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Restarting my Whole 30.

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I started my Whole 30 on Oct. 1 with an accountability buddy. Her W30 fell apart the first weekend due to I-don't-know-what-all. There have been a series of illnesses & deaths recently in her family, I don't know how food works in her life, and she really didn't want to go into "what happened" just right then. She restarted and I think is back on track; I haven't seen her for several days (we work together and I took annual leave part of last & this week).


My W30 didn't implode like hers did, but one or two non-compliant items a day knowingly made their way into my food choices: choosing to eat the dinner my boyfriend made, even after I learned he'd marinated the stir-fry in soy sauce "because that little bit of soy won't hurt you", choosing to drink the lemonade and choosing to not exchange the non-compliant vinaigrette I reflexively (lemonade) and mistakenly (vinaigrette) ordered while lunching out, etc.


While I'm bummed that I didn't make it 30 days, I'm happy about the things I learned or got back in touch with. Among them:


First, I was shocked by how many people assumed I was doing a W30 to lose weight. Each time I turned down a food opportunity and, when pressed, cited my W30, people unfamiliar with W30 assumed I was trying to lose weight.

--I'm 5'8" and weigh about 230. I don't *know* because I don't own a scale capable of weighing a person. I do, however, own a 1lb kitchen scale. 

--While I'm aware that I'm a big gal--I do clothe and wash myself, therefore the big-ness is hard to miss--the numbers which worry me are portion size, my LDL, HDL, BP and blood sugar. I figure if I do what I need to do, to get those in line, my weight will follow. As a young adult, I had no idea about portion control. In my childhood, daily meals were served farm style and the rules were: either "eat whatever had been prepared" or, in more lenient households, "eat what you take, take what you'll eat." When eating out and the meal was served with everything already plated, we were still expected to clean our plates. There was no such thing as a special diet; people with allergies/sensitivities/intolerances were "picky eaters" and looked down upon. People who said something was unhealthy were ridiculed. While I don't have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, I do have a family full of diabetics and people on medication for high blood pressure or high cholesterol. My own blood sugar, LDL and HDL have been of concern for 10 years or so. BP was of concern for about 18 months due to stress, but is now good. 


Second, even the people who say they "want you to make better food choices so you can be thin and healthy" can't be trusted. (Set aside for a moment that thin does not necessarily equal healthy.) My boyfriend has 30+ years in the hospitality industry, with job titles which ranged from everything to "short order cook" and "sandwich maker" to "executive chef" (he is not classically trained). The kitchen is his comfort zone, and despite the fact that he moved into my place when we combined households nearly 3 years ago, it is very much *his* kitchen. He cooks, he cleans, he food shops, he dictates the reign of chaos which prevails in the room of the house where food storage, preparation and consumption are to occur. If I shop, the groceries I buy go to waste because he still shops and won't use the food I bought. Even though I was 40 when we met, had lost nearly 100 lbs  after 2-3 years of paying attn to my glycemic load in particular and food choices in general (and was within 30 lbs of my goal weight), and had raised two healthy sons (ages 18 and 20 at the time), he's convinced I can't cook. In addition to all his perception of self, relationship caretaker/provider and "love language" stuff that ties to the kitchen and food, he also has Stage IV metastatic colo-rectal cancer. When his recurrence was diagnosed 17 months ago, he was given 6 months if he didn't tolerate chemo and/or they couldn't find one that worked for him. The kitchen makes him feel like he still has a contributing role in the relationship, and I'm having a tough time rocking that boat. 


Third, all the "rules" we have about food and what we should do with it...

  • Be polite (read: don't ever turn down food/hospitality, don't send anything back, etc.).
  • Eat everything you're served (i.e. all food options in the quantity that someone else has placed on your plate).
  • Eat everything on your plate (i.e. consume the full quantity of food you put on your plate).
  • Don't be a picky eater (don't turn down food, even if it'd be more aptly referred to as an unhealthy concoction of chemically-laden crap instead of "food").

