Whole30: The end of the tunnel

street-car-italy-porsche

For me, Whole30 has been more about focusing on finding answers. So this image represents coming into the light more than coming out of the dark.

Well, it’s down to the wire.

Down to the end of my Whole30, anyway. I can’t even begin to tell you how worthwhile this process has been for me. What a gift. (I didn’t feel that way during the first week.)

Between all the prepping and cooking and what I’m going to call foraging – not to mention starting a new job – my plate has been full in more ways than one.

So now that my Whole30 is nearly over, I decided it was time for an update.

Actually, it’s not really over until I’ve reintroduced key foods back into my diet. So in another 10-12 days, I’ll really be done. And this is where it gets really interesting.

Po-tay-to, po-tah-toh

One example of how this works comes from my recent decision to take in more white potatoes. I was looking for sustained energy for tennis and, let’s face it: I missed something filling and starchy.

Anyway, last year, the Whole30 authors allowed potatoes into the diet, however reluctantly. In the last few days I found myself eating more of them, and it became very clear very fast that they are not my friends.

So we are breaking up.

Not the one for me

It took about three days to realize my fatigue, mental fog and pronounced aching in my joints (which I hadn’t felt as much since before Whole30) were all tied to my increased potato consumption. That’s how it is with Whole30 – and this was with on-plan food.

Other things I’ve learned on Whole30
  • So many new cooking techniques. If Whole30 doesn’t make you creative in the kitchen, I’m not sure what does. It’s been great in teaching me new things – flavorful and easy.
  • I’m stronger than I thought. Actually, I wanted results from this so badly, it became my sole motivation, and that beats will power any day. So it was easy to say no when I was around off-plan foods.
  • Eating out is really hard on Whole30. Many say it’s impossible, but in the right restaurants – sometimes mom-and-pop shops and at least at our local Carrabba’s – the staff will happily custom-make your meal. Our Carrabba’s went out of their way to make sure my Johnny Rocco salad didn’t contain any sugars or dairy. Made my meal so much more special.
Things I have fallen in love with since starting Whole30:
  • Coconut water
  • Coconut milk
  • Sweet potatoes
  • My new energy level
  • Looser-fitting clothes
  • New lifestyle-changing knowledge that is likely to help me sustain gradual weight loss over time
  • Good, healthy food. I told the hubby today that not only am I eating better than ever, I’m enjoying what I eat more than ever. Not too shabby, eh?
Bringing it all back?

Not really. As part of my reintroduction, I am on the fence about how much I really miss alcohol and dairy.

But my smart hubby reminded me that since I’ll be traveling soon, I should know how I’m going to handle the dairy, at least.

So over the next 10 or so days, I’ll be testing the following:

  1. Legumes (I can’t wait to eat edamame and hummus again.)
  2. Non-gluten grains (Man, I miss me some oatmeal.)
  3. Dairy? (I don’t miss it at all, but it might be my only coffee creamer option when traveling over the next few weeks. I guess thin-crust pizza with some cheese would be nice, too.)
  4. Gluten grains

Before Whole30, I was like the Pillsbury dough girl. I have always loved bread and bready carbs. Now, I might appreciate them now and then, but not every day and hopefully never again in the quantities I consumed them before. This decision will just make me feel better – pretty much a no-brainer.

As a way to discover what foods work and don’t work for you, I strongly recommend you and your medical provider look into Whole30.

While I always hate claims like “let us change your life,” I’ve gotta say: This one really did.

Whole30 Week 1: Feeling great!

I have a feeling going into Week 2 of my Whole30 will start to open up some mental margin to think about and do normal things like work out more regularly, clean house, do laundry and, heck – blog and find my dead people!

It sounds ridiculous, but this Whole30 thing has taken a serious chunk of time – at least at the outset.

Note to self: If I had to do it over again, I’d pre-cook meals or staples before starting Whole30.

First: Lessons learned

My challenges so far have been mostly logistical. I’d pre-cooked some different foods during my first week, but when I ran out of food Saturday after we’d come home from church, I ran out good – everything at the same time.

¡Ay, ay, ay!

At this rate, I feel like I’ll learn at least one valuable lesson each week. Hopefully, I’ll learn each lesson only once.

whole30-week1

My meals looked a lot the same last week, but they were colorful, balanced and super-yummy.

Anyway, the way I’ve done meal prep so far is to pre-cook different meats so I wouldn’t feel like my choices were terribly restricted – basically, so I could feel as “normal” as possible about food choices. This was my way of looking at Whole30 as a set of guidelines rather than a bunch of really strict rules.

I prepped chicken and steak last week, adding sweet potatoes (my go-to staple for sustained energy, especially on tennis days), hash browns and sautéed veggies for starters.

