Contessa's January reset


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12/30/20 - Day 1

Here we are, at the close of a unique and uniquely difficult year. Friends who work in health care are already getting the vaccine. And my work calendar for 2021 is slowly filling with commitments and the promise of an eventual return to client travel.

Somehow, in the midst of a pandemic, my employer has had a great year. It's bananas. Today we closed one final sales contract for 2020, wrapping the year above our sales goal for 2020. This year should have been a total disaster for us, but somehow it was not.

Perhaps because I've been lucky enough to avoid the virus so far, 2020 has been quiet, contemplative year. A genuinely scary yet somehow restorative year. Working from home, taking long walks, quitting my gym (which is simply not covid-safe, no matter how much they talk about wiping down the equipment...). When I think about jumping back into the fray in 2021, I feel.... not ready. In some ways, this enforced immobility has been good for my spirit. Not having set foot in an airport since March has been glorious.

Today kicks off another Whole 30 for me. This Whole 30 will be a way of simply enjoying my time at home. The year of working from home has been such a privilege and a luxury — I want to savor every bit of it. Pre-covid, I rarely got to enjoy 30 consecutive days at home with no travel.

My diet has been okay for the past few months. I've slowly slipped back into eating more processed foods and treats than I'd like to. But my sanity has generally stayed intact. I'm eating whole foods regularly.

Today I discovered that the owner of the wonderful soup place in my neighborhood will be doing a Whole 30 in January. She has been adding tasty Whole 30 items to her carry-out menu. Did I just stock up on three different W30-compatible soups today? Yes, indeed. I feel extremely lucky that this option exists for this Whole 30, and I plan to take frequent advantage of it. (Check out this menu board. She even offers curry beef meatballs and zoodles! I'm getting that next time.)

Food journal for 12/30/20:

Breakfast: steamed broccoli, butternut squash, 1 perfect poached egg

Lunch: Thai coconut chicken soup (thank you, soup goddess)

Dinner: Sautéed kale, butternut squash, mashed potatoes, shredded chicken, sauce; 4 oz cashewmilk + 1 spoonful of almond butter

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How great are those 4 soup options? I want one of each! 

Hubs and I are truly privileged to have had phenomenal work years this year too. He has been WFH since March 13th and I own my own coaching practice and both of our companies posted record sales this year. Bananas indeed! We recognize and appreciate our privilege.

No air travel has been weird. Between Jan 1 and March 20 I had already taken 16 flights and Hubs was at 20... it's been SO strange not to fly at all. I miss it. We did spend 90 nights in our Airstream but even that was weird - no visiting, no touring, just a change of scenery from our apartment. Anyway - a strange, evolving year and we're doing fine! As Hubs likes to say each night "just another day in covidice".

We're starting W30#4 on January 1 although we've been tapering all week. We have had CRAZY sugar frenzied diets and terrible sedentary lifestyles (agree about the gym and all things covid - we just stay home 24/7) all year so this reset is a big one. 

We'll catch up with you in a few days.

 

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Oh my goodness, the soups!  Inspirational, and so lovely to have that option.  

It is strange to think of 2020 as having a silver lining - the time for self-refection and contemplation.  I often wonder how I'll go back to working outside my home, as the daily routine seems so sane now.  How will I have time for the walks?  And I can't imagine frequent travel as part of the daily grind...

Savor your Whole 30, the time to prepare and enjoy wholesome meals.  Your first day's foods sound delicious! 

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11 hours ago, Lorna from Canada said:

No air travel has been weird. Between Jan 1 and March 20 I had already taken 16 flights and Hubs was at 20... it's been SO strange not to fly at all. I miss it.

Holy cow, those are some serious road warrior numbers! No wonder this year has felt strange. I'm glad you've had the Airstream to take the edge off your wanderlust, but... you're probably feeling bereft.

Glad you have stayed flexible throughout it all. This year has surely been extra-extra hard for people who struggle with deviations from "the plan."

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Food journal for 12/31/20 - Day 2:

Breakfast: steamed broccoli, shredded chicken, diced potatoes, butternut squash + sauce; decaf coffee with nut milk

Lunch: golden cauliflower soup with meatballs and diced sweet potatoes

Dinner: shredded chicken, kale, mashed potatoes, broccoli, sauce + 1 perfect poached egg

1 spoonful of almond butter

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Now I'm remembering why I appreciate the Whole 30 so much — and I'm remembering why it is challenging. What's challenging for me is just eating three meals a day, and not snacking. That's always the hard part. My compulsive tendency around eating unfolds in bites, morsels, crumbs. Just a bit here, a bit there, but it really adds up and leaves me feeling uncomfortable in my body.

