Tag Archives: shit got real

I Swear I’m Not Crying – Now Give Me a Brownie (Whole30 During a Crisis)

Food is deeply personal and emotional.

I’ve heard a variation of that sentiment no less than a hundred times as I’ve gone through Whole30. It’s been a frequent source of annoyance to me. Every phrase that accompanies the idea is an cliche that insinuates that humans aren’t capable of making conscious decisions: “Eating ice cream right out of the carton when you’re upset” or “Pouring a drink after a long day at work” and “Eating the whole pan of brownies all by yourself”. Been there, heard that. Shut up. My food does not control me.

Unbeknownst to me, the correlation between food and emotion was going to get extremely intense for both Tim and myself during Whole30 -and for reasons we never would have predicted. But a scary admittance to the hospital by my father-in-law for a heart attack (and subsequently a major but successful coronary bypass graft surgery) will do that to you. Nope, we really didn’t see that coming.

A large part of grief and coping is finding comfort. As it turns out, comfort tends to be best buddies with familiarity and routines. A favorite pair of sweatpants, your husbands T-shirt, a cozy blanket, and (of course) food. I’ll level with you: there’s just nothing reassuring about a salad. Or LaCroix. Or roasted beets (particularly when you’re brand new to roasted beets). Even in the dead of summer, I’ve been finding myself wanting lasagna or chicken noodle soup or some extra cheesy pizza; foods that remind me of family and memories and safety. And difficult times really do make you want a drink. Just a little something to take off the edge, help you relax or give your mind a break. Whole30 foods by design do not offer these comforts.

We seriously considered quitting- if only for a matter of convenience. Who the hell wants to grill up some salmon and asparagus when you get home from the hospital? Not me. Making a Whole30 approved meal from the hospital cafeteria was close to impossible. And no snacking while waiting for a 5 hours surgery? Not exactly ideal. And don’t even get me started on vending machines. Besides, who really cares about food at a time like that?

But the more we thought about it, the more we realized that Whole30 was probably more of a benefit during a difficult time than a hindrance.

We couldn’t rely on food or drinks (drinks in particular) to help us process complicated emotions. Trust me, we wanted to. But instead of a scotch and some wine, we had a good hug and a cry or two. A major part of Whole30 is breaking emotional food cycles and habits- this was a huge test of that willpower. We passed!

We didn’t sit around eating junk just because it was convenient. This would have been so easy at the hospital. I would have had a minimum of two cookies and a bag of chips on surgery day alone if I would have been able to. There’s no way that would have helped the situation.

We neither overate or forgot to ate due to emotions and stress. Food isn’t usually the first thing on your mind when you’re worried or upset. But Whole30 made sure we ate (and ate something healthy) and stopped me from eating my emotions at the same time.

And finally, there’s nothing like a scary health incident to make you realize that you want to live as healthy as possible for as long as you can. There are so many health-related things in our lives we can’t control. Often we’re at the hands of biology, genetics, accidents, etc. But we can control what we eat and how we treat ourselves. Someday that could be the difference between a trip to the hospital or a trip to Italy. Or decades of trips to the pharmacy vs decades med-free. If I can do my part to help my health and my future, then I have to do it.

It reminds me a bit of a (controversial) quote from It Starts With Food:

“It is NOT hard. Please don’t tell us this program is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.”

I thought that was a totally jerky comment when I first read it. But now I know that’s very, very true. Whole30 isn’t easy, but it’s a hell of a lot easier than most real life scenarios. And it might just help you through one someday.



Damnit, Peas (Apparently We Cheated)

First time here? Learn about Whole30 by starting with this post.

Peas. I don’t even really care for peas. They’re fine at best- when and if I even notice them at all. You can imagine my frustration when I discover that this stupid little green vegetable made me cheat on my Whole30.

It seemed like such an innocent evening. Tim made delicious salmon, I captained broccoli slaw with guacamole and fresh fruit. But we needed more veggies so I popped open the freezer, poured some peas in a dish and called it a night. But wait… PEAS ARE A  FREAKING LEGUME, not a bonus veggie! This was a fact that we both failed to recognize until
I was laying in bed last night wondering where in the world a terrible headache came from. Wtf, peas and your legume sneakiness?!

I can’t believe I’ve been brought down by PEAS. If I was going to cheat it would have been on one of the following: A glass of Silver Oak, a black velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting, a Matts’ Jucy Lucy or maybe even some ice cream from Sebastian Joes. But peas? No, I will NOT “give peas a chance.”

