Whole30: The Halfway Point

Please note that I receive no compensation, monetary or otherwise, from Whole30 or any affiliates. 

I had intended to check in here every few days, but a few things happened...

1)   Thinking about Whole30 is wearying after awhile.   I think about what I'm going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.   I think about the shopping I need to do.   I think about how on Earth I'm going to locate those three elusive ingredients that I can't seem to locate across a variety of stores - without paying $$$ ordering online.  (Those three ingredients rotate.   One thing is located, then I need something else.  It's always something that is key to an entire meal, OF COURSE).

I think about how I'm going to socialize with friends, without being seriously tempted to stray off this plan.  

2)   I'm pretty sure everyone around me is sick of hearing me talk about Whole30.

3)   Also, I'm tired of thinking constantly about Whole30.   Did I mention that?

Happily, Whole30 is becoming more habitual for me.  It's becoming more automatic, and I worry about it less - thank goodness!

Today is Day 17 - I am more than halfway through my experiment!   I feel like I'm in a good place with everything.

Here are the things I have experienced in the past two weeks, since my last post:

  • My sleep is so much better.   I fall asleep easily, and I wake up more easily than I used to. 
  • My skin is clearer, brighter, less prone to dryness.
  • There are no mid-morning hunger pangs, or mid-afternoon slumps.   NONE.   It's amazing.
  • I have cut back on coffee drastically - usually I have 1-2 cups in the morning, and then I'm good for the rest of the day.
  • Cravings go away quickly.   My cravings have been entirely sight-related.   If I don't see the chocolate, the cheese, the chips and salsa, I don't miss them.   When I do see them, I calmly remind myself these items will be around in mid-September, and the desire subsides.
         My Sugar Dragon has calmed the f*ck down... for now.

          Although... sitting in a kitchen while my friend made arepas very nearly unhinged my mind.

It hasn't all been gravy, so to speak.   Workouts have been hugely challenging, up until the two-week mark.   I was feeling unmotivated to do Tracy Anderson Metamophosis, or go to dance class, or swim.   I was also feeling a bit winded when swimming, but things are getting easier again.  My body is learning to work in a different way, a way that isn't sugar-carb-fuelled, and less reliant on caffeine for energy or motivation.

Doing Whole30 has made me aware of something else...

I've really struggled with body image these past few weeks, in a way that I didn't know would happen.   I obsessed almost constantly about my weight and appearance - until I did this program.   Even now, I still do.   This is an issue that is always on a low-heat burner at the back of my brain.  So automatic, I didn't know it was even there.   Background noise nearly every waking moment.

The scale and the measuring tape have been my cravings, in a way that chocolate or a nice glass of wine have not.

I have not weighed myself since I started, or measured myself.   I want to so badly.   Up until this past Friday (Day 14), I felt frustrated because it didn't seem as if I'd lost any weight.

On Saturday (Day 15), I glanced at the mirror and was surprised to see how much slimmer my arms looked.

Yesterday (Day 16), I thought a lot about this obsession of mine.  I decided that a productive exercise would be to empty my closet, and try on everything, and get rid of that background noise.   Only things that fit right now, and look good right now, would go back in the closet.

I got to work, and quickly discovered... my posterior does not seem to have shifted in weight or size.   Perhaps a little, but not significantly.   My waist and hips seem a little smaller.

On the other hand... my stomach is almost flat!   I have not had a flat belly since I was 17.   Several skirts that have not fit well in over a year, went on smoothly.    I could not get over this - particularly because, when I look down, I don't see a flat belly.   Again, there is this idea in my own mind... 

I want to let go of that idea.

For this reason... I intend to continue Whole30 on a slightly relaxed basis, once this experiment is over.    If we go out to dinner, or dine with friends, I won't worry if the meat was cooked in a seed-based oil.   I won't obsess that there might be a little sugar in something.  Inasmuch as possible, I will make Whole30 compliant choices when dining out, or visiting friends.

And if my friend makes arepas, I'm going to have some!   At home, I will stick with the program.

