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Our First Whole30: "Trying to Get Back on Track"

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On June 28, 2013, my husband and I began eating a Primal diet following Mark Sisson's 80/20 rule.  We had all the expected results:  more energy, weight loss, and improvement in some long-term health conditions (endometriosis, gastrointestinal issues, etc.).  The greatest surprise to us was how quickly our tastes changed:  we no longer craved the carb-loaded foods we once had.  The most noticeable change was our weight loss.  By early May, I had lost 40 lbs and my husband had lost 20lbs.  


Then, on mother's day, our family suffered a horrible loss when my brother-in-law died in a wholly preventable accident.  He was only 36 years-old.  In the first days, we were able to mostly avoid the trays of processed lunch meat, baked treats, and other sympathy foods that were kindly delivered from well-meaning neighbors and loved ones.  However, as we faced additional crises in the family as well as tried to deal with our own immense grief, our will to prepare or even search out healthy food options waned.  We were too emotionally exhausted.  


As soon as we started eating processed carb-loaded foods again, we craved them.  So we ate more of them.  Within just a few weeks, we were both putting weight back on.  I gained 10 lbs.  It's hard to say how much of our drained energy was from grief or from poor eating, but I am certain the poor eating we turned to did not improve our ability to find the emotional energy we needed.


Last weekend, we decided to try our first Whole30 in order to get us back on track.  We were pleased to find that cleaning out the pantry was not bad, which meant at least we had started to stockpile all that unhealthy food.  There were only two or three items we had to shelf in the off-limits corner (honey, white rice, stevia).  Most of the "naughty" foods we were consuming were single-servings that we'd already gobbled up.  


We started on Monday, making this our Day 7.  The first week went well, I think. We had two minor errors, that for us and our purpose in doing the Whole30, are not worrisome enough to require restarting the Whole 30.  We didn't realize that our dried apricots had sulfites in them.  So he had some sulfites in the first 3 days.  We now have sulfite-free apricots (thanks Trader Joes!). We also didn't realize that it was corn oil, not canola oil, in the budget-branded roasted seaweed we'd purchased.  We only eat this if we go to the movies, anyways (in lieu of popcorn).  Since the sulfites were only 3 days, and not every day, I'm not too concerned.  Since we have previously eliminated and reintroduced corn into our diet without dire and/or observable consequences (though we still very seldom consume it or its byproducts due to concerns about genetic modification), I'm not going to stress about the corn oil, either.  


I love to cook.  LOVE TO COOK.  My father and uncle are both professional chefs.  Cooking is a way of life in our family.  And you can bet all holidays revolve around the holiday meal.  As such, I am a little trepidatous about the impending July 4th holiday.  As a result, we are skipping the social July 4th barbecues in favor of a quiet just-us barbecue at home.  We purchased 100% grass-fed, all beef hot-dogs with all Whole30 approved ingredients.  Instead of spending the whole day grazing on the tasty sides I'm sure I'll prepare (again, I LOVE TO COOK), we are planning to take a long bike ride.  Hopefully, this plan will keep us prepared for the holiday.  



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Our meal planning has been working well this week, though it took a lot of actually prep cooking to make it happen for the days we are working late (I worked 12 hours today).



We grilled out:  grass-fed steaks (cheap cut tenderized and marinated), roasted broccoli, and grilled portabellas



Ground lamb, cabbage, carrots, and onions sauteed in EVOO and well seasoned.


On Monday I also prepared all our lunch food for the next few days (made homemade mayo; picked and washed lettuce from the garden; mixed up a chicken salad with grapes, walnuts, onion, celery, and the homemade mayo; sliced celery, carrots, and strawberries; hard boiled a pot of eggs, etc.).  I also pre-cooked the dinners for the next two nights, since Hubby and I both work late.



Heated up a pre-cooked Chicken Stir-Fry (cauliflower, grilled and minced and topped with assorted veggies and diced, skinless chicken thighs sauteed and seasoned with coconut aminos and some Chinese Five Spice).



Will be reheating pre-grilled/smoked chicken thighs, paprika sweet potatoes, and roasted broccoli.



That's the problem...


All the best laid plans.  So we have abandoned our safe, eat at home and chill plan for a more fun plan.  We are spending July 4th at The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, ending with a picnic outside while listening to the symphony and watching fireworks.  