After some agonizing, I’ve decided that I’m not starting my Whole30 over just because of some accidental peas. Because it was just that- totally accidental. We’ve been doing fantastic and I’ve been keeping us as strict as I can manage for the past 17 days. I’m not throwing that out the window now. And honestly, I’m glad this happened. Why? Because now I can confirm that Whole30 is working.

I essentially had a mini introduction experience with legumes yesterday after The Pea Incident. My energy level today was soaring- especially for a Monday- but I was having some symptoms that I couldn’t quite explain:

  • Headache, round 1. This started around 3 and continued up until I started my fitness class after work. I chalked it up to it just being a Monday.
  • Bloating. I’ve been bloat free since about day five… So what gives today?!
  • Anxiety. My physical anxiety symptoms have been super under control since starting Whole30, but today that all-too-familiar sore neck, stiff back started up.
  • Headache, round 2 as I was laying in bed and then BAM! I remembered the peas.

Sure, this could all be coincidental and not related to the peas. But that would be a very, very lucky coincidence. Particularly that my research is showing that many people react to the reintroduction of legumes with (guess what) headaches, bloating/digestive discomfort and anxiety! This is incredible to me– my own little bodily science experiment. This is proving to me that these 30 days will be worth it and can really help me make sustainable, effective changes for my future. It will be really interesting to see if these same symptoms occur when I officially reintroduce legumes after Whole30.

So, there it is. Maybe I’m a cheater. And maybe some will think I’m not dedicated for not starting over. But I’m way too proud of how far we’ve come to call it quits now.

Staying Strong (What It’s Like to Almost Quit a Whole30)

First time here? Start with this post to get caught up on what Whole30 is and why I’m blogging about it.

Almost Quitting Whole30 on Day Nine: A Timeline

6:00am – Alarms goes off. Even though you’ve been sleeping great and bolting out of bed every morning, today is not one of those days. SNOOZE ME!

6:30am – Okay fine, you’ll get up. You wonder what’s for breakfast. You hear your partner cooking and wistfully pray for pancakes. (Sidebar: You don’t even really LIKE pancakes.)

6:35am – Scrambled eggs with greens? What is this shit? Sure, it was fine on day four but today you’re convinced no humans should be eating chard first thing in the morning. Or ever. And why does this coffee taste like pee? Can you just get some damn creamer already? Or better yet, a hazelnut latte?

8:15am – You finally roll into work and immediately realize you forgot to bring the delicious lunch you spent 25 minutes packing last night. You try not to lose your cool. There’s got to be something at the work caf you can eat.

9:45am – How is it not lunch time yet?! I have to wait another two hours before I can eat again?

11:20am – Close enough- you head down to the cafeteria because you actually feel a little shaky. You walk up to the grill station and order a salmon filet, no bun. The cook asks if you want teriyaki on that. You do- oh god you really do- but you say no thanks.

11:25am – Waiting has made you crabby because you’ve been staring at all the food you can’t eat while trying to keep yourself from falling over. This must be what withdrawal feels like. You make your way over to the salad bar like the good Whole30-er you are. Spinach, bell pepper, hard-boiled egg, chives, carrots, radishes… you load on up. You skip your used-to-be-favorite avocado cream dressing and splash on some balsamic & olive oil instead. You also ignore the case of breadsticks and cornbread muffins, even though there’s a jalapenio one today that you really enjoy. You pay almost $10 for your stupid huge salad and practically sprint back upstairs to eat before you make a regrettable decision.

11:30am-noon – You eat your salad, hating every single moment of it. It tastes like nothing. Plain, unseasoned salmon might as well just be heavy air. “Just. eat. the. damn. salad.” you say to yourself repeatedly. You do, all while unfairly hating your coworkers who are eating their dreamy, grain-filled lunches around you. You know you’re being unreasonable but you can’t seem to control it.

2:00pm – You realize you forgot to incorporate fat at lunch and now you are HANGRY. You make a quick trip to Target for some emergency reinforcements to keep at work: coconut Lara bars, macadamia nuts, a package of blueberries and some Applegate lunch meat. You seriously consider that bag of Pirate’s Booty, but eventually escape unscathed.

2:10pm – Sorry, no snacking rule. It’s either these blueberries or you’re going to go buy the biggest chocolate cupcake you can find. You eat a handful without any guilt and think you’ll be fine.