I should also note, that I am doing this plan for 28 days.   I looked at a calendar, and realized that thirty days ends very close to our trip to EPCOT, for the Food and Wine Festival.   We went a few years ago - this may be one of my very favorite things I have ever experienced at Disney World, and I want to be able to enjoy it - within reason - without being sick.   

So my plan is:   finish Whole30 on Day 28 (Friday, September 9).   Reintroduce dairy (cheese, half-and-half in coffe) on Saturday, see how I feel.   Go back to Whole30 on Sunday.   Reintroduce non-gluten grains (rice and corn among others) on Monday.   Whole30 on Tuesday.   

If you're thinking about trying Whole30, let me make some recommendations:

Read "It Starts With Food" and "The Whole30" first.   Do your research.   It's easier to walk away from cravings and temptations, if you know the 'why' of why you are cutting these things out of your diet for a month.

Inasmuch as you possibly can, plan and prep your meals in advance.  Especially breakfasts and lunches.   Google recipes that are Whole30 compliant.   One of the trickiest parts of this plan is having a breakfast you can get quickly on a busy morning, or packing something portable for the office or the gym.   Meat can be cooked and frozen, some fruits and vegetables can be chopped up and refrigerated in advance.

And as you find things in the grocery store, make a note somewhere that you found 'Item X' at this store, and 'Item Y' at this other store.   In my experience, just committing it to memory doesn't stick.  There is no frustration quite like driving out of your way to a specialty store, and then forgetting a key ingredient that makes your buffalo chicken recipe legit.

Do your research, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask!  

The Whole 30: Days Two and Three

Please note that I receive no compensation, monetary or otherwise, from Whole30 or any affiliates. 

Sunday, JC woke up with a bad headache.   It lasted 48 hours.   He woke up today (Tuesday), feeling a lot better.    He said it felt almost like a migraine last night.  He hasn't had any caffeine since Friday.

Day Two:

On Sunday, I had located a "Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage" to put in my coffee.   It was terrible.   Watery.  I poured some in a glass, and it tasted like... white.   If despair had a flavor, it would be this stuff.   I drank less than a cup of coffee with this, and then I had black tea.

Dumbass that I am, I had bought two cartons of this tasteless misery - one for my place, and one for JC's.

I did find, however, that The Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage worked much better in the coffee I have at JC's.   I have Starbucks Italian Roast at my place, and Lavazza at JC's.   Lesson learned:  Lavazza is a better coffee all-around, whether drunk black, or with 'liquid white despair'.

Over the course of Day Two, I felt dragging and unmotivated.   Mid-afternoon, I suddenly had a burst of energy that lasted eight hours, until I got suddenly sleepy around 10:30.   Olympics were on, so I made myself stay up and watch for another hour.

Day Two Meals:

Breakfast:  Two eggs, over-easy, an Aidell's Chicken and Apple Sausage, and a cup of blueberries and strawberries

Lunch:  I didn't eat lunch.  I grazed:  two bananas, a tablespoon of almond butter, some blueberries, and a couple of bites of leftover meatloaf.   I have to work on the lunch thing.

Dinner:   I improvised a fried chicken dish with chicken thighs, egg, almond flour, lemon juice + zest, garlic and onion.   It was kind of meh.   We had leftover sweet potatoes with this, and a salad (lettuce, tomato, avocado, red onion, balsamic vinegar dressing that I made myself).

Day Three:  When I woke up yesterday, I felt pretty good.  I slept well, and woke up easily.   Then something strange happened:  I had a sudden caffeine withdrawal headache, that disappeared on its own ten minutes later.

Breakfast:  One hardboiled egg, an apple, and coffee

Let me note - this breakfast was not Whole30 compliant.   To be a proper breakfast requires several eggs, or a source of protein that is the size of one or two of my palms, plus enough vegetables to fill the rest of the plate, plus a piece of fruit, if I want.   I'm still getting used to breakfast.   I don't usually eat in the morning.

I went to the Farmers Market, and did a bunch of shopping.   I found compliant coconut milk, coconut cream and bacon!   Happy day!

Lunch:    I still wasn't feeling terribly hungry.   I had two handfuls of diced coconut, another hardboiled egg, and two figs.

