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(See Week 1 here) This has been a very encouraging week for me. I love when I get to this point on a an effort to seek better health. While for the most part I think I eat pretty well, there is something about doing a check-in like this that really makes you remember how much better you feel when you aren't doing that “oh, I'll just have this piece of chocolate and that latte” dance we all do so well.
Some benefits I've already seen this week are:
- way more energy
- flatter stomach (yes, I've probably lost a little weight, but it's more from no bloating)
- clothes fit better (probably same reason as above)
- my mind is clearer, more able to focus
- some anxiety I had been experiencing the last few months has gone away
- no need to snack anymore (SOOOO freeing when I'm not constantly hungry and trying to figure out what to eat!!)
I'm only halfway through this 30 day effort but obviously it is paying off.
To cheat or not to cheat
Main point of this section – I do NOT recommend you cheat. It's just not worth it. But read on to find out more.
I did have a bit of an anomaly this week – my birthday was on Thursday. Before I started the Whole30 I thought about this. Birthdays are times for celebrating and doing what you want and I'm NOT one of those strong willed people who could just power through. I want my damn cake! So before I started I wondered, do I wait and do Whole30 in February or just go ahead and do it in Jan and know I was going to cheat? I obviously went ahead with the latter because I felt that there would ALWAYS be a reason not to do it (Valentine's Day anyone?), and that it would be easier to go ahead and say ahead of time that I would have 2 meals that weren't Whole30 complaint (dinner on my birthday and then my actual celebration dinner on Saturday night). 88 meals out of 90 that are complaint and full of nutrition and healing in my mind is so much better than 90 meals that aren't. And to be clear, I have been through enough elimination diets in the last 4 years, so I know what affects me and not, so this time around was more just to clean up my diet and reset rather than find out my triggers.
However, I do not recommend just cheating for the heck of it. Doing something like a Whole30 takes a lot of mental willpower to not indulge in what your friends and family are eating right in front of your face. If you cheat once, it is VERY easy (OMG, SO crazy easy) to rationalize that “hey, I cheated that once and it didn't affect me, what's the harm in eating this one teeny tiny bite of chocolate?”. It's a slippery slippery slope. Trust me, I dealt with these demons this week, and they are extremely persistent demons. You are going to make it a lot lot lot harder on yourself mentally if you do cheat.
If you DO have a special occasion though, and I'm talking special, like YOUR birthday or retirement party or something totally in your honor, and you know you need to clean up your diet and it can't wait another month, I say go for it and do a Whole30 around it knowing you are going to cheat for that meal. But I also recommend you state that BEFORE you start the Whole30. Mark it on your calendar, make a contract with yourself, put it in writing and stick it on your fridge. Say “I will just cheat that one meal and no other”. But please take my advice and don't do it unless the occasion really warrants it. And try your best even if you do cheat to not over indulge (like I had half a small Paleo Hail Merry lemon tart on my birthday and some french fries) and try to stay away from things that you are trying to discern if you might have issues with, like gluten or dairy. Paleo treats are safer than gluten-free, and gluten-free is safer than full on gluten-filled. (Also, to be clear, if doing a true elimination diet like AIP, DON'T cheat. But AIP has AIP cakes, treats, baked goods, and things like pancakes and waffles, so it's not as much of an issue because you can just have an AIP-version of what you crave).
As for me, remember that bloating I was talking about above that went away? It came back after my Saturday cheat meal. And my blood sugar issues/desire to snack also reared their ugly heads a bit. Plus I just wanted to eat whatever I wanted. I resisted, but mentally it was super crazy difficult. It seriously felt just like the 1st few days of starting Whole30 with the temptations and wanting oh so much just to have that one teeny tiny piece of chocolate. Basically, it was like starting ALL over again. Not fun. Hence, why I say it's not worth it to cheat unless you have an occasion that really really warrants it that you know of before you start and that you are really clear that you are doing this for your health – and that you know you wouldn't do this Whole30 at all if you didn't have this one meal.
Honestly, if I had to do it all over again I'd probably just celebrate my birthday in February and do the 30 days straight 🙂
On to what I ate this week:
Breakfast: leftover Mediterranean chicken and asparagus from dinner on Day 7 and Suja green juice
Lunch: leftover Meatza and Romeseco from Day 6 dinner
No snack!! I felt slightly like I wanted to eat around 3 but I pushed through and then found I wasn't hungry anyway
Dinner: Shepherd's Pie and a salad of mixed greens, yellow bell pepper slices, grated carrots, toasted hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, and Tessamaes Ranch Dressing (I got mine at Whole Foods). TIP: If you need to brown a large quantity of ground beef (3+ lbs) on a work night, place it in the crockpot while you are at work and it will be cooked by the time you get home. It saves you a good 10-20 min in prep for the rest of the dish. I for one know how minutes count on weeknights!
Workouts: I did a hard Pilates workout via the Dailyburn.com. My abs were so sore after! It hurt to cough, laugh, etc! I also did a 15 min brisk walk.
How I felt: Much better than on Day 7. Much more energetic and focused. This was also when I really started to notice my belly being flatter all day long (not just in the morning when I woke up).
