In the Right Direction

For the past few months, while I have been wonderfully busy enjoying life, seeing family, and traveling, my overall physical health was going the wrong direction. Finally in September when things slowed down I was so disappointed in myself that I had let all my hard work from the first part of the year just dwindle away. Four weeks ago or so I started to really change the way I was eating my meals. I finally got back to prepping on Sundays and was mostly eating three healthy non-processed meals per day. But I was still snacking on really unhealthy foods in between and still eating out a bit too much (even if I was mostly getting salads). The scale wasn’t changing and I was feeling so sluggish and somedays I even needed a nap after work. If I had things to get done I would have to roll thru the Starbucks drive thru on my way home for a VENTI latte just to have the energy to finish the day. That is really no way to live.

Finally last week on Tuesday I decided to take my sugar and caffeine demons head on. It was time to stop snacking and cut WAY back on the coffee (or caffeine of any kind). The first few days were rough. I was exhausted, cranky and suffering from a serious withdrawal headache….and the bloat….OMG the bloat. I was/am still drinking a 2 shot latte first thing in the morning (that I make myself) with about 5% of the sugar that is in a Sbux drink and that’s it. The only other sugar in my diet has been fruit.

Over the weekend things finally turned in the right direction. Sunday I woke up with boundless energy. Before 7 am I was bouncing around the house getting tons of things accomplished (and I am not a morning person usually). I accomplished before noon what I usually do in an entire weekend. But it didn’t stop there. We had a lovely family bike ride in the afternoon, followed by some basketball with my stepson. Even at 8:30pm as I stood in the kitchen preparing my lunch for today I still had energy.

I woke up this morning feeling just as great. I was literally wiping down our appliances with stainless steel cleaner as I waited for my coffee to finish. When I did make my way to the scale I had lost 1.2 lbs since last Wednesday. The first loss since April.

In other exciting news I am starting Acupuncture tomorrow! I am going to a clinic which does only Acupuncture for fertility and pregnancy. I have heard very good things about them. I am a little nervous about how I am going to fit this into my schedule every week (esp since the clinic is like 40 mins from work) and how expensive it is, but I think it’s important and hopefully they will be able to help me out with end of day appointments.

While I have needed to get my act together for a while now, the realization that IVF is 5 months away really hit me last week. The time is really going to fly, especially with the holidays mixed in. Honestly this whole year has gone really fast. Now it’s time to keep my eye on the prize and stay motivated to be as healthy as possible in anticipation of IVF!

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My Whole30 Kitchen- The Pantry: Part One

I have had a few people ask for more information on my Whole30 so I decided to do a little mini series on what I learned, what I eat, ect.  Going through it was such a great experience and I learned so much that I thought it would be great to put it in one place for reference.

My husband and I are still eating mostly Whole30 meals with only a few adjustments here and there.  It is pretty hard to stop eating this way when we both feel so great and we are both not yet at our goal weights.  Additionally the end goal here is to hopefully help improve our fertility.  We have both been really considering what we eat (if it’s off plan).  Sometimes we treat ourselves, but we don’t make those decisions lightly.  Sometimes it’s just not worth it to indulge and sometimes it is.

In my first few posts I am going to focus on preparing for Whole30. It may not seem like a big deal, but if you want to be successful I would highly recommend spending some time preparing.  This includes researching Whole30 compliant recipes which sound good to you, making a meal plan for your first week, and stocking your kitchen appropriately.  There is currently a shelf in my pantry dedicated to only Whole30 friendly foods.

In this post I will focus on some pantry items which I find to be key in Whole30 cooking.

First is the cooking fats.  Coconut oil, Ghee (clarified butter), and olive oil are by far the most important three fats to have on hands.  Almost every Whole30 recipe includes one of these and they are all unrefined and good for you.  If you want more info on how this kind of fat is good for you, I highly recommend that you read “It Starts With Food”.  Actually I highly recommend that you ready it if you are going to do Whole30 in general but more on that later.  I also stock avocado oil because I make my own mayo and this is a key ingredient.  Finally I also have some sesame oil, which should be used in moderation but can give food a delicious and powerful flavor.  I buy avocado oil and coconut oil at Costco.  It is much much more economical to buy it there than at a grocery store.

