February 1, 2014

Whole 30: Days 11 and 12

I was so tired last night, I fell asleep before blogging. I passed out on the couch, my head on Matt's lap while we watched a show on Netflix. It had been a long day at work, and I was feeling lousy to begin with - a bit of a cold, plus cramps now too. I fought sleep because I knew I needed to go to the gym, but finally, sleep won, and I pushed my workout to today.

Yesterday's food was mostly more of the usual: scrambled eggs for breakfast with mushrooms and olives, leftover cashew chicken for lunch. For dinner, I made turkey burgers - we've been having burgers every Friday night, it feels like a treat. I usually make sweet potato fries but this time we had cucumber instead. I try and mix up what kind of burgers I make - beef, chicken, turkey - and also the spices/ingredients I add to them. We've done avocado filled for me, sweet potato filled for Matt, plain with some cumin and black pepper. This time, I made our own version of a recipe from an old Rachael Ray cookbook Matt had - a spanakopita burger.

I think the original was with lamb, and it definitely had feta. I used turkey, omitted the feta, and added dill - our favorite Greek restaurant in Chicago made the most delicious spanakopita I've ever had, and it had tons of dill. Such a delicious combination.

Today we woke up and headed to the grocery store in the morning - we usually go on Sundays, but we went early today to try and avoid people going shopping for Super Bowl parties. We got in and out fairly quickly, and once again, our bill was lower than the first few weeks of the Whole 30. Now we are better at planning quantities, I think. Just what we need, nothing more or less.

When we got home, I unpacked the groceries and Matt went to the gym. I decided to make chicken salad for lunch, so I whipped up some homemade mayo. Oh. My. Goodness. This time, it came out even better than last time. Like, I will never buy mayo again.

We don't use a ton of mayonnaise, so I never really bought it much anyway. But it just comes together so easily and it tastes infinitely better than anything store-bought. This time, when I mixed it up, I added garlic, basil, and parsley. I also used fresh squeezed juice from a Meyer lemon instead of vinegar, and let me tell you, it made all the difference. SO good.

I mixed a bit of it up with some chopped up chicken thighs, and put it over some mixed greens.

When Matt got back, we switched off on Noah Duty and I headed to the gym. I finished the first week of Couch to 5K, and it felt great. I wanted to keep working out a bit, so I hopped on the stationary bike. i planned on just doing 5 or 10 minutes, but I turned on the TV in the gym and there was a Harry Potter movie on HBO, so I ended up staying on the bike for half an hour!

For dinner, I made another recipe from one of the e-cookbooks I had downloaded, The Everything Paleolithic Diet Slow Cooker Cookbook (yes, it's an incredibly specific title). I did chicken and artichokes, except I also added some fresh spinach to the crockpot. It was another winner!

Even Matt liked it, and before he had been only so-so on artichokes. I think being on the Whole 30 helped that - our tastes are definitely changing. Things taste different, better. Flavors aren't hidden among grains or disguised by being covered in cheese or sugar.

I like that this doesn't feel like a challenge most of the time. I don't miss alcohol at all - we almost never drink. But I don't even miss grains, dairy, or sugar. I know this probably won't last forever, and someday I will feel tempted again, possibly soon. But for now, it feels good, and I'm trying to hold on to the feeling so I can recall it and be as strong as I can when I start to struggle.

January 30, 2014

Whole 30: Day 10

Back to work today, and I made sure to get there extra early in case the roads were worse than we predicted. The only problem was, I forgot to make egg muffins last night, so I just grabbed a Larabar and had that once I got to the office. It was definitely not enough protein to last me all morning! By the time lunch came, I was starving.

Most of my students made it to class today, which was good. We had a lot of material to cover!

After work, I read to Noah and snuggled him a lot. I didn't really get a lot of sleep last night because I was so nervous about getting into an accident on the way to work that I couldn't sleep. All I could think about all day at work was how bad I wanted to get home and spend time with my baby!

I made dinner for Matt and Noah, then headed to the gym for 40 minutes on the stationery bike. I really wasn't feeling it tonight - I definitely got a cold some time yesterday and am feeling stuffy and all-around yuck. I found some Seinfeld reruns and that made the time go pretty quickly.

I had my plate of dinner after I got home. I had made roasted asparagus and this cashew chicken recipe that I found on Pinterest.

OH MY GOODNESS. It was SO good! Like, tasted just like a plate of real Thai food. My sauce came out a bit thinner than the one in the picture on the Pin, but the taste was so good, it didn't matter. This plate was Matt's - I usually cook up four pieces of chicken and give two to Matt, have one myself, and save the last one for Matt's lunch the next day.

