Saturday, August 6, 2016

My Whole 30 Experience

Now that I'm officially done with my first round of the Whole 30, I figured I'd write about it so the people who are on social media with me can see what it was all about if they were interested. I'll freely admit at this point that I am clearly drinking the Whole 30 Kool-Aid (which, if you want to know tastes just like plain water because that's pretty much all you should be drinking). Actually, I'm kidding...there are a couple more options as beverages, but nothing as sweet and rainbow delicious as Kool-Aid.

I hesitated to announce much about my Whole 30 on Facebook because I am generally pretty weak-willed when it comes to food, and to be honest I didn't want to fail horribly in front of a bunch of people.  So I took to my Instagram account--where copious amounts of food pictures abound as well as hashtags that would draw in like-minded people for Whole 30 support.  Instagram was amazing for that because I found lots of recipe ideas on the people who started following my journey, and really the recipes were the key to my Whole 30 success. If I couldn't have filling and delicious food, none of it would have been worth doing for me.

So what is the Whole 30? It's 30 days of clean eating. Its focus is on whole foods--veggies, fruits, nuts, animal protein, and healthy fats.  It eschews legumes (peanut butter is out), grains, dairy, and processed and refined sugars. I bought the book, read it, and planned my first week out using the recipes in the book and some of the Whole 30 compliant recipes I found on Pinterest. I chose July 5th as my start date because it was right after our July 4th weekend where I knew we'd be cooking out and out of town, and I got my mind right about cutting out dairy...I needed about a week for the mourning process.  The fact that my husband used to eat Paleo and was wanting to get back into that was helpful.  Whole 30 is totally in line with Paleo--it turns out that Paleo is not always in line with Whole 30. One big difference between them is that the Paleo diet lets you cheat without cheating.  It allows you to use things like alternative flours and honey to recreate sweet treats like muffins and pancakes.  While completing a Whole 30 you are not allowed to do that.  The idea behind it is that you are resetting your habits, and substituting a sweet treat for another sweet treat does not help you "slay your sugar dragon."  That was part of why I decided to do it in the first place.  I am a sugar hound, and it's only gotten worse as I've gotten older.

I also decided to give it a go because I deal with inflammatory arthritis.  According to proponents of the Paleo and Whole 30 diets, cutting gluten and dairy can help with arthritis, depression, acne, asthma, as well as a host of other ailments.  I was on Celebrex daily and it was barely taking the edge off.  I figured it wouldn't hurt to do the Whole 30 and then reintroduce things to see which foods might cause flare-ups.  Plus, I was really hoping to be able to get off the Celebrex since it's horrible for my stomach lining.

What about weight loss?  Well, I struggle with losing weight. It took me the last year to lose ten pounds.  But I really didn't go into it looking to lose weight.  I had eaten the Primal Blueprint diet (Paleo plus dairy) with Joe a couple years back and wasn't impressed with my results.  I think I even blogged about that at one point.  I really was just focused on my health from the arthritis pain angle, as well as cutting some of the processed foods that I was eating so much of.

Now, bread and cheese are two of favorite things, but I honestly didn't miss either of them enough to cheat.  The foods I ate were rich and satisfying.  I ate a LOT of sweet potatoes (which I love), guacamole, a lemon oil slaw that was crisp and fresh and crunchy, and chicken sausage.  Those were staples I usually had ready in my fridge to round out any meals I made.  So, sometimes I had salmon cakes with guacamole and slaw.  Sometimes pork sausage patties with carmelized onions and sweet potato mash.  Sometimes I roasted spaghetti squash and ate it with roasted tomatoes, pesto, and chicken sausages.  I had three filling meals and generally only needed an occasional Lara Bar as a snack.  I didn't really even crave fruit the way I thought I would.  I maybe had one to two servings a day.  I was shocked how far each meal would take me and how satisfied I felt.