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My next set of must have items include the vinegars and a few other special items.  I would highly recommend that you stock balsamic vinegar coconut vinegar, and apple cider vinegar.  They are common ingredients in many Whole30 recipes.  Additionally having coconut aminos on hand is a great idea as it is a substitute for soy sauce and also a common ingredient.  Finally Whole30 Fish sauce such as Red Boat appears in lots of recipes.  Just a little goes a long way with this one, and it doesn’t have a great smell, but it does add great flavor.

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Finally below are some of the condiments we keep.  Compliant hot sauces and salsa were super important for my husband and I as we like things on the spicy side.  We also found having Dijon and whole grain mustard (without sugar-check labels!) on hand was helpful.  Finally finding compliant pickles was huge for me!

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When I first started shopping took forever.  You literally have to check every label because they sneak preservatives and sugar into everything!  I was excited to find compliant salsa and hot sauce at Trader Joe’s both for cheap!  The salsa is also organic!

All in all I found that I did a combination of shopping at Costco, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and a local grocery chain called The Nugget to full stock my house.  Obviously you do not need to go out and get EVERYTHING on my list but hopefully you found some of this information helpful!

Whole30-DAY 30!!!

Yesterday was day 30 of the Whole30. I officially made it 30 days without consuming added sugar, grains/gluten, dairy, legumes, soy, caffeine, processed food, and probably some other things that I didn’t even miss or notice. That is a serious accomplishment.

Today I haven’t done/eaten anything different than the last 30 days because really Whole30 is more of a lifestyle change for me than a 30 day challenge. At some point, maybe this weekend, I am looking forward to a latte, otherwise I am perfectly content to carry on my road to being much healthier.

Since January 5th I have lost 11 pounds. I am now only 7 lbs. away from my May 1st goal and 17 lbs. from my overall goal and that feels great. My clothes fit so much better and overall I am way more comfortable. I am also happy to report a huge increase in energy and WAY better sleeping at night. I am also way more with it when I first get up. No more morning fog for the first hour of my day. Also a few people have mentioned that my skin looks noticeably bright and clear.

I have been working out 4-5 days a week as well. I am on week 4 of my C25k app and I have added in extra running/walking after the app workout as well as some dumbbell and kettlebell exercises, ab work, and other boot camp style exercises at home. I actually look forward to working out each day after work.

My husband and I have found some really delish recipes over the past month that we both like. Sometimes finding common ground on food is hard for us, and as it turns out he is way pickier than I am when it comes to real food. Overall we have spent more on groceries than we were previously, but we are wasting WAY less food and since we barely eat out, overall we are actually saving money. We have become really good at meal planning and shopping accordingly.

Interestingly Aunt Flo showed up the day I started the Whole30, and the last few days I could feel she was going to make her appearance again soon. It made the last few days a little harder because I was craving chocolate for the first time in weeks. I was very curious how this cycle would go and if it would be different at all than my last few. My endometriosis can bring on some pretty horrible cramping and obviously one of the main reasons for doing whole30 is fertility. Well about an hour after dinner last night, as if AF knew I had completed the W30 or something, she showed up. At first everything was fine and I was feeling great, but around 1 am I woke up with some of the WORST cramps I have had in months (maybe years). I was awake almost all night and have been taking Advil all day and sitting at my desk with a heating pad just to get by. Of course I don’t expect things to magically be perfect after only one month, but I was surprised to have this period be SO bad. The flow, however, has been lighter than normal. Usually CD1 and 2 are extremely heavy so I am very interested to see what happens tomorrow.

I do plan to do OPKs this month to see if I get any positives. Unfortunately my husband is going to be gone for what will likely be the ENTIRE fertile window at a work conference so it will be for experimental purposes only.

I am excited to see how things go for the next 60 and 90 days. If there are any update worthy happenings I will post. Thank you for reading along about my Whole30!

Not Consuming Sugar for 30 Days is Hard

The Whole30 is serious business. There are a lot of things you have to cut out of your diet. Things that are not necessarily bad for you such as legumes or dairy. The point is that you cut them out, and then after they are totally out of your system you try them again and see how your body reacts. I like the idea behind this method. I mean for my entire 32 years on the planet I have never really known how foods like gluten, legumes, or dairy effect my body so there is really only one way to find out.

