stories that have shaped people, inspired people, and challenged people. I believe we can learn so much about others and truly love them better if we just understood them. Their past, their pains, their accomplishments - all of these things help us know them better. For the next few weeks I’m sharing the stories of women who have changed their world and the world around them, whether that be through food, self care, lifestyle change, or through emotional healing. I want to share your personal successes, your dreams and goals, your passions, and your stories of strength in adversity. I want you to be heard and celebrated.

Today I’m sharing the story of Becca who has found immeasurable strength in recovery. I hope it inspires you and challenges how you look at addiction.

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Hello, my name is Becca and I am an addict and alcoholic. I am equally both and find importance in identifying as such. With this being said, I am grateful to say that I am sober today and have been since July 7th, 2013. My journey may not sound like one that comes to mind when thinking of an addict or alcoholic. My story does not include childhood trauma, lack of proper instillation of morals and values, an extensive resume of criminal charges and incarcerations, intravenous use while living homeless under a bridge, or walking the street corner with a bottle in a brown bag while holding a sign explaining my well thought-out plan to manipulate money out of you. In fact, my story does not include any of these things.

I was raised in a home filled with love, rules, support, encouragement, and consistency. My parents offered nothing less than a perfect childhood for me where hard work, accountability, and integrity were valued. Despite these idealistic early life experiences, I still found myself attracted to the lifestyle involving alcohol and drug use while entering into high school. My story does not include peer pressure or being offered a substance by a friend for my first-time use. In fact, it is quite opposite. My first time drinking alcohol and experimentation with all substances involved me activity seeking it. I will never forget the instant relief and comfort that was experienced in those instances.

See, I could have never articulate this back then, but my reality is that I never felt comfortable in my own skin. Never did I feel good enough, accepted, or that I was meeting expectations; however, all of this changed once I took that first drink, hit, etc. The internal turmoil of my mind would be silenced and I would experience a peace that was never before felt. This is what I would chase for the next seven years of my life. From the ages of 15 through 22, the comforting bliss that was experienced early on quickly diminished and my use was no longer a luxury, but a necessity.

From the outside looking in, many would have not known that there was a problem. I managed to graduate high school, obtain my bachelors degree in three years, and graduate with employment in my desired field. I was the definition of a functioning addict/alcoholic, and this is what kept me sick for a very long time. It reinforced a delusion that what I was not as bad as the people who I knew used and weren’t functioning as well as I was. I can tell you though that I don’t remember very much from what I learned in college, that I cheated and manipulated in order to graduate, that I simply quit jobs before they fired me, and that I often manipulated any situation that I could in order to maintain the persona that I so highly valued.

On the inside I was a lying, cheating, stealing, broken individual. I was aggressive or passive, depressed, consumed with anxiety, and downright miserable. I had broken relationships, couldn’t trust a single person that I identified as friend, was dishonest in every way to my family, and was ashamed of myself. Toward the tail-end of my use, I was suicidal with all of the qualifications required to be admitted into a behavioral health unit for suicide watch.

It was Spring 2013 and I didn’t know where to go for help. At the time, I was drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, and I honestly did not think that people went to rehab for just using these substances. I had this weird conception that my use was not bad enough, but I didn’t know where to start for recovery. How to do you go to your parents, who raised you to be a healthy member of society, and explain to them that the past seven years have been anything but that. I just simply did not know what to do, so the contemplation of ending my life continued.

Fortunately, I did not follow through with these acts because I had an unborn nephew on the way. I couldn’t imagine putting my sister-in- law through the pain of my death while still being pregnant and then having a new life enter this world.

My nephew was born on June 13th, 2013. You may notice that my sobriety date is just weeks after this, I believe that God used my nephew to keep me alive long enough to be introduced to a new way of living. That same week that he was born, a previous relationship was rekindled with someone who had become sober since we last spoke a year earlier. I had no intention of reaching out to them for help nor did I even tell him that I needed it. However, the time that I spent with him involved being around other individuals who were my age and sober. They were happy, had a light in their eye, and did not need a substance to enjoy their time spent with one another.

I felt accepted by these people and realized I didn’t feel uneasy or inadequate while in their company. I was intrigued and attracted to what they had in life. I found myself asking questions about how they did it and what worked for them. I soon attended a convention for young people who were in recovery where I was surrounded by thousands of others just like them. I didn’t go to this event to work towards maintaining sobriety; I simply wanted to spend my time with them. What I instead discovered was a message of hope that was life altering.

Some of those same friends are still in my life today and the actions to maintain their sobriety are same ones that I have taken myself. It is through honesty, willingness, and an open mind that I am able to wake up in the morning without feeling the need to use; but above all else, it is by the grace of God that my nephew does not have to see me intoxicated or be a part of the whirlwind which is my addiction. The steps that were taught to me and that I take today aren’t always easy, but they work for me. I have amended the wrongs of my past and have walked through immense fear in going back to those who I have harmed. I am able to help others today who have walked a similar path and are seeking redemption.

Those feelings of inadequacy and discomfort are still present in my life when I don’t continuously practice the skills that I have learned, but I am no longer compelled to put a substance in my body to alter my experience. There have been times in my recovery that depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts have returned but I have learned to find balance in both my emotional, mental, and physical well being to identify and correct concerns causing that pain.

I have found that successful sobriety, for me, includes a connection with a higher power that I choose to call God. Through this relationship, I am able to watch for and properly address anger, selfishness, resentment, fear, and dishonesty. I am able to be the person that I aspire to be, I am able to have healthy relationships with others, I am welcomed into my parents’ home, I am trusted to watch my niece and nephew and am allowed to be a part of their lives.

In addition to all of this, more days than not, I am able to experience peace within my mind and soul. I could have never imagined the life that I have today when I entered into this journey 45 months ago, but I can tell you that I am grateful there were forces greater than me working through others to bring me to a place of serenity.


I am so grateful to share Becca’s story. Addiction comes in many forms and affects many people. In Becca’s experience, she didn’t fit the “mold” of an addict that society believes in. I hope her story inspires you to see addiction differently and to love those who struggle. If you’re battling addiction, please seek help. Just like Becca, you're worth it.

Xo,

Cam


If you have a story of how you changed your life, whether that be through food, self care, lifestyle change, or through emotional healing, I'd love to hear it and share it! I want to hear about your personal successes, your dreams and goals, your passions, and your stories of strength in adversity. I want you to be heard and celebrated. If you'd like to share it on the blog, please click "contact me" below and we'll be in touch!