The downside is you are prepping meals constantly or you have to spend money for the compliant products.  Clarifying butter, making mayonnaise, mashing cauliflower and sweet potatoes, and mixing and cooking double portions of sausage patties, salmon cakes, etc. meant a true time commitment.  I'm off work for the summer right now, but this would probably be a busy Saturday or Sunday every week in the kitchen once I'm back at school.

In the book they give a list of things you can expect as you go through the program.  It was pretty much spot on for me.  I didn't feel the level of drag I expected the first week, but I did feel bloated in the second week.  I then felt very "lean" after eating.  Even after a large meal.  I also never got "hangry."  Even when I was hungry, or a little hollow feeling, I didn't feel the emotional, annoyed feeling I was used to when I'd waited too long to eat.  That was interesting to me.  My emotional connection to feeling hungry pretty much went away.

You are also not supposed to weigh yourself, but I didn't do that.  I had no plans to cheat based on lack of weight loss, so I weighed myself at week two and then every day after.  For a full two weeks I lost absolutely nothing.  Then I pretty much started losing half a pound to a pound each day.  In week three I had surgery and I was seven pounds up as a result of the fluids they pumped into me, but that shook out after a few days.  So, even though I didn't do it for weight loss, a happy by-product was that I lost 9 1/2 pounds in the thirty days.  This is a big deal for me personally because it finally put me below my pre-baby weight.  I also lost two inches from my bust, two inches from my waist, and half an inch from each thigh.  Not bad for a month, especially since I didn't work out for the last week.

My final thoughts on it is that I'm willing to continue eating more Paleo, continuing to cut dairy and grains for now.  If I cheat it will be for something really worth it.  I was very satisfied with the Whole 30.  I might do a second round in another couple of weeks, but for now I plan to have an alcoholic beverage (I really did miss that!) to celebrate completing it!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

It's been a while, but I have something to say...

It's been a hot minute since I last blogged, and let's face it--I'm a bit rusty.  Whenever I write regularly, ideas just come to me-- like, funny, smart ideas, but when I've stepped back for a while, it all goes dark and cloudy on me. I've been walking around in a fog for a while now, keeping myself safely cocooned as I grieved my mom and worked at being an effective person for my family and my students.  And now I finally feel ready to get back to my running commentary on my life--which may or may not be interesting to you as it revolves pretty much around me and my people.  I'm ego-centric that way.

So, let's talk about my latest life issue--which is, granted, extraordinarily trivial compared to the actual life issues so many are facing. But, I'm going to go ahead and be that  person today. Snapchat. I have a serious bone to pick with the Snapchat developers.

Now, I'm willing to admit that I am very, very late in jumping on the Snapchat bandwagon.  My excuse for that is that I'm not thirteen years old.  And, yes, I am aware that there are adults using Snapchat.  A lot of adults.  Using a lot of Snapchat. I get that, so simmer down for a sec.  But my rationale is that I teach eighth graders for a living who are obsessed with this app, and based on that principle alone, I have steered clear. That is, until I was under duress instigated by a maniacal three-year-old who was holding me emotionally hostage by alternately jumping on me like a jungle gym and repeating the same question over and over again. (A question to which I apparently do not know the correct answer.)  It was then that I caved.

I downloaded the app, and we spent an hour and a half of lazy parenting playing with the filters. It was quality time.  It was almost fun.  I admired myself with butterflies dancing around my head. Declan puked rainbows for quite some time and we finally decided to end our day together watching Toy Story for the millionth time.

Life was good.

Until the very next day when my kid said he wanted "rainbows in his mouth" and had a complete meltdown on the floor because the app no longer had that filter. Make that (plural) meltdowns. The world is full of disappointments, and the absence of  spewing rainbows from one's mouth is apparently the bitterest of all to swallow.  I was confused.  How was it there one day and gone the next? I googled. Yep, phased out.  Phased out the day after I downloaded.  Just my luck.

Well played, Snapchat.  Well played.

Technology- 1; Reagan- 0

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I Hate You, Pinterest!