What you do have to cut out, which is definitely not healthy for you, is sugar (EXCEPT FRUIT). This is honestly the hardest part, but not because I am craving doughnuts, cupcakes, candy, or the like. It is because sugar is hiding in very unlikely places. When you really start to read labels you will be shocked to see how sugar sneaks in to your diet. I actually am to the point that I wanted to do cart wheels in Costco on Saturday because I found a sausage without preservatives that was only sweetened with apple juice. Honestly finding something in a package that is “quick” to prepare that meets the criteria is like finding gold.

Here are some of the things which have totally shocked me to have sugar in them!

  1.  99% of all lunch meat.  Thus far I have found one lunch meat that complies (Applegate Farms Organic Roast Beef).  Everything else either has sugar in the form of cane sugar, raw sugar, dextrose, honey ect in it, or Carragean (also not allowed) or usually both.
  2. Beef Broth- I have yet to find a beef broth without sugar added.  I ended up having to make two batches of chili for the super bowl I went to over the weekend because the original recipe called for beef broth and half way through cooking I read the label.  I make my own chicken broth so I am not sure if packaged chicken broth also contains sugar but I would not be surprised.
  3. Bacon and other processed meat.  I was able to find one kind of bacon at Whole Foods which does not have sugar.  And then I stumbled upon the chicken apple sausage over the weekend.  I also found one type of cold smoked salmon at whole foods.  These finds were huge.
  4. Almost all packaged condiments.  Finding whole grain and Dijon mustard without sugar was even a huge challenge.  I have learned to make a few condiments that are pretty good such as mayo and “ranch” dressing (the whole30 version is also dairy free).
  5. Dry seasoning packs and store bought rubs.  Not all but a great majority of dry seasoning packs contain sugar and preservatives.  I needed some ranch seasoning over the weekend and was able to make it myself with spices from my kitchen.  It was delish without on the unnecessary sugar and chemicals.

I do not go around blabbing to everyone about my Whole30. Only when people specifically ask to I offer the details of what I am doing and why. When I do begin to explain the “rules” no one seems particularly shocked that I have cut out sugar (except fruit), but when the conversation comes around to honey, and I tell them that is also not allowed, they get almost offended. I cannot even tell you how many times I get the reaction “WHAT! You can’t have HONEY?!?! That is just crazy!” Why is it that this seems so outlandish to people? I mean honey is sugar. Of course the very next thing that comes out of their mouth is the argument that honey is natural. While I actually have several talking points on why something that is natural (ie from Nature) does not necessary mean it’s good for you or that you should have it, I do not take that road. I am certainly not trying to get in an argument over honey and food can be a controversial topic these days. What I do say, however, is the people who developed the Whole30 program said honey is not allowed. I have (by my own freewill) decided to try the Whole30 100%, so while I am doing it, I won’t be having honey. It’s a rule of the program and I respect that. It doesn’t mean I think honey is bad or good (or dairy or legumes or grains or anything else not allowed). It means that I am following a program, and the program is REALLY working for me. I have been alive for over twelve thousand days, and I promise I will be ok not having honey for just 30 days.

If anything this 30 days has taught me how much sugar I unknowingly consume on a regular basis. It’s scary. I am totally not against having sugar in moderation (when you are not doing Whole30 of course), but I like my sugar where I can see it, in a cookie. I don’t want it hiding in my soup, meat, or salad dressing.

Today is Whole30 day 25. Honestly, I have never felt better. I have incredible energy and I am sleeping better than I ever have in my life. The most amazing thing is that when I wake up in the morning, I am ready to go. I have never been a morning person and I can just pop up out of bed. All of the extra energy has helped me stay caught up with household chores during the week which has kept my stress down. I eat until I am full, and that usually gets me to the next meal without a dip in energy or feeling hunger. Occasionally I snack on a piece of fruit or a few nuts, but not nearly as much as when I started. People have also started to comment on my weight loss. The only thing I miss is the experience of my latte. Starbucks totally came through for me and is going to offer coconut milk starting later this month so I can continue to avoid dairy as much as possible!

When I started this I was very determined but also worried about how hard it would be to actually do it.  Traveling for work and get togethers with friends felt really intimidating.  Now that I am 5 days away from actually doing a full 30 days with NO cheating, I will say it was easier than I thought.  Every time I had a week moment I just thought about how great I was feeling and how horrible I felt at the beginning and it just never seemed worth it.