We are really looking forward to this, however, I am not looking forward to packing food for this event.  There is plenty of food at the venue, but we will be hard-pressed to find anything that is Whole30 approved.  I can pack our lunch pretty easily since we have gone backpacking and still eaten paleo (foil pouches of tuna/salmon, an avocado, some fruit & nuts).  However, I'm a bit uncertain how to best plan a Whole30 picnic dinner that is mostly non-perishable and not the same as lunch.  The food will have to be in the car (or in a cooler) for 10 hours.  The only cooler we have up to that task is far too large for a picnic for two; I don't think our smaller coolers will keep food cool for that long in the summer.  I'm stumped at present.  Suggestions are welcome!


I have much fewer cravings this week (though I did sigh heartily when a student's chocolate chip cookie left melted chocolate on my hand, and I nearly licked it off before catching myself).  Working with kids certainly puts temptation in my face all day long:  granola bars, cheese crackers, cookies...  


My energy level has been low the past two days because I caught a bug, but I've been falling asleep within 30 minutes and sleeping through the night for 3 nights in a row, as has my husband.  This is virtually unheard of for us.  I am curious to know which food subtraction is causing this wonder to occur!

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Day 10:


Just realized I can keep track of my hours of sleep using my CPAP log.


Sleep:  7.7 (probably 7 hours once you count off falling asleep and waking up)



  • Proscuitto Egg Cup:  1/2 ounce prosciutto filled with eggs scrambled with coconut milk, onions, and spinach.
  • Hard boiled Egg
  • Chicken salad (shredded chicken, grapes, raisins, walnuts, celery, onions, homemade olive oil mayo), lettuce
  • 2 chicken thighs (skin on); 1/4 grilled paprika sweet potato, roasted broccoli
  • Handful of grapes


Exercise:  Twilight bike ride with Superhusband, walking most of the afternoon with kiddies


Also, 21 days since I had a cigarette.  I hadn't smoked in ages, but recent events had me smoking again (just for 3 weeks, luckily).

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Day 15.


Woke up bright and early after a solid 8 hours sleep (according to the CPAP it was 8 hours exactly).  I was up at 6 am.  I was in Trader Joe's by the time they opened.  That's definitely a first!  I think sleep has definitely seen an vast improvement over the past 15 days.


We survived our outings and a weekend at the in-laws with very little problems.  We used some Larabars (only those with Whole30 ingredients) and Sweets-n-Beets to help us eat on the road.  We will not eat those otherwise, they were too close to chips and candybars and we both battled cravings after eating them. Nonetheless, they prevented us from eating fast food on the road, and they kept us from being tempted by hot dogs and ice cream at Greenfield Village, so it's a win.


Did all our prep cooking for the week:


  • Sliced cucumber, onions, carrots, and celery
  • Harvested and washed lettuce.
  • Juillenned zucchini
  • Cooked chicken breast for lunch salads this week
  • Made homemade dressing for lunch salads this week
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Ground chicken and sauteed with apples, onions, and seasoning to make breakfast "sausage"
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Made a batch of olive oil mayo
  • Sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms, ground beef, garlic, fresh basil...simmered in tomato sauce

Today's food:


  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • Proscuitto
  • Pork Rinds
  • Grapes
  • Bowl of summer squash "spaghetti"
  • Samples of everything I made :)

Fellas, or anyone squeamish, may want to stop reading here.  The following may constitute TMI.


Tomorrow will be the first full day of my period, and I'm curious to see how it goes.  I have endometriosis.  Prior to adopting the Primal lifestyle, I had a helluva time with my period.  7 days of brutality.  2 boxes of tampons.  2 days of nearly debilitating cramps.  Since going Primal:  decrease in duration to 4 days, still brutal flow but down to 1 box of tampons due to the decreased duration, and no change in cramping.  I'll be over the moon if this helps the cramping or reduces flow.  Wish me luck!

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Thanks for your log. Terrific inspiration. I am on day 2 and have decides the way to make this work is the prepping/ cooking meals for the week in advance. Nice to see someone on the same page and it is working. I think today will be an all day kitchen day for me.

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Days 16 & 17


Sleep:  8.4 and 8.7 hours.  I am definitely sleeping MUCH better, despite stress that would normally keep me up.  





Hard Boiled Egg, Homemade apple-chicken breakfast sausage

Salad of garden grown lettuce, chicken breast, mandarin oranges, cucumbers, broccoli slaw, almonds, and homemade dressing


Avocado (whole, small)

Handful Strawberries

Stir-Fry Veggies, Chicken Thighs, and Cauliflower

Freeze Dried Apples and Almond Butter



Hard Boiled Egg

Same salad as yesterday

Small Avocado

Handful Strawberries

Handful Nuts

Piedmontese Chuck Roast, Portabellas, Carrots, & Cabbage (Yummo!)

