Live Well: DONE With Our Whole 30

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Well friends, I did it - I finished the Whole 30. How do I feel?

I feel a lot of things.

For one, I feel lighter. In 30 days, I lost two pounds, an inch off my waist, and an inch and a half off my hips. I didn't start this diet in order to lose weight, but it's a side effect that I'm not sad about!

I also feel healthier. We initially committed to doing 30 days without sugar, grains, dairy, etc. because we had been eating so terribly. After 30 days of only putting "whole" foods in my body, I must say I feel really great - there hasn't been one time in the past month where I've felt disgustingly full (that used to be a regular occurrence). Also, my stomach hasn't been upset in the longest time and I just feel better. It's hard to explain.

On the whole, I would highly recommend giving this diet a shot if you're looking for a way to break out of bad eating habits. While I know I'll start adding grains and sweets back into my diet (I'm going out for pizza tonight), I will definitely be adding them back in in much lower quantities than I was taking in before (after this weekend, of course - I'm not holding back on ANYTHING while my siblings are in town!). In a weird way, I'm almost sad that the 30 days are over - it really takes about 30 days to feel like you've got the hang of eating healthy!

I will admit, though - we made some alterations to the diet to make it more workable for a lifestyle where we know we're going to be going out to restaurants, hanging out with friends, and just generally not always in control of how our food is prepared. Here are the allowances we made:

Alcohol: I probably had ~6 glasses of red wine over the course of the diet. All of those were consumed in the company of friends. We just couldn't handle being the awkward ones at the table who refused to drink along with the crowd. So instead we took in a moderate amount, and didn't drink at all if it wasn't a social occasion.

Dairy: I had cheese three times because it was in dishes we ordered and hard to avoid. But I really, really tried to stay away from it as best I could because my body and lactose aren't friends, and I thought taking it out of my diet would be a worthwhile experiment.

Oils/Fats/Cooking conditions, etc: To truly stick to the tenets of the Whole 30, you would need to prepare all of your food yourself. You never know what kinds of oils a restaurant is cooking your food in, so it's safer to make your own. We weren't that stringent. Going out to dinner is one of our greatest pleasures, and we weren't willing to give that up. As a result, I'm sure we took in trace amounts of non-ideal cooking oils...but that's a tradeoff we were okay with making.

All of that said, I didn't ONCE in 30 days eat any kind of dessert. I can't tell you how proud I am of that. My love for dessert is definitely my Achilles heel. When I started this diet, I would crave dark chocolate after meals so badly that it seemed like my whole body hurt. That doesn't happen anymore, and I plan on doing what I can going forward to make sure I don't get hooked again.

So what do you think? Are you tempted to try it? Do you have questions I can answer? Let me know! But first, pizza...

Be Well: Sticking to the Plan

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One week down on my new diet (that word really bums me out). How am I doing so far? I think I'd have to give myself a C.

I know, I know - that's not that great. But it's all I deserve. After holding strong through the work week (no carbs! no desserts! no processed foods!) I totally cratered on the weekend. I had two slices of pizza for dinner on Friday night, and followed it up with my dinner party Tex-Mex bonanza on Saturday, which included strawberry margaritas, queso, guacamole, and SO many chips, as well as fajitas, refried beans, and cake. Delicious, delicious cake.

My weekend crater made me realize that when you're restricting what you eat, having a plan is the most important thing you can do to ensure your successes. When I started my diet, I formed simple ground rules for myself: eat meat and vegetables. And some fruit. And that's it. But I didn't decide what my policy was in special circumstances. For example, this dinner party had been planned long before I started the diet. Did that mean I got a pass to eat a few chips or dessert? If so, how much?

The importance of having a plan extends to more than just special circumstances. It also applies to everyday meals. If you haven't decided what you're going to do for dinner before you get hungry, chances are you're going to make a bad decision. That's how hunger works. Case in point - me eating pizza for dinner on Friday night was the result of me not making Friday night dinner plans. Instead of setting myself up for success by determining what I would eat for dinner several hours before dinner rolled around, I waited until 8PM to figure out a plan. When it's late and you don't have groceries in the house, there are very few diet-friendly foods that are available to you. All of a sudden, ordering pizza is an irresistible option.

Here's why having a plan is important: if I haven't decided what my policy is on a given situation, I'm hungry, and I'm faced with something delicious (and totally not diet friendly), nine times out of ten I will cave and eat that delicious item. But if I've planned ahead, then I'm able to stay strong. Dinner party coming up? No worries - I'll allow myself ten chips and half a slice of cake. Done. No Friday dinner plans? I'll decide what I want to eat on my way home from work and make sure I show up at home prepared. Don't let hunger make your decisions for you. Empower your brain to make your decisions. That's a lesson I struggle to learn every day.

