Who needs sweets?

I don’t even know how to explain this, but I’ve been eating unsweetened chocolate.

Not dark chocolate.

Not semisweet chocolate.

Pure, unsweetened chocolate. The kind where the ingredients start and end with chocolate.

I’ve been eating it in bar form and in cocoa powder form.

With it, I’ve been downing glasses of unsweetened almond milk.

I used to not be able to tolerate the taste except for in my coffee, but now I crave whole glasses of the stuff.

I blame Whole30. And Heather Eats Almond Butter, who regularly eats squares of Baker’s unsweetened chocolate.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still really, really craving sugar – but I also have to admit, my tastebuds have been transformed.

I actually kind of thought the sugar craving would disappear after a few days, but it’s still here. While I finish my last week of Whole30, I’m planning my return to grains, cheese, sugar and wine on pinterest.

But today is Wednesday. And it’s still September, so I have more protein-filled paleo eats to share 🙂

Breakfast: Zucchini, sweet potato egg bake. First I chopped up two zucchini and a sweet potato, tossed the veggies in olive oil and then roasted them for a bit. Once they were almost done, I poured a dozen scrambled eggs over top and let it cook in the oven until the top was golden and puffy.

I was pretty pleased with the results. I’ve been eating a slice with 3 oz of turkey breast for breakfast.

Did you know that ShopRite sells odds and ends of different cuts of meat and cheese for a discounted price? I picked up a pound of the end cut of a roasted turkey breast for under $3.00 – so cheap!

 Lunch: My lunch is a total mess of deliciousness this week. I was craving broccoli  (totally normal) so I roasted up a whole head of broccoli and cauliflower to pack for lunches.

To accompany the delicious veggies I added 4 oz of chicken breast, a whole plum tomato and a half an avocado. I also couldn’t resist buying apples this week (yay Fall!) and stick one in my lunch bag every day.

Also, I have to pat myself on the back for not using Trader Joe’s precooked chicken in my lunch this week. It’s so convenient, but to save some money I bought raw (organic!) chicken and it barely took any extra time to prepare. Trader Joe’s is great for getting healthy, packaged food in a rush – but if I have the time it’s nice to be able to cook the food myself.

Dinner: Beef and cabbage stew.

I don’t even know where the ideas for my meals came from this week. The chocolate thing is weird enough, but I’ve also never made a cabbage soup before. Or a cabbage anything before.

I chopped up a head of cabbage into bite sized pieces and boiled it with with a few cups of beef broth. When the cabbage was soft, I added in a can of diced tomatoes and 1.5 pounds of stew beef and lots of seasoning.

The flavor is great, and I love the cabbage, but the beef came out really tough! I don’t know if I cooked it too long or what, but it’s really chewy which is not what I was going for.

Along with snacking on unsweetened chocolate, I’ve been hitting the baby carrots hard. I even bought a bag before getting on the train yesterday in a hunger emergency!

A quick note about this – New York City – while there are food temptations everywhere – is seriously amazing when it comes to being able to find produce. Next to the food trucks of bagels and greasy food, there are food trucks of fruit. I love it. There’s also a stand in the Hoboken Path terminal that sells all kinds of nuts, fruits, veggies for great prices…which is where I picked up the carrots. It’s so easy to eat healthy on the run in the city.

Anyway, this will definitely be my last week of Whole30 and paleo eating. I miss Greek yogurt, oatmeal, honey, hummus, and all the other off-limits food.

Also, I started calorie counting again – but I’ll get into more of the details with a full recap of the program soon!

For now…The Numbers.

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 163.5

This week: 163

Change: -.5

Total loss: 80

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I am where I am

I’m having one of those moments.

Nothing I do is good enough.

Nothing is enough at all.

I’m generally just feeling sorry for myself.

Here’s where I’m at: Losing weight is frustrating. Like, beyond frustrating. It’s slow. It’s up and down. I feel stuck.

I’m doing a lot of things I know detract from my happiness, like:

Comparing myself to others.

Getting caught up with numbers/sizes.

Thinking things should be different than they are/having expectations about where I should be instead of just appreciating where I am.

Also, no sooner had I typed out the words that sugar/carb cravings were not an issue that I got sucker punched with the most intense need to consume as much froyo, wine, cheese, and chocolate as possible.

It’s all I can think about.

I texted my friends, “I think I might die if I don’t eat froyo soon.” Whoa, Jodster, ease up on the dramatics.

Twenty days into Whole30 without one sugar craving is pretty impressive, but still, I’m hurtin’ for some Red Mango.

So, against my will, against everything I’m feeling right now, I’m going to write down things I am grateful for. It’s the only way, Zen Habits says so.

1. I am grateful for my body. It carried me through a windy 5K on Sunday. Three-point-one completed with friends. My friend Kipp even finished the race in third place (!!!) and then looped around to push me through to the finish line. It was my fastest 5K time yet.