Freeze Dried Apples and Almond Butter


Exercise:  None yesterday, gearing up for bike ride right now


Endometriosis:  Unbelievable!  Yesterday:  Woke up at 5 am with cramps.  Took 800 mg of ibuprofen.  That was it.  Some mild cramping in the afternoon, but no ibuprofen necessary.  I usually spend at least a full 24 hours (if not 48) in pain that cannot be completely eradicated by medication.  Without ibuprofen, I'm bedridden.  All I've taken in the past 24 hours is that initial 800 mg dose.  Flow appears decreased, but I will hold out judgement on that until it's all said and done.  ;)  Amazing.  I cannot believe that the Whole30 food choices could make such a difference, especially since Primal eating had already made such a drastic improvement on this condition.  I may have to make this a Whole60 to see if the results are consistent over time.  As for now, I'm thrilled...and curious about what exactly is happening in my body to make such a difference. 

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Day 18.


Sleep:  8.5 hours



Hard boiled egg

Lunch salad (see prior post)

Handful of grapes and strawberries

Snack-sized baggie of baby carrots

Leftover Squash "spaghetti" 

1 small avocado

Freeze Dried Apples with almond butter


Exercise:  Does chasing a child through a water park count?  I say, "Yes!"


Endometriosis:  Cramping remains non-existent.  Flow definitely decreased. I *think* this is what other women experience as menstruation.  


More temptation this weekend as I have a breakfast out with former work colleagues; overnight guests coming to spend time at a local festival; and a bonfire featuring adult beverages.  I have to say, though, the only thing that sounds tempting to me is a Guinness to go with that bonfire.  I plan to plop some frozen fruit in a wineglass with some sparkling water to survive the bonfire!  The other two issues I've navigated adroitly, I *think*.  I picked the breakfast place, so I know I can eat there.  I suggested a picnic lunch for festival day, and everyone jumped on board.  Hopefully, this will keep me away from all those concession stands!  

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Days 19, 20, & 21


Sleep:  Less than 7 hours a night the last three nights.  Thursday  night, I went to bed on schedule, but I woke up insanely early and unable to fall back asleep.  Friday and Saturday nights, I had trouble falling asleep.  I still woke at my normal hour, and I was unable to go back to sleep.  The lessons: keep to a sleep schedule ...and don't ride your bike into low hanging tree branches, getting poked in the eye with a tree branch.  It makes it difficult to sleep. ;)




Day 19:  Hard boiled egg, homemade chicken sausage patty, 1/2 avocado, cucumber and tomato "pasta" salad, pork rinds, freeze dried apples, almonds, strawberries, burger patty, roasted asparagus, portabella mushrooms, applesauce  (Man, I was really hungry yesterday!)


Day 20:  2 eggs scrambled with coconut milk and homemade chicken sausage; Chipotle carnitas bowl with lettuce, peppers and onions, guacamole, and pico; planned for tonight:  chicken, salsa, avocado and lettuce; freeze dried apples with almond butter




Day 19:  Biked to and from Celtic festival, walked around Celtic festival all day


Day 20:  3 mile walk planned for after dinner




I can officially proclaim further reduction in cramping, flow, and duration while following the Whole 30. :)


In other TMI news, as noted above we had a late lunch at Chipotle.  It was delicious as usual, however, when I got home my tummy was really upset.  I spent a good 20 minutes in the bathroom.  I ordered as I always order at Chipotle, though we haven't eaten there since starting the Whole30.  So I did a little search of "Chipotle and Whole30".  Turns out, the peppers and onions I got on my carnitas are cooked in soybean oil.  I order the carnitas because I know the other meats are cooked in soybean oil.  It never dawned on me that the vegetables probably were, too.  I wonder if the intestinal distress was due to the soybean oil or just coincidence.  I'll have to put soybean on my "to be re-introduced in a carefully controlled manner" list.  I think the only two sources of soy we were consuming before were the onions and peppers at Chipotle and occasionally soy lecithin in dark chocolate when we would run out of the good dark chocolate.