My diet is reasonably nourishing. I do eat vegetables on a regular basis. I can enjoy a special treat (like the cheesecake I made for Christmas) in a paced, appreciative way without feeling awful the next day. I savored the hell out of that cheesecake with no regrets. 

But I'm realizing today that I've completely fallen for the "tiny foods" in grocery stores — the baby candy bars and bite-sized Nutter Butters. ("One jelly bean contains only 4 calories! No problem!") Guys, it's almost as if they've engineered those treats to seem harmless. You'd think that Nabisco and Frito-Lay employ huge teams of food scientists who know how to stimulate our brains' reward centers!

The "tinyness" of the treat makes it seem innocuous. But if I consume a bag of Nutter Butter Bites in morsels and mouthfuls over the course of a day, that's more than 1,000 calories that aren't going to satisfy my actual hunger or meet any nutritional needs. Jelly beans are sold in 2-pound bags because someone out there knows I won't quit with just one handful. Industrially produced snack food is just not awesome for my health, no matter how much I want it to be. And, once the snacking starts on a given day, it's really hard for me to stop.

Anyhow, I'm rambling. Today was a good day. On a related note, I consumed 0 jelly beans today.

Food journal for 1/1/21 - Day 3:

Breakfast: Broccoli, shredded chicken, sweet potatoes, sauce

Almond butter + cashew milk (a hilariously unsuccessful attempt to whizz up some kind of "special" non-coffee beverage)

Lunch: Thai coconut chicken soup from the blessed soup counter

4 oz blueberry mint kombucha

Dinner: Spaghetti squash, meatballs, compatible spaghetti sauce

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4 minutes ago, Contessa said:

You'd think that Nabisco and Frito-Lay employ huge teams of food scientists who know how to stimulate our brains' reward centers!

Okay - that was the funniest thing I've read in awhile. 

I'm a fan of Dr. David A. Kessler (actually, I'm a fan of both author Dr. Kesslers) who wrote The End of Overeating - learned a lot about corporate frankenfooding from that :)

I'm a "little bits here and there don't count" kind of eater too. I got into buying packs of sourpatch kids and wine gums and eating the whole bag in one day. Over and over and over again. I felt justified because the pandemic is crap and life is boring and Hubs and I work so hard for such long hours in our apartment - treats treats, treats. sigh* Once the bag is opened, I, and it is done.

No candy for me since Christmas Eve - I knew going into this I'd have to wean off that habit before I started. Sooo glad I did. 

Onward Contessa!

 

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I think I was one of the subjects in those food scientists' studies....I was part of the experimental group that bought all the reduced rate Halloween candy on November 1.  I vaguely remember waking up from a sugar coma once or twice (:unsure:) surrounded by mini M&Ms and Almond Joy wrappers....

Almond butter and cashew milk - that sounds like some kind of special smoothie or milkshake in the making.  With a dash of black coffee....hmmm, that has potential....

 

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7 hours ago, MadyVanilla said:

I think I was one of the subjects in those food scientists' studies....I was part of the experimental group that bought all the reduced rate Halloween candy on November 1. 

Ha! I think I was definitely a member of the same experimental group, which focused exclusively on acquisition of peanut M&Ms and fun-sized Kit-Kats.

It's been another solid, satisfying day here. I discovered a group of FB friends who are starting the Whole 30 on Monday. That group will be nice, maybe an additional bit of social support and conversation.

Today's reflection was on another thing I love about the W30 — So. Many. Frickin'. Vegetables. I definitely eat more vegetables on this protocol than I do during my Regular Life. Sometimes significantly more vegetables. Whole 30 has a reputation out there as being very meat-centric, but for me, it's all about the rainbow of veggies.

(Right now in my fridge: spaghetti squash, avocado, butternut squash, kale, mashed potatoes, broccoli, sweet potatoes, spinach, red pepper....)

It's odd, in non-W30 times, to swap out a nutrient-rich item for a nutrient-poor item. Last month, I found myself thinking, "Is the English muffin accompanying these eggs going to be that much more satisfying than whatever veggie I would have had in its place during a Whole 30?" Don't get me wrong, I do love a good English muffin, but I also love unconventional breakfasts that aren't English muffin-oriented.

Food journal for 1/2/21 - Day 4:

Breakfast: Broccoli, shredded chicken, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, sauce

Lunch: Chocolate avocado smoothie (from Danielle Walker's Against All Grain) – and yes, this probably qualifies as Sex With Your Pants On. The avocado is soooo good.

