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My Whole30 – Week 3

Self Improvement 150It’s hard to believe that I’ve just finished my third week of Whole30 eating. Day 21 passed on Monday, and today I’m looking at the home stretch — in just 8 days, I’ll have completed one of the more difficult things I’ve ever done. I’ll have been living on meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts and oils for a whole 30 days as part of a dietary reset.

Now that we’ve settled into the habit of Whole30 eating and beaten the cravings that we have (and we still have those), we’re looking at what our lives will be like after this whole experiment has ended. Ryan is worried that we’ll go back to the same old unhealthy habits — stuffing our faces with candy and cookies, eating fast food, getting right back into the things that we’ve worked hard to stop doing. And I have to admit, it’s a legitimate fear. I’ve often thought that it would be pretty amazing to just go nuts for a week after the Whole30, eating anything and everything I want to, indulging in all the things my brain has been screaming at me to have.

Part of me thinks that I would be so overwhelmed by the fat and sugar and carbs that I’ve been missing out on this whole time, and that it would be proof that my body had changed. I would cringe away from the foods that are bad for me, and embrace my new healthy-eating lifestyle — within moderation, of course. But another part of me knows better. The siren’s call of tasty but nutritionless food is always going to seduce me, and falling into that temptation would be undermining everything I’ve built this month. It’s best to gain a bit of closure with my worst habits now, and walk away for good while their hold on me has weakened.

But that’s a post for another time, closer to the end. For now, I’d like to talk about the friends we have who’ve made this whole thing a lot more pleasant than it would have been otherwise, and what I’ve learned through them.

The silver-tongued devil who encouraged me to sign up for the Whole30 in the first place has been the most interested in really stretching out with it. We’ve been over to his house a few times in the past three weeks, and each time he’s made food that was *really* good and totally Whole30-compliant. We’ve had “shepherd’s pie,” with wild boar, mushrooms and (I think?) carrots under a ‘crust’ of mashed yams. There was dry-rubbed pork chops with unsweetened apple sauce, and a really great breakfast scramble with over-medium eggs, shredded yam, zucchini and onion with wilted spinach. Of course, he and his husband are much more used to cooking than Ryan and I are, but it kind of gave me a look at a different way of doing the Whole30. If you know what you’re doing and willing to put in the prep time, there’s a pretty great set of recipes that you can totally rock the house with.

Ryan and I are still padawans when it comes to cooking; I don’t think he’s much interested in doing much inside the kitchen, and that’s fine. His priorities are on his writing, where they should be. But now that I’ve gotten a taste for cooking — and seen what my friends are being motivated to do inside the kitchen — I’m definitely into the idea of doing it more. I’m really excited by the idea of being able to make a cheeseburger and fries at home that’s way healthier and skewed to my tastes then something I could get at a fast-food (or even gourmet) burger joint. Now that I have a basic idea of how cooking meat and combining spices works, I’m a bit more comfortable with experimentation, and I think I can start expanding my horizons a little more all the time. Getting quicker and more comfortable in the kitchen is one of those things that I’ve been inspired to do — not only by the necessities of the Whole30 — but by the folks who’re doing it with me.

We had a friend of ours hold the very first test-run of her new business idea in our kitchen, and ate most of her dishes for dinner over the week. The idea is that she sits down with you, talks about your likes, dislikes and dietary restrictions, then comes up with a number of entrees and side dishes to choose from. Once the final menu has been decided (five entrees, five sides), she comes over to your house to cook them and stores them in your fridge and/or freezer so you can have it whenever you’d like. It’s a really neat idea for busy working households, and since she’s a professional chef you just know you’re going to get your money’s worth.

We had Salmon A L’Afrique du Nord with cauliflower Confetti “Rice,” Cinnamon Beef Stew with Jicama Home Fries, Pineapple Red Curry Duck with Cumin-Roasted Carrots, Macadamia Chicken with Tangerine-Ginger Sauce with Curried Onion and Ginger Soup, and Moroccan Lamb Meatballs with Creamy Spice Market Kale. I think the dishes turned out to be a bit more complicated than any of us realized; she was cooking for 14 hours straight, and I felt terrible about it. It turns out choosing five different meats for entrees makes things more complex than they need to be. Who knew?