Dinner:   I felt like I hit this one out of the park:  I made a Buffalo Chicken Salad with Grilled Fries and Ranch.   This was fabulous!  One caveat, I did not realize there is a difference between EVOO, and "Light-Tasting" Olive Oil.   I used EVOO, so the ranch dressing has a noticeable olive flavor.  Still very good though.  I also had two more figs.   JC declined, as his head was still hurting.

More thoughts and observations on Whole30:  JC's headache reached nearly-migraine proportions by Monday evening.  His caffeine source is Coke Zero, which is a no-no on Whole30.   I think part of the headache is caffeine withdrawal, and part of it is that his body is shifting from depending on a quick hit of carbs, to burning fat and stored fat in his body.   They talk about this in the Whole30 - apparently many people experience this in the first week.

I also think lack of calories is contributing to the headache:  he doesn't eat breakfast.   He eats out for lunch, and he probably has not had enough fat and protein to fuel his body.   He had some cashews in the afternoon, before dinner, and a lot of water to drink.

Whole30 says you're supposed to stick to regular meals, but I'd be happy if he grazed more.

I experienced some real pangs at the Farmer's Market, when I walked past the pasta aisle, condiments (most contain sugar), the sugar aisle (this was HARD, they have actual brown sugar nuggets, and my Sugar Dragon reared its head to take a good look)... and cheese.  Ohmygod, the cheeses!  I let myself look for a moment, then kept rolling.  I reminded myself that all of this will be waiting for me, in 28 more days.

I found the cravings went away as soon as these things were out of sight.

My biggest craving, strangely enough, has not been for food.   It's been for the bathroom scale.   Interesting, no?   I want so much to weigh myself!  I'm not going to.   Whole30 is about eating more nutritiously, making a lifestyle change, and not emphasizing weight, or weight loss.   I'm going to try and wait for Day 30, as suggested in the program.  But seriously, even as I type this, I can hear the siren song of the scale.

Overall, Day Three was a very good day, and I feel very optimistic, and well-nourished.  And very happy that I have actual coconut milk for my coffee!

The Whole30: Day One: In Which I Have A Meltdown

Please note that I receive no compensation, monetary or otherwise, from Whole30 or any affiliates. 

Day One of the Whole30, and I had a meltdown.

But first, a rewind...

Starting last Tuesday, I tried to prep for the Whole30 by cutting down on grains, legumes, sugar, and dairy.   I snacked less - compartively speaking.  I mostly stuck to three regular meals, with plenty of protein and good fat at every meal.   I also decreased caffeine.   Not on purpose - we were travelling, and I am a terrible coffee snob.   I had a few days of mild headaches from caffeine withdrawal.

On Friday, I shopped for Whole30 at The "Good" Kroger -  i.e., the Kroger that is supposed to be "upscale", and is a 7-8 minute drive from my house.  

Here is what I learned in the two hours I wandered through The "Good" Kroger:

1)  This Kroger has less selection than the one around the block.   Gah.

2)   I read the back of every package of bacon, and every can of coconut milk and cream in the store.   I looked at every type of egg to see if I could glean how the hens were raised and fed.   I picked up so many things and read so many labels, I could barely think straight.

I still wound up with a coconut cream with metasulfites in it, and a box of bacon with nitrites that I somehow missed.   SIGH.

3)  I am nearly done reading "It Starts With Food", and I have learned so much about how food affects our body - in ways I never imagined.

With this new knowledge, I felt so incredibly lied to, as I examined box after box, and read label after label.    The grocery store is chock-a-block full of lies.   We all think we're making healthy choices in our eating.  Guess what?   We're NOT.   We are being set up for failure:  for obesity, for arthritis, for food allergies, for stomach ailments, for Alzheimers', for auto-immune disease.  

And this failure is all wrapped up in attractive packaging, labelled "Gluten-Free!   Low-Fat!   Heart Healthy!   Anti-Oxidants!   Pro-Biotics!"

There were moments in the grocery store, where I felt genuine despair.  We've pushed back the average lifespan for the human race over the past century.   In a time where there is more food widely available than ever, when we have nearly unlimited options to eat, it's very possible that lifespan number is going to decline.

