Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles

When I was younger, I wasn’t a picture of health. My mom will tell you differently (MOM if you’re listening… I had glasses, no boobs, and long crimped hair. I was not cute), but I was, frankly, overweight for my age and had zero self-confidence. I didn’t like the way I looked or how I felt.

By the time I reached high school, my brain was already infiltrated by media telling me that I needed to be thin, pretty and perfect. For the next several years of my life, I focused on losing weight and I did, but honestly, I still completely lacked self-confidence. I spent tons of time in the gym, and while this period in my life ignited my love of running and fitness as well as of good food, it also negatively skewed my perspective on how to reach my goals.

I’ll save the long story for another day. The short story is that I wrecked my metabolism by trying any “lose 10 pounds in a week” plan that I could get my hands on and over-exercised.

Thankfully, I came to my senses (dear senses, you sure took long enough). I realized that to be clear-minded and happy, you need to fuel yourself with delicious, nutritious food and make time for self-care. In my case, self-care includes lounging when I need to, listening to my favorite music, taking yoga classes, and spending time with my family and friends. Most importantly, I spend time alone, giving my head a chance to catch up with my heart.

Now, in the age of social media and the internet, I have the opportunity to seek out people whose philosophies align with mine. I’m able to be inspired by amazing humans and learn new lessons from these people every day. One such person is Tara Stiles, founder of Strala Yoga, a NYC based studio that focuses on movement to bring awareness to the body and become stronger both in mind and body.

I’ve followed Tara for some time now, and recently her popularity in the U.S. skyrocketed thanks to her collaboration with Reebok (you’ve probably seen her famous cloud pants before). While she does design some bomb clothing, it’s her lifestyle that I admire most. When I found out she was writing a new book called the Make Your Own Rules Diet, I knew I had to read it. Just from the title I could tell that this wasn’t your typical “follow my plan to look hot!” book. This was going to be the real deal – a life changer.

Make your own rules diet Tara Stilesphoto provided by Tara Stiles

I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to read an advanced sample of  Tara’s book and share it with you. I can assure you that as soon as it’s released (November 11!), I’ll pick up a copy of my own. Here’s what I took away as the core of the book:

“When following someone else’s rules leads us further away from ourselves, we start swimming in dangerous territory. We chase the external and grasp at the next best thing that never lives up to its promise. And worse yet, we begin to think of ourselves as failures.”

This book aims to lead us back to ourselves in three ways: the mat, the cushion, the kitchen (i.e. yoga, meditation, food). Tara writes that when we spend time in those three areas, we can feel, move, and believe. Those are the three principles by which we can make space for ourselves and begin to thrive.

“The more space you have, the better you start to feel and the more you’ll want to continue the great feeling.”

Tara’s writing captivated me throughout the book, which includes personal anecdotes and stories (she’s so inspiring!), yoga routines, meditation routines, recipes and two different “transformation” plans to follow, if that’s your ish or you need a little guidance.

While I only had a sampling of these, I can assure you that the meditation and flows are easy to follow and rejuvenating and the recipes simple, clean and delicious. Look! I can prove it. This is Tara’s Roasted Acorn Squash Soup. It took minimal time and prep. Plus, I didn’t see a single recipe in the sampling I received with more than 10 ingredients, not counting spices, which I LOVED.

acorn squash soup make your own rules diet

I’m highly recommending the Make Your Own Rules Diet for one specific reason: Tara doesn’t tout her views as the best, she simply wants to share information with you and let you make your rules. We are all different, so how could one prescribed diet or routine fit us all? It can’t! With that in mind, you can truly take away what works for you from this book. I loved it, and I know you will, too.


Full disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. I received a BLAD copy of Make Your Own Rules Diet free of charge. All opinions are my own. 

Questions of the Day:
>> Are you familiar with Tara Stiles?
>> What do you think of the lifestyle philosophy shared here?

More places to find me:
Twitter: @angiggy
Facebook: nuttylifeang
Pinterest: Ang @ Nutty for Life


My Thoughts About The 21 Day Sugar Detox

I want to preface this post by saying that I am not a licensed health professional or an RD. The experiences I share on this blog are unique to myself. What works for me works for me, and it may not work for you.

Okay, so it’s Tuesday! This is the first full week of school that I’ve had for … three?… weeks, I believe. That’s okay with me, really. I appreciate my weekly schedules, and while days off are fun for a while, I don’t think I could take that any more. Enough small talk for today, though – let’s get to the meat of today’s post: my experience with the 21 Day Sugar Detox.

If I’m being honest with you, I was really nervous about admitting that I was doing the 21DSD. That’s why I was so nonchalant about saying it on here. I think people often misconstrue the reasons behind trying out new ways of eating. Note that I didn’t say “dieting,” there. Personally, I don’t believe that fad diets work. Been there, done that, and I’m very wary of them now. If I’m going to do something like the 21DSD, it must align with my values and have some valid research backing it up. However, the 21DSD intrigued me. Let me explain.


The 21DSD book is filled with information not only about how to eat during the 21 days but also the science behind why that works. The creator of the 21DSD, Diane Sanfilippo, ends her preface the book with these words: “My goal has been, and will continue to be, to show people how changing the balance of the food on their plates, as well as their habits around sweets and refined foods, will change their lives.” I went into the 21DSD with the intention of experimentation. I wanted to see how limiting my sugar intake for three weeks would make me feel, both physically and mentally.