With the exception of today's quick breakfast, I'm finding that I am feeling more satisfied with my meals these days. It's a good feeling, to not be so hungry or feel so deprived that food is constantly on my mind.

I almost had a slip-up today. I made sweet potato for Noah for dinner and added some black beans, and out of habit, I went to taste it before I gave it to him. I realized, though, and stopped myself. Something the Whole 30 is making me very aware of is how much tasting and sampling I did before we started. Eat a Cheerio as I give one to Noah, try a bite of his teething cookie before I let him have it. It's a cookie, it's got to taste just fine. No need for me to sample it. It's little bites here and there, but it certainly adds up.

January 29, 2014

Whole 30: Day 9

Not much to report today. It snowed last night for all of 30 minutes, then rained for a long time, so today, all the streets were thick sheets of ice. The main road where we live is a highway, and it was shut down. Just all around not good!

The good news is, I got a lot of work done today. I am putting together a proposal for a culture course to teach in the second half of the semester, since one of my grammar classes was canceled last minute due to low enrollment. A book I had ordered came in the mail, and I sent off the first drafts of my syllabus and course description. It doesn't sound like much, but it was a lot of work, and there's going to be much more once the course gets approved. Right now, I make lesson plans and teach based on the material the entire French faculty has created. Now, I am starting from scratch, coming up with things on my own, choosing my own books and making my own homework and exams. It's a lot like what I did in California, to be honest, except an advanced course and not basic grammar. A lot of work, but I could not be happier. The nerd in me is insanely excited and thrilled about this opportunity.

The better news is, I put on my coat and shoes and braved the elements to walk over to the fitness center today for Week 1, Day 2 of Couch to 5K. The first week is all the same: walk 5 minutes, then alternate 60 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes, then a 5 minute cool down walk. To keep track of the time, I got a C25K app. It was just called "C25K," and it has timers that go off when you need to switch from running to walking and vice versa.

They're also all different colors, so you can visually check, in case you can't hear it.

The treadmills in the fitness center have a great setting that lets you push a number and it automatically goes to that speed, so you can manually program your own interval workouts if you want. I walked at 3 mph (20:00/mile) and ran at 5 mph (12:00 mph). It's slower than my best, but faster than the first time I started running. I know eventually, I'll be back to sub-30 5Ks. Just need to keep running.

While I ran today, I had very vivid flashbacks of running races. The feeling of giving it everything and how good it feels to cross a finish line. I don't know when I will race again, but I think the fire is starting to come back, and stronger than before.

Between the work and the run, I kept myself busy today, and successfully avoided the kitchen cabinets. Breakfast was egg muffins with ground beef, mushrooms, and kalamata olives. Lunch was pulled pork with pineapple and the leftover broccoli slaw from the other night. Dinner was chicken fajitas with apple slices. I struggle with drinking enough water when I am home - at work, I have a fountain right by my office, and am always looking for excuses to get up from my desk. Thinking about setting a "hydration nudge" timer on my phone for weekends and days off, to remind myself.

Some folks were asking about the pulled pork recipe - it was really simple, I just put a pork shoulder into the crockpot and dusted it with ground ginger, then drained two cans of pineapple (make sure it is packed in juice and not syrup!) and added those to the pot. I cooked it for 8 or 10 hours on low (I did it overnight) because it was a pretty big shoulder. Tomorrow is the last container of it, which means I got 9 lunches out of a $12 piece of meat. I will definitely make that again sometime, once the pork goes on sale again - when I got it, it was something like 50 cents off per pound, which makes a big difference in the grocery bill!

January 28, 2014

Whole 30: Day 8

The university where I work canceled school today - actually, they made the call yesterday afternoon, and when they announced it, it was almost 60º outside. We're expecting snow, and since it only really snows every few years, I guess they want to play it safe. It's late evening now, and so far, it has only rained today - and they've already made the call to cancel school tomorrow.

From the teacher's side of things, this is tough - it's not like high school, they won't just add days at the end of the year to make up for the days off. The kids are still responsible for the material we would have discussed today and tomorrow. I'll do a quick review of it before we start up again Thursday (providing that they let us go back then!), but we have to keep going if we're going to cover everything before our pre-scheduled exam. It's crazy. Luckily, the information they'll need to cover at home isn't anything profoundly difficult - if they managed learning numbers 0-100 last semester, I think they can handle teaching themselves numbers 101 and higher.

