Whole 30 – What I Learned

Ok, now that we are finally done I feel like I can share some lessons learned, and a more accurate opinion of my/our Whole 30 experience.

First let me say, it did work for us, and I learned a lot! I still don’t approve of drastic eating plans like this, mostly because it’s nearly impossible to maintain full time, but it served it’s purpose.

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Whole 30 approved cookbooks.

Things I Learned:

-I ended up finding more foods that are a problem for me than Mark did. I kinda thought I was just along to be supportive, but ended up finding out a few things that I have had to cut out, or drastically reduce my intake. Dairy and Soy being two of those things. Anything like pasta or bread is not great either, even if it’s gluten free.

-I felt/feel 75% better eating this way than I did before. So much so that we are pretty much Whole 30 full time. Of course we take time to have wine a few times a week, enjoy Holiday food/treats, use real bacon & hot dogs rather than crazy expensive Whole 30 approved options. But, for the most part, like 85%-90% of the time it’s pretty much Whole 30 eating for us. I feel us being uninvited to friend’s for dinner now. 😉

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I drank a lot of pickle juice! 

-Realizing it’s my health, my body, and my responsibility, and I won’t be apologizing for being “difficult” with my food choices, nor will I eat something just to be polite if I know it will make me feel like crap. It’s just not worth it. So if we do still manage to be invited over for dinner, and spaghetti is on the menu, I will be volunteering to bring a big old protein packed salad and eating that instead.

-Save your pickle juice. There are not a lot of drink options on this plan, for me anyway (some of the approved options I don’t like at all), so it was plain old water 98% of the time, and plain tea the rest. I craved having different flavors and resorted to shot’s of pickle juice when I was really desperate. Ultra runners do it, so I figured it can’t be all bad. It helped get through the rough days when boring old water was just not cutting it.

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-Capers, sun-dried tomatoes, olives (all different kinds)  all add some flavor to salads, sandwiches, and eggs. Get them at Costco to save money, and stock up because you will fly through them. I was putting capers on everything!

-Find some approved dressing/sauces you can use. Yes, you can make your own, but when you are cooking as much as this requires anything that comes pre-made is a life (and time) saver! Read the label though! Tessemae’s is listed in Whole 30 as an approved company, but some of the dressings have soy in them, and soy is a no, no.

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-Invest in a few Whole 30 approved/friendly cookbooks. Variety is important, and as someone who likes to cook I need to have recipes to go through and meal plan with, it’s what makes me happy! So, having 3 extra books plus the Whole 30 book, made a world of difference for me!

-A good cast iron pan is almost a must given all the meat being cooked. I got mine about half way through, and it changed the game for sure! Perfectly browned meat every single time!

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-Habits are hard to break, and may be more about the ritual of the habit than the substance itself. Guys, I gave up coffee long before we did Whole 30. What’s the first thing I did once we were officially done, went and got a Starbucks Holiday latte. I just can’t kick it 100%. It’s not the smell, or taste even. It’s the idea of having a cup of coffee in my hand while I enjoy my 1 to 2 hours of kid free time in the morning. Or, going to the coffee shop to read my book & have coffee when I finish errands early and have 30 extra minutes before picking Sky up from school.

I’m a big window shopper, I see ideas online for home decor, craft projects, fashion and then I go window shop discount retailers/thrift stores to see if I can pull it off without impacting our budget. I don’t purchase much, but I love strolling through isles, coffee in hand…not even drinking it though…just holding the cup gives me the feeling of relaxed me time. A mini vacation away from it all if you will.

So, coffee marketing has totally worked on me. Since dairy is now an issue I can only handle it about once every 3 to 4 days. My goal is 2 coffees a week, at the most, and for those to be at home. I still have my Starbucks card, with money on it, but I’m saving that for those days when I truly need an escape, and am going to ditch the to do list and sit and read for a couple hours during school, or to meet a friend and catch up. That happens maybe once every other month. Makes it a true treat.

