Whole30 recap

My Whole30 challenge came to an end pretty much the same way it started – too much wine 🙂

It certainly wasn’t an entire 30 days. There was the pizza run, a few times where I was desperate for coffee at work and added in splashes of milk, and one time where I accidentally ate edamame because I had forgotten it was on the “no” list and had already paid for it in an overpriced salad.

I also cut it short on Sept. 27 for drinks with my former coworkers. The next day I visited the Chobani Soho yogurt bar, followed by froyo for dinner at Love & Yogurt in Hoboken while waiting for my train to Fair Lawn.

The very next morning, it was back to oatmeal for breakfast.

With all that being said, in 26-ish days, I still feel like I learned a lot from my experience.

For one, I didn’t count calories for the majority of September. Seeing as I’ve been counting calories daily for almost two years, this was a huge change!

It was…interesting. At first it was great, but there were some days I wish I had tracked.

If you don’t already know it, here’s the quick explanation on my feelings about calorie counting: I love it, I don’t get obsessive about it, if I’m hungry I eat even if it’s over my calorie allowance for the day. For me, recovering from a past where I had a terrible relationship with food and binged and emotionally ate all the time, calorie counting is an excellent tool that I can use to feel in control. 

After three weeks, I began calorie counting again. I still have weight loss goals to reach (100 pounds!) and I’ve been in the same 5-pound range for MONTHS. Seriously, it’s plateau hell up in here.

Ok, back to Whole30.

The biggest change was in my taste buds!

I can’t believe how much I enjoy unsweetened chocolate. Also, I used to need a whole banana plus chocolate protein powder and usually some other fruit to drink a green monster, but I’ve really grown to like the taste of a less sweet green monster with lots of spinach.

Also, I always had to add sweetener to pumpkin, but when I started eating again a few days ago I thought it tasted delicious!

I find that I can pick up in the subtle sweetness of vegetables much easier. It’s pretty cool.

I did get sick of eating eggs for breakfast every day – although scrambling them in coconut oil is now my new favorite way to enjoy them.

I also felt weighed down by the amount of meat I was eating. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you probably notice that I’m not typically a big meat eater. It’s more expensive than other types of protein and I just don’t really enjoy it as much as someone who is going paleo should.

Give me beans, yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu, nuts, and eggs and I’m a happy girl. I don’t see pork or red meat ever being staples in my life.

But, each time I’ve done a paleo challenge, it reminds me how important it is to eat enough fat.

It keeps me full. It tastes really good, and too many times I go without it because of my former failed experiences (ahem, Weight Watchers) with losing weight.

The benefits of cutting sugar, grains, legumes and dairy out of your diet are eye opening. I was never tired during the challenge. My energy stayed consistent throughout the day. I was never (seriously EVER) so hungry that I felt light headed, even when I went really long stretches between meals.

Overall, I ate more whole, nourishing foods than I normally would have during September – and that’s a success!

The strictness of the challenge helped me stay away from free cookies and bagels at the office, desert and wine during a family dinner, and it saved me money because it got me out of the habit of buying coffee everyday and I think I ate out twice the whole month.

In the end, I came to the same conclusion I came to before: Paleo is not for me.

I got really cranky toward the end of the month and all I could think about was eating sugar. I started to feel deprived, angry, blah blah blah. Also, there is just something about starting my day by cooking oats on the stove that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. I don’t know if it’s the routine of making it or the actual food, but there’s no denying it, oatmeal just makes me happy.

I’m lucky. I have no allergies to wheat, gluten, dairy, etc., so there is no reason why those foods can’t be a part of my balanced diet.

I probably wouldn’t do it again – but I would recommend that others give it a try! A lot of people really benefit from the paleo way of eating. Also, there is something to be said for sticking to a challenge.

The whole experience reinvigorated my resolve when it came to the way I want to live my life. It got me to question why I was reaching for certain types of foods. I don’t have to eat the free cookie, or indulge in desert, even if everyone else is. I don’t have to feel pressured to drink if it’s not something I want to do.

At the end of the day, I deal with the consequences of my choices. It’s really easy to just go with the flow when it comes to eating out or drinking, but I don’t have to. I can enjoy life just as much whether there is glass of wine is in my hand or not.

Putting myself first, taking the time to prep meals for the week, turning down other plans to work out or eat home instead of at a restaurant, I like living like that. For too long I had this sort of apathy about myself, but my health is not something I’m willing to be passive about anymore.

Some days it is just about another day of getting up, eating right, making time for exercise, but when I stop to think about it, about how I used to live, I realize it’s always about so much more.

Happy Friday, friends.

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

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

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