The only reason why I was glad there was no school today was because Noah was up late last night - he woke up around 10:30 and screamed if I tried to put him down. I tried letting him "cry it out," but after 30 minutes of non-stop screaming at 2 a.m., I gave in, and got him out. A second cup of water and a snack, then a snuggle, and that finally did the trick. He fell asleep a little after 3 a.m., and I passed out shortly after. To have to wake up 4 hours later and go to work? That would have been rough.

I was nervous about today. I do well with my eating plan during the week because I have work and that's a good distraction. When I am home, though, I tend to snack too much, even when I am not hungry. I made egg muffins for breakfast (mushroom and olive for me, spinach and basil for Matt), then picked up the house a little before having some more of the pulled pork with pineapple for lunch (this is day ... what, 7 in a row? still not sick of it, it's so good!).

Some of our friends who also work at the university came over, and we hosted a board game party all afternoon. We played Buzzword, Apples to Apples, and Trivial Pursuit for hours. It was great fun, and it kept our minds off of food. I made some baked apple chips for everyone, which were good but still need perfecting - this were a bit too toasty, though no one complained and they all disappeared. Once I perfect the recipe, I will share it here.

Before everyone arrived, I put dinner in the crockpot - tomato olive chicken again. Last time I did it on the stovetop, but I think it was even better in the crockpot. I diced half an onion and tossed it into the crockpot with some basil and parsley. I added half a jar of chopped kalamata olives and some no salt added diced tomatoes, then mixed it all up. I added a few chicken thighs, then cooked it on low for 5 1/2 hours (I usually do high for 4 hours, but knew we were having company and so I just timed it differently, to finish once they were about ready to leave). It turned out great!

I served it over a bed of fresh baby spinach. So good! I love chicken thighs in the crockpot, they always come out so moist and flavorful.

I hope I can post again tomorrow. The weather is supposedly going to be worse than it has been here in a very long time, so the likelihood of us losing power is pretty high. If not, I'll catch up later, and promise I will be staying on plan and staying out of the kitchen between meals.

What about you? How is the weather where you are? What are some ideas for not snacking excessively when you're stuck at home due to weather?

January 27, 2014

Whole 30: Day 7

Today, in lieu of pictures, I suppose I have a story to tell. It's about my shoes. Long time readers may recall a somewhat similar story about my iPod, from when I was just a few months into my weight loss journey. Again, an example of history not quite repeating itself, but rhyming.

I'm here to admit that I've been wearing the same sneakers for several years now. I bought them in January 2012, a present to myself after finishing my first half marathon. My first pair of running shoes had lasted me for hundreds of miles, but now, I was ready for something new.

I took them out for their first run and delighted in how different the extra support felt. It was a little thing, a simple thing, and yet it renewed my passion for running entirely. I ran races in California and Chicago while wearing them. I ran across the Golden Gate Bridge with them on my feet. I registered for the Chicago Marathon and then laced them up and hit the pavement for the first of hundreds of upcoming miles.

And then I moved. And then my promised job fell through. And then came the positive pregnancy test.

I kept running, until I was about 12 weeks pregnant. It was too much. I rarely felt queasy, but running definitely was a trigger. I slowed down incredibly, and still, nausea. Finally, one day while running with Matt, I urged him to keep going while I hurried over to get sick into a trash can in a local park.

That was September 2012. That was the last time I ran.

I had moved back to Chicago for a number of reasons, mainly dealing with relationships in both locations. I justified the move with the job - even if things didn't work out, I'd land on my feet. When that fell apart, I spent nearly five months unemployed. My savings started to dry up. And my regular sneakers needed replacing.

It made sense at the time. I need sneakers - here is a pair I don't wear anymore. At first, they were interim shoes, but then I got hired working retail and found myself at a loss for free time, and earning a fraction of what I had made in California. So, the running shoes took over.

Anyone who has ever owned a pair of running shoes might recognize the first problems with this. The shape is different. They support a little differently, understandably since running stresses the body differently than walking or other simple tasks. And - they're full of holes. The material is exceptionally breathable, to accommodate the anticipated sweating during a run.

Perfect for running. Not quite so perfect for winter in Chicago.

And as I wore them more, the holes on top expanded and the material grew looser. Finally, there were two good sized holes, right on top.

And I kept wearing them.

And I had my baby. And I got a good job again. And we moved almost one thousand miles away.

And I kept wearing them.

A week or so ago, I sat down with myself and honestly thought about it. I have absolutely no excuse for this. A new pair of sneakers isn't prohibitively expensive. It means a few cutbacks here and there, but we'll survive.

A week or so ago, these arrived on our doorstep.

The new model of the older shoe, free of holes and treads not yet worn down by pounding out hundreds of miles of emotions.