 4:15pm – On the bus home you’re a big ol’ hormonal (or something) mess. All you can think about is making a plate of pasta. Ordering a pizza. Finding some crusty bread. Chipotle with rice, and not even the brown kind. Oooooh maybe some goat cheese! Brie and crackers? Did someone say brownie? No, must resist.

5:30pm – Your partner asks what you want for dinner. You try not to break down into tears because YOU JUST WANT TO QUIT. Nothing sounds good. You can’t really remember why you’re doing this anymore. You’ve lived this long on all the foods you love and you’re still alive! Why bother?

5:40pm – Your partner tells you to go sit down and watch an episode of Friends or something. anything, to get you to CTFO. He’ll take care of dinner tonight- just get out of the damn kitchen. You’re grateful and secretly hope that “cooking” is code for “ordering pizza”. (Spoiler alert: it isn’t.)

6:15pm – Your partner presents you with one of the most delicious Whole30 dinners ever, and you’re so grateful that you aren’t doing this alone. You thoroughly enjoy dinner and naively think the worst is over.

8:00pm – You’re midway through an intense scene in The Americans but you can’t focus. If you don’t eat something sweet immediately you just might die. You’d prefer some of the gelato that’s still hidden in a Target bag in the back of your freezer, but even a little square of Dove chocolate will do. But you know most cravings only last 3-5 minutes, so you can get through this one.

8:25pm – Are you crazy, or has this craving gotten STRONGER? This is it, you’re going to break. As soon as your partner gets up to go to the bathroom you’re going to bolt out the door and make for the nearest Dairy Queen. What’s the biggest size Blizzards they’re making these days? Maybe you should also get one of those individual ice cream cakes. Oh yeah. It’s happening.

8:35pm – You seriously consider making your exit. Instead you wander to the kitchen, open the fridge and stare- an old snacking habit. You have an epiphany. You grab the tub of almond butter along with a handful of strawberries and blueberries. All three go in a little dish and get stirred together.

8:40pm – You’re back on the couch. Sure, you have a snack (technically illegal) but YOU DIDN’T LEAVE THE HOUSE! You didn’t open the contraband freezer bag! Sure, you’re snacking and technically this fruit is feeding your sugar addiction… but you have defeated the quitting urge! And actually, this snack is freaking delicious. Partner decides he must have some as well. You contemplate making a second for yourself but are able to resist.

9:15pm – You decide you should get in bed before your Sugar Dragon rears her ugly head again. The thought of a Whole30 breakfast the next morning makes you gag, but for tonight you’re done thinking about it.

9:20pm – You lay in bed and mentally give yourself a little pat on the back. You made it. You didn’t quit. And if you can make it through today, you can make it through tomorrow. Day by day, young grasshopper. Day by day.

Whole30-Saving Links

Do you REALLY want to quit? – Imperative info about days 10-11 from the Whole30 team

 Support resources – Whole30 advice and places to turn on the hard days

Haters Gonna Hate (Whole30 Criticisms)

New? Check out this post to get caught up on what Whole30 is and why I’m blogging about it.

I get it. The Whole30 seems kind of crazy. It feels extreme, it looks very limiting, and it just doesn’t make a ton of sense from the outside. I’m here to tell you that I know exactly what you’re thinking. No, I’m not blindly following Whole30 and drinking the Kool Aid (because I can’t have any damn Kool Aid) without giving it any critical thought.

Tim and I have been incredibly lucky that our family, friends and coworkers have been supportive (and even cheerleaders) of our Whole30 experiment. But its not like that for everyone. I’ve been doing my research and compiled some of the main arguments against Whole30/Paleo/Whole9 along with my responses. These are my personal opinions and thoughts- all of which are subject to change as I move through the program.

1) Whole30 is a fad diet, just like Adkins or Southbeach or any other number of weight loss programs. It’s just a moneymaker for the owners.

I understand where this comes from. There’s been a lot of press lately about Whole30 as the “new hot diet trend” sweeping Hollywood, Instagram, etc (here’s one of the articles). To me, this comes from journalists who aren’t doing their research. If you spend any time at all on the Whole30 website or with It Starts With Food, you’ll immediately see that weight loss is not, and should not be, the main motivation for doing the Whole30. Yes, most people who do Whole30 lose some weight. But there’s no scales, no counting calories (I’m looking at you, MyFitnessPal) and no huge weight loss promises. I’m not buying Whole30 brand foods, endorsed products, supplements, attending hosted meetings or paying per pound I lose. The Whole30 program is totally free – you don’t have to buy It Starts With Food to do it. Yes, blog traffic probably equals money for Dallas and Melissa… but we all have to make a living somehow. It’s about giving yourself a nutritional reset, not melting fat. (But how could it be a surprise to ANYONE that eating healthy food= weight loss?)