My revelations:


Boredom eating. Not necessarily in terms of quantity, but definitely in terms of frequency. A couple of hours after dinner, I'd look for something to munch...not because I was hungry, but because I was looking for something to do. 


How much difference there was in my body, in so short a time.

  • Seasonal allergies and asthma (both mild to moderate), much improved.
  • Hot flashes/night sweats, much improved.
  • Eyes far less puffy, with no more baggy eyes or dark under-eye circles.
  • Waking up feeling clean, refreshed and ready to face the day instead of fighting my way awake and still being tired. I'm 46, and haven't had mornings like that since I was 7 or 8 years old.
  • Pooping every day, at approximately the same time.
  • The "frozen shoulder" (the result of a work-related injury) which has been bothering me for coming up on two years, more comfortable now than it was when Worker's Comp cut me off of PT a year ago.

How much that "that little bit of soy isn't going to hurt you" comment pissed me off. I think soy is one of the things I'm sensitive to, and if I'm trying to figure that out, it should be respected rather than undermined. Nobody in his or her right mind would tell someone with a seafood or peanut allergy "that little bit of shrimp" or "that one little peanut isn't going to hurt you." Even tho' it's not an allergy per se, if the person who said that to me had ever had to deal with the hormonal mess I suspect soy causes me, he'd think otherwise.


Planning. Planning, planning, planning. I'm an organized, scheduling, planning-aheading fool, and my color-coding, rule following self was still not prepared for my W30.


How easy it was to stick to, and how easy it was to get sucked off track. I don't need to buy a yard-long list of special-order foods or hire a personal chef to start a W30. I do need to clean (purge) the kitchen and hide the non-compliant ingredients from my boyfriend. I did need to track down some recipes for W30 compliant mayo, dressing and marinades. I do need to buy fresh, whole foods (preferably locally grown, sustainably produced foods which are in season or were home preserved in season). I do need to surround myself with W30 affirmations and support.


How fast my tastebuds realigned to taste "sweet". I shopped without my reading glasses while hungry, and bought what I thought was oven roasted whole turkey breast from a line with no added sugar or MSG. I was wrong. I bought honey roasted, and it was sweet like candy. Yuck. 


Who stepped up to support me on my W30. A couple of coworkers were invested in being there for me on my W30, for the right reasons. And it was cool.


I am restarting my W30 tomorrow, Oct. 15. This time, part of my W30 will be that *I* will cook and shop for 30 days. Today, I rested--while taking pictures during a weekend camping trip, I landed hard on my backside and gave myself lateral epicondylitis in the process. (I don't know if it's a tear or just a strain in the tendon, which are possibilities as it was the result of an abrupt, forceful movement. I do know it is not inflammation from repetitive use.) We were in a remote area and I didn't realize the extent of the injury until several hours later, after I'd stopped using the arm. We couldn't start the whole pack up, break camp and get to the ER process until the next morning, and getting out took the better part of the day. By the time I got out of the ER, filled my prescriptions, got home & unpacked my dirty clothes, I was exhausted. I didn't plan to be wiped out today, but I was. I figure it was better to listen to my body's need to rest than to restart my W30 today.  



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Good on you for being so insightful, Maria.


It looks to me like your biggest issue is your boyfriend. Maybe buy him a couple of paleo cookbooks, or introduce him to Clothes Make the Girl and Nom Nom Paleo, so that he can see that he'll still be able to make you delicious compliant meals that show his love for you.

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Maria, I can identify with a lot of the feelings you talked about. Hang in there, keep posting, and know that you are not alone in any of this. The successful changes, the ease of both starting and slipping, the reactions from friends and family....all familiar; the details may vary, but the feelings are the same.

How are things going today, and is your injury healing?


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You are all amazing--thank you for your kind words of encouragement and concern!


The concepts of portion control and "choosing to not eat ___" are foreign to my "eat what you're served, clean your plate" upbringing. One way to wind up cooking for yourself is to criticize the cook. You'd better eat that--there are starving kids in China! Don't waste food! On several occasions, I've had to tell my boyfriend--who serves food plated up, restaurant style--that I cannot eat the quantity of food he's placed upon the dish. 


