January 25, 2014

Whole 30: Day 5

Before I get into today's details, a fun fact, of sorts: this is my 600th post on here. I started writing here in August 2010, and wrote every single day until I lost 150 pounds. I've moved several times, fell in love, started a family, and seen my weight go in every direction. Thanks, everyone, for reading along. It really means so much to me.

Today I made the first thing that even *I* really didn't like. For lunch, I had found a Pinterest recipe for tilapia patties where you chop up the raw fish, add chopped spinach and an egg, and make it into patty shapes and cook them in a skillet on the stovetop. It was just a complete disaster - looked absolutely nothing like their gorgeous picture. I had been skeptical - with no breadcrumbs (or even almond or coconut flour to try and hold it together), I wasn't sure how mine would end up looking like theirs. I think I may have been hoodwinked.

I didn't even bother to take a picture, it was that bad. I tried tasting them, to see if it was at least salvageable. Not terrible, but definitely not anything I would try again. Just bad, bad, bad.

Matt made his own piece of plain, normal, unpattied tilapia, and roasted asparagus. I was really proud of him, he made it all himself. Slowly but surely, he is learning.

My breakfast, though, had been amazing. Noah woke up super early and was already in a sort of funky mood, so I wanted to make a good hearty breakfast that would stick with me for a while.

And it definitely worked - I didn't even start to feel the least bit hungry for almost 8 hours. I sautéed some crimini mushrooms I had left from making egg muffins earlier in the week. I also chopped up another sweet potato and baked it up. Topped it all with two eggs over easy. It was SO good.

A common complaint I see about the Whole 30 is people getting bored of eggs. I could never get sick of them! I enjoy them absolutely every way possible.

For dinner, I put a whole chicken in the crockpot around noon, gently squeezed two lemons over it, and then put the lemons in the cavity. I sprinkled the top with black pepper and oregano to give it a sort of Greek seasoning. I put big stems of broccoli all around it, and let it cook for a few hours.

We spent the day cleaning and organizing the apartment. Matt did most of the work, mopping all the floors and reorganizing the walkway from the kitchen to the bathroom (it's like a small hallway with a nook for our washer and dryer). I finished organizing my closet and packed up Noah's 0-6 month clothes (I can't believe he's going to be 9 months old in a week and a half!). It wasn't the most exciting, but it was overdue, and after all the traveling we've done in the last few months, it was nice to just stay home.

While Noah took a nap, I headed to the fitness center. It's almost always empty, but for some reason, there were four or five people there today! (When there are only five machines, that's a lot!) The elliptical and the stationary bike were both occupied, so I hopped on the treadmill for a bit. I figured I would walk until one of the other machines freed up. I walked for about .35 miles and then the woman on the bike left, so I figured I would keep walking until .40 miles, then run the last tenth of a mile.

It felt ... interesting to run again. My shoes definitely don't fit anymore - I'll blog about that tomorrow, there's a story there. So it was a little tough. But it didn't feel impossible. Just 13 more miles to a half marathon!

After that, I got on the bike and rode for 25 minutes. My legs were starting to hurt, so I didn't push it too hard today. I have been having issues with my sciatic nerve since before Christmas, and I hoped it would work itself out like usual, but it's still bothering me all too often. I'll probably need to see someone about it sooner rather than later.

The chicken was done shortly after, and I plated it up. The broccoli was SO GOOD! I almost always love broccoli, but Matt is skeptical, and we both gobbled this down. The lemon flavor made it really good.

The recipe for the chicken is from a cookbook that came with the crockpot. It makes such a good chicken, but it always falls apart into pieces and it's really hard to cut. Also, I didn't add any liquid at all, but by the time it was done, there was a ton of liquid in there. It's natural juices, I know. But the chicken falls apart into it and it's just so hard to serve up.

I am feeling really confident about this Whole 30, but I know Matt is still concerned about Day 31. I'll blog later about our post-Whole 30 plans, but short version, I think I'd like to keep this up as long as possible.

What about you? Does anyone else ever make a whole chicken in the crockpot? Any advice on keeping it together?