I hate Pinterest sometimes.  Usually, I love it.  It has never let me down. Until tonight.  The night, of all nights, when I have to bake something for Declan's school tomorrow. True, picking a new recipe was a foolhardy choice. But Pinterest always makes everything look like such a great idea. And so easy.  Emphasis on "easy".  That was my primary objective since I don't have a whole lot of spare time on my hands these days.  What, with a tantrum throwing demon clutching my leg and screaming his new mantra, Outside! Outside! For some reason I elected to bring something pumpkiny (I'm choosing to believe that's a word. The catch?  I don't bake pumpkin anything. And so I trolled my go-to.  I found an awesome and easy recipe for Pumpkin Spice Cake Balls, I rushed to the store, shoved a grilled cheese sandwich down Declan's throat, and got to work. I am a confident cook and baker.  I knew I had this in the bag.

It wasn't easy.  The people in the comments section of the recipe stated how the recipe yielded 40 balls.  Perfect, I thought as I set to work. But I ran into a couple snags...


Behold, the six balls of shit I took over two hours to create.  I will spare you the picture of what these were supposed to look like and I certainly won't be sharing the recipe. I would hang my head in shame, but I'm too busy scraping rock hard white chocolate off my freaking palms, counters, and mixing bowl.  I now have five heinous looking cake balls, the dozen or so naked ones I couldn't bear to throw away cowering in the fridge under cellophane, about a dozen that I murdered and threw away in disgust, and now an unplanned pound cake in the oven. 


I'm not sure what bothers me most--the fact that these look like sausage balls, or that after all that work I am going to just end up putting these puppies out of their misery.

Pinterest, you finally failed me, At the worst possible time ever.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Let Them Eat Cake!

I said no to cake today.  Try not to die of shock.  I am a self-professed sugar hound.  The worst of my kind.  I actually go hunting for candy bowls and stashes in co-workers' classrooms during my conference period.  I have no problem taking the last bite, lick or morsel of anything.  So the fact that I ate my strawberries and said no to cake slathered in whipped icing speaks volumes.  In some ways this new way of eating is working.  In other ways, I'm not entirely sold yet.

So here I am, on the eleventh day of eating according to the tenets of The Primal Blueprint, and I have been debating on whether or not I will stick with it past a month.  The struggle is real, people.

Pros:
1) I feel like I am not craving sweets like I normally do. As a person who loves all things related to sugar and desserts, this is huge.  I look forward to apple slices with almond butter in the same way I would look forward to a cupcake.  On day five I came back to my room from a meeting only to find that some fairy godmother had left a plate full of brownies on my desk. Making my coworker take them away without even eating a crumb was almost painful.  In contrast, the ckae today was not even that hard to pass on.  I didn't feel deprived.  I didn't feel anything about it.

2) I feel like the foods I eat are filling. Good protein makes me feel full. Period.

3) I am very aware of everything I eat. I have to plan, plan, plan. It eliminates surprises.

4) Joe already eats this way. Not that I have to because he's doing it--he's been eating primally for over two years--but it makes it easier to shop and plan meals when both people are on the same diet.

Cons:
1) I have no intention of making Declan eat this way. He's a kid.  He should be allowed to enjoy mac and cheese and birthday cake.  I feel it's unfair to keep him from being able to eat cupcakes at someone's birthday party.  And, on a selfish note, it's easier.

2) It's expensive. Nuts, nut butters, organic produce, free range eggs, and grass fed meat are very expensive.  We have not taken the plunge into grass fed meats because we cannot make ourselves pay $8.99 or more per pound of meat.  Our grocery bill was upwards of $50 more than usual last week and the week before.

3) Breakfast is no longer portable. I miss the ease of the grab and go foods.  The tortilla or sandwich thin has always made running to the car to get to work easier.  I already wake up at 5:25 am to get to work on time.  I can't make myself get up any earlier than that to sit down and eat.  So, I am stuck in a rut with an egg casserole that works for me but uses eight of those expensive eggs I mentioned. Eight!

and the biggest con of all...