So, now we have had a total of 3 "aw crap, that wasn't Whole30 approved" on the Whole30:  sulfited apricots in the first few days; corn oil in a budget branded seaweed snack; soybean oil from Chipotle lunch today.  I'm not overly concerned about the two oil mishaps, but I am not pleased about the sulfites.  Superhusband and I talked today about extended the Whole30 for another week to make up for the sulfites.  We also talked about how we want to eat after the Whole30.  Really, there are only a few things we really miss and want back:  some paleofied foods (coconut flour tortillas, pumpkin muffins, and I really want to make some coconut milk ice cream), dark chocolate as a treat (as opposed to before, when we were eating a 1/2 serving every day), the occasional drink (I can seldom finish a whole drink, and I do it infrequently; however, sitting around the bonfire with an ice cold Le Croix is just not the same as sitting around the bonfire with an ice cold Le Croix with gin and lime), and some sodas (Izze, Zevias).  I am hoping I can give up the diet coke for good, as I know it is chock full of things I need not put in my body.  I really miss it, though.  I love my diet coke.  I think giving up all types of sodas for 30 days and then only allowing the fruit juice-sweetened Izze or the stevia-sweetened Zevia should help me make the switch. My guess is those two choices will taste more than sufficient once I've been diet coke-free for a month.


Tomorrow should be a (not really) fun day:  I get my root canal finished AND I get to go to the doctor to see what damage I did to my eye when that midnight bike ride turned into me vs. tree branch.  We have no vision insurance, so I sincerely hope I didn't do any real damage.  Plus, I enjoy being a sighted individual.

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Days 22 & 23:


Sleep:  8 hours and 8.5 hours




Day 22:  

  • 2 eggs scrambled with homemade chicken sausage
  • Chicken breast, avocado, lettuce, tomato, onion
  • Freeze dried apples with almond butter
  • Mexican Salad (lettuce, cilantro, Mexican seasoned pulled-chicken, green onions, tomato, and avocado)
  • Cucumber slices with pico de gallo
  • Too many nuts

Day 23:

  • 2 eggs scrambled with homemade chicken sausage
  • Mexican Salad (lettuce, cilantro, Mexican seasoned pulled-chicken, green onions, tomato, and avocado)
  • Freeze Dried Cinnamon Apples
  • Roasted seaweed
  • Applesauce
  • Handful of Cashews
  • Summer Squash with veggie-laden marinara sauce
  • Banana with almond butter

I hope I'm not eating too much. I have difficulty with recognizing a proper portion as well as understanding when my body is full.  While following the Primal model for the past 5 months, I still weighed, measured, and calculated the calories of the food I was eating each day.  This was a must, as I needed to learn what typical portions look like.  I have not been weighing, measuring, or calculating my food on the Whole30.  I've been eating when I'm hungry, which is usually 3 meals and 1 snack.  The past two days have been days when I've been really, really hungry and I can't tell if I'm overdoing the portions or not.  I've worked my butt off (literally, actually) to get to where I am...I don't want to start A) gaining weight or B) lapse back into being unable to identify the difference between hungry and full.  I am feeling a bit stressed out about this today.




We took a lovely walk last night.  It was in the 90s with humidity in the 90s (%) as well.  We waited until some rain finally came, and we took a walk in the rain.  


Today I swam for 45 minutes with the kiddies...which probably only amounts to about 15 minutes of treading water.  


I am glad I am back to sleeping well.  As I near the end of 30 days, I must say the biggest benefits for me are clearly better sleep (I have struggled with sleep issues for YEARS) and the alleviation of endometriosis symptoms.  I did some looking on my CPAP.  In the past 6 months, my average night's sleep was 6.2 hours.  I've been between 7-9 hours on the Whole30.  I haven't changed my sleep schedule (still go to bed at the same time, get up at the same time) or routine.  The only thing I changed was my food.  

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Day 24:


Sleep:  8.5 hours



  • Hard boiled egg
  • Chicken breast, baby carrots, small avocado, cucumber slices, applesauce
  • Banana
  • Italian sausage sauteed with sauerkraut and mustard, sweet potatoes fried in coconut oil

Exercise: I got about 20 minutes of treading water 


I have been having some gastrointestinal issues for the past few days.  Last night was particularly awful.  I can't decide if I have a GI bug  or if the sudden addition of more tomatoes to my diet (as they are finally in season here) is causing me issues.  Just to be safe, I'm cutting out tomatoes and cutting down on nuts.  So far, so good today...and it is nearly bedtime.  I really hope tomatoes aren't causing me issues!  Fingers crossed...

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