Today was a good day...good food choices plus I was able to bathe, wash my hair, dress myself and do a passably decent job of getting said hair wrangled into a style that was suitable for work (the hair requires some wrangling, as it's waist length). By comparison, two days ago I couldn't even pull up my underwear and pants by myself, or put on a bra. I'm on prednisone for the bunged-up elbow and neither enjoying nor debilitated by the occasional spasms which are apparently a normal result of this type of injury.  


Coworkers asked me out for drinks tonight, a spur-of-the-moment commemoration of today being our supervisor's last day with our employer. I went and had 2 glasses of watery orange juice over ice. They didn't have plain iced tea, cranberry "juice" is rarely 100% juice, and their water is yucky. Really, really yucky. Cloudy, stinky, overly-chlorinated yucky. 


Speaking of water...getting "enough" is a challenge. I'm consuming a liter a day, which is an improvement over a month ago. However, I know 1 liter is about 1/3 what a person of my size should take in a day. 


HawkeyeGirl, it takes some practice to learn to recognize cravings as opportunities to ask ourselves, "What is it about this situation (or emotion) that draws me to soothe (or sabotage, or reward) myself with food?" Those are hard conversations to have with ourselves. Yet, if we feed the cravings--even if it's with something healthy--all that underlying emotional stuff is still there. For about four days after I started on Oct 1, I wanted ketchup. I rarely eat ketchup; at our house, ketchup is more likely to dry out than it is to get used up. Yet I wanted ketchup. Ketchup! Rather than search out a compliant ketchup alternative, I asked myself what was going on with the stupid ketchup. Among other things, I realized that my desire for ketchup was very much like the time my former sister-in-law gave up ice cream for Lent and then proceeded to tank up on frozen yogurt instead. If she was going to do that, what was the point?


I need to shop and do some food prep tomorrow; now it's time for bed! 



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I had a "give me the f-ing bread" day...for about three days straight. (Although I restarted my W30 on the 15th, I hadn't had any grains since Oct. 1 and the legumes I've had were limited to the soy sauce.) 


I was doing okay with my bread issue, looking forward to reintroducing grains at the end of my 30, and then someone gave my boyfriend a gift of fresh, home-made banana bread with chocolate chips. And then he offered me some. And for about 2-3 hours I looked at that bread with loathing. And then, after I had the whole "Will this be worth it? This probably isn't going to be worth it," conversation with myself, I ate some. And it was dry, and totally "not worth it." And damn it, It still counts...even if it's not worth it. 


After that, I had the whole "well I'm already off plan, I may as well ___" experience, which resulted in the consumption of 2 glasses of beer (which was "meh"), more banana bread (which was still not worth it, even with chocolate chips) and one buttermilk biscuit (which was absolutely worth it). Although I realize the experience of the W30 is to give my body a chance to heal and detox, and I realize that I just screwed that up, I also recognize that experiencing the set of feelings and sensations which accompany a "that wasn't worth it" food choice represents a pretty powerful experience for me. 


Food is weird for me. On one hand, there were all these "you will eat what you're served and you will like it" rules, while on the other, my sister and I weren't exactly fed on a regular basis. We got about one meal a day, maybe two, and grazed the remainder of the time. Further, we lived in a house full of food we couldn't eat--"get out of that, it's for your dad's lunch" was what we heard most often. If it wasn't for his lunch, it was for some recipe or upcoming event, but meals weren't planned and three balanced meals a day weren't regular occurrences for us. This experience has me thinking about that a lot, and it's something I'll get into more, some other time. But for now, back on track...


The Great Banana Bread Debate aside, there are victories to celebrate. I'm experiencing thirst for the first time in a long time. I feel like this is a real victory, and represents a level of retraining my body that I'd looked forward to.


Another victory, of sorts: I sense that my palate is becoming more aligned to natural flavors and I'm enjoying that. Despite being conscious of MSG and trying to avoid being MSG'd into oblivion (I refer to MSG as LSD for the tongue), when a person makes a conscious effort to eschew chemical substitutes for real herbs, spices and other natural seasonings, it makes a difference.