2. I am grateful for my friends and family. For supporting me through this wine-deprived time in my life. For accepting me, my flaws, for loving me.

3. I am grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way and the ones that continue to present themselves.

4. I am grateful for this space, this blog, that allows me an outlet to focus on how I’m feeling. I’m constantly amazed that other people get something out of reading it. Thank you.

 5. I am grateful for my apartment, it’s proximity to things. On Saturday I walked to the library where I spent a few hours curled up in a chair reading.

6. I am grateful for my time on the train commuting back and forth to work. It’s rekindled my love of journaling with pen and paper. It’s forced me to be OK with idle time. I sit. I breathe. I listen to music. I practice positive visualization.

7. I am grateful for access to healthy food and clean water. The smell of sweet potatoes baking in the oven, oh my.

8. I am grateful for this time in my life, to do (almost) exactly what I want whenever I want. To experiment. To dream about all the ways my life could take shape. All the paths in front of me.

9. I am grateful for the Universe. Thoughts become things, choose good ones.

10. I am grateful for the change of seasons. For falling leaves, oversized sweatshirts, and hot tea.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. – Lao Tzu

 

All the way

I really thought this weekend was going to test my resolve with Whole30. Between the pizza run on Saturday and a big dinner with family on Sunday (including cookies, cupcakes and ice cream for desert) I was kind of expecting to go off plan – but I made it through the dinner without so much as a lick or taste of sugar, dairy, grains…and maybe the hardest… wine. Total success.

Here’s what I have been eating, in weekly What I ate Wednesday tradition:

Breakfast: Sweet potato & turkey bake. Breakfast is always where I struggle most with the paleo diet. I like sweet things in the morning. Um, sweet potatoes, duh!

The first layer of this casserole is two grated sweet potatoes sprinkled with rosemary. On top I put about a pound of ground turkey and then poured 5 scrambled eggs over the dish before baking it. Delicious and quick to reheat in the morning.

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The all important coffee, enjoyed in bed.

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Lunch: It’s been rainy and cold so I cooked up a big pot of comfort food to dish out for lunch this week.

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In the pot is onion, carrots, mushrooms, chicken thighs, beef broth and a whole bunch of kale.

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For easy grab & go access I dished it out into containers for the week.

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With all this wind and rain it’s nice to have something hot and hearty in the afternoon to look forward to.

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Dinner: Fall means squash right?? I always underestimate how much “meat” a spaghetti squash yields, but hopefully I can finish it all.

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I smothered a heaping serving with creamy avocado sauce from Oh She Glows (avocado, EVOO, basil, lemon, garlic, salt & pepper). Leftover pork loin on the side.

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I’m really still enjoying Whole30. There’s been a lot of additional stress in my life as of late but I really credit this strict eating plan with my ability to take it all in stride. Normally I would be using any excuse to dig into a cup of frozen yogurt or have a glass (or two, or three) of wine – but it’s nice to know that I don’t need those things after a long day to unwind. Sugar, while it makes me happy in the moment, generally leaves me feeling grumpy and I definitely don’t need the effects of a sugar crash right now.

With each week I’m also feeling more and more empowered in the kitchen. I enjoy the challenge of cooking healthy, delicious food to meet specific nutritional goals. I thought that I wasn’t going to maintain a paleo diet after the challenge was over, but with under two weeks to go I’m not so sure.

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In other news…I finally completed a three-mile run! It sucks that it was on the treadmill (boo, rain!) but the time actually passed quickly.

It feels like it took forever to build back my mileage but I finally made it. I ran at an even 12 min/mile pace for the first 2 miles and at an 11:30 min/mile pace for the third. I felt really good throughout and didn’t feel like I was struggling at all.

Also – Can we talk about how my NYC Pizza Run shirt is an EXACT match to Retro Fitness?! The guy behind me is not amused.

Now…The Numbers

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 162.5

This week: 163.5

Change: +1

Total loss: 79.5

NYC Pizza Run recap

Happy Monday!

Is anyone else suffering from allergies? My sinuses are making my whole face hurt!

So when I started Whole30 I knew there would be one day this month I would HAVE to make an exception and deviate from the plan because a few weeks ago I signed up for…THE NYC PIZZA RUN!

The gist is, you run four laps around Tompkins Square Park, totaling 2.25 miles, and after each lap you stop at the pizza station and down a slice of New York’s finest.

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The registration for the race was a bit pricey, but the charge went to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation…and included a free beer post race.

I have to admit, usually I’m intimidated by the other participants when I do races so it was nice to be around a group of runners who were mostly laid back and just looking to have fun. There were people dressed like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a guy carrying a bottle of Coca-Cola like you would normally see someone carrying a water bottle.