I also tried these awesome, Whole30-compliant hot dogs in case I get caught in a pinch. That’s a big deal for someone who doesn’t eat hot dogs.

This week, I have pulled pork and will also cook up some ground beef, both for use in lettuce wraps, salads or possibly even stuffed peppers. I’ve laid off the hard-boiled eggs at the weekend but use them a lot during the work week. Tomorrow, I may take them to work as part of a niçoise salad I can assemble there.

Pre-fab recipes vs pre-cooked staples

I admit, my approach may be a little too shoot-from-the-hip for some people. There are meal plan calendars out there, if you need more structure.

My hubby tells me I need to make a bunch of recipes from the Whole30 book, which I totally agree with – once I feel more secure about having choices in pre-cooked meats.

Feels like I’m rounding the corner

I feel like things are changing. I know I’ve already lost water weight – not a permanent loss (bummer), but it does give me more physical comfort.

I’m really hoping the ketosis switch is about to go off, if it hasn’t already:

  • I noticed the other day my headaches have stopped, so I feel better and better every day.
  • My hubby tells me my energy level seems to be going up, too. Also a good sign.
  • I’m forgetting about food or hunger now, and that’s new. My energy remains strong now until my body tells me it’s time to eat.

It’s also important to be learning the type of planning that works for me – and what I’d do differently if I did this again. But I’m mostly hoping the main switch that goes off is one of lifestyle change.

It’s not that we ate horribly before, but aside from learning new cooking techniques, I also love learning how to make simple things, full of flavor and healthy benefits. Yes, the grocery bill has gone up, but so has my energy level. That’s the best part so far.

I can also feel my clothes fitting looser (I’m not allowed to weigh myself during my Whole30), although I suspect that is mostly water weight.

My sleep wasn’t a problem before, but I’m really snoozing well now. And I feel rested when I wake up in the morning.

I know you didn’t ask, but I would want to be aware of this if I were considering doing Whole30: Thanks to a cheapo form of “Bulletproof coffee” (I use coconut oil in mine), a balance of fibrous and starchy carbs and the almighty prune, my bowel movements seem to be normalizing after a few uncomfortable days. Many people complain of this going on much longer, so I feel fortunate.

Coming up: The true test

It’s a good thing I’m feeling an energy boost and some sense of normalcy with my diet, because next week it all gets put to the test when I go visit my mom. Can’t wait to see how that goes.

BOOM! Tennis + Whole30 can be friends

watermelon-sports-drink

As of today, my new favorite electrolyte replacement. Who knew coconut juice has more potassium than bananas?

I was a bit worried about making it through 2 hours of tennis today under a toasty sun, especially since it’s only Day 3 of my Whole30 plan and I’m still figuring out the “right amount” of food for the day – much less for a lengthy workout.

The long/short of it is that I leaned on the following to get me through:

I thought I’d eat like a horse when I got home, but the above really did the job. I ate a regular lunch, nothing fancy.

Throughout the afternoon, I drank another 4-6 oz. of coconut water for added rehydration, and I think that helped a lot too.

Another few days and my body should start making the shift to burning fat rather than carbs. I’m feeling pretty good now, so I’m really anticipating the energy I feel then.

This Whole30 noob survived Days 1 and 2

Day2

Day 2 dinner. As you can see, I’m not suffering much. To the contrary, I’m eating very satisfying meals and relying on great but simple seasoning – salt, pepper, oil and vinegar and awesome produce available now.

Well, I survived Days 1 and 2 of the Whole30. Loads to process and even more food to prep!

So far, here’s my experience and some lessons learned:

  • I need to plan better. I had meals planned but had no idea it would take so much to keep me going. I actually had enough food to get me through the work day at the office. But keeping enough in me to get me through *making* dinner was another story.
  • This plan requires loads of protein and good fats. It’s amazing how much we I lean on grains and dairy to fill me up, not to mention foods with sugars to satisfy me, even though I dropped most sweeteners a year or two ago.
  • Tonight, I ate a good, solid dinner, high in carbs to get me ready for a full tennis morning tomorrow. I have to admit: I’m a leeeeetle nervous about this one. I’ve learned it’s not uncommon to have headaches and the “hangries” due to withdrawals from all the stuff junk we typically put in our bodies. I went to bed last night and woke up this morning with a headache. In fact, I have one now.
  • I also need to replenish electrolytes I lose during lengthy workouts with a non-Gatorade solution. I know, I know – Gatorate is horrible for you on a good day, but my body rejects artificial sweeteners, so a diluted Gatorade is often my only option..until now.
  • People come out of the woodwork to tell you they’re doing or have done Whole30, too. I’ve heard from several friends/family and am so excited I have moral support in them. They also know what foods work and add to their experience. Guess I’ll be making my own Whole30 mayo soon…it comes highly recommended.
  • Oh. I absolutely love kombucha.

