Whole 30 Summer Edition

Whole 30 Summer Edition

After a super-successful Whole 30 in January of this year, we’ve decided to bite the bullet and do it again during the month of August. Take a look at my 2015 health timeline and you’ll see why:

January– Felt great, lost 17 pounds. Not only that, but James and I began the practice of making Sunday our family day where we do fun things out of the house together. Whole 9 life style in full swing!

February, March and April– kept up the good work while allowing a few indulgences, and still lost another 10 pounds. Skipped a few of our Sunday outings, but on the whole these were good, healthy months.

May– took our mega trip to England and Wales. We had a blast! And we ignored all healthy eating habits and tried all the food. Because Europe.

tea
Afternoon Tea in Bath. OMG those scones.

June and July– Despite my best efforts, the sugar dragon is back! Lots of parties and a few long weekend vacations did not help (even though they were super fun!). Sunday family day outings have all but disappeared. Gained 10 pounds. Decide it’s time to take action.

What’s different this time:

It’s summer! That means we have way more access to in-season fruits and veggies than we did on our January Whole 30. We’re grilling almost every night, and we’re enjoying more sunshine and Vitamin D. We’ve resumed our Sunday family day outings, and we’ve gone ahead and scheduled them a month in advance. Being summer, this means we’ll be doing things like fossil-hunting at Calvert Cliffs, visiting the zoo, and watching our beloved O’s at Camden Yards. And we’re eating crabs. Because Maryland. (Honestly, if crabs weren’t Whole 30, I don’t think I could do this during the summer). In fact, we celebrated the start of our adoption process and the start of our Whole 30 with crabs.

crabs

Based on my 3 months of good eating after the January Whole 30, I’m expecting August to carry me into the holidays, and I’ll probably need another Whole 30 in January 2016. I don’t have any idea if I’ll lose any weight this time, but I’m really hoping to at least make a dent in those 10 pounds I gained this summer. And I’m hoping the energy I get from this food will help me to get the house in order for our home study. Maybe the positive attitude this lifestyle brings will give me the boost I need to get my career in order too. Who knows? The possibilities are endless.

Here’s to Round 2!

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We Did It!

We Did It!

We’ve just completed our first Whole 30! If you’re not sure what that is, it’s basically giving up grains, dairy and legumes for 30 days straight, no excuses. You can read more about our experience here.

Results:

We feel great! Much more energy. Happily off sugar. CA’s caffeine addiction is no more. Vegetable and fruit consumption is way up. Chemical consumption is way down. CA has a new addiction to Brussels Spouts. James has a new found love of cashews. Fried plantains are the new donuts. We’re spending more time together. We’re eating great food. We’re doing great!

Now for the part you’ve all been waiting for.

Did I lose weight?

17 pounds!!!!

In addition to weight lost, I lost about 17 combined inches from around my body. Plus I have tons of energy, no cravings, and I haven’t counted a single calorie!

Outlook:

We love the way we feel, so we’re continuing on the path of deliciously good food. We may attempt to allow occasional dark chocolate and gasp dairy. But we’re going to pay close attention to what these things do to our stomach, and if they cause us gut pain, we’re taking note. Dairy, grains, legumes and added sugars do NOT sit well with my body, and I feel much much MUCH better without them.

Besides, I want to be my best self. I’m worth it.

Why I’m Doing the Whole 30

Why I’m Doing the Whole 30

As someone who has struggled with weight loss since elementary school, food is such a sensitive issue. I hate counting calories. I hate exercising on machines. I’m sure I have real psychological wounds from 20+ years of worrying about what I eat. That being said…

Last summer I tried eating Paleo for a while, and I loved it. Experimenting with new ingredients, making almond flour baked goods and trying new veggies was fun! I felt wonderful and full of energy. It was a lifestyle change that I could truly embrace. As a bonus, I lost 9 pounds in the first couple of weeks, and the weight stayed off- that is, until I came home from vacation and unintentionally went back to dairy and grains over the holidays (Oh, December, the best of times and the worst).

On January 1, James and I started the Whole 30. Basically, it’s a very strict Paleo program (no grains, no dairy, no legumes- AND no Paleo desserts) where you eat lots of fresh veggies and fruit, good quality proteins and no sugar for 30 days straight, no excuses.

Today is Day 16, and I feel great. The best part of this program has been that James is doing it with me. Having my husband by my side is HUGE! There is no way I could do this without him. He feels great too, and says he would like to continue eating this way, long-term. We love clean food!

The hardest part about this program has been the social engagements. Having to ask my mother-in-law and now my sister-in-law to please excuse us while we eat our own food we bring to their house is kind of uncomfortable. I feel rude and awkward and weird. This is the one part of this program I will not sustain after day 30. Starting in February, I will allow myself to be a nice house-guest again.

What do I plan to sustain after day 30? Everything else. Here’s how:

1. I WILL REMEMBER how much energy I have when I eat Paleo.

2. I WILL REMEMBER how rewarding it feels to know you are making healthy choices.

3. I WILL REMEMBER that a “healthy” American diet doesn’t work for me, and that the sugars in dairy and whole grain foods make me crave more food and make my body feel weighed down.

