A Whole30 Journey:
A need to get back on track after traveling.
The Back Story:
I used to call it my 2015/16 stress weight… until it persisted into 2017… and 2018. At that point I needed to take a long hard look at the last three years and what got me to the point that I was 15 pounds heavier than I had been my entire adult life (except for those two times I was preggo). In mid-2015 I switched schools that I was teaching at in order to try and salvage an AP Psychology program that was struggling. 2016 was the year that my life changed drastically: my mother in law got sick, we built a house, sold two houses, moved three times, and I quit teaching full time all with two small children in tow. Not all of these changes were bad, but sometimes even good change is stressful. Additionally, as a result of my mother in law’s sudden and unexpected health decline, it changed the way I wanted to look at my life. The fragility of life and our short time on this earth became so much more apparent. I felt that my husband and I were working too much, as a nurse and a teacher, and we were giving our love and patience to other people and then we would come home and be tired and impatient with our own family. Something had to give.
We did a major overhaul. We sold most of what we owned, including our two properties and decided to leave the California Bay Area. The “Bay” was where I had called home for 18 years and my husband had lived his entire life, save a few fun college years abroad. We took advantage of the exploding real estate market and started a new career path working from home. This gave us time with our kids, a less stressful existence, and the opportunity to travel more. We have always loved traveling and this was our chance to include our children more in our love of other cultures, food, and global experiences.
It also meant that my waistline suffered. I take seriously the saying “eat, drink, and be merry” and although I am healthy and very active when I am home, vacation is where all bets are off. When we were traveling only twice a year it was okay to indulge for a week or two and then come home and get back on track. Now that we were traveling every few weeks, I needed to really rethink what I was eating on vacation and how I was going to approach food when I was home. I decided to join a few of my mom friends who were planning on starting the Whole30 diet after Labor Day Weekend. The timing could not have been more perfect as I was scheduled to spend that weekend with a family that I love dearly but the whole weekend was going to include drinks, snacks, fried goodies, and boating on a lake in Nebraska. I would definitely need a detox after four days of friend festivities.
My mom friends formed a Facebook group where they started posting information about the diet and shopping tips two weeks before the diet was scheduled to begin. This was a great help because it allowed me to wrap my head around what I was getting myself into. And… let’s be honest… this month was going to be no joke! Here is a quick overview of what you will need to eliminate from your diet to be “Whole30 compliant”:
Foods to Eliminate
Grains, starchy veggies, pasta, rice, etc.
Sweets and artificial sweeteners
Food Prep Shopping List: Link
The Whole30 folks strongly discourage you from binging on “bad” foods before you begin the diet, which is exactly what I did… oops. But, in my defense, it’s really tough to eat all natural foods when you’re with bet friends, little kids, and surrounded by chips, cheese, soda, and booze. This meant that my body was probably going to react to the diet more intensely than if I had just eased into it after a normal, non-travel, week.
We were driving home from the lake and decided to stop at Subway for breakfast (it was literally the only thing we could find for about 50 miles in either direction). Right off the bat, this was going to be tough. I love coffee in the morning and I usually put some creamer and Truvia natural sweetener in it. Both of those are off limits. Yikes. You can have black coffee with some added nut milk but you need to make sure that it doesn’t have any added sweeteners of any kind. This means that the almond and coconut milk options at most coffee shops will not work (sorry Starbucks). I also quickly realized that I may use cheese in more food items that I had previously thought. As I was selecting food for my kids I was trying to figure out an alternative for myself. The last thing I wanted to do was fail this journey before I even got started, especially because I was in a group with my friends so I didn’t want to look weak and indulgent. I guess a little peer pressure can work sometimes. I ended up selecting a breakfast sandwich from Subway that had eggs, bacon, spinach, and tomatoes to be wrapped up in paper instead of with bread. No cheese, no grains. Okay, I can do this! It tasted fine, except for the fact that I was hungry about an hour later. As soon as we got home I went to the grocery store to stock up on veggies. I have a feeling I’m going to be cooking… a lot.
