Live Well: DONE With Our Whole 30

graphic via betterbelievefit.com

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...

Live Well: Recipe for the Perfect Weekend

You know, just the view of the bay from our neighborhood.

I have to admit - although the past few weekends have been enjoyable, something about them has been a bit lackluster. Part of the problem has been cold weather, part has been residual workweek exhaustion and worries, and part has been our Whole30.

Because our diet is pretty limited right now, I've been hesitant to make plans with friends. I mean, no one likes to hang out the weirdo at a small dinner party who awkwardly and nervously avoids bread, pasta, and cheese at every turn. When you don't eat those things but your friends do while in your presence, they almost always feel like you're judging them, even when you're not.

But this past weekend we were blessed with a trifecta - the weather was beautiful, I didn't have any work stuff hanging heavy on me, and I put extra effort into making plans with friends (by scoping out restaurant menus beforehand). Here's my recipe for the perfect weekend:

1. Get off of work before 6PM on Friday.

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2. Enjoy a long dinner with one of your oldest friends and his wife at a great restaurant.

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3. Wake up the next morning and get a great workout. Note - I am usually NOT a selfie person, but after Saturday's CrossFit workout I felt compelled to document just how sweaty and red I was looking. For those of you who are interesting in this kind of thing, this is what we did:

Warm-up: 5x5 squats @ 75%

Workout: In groups of three, complete

Run 800 meters

150 thrusters

150 calories rowing

150 burpees

Run 800 meters

= death

4. Have your husband cook you a delicious brunch

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5. Take a long walk around your beautiful neighborhood. (Unfortunately, that is not my husband and me laying on the grass. I agree, it would be a lot cooler if it was.)

6. Get dressed up for dinner, only to forget your memory card, making the camera you carted to dinner with you totally useless. (Don't worry, you know me - I'll just re-wear that outfit this week.)

7. Go to a delicious early dinner with friends (who were lovely and accommodating of our weird diet when we discovered that everything is served family-style).

8. Go see niche artsy films like you used to in college. (We saw Locke. Not unexpectedly, we loved it.)

9. Wake up and take your poor body that endured that CrossFit class to yoga.

10. Eat a delicious brunch at Kitchen Story. (Seriously - so good. And the wait for two people at noon on a Sunday was only 20 minutes! Unheard of by San Francisco standards.)

11. Take an afternoon nap.

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12.  Make totally delicious, totally easy, totally Whole30-compliant tuna and avocado lettuce wraps for Sunday dinner.

13. Close out your Sunday by watching Mad Men. (I'm still devastated that we're only getting seven episodes this year.)

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I hope everyone had a similarly spectacular weekend. I'm also pretty excited about the upcoming week - for the first time in a LONG time, I will not be flying anywhere - woohoo!

Enjoy your Monday - I'll see you back here tomorrow.

Eat Well: Elimination // Whole30

Image via wholeliving.com

I've been going back and forth on whether or not to tell y'all about this.

On Monday, my husband and I started the Whole30, an increasingly popular diet. Well, the founders of the Whole30 would probably resist the moniker "diet" - it's more about cutting "bad" foods out of your life and only eating naturally occurring things. But you get the point.

To be honest, as far as "diets" go, the Whole30 is up my alley. I've never been able to stick to a diet where you count calories and measure your portions with the end goal of losing weight. What I have done are "elimination diets" - I've given up all dessert for Lent, I've given up gluten for a month, I've given up eating out for a month, etc. I thought I was unique in this, but apparently it's a thing.

In the Whole30, you cut entire food groups out of your diet (desserts, grains, white potatoes, soy, etc.) and can eat as much meat and vegetables as you want which is great because 1) portion control is not my thing but 2) there's only so much meat, vegetables, and fruit you can eat before you're stuffed.