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Breakfast: Eggs scrambled in ghee, leftover roasted Romanesco, and a teeny bit of Suja green juice
Lunch: Leftover Shepherd's pie and salad from dinner on Day 8
Dinner: Crispy Smashed Chicken (recipe by NomNom Paleo in her iOS app), a simple salad of mixed greens and tomatoes, and a roasted acorn squash with coconut butter, raisins, cinnamon, and sea salt (recipe from Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilipo).
Workouts: A hard (for me) yoga workout on Dailyburn.com that was more about strength than stretching and a 15 min brisk walk.
How I felt: Again felt great. Noticed I am a bit constipated so I started taking magnesium supplements (I take a Magnesium L-Threonate). Sleep therefore was really deep that night.
Breakfast: scrambled eggs and leftover Shepherd's pie
Lunch: Leftover acorn squash, and leftover chicken breasts that I chopped up to make a chicken salad with mayo, celery, walnuts, dried cranberries, sea salt, and pepper
Workouts: None, my abs are still too sore from the last 2 workouts! But I did get a few 10 minute walks in.
How I felt: Mentally ready to take on the world. Physically I feel energetic, but notice I don't feel energetic enough to work out
Breakfast: yet again, leftover shepherd's pie and scrambled eggs.
Lunch: leftover Moroccan meatballs, cumin roasted carrots, and kale salad from dinner the night before
Dinner: (Cheat meal – my Birthday!) Chicken burger & Truffle Parm fries without the parm from Larkburger (local Colorado chain who's menu is entirely gluten-free except for their gluten buns) and half of a Lemon Tart from Hail Merry Snacks
Workouts: a very relaxing, stress relief yoga dvd that I have from Gaiam from like 2001 and a 15 min brisk walk.
Breakfast: Eggs scrambled in ghee and the last of the Shepherd's Pie
Lunch: Waldorf Tuna Salad
Dinner: Short ribs (recipe not good, so not sharing :-), and brussels sprouts roasted at 425 F and then tossed with fresh cranberries, balsamic vinegar ,and walnuts. (Make sure if you use balsamic vinegar that it doesn't contain added sugar)
Workouts: An abs Pilates workout dvd I have
How I felt: I felt pretty good, but the desire to cheat was REALLY strong. I definitely battled demons today.
Breakfast: A hash of bacon, apples, onion, and white potatoes seasoned with Primal Palate's Meat & Potato Seasoning, 2 fried eggs, and black caffeinated coffee. This was the first time I have had caffeinated coffee since starting the Whole30 but I am going to experiment with having it one morning a week and see how I fare with it. When I have caffeine on a regular basis I have found it starts messing with my adrenals and possibly starts affecting my absorption of minerals. So while I love caffeine, it's a treat for me. The upside though, is the day that I DO have it it actually does the job I want it to do: crazy amazing energy that makes me want to get like 24 hours worth of stuff done in 20 minutes. But if I have it for a few weeks I don't feel any difference when I have it.
Lunch: Our fridge was a mish mosh of leftovers, so I took the one remaining chicken breast from dinner on Day 9 and made a chicken salad with mayo, celery, dried cranberries (sweetened with apple juice), pecans, sea salt, and pepper.
Dinner: This was my birthday celebratory dinner. We had made the reservations in December, so I knew before I started the Whole30 that it was on our calendar. I could have decided not to do the Whole30 but I decided to go ahead and do it and say that this would not be a compliant meal (see more about my thoughts about cheating at the top of this post). We went to a fondue restaurant called the Melting Pot, and I had cheese, chocolate, and wine. And I enjoyed every last bite (which is a pleasant side effect of doing a diet like this – you sure appreciate things more!)
How I felt: I spent a lot of time cleaning our house, so must have felt pretty energetic 🙂
Breakfast: A fritatta made with eggs, white potatoes, and tomatoes
Lunch: Grilled Halibut (one of my Wildtree freezer meal workshop meals, so it has some sort of seasoning on it), and a salad made of roasted beets, oranges, cashews, and cilantro.
Dinner: Beer can chicken made in the oven (we use these “chicken sitters” and use chicken stock instead of beer, but in the summer we typically do this on the grill and sometimes use gluten-free Omission Ale or a cider). My husband seasoned the chicken with Primal Palate's Adobo seasoning. In case you've never had beer can chicken, it's the most juicy, flavorful chicken and the skin gets nice and crispy! So freakin good. Highly recommend you check it out. I also made a squash soup from a bunch of random squash we had sitting in our basement from the fall. I cut them in half, took out the seeds, roasted them in the oven until soft with a red onion and an entire head of garlic, then scooped out the meat and added it to a big bowl. To the bowl I added warmed chicken stock, a few big pinches of sea salt, some pepper, cumin, chili powder, and lime juice. I then used my immersion blender to blend it all together until smooth and seasoned correctly.
Workouts: No specific workout but I did do a few reps of lifting my 3 year old up above my head. That counts, right? 🙂
How I felt: Definitely bloated. But still pretty energetic. I decided to sew my older son some pajamas and I used to find it somewhat tiring to cut out all the pattern pieces (I don't have a cutting table so I do it on the floor) and have to stand up 100 times to get things I need or to move around the pattern/fabric. But today I had no issues whatsoever. The pilates/yoga must be paying off!
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