Part of this experience for me includes quitting Coke/Pepsi. Coke's my preference, Pepsi is an acceptable replacement. Today I don't miss Coke. I might miss Coke tomorrow, but I don't miss it today and I don't miss Coke every day. When I do miss CocaCola, I find that it's not the taste, or the fizz, or the temperature, it's the routine. I miss Coke at about 10 and 2, which is when I'd head to the vending machine out of boredom.


Now that the weather is getting cooler here in the Northern Hemisphere, I do miss my morning oatmeal and occasional frou-frou coffee. I don't do coffee every day, because: a) at $5/cup, I can't afford it every day; B) I believe caffeine is a drug; and c) I don't take my coffee straight--I take that bytch loaded with all the sugar, milk, chocolate and whipped cream it'll hold.  Once or twice a month, I have a coffee and when I was headed out of town at 5:30 am Friday morning, it would have been quite nice to pull through the Dutch Bros drive-thru and get me some Dutch Love. 


Oh, oatmeal--how I miss thee, with thy lovely dates, raisins, walnuts and half-n-half (kind of like cream). I'm so glad scrambled eggs with diced tomatoes, hashbrowns, and compliant sausage are parts of my world.


I'm finding that I need more protein than I realized. We get this big push that part of eating healthy includes being uber careful with protein and animal fat, so for years I was pretty conservative on my portion size. Breakfast and lunch didn't always include protein and fat. As I'm revamping my relationship with food, I'm finding that when I have a meal which doesn't include protein and fat, within a couple of hours of mealtime I am so friggin' hungry I could eat the couch cushions. If a couple of boiled eggs, a grilled chicken breast and handful of walnuts on my salad are going to prevent that, then that's the route I'm taking. 


I found that the "ideal protein" menu available at several local restaurants is W30 compliant, and had a really good chicken Cobb salad with olive oil, a splash of vinegar and a squeeze of lemon. I also discovered an amazing salad with kale, endive, dried cranberries and shredded cabbage with home-made vinaigrette.


People at work are beginning to remark that I look "different." I'd say I look less puffy in the face, esp. around the eyes. That, and they're not used to seeing me with my hair down (while the elbow is improving daily, I still lack the flexibility & range-of-motion to braid & put up my hair as I usually do). I'm also finding that my lower legs/ankles/feet swell less, my pants won't stay up, the cups of my bra fit differently, and I now need to go in a notch or two further on my belts.


Although I am experiencing a bit of sleep disruption today, overall my sleep is much improved. I think that being up tonight is an after-effect of having a late nap today, but that's worn off and now it's time for me to hit the hay!

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Today I bought a bunch of organic stuff. This is a big deal because I am solidly not on the organic bandwagon. (There's a great deal of misunderstanding about the USDA "organic" designation; namely, that organic means "natural" or "chemical free". It doesn't.) My first choice is to grow my own, harvest feral crops or native species, or get it from someone who grew it themselves. My second choice is to purchase locally grown, sustainably produced. My third choice is to consider the food's environmental footprint. Today I bought organic because:

1) bulk items are no longer available at that supermarket (which makes me sad, but I get it: the bulk bins were a loss point for the store, due to theft and cross contamination),

2) the organic options were to my surprise less expensive, and

3) the only ingredient listed was whatever was in the package. 


Another thing I purchased today: cocoa powder (100% cacao). Next time I'm presented with a situation which results in something like an inner dialogue about whether or not banana bread is worth it, I'm prepared to prove to throw a banana, some cocoa powder and a cup of almond milk in the blender. 


Even tho' the elbow is feeling much better (only two more days left on prednisone!), testing avocados for ripeness reminded me that it *is* still kind of tender. Which is irritating, but something I need to respect. So, anyway...