January 24, 2014

Whole 30: Day 4

Since I didn't have to go into work today until later, I spent the morning in bed snuggling my family. Once Noah looked like he was ready for a nap, I had Matt take over and I headed to the gym for a morning workout. It wasn't bad - I wanted a good workout, but I also wanted to make sure I wasn't entirely worn out before work. I did 20 minutes on the elliptical and 30 minutes on the stationery bike. This was the first time I've been on an elliptical machine since ... wow, I'm just realizing now how long it has been. Almost two years. I had a one month gym membership right before I left California, so I used one at the gym there.

20 minutes felt like forever. I wanted to stop after 5, but pushed myself to 10. Then 15. Then ooh-this-song-is-good-I-could-do-5-more, and at 20, I stopped. It was tough, and I didn't want to overdo it the first time on there (or right before work). It was tough in other ways besides physically challenging, too. I remember how much I used to love the elliptical, how I'd do intervals for 30 minutes, drink some water, and hop back on for 30 more. And I was much bigger then than I am now.

I'm not sad about it. I know I'll get it back. The only way to get better is to keep trying, right? I'll be back on it tomorrow, and let's see if I can't make it to 25 minutes...

Today was the first breakfast Matt didn't really like, though he wouldn't admit it out loud.

I made egg muffins, but this time I mixed the eggs with shredded zucchini and added curry powder and a little cinnamon. I liked them, but he politely ate one and put the rest in the fridge "for later." Yeah, okay. I'll be having them for breakfast tomorrow, and I'll scramble up some plain eggs for him.

After work, we came home and I found myself a bit lost. The afternoon is when I work out! So I decided to tackle a task I've been putting off forever: organizing my closet. Since we've been in and out of town so much the past few months, it just got to be a huge mess. I know that having a clean and organizing living space helps me feel more positive and more motivated in all areas of life, so I'm glad I got this mostly finished today.

For an afternoon snack, I had apricots and pecans like yesterday, and I made banana "ice cream" for Matt. I added some pecans, too, to make it like banana bread!

That's another thing I haven't made in years. I'm starting to see a pattern.

For dinner, I made burgers (this time, I didn't put the avocado in the middle, I just had some with each bite) and sweet potato.

The two of us split one sweet potato - when you cut it up into thin strips, a little bit goes a long way. The other day at the store, I got a little spray bottle and I put olive oil in it. I lightly sprayed the sweet potato strips before baking them. That way, it greatly reduces the amount of oil without using an aerosol cooking spray with all the chemicals. They sell oil misters, but for now, my 74 cent travel spray bottle works just fine.

It's quite cold here in South Carolina, much colder than it usually is in this area. So I don't know what we will do this weekend. Our goal is to stay home after all the traveling we've done, but unless it warms up a little bit, I think a family walk is out of the question. We will definitely go to the gym, though, at the very least.

What about you? What are your weekend plans? What's on your menu for this weekend?

January 23, 2014

Whole 30: Day 3

I was really tired today for some reason. Probably because last night was a bit rough - Noah got stomach sick for the first time, which was pretty scary for all of us. So he was up late, and I didn't sleep very well - nervousness, plus, he slept in our bed with us just in case, and he's quite the tiny bed hog.

Breakfast this morning was some egg muffins I made last night - more of the ground beef, mushroom, and onion mixture. It was an excellent combination! Lunch was, once again, pulled pork with pineapple. (And will be tomorrow, and most of next week. Luckily it's really good, and I don't get bored very easily.)

For dinner, I made something I like but haven't made in years: zucchini pasta. It's super easy - I use my box grater and just shred a couple of zucchini.

In the past, I've made it with a creamy avocado spinach sauce. I will definitely be making that soon, avocados have been really good lately. This time, I served it with some leftover tomato and veggie sauce I had frozen after I made spaghetti squash a few weeks ago. I also made some really, really good turkey meatballs - I got the spices perfect this time. Sage, black pepper, a tiny bit of salt. They were excellent.

I went to the gym and rode the stationary bike for 45 minutes. For a snack, I had some apricots and raw pecans. We got unsulphured apricots at Trader Joe's when we were in Minnesota because (a) there are no Trader Joe's within an hour's drive and (b) they cost significantly less at TJ's than they do in local stores or online.

I split them in half, and put the pecans in the middle...

... then rolled them up.

It was so delicious! The apricots are so naturally sweet - with the pecans, it seriously tastes like pecan pie. Except not excessively sweet and definitely healthier!