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-Wine, oh how I love thee. It’s so nice to have wine back in our life. Seriously we were without alcohol of any kind for almost 2 months. So now I can have like one glass and be totally loopy. I like that wine is something a little more special now, and we only have it 1 or 2 nights a week, usually planned to go with a specific meal.

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-It’s longer than 30 days FYI! By the time we finished the reintroduction phase it was closer to 2 1/2 months for us. Re-intro took a long time though because it left me in particular feeling pretty bad. One day of re-intro then two days back on plan, that yo-yo cycle left my body and mind feeling strung out. There were several times we went back on plan for 4 or 5 days just to even back out.

I question the whole re-intro process a bit anyway. If you give something up for 30 days (or in this case a lot of somethings) and then all of a sudden have a day of eating that thing, it’s sort of bound to make you feel cruddy even if you don’t have a true allergy, or reaction to it. Just my opinion.

We ended up re-intro’ing a few things more than once, just to verify how it made us feel because we sort of felt like one day of eating after not having it for so long was not a true indication of how our body reacts to it. Soy was something we tried multiple times, and found that high levels of it is no good. But a bit of soy sauce with sushi not a problem. It’s still something we are limiting, but at least we can still have the sushi we love!

-The biggest win for me was figuring out what to fuel with during longer runs. I struggled with running on Whole 30, it’s hard to take in the carbs needed to run double digit miles, and I was training for a 10 mile trail run, and hated every second of the training. But, race day came, and I had a bag with nuts and dried blueberries, and you know I felt pretty amazing during that trail race. Fruit and nuts, it’s where it’s at for me. If nothing else I feel like I solved the in-run fuel issue I’ve been dealing with for 2 years now, so that’s a win!

-They say you will feel so good by the end of it that you wont want to to go off plan. It’s true. By day 26 we felt pretty amazing, and I was really reluctant to start reintroducing anything into our diet. After going through the angry stage, the no energy stage, and finally getting the hang of it and feeling great…no way did I want to ditch it. 🙂 I drug my feet on re-intro a bit because of that.

At the end of the day I think Whole 30 can serve a purpose, and be a good tool. But really do your homework, commit to the plan for the entire time, realizing that with re-intro you are looking at months not just 30 days.

The upside for us is way less sugar in our food, less mindless snacking, and really enjoying the times we do decide to spurge on something. I have a new appreciation for food, and awareness of what I’m eating & feeding my family.

 

 

 

Making Dinner Easy!

Meal Planning (or lack of) seems to be a dreaded “thing”. I see comments all the time on social media along the lines of “what’s for dinner”, “I have no idea what we are going to eat tonight”, “Really don’t feel like cooking” etc.
It’s a topic that comes up again and again, and seems to be one of the things people need help with. While I’m no expert by any means, I have found a system that works for us. It worked, when I was working FT outside the home, and it works now as a SAHM. Let’s face it, dinner needs to happen every. single. night. Isn’t it worth finding a system that makes it as easy as possible?