4. I WILL REMEMBER that even if I do not lose weight, the “happy healthy energy” feeling of Paleo/Whole30 is a reward in itself, and that my body deserves to feel this way. And my soul deserves to know that I am eating as healthily as possible.

And finally,

5. I WILL REMEMBER that if I lose my way, there will always be the Whole 30 to get me back on track.

 

 

Dealing with Life’s Cravings

Dealing with Life’s Cravings

I remember my mother telling me when I was little that you had to love yourself first before you could love anyone else. After reading some beautiful posts by writer Sage Cohen, I started thinking about this again. Loving yourself. It goes hand in hand with knowing yourself, doesn’t it?

Sometimes I forget who I am. I forget that I learn quickly and hate it when people talk loudly in the morning. I forget that I forget to go to bed. I forget that I love reading about history and looking at art. Sometimes, when I’ve been insanely stressed for weeks at a time, it’s because I have forgotten to remember what I like.

In yesterday’s meeting with my health coach, we were talking about cravings. Sometimes, when you’re craving food, it’s a manifestation of craving for one of life’s primary foods: a stimulating job, a fulfilling relationship, a balanced spiritual and physical exercise habit. I know that for me, as I sit here dreaming of carbs at my office in the auto body shop, there are several things lacking. For one, like many under-30’s today, I have yet to find a satisfying job. More importantly, I am still in a transition period where I’m waiting to create a new home.

I’m so excited to be getting married and starting a home with James. I want a place that’s safe, a place I can fill with my books and my singing, a place where I can write. I know myself enough to know I need a home. Maybe once I finally have a sweet, loving place to live, I’ll be able to grow in other ways, too.

How I’m Getting My Life on Track

I am a list-writing fanatic. A compulsive lister. Whenever I feel stressed out, I find myself frantically making lists. To-do lists, goal lists, lists of things that make me happy, lists of things not to eat, lists of future lists to make… it goes on. Last night, I finally figured out why.

Last night, my mom and I dinner with our cousin, who happens to be a health coach. We’re going to start a 6-month program to get ourselves healthy. The great thing about this program is that it’s not just about dieting. It’s about taking your whole life into perspective and realizing what you need to do to be healthy mentally and physically.

During this meeting, I figured out why I gained 15 pounds in the last year. Prior to Nov 2010, I was a freelance SEO writer, I worked out daily (often at the local park) and I cooked a LOT (usually healthy food) to relieve stress. Now, I have a sedentary job that I don’t love, I don’t have a home to go back to, and if I want privacy with James or with my mother I have to go out to dinner. I no longer have a private kitchen to cook in so now when I get stressed, I give into cravings. WOW. What a life style change! With all the stress making me feel hopeless, making lists is my frantic grasp at taking control. I try to organize my life on paper since it’s so disorganized in reality.

So what now?

I’m really excited to have a health coach for 6 months. I’m looking at this as having someone to help me stay on track with exercising, choosing healthy stress-relief outlets, and learn some new, better ways of eating.

The minute I got home, I made a list (no surprise) of healthy stress-relievers: exercise, prayer, writing, blogging, organizing my room, and making lists. I’m so excited to start this new program. 6 months from now, I’ll be interested to see the final results!

Why do we make New Year’s resolutions?

Everyone likes a chance to start over, but maybe we put too much pressure on January 1. Perhaps the reason we never keep our New Year’s resolutions past February is that a whole year is just too daunting. We always tell people to take life one day at a time. Maybe we need to take our resolutions one month at a time. Maybe every 30 days we need a New Month’s resolution.

Here’s an idea: Write down your big goal, or your New Year’s resolution. Then, write down what you are going to do this January in order to work for that goal. When January 31 comes around, make some notes on what you can do in February.

This year, instead of being one of those people who crowds the gym in January, maybe I’ll take some time to think about small steps I can take to accomplish my goals. For example, it’s not too hard to keep up exercise for one month. Maybe I’ll say, “This month of January, I am going to work out 3 times a week, write 4 hours a week, and spend at least 30 minutes reading that book I’ve renewed from the library 6 times already.”

Personally, I have several things I want to do this year. I’d like to publish some articles, get started on a book, find a  job that fits my interests, get a wedding date that’s not too far in the future, brush up on my Italian and maybe start learning French, lose the 15 pounds I gained last year, spend more time at the park, make more dates with friends, and save as much money as possible. Funny how the last one makes all the rest more difficult. I’m sure I’ll find a way to make it all happen, but I have to take this one month at a time.