January 22, 2014

Whole 30: Day 2

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are good days this semester - I don't start until later in the day, so I get to spend the morning with my family. I am thinking that it may be a good idea to use that time wisely and go to the gym before work. I've never been good at morning workouts - I have just always preferred to go at night. That way, if I get hungry, it's the middle of the night, and I can wake up and have a good breakfast.

Today's breakfast was egg muffins - I seriously love how quick they are to come together, and they're delicious! I sautéed mushrooms and onions with a little sage and black pepper, and then cooked up some ground beef. That all went in the bottom, then some egg. They were SO good! I have quite a bit of the meat and veggie mixture left, I'll be making more muffins tonight for tomorrow's breakfast (Tuesdays and Thursdays are earlier days).

Lunch was more of the pulled pork with pineapple - even better after it sits a bit! Dinner will be apricot chicken in the crockpot - Matt's dad is in South Carolina for a business trip, so he will be driving a few hours to spend some time with us. I hadn't planned on three for dinner, but it won't be bad - I'll make a bunch of veggies to fill everyone up and stretch the meal further.

I wanted to share our tactics for on-plan dining out while we were out of town. We tried to stick to chain restaurants since they would have all their nutrition information online. Most had calories, fat, sodium, etc., listed, but not many things like the actual ingredients. Once you are at a restaurant, though, many have an allergen menu available for anyone who asks to see it.

Here is the one from T. G. I. Friday's:

Crazy, right? Why does a black bean burger have the shellfish symbol?! There were only three items on the entire menu that were compliant: steamed broccoli, mixed fruit, and mandarin oranges. So we picked other items and figured we would do whatever we could to make them compliant. For example, Matt got a steak, which says it has dairy and soy. When he went to order, he asked how it was cooked - the dairy is a pat of herbed butter they put on top. So he asked to skip that, and to have broccoli instead of mashed potatoes. Easy enough, right?

I got a salad:

I opted for the grilled chicken Cobb salad, as it seemed the most compliant, and asked for no cheese. There was bacon in it, which I am sure was not sugar free, but since everything had soy anyway, we had already talked about restarting the Whole 30, and I figured that wasn't going to be too bad. For dressing, I got avocado vinaigrette, and only used maybe a teaspoon of it - there was enough "stuff" in the salad (grilled chicken, hard boiled eggs, avocado) that it didn't need much else.

Also, Noah ate all the avocado out of the salad. I was looking forward to that! But he loves avocado, and he's insanely cute, so I let him have it.

Another place we went was Olive Garden. They have a really extensive gluten free selection, surprisingly (probably to reach out to folks who would otherwise avoid a place known best for pasta and breadsticks). Sorry for the low quality picture - they keep it dark in there!

Matt ordered chicken medallions with asparagus, and asked for double asparagus instead of mashed potatoes. I got grilled salmon with broccoli. It was pretty good!

So, eating out is tough, but do-able. I remember the first Christmas when I was first losing the weight, how I prepared beforehand for dealing with going out to eat with my family. I looked up nutritional info for all of the restaurants I know they typically go to, and found my best options for low calorie/high satiety choices. I also took sodium into account, that's always insanely high with restaurant meals!

January 21, 2014

Whole 30: Day 1

This morning I weighed myself, for a few reasons. First, to see how I did after a weekend where six of twelve meals were eaten out. Second, to see how I did overall after two weeks of eating on plan. And lastly, to have a starting weight as we embark on a new set of 30 days.

I lost a pound and a half over the weekend, an incredible success if I do say so myself! Especially considering that we weren't super active, we mostly drove from place to place getting things ready for the party and meeting up with people while we were in town.

This brought my 15 day total weight loss to 13 pounds.

That is remarkable, and I certainly don't expect to see such a significant loss this time around - remember, when I started this time we were coming off of a vacation where we had absolutely no discretion with our eating. A good amount of that loss, I'm sure, was just bloating from all the carbs and sodium.

I'm still not quite back to where I was before Christmas (I really let myself go this time), but I'm thrilled that things are moving in the right direction, and most importantly, that I feel in control of my eating. I don't miss dairy or grains, largely due to the fact that I'm a pretty good cook, if I do say so myself, and I managed to make things that are not only compliant but delicious. We don't feel deprived and, best of all, more often than not, we don't feel exceptionally hungry. I don't feel like snacking excessively, which is definitely what got me in trouble over winter break - I find that when I'm at my mother's house, I graze. Instead of binging on a large portion of something at once, I snack constantly, even when I'm full. I pick at this and that all day long, until finally I go to bed feeling so full that I'm sick.