2) The idea of basing your diet on what cavemen did is ridiculous. We’ve evolved since then and our bodies are able to handle modern foods. What, should I not use a cell phone because the cavemen didn’t use them either?

This is my favorite argument – because I used to say it ALL THE TIME. I’m a total hypocrite -I think I even said this just weeks before starting Whole30. This was my mantra every time someone even whispered the word Paleo in conversation. Turns out, I was just really, really ignorant. (Also, Whole30 is slightly different/more hardcore than Paleo, but let’s roll with this.) In my opinion, Paleo could use a new mascot. No one is saying that we should do as the caveman did, not really. The very best way I’ve seen to describe Paleo can be found on Nom Nom Paleo, in her post called Paleo 101. I highly encourage you to take a peek. She even has it in a cute little cartoon form. This should clear up all that caveman confusion.

3) Our bodies need the nutrients from legumes, dairy and grains. You’re not getting adequate nutrition.

To this I say… read the book! There’s a lot of science behind this topic that’s incredibly enlightening. In short: while these foods are sources for nutrients like protein, fiber and calcium, there are other ways to get these nutrients. And in reality, the human body is really bad at extracting nutrients from the previously mentioned types of food. It’s much more efficient and lower risk to stick to veggies, fruits, healthy fats and meat/eggs.

4) You’re starving yourself. There’s no way this is sustainable.

First off, if you’re starving yourself then you aren’t doing it right. There is really no limit to how much food you can consume on Whole30 but rather which foods you can consume. If you’re constantly hungry you need to adjust your meals. This has happened to me a time or two and I’ve learned that I need to eat more than I initially thought I did. I’m also eating high calorie fats with my veggie/protein intake such as avocado, nut butters, nuts and oils. And if I work out I eat five times per day instead of three. No one here is starving- not one bit.

To the second point: Whole30 isn’t MEANT to be sustainable. It’s a 30 day reset. A “cleanse”, if you must. When Whole30 is done you start to look toward your future and consider how to use these principles and learnings to find your optimal lifestyle. I don’t know what mine will be yet, but I do know I won’t be living 100% Whole30 forever.

5) This entire program is made up! The rules are arbitrary! (See main blog image that’s been blowing up on Twitter lately)

True! And the Whole30 program is totally transparent about this. There are some “yes” and “no” foods that make no sense and seem inconsistent. Such as: yes to white potatoes and no to corn (aren’t they both whole foods that are starch?!), no alcohol even in cooking, sugar from fruit is okay even thought other sweeteners are not, etc. Weirdly… this doesn’t bother me. Nothing in the world is entirely black and white, but you have to make some calls and draw lines somewhere. There’s a million foods and a million arguments for whether things should be included or shouldn’t be. To me, the important is how these pieces come together to make a whole. So while I don’t agree on every tiny detail of this program, I do believe in the overall idea. Whole foods = better health. It’s hard for me to find issue in that statement. And that’s really what it’s all about.

There’s a million additional arguments and issues floating around out there as regards to the Whole30 or the idea of “elimination diets”. But here’s what it boils down to, in my opinion:

  • It’s easy to attack something you don’t understand.
  • It’s convenient to attack something that you don’t like, or that intimidates you.
  • It’s easier to dismiss something than it is to actually try it.

And most importantly….


Click Me

Paleo 101 – Everything you need to know! In cartoon form!

Are You Sure I Can’t Have Beer? (First Whole30 Weekend)

This was the first full weekend on Whole30, and spoiler alert: WEEKENDS ARE REALLY, REALLY DIFFICULT. But first, let’s start with the food high points.

I generally like a low-key Friday night. It usually means take out, a movie (or binge watching Orphan Black or the Americans) and a couple of beers or some wine. It’s laid back, it’s easy, and I can wear stretchy pants. All very important.

