Saturday, October 10, 2015

My Whole30 Must Haves

My snack pack for attending a football game when I knew I couldn't eat anything in the stadium.
 I tend to approach Whole30 fairly simply for a couple of reasons. First, I am feeding not only myself, but also my husband, who does not do Whole30 with me. So I'm typically making something that accommodates both of our eating preferences. I also don't want to break the bank buying a whole bunch of specialty foods or ingredients that are only used for Whole30 recipes.

But there are some foods that I found to be totally worth it, that make life more delicious and stress-free. Some of these are things that make life easier, and others are things that feel like treats, which makes Whole30 feel a lot less restrictive.

1. Ghee/clarified butter - so glad that I found this. You can make your own, but that just sounded like a lot of work when I can find it at Trader Joe's. There are just certain foods that could use that buttery flavor, and so this was totally worth it.

2. Guacamole - watch the ingredients on store-bought guacamole, but know that guac got me through two Whole30 rounds for a reason. Your body needs healthy fats to feel full, and these are perfect for that. Costco has the huge packs of Wholly Guacamole singles, but I've also purchased single-serve guacamole from Aldi, Target, and other places too. One of my on-the-go breakfast items (almost every day) was dipping carrots in guacamole.

Whole Foods Gua-kale-mole is really good stuff.
3. Coconut Aminos - If you like to cook different meat and veggie stir frys, this is a great substitute for soy sauce. And one of my easy peasy meals during Whole30 is creating lettuce wraps with ground chicken or turkey cooked with garlic, ginger, and coconut aminos. Limited ingredient, super quick meals are totally my thing.

4. Chomps Snack Sticks - Okay, you might be able to live without beef sticks. Not me. I ate a lot of beef sticks prior to Whole30 (my coworkers can attest), and so I was very excited to find compliant ones. For days that I needed to pack some emergency snacks, these came in handy.

5. Almond butter - Almond butter became a little bit too much of a comfort food for me during the first Whole30 (I went through more than one jar...). There were times that I would get home from work and need a quick spoonful to give me a little boost before making dinner. This time I was much more mindful, and ate a lot less of it, but it was another great thing to keep on hand for those days that I needed a quick snack. Plus it's tasty with celery sticks or apple slices.

6. LaCroix - LaCroix has helped me kick my soda habit a few different times. It's become such a part of my daily routine that I'm known to show up at friend's houses with a LaCroix in hand. My alcohol-free version of BYOB, I guess?

7. Peppermint Tea - At our house we have developed sort of a nightly ritual where we drink a cup of peppermint tea after dinner while watching tv. It's become such a comforting ritual that I look forward to each night.

8. Fancy olives - One of my favorite splurges has been going to the Whole Foods olive bar and making a small container of mixed olives and roasted tomatoes. Total treat. And amazing salad topping that eliminates the need for a dressing!

Mmm. Briny and delicious.

9. Macadamia nuts - The splurge of nuts, but boy do I love them. Definitely in the treat category.

10. Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning - One of my favorite discoveries this time around was that my favorite cajun seasoning is Whole30 compliant. Since that moment, I've been putting it on everything - chicken, broccoli, potatoes.

Everyone has their own things that help them to make the program fit for them. My must haves may be totally different than yours, and have also varied some between my two Whole30s. For some folks it's Larabars, which unfortunately I can't eat. For others it's specific fruits or veggies - I ate a whole lot of kale salad and roasted broccoli this time around.

Have you done a Whole30? Do you have any must haves?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Second Whole30

Or rather, Whole 29. That's right. Full disclosure: I totally cheated on the second to last day.

It was stupid. I got through all of the crazy busy weeks, and thought I was doing so well that it wouldn't be a big deal to bake some dairy-filled, sugar-filled, grain-filled dessert treats for the students. And my willpower was just not as strong as I thought it was. I totally ate one of the frosted almond bars. And I felt sad. And mad. And disappointed. Mainly that I was going back to my all-or-nothing way of doing things, and that I wasn't going to be able to find a happy medium. Dreading that a week later, I'd be eating a daily Jack's pizza and feeling horrible.