However, in the course of a week I lost one pound! And about half an inch off my waist! It's not much, but it's something. And it's enough to help me re-commit to my diet and exercise plan for the upcoming weeks. Here's hoping that next week when I step on the scale and pull out the tape measure I'm even happier.

Have a great Wednesday!

Be Well: Back on Track

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Okay, maybe the title of this post should be "Mostly Back on Track" but hey, I'm going for it.

This week I took a major leap: my husband and I started a paleo-inspired, low-carb diet. I know - I'm not into depravation, and I really like to eat. Trust me, I'm not going cold-turkey - I still have dark chocolate in my pantry and I expect to enjoy a nice dinner out from time to time. But today and for the foreseeable future it's goodbye, processed food, bread, dairy, and dessert and hello meat, vegetables, and more meat.

I knew it was time to take the diet plunge the first time I realized that I was afraid to step on the scale. Like I literally avoided it because I knew I would be so demoralized by the number I saw there. Also, I've spent the last month complaining to my husband that I'm a fatty and then stuffing my face with delicious baked treats, so there's that, too. It was time to put my money where my mouth is, rather than just putting chocolate where my mouth is.

The other motivation behind deciding to do this diet is that I've never actually done a diet before. I mean, I did my paleo eating experiment, but the goal wasn't really to lose weight. This time the goal is to lose weight, and it's really important to me that I prove to myself that I'm capable of being successful. I'm going to weigh myself once a week and I even bought one of those seamstress's tape measures so I can track whether I lose inches off my waist. I realize I'm achieving nerd status with my goals and measurements, but I figure shooting for something specific is a necessary component to a successful diet/exercise plan - otherwise, it can seem like you're going to have to deprive yourself forever. I want to know when I can stop!

Most of all, I want to feel like my healthy, fit self again. For the past couple months I've been overindulging in great meals and underperforming on going to the gym, so I think it's about time I switched the priority of those two pastimes.

I started this little adventure on Monday, so how's it going so far, you ask? Well, it's been really hard. In fact, I'm surprised I managed to make it through Tuesday without caving. I thought Monday was bad (I was seeing mirages of cupcakes in the afternoon, I swear), but then Tuesday morning I woke up at 5:15AM with a migraine-status headache. I had to scrap going to the gym in favor of laying in bed, praying that I wouldn't throw up. Luckily, some medicine cleared the headache up quick, but then my workday was pretty crazy starting at 7:30AM and ending around 7:30PM. I ended up eating lunch at 3:00, and although my stressed-out brain was begging me to go get a cheese sandwich, I somehow forced myself into Chipotle where it's easy to get a no rice, no beans, meat and vegetable extravaganza. Work, stress, and physical pain are three of the major excuses I use to "treat myself" and eat what I want, so I figure if I can stick to my diet plan on a day like yesterday, I can make it through any day. Right?

Right. This is happening, and you guys will hold me accountable. If any of you are hoping to clean up your eating act, let me know - I'm always in favor of the buddy system to keep yourself honest!

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On this day, as on all other days, I turn to books to make it all make sense. Today, the book on my mind is Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. Read it for the tragedy, read it for the good.

Be Well: One Step Forward

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As I told you guys last week, lately I've been struggling to hold myself to fitness standards that used to be second nature to me. That struggle has extended to many parts of my life, most notably my nutritional habits. Since my husband and I generally don't get home from work until a little after 8:00, we often forgo cooking dinner in favor of the lazier option: ordering takeout. So, night after night, we eat pizza and sushi and Chinese food and sometimes top it off with ice cream because the work days are long, you know? And who wants to come home and work for another hour on dinner? But all those order-out meals combined with my struggles getting to the gym have left me feeling heavy, unhealthy, and disappointed. Disappointed in myself, because I know I can do better.

So I've decided to try to make one positive gain per week. This week, my foot forward was chopping vegetables on Sunday night. I know, it sounds trivial. But by investing 15 minutes on Sunday night in chopping our vegetables for the week, I made it possible for us to make homecooked dinners this week. All we have to do is come home from work, throw vegetables and some meat in a pan, and stick it in the oven. It's faster than ordering food. In my mind, that's a win.

I will admit we ignored our already-chopped vegetables last night and ordered a pizza - sometimes bad habits die hard. But tomorrow we'll cook up our vegetables, and that will make it a much healthier week than any week we've had in a long time. And slowly I'll learn not to crave pizza after a long, hard day. I know I will. It just takes time.

Come back next week to learn about my second foot forward! Until then, I would love to hear your secrets for eating healthy during the week.

Have a great Wednesday.