This Friday night Tim and I decided to keep our routine without the takeout or drinks. Seemed like a great opportunity to tackle our first-ever homemade red Thai curry! Curry is super great for Whole30 because it covers all your meal components in one pot: protein from the meat (chicken in this case), fat from the coconut milk and it’s full of great veggies (sweet potato, snap peas, bok choy and red bell pepper). It was also pretty easy. The hardest and most time-consuming part is just chopping the veggies.

We even made some cauliflower rice to go with it a the recommendation of a good friend. I was intrigued but skeptical – but it really did end up being a pretty good rice replacement. I think I could eventually get used to it. And it was very, very quick and easy. Just stick the cauliflower in a food processor for 30 seconds then microwave for 3 minutes. That’s it! (Here’s the “recipe” if you need something official: Cauliflower Rice by Cavegirl Court)

The finished product! (Again, I’m clearly not a food photographer.)

M3 Curry 7/18/14

You thought that was a plate of RICE, didn’t you?! Cauliflower to the rescue!

Verdict: This was almost what I wanted it to be. It looked/smelled great, the veggies were perfectly cooked… but it felt like it was missing something. That depth of flavor that I was sure would come through with the mix of the paste and coconut milk was missing (even though we used two cans of milk). After a lot of research, it appears that we should have used a better brand of red Thai chili paste – the one we have is known to be too sour. I will definitely be trying this again so I can perfect it! And it didn’t stop us from eating the whole bowl and the leftovers the next day.

Recipe here: Red Thai Curry Chicken by Eat Live Run

I also have to share our Saturday breakfast. It was so. damn. good. In the words of my husband, “Bobby Flay himself would have made this shit! The only difference is he would have drizzled it with Bobby Flay brand oils.” My husband knows I LOVE me some Bobby Flay. But really, this was OUTSTANDING.

Tim cooked up some high-quality, natural pork breakfast sausage (from a package like hamburger in the fresh meat section, not the stuff in a tube) with chopped bell peppers and jalapeños  He then seasoned it with our new favorite McCormick’s Chipotle Grill Seasoning and topped it off with sunny side up eggs and avocado. I’m freaking out over it right now and plan to eat this as often as humanly possible!

2014-07-19 10.00.52

Now, on to where shit gets real: being social on the weekend. Or how it actually plays out during Whole30- being at a social event on the weekend and acting as the odd-men out. The weirdos. The misfits. Who are slightly tired and cranky and could use a nap.

Our niece, Little BH, turns “two birthdays!” this week and had her party on Saturday. The little munchkin had the best birthday party ever: backyard playtime, walking tacos, a Minnie Mouse cake (see below, omg) and a tour of the fire station! As you can tell from the main photo, it was fun for all ages… I may have geeked out a bit during the fire station part. But in reality, both Tim and I agreed that we didn’t feel quite like our social, happy selves the whole night.

This was also the first time that Whole30 was straight-up, no-sugar-coating-it difficult. It is SO engrained in me (and I’m guess most of us) to snack and munch at a party. It sucked not to be snacking with everyone else, not partake in walking tacos and we had to skip out on cake. I mean LOOK AT THIS CAKE! Torture? Maybe.

It was chocolate inside... just to rub salt in the wound :)

We improvised for dinner by making lettuce cups full of taco meat, tomatoes, guac and salsa. We also pretty much cleaned out the veggie and fruit trays. It was fine… but tacos are MEANT To have cheese. And sour cream. And some chips. Argh.

But in truth, the hardest part is passing on the alcohol. I’m not even embarrassed to say it. Drinking is social, craft beer is delicious, and it sucked to be sitting there with a stupid La Croix instead. Tim tried his very hardest to make the case for organic vodka (well, if white potatoes are allowed, and vodka is a product of potatoes…) but it’s obviously all a no-go.

This weekend made me realize a couple of things:

  1. Screw what the book says, this IS hard. And it’s okay to feel that way.
  2. I’m even more determined to stick with it and prove that I can do this, regardless of how difficult and frustrating it can be.
  3. We’re over 1/4 done!!!!

Energy Level: Pretty high during the day, tapers around 5pm and I’m practically worthless at that point. But during the day I am super productive.
Mood: There’s some swings happening here. Crankiness right before mealtime.
Physical Changes: The sleep improvements continue! And I may be starting to drop some weight. Hard to say for sure since scales are against the rules.

Linky Dinks

Nom Nom Paleo – One of my favorite recipe blogs. Today I downloaded the iPad app for $5.99 –  way more than I usually spend on an app (thank you bday giftcard!) – but I think it’ll be worth it.