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.

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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.

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!

Struggling with winning

farrah-tennis

Remember Farrah Fawcett? She was a pretty accomplished tennis player. She also went to my high school.

It’s easy to think that one or two setbacks necessarily equals many setbacks, or setbacks forever.

Our team’s main tennis season just ended, and I have to say, I really struggled with winning. Translated: I lost a lot.

In the end, I came out  4-3, but still the momentum of loss took its toll mentally on me in a way it hadn’t before.

I love to think that, like a Bruce Lee mantra I heard in a biopic about the legendary martial artist, each new point is an opportunity to win.

Thankfully, I won the 4th match last night in a 2-hour singles match that was scheduled for 6pm, then 6:30, then for Wednesday (we’ve had lots of rain), then back to 6pm yesterday. Oh and then outdoors before having to go indoors thanks to nightfall and all the mosquitoes that survived the great flood and the ark.

Still, for some reason last night, every time I goofed – mostly my serves – I almost couldn’t erase it next time I gave it a go.

But there were a couple of huge differences too from recent struggles to win.

It was a singles match. It was all on me – scorekeeping (for which I’m notoriously terrible in doubles), calling line shots, ball girl (of course – this ain’t Wimbledon). I alone owned the outcome (scary and exhilarating at the same time).

Good thing I had done some pre-match self-preaching, mostly on the basics of tennis:

  • Play my game,
  • Watch the ball (turns out this is tricky in the dark),
  • Visualize winning the point,
  • Move my feet; and
  • Don’t be afraid to change things up (pace, strokes, serves).

I also reminded myself to play one point at a time. Eventually, the score would tilt in my favor, right?

Also last night, I learned something about myself and my mental game:

  • I can, in fact, adjust on the fly – assessing what’s not working and either change my approach to it or eliminate it altogether.
  • When I’m “in the zone,” I know exactly what to do, and if I stay focused, my envisioned solution is usually effective.
  • Settling into the match and to my rhythm is crucial to winning for me. If my heart rate is up and I’m distracted, it’s going to be an uphill battle. If I play like I’m in practice, it’s all good.

Maybe the curse has come to an end? I’m going to say it has and that now I’m in a position to keep it that way. On to the next season and another opportunity to win.

Where the fishies bite

Shore of mountain reservoir with fog rolling in as fisherman waits for catch

A shot of my hubby on the shore, with a snowstorm threatening just beyond.

So I sent the hubby off on his Annual Ice-Out Fishing Trip over a long weekend – the 19th such event. Family and friends from Texas and Colorado met in western Colorado to go on the offensive for some hungry fish.

Little did they know what they’d be up against – because, logistically, something always goes wrong.

Fish Tales ( << I know…like that’s never been done before)

I’ve concluded fishing is like any other sport. It has its own terminology and its it own breed of competition, which includes a certain brand of stories.

For example, if the fish are biting in a certain area, it’s not uncommon – correction, it’s downright custom – not to tell inquirers what the fish are biting on (i.e., lure/bait). I guess it’s the accepted way of protecting the watering hole and tomorrow’s catch.

On the other hand, when one has caught fish, he/she is likely to stretch both story and fish size to nearly unrealistic dimensions.

Lo the angler. He riseth in the morning and upsetteth the whole household.
Mighty are his preparations.
He goeth forth with great hope in his heart — and when the day is far spent he returneth, smelling of strong drink,
and the truth is not in him.

—Unknown

Rain or shine … or snow

Last I’d checked (yesterday morning), there was a winter storm warning, with 6″-12″ of snow predicted for the area where they were fishing. The last time I heard from my hubby, the bites had been few.

Cold fisherman braving snowfall while night fishing. (Not recommended)

Note for 20th Ice Out: Don’t bother fishing in the snow.

And all the fisher guys weren’t even there. One had gotten held up behind an accident on a mountain pass, so he had to spend the night in a nearby town.

This could only mean one thing: a very long weekend, to include multiple stops at various streams on their way home.

As is common with fishing trips, communication between base and the homestead was scarce, so I didn’t hear anything else until they got home this afternoon. And this is what I got:

While the hubs and pops-in-law unloaded the car, I asked hesitantly whether they’d caught anything.

Stranger things have happened

Dad mentioned they’d run into a group of fishermen at a nearby store – 23 of them – who’d just caught over 300 fish in the same area over the weekend. Naturally, I was hopeful our guys had gotten some good intel – and fish – before trip’s end.

To his surprise: “We asked them what the fish were biting on, and they told us!”

Followed by, “We asked them where they were biting, and they told us!”

I know now it was the truth, because tonight my hubs just vacuum-packed over a dozen speckled trout – the largest at about 16″. Whew! They didn’t get skunked by a bunch of fish.

So a good trip all-around. I’m just waiting for the story about “the one that got away” – as in, the 24″ kind.

The Big Cabin

Next year is The Big One – the 20th Annual Ice Out. The Big Cabin is reserved, the caps and t-shirts are being brainstormed. Other than that, I haven’t a clue what that this means in fishing terms. I’m sure there will be some great stories, though.