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: Ouch

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I have a confession to make: I haven't worked out in over a month.

Well, I hadn't worked out in over a month until this past Saturday.

Although I've been traveling, and working, and just generally running around in life like crazy lately, it's still not a good excuse for how badly I fell off the workout wagon. But your exercise routine is one of those things that tend to snowball - just like getting on a good streak can mean you're consistently in the gym for weeks (heck, months!), one week off can turn into...five weeks off.

This is where I should be giving you great advice for how to get back on the wagon, but to be honest, I don't have much wisdom to impart. When it comes to that first workout, you pretty much just have to force yourself to do it. It should get easier from there.

It should...but it doesn't. If you work out properly that first time back, you should end up sore. Really sore. And that's where I am right now. My legs are so stiff that walking around my apartment is a challenge. Not a single fiber of my body wants me to work out again, but I know I have to - it's the only way this gets easier (other than giving up altogether, which isn't an option). My advice here: take it slow, but don't be too easy on yourself. On Sunday morning I went to yoga (most painful yoga class of my life) and this morning I went to yoga again. After this, it's going to be a week of running stairs, doing pushups, and generally hoisting myself back up onto that workout wagon. I know I can do it.

If you have any great tips for getting back into the swing of things, I'd love to hear them!

Be Well: Live Well, Live Long

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I could probably write a post a week, each one featuring a new reason why you should exercise, and never run out of things to write about. Seriously. But although the reasons to work out are innumerable, I have never heard an argument more convincing than the strong scientific support that shows that getting regular, vigorous exercise will both lengthen your life and improve your life's quality.

What's crazy to me (and unbelievable to most) is that exercise has been regularly proven to have a more significant impact on your mental acuity than doing logical puzzles, crosswords, or other "brain exercises." It turns out that nothing replaces regular exercise - going on a challenging hike will do a lot more for you than playing a game of Scrabble or reading a book.

Being reminded of exercise's power to improve my life is one of those things that makes me sit up and take notice. I can only derive so much motivation from the promises to feel healthy today, have flatter abs, or have improved self-esteem. In many ways, those results seem very intangible to me (okay, maybe not the abs) and have never served as long-term motivations for me to get up and get moving. But days added to my life? Knowing that I am keeping my body and mind from breaking down? For whatever reason, that is a currency that means something to me. I would much rather live to be 90 than live to be 80. And I'm determined to be the kind of person who hikes and swims until the very end.

Want to know the best part about this? It's never too late to start. Seriously, committing to making a change today will improve your quality of life. It doesn't matter if you're 15 or 65. So put down your phone, get away from your TV, and take a walk around your neighborhood. Or swim a few laps in your pool. Or join an exercise class. Just do something that makes you break a sweat. Oh, and try to find something you like. That's always the #1 thing that will help you stick with it :)

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Completely random topic change: I don't know about you, but I'm a pretty big Tracy Chapman fan. Hours upon hours of listening to her album Telling Stories on a road trip one summer pretty much cemented me as a member of her fanbase. So when I heard a cover of her song Fast Car played when I was at yoga this past weekend, I was immediately intrigued. In fact, right after I left yoga that day I came home and started googling "Fast Car cover." It took me a little while to find, but I finally identified it: it's a duet sung by Boyce Avenue and Kina Grannis. (No idea who they are? Yeah, me either.) ANYWAY, this is the really long way of saying that you should totally listen to this song! Find it here.

Also - how much does Kina Grannis sound like Taylor Swift? It's INSANE! I didn't believe it wasn't Taylor Swift until I was presented with indisputable video evidence.

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Have a great Wednesday, y'all.