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.

Advertisements

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.

Corners

house-appartement-corner-pmg

Corners are meant for one thing – for getting around to another side. They’re made for turning.

I’ve encountered lots of corners lately, and I’ve been trying to make sense of them the last few weeks.Here are a few of them and what I’ve learned.

  • Cooking: On a limited budget, you get better at a lot of DIY things. My experience making meals from food we grow has been so great. I’m so glad we know what it’s like to know the benefits of fresh, garden-to-table food. Even for meals that don’t come from the garden, I’ve found cooking to be incredibly relaxing.
  • Sewing/Making: Something I never thought I’d take on, especially since I’m building on skills I first gained in, oh, 7th grade. Time to quilt is getting slimmer, but I am promising myself that I’ll make it work. I plan to keep that promise.
  • Writing/Blogging: One of my best experiences in recent years. For all the hiccups that can cause someone to come to a full stop when blogging, my activity has slowed a lot lately (more about why in a minute), but I have no intention of stopping. I just hope Poor Mexican Gone will keep being about learning, discovery and connecting dots.
  • Employment : You may know I’ve been freelancing for the better part of the last handful of years – something that followed me more than I pursued it. Still, I took it as a smile from God during a season of intense questioning of my identity.

Which leads me to this: I start a new job at the end of the month. As good as freelancing has been for my freedom, healing and, heck, my tennis game, I’ve truly missed the social interaction that comes with being part of a team. So I’m joining one.

It’s not just one corner that led me to this. It’s more like a long series of four corners. You might even call it a full circle.

After a busy freelance season this summer that included shotgun international travel, it’s time to settle into a job offered to me on that trip. I couldn’t be more pleased, humbled and grateful.

I fully expect to pivot around a few more corners in my lifetime, but for now, this one is a great turn at a great time and, I hope, with the potential for great impact in the lives of others.

A good leader is a good follower

thomas-paine-writer-quote-lead-follow-or-get-out-of-theYou’ve probably seen this famous quote somewhere along the way.

It seems, in most group dynamics, we each fall into one of these three categories. Either we lead, follow, or … we’re one of “them.” Suffice it to say: anyone behind the leader is presumed to be a follower.

Alpha-Beta Pug

We used to have a cute little black Pug. Before Pugs were cool, people thought – especially when we took this little porker on hikes – we had a pot-bellied pig. Can’t say I blamed them.

Anyway, we took her hiking and camping a lot. Funny thing is, being “Alpha dog” (my translation: only dog), she saw herself as behind my hubby (her alpha) and in front of me (her slave and gamma, at best).

So there we would be, in the middle of some trail somewhere, and I would be fighting for my spot behind my long-legged, fast-walking husband…with an animal the size of a wind-up doll power-playing me right out of 2nd place.

It ticked. Me. Off.

Until my husband and I had the discussion and discovered the relationship between his pooch and his wife. We concluded that, whether animal or human, we are either the one in charge, or we aren’t. There’s really no in-between. In this case, I was definitely not the leader. I wasn’t even the one behind the leader.

And that was OK. We all fill our “roles,” right?

It depends. Some followers may blissfully happy following and making their best contributions in that way. But a good leader also needs to know how to be a good follower. (The above is not one of those examples, by the way.) In my experience, the best leaders know how and when to follow.

It’s a big part of letting other people find their own leadership ability.

Lighten the leadership load.

I saw another interesting quote the other day on leadership. It went something like this: “When the leadership load is lightened, great things really start to happen.”

It didn’t quite click then.

In this context, though, it makes sense. The more leaders are OK following now and then, the more great stuff happens. The more they delegate, the more leaders they produce. In today’s world, that’s the sign of a great future.

Audience: Don’t scratch what doesn’t itch

hand scratching what ppears to be male balding headHad a great coffee meeting with a friend the other day who is a very talented instructional designer. Not only does this woman  – I’ll call her Sandy – know the methodologies and techniques for producing great training – she understands the technology behind it all, too. What a great mix of skills.

We ended up chatting the most, however, on the topic of understanding your audience. (Fellow blogger and consultant Deb Nelson covered this recently.)

I mean, if Sandy is developing training for, let’s say, bank tellers on the front lines, the required skills, knowledge and compliance they require are very different from the body of knowledge a loan officer needs to develop.

This is just one example of how missing the target audience is crucial to accomplishing your organization’s goals – or not.

Patience, Grasshopper.

So the question, “Who’s your audience?” isn’t just a bunch of hooey from the comms nerds. It’s at the heart of whatever it is you’re creating. It is more than likely why you’re developing that message. That audience needs knowledge, and you can give it to them.

You’ll also want to have an answer ready for, “What does this [brochure, website, FAQ, training document, research study, etc] need to accomplish?”

  • Do you need to change someone’s mind or behavior?
  • Do you need to move them through your sales funnel, from Point C to Point D?
  • Perhaps educate them and deepen their understanding of a complex topic?
  • What do they think or feel now?
  • How do you want them to feel after encountering your information?
Take the time or else

Whatever it is you’re communicating, I guarantee without solid answers to these questions, the likelihood of hitting your mark is – well, let’s just say you’ve been warned.

Before starting any project that communicates an idea – copy, design, user experience, it’s crucial to know:

  • Who your audience is;
  • What you need to accomplish; and
  • What the consumer’s thinking or perception is today.

Twice in the last few days I’ve heard about someone totally missing these targets – one with a study that surveyed precisely the wrong topic; the other, a training program that equipped the wrong stakeholders with the wrong set of skills. Both epic fails — not to mention costly.

As my friend Sandy said, you have to address the specific needs of the audience – or else, you just might end up scratching an itch that doesn’t exist.

Chip off the old block

My mom works hard. As in, she works hard at her job. And she’s 82, going on 83 (I like to talk about age like a first-grader; it’s more fun).

Not only has she worked since she was 12 (you could call it child labor, but she would probably just call it survival); she still shows up 4-5 days a week at my brother’s tennis retail store to manage his bookkeeping and vendors.

When I call my mom during the day, she’s usually at work. Being “all business” like she is, she doesn’t have much time to talk. Usually she just wants to get back to her duties.

Thinking back through my career, I was much the same way – all business. I was “in the zone” all day, every day, sometimes even on weekends. If I got a phone call between meetings, it was always brief. Or maybe it was just me who was brief. Yikes.

Anyway, it’s a few years later and I feel like I’m just now relearning how and when to draw boundaries around my family life, my marriage and other important relationships so I know what’s important outside “the zone.” Heck, even to remember that there is life outside “the zone.”

I’m also re-learning how to work.

A friend challenged me several years ago to consider that work could actually look different than the traditional 9-to-5 workday. I’d wanted that for years.

Still, I couldn’t get my head around it for me. In fact, it’s taken until now to get the picture. Honestly, I’m surprised I like it. I had no idea I could be that stuck in old ways.

Why did I fight it for so long? I love teams and collaboration, and it has been hard to be alone this much. But the truth is, you can be around people as much or as little as you want when you work on your own. I need to get with that program, too.

Work ethic vs. family: A both/and decision

It’s great to see my parents’ work ethic in myself, especially now, without the distortion I added for so many years.

Going forward, I want to value my own life and my family’s as much as I can — not to mention the limited time we have together, never to be taken for granted.

While working hard is something I love to do, it’s also a means to an end. It’s what allows me the freedom to enjoy the many beautiful relationships in my life. And for that I have a newfound, heartfelt gratitude.