Dinner: Kale, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, shredded chicken, sauce; 8 oz kombucha

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14 hours ago, Contessa said:

I definitely eat more vegetables on this protocol than I do during my Regular Life. Sometimes significantly more vegetables. Whole 30 has a reputation out there as being very meat-centric, but for me, it's all about the rainbow of veggies.

So very true for me, too.  

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A nice, boring day of eating :)

Food journal for 1/3/21 - Day 5:

Breakfast: Broccoli, shredded chicken, mashed potatoes, sauce

Lunch: Spaghetti squash and tomato sauce with meatballs; oven fries with ketchup

Dinner: Broccoli, shredded chicken, mashed potatoes, sauce

 

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One of the things that becomes clear each time I go through a Whole 30....

I need food to not be the highlight of my day. (I'm suddenly reminded of one hilarious friend's description of her overweight cat as "highly food motivated" — the creature lived for the whirring of the can opener.)

Is it okay for food to be an enjoyable part of my day? Sure.
Is it okay for me to take delight in food? Sure.
Is it okay for food to be the bedrock of delight and enjoyment in my day? That's probably not a great idea.

I think part of the growth I need to engage in this year is re-ordering my day/week so that food is just one enjoyable component of the day.

And of course, this task comes with some complexities during covid. Consistently reliable sources of delight are not accessible right now — concerts, travel, shopping, hugs from friends.

This is why I like doing Whole 30s.... I notice different stuff every time.

Anyhow, another very straightforward food day today....

Food journal for 1/4/21 - Day 6:

Breakfast: Broccoli, shredded chicken, diced sweet potatoes, sauce

Whizzed up a cold brew coffee with nutmilk and a shot of bottled almond milk "mocha" .... an exceptionally beige but still frothy drink.
I enjoyed it... and yet.... there is no substitute for real dairy in my coffee ;)

Lunch: Chocolate avocado smoothie

Dinner: Spaghetti squash with meatballs and tomato sauce

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Just a quick entry tonight as I still have much to do before my head hits the pillow....

Food journal for 1/5/21 - Day 7:

Breakfast: Applegate farms chicken sausage, spinach, eggs (love seeing that Whole 30 badge on the sausage)

Lunch: "Paleo chicken soup" from the soup goddess

Dinner: Shockingly tasty spinach avocado chicken burgers (I will totally make these again); oven fries with Sisson's ketchup

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Already noticing some NSVs over here. My nighttime breathing has gotten clearer, which is nice. And my sleep has been steady and deep. 

Today has involved a *tiny* bit of stress for those of us in the U.S., watching a ragged band of boneheads try to storm our capitol building. Sigh. Hoping to have a gentle evening with an early bedtime.

Food journal for 1/6/21 - Day 8:

Breakfast: spinach avo chicken burger with butternut squash and mashed potatoes with sauce

Lunch: Egg drop meatball soup from the soup goddess; 1/2 apple with almond butter. I am singlehandedly keeping those soup people in business this month.

Dinner: spinach avo chicken burger with butternut squash and steamed broccoli with sauce; 8 oz cashewmilk

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Man. This week. A colleague asked today, "There are literally so many things that are flying around, and everything seems urgent! Do you feel like your hair's on fire like I do?" Yes, beloved colleague, I do. Today is a day that would have absolutely knocked me off my W30 if I didn't have a ton of meal building blocks ready to go in the fridge. Thank the goddess for meal prep.

I had some pretty gnarly junk food urges today. It doesn't help that I discovered (just before starting this Whole 30) that the new grocery store down the street has a bakery that makes very good chocolate chip cookies. Yes, I do consider myself a connoisseur of chocolate chip cookies. I ate half a bag before the W30 started, but then had to throw the rest in the garbage, because I was ready to start my W30. Thinking of you, chocolate chip cookies, and knowing I'm better off tonight without you!

Food journal for 1/7/21 - Day 9:

Breakfast: Steamed broccoli, last of the butternut squash, mashed potatoes, 1 perfect poached egg.

Lunch: Paleo chicken soup

Dinner: Thanks to @Amy_Michigan  – I scored one of these nifty Birds Eye bags of shredded potatoes & sweet potatoes with broccoli & cauliflower florets. Find 'em in your frozen food section, folks. This item is completely compatible with W30 and makes the work of meal prep very easy. Dinner involved about half a bag of these with some pre-made pulled chicken. A satisfying and lightning-quick dinner! No, I am not being paid for this endorsement ;)

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Slept poorly last night and was awakened with painful muscle cramps in my legs — felt like shin splints. I definitely have not been doing any burpees or box jumps lately, so I am not sure what that was about. Poor hydration? Too much/too little potassium? Magnesium deficiency? Not enough gentle stretching? Not sure. I may try a little dose of Natural Calm tonight.