Everyone should read this book.   You don't have to do the plan.   Read "It Starts With Food", and work on your own nutrition goals.   But read the book.

Moving forward...

Day One (Saturday): Our friend Meech stayed with us this weekend, and agreed to do the program with us.

Breakfast:   I chopped up leftover chicken and red onion, and cooked them together in balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil.   This was the filling for omelets, which I cooked in a little bit of clarified butter.   We also had chopped potatoes, cooked with red onion and garlic.   Prep and cooking took about an hour.

My offerings were tasty (my opinion), but eyed skeptically by the others.   Nobody said, "hey, thanks for doing this".


Because I still did not have a Whole30 compliant creamer option, I drank my coffee black, and joyless.  I stopped at about half a cup.  I also had a cup of unsweetened cocoa mate' tea, which did not deliver the promised kick of caffeine.   Meh.

Lunch:   Nobody wanted lunch.   Several water bottles, and two packages of six-dollar, Whole30-compliant nuts were packed silently into the cooler, as the JC and Meech stared at me with eyes full of betrayal.

JC paused on his way out the door, 'So... you coming down later?'

And that's when I melted down.  It was kind of epic.   JC eventually fled down to the pool, and I sat and bawled for about half an hour.   Then I took a bath, got dressed, went to Kroger (the one around the corner) to return The Nitrite Bacon and The Sulfite Coconut Milk.

Eventually I stopped feeling all sorry for myself, got my sh*t together, and went down to the pool, and had a good time.

Good Enough for Lunch: You aren't supposed to graze on Whole30, so I'll call this "an extended light lunch"...  between breakfast and dinner, we all had bananas, almonds, pistachios, blueberries, and cold chicken.   Not optimal, but good enough for the first day.

Dinner:   We all binge-watched 'Orange in the New Black', and had a really good dinner:   a Whole30 meatloaf (made with ground pork), and roasted carrots and sweet potatoes.

To recap Day One:   Stressed, moody, slight caffeine withdrawal headache, but by late afternoon, I felt better, content, more at peace,  I dozed off briefly at the pool, but never felt like I hit an energy slump.  Also, I got my period Saturday night, which accounts for the anxiety and the self-pity.

Some thoughts on Whole30

1)  I wish I had been able to read the entire book, before I started.   I was about two-thirds through it when we started.   But we're on a bit of a time crunch:   we are going to the Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT next month, and I wanted us to have time to re-introduce some food groups into our diets, so that the trip doesn't shell-shock our systems.

I am nearly done with "It Starts With Food", and I've learned a few more planning things that would have given us an easier start.   If you're going to do Whole30, I recommend reading through 'It Starts With Food', before you do.

But if, like me, your calendar has big events or trips on it... visit their site, scoop up as much information as you can, and go.

2)  "Surfing The Crimson Wave"...  usually, when I'm PMS-ing, I have one or two days where I Eat Everything That Isn't Nailed Down.   I also have epic cramps - but not this time.   They were milder, and easily controlled with ibuprofen.   So even done partially the week before I started, Whole30 already had a positive impact on my body.

3)  I didn't have any real cravings on Day One, but my sister - and countless internet articles - tell me that it will eventually happen.

Day One = DONE.   We stuck to it.

Why I'm Doing The Whole30

When I go over my mental roster (or look at my friend list on Facebook), I realize that probably 8 out of 10 people that I personally know, are trying to lose weight.   Maybe 4 out of 10 are trying to increase their fitness.

I belong to both categories.

As of Friday, my weight was 124.4   I've been tracking my weight, and this seems to be a consistent pre-menstrual cycle number, over the past four months.

Hello, plateau.

I've been working out, taking dance classes, and working on my farruca solo piece.   In an average week, I get a good 6-8 hours of dance and exercise-related activity.

It's frustrating, because the weight isn't budging.   I don't eat a lot of junk food, and I don't drink sodas.  I don't eat much dairy.   I do love chocolate, and I tend to overindulge there.