I'll be honest - I was hesitating to tell you guys about this eating experiment because I wanted to avoid accountability on all fronts. Generally when I've tried stuff like this in the past I haven't done a great job - and I'd rather fail in private than fail in public. However, I spent the past two days on a business trip in Wisconsin and somehow managed to stick to the tenets of the plan. You really don't realize how carb-y American food is until you try to buy dinner in an airport. Nonetheless, the fact that I made it through two crazy, travel-filled days means I can easily take on another 27 days at home! And I want you guys to keep me honest. So that's the deal.

Also, please note that this diet did not keep me from pinning about a million Oreo brownie recipes on Pinterest last night. My body may be in the process of giving up sugar, but my mind is still addicted.

Also, the Whole30 website appears to be down, so I can't link to it right now - you should definitely Google it yourself, though!

Be Well: On Giving It Up

girl eating cakeI had a conversation yesterday with some friends about extreme measures that people go to to effect change in their lives, particularly in dieting.  Extreme diet examples are practically never ending, and include going all-out, no-cheat-day paleo, subsisting entirely on liquids, or going vegan. To the vast majority of people, these things are crazy, and rightfully so - switching over to them can interrupt your life in profound ways, in ways that might make you less happy than you were before. Then why do we often feel like the only way to get to be the most awesome version of ourselves is to follow those plans? Why must we give things up entirely, no buts, in order to feel like we're doing the "right" thing?

Don't get me wrong, I think that there are plenty of instances where giving things up entirely is completely appropriate. For instance, I see absolutely no reason for the consumption of soft drinks, and honestly believe that no one should drink them. To me, they are a giant source of empty calories (and chemicals), and should be avoided entirely. But some people love them, and absolutely do not want to give them up, and I get that (to a certain extent). Many people feel the same way about alcohol as I do about soft drinks, and I get that too, even if I don't practice it myself. I feel similarly about certain aspects of the Whole 30 diet - while the amount of stuff you have to give up for 30 days is extreme, it's only 30 days. If you struggle with your eating habits overall, I think proving to yourself that you can keep up a strict diet for a month can do wonders for your overall success. You realize that making excuses for "holidays" "cheat days" and "special occasions" is your downfall in the beginning, and getting through those first temptations can propel you a long ways towards your goal.

The thing about giving up soft drinks or going on a strict diet for 30 days, though, is that both are a pretty minor deal. Yes, if you're addicted to Diet Coke giving up soft drinks seems like a huge deal for you, but it's nothing like giving up all processed foods for the rest of time. Or switching to drinking green juices for the rest of time. And it's those latter examples, examples of extreme asceticism, where I just can't get on board. The problem is I can't stop feeling like I would be a better all-around person if I was able to hold myself to those extreme standards. Why is that?

I think one contributing factor is how amazing feats of dieting are featured in the media. Think of the wealth of examples - stories about crazy diets celebrities go on to get in shape for movies, articles in fitness magazines featuring people who lost a bunch of weight by eating 1,000 calories a day and working out all the time, TV shows like The Biggest Loser where you literally watch people work out for hours and hours a day...and the list doesn't end. But you can't blame the media for everything (try as we might) and I think there's a second, important factor. I think we all believe that there is a formula for being a super human. I think we think that if we followed some of these crazy plans, it's absolutely possible to cheat hurting, aging, death. And at the end of the day, I think that's a completely wrong way of thinking. All of those things are coming for us, and while we can certainly slow them down, there's no formula for eliminating them completely. And we shouldn't be projecting those hopes onto these crazy dieting schemes.

Lately, I've been feeling a little slow, pudgy, and generally unhealthy, so as you can probably tell from the subject matter fo this post, dieting has been on my mind. While I'm determined to cut back on the unhealthy components of my diet, at the end of the day, the happiness I derive from eating a good meal in the company of good friends is much, much more than the pleasure I get from never feeling fat in my jeans. As a result, I won't be giving up big dinners with friends on Saturday nights or the occasional slice of cake. What I will be giving up on is feeling defeated every time I start craving frozen yogurt. Forcing myself to eat "clean" 24/7 will not make me a super human, but balancing feeling healthy with a vibrant social life will make me super happy. And I think I heard somewhere that healthy happiness leads to a long life... :)

I hope everyone has a wonderful Wednesday!