I have no idea about timing or anything because there was no chip in the race bib and the start and finish lines were drawn with chalk, but I ran the first two laps and then walked most of the second two as to not risk any chance of the pizza coming back up….haha.

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I wasn’t sure how well my body would react to three slices of pizza between bouts of jogging, but my stomach and legs were strong. I completed the race with two friends who were just as happy as me to be stuffing their face with pizza.

After the race we walked over the Common Ground to cash in on the free beer – but I decided to make the pizza my only “cheat” from Whole30 and graciously passed mine over to my friends and sipped on water instead.

Overall the race was a great experience and I would totally be up for doing more unique races in the future.

Not to get all serious in kind of a silly post, but doings things like this really reminds me how many fun times I would have (and did in the past) miss out on because my weight just prohibited me from participating in life.

Even though there were runners of all shapes and sizes at the event, there is no way I would have ever signed up or even considered doing something like this at 243 pounds. Never.

Hope everyone else had a great weekend and enjoyed the windy fall weather :)!

Food with a view

I’m eating so well this week that it’s hard to believe I’m following a “strict” food plan.

Seriously. I have a total crush on Whole30 right now. So…here’s what I’m eating this week! (Also…if you love food gawking..check a bunch more of What I Ate Wednesdays on Peas and Crayons)

Breakfast: Two eggs scrambled with about 3 oz of Trader Joes canned salmon and a few handfuls of spinach. The whole combo is heated up in a pan with coconut oil and ginger and then doused in hot sauce. And of course, life wouldn’t be complete without the  giant mug o’ coffee.

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Lunch: Pineapple Mojito Salad!! and sliced pork loin. My lunch was inspired from a salad I saw at Whole Foods over the weekend that was too easy and delicious not to recreate.

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My version included a whole pineapple, six mini cucumbers, and a jicama dressed with lime juice, coconut shreds and fresh mint and topped with raw pepitas. You have to make it. The mix of the crunchy jicama, with the sweet pineapple and tangy lime juice is super refreshing.

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Dinner:  I was craving fish when I went food shopping this weekend so I bought a huge bag of frozen tilapia to slowly work through. On Monday, I baked four of the filets in the oven with and have been eating them every night paired with chopped veggies nuked in the microwave and Kalamata olives or avocado for a super quick and healthy meal.

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This week I’ve also been using my lunch breaks to wander around the financial district and appreciate how close I am to some great views of the city.

Like the South Street Seaport.

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And Brooklyn’s right across the water.

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There’s also some really pretty architecture among all the skyscrapers.

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Now…The Numbers

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 163.5

This week: 162.5

Change: -1

Total loss:80.5

Whole30 Week 1 reflections

I made it through a whole week of Whole30!

Although I threw myself a little bit of a pity party on Friday after work when I saw everyone walking around the city with ice cream cones, so far I haven’t been too tempted to break the program.

I took a walk to the charging bull instead of the Mister Softee truck

The headache I had during the first few days is completely gone and I’ve been eating some extra fruit on days that I feel like I need a sugar boost. Frozen bananas and frozen blueberries have been saviors!

The other thing I’m really digging is NOT counting calories. I was a little uneasy for the first few days and even tried to add up things in my head – but the freedom from having to weigh and measure everything has been fantastic.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do after the 30 days is over with regards to calorie counting, but I’ll make that decision when the time comes.

So far most of my meals have been a good mix of protein, fat (mostly from avocado and coconut oil) and vegetables with small portions of fruit and nuts throughout the day. To be honest, I’m enjoying this a lot more than I did my first paleo experience because of how strict and guided the program is.

Typical breakfast of eggs scrambled with spinach, half an avocado and a frozen banana

I’m going into this week a little more prepared than last week, with hard boiled eggs and sliced turkey for snacks instead of relying on fruits, nuts, and baby carrots. So far I haven’t missed my usual staples of Greek yogurt and hummus. Every time I change up my eating it’s fun because then I get to try a whole new set of recipes.

Trip 1 of 2 for groceries on Sunday

Besides more stable energy, I haven’t noticed too many other changes. According to the website, this is what I should be going through:

The first week or two will be tough, as your body heals and adjusts to this new way of eating and your brain wraps itself around going without all those sweet tastes and sugar-driven energy spikes.And while you may start to feel better after a week or two… the healing process takes significantly longer. In addition, the mental addiction and emotional connections to sugary foods, large amounts of processed carbohydrates and over-the-top, chemically-altered flavors is going to take a lot longer to overcome.

 

To be fair, I wasn’t eating a whole lot of sugary foods, processed carbohydrates and chemically altered flavors to begin with. I’m proud to say that my diet was pretty clean before I started this challenge, but I was falling back into autopilot mode with my meals so this has certainly shaken things up.

The biggest change is how much time I spend thinking about and preparing my food. I have to wake up earlier every morning to cook breakfast and grocery shopping took double the amount of time it usually does. I can’t say I mind however, I actually really like doing all of these things.