I’m a bit addicted to food magazines!
I already know what some are thinking…you’re home all day…you have more time to cook dinner. Let me just say that I have the same 24 hours a day as everyone else.  I still have “to do” lists every day, a munchkin with a busy schedule, volunteer work that I enjoy, a personal business that keeps me busy, a desire for a little personal time, workouts/running, and life basically. Life is just busy!
Bottom line, my work may be different, but I still have a schedule, and scheduling issues just like everyone else. And, just like everyone else I have evenings that I just don’t feel it, and evenings that are busy and take some juggling to pull off.
The only thing I’ll concede to have an advantage on is: 1. I can grocery shop during the week/work day, which makes it easier. 2. I love cooking and want to be good at it. 3. I’m good at picking out recipes that will be quick and tasty. 4. I’ve been meal planning for so long that it maybe takes an hour to map out 2 weeks of meals and make the grocery list. 
With a little planning and list making evening dinners can be much less daunting to pull off, and make for awesome family time, and healthier meals! So, how to do it?
1.       Make a schedule. Maybe it’s easier to take it week by week, that’s fine. We get paid every two weeks, so I grocery shop and meal plan in two week chunks. (I’ll only list a week though for this post). I write this schedule out on a piece of paper listing the activity for the evening (if there is one), and a meal that will be easy to do given the schedule.
Here’s what a typical week looks like:
SundaySmoky Buffalo Chili (or some other stand by, or new, recipe that will give Mark left overs for lunch)
Monday– Taco’s (Mark works from home Tuesday so doesn’t need left overs to take for lunch. Tacos are a hard left over to pack.)
Tuesday –Run Group –  Spaghetti (run group night I need something I can make quick and easy before I skip out to lead the group, and it gives Mark left overs for lunch the next day or two)
Wednesday –New Recipe (I usually go for something new since we are usually home Wednesday evening and I have a little time to spend in the kitchen)
Thursday –Jamberry Party – Caribbean Chicken (usually by Thursday I’m ready for something easy! If there are a lot of left overs we will eat those before I cook anything new, or it’s something super quick like Caribbean Chicken, or Mark will grill. I tend to have Jamberry parties on Thursday’s, so if that’s part of the schedule for the week I’ll make sure that Wednesday’s dinner will give leftovers so Mark and Sky can reheat, or that it’s something I can easily make before leaving for the party)
Friday-New Recipe/leave open (if we don’t have plans this is a night I’ll try something new, or we may grab something like street tacos for a quick easy dinner before heading out to the local park to enjoy the sun. If there are a lot of left overs we eat those to clean out the refrigerator)
Saturday – Grill/leave open (I like at least one, usually more during the summer, grill night. Mark is the grill master so I get a break that way)
2.       Make a shopping list. Look through each recipe and list out all the meat, veggies, spices you need to purchase. I tend to buy staples (stalks, broths, spices, dried herbs, garlic, onions, meat (food save it/freeze it) in bulk, so almost always have the basics on hand at all times).
3.       Go To Meals. Build in at least two meals that never change. For us it’s Tacos and Spaghetti. We have those every week. Because they are easy, and I always have the fixings on hand. Knowing there are two nights a week you don’t have to think about is really nice.

I always have onions on hand, and almost always have some chopped, ready to go.
4.      Food prep! Seriously if you have a food processor (even if you don’t) you can do all the chopping, shredding, dicing etc for the week in 30-60 minutes. While you’re doing that cook all the ground beef for the week and store it in the fridge.  Sunday afternoon/evening is a good time to do this.
5.       Post a calendar. Have a calendar, chalk board, piece of paper, something visible in the kitchen that list the meals for the week(s). Then, each night before bed take anything out of the freezer that you will need for the next day’s meal. And/or make note of anything fresh you need to pick up on the way home the next day for that meal.

This is on the wall next to the refrigerator. In Note’s I list the days that would flip/flop well and sometimes which cookbook to turn too for a meal I have planned.
I have found I really only need to plan 4 (ish) dinners a week. I always make more than we can eat in one meal, and life happens/things come up and it’s not unusual to end up unexpectedly missing dinner at home 1 night a week. If we do end up home on an open night with no dinner planned we usually always have left overs, and I keep pork chops, chicken, dogs, salmon burgers frozen/on hand for grilling.