I wore them today for the first time. On the treadmill, as I completed Week 1, Day 1 of the Couch to 5K training program. A little over three years ago, I finished C25K for the first time. It doesn't make this attempt any less valid, or any less important. Whether it's a step forward, to the side, backward, or if I just stand still for a while - every step I take in these shoes, like every step on my journey, is relevant and crucial and valuable.

January 26, 2014

Whole 30: Day 6

I have been using an e-reader app called Oyster for a few weeks now. It's okay - they tout it as "the Netflix of books," which I guess is to say that the selection currently available is only so-so but in a few years, once they start to acquire more rights to better stuff, it will be a decent app. I canceled my membership before the free trial was over, but I still have a week or so to read the books I picked out before my access is denied. I'm mostly done with a really interesting book about bees. The rest of my library on there right now is paleo cookbooks.

Breakfast today was from one of them. It was a breakfast "burrito," except instead of a tortilla, you cook an egg white so that it is tortilla-like and wrappable.

So, basically, an omelette with a less fancy name.

It needs some tweaking, but it's definitely something I'd attempt again. Next time, I need to use a better pan. Matt's egg whites turned out okay - his are pictured above, but mine were screwed up so badly that I couldn't even pretend to burrito them, I just had a pile of egg whites and some filling. The filling was really good - some ground turkey cooked up with leftover onions, peppers, and tomato sauce from last week's fajitas.

We went to the grocery store in the morning and shopped for the week. We're getting better about reducing our bill - after the first two weeks, it's been considerably less. Needing to get things like olive oil and stocking our spice rack helped make for a few high grocery bills. We've also been getting better about realizing how much meat we need to buy, and about sticking to the list with produce - a few weeks ago, we bought some produce that looked good but since it hadn't been in the menu, we forgot about it, and it went bad. Reducing wasted food (and therefore wasted money) has been successful.

For lunch, we had leftover chicken and broccoli from last night. I wish there had been more of the broccoli, I liked it almost better than the meat, and could've made a whole meal of just that. There was still some chicken left over after lunch, so I bagged it up and froze it. I've been trying to do that - put aside portions of meals here and there. Matt mostly has the previous night's leftovers for lunch, so I think having a stash will help mix it up a bit once in a while.

Right after lunch, I made some coleslaw to go with dinner - I wanted to make it in advance so the flavors could soak in a bit. I used broccoli slaw, and instead of a creamy dressing, I puréed avocado and then tossed it all together with a little lime and garlic.

The lime was to keep the avocado from browning, and it worked, but when we ate it with dinner, the taste was really strong. Next time I will add half as much.

Dinner was simple today, just the slaw with some chicken breasts I filleted and sprinkled with black pepper. 

The slaw didn't brown at all - the difference in pictures is just the lighting, I swear. Matt wasn't crazy about the slaw at first - he isn't a huge fan of avocado, so I keep trying it different ways to see if he'll start to like it.

But I honestly think that wincing was a reaction to the tartness of the lime more than the texture of the avocado. After a few more bites, he said that it wasn't "that bad," and he finished what I'd put on his plate. Good, because there's more for his lunch tomorrow!

I didn't make it to the gym today. I was going to go in the evening, but ended up chatting with my cousin for quite a while. I don't feel guilty at all, though - talking to her makes me feel emotionally healthy, and that absolutely counts.

In the afternoon, Noah helped me work on a project - by which I mean, he held pieces of construction paper before I cut them up and labeled them. It's a countdown of every pound I have left to lose until I am no longer obese.

It kills me how big the pile is. How close I used to be. How much of it I am re-losing for the second, third, fourth, hundredth time. I know it's useless to dwell on it, but still, this was a tough exercise emotionally, even if it will be therapeutic as I destroy each piece of paper when I lose that pound.

I  taped them to my closet door, and put stars next to some of the numbers - 245 (my 100 pound loss), 210 (the weight I was the day I found out I was pregnant), 199 (finally back in onederland), and 188 (my lowest adult weight).

I made one for Matt too, which I taped into his closet.

I love having his support, though I hate how I felt when I saw the doors like this.

Jealous, that he is closer to his goal. Self conscious, that I weigh so much more than my husband. Upset, that I let myself go so badly that I have to work this all off again. And worried, nervous, anxious, already thinking about what happens when I run out of papers to tear off, what happens when I need to maintain again.

I have a long way ahead of me, and this visual is tough to see right now. But I know that as the pieces disappear, I will start to feel healthier and happier, and while I work them off, I will be developing a plan for once they're gone. When the time comes, I will be ready.