Awesome Easy Portobello Panini

I was in the mood for a Portobello burger today around lunch time, so I came up with this amazing sandwich. It feels like you’re eating a ton of food because the mushroom is so big, but at the same time, it’s all veggies so it’s good for you and relatively low-cal depending on how you do it. Here’s what I used:

1 Portobello mushroom cap

1/2 small avocado, sliced

2 slices honey wheat bread

1 slice tomato

a little lettuce

salt/pepper

And for the chipotle mayo:

1 chipotle in adobo sauce

about 1/4 cup mayo

Here’s what you do:

1. Drizzle a little oil (i prefer olive oil) in a grill pan on the stove, and turn it up to medium high heat. While that’s heating up, make the chipotle mayo. Basically, slice open the chipotle pepper, scrape out the seeds (this cuts down on some of the heat) and chop the pepper into tiny little pieces. Then add your chopped pepper to the mayo, and there you go, chipotle mayo (and enough for tomorrow, too). You can play around with the pepper to mayo ratio to suit your taste.

2. Grill the mushroom. You can scrape the gills out first, but it doesn’t matter too much. It also doesn’t matter which side you place on the grill pan first: I’ve tried it both ways. It needs to cook about 3-5 minutes each side.

3. While that’s happening, spread margarine (or butter) on one side of each slice. Place the slices butter-side down in the grill pan. They’ll get really soft right away. After about a minute, when the cooking side is getting nice grill marks, flip the bread to toast the un-buttered side. This will just make the bread a little stiffer and stronger so it can hold the sandwich. This only takes about a minute so be careful not to burn it.

4. One the mushroom is just about done, place a piece of cheese on it while it’s on the grill pan so the cheese has time to melt.

5. Build your sandwich. Spread chipotle mayo on the bread. The stack the mushroom, avocado slices, lettuce, tomato slices, a little pepper and salt, then the second slice of bread. Cut it in half so you can admire the amazing looking cross-section and Bon Appetit 🙂

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

Everything is changing, and there’s almost nothing I can do about it. Ever feel like you’re just treading water, not getting ahead, but it’s getting harder and harder to keep your head up? That’s me right about now. I’m generally pretty happy, and I still am. It’s just that my life is starting to change in ways I disapprove of. Solution?
If you can’t change change, then maybe create some more changes. Negative, uncontrollable change can make me feel helpless, put-out, neglected, and depressed. Positive, purposeful, self-induced change makes me feel like I’m in charge again.
I’m finding that little, insignificant changes can do a lot for my morale. Maybe I can’t change the fact that I’m probably not going to have my same lifestyle for much longer. I can’t change the fact that it’s hard to get a job these days. But, I can take up new hobbies, read new books, and start writing that novel I keep talking about. I can make little, positive changes that make me feel more like myself. I can start doing the things I’ve always wanted to do but never actually did. It doesn’t take a lot of money or luck to start making some of my dreams come true, and THAT is a change I can look forward to.

How to lose 10 pounds permanently

A little update on my New Year’s Resolution… it’s working! Not super fast, but that’s fine. Everyone says that when it comes to losing weight, slower is better because it’s more permanent. I mean just look at the past winners of The Biggest Loser. People who lose weight quickly almost always gain it back. I even lost 20 pounds once in a month, and then (once I couldn’t keep up with running every single day) it came back.

This time it’s different. I’m using Lose It!, and iPhone application that allows me to keep track of my daily caloric intake. It’s slow going, but it’s been easy. I haven’t felt like I’m sacrificing. And today at my “weigh-in”, I found I lost 10 pounds!

I even “cheated” a little… which is probably why this weight loss is going much slower than planned. But still, the fact is that it’s working. I’m so excited!

How to do this without an iPhone or iPod Touch:

I don’t work for Apple, so I can tell you that honestly, you can make this work without buying an iPhone and downloading Lose It!.  Basically, keep track of your daily caloric intake and your exercise, and figure out a daily calorie goal that’s low enough to lose weight and high enough that you’re getting the food you need. (It’s pretty simple, just keep a journal.) Also, there are “filler” foods (like lettuce and other green vegetables) that you can eat a lot of without destroying your goal. This is what I used to do, before I had and iPod Touch. Now, Lose It! just makes it simple for me.

Getting in Shape (Mentally)

Yesterday I wrote about my new thoughts on the weight loss thingy. Day 2 of that is going fine. But now, as promised, on to the “mental” part of this New Year’s Resolution.

I’ve decided to come up with a few intellectual goals for myself.  I thought about looking through university course listings and teaching myself some of those topics. Maybe I’ll branch out into some subjects I never took in college, like criminology or linguistics. I’m also going to practice my Italian every day and read those history books that I never finished in college (maybe).

This summer I’m taking a trip to Europe with a friend from college. I’ve decided that, as someone with a B.A. in History, I should probably keep up my craft and start reading up on the detailed history of the cities and countries that we’re visiting, as well as the notable art masterpieces to be found in each. Blah blah blah…. alrighty I won’t bore you with that.

I’m thinking about starting a new series of blog posts and articles on relationships. I’ve been thinking about all the struggles people go through and maybe writing some of that. And as for that novel I’m writing… yeah I better get crackin’.

Anyways, off to work now, but quick question. Did anyone get as angry as I did when Jake (the Bachelor) kept Vienna? I’m beginning to understand why he’s still single.