Who else is having fun making her (or his) own condiments? Tonight, I finally followed through on my intent to make vinaigrette. This is the recipe I used:


1/2 c white balsamic vinegar (white wine vinegar with cooked grape must)

1/2 c extra virgin olive oil (first cold pressed)

1 lg clove garlic, pressed

pinch salt

fresh ground black pepper to taste

1/2 tsp mustard powder (I halved the called-for amt of mustard powder because my boyfriend's chemo tears up his mouth)


It's pretty pathetic when one is "too busy" to make vinaigrette. Next up, mayonnaise!


Oh, and the banana bread which wasn't worth it? Even in the event it is not responsible for today's constipation, I'm blaming that on the banana bread. 


I have a well-meaning coworker who feels the W30 is unrealistic on the premise that any time you give something up, you're going to fail. I remind this person that the intent is to take a 30-day break during which I give my body a chance to rid itself of toxins, heal my intestinal tract, restore its probiotic balance, boost my immune system, and evaluate my relationship with food. When the 30 days are over, I intend to reintroduce almost all of the food groups I've "given up". I like dairy; as far as I know, it isn't a problem for me. I like most grains and legumes; even though most of them aren't problems for me, I've observed that I need to be much more careful with refined wheat and avoid soy. I needed to get back in the habit of being careful about added sugar, and I needed to give myself permission to include more nuts, coconut, olives, avocados and animal fats in my diet.


Yes, as that well-meaning person said, the world didn't end just because I ate some banana bread this past weekend. However, that's a short-term outlook. My longer-term outlook includes such considerations as strengthening my immune system, going into winter. I'm predisposed to strep and respiratory infections, and the flu shot hasn't proven helpful for me. When I get a respiratory infection, it progresses into pneumonia within as few as 3 days. The negative aspects of that experience far outweigh the challenges of this--no matter how many times I've FUBARed it--plus, being sick is expensive. I'd rather undertake something "unrealistic" for 30 days and increase my likelihood of avoiding respiratory & strep infections for the next several months than find myself ill from mid-November through March or April, missing out on the holidays and forking out hundreds of dollars for doctors' visits, tests, immunization boosters and prescriptions.

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I so understand missing oatmeal, it was definitely my favorite cold weather breakfast. I've found that soup is a nice substitute when I want that warm, comforting breakfast food - I like a creamy butternut squash soup, and I either have some eggs or other protein on the side, or more often stir ground beef, sausage, or shredded chicken into it.

And it still frustrates me when I hear people talk about how unrealistic whole30 is, like somehow eating real food is so weird. Really? How is meat and veggies weird, but a meal in a box that you can't even pronounce half the ingredients of is normal?

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Allrighty, I'm checkin' in because y'all have become my de facto W30 accountability buddies...


I'm hanging in here. I'm not feeling all freaky & cranky, and to add to the "you look different--what are you doing?" experience, earlier this week someone asked me if I'd met a new man. I realize that reflects her paradigm far more than it reflects mine but I still found it amusing...and a little sad.


The vinaigrette was amazing; I took it to work so that I had a compliant alternative available during two days of training at which meals were provided. They provided salad and food options that I could pick the meat out of, but figuring out how to make a side salad work wasn't the same as having a salad that's intended to be a meal and therefore includes fats & protein. In order to get more protein, fat and fiber than that, I took a baggie with organic pecans and chopped dates. It helped!


Today I missed legumes. We're going into the wet part of autumn here, and I enjoy dishes such as ham hocks and beans, split pea soup or chili with corn bread for dinner on days like today. 


I think it's pretty cool that a month ago, I felt like "oh my God, I am such a loser--I can't even manage to drink a glass of water with my medication in the morning and again before I go to bed at night." Now I'm easily getting a liter a day while at work (1/3 my target) and am thirsty for more. I didn't track it, but noticed that I'm now getting in at least 2 glasses of water between dinner and bedtime.


Food shopping isn't one of my things--overall, I'm ambivalent about it and in certain circumstances it flat-out irritates me. I go to the store to buy the food that's on my list, not peruse the aisles. My boyfriend enjoys going and looking at what's there, then deciding what he's going to purchase. So far, I've food shopped twice this month. That's exciting, too!

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