What an intense week. I'm glad it's drawing to a close.

Food journal for 1/7/21 - Day 10:

Breakfast: Chocolate avocado smoothie

Lunch: Shredded veggies, steamed broccoli, mashed potato, pulled chicken

Dinner: Chicken fingers, fries, sugar free ketchup

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More intense muscle cramps in my legs last night. They woke me from sound sleep 3 times! I wish I knew what this was about. I wonder if stress may be a factor. There's been so much happening at a national level and in the micro "Contessa's world" level. I'm hoping tonight is different!

Food journal for 1/9/21 - Day 11:

Breakfast: Applegate farms sausage + kale + eggs

Lunch: Grilled chicken nuggets from a fast food restaurant (sort of an emergency food situation)

Dinner:  Spinach/avocado/chicken burger with mashed potatoes and broccoli

A bit of Natural Calm and warm water before bed

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4 hours ago, Contessa said:

More intense muscle cramps in my legs last night. They woke me from sound sleep 3 times! I wish I knew what this was about. I wonder if stress may be a factor. There's been so much happening at a national level and in the micro "Contessa's world" level. I'm hoping tonight is different!

Food journal for 1/9/21 - Day 11:

Breakfast: Applegate farms sausage + kale + eggs

Lunch: Grilled chicken nuggets from a fast food restaurant (sort of an emergency food situation)

Dinner:  Spinach/avocado/chicken burger with mashed potatoes and broccoli

A bit of Natural Calm and warm water before bed

 

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Thanks for the good feedback on magnesium! Very happy to report that I finally got some good zzz's last night. I'll chalk it up to Natural Calm.

My boyfriend (who has a degree in nutrition) says magnesium sometimes takes a while for the body to absorb..... so I'll try to keep taking it for the rest of this W30.

Had some more hard-core cravings today. Managed to work through them all. Fed the boyfriend a new batch of spinach-avocado chicken burgers, which he loved. "This crazy diet I'm on isn't so crazy!" I said with a wink.

>>> Food journal for 1/10/21, day 12:

Breakfast: Broccoli, sweet potato, pulled chicken, 1 perfect poached egg, sauce

Lunch: Mashed potatoes, butternut squash spirals, spinach-avocado chicken burger; blueberry mint kombucha

Dinner: Spinach-avocado chicken burger with oven fries

 Natural Calm at night

 

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Another peaceful night of sleep.... loving it! I'm working hard to re-stock my fridge this evening while my phone is quiet. Work is bonkers busy this month. I'm almost to the point where I need to start scheduling potty breaks on my calendar. The beginning of the year is usually like this for us. I'm falling back into predictably boring food. But it tastes good and is all Whole 30, so.... [shrug]

>>> Food journal for 1/11/21, day 13:

Breakfast: Frozen veggie shreds with pulled chicken

Lunch: Avocado chocolate smoothie

Dinner: Steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes, pulled chicken, sauce

Natural Calm at night

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Muscle cramps are back! I don't know what the deal is. Beginning to suspect that bananas (too much potassium) are behind it. My boyfriend (who has a nursing degree in addition to a nutrition degree.... he's a darned handy fella) suggests laying off both bananas and Natural Calm for a while. I'll see if that helps.

Almost to the halfway point with this W30. Truthfully, I've come close to bowing out of this Whole 30 a couple of times. My motivation isn't as strong as it has been for previous rounds. My experience would be different if I was experiencing an acute health concern, working to bring down my blood pressure, etc. My challenge, much more than eliminating problematic foods from my diet, is gently learning how to not eat every time I feel stressed/bored/frustrated. Those are 3 big "feeling states" that tend to spark self-destructive food behaviors.

I don't know if W30 is really necessary for me right now. But I'm staying with it. It's always a moving target — finding the happy nexus where food enjoyment, satiety, nourishment, and embracing my right-now body overlap.

I have no idea if this reflection makes sense to anyone else... but it makes sense in my brain, so I guess that's good enough. :) I did buy my first airfare today, for a client trip in February. And as I take a step back to reconsider these first 2 weeks of W30, I do feel grateful to have set aside this window of time to prepare for the airport food surely in my future.

>>> Food journal for 1/12/21, day 14:

Breakfast: Broccoli, frozen veggie shreds, pulled chicken, sauce, coffee with nut milk

Lunch: Spinach-avocado burger, broccoli, mashed potatoes, sauce.... hurriedly gobbled down in a 6-minute break between meetings. Ugh! this week at work is really bonkers.

Dinner: Stuffed sweet potato with spinach and bacon; 1/2 apple with almond butter

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