4) I have not lost a single pound yet. Yes, I want to be healthy. But I am 50 pounds overweight.  I want to lose.  It doesn't have to be fast, but it has to happen.  I am not gaining, but I am not losing yet, either.  It's frustrating.  It's maddening.  I attributed it to the nut butter, nuts, and cheese I was eating the first week for my snacks. The book states that this diet goes against conventional wisdom.  That you can eat the high fat foods, and by cutting the grains you will still see results.  I want to be patient, but it's hard.  I entered this week with a new plan of action:  Stick with the Primal Diet, but count points for Weight Watchers anyway.  I'm crossing my fingers for this week, but the jury is definitely still out.

But I said no to cake.  And that's HUGE.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Biter

So...my kid is officially the piranha of his daycare room.  The first to get all eight front teeth in his first 9 months, he has been hurling himself at the kids in his classroom like a rabid little beast and snapping at them with his powerful jaws.  At least, that's what I envision.  It was bound to happen--he's been biting Joe and me for months now and no acceptable redirection or punishment seems to be yielding results.

In reality, he's done it three times in two weeks, and been the recipient of a vicious back biting which I can only assume at this point was well-deserved.  Maybe it's just a phase they're all going through?

And speaking of biting...I have been biting into way too much lately and as a result have decided to commit to trying to eat "primal" for a while and see if that shows me some positive results.  That means no gluten, grains, bread, or beans.  I'm on day three, and so far it's been okay.  I am stuck in a little bit of a rut with my breakfast and lunch, but I'm sticking with it with a lot of advice from Joe, who has been eating Primal for the past couple of years.

There have already been a couple of road bumps.  This morning I was planning on eating this delectable Pinterest find, but I forgot it.  Rather than drive to Einstein's for a bagel (which I'm salivating thinking about right now), I had a Lara Bar.  Which was yummy, but let's face it--it's no bagel with schmear.  At 2:00, when I felt the almost cosmic pull towards the vending machine and the Pop Tarts that are housed within it, I grudgingly pulled out my apple and a handful of nuts and told myself it would satisfy me.  And it almost did.

I have promised myself that if I feel great after two weeks and I'm seeing results, I will continue to do it through summer.  Between keeping myself from taking forbidden bites of bread, and my son from biting his playmates, it's turning out to be a somewhat rocky start  to the week.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

So Thankful...

It's been a long time since I've felt compelled to post, but I find myself feeling particularly motivated today as I scroll through countless Facebook posts full of of my friends' thanksgivings. So hold on to your hats because it's about to get a little touchy-feely here.  

It's hard to blog, keep up with my family, keep house, keep reading, keep working, and keep doing all of the things I love to do.  But I try.  Joan Didion wrote a book called The Year of Magical Thinking, chronicling the year following her husband's death.  And while I (thankfully) do not relate to her subject matter, I can say that this year has been my own year of magical thinking. I have found out where I belong in the grand scheme of the world as I've shifted from being more selfish to selfless, careless to caring, self-involved to self aware.  And I couldn't be more grateful for it.  

Having a partner in life and starting our family has made me a better person.  Period.  And until this week I have struggled through this first part of parenthood--on an emotional and social level.  Most of my friends embraced this part of my life with me, but a few (some of them surprising) didn't get behind the movement.  And it hurt.  I felt abandoned even though I knew that logically I had to abandon all else to adopt my new role.  The selfish part of me wanted to fight for those pieces of my past, but the selfless part of me needed to prioritize my family. The people who value me enough as a friend have kept me and for that I couldn't be more thankful.  