At any rate, they were all very good, and a good number of the dishes were big enough that we ended up with leftovers the next day. The duck and the lamb were my favorites, and I usually don’t break for those two. In fact, much of my Whole30 experience has been filled with taking second looks at things I decided I hadn’t liked a long time ago. I’ve tried new seafood dishes, egg dishes, vegetables that I just thought looked funny at the store. Being driven into the arms of different foods is a great thing; my palate is expanding, even though it doesn’t want to be, and I can appreciate a great deal more than I could before.

As far as the physical effects, my energy is still lower in general and it’s hard to get exercise in a lot of the time. But it’s a lot easier to wake up in the mornings, and for that I’m grateful. I haven’t really experienced the boundless energy and wellspring of joy that’s been advertised, but that’s fine. I’m generating a different sort of contentment from the things that I’ve accomplished so far this month.

That’s all for now. I’ll look forward next week, to see what lessons I’ll be taking with me after my Whole30 has ended.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Diet and Exercise, Self-Reflection

 

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My Whole 30 – Week 2

Self Improvement 150I’ve been on the Whole30 adventure for two weeks. I’m really hesitant to call it a “diet,” because that comes with all kinds of baggage I don’t want. A diet is something you’re on for a brief amount of time, drop a bunch of weight, and then gain it all back again when you hop off of it. Labelling this a diet feels like dooming myself to an express ride right back up to 190 pounds by May, and I’d like to use this as a springboard for healthier eating, a better relationship with food, and a strong exercise regimen as well.

Anyway, the worst of the adjustment period is over — the second week was MUCH easier than the first. Now that I’ve moved past the horrific cravings for sugar and baked goods I find them a lot easier to resist. There was one day last week where a flood of cookies rolled through the office, with a Girl Scout selling her wares in its wake. Besides a five-minute spazz-out with coworkers about our favorite kinds of cookies, I was pretty cool about it. Yeah, of course I wanted them. But it was easy to make the choice not to have them and put it out of my mind.

That’s really been the theme of the week in general; I’ll see someone eating a cheeseburger or a pastry in a movie or commercial and thing “God, I want that. It looks AMAZING.” But that’s about where it ends. I can let myself have the thought, feel the desire rise up in my heart…and let it pass. I don’t have to act on it. And when I DON’T act on it…nothing happens. My life isn’t any worse, I’m not any less happy, I’m not driven to distraction.

I can’t tell you how huge this is for me. For most of my life I’ve been a creature of appetite. I’ve learned to deal with a lot of things by indulging in the things I want. I’m a huge stress-eater with a very large sweet tooth. Cookies and candy were my way of dealing with a stressful day, or celebrating a good one. I feel like I can actually deal with not having them when things get hairy for the first time in a long time.

The next two weeks of the Whole30 experience is when everything is supposed to fall into place; the cravings subside, and you’re left with clarity and energy. I’m not sure how much I buy into that whole thing, but I have noticed that it’s easier to get up in the mornings now and my energy is steadier throughout the day. It’s easier for me to deal with hunger pangs when I have them, and I have a much better sense of when I really need to eat. My palate has adjusted to the point where fruit is sweet *and* satisfying, which is pretty awesome. I’m rediscovering my great love for apples, raspberries and grapes.

Ryan and I have settled a bit into a good cooking groove, though we don’t do anything particularly fancy. I’ve settled on season turkey burger patties and grape/cherry tomatoes for breakfast, tuna salad and a light salad for lunch, and a big hunk of meat and yam for dinner. It’s not the most exciting or creative of diets, but it works for us. When we need a snack, we break for apples or mixed nuts. The friends who’ve roped us into doing this are far more daring, trying and swapping Whole30 recipes they’ve found on the internet. We don’t quite have the materials for it, though — no food processor, slow cooker, coconut oil, that sort of thing. Procuring them would take a pretty big trip, and to be honest we’ve, uh, prioritized our time and energy elsewhere.

The next two weeks we’ll be focusing a bit more on exercise — we’ve gotten our dinners taken care of pretty much until next weekend. That feels pretty nice, I must say.

Long story short, it’s really wonderful leaving bad habits behind, feeling like I have a measure of control over previously automatic processes, and working to develop better habits later on down the line. We’ll see if I’m still holding the line on this next week!

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2013 in Diet and Exercise, Self-Reflection

 

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