But a good friend reminded me of a few things. First, to recognize the many accomplishments that I had made in 29 days. Also, that I had already done this once before, and proven that I could do it. Perhaps I didn't have to do a full 30 days again if I was able to retain the concepts. Okay, perhaps scarfing down an almond bar wasn't a win. But I had really worked on some good habits that have the potential to stick for awhile.

Then, I read these three posts (1, 2, and 3) in a series about what the creator of Whole30 eats, and how she incorporates the concepts into her daily life, but also where she gives herself room to eat non-compliant stuff. And I realized there is a way to do this that fits for my life, that may mean incorporating some foods back in that I'm missing and that are okay for my body, while still being healthy and feeling good.

This may be Whole30 compliant in ingredients, but holy giant omelet! This lasted 3 meals!
And so rather than dwelling on my mistake and going into a food-shame spiral (which I think we tend to do to ourselves), I want to highlight some of the major wins from this experience and some of the things that I learned about myself.

I can do this, even during my busiest time. Despite cravings and temptations, I stuck with this through the busiest times of my job where I was working many nights and weekends. There were days that I packed all three meals. I made it work. Which shows that with good planning and preparation, there is really no reason or excuse to not eat healthy. I tend to give in and eat lots of junk food during those times and use it as an excuse, but really that's when I need to have good healthy practices the most!

I got to make some delicious meals with my husband, family, and friends. For both rounds of Whole30, my husband and I had so many more family dinners together. And there were a bunch of times that we made meals as a team, whether grilling or making a pot of chili. Or doing a potluck with friends. And that's an amazing non-scale victory (NSV) to me!

Grilled bison steaks with chimichurri and lots of veggies that we made together
I feel amazing. After so many months of stomach issues, I feel great! I have so much more energy than I did before and my skin is brighter and clearer. And I managed to power through the cold that I got from being rundown with my schedule in just a few days, which I attribute to eating and drinking my way through it, with very limited meds.

I hit a number on the scale that I haven't seen since high school. I want to be clear that weight loss wasn't my primary goal for doing this. But it was very motivating to see that I could impact positive changes to my body through making more nutritious choices. And that boost in confidence is nice!

I still can go out to eat and be social. There are a number of menu items that I could work with to have a night out of the house. Which is awesome, because one of the challenges of Whole30 is the sheer amount of time spent cooking and cleaning. And breaks from that are necessary. I love spending less money on eating out, but it is nice to do every once in awhile. Especially with friends and family.

I didn't feel limited. Others assume Whole30 sucks. And they say "Ugh, that's why I don't diet." Or share "I couldn't do this because I couldn't give up X." And I probably would have said something similar too. But once I got past the first few days of not having half and half in my coffee, I didn't really think about it that way as I was making meals. For me, it doesn't feel like a diet. And once my thinking was reframed, there were a lot of things that felt like treats that were 100 percent compliant. Hello red grapes! So delicious. And while doing it, I also didn't think often, "oh my gosh, I can't wait to eat X again." 

I benefited from having lots of fresh veggies through our CSA and made a point to use almost all of them. I think that doing a Whole30 during the summer/fall is SO much easier than winter. Access and cost of fresh produce makes such a difference to having more variety of food items and keeping the budget in check. And I threw away a lot less of my CSA veggies than before. And now I need a plan for maintaining a supply of vegetables through the winter.

Making homemade veggie stock with leftover scraps from CSA veggies
I need to focus on the reintroduction phase. I totally skipped on this the first time around. I intended to do it better this time. And then I didn't. I jumped right into eating a few things that combined dairy and grain, making it hard to tell what made me feel like yuck. And that's the whole point of the process if you want to get better knowledge of how and which foods are affecting you. So that's my biggest goal post-Whole30. I'm not going to start all over, at least not right now. But I have been doing days of full-on Whole30, and then a Whole30 + dairy, Whole 30 + beans, etc. I think this will better help me pinpoint what I can reintroduce more regularly and know my body's reactions better.