Even Sky can Grill! 
Some think a slow cooker is a life saver, I say it’s the grill! I hardly ever schedule steak into the meal plan, yet we eat it at least 1 time during the two week schedule. Super easy to pop in the store grab steaks and slap em on the grill. To keep it quick and easy open some canned green beans, or grab a bagged salad, for a meal. Or, opt for veggies you can stick on the grill with the steak. My fave – lettuce wedges charred on the grill and dressed with oil & vinegar, or Caesar dressing…so yummy! 
Find a magazine, website, blog, cookbook etc that offers recipes that work for you and the family. I subscribe to more than I need, but the one I use the most is Rachael Ray. Her magazine has a ton of 30 min meals and I’ve yet to make one we don’t like. I would venture to say that you only really need 10 (maybe 15 for variety) go-to meals to rotate through on a regular basis. More than that and meal planning gets sort of crazy. Some Faves: Zenbelly CookbookWell Fed & Well Fed 2Bon AppetitCook’s Illustrated Magazine to list a few.
If a dedicated hour of food prep isn’t going to happen try this instead. Every time a recipe calls for an onion, chop two, and save one for later. If it only calls for half an onion, chop up the whole onion and save it for later. Need garlic…chop up twice as much and save it for later. When I make tacos I always chop up extra onion, that way it’s ready to go later in the week. Cook twice at much taco meat and freeze half for next week!
Know where you can buy stuff pre-chopped. Trader Joes has bagged, chopped onion ready to go, some stores have bagged, julienned or shredded, carrots already done for you. Little things like that are time savers!
Consider buying ground meat in bulk. I go to cash n carry every other month or so and get ground beef and sausage in bulk. I cook 5 lbs of sausage at once, with onion added in, then freeze in 1(ish) pound portions, and that way I have our spaghetti meat ready to go for weeks. Just thaw, add sauce (and whatever else you like to add) and enjoy.

When all else fails, and it needs to come out of a box (it happens to everyone!) go organic! Or, order pizza! 🙂
It doesn’t have to be fancy, or gourmet, save that for the weekends, if at all…if it’s not your thing, it’s not your thing. But everyone’s thing is food, we need it to live. Winging it doesn’t do the food, or ourselves any justice really.
Any favorite recipes to share?

A go-to fave of ours is Thai Beef with Basil

 

Pub Run Friday!

Honestly I think every Friday should end with a pub run!  I’m so excited for some fun and beer tonight with adidas! 

It’s kind of a crazy running day.  Elya and I need 11 miles for our long run this weekend, but I’m running a 5K in the morning.  So, we are meeting early before the pub run to get 4 miles in, then running 2 miles with the group to the pub(s), and then 2 miles back to the store.  Add on the 3 I’m doing in the morning, and 3 she will run on her own/with a friend, and we will piece together 11 miles in less than 24 hours.  Not the perfect training plan, but it’s better than nothing.   

Normally I don’t condone pub running the night before a race, but it’s St. Paddy’s Day weekend, and I’m taking it easy pace wise for all of it.  This weekend’s running is about having fun, sporting the outfit I put together, and kicking off the running season with Elya and Michelle!   Plus, I don’t plan on drinking more than a few sips at each pub, so I won’t have any issues in the am.  Smart fun is the best fun!

I found this the other day on FB and Love it!     

It’s a lifestyle!

It’s the #1 reason you don’t see me posting about dieting, watching what I eat etc on this blog.  My personal truth is diets don’t work.  It’s a temporary state of being that isn’t sustainable over a lifetime.  I restate that is MY PERSONAL TRUTH.  Some people find success with diets/eating plans and that is great for them. 

I don’t.  I would rather have a little bit of yummy than a lot of bland.  Thankfully I don’t have a problem limiting my portions (using salad plates for dinner is great!), and while I don’t give in to every little craving I also don’t think deprivation is mentally healthy.  Let’s say I’m craving a snickers I let it go for a few days, if after 2 or 3 days I still can’t stop thinking about it, then you know what I have the snickers bar and I don’t feel bad about it.

Everyone has to do what works for them, this works for me.  The fact I’m maintaining my weight/clothing size for 5+ years, even though I’m getting closer and closer to 40, makes me think I have a pretty good handle on my eating and training! 

Who’s running a St. P Day race this weekend?

What’s your favorite beer?