So where does that put me?

Overall, I feel pretty good so far. I spend a good portion of my “extracurricular” hours thinking about / planning / shopping for / prepping / cooking food, but that’s probably because I did more thinking and planning at first than actually making food.

Oops.

Long story involving poor timing when we accepted a friend’s invite to join Hello Fresh (use code CEYTJX if you’re interested). Their menus, while pretty yummy, aren’t entirely Whole30-friendly. But HF is especially great if you’re super busy and don’t have time to shop for fresh ingredients and put a healthy meal on the table.

So. The next couple of days, I’m going to worry more about getting enough calories to get me through both the day and night.

If there’s been a tough balance in these first two days, that is the one. But it’s all part of the body’s adjustment. More on what I’m learning as I go.

I predict I’ll feel just like this after Whole30

snowshoveler

Okay, I’m kind of joking.

But I won’t lie – this old internet joke came to mind over the weekend as I spent loads of time shopping grocery stores and farmers markets for fresh produce and Whole30-friendly ingredients.

I can’t wait till I get to “the other side,” but heck – at some point, it’s gonna happen. They even told us so. But it will be quite funny if I come back to my posts and spot the same pattern as that old joke.

Tomorrow I’ll share a summary of Day 1 and why I’m terrified of Day 3.

Why I’m doing the Whole30

It has been a crazy last few weeks. I’ve been wrapping up work from freelance clients so I can focus on my new, fun full-time job building a communications program for the research team of a large nonprofit.

In the chaos, I’ve been studying up on how to improve my health: diet, exercise and just overall, how I feel.

I want more energy. I want more mental acuity. I want less joint pain. Heck, I’d love to weigh less and more easily fit into cute clothes.

There are a ton of “diets” out there, none of which I’ve ever tried. And it’s not because I’m a skinny person. I was when I got married. In that 25+ year timeframe, however, I’ve grown — I wish I could say taller.

Yes, I play a lot of tennis. In a good week, I play several times for 1.5-2 hours. But it’s still not enough aerobic activity to keep me from losing much weight. I’ve also had some joint problems ever since my ACL reconstruction 10 years ago, and it’s easy to say that, in my joints, I feel my age a lot.

whole30

Not an easy decision, but a necessary one. I want to be as healthy as I can be for rest of my life.

So I decided to do Whole30 for a few reasons:

  1. Determine which foods give me energy
  2. Eliminate those that don’t
  3. Learn more re: my emotional relationship w/food
  4. Develop better eating habits overall

And then there are the real reasons why I’m doing the Whole30:

  1. To continue improving my tennis game with better health & energy
  2. To kick ass on the tennis court and be invited to join competitive teams
  3. To feel awesome before I hit the big Five-Oh (holy cow I just wrote that)
  4. Because ultimately, I want to do CrossFit, too
  5. And most importantly, to treat my body more like a temple. If God dwells here, I’d better keep my house cleaner than I have been doing.

This weekend I’ve been wrapping up grocery shopping and planning. I’ll start prepping some food for the next couple of days shortly.

I will probably post here, at least weekly – mostly to remind myself why I want this so badly. Who knows, maybe you’ll need the encouragement too. Lord knows if I can do this anybody can.

So here we go. Cheers to the Whole30 (and beyond). To better health!

Glancing in the rear-view mirror

rear-view-mirror-1182330-640x480Welp.

It’s going to be a lot harder than I thought to recover my blogging rhythm, but I need to start somewhere. It’s time to admit I may not be able to research, write, polish and photo edit like I am used to doing.

But one thing I can do is share what I’m learning along this new path – the path to gratitude for full-time work again. It couldn’t be a nicer arrangement with more rewarding opportunity. I’m pretty excited to start the new gig next week.

I hate to say good things come to those who wait, but waiting can really bring about the right thing, at the right time.

I do have to say, I’m really thankful for the season leading up to this, which I was so sure was empty and purposeless. (Yeah, I know – oh ye of little faith. Don’t tell me you haven’t been there, too.)

But God planned this time for teaching me some of the most important lessons of my life. Here are a few:

  • “Stuff” doesn’t matter. People matter.
  • We can get by on much less than we think. Anything besides the basics are wants, not needs. We confuse them a lot.
  • Learning can happen in any environment. We just have to want it.
  • Family is everything.
  • Kindness: Friends, we’re going to have to try a lot harder at being kind to one another. This world and all its challenges and distractions fool us into believing we’re that different from one another to be able to love each other — when in reality, we’re so much alike. Let’s focus on that.
  • Oh. It’s not about me.