That doesn't happen these days, and I couldn't be happier. Physically, I feel the best that I have in quite a while, and emotionally I'm feeling stable and motivated. I don't know if it's the eating plan that does this, but it certainly doesn't hurt.

Today's breakfast was scrambled eggs, and lunch was ginger and pineapple pulled pork that I made overnight in the crockpot - now I'm good for lunches for about the next two weeks! After work we went to the post office to pick up a package (which I'll write about in a few days), then we stopped by our apartment leasing office to get a different package - this one with a few cases of Larabars I had ordered. Where we live in South Carolina, they cost nearly twice what they did back in Chicago - and there are only a few flavors available, most of which are not compliant. We got cashew cookie, lemon bar, and (my favorite) coconut cream pie. They taste just like the date coconut rolls I would get from Whole Foods when I was pregnant ... naturally sweet and delicious! Those are going to be a treat, which I have to earn with workouts. Just because I am feeling emotionally stable and not tempted to binge doesn't mean that I am entirely safe, and I want to have measures in place to stay focused and ensure that I am not triggered.

Dinner was chicken fajitas - this time I made them on the stovetop instead of in the crockpot, and they turned out pretty well. I chopped up ingredients and prepped tomorrow night's dinner (apricot chicken). It is all ready in a gallon size freezer bag for Matt to open up and put in the crockpot tomorrow while I am at work. I also cooked up some mushrooms, onions, and ground beef for putting in egg muffins this week. Once it had cooled a bit, I cooked up a batch of the muffins for tomorrow morning.

And speaking of muffins, today when I went to the office kitchen to heat up my lunch, I noticed that someone had made muffins and left them in the office for everyone to try. I know exactly who the culprit is: a sweet man who works down the hall from me who deals with stress by baking and bringing the treats to the office. Last semester, whenever I would find that he baked something, I allowed myself to partake in excess. Today, I am very proud that I did not even consider snitching them - I was not tempted at all.

Matt and I discussed this a lot when we were in Minnesota and afterward: we realized that there was nothing that we could have eaten there that would have been worth restarting the Whole 30 for (even if we weren't already planning to restart because of incidental soy, etc.). If we were going to give up, it certainly wouldn't be for a breadstick here or a frozen custard there.

I think it finally clicked again with us that no food is worth feeling lousy. That just might be the best NSV of all.

January 20, 2014

Whole 30: Days 13-15

The weekend got hectic and I couldn't post anymore ... we were so tired, we crashed hard every night. Lots of running around and getting things ready, seeing folks, and then the party itself ... no fewer than 125 people! We just got home a few hours ago, made our menu, went grocery shopping, and cooked dinner (lemon pepper chicken with cauliflower mash).

Our eating was on point for the entire weekend. I couldn't feel better about my choices - total NSV, to go on a trip and be so mindful of our eating. As anticipated, we went out for pretty much every meal - but luckily, Matt's mom was incredibly supportive and asked us for advice and opinions on places with compliant meal options. Probably the first time ever that I've gone to Olive Garden and didn't order pasta - not to mention complete avoidance of the breadstick basket!

We will weigh ourselves in the morning and see how we did. Even if it's a gain, I know we did everything we could. We stayed as on plan as possible, asking for allergy menus and ingredient lists everywhere we went.

Dairy was easy enough to avoid, and grains were too. It's just amazing, though, how many things have soy in them.

So we talked about it, and we are going to restart our Whole 30 day count. Matt finished reading " It Starts With Food," and the plan requires 100% compliance to be fully effective. It's not just about weight loss, it's about flushing your body of the junk that is in processed food.

We plan on continuing anyway beyond the thirty days, so why not?

Tomorrow is a Day 1 again, and I'm feeling proud. The new Day 1 isn't a defeat. I'm actually super proud of Matt - he stayed compliant alongside me, agreed that we would reset the count when we got back, and *still* stayed on plan. We didn't use it as an excuse. Avoided all the temptations. It was an excellent weekend, food-wise and company-wise and event-wise.