Whether it's a 'good' week, or a 'bad' week, my weight sits at 124.4

My baby sister just finished the Whole30 this past week, and she had glowing things to say about it.   She lost ten pounds and several inches.   What she most loved, is that she has increased energy, and many of those mid-afternoon slumps have disappeared.   Her skin is clearer, she has less cravings, and she says she feels happier, overall.

Now, mind you, we talked continuously as she went through this process, and she did plenty of grousing and a bit of ranting for the first couple of weeks.

Ranting or no, she recommended this plan so thoroughly, I bought 'It Starts With Food" and "The Whole 30".   I'm about 2/3 through "It Starts With Food".

Not gonna lie, this is some serious reading.   Very interesting, but it gets a bit dry at times.   Overall, it does a pretty throrough job of explaining how different foods affect us psychologically (producing cravings and feelings of being rewarded, which leads to more cravings).   It also explains, at great length, how foods affect our hormonal systems, our gut, and our immune system.

All in layperson's terms.   Not an easy feat with all of the science involved!

I find this book very enlightening!   For the first time in my life, I feel like I understand how that sandwich is going to physically affect my body, or why that banana should have a hard-boiled egg accompanying it when I have a snack.

I spent five days, easing myself into this plan, before officially starting yesterday.  The ease-in was, well, easy.  My coffee still tasted sweet and delicious, and there was corn, glorious corn! on my plate.  Already I have had more energy.

These past two days have been a little tougher.   I plan to journal my experiences here.   I can tell you, there has already been some crying, some ranting, and a whole lot of swearing, mostly to myself and my sister.

Sounds great, no?   But I can already feel the improvement in my body.

Best off all, this is a sustainable nutritional plan that doesn't count calories.   So far, I have felt very satisfied in my eating.

So... here I go!   I'll be chronicling this madness in the weeks to come...

Please note that I receive no compensation, monetary or otherwise, from Whole30 or any affiliates.   My sister does not, either.   I am simply sharing my opinions, and those of my sis.

Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis Dynamic Eating Plan: My Thoughts

I wouldn't call this a full review, as I only completed about 3.5 weeks of the twelve-week plan. These is a summary of my experience and thoughts...

Back in February, I undertook the Tracy Anderson Dynamic Eating Plan, part of the Tracy Anderson Metamorphoses.

I love/hate the Metamorphoses workouts - warts, flaws, bad cue-ing, uneven repetitions on either side, and all.   I can see the impact they've had when I take dance classes - my balance and strength are better, especially in centerwork for ballet class.

I mostly hated the eating plan.   I did it for about 25 days, before I crashed and burned.

Here are the reasons this plan did not work for me:

1.  Every other week entails time-intensive shopping, and labor-intensive food preparation.   I didn't mind this.   I thought most of the recipes were quite tasty, except that everything is mush, or slurped through a straw.

Some of the recipes triggered some milder food allergy symptoms (all-over itching, stomach swelling and mild distress).   I think parsnips and celery were among the culprits.   So.. it was trickier to stick to this part of the plan.

2.   Every other week, you are crash dieting.   I know the TA plan tries very hard to factor in 'going out', and dining with friends and family.   But if you have any sort of social life - and I was fortunate enough to have one this spring! - it's very hard to stick to.

3.   In those stringent weeks, there were times when I simply could not think clearly.   I also found that I was increasingly dependent on coffee.   I was drinking 5-6 cups a day.

At times, I hated the world.

This plan was not for me.   It is not sustainable for me, long-term.  I lost a total of seven pounds, and regained about 2.5.   My weight has pretty much stayed the same, since.

If you are thinking about starting this plan, do your research.   Read online reviews written by people who have tried it.   Think about your lifestyle:   are you willing and able to pack lunches?  (me:  yes)   Do you have the time and patience to shop and cook these ingredients from scratch?  (me:  yes)     Do you have the presence of mind to be able to abstain when you're dining out, or having a social outing with your friends?   (me:  NO).

If you try this plan, and it doesn't work out, don't beat yourself up, and don't be discouraged.   If you succeed, congratulations :)   I would love to hear about your experience!


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