After the holiday season, I felt pretty crummy. I was bloated almost constantly, and I had some pretty crazy cravings for all things sugar. Now, I am not one to turn down a cupcake or chocolate, but when I started to not crave vegetables as much, I knew something was wonky.



I’d seen several reviews of the 21DSD, and all of them were positive. I decided to recruit my girl Cassie on board, and we looked into the 21DSD seriously.

My goal for the the past 21 days was to cut those sugar cravings, lose the bloat that I felt, get “regular” (ahem), and ultimately just see how my body reacted to this way of eating. My goal was not to lose weight. Let me say that again for you: my goal wasn’t to lose weight. I didn’t take before or after pictures. I didn’t weigh myself before, during, or after. I simply just wanted to feel better.

The Food

What could I eat?
Gluten-free grains (1/2 cup per day), limited starchy vegetables, most other vegetables, full-fat dairy, meat, fish, eggs, most nuts and seeds, and limited condiments

What about fruit?
One green-tipped banana (actually my favorite kind, people think that’s weird), green apple, or grapefruit per day

What couldn’t I eat?
Refined carbohydrates, soy, wheat, flour made from grains, cashews, peanuts, alcohol, and sweeteners, among a few other things

What did I eat?
Check out this What I Ate Wednesday post for a typical day.

To be truthful, the 21DSD did not feel restrictive at all. A lot of it was similar to the way I already ate, just with less fruit and grains. Sure it was strange to not eat peanut butter, most fruits, and oats for a few weeks. I had to turn down alcohol with my friends (frankly, that was fine – I don’t have the money to spend on that right now). But all in all, I had maybe one or two moments through the entire program where I really missed those things.


The Experience

How did I feel?
When it was all said and done, in a word: amazing. For the first few days, I was completely fine and feeling great. My bloat started to decrease. By the end of the first week, my digestion was regular again. During week two, I had some hungry moments, so I compensated for that by adding some extra almonds into my day as a snack. I would also add in desserts on some days, like coconut oil chocolate almond butter cups (the easiest thing to make, ever) or coconut flour mug cakes. By the start of the third week, Cassie and I were texting back and forth praising the 21DSD.

Overall, my body just felt like it was working more mechanically like it was supposed to. I did have an acne flare, which I am attributing to “detoxification.” I don’t think I lost weight – but like I said, that wasn’t my goal. I did lose the bloat I mentioned, and I can happily say that my sugar cravings are gone. This weekend, when I ate a cupcake, I didn’t feel like I wanted ten cupcakes. One was good.

Something to note here, though, is that it would be beneficial to stagger adding back in foods that were eliminated. Since my family was here this weekend, I went straight back to most foods, barring alcohol. I had chips, tofu, bread, a cupcake and white rice all within the weekend. My stomach was in a bit of a tizzy Friday night (the last day of the 21DSD was Wednesday), but by Sunday morning I was feeling great again. We will see this weekend how I respond to alcohol (ha!).


What did I learn?
First and most importantly: fat is GOOD, and it will not make you fat. Second, it’s fun to vary breakfasts. For a while I was stuck in a breakfast rut, but this made me step out of my comfort zone and eat more savory breakfasts. Okay, back to the fat. “Full fat” anything might look intimidating in our world of low-fat lovers, but they just haven’t experienced the greatness that is full fat coconut milk in coffee. Coconut oil tastes fab in mug cakes. Eggs are more flavorful cooked in olive oil. Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are damn tasty. And when we eat enough calories in a day, our bodies thank us. They run more efficiently with fat. Oh, and obviously, vegetables are as good and good for you as ever.


Where do I go from here?
Well, I can say that I don’t feel like I need to add sweetener or sugar to everything anymore, that’s for sure. I actually probably will cut back on my stevia usage, if I use it at all. A lot of things are very sweet to me now, even carrots, which is interesting. And the same goes for plain Greek yogurt – it’s no longer shockingly sour but rather enjoyable. I want to keep the principles of the 21 DSD, meaning decreased sugar, in my daily life. I want to continue to limit refined, processed foods. But I’m a realist – I’m not going to totally eliminate them. That’s no fun. The same goes with fruit. I like strawberries, blueberries, grapes, etc. Fruit season is coming up! And goodness knows I’m ready to face plant into some peanut butter (although I have a deep love for almond and sunflower butter now, too).

Would I recommend it?
Absolutely. *But, and this is important, only do what feels right for you.* Talk to your doctor if you feel you need help deciding if the 21DSD should be an option for you. Treat your body with love and care, always with good intention. It will respond positively to that, which will make for a more positive you. This worked for me. Like I said, it might not be your solution.

So that was a little long-winded, but hopefully you made it out alive. As I final note, I just want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the 21DSD. Cassie was a great support system, and it was actually a fun and worthwhile experience. That said… I’m going to have some wine this weekend.

Question of the Day:
>> Have you heard of the 21DSD? Tried it? Thoughts?
>> Have you tried full fat coconut milk in your coffee? Do it now.