I want to celebrate living a better life, with the occasional indulgences. I've been listening to the Happier podcast with Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft, and one of their "Try This at Home" tips for greater happiness is to Choose the Bigger Life when making decisions. As I think about what this means for me and food, I know that my life is happier when it's focused on homemade meals with friends and family. Eating dinner at the kitchen table with good conversation with my husband (and usually some lingering cats). Making recipes with tasty ingredients and mindful eating. And I think there is totally room to eat other things. But I'd rather make the decision to eat an amazing pastry from the french bakery down the street on a delightful walk on a fall day with Chris, than mindlessly eat half a box of Cheez-Its because I'm procrastinating making dinner. Or to have one of the klejner that we make each Christmas as our family tradition rather than beating myself up about it, when it's something that is so special to me. 

If there is one thing I'm taking from this experience, it's that it's a work in progress. Change happens over time. 

I still have more reflecting to do. Stay tuned for more Whole30 thoughts. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fall Goals

How did summer completely pass by? It's gone. I didn't even write summer goals, I just did summer.

The last month was honestly a blur. I had just under 20 events over the first month of school. This past two weekends were the first that I could enjoy and I am happy to report that I did absolutely no work! Which also has me focused on making the most of these beautiful fall days that we have left. Fall is absolutely my favorite season, and I want to take full advantage before that winter coat comes back out of the closet. I also want to get back into a regular routine for school, work and fun.

Eat: The last post about goals that I wrote was in the spring after I had just finished a Whole30. And now I just finished one again. After stomach issues all spring/summer, I'm feeling the best that I've ever felt. And so I think I'm going to try to keep up with my mostly meat/eggs/veggies/fruit/nuts/seeds diet, with the much less frequent piece of pizza or donut thrown in. Because health. I ate an english muffin on Sunday and thought I might die. More on that later. Plus I need to continue eating through the abundance that is our CSA. If I could do it during my busiest time of year, why not keep it up?  

Drink: Pumpkin Spice coffee from Trader Joe's. TJs has pumpkin everything right now. Most of it didn't fit with Whole30 (although I was totally tempted by the pumpkin spice cookie butter). This was a great find. And Chris bought me a pour-over so that I can drink one cup at a time, since he will stick to regular coffee and thinks this stuff sounds totally gross. More for me. Totally fills my pumpkin spice latte craving without the sugar or milk.

Read: More books! I slacked off a bit on my reading challenge, but have been picking it back up lately. I've finished 24 of the 52 for this year in the Pop Sugar Ultimate Reading Challenge, most recently re-reading Eat, Pray, Love. Right now I am reading The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Totally a family favorite movie - I'm excited to read the book. I am also reading Rising Strong by Brene Brown and can't wait to purchase Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Watch: Scandal! So excited it's back. It's the only show that I try to keep up with from week to week. I binged on a lot of different shows over the summer, including all five seasons of Game of Thrones in a very short time period. And The Newsroom, which I loved and am sad to hear is done. After all of the binge watching, I'm actually really excited to go back to watching something on a weekly basis - I enjoy the suspense and cliff hangers, rather than jumping right in to the next episode. Also - who else is excited about The Muppets being back on tv?!

Listen: To a few different podcasts. Right now my two go-to podcasts that I listen to while washing dishes are "Happier" with Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft and "Magic Lessons" with Elizabeth Gilbert. That's right - I do a lot of soul searching while washing dishes.

Wear: All of my fall clothes. It's my favorite wardrobe! Scarves. Sweatshirts. Jeans. Boots. It's the best that my closet has to offer and I'm singing about it! "All the fall things.."

Finish: Dissertation interviews! That's right. I'm in full swing on the research. Round one of interviews are wrapping up this week. I'll get all of my transcription and coding underway, and then proceed with Round Two before the end of the semester. Momentum is a great thing.

Purchase: Some serious winter boots. I've had my current pair for over five years. It's time for a new pair before the snow falls.

Stop: And snuggle kitties. Because kitties.

Go: To Boulder! I am SO excited to get to spend a long weekend with three of my favorite people in the whole world. They give me life. And we see each other far too infrequently. So we are going to live it up in the mountains, do nature-y things, and enjoy every minute together.

Focus: On friends and family. : )

What are your fall goals?
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