On another front, I know that less than a year ago if someone had handed me their baby to go use the restroom or, God forbid, run an errand that would take almost any length of time, I would have held that child out in front of me just waiting for it to detonate. I did not grow up around small children. I did not understand how hard it is to maneuver your whole existence around one tiny, adorable, often screaming ball of need. I did not understand the importance of nap schedules and would cavalierly say things like, "pfftttt....just take the kid out, for Pere's sake!"  I was so careless in that thinking.  And now that I know better, I know to offer help.  I know to be more understanding.  And the people I love most and who love me back care enough to rally behind me instead of railing against my family's limitations.  Again, I couldn't be thankful enough.

We humans are so so selfish.  Even those of us who care for others have to keep our own best interests at heart.  Until we can't.  Joe and I have a lot of what we call "want-tos" and "need-tos". And since having the baby, a lot of things have fallen off of the want-to list as non-negotiables have clogged up our need-to list.  And while the selfish part of me wants to "have it all" and rail against the fact that I can't maintain a consistent schedule to work out yet, or that I should be able to go to coffee or dinner with my friends instead of home with my son in order to maintain the sanctity of his schedule, I have to be honest.  No cup of coffee or meal with great people is worth upsetting the schedule he needs feel comforted and safe at home.  And that's the selfless part of me.  And being able to tap into that is something I am thankful for, as well.

To those in my life who have mattered most, thank you for teaching me so much about myself.  And to my son and husband and thankful to have been introduced to an improved version of myself.  

Declan with Aunt Jules

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Down the Rabbit Hole...

Since I last updated, my entire world has been turned upside down and all of the rules have changed.  I went down the proverbial rabbit hole and have emerged.  I wouldn't say I emerged "victoriously", because let's face it--the baby wins pretty much every battle these days.  He is well fed, well-rested, and well-tended to.  I can't say the same for Joe and I, but we're on a pretty steep learning curve so I have to assume those details will work themselves out.

For three months now, I have been living in an alternate dimension of my own life.  The "new normal" involves never eating a meal when I'm actually hungry, carrying around a chunky little ball of need like an extra appendage at all times, and randomly wondering by 4:00 pm whether or not I actually put on deodorant or brushed my teeth that day. Besides my now questionable hygiene, my ass is huge.  I had no idea how having a baby would change me on every level.  I knew it would change our day-to-day lives, our priorities, and our hearts forever. But I had no idea it would change every single aspect of who I am, almost as if on a cellular level.

Often in the dark of night, as I sooth my son to sleep in the rocker by the sound machine thump-thumping to mimic the comfort of my womb, it's almost as if the sleep deprivation has conjured images of stars and sheep bouncing across my ceiling and I can hear Calypso versions of the ABC song fading in and out over his sweet coos, and I lose hours of time like sand sifting through my fingers.

And then I realize it.  This is real life.  It is not some trippy, David Lynch-esque dream that I will wake from.  This is parenthood.  And if I thought pregnancy was a game changer, the aftermath has made that seem like no big deal. My edges feel indistinct and blurry, and Joe reminds me of Edvard Munch's The Scream between the hours of 4:30 and 6:00 am (which the kiddo must sense, because that is when he has decided to start getting seriously salty).


Everything takes forever these days...going anywhere, leaving any place, and settling in all take an interminable amount of time.  In fact, this blog entry from start to finish has taken me five and a half weeks to finish writing. I am always leaving belongings behind--burp cloths, onesies, and, on one awful occasion, a dirty diaper.  My standard of personal hygiene has become questionable.  My number of followers on Facebook has diminished due to a lack of activity paired with the fact that all activity of late has involved pictures of my child in various states of repose and dress (or lack thereof).  Apparently not everyone I know gets melty at the sight of Declan's fat rolls on his thighs.

In this alternate universe, I feel like I'm still back in college waiting tables and Declan is the worst customer ever. He doesn't articulate his order, he demands all of my attention just when I'm being pulled in every other direction, and he complains to management when I'm not moving fast enough.  And then, just when I think he's satisfied, he has the nerve--the absolute nerve--to spit it up.

I simultaneously wish for and dread the moment the baby will actually be able to talk.