I also love that I found a whole new set of blogs to read! My favorite has been Holly Would if She Could – who just posted a blog about tips to making your Whole30 a success.

Ok – I’m off to make some more eggs – Can’t wait to post this week’s eats on Wednesday!

Zen lessons

My week was heavily influenced by the always inspiring new post on the Zen Habits blog

Go read it. Enjoy your life. Be grateful for and do all things with love.

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Happy Friday 🙂

Fresh eats

I have some meals to show you, lucky ducks 🙂

It’s day four of my Whole30 challenge and I’m feeling good. I’m experiencing some typical first week symptoms like a light headache, but almost immediately my sugar cravings disappeared and my energy stabilized. Great feeling!

Here’s what I’ve been eating…just in time for What I ate Wednesday‘s new theme…Fall into good habits ;)!

 Breakfast: Brussels sprouts & zucchini sauteed in coconut oil, two eggs sunny-side up, a few strawberries topped with dried coconut. And the most important – a giant mug of coffee with unsweetened almond milk.

Lunch: Baby spinach, Kalamata olives, tomato, almonds, cauliflower and chicken breast with a simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing.

 

Dinner: Portions of the Thai Chicken Curry that I made on Sunday. In the pot is chicken thighs, chicken broth, coconut milk, fire roasted tomatoes, garlic, ginger, 2 jalepenos, tumeric and a giant bunch of collard greens.

 

Snacks have included baby carrots, fresh figs (!!!) cantaloupe, almond butter and other fruit.

So much better than fig newtons!

Now…The Numbers

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 164.5

This week: 163.5

Change: -1

Total loss:79.5

Happier, whole living

Let’s get real.

For the past couple of weeks I haven’t felt like myself. I spoke a little bit about how I felt I had been eating too much sugar. Certainly drinking too much alcohol. And just overall giving in to my indulgences too freely.

In the moment, I get to indulge in simple pleasures. The next day (and for many days after) my emotions are all over the place, I regret the decisions I make, etc. It finally all culminated in all-out emotional crash this weekend. My friends can attest, it wasn’t pretty.

Once again, Gretchen Rubin’s advice on happiness comes to the rescue.

One thing I love about her is that she really explores why things that seemingly should make us happy (i.e. pleasurable indulgences) don’t actually result in happiness.

One of my favorite pieces of advice she gives is in the moderator/abstainer personality quiz where I learned that I, most definitely, am an abstainer.

You’re a moderator if you…
– find that occasional indulgence heightens your pleasure – and strengthens your resolve
– get panicky at the thought of “never” getting or doing something

You’re an abstainer if you…
– have trouble stopping something once you’ve started
– aren’t tempted by things that you’ve decided are off-limits

As Gretchen  says in the post, people are very judgmental of abstainers.

This is one of the difficulties I faced when I first decided to change my life, but I live best when I’m completely dedicated. All in. Don’t take a break.

Listen, you can’t always be perfect, but for me, taking an all-or-nothing approach results in consistency. I don’t believe in  cheat days, or days off.

As I mostly kept to myself this weekend, I had a lot of time to catch up on blog reading and stumbled upon the Whole9 website, creators of the Whole30 program.

Basically, it’s an all-or-nothing 30 day approach to the paleo diet.

For 30 days, you eat vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, nuts and seeds, and fats like avocado, coconut and olive oil.

You don’t eat grains, legumes, dairy, white potatoes, alcohol, and a bunch of other junk.

Also, I won’t be counting calories.

When I first tried paleo eating, I took and 80/20 approach, which pretty much resulted in me eating a lot of eggs and meat and also a lot of froyo. The wiggle room killed me.

I also like that it’s about confronting the food addictions you have. The program is very clear that you should NOT try to make paleo versions of your favorite foods. It’s about learning to eat a different, cleaner way. Usually I’m not about doing things that aren’t sustainable, but this seems like it could really be an interesting learning experience for me and my body.

The Whole30 program is not about moderation. It’s about doing it. All out. The way I know how to do it.

I didn’t lose 80 (ehhh, ish) pounds by kind of living a different life. I changed everything about it. What I did, what I read, what I talked about, how I ate, how I went grocery shopping. I changed my definition of fun, my definition of healthy, my definition of relaxing. I changed how I hung out with my friends, how I spent my free time and most importantly, I changed how I thought about myself.

You either do it or you don’t. And it’s time to do it.

Breakfast, Whole30 style:

  • 1 egg + 1/3 cup egg whites scrambled with coconut oil
  • Green monster smoothie with 1 cup frozen spinach, 1 frozen banana, 1/2 an avocado, 1/4 cup frozen blueberries, 2 tsp coconut oil, enough water to blend
  • Coffee with unsweetened almond milk