Nut milk, cinnamon, and coffee isn’t terrible per se… but it’s not the same as my coffee creamer. This may be harder to give up than alcohol or maybe even cheese. Time will tell. Hopefully by the end of this month I may actually like the flavor of black coffee. The other thing I realized today is that I don’t have time to make a full Whole30 compliant breakfast before the kids need to get up and get ready for school. Because you’re eating natural foods, there is a lot of prep work and cooking involved in each meal. I basically have two options: 1. Wake up earlier OR 2. Find some breakfast recipes that I can make in bulk and put in the fridge to be heated up in the morning.
I also tried my first Whole30 approved recipe today for lunch/dinner. It was a spaghetti squash casserole creation that I found here: Link
One word: DELICIOUS! I ended up eating it for lunch, a snack, and dinner. It hit the spot. The coconut milk gave the casserole a creamy feel that I was missing by giving up dairy. I will admit that the sheer quantity of spaghetti squash that I consumed today did a number on my stomach as I am still adjusting to digesting so many vegetables during each meal. *If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, here’s another word for you: gas (Sorry but honesty is the best policy friends).
I woke up this morning feeling good. I slept well, my stomachache was gone, and was ready to start the day… until I thought about making my morning coffee. I don’t think I ever fully realized how much my morning cup of Joe (or two or three) was so cherished. I would make it everyday for pretty much my entire adult life with a splash of creamer and a packet of artificial sweetener. I wasn’t really craving pasta, bread for a sandwich, or a glass of red wine. But, that delicious first sip of sweetened coffee in the morning, that’s another story. I tried to ice the coffee, add nutmeg as an additional flavor, and so far nothing is satisfying. Hopefully, it’s just my body’s reaction to its accustomed sugar and artificial sugar rush in the morning and after a few days this craving will subside.
I feel like I’m getting into a little bit of a routine, which means that my foods are a bit redundant (already… yikes) but at last I’m being consistent. I’ve tried to maintain my workout routine but I’m having a hard time with my energy level. I love cycling and I’m very consistent in my performance in my indoor cycling classes. However, now that I’m on Whole30 I am having a hard time pushing myself in the same way that I usually do. I started to feel lightheaded in class today and I had to slow down my leg speed and reduce the resistance level on my bike. We also went out to dinner tonight to a sushi restaurant because my kids live for rice and tofu. I ordered a cucumber salad with vinegar dressing and a poke salad (raw tuna). It was delicious but I'm worried that there was some sugar in the flavoring because, let's be honest, it was a little too delicious for a plain salad. I'm going to choose not to beat myself up over it though because at least I didn't eat 3 huge sushi rolls like I've been known to do in the past.
We decided to go with some friends to an Oktoberfest event in Breckenridge, CO today. When I think of Oktoberfest I think of: 1. Beer 2. Pretzels 3. Apple strudels… fantastic…. All things I can’t consume. I decided that I would be the driver so that would be an easy way to justify not drinking and I took out the biggest skillet in the morning and sautéed cauliflower, bacon, and mushrooms together with a little Ghee and garlic. I put it in a huge container and we set out on our road trip. When I was hungry I would get out my container and eat a few bites. It wasn’t cute, it wasn’t glamorous, but I managed to survive a long day where my kids, husband, and friends were snacking on all kinds of deliciousness and I was able to resist the urge to crack and eat an entire German pretzel. By the time we got home I was exhausted and I think the source of the exhaustion was the constant need to exert willpower and resist the temptations that were surrounding me.
Today was the first day of Sunday football. I LOVE football! I love the game, the commercials, and all of the food and drinks that surround the event. Normally Sundays are the day where we get delivery pizza and watch our 49ers struggle. I thought about making a cauliflower crust pizza but the Whole30 gurus say that making substitute food like that is, in their words “like having sex with your pants on” it’s not the same and it just leaves you frustrated in the end. I decided to snack on carrots and snap peas with some iced coffee. I’m still not loving my coffees but they are getting more tolerable.
Cheers to the freakin’ weekend- being over that is! Wow, weekends are tough.
I’m SO tired! I tried to push myself at my cycling class today and I had absolutely no energy. I’ve been told that it’s because I’m not eating enough fats so I went to the store and bought a massive container of guacamole (after reading the ingredients carefully, of course) that I will be using as a topping to ALL OF my meals.
Week 2: Link
Sticking to Whole30 While Traveling Video: Link