Wednesday, July 02, 2014

A Whole lot of Whole30

I’ve been wanting to blog for a while, but I didn’t want to just pop back in and pretend I haven’t been missing for months. Doing it anyway, though, so I can share some awesome info.

Around three months ago, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that she was starting another Whole30 if anyone wanted to join in. I had never heard of it before, so I turned to Google and discovered this:

Nope. Uh-uh. No way. Not doing it.

But I kept reading.
Great for migraines. (I have those.)
Allergies. (I have those!)
Depression. (Yep, that, too!)
Change your relationship with food.

Change my relationship with food? I need that.

I told my friend that I wanted to try, but I was NOT prepared to join her the next day. I had just gone grocery shopping and had a fridge and pantry full of crap to eat, first. She recommended I read the book, “It Starts with Food.” Of course, I hopped on Amazon and bought it for my Kindle.

I wish I had read it years ago. It’s not a diet “rule” book. It doesn’t say, “Don’t eat this. Don’t eat that.” It gives the science behind how different foods affect the digestive system and the body. It made so much sense. Even if you’re not interested in trying the Whole30, I still highly recommend this book. The Whole9 and Whole30 websites and their Facebook pages are full of great resources and fantastic information and people who have survived it. Have a question about an ingredient? Google [ingredient] Whole30 and I can almost guarantee you’ll find the answer.

There are no cheat days during the Whole30. You have to follow ALL the rules, and for good reason. There is a great metaphor in the book--if you owned 10 cats and discovered you were allergic to them, you wouldn’t get rid of 9 cats and expect to be completely better--you’d have to get rid of all of them. You can’t cut out only some of the bad stuff and expect to be “cured.” It all has to go. At the end of 30 days, (or 60, or 90, or however many you want to do it for,) you can start reintroducing foods and examining how they affect your body. And if it’s worth it to you to keep eating it or not.

So, let’s get real.

Grocery shopping is HARD. It is very hard to find things with no added sugar. Sugar is in the most bizarre, random things, and masquerades under so many different aliases, it’s ridiculous. WHY is sugar in everything? It’s totally unnecessary! Soy is something else food companies sneak into the ingredient list. Even “natural” foods are guilty. (Looking at you, Applegate, with your extremely overpriced lunch meat.)

Going out to eat is HARD, too. I went twice and I was riddled with anxiety both times. (Both times, I managed to arrange eating at a salad bar, which made it a million times easier. If you have to eat out during the Whole30, go to a salad bar.) I also went on a roadtrip and to four potlucks. (One of which, I was only able to eat the salad I’d brought with me. If you go to a potluck during the Whole30, bring something you can eat. For a roadtrip, try to make sure your hotel has a fridge or buy a good cooler and eat lots of snacks and drink lots of water!)

Explaining it to people is NOT fun. No added sugar really means no sweeteners of any kind. No honey or maple syrup or molasses. Yes, I understand that all that stuff is natural, but I can’t eat it. No beans. I know they’re good fiber and protein. They can also be inflammatory. Yes, that dessert looks delicious, I’m sure it tastes really good, but I’m not eating sweets right now. My grandma tried to force-feed me a piece of toffee just last weekend. I told her I wasn’t throwing away 27 days of hard work for a piece of toffee. Yes, I realize I sound like an alcoholic.

We weren’t perfect. Around day 8, I discovered that the garlic salt I’d used in just about every meal had sugar AND soy in it. Towards the end of week 2, we sampled and purchased some fancy salts at Costco, only to get home and find we couldn’t eat ANY of them--the ingredients on the jar didn’t match the ingredients on the packaging. Boo! On day 15, I made my dad a drink and took a sip without even thinking about it. As soon as the whiskey was in my mouth, I realized what I’d done and spit it out--but I was shocked that it was such an unconscious thing for me to do. On day 31--yes, the day after we “finished,” I realized the tuna we’d been eating contained soy. Bah. For the most part, though, we made conscious efforts to eat real, whole food and avoid anything on the “do not eat” list.

We ate beautiful, delicious food like this:
Adapted from this recipe, but I nixed the sweet potatoes and added spinach. This was my favorite meal!

And this:
Carnitas with cilantro-lime cauliflower "rice," guacamole, and tomatoes

And this:
Burgers with veggies, coleslaw made with homemade olive oil mayo, roasted asparagus, and watermelon

And this:

Simply Balanced Garlic and Spinach chicken sausage with roasted spaghetti squash, spinach, onions, and mushrooms. Even the kids loved this!

We ate not-so-beautiful, but still delicious food, like this:
Adapted from this recipe, these "meatballs" were DELICIOUS. I yelled at J for eating the leftovers because I wanted to take them for lunch the next day. 

And this:
 Stirfry I threw together with chicken and spinach and other veggies. Tumeric gives everything that lovely yellow color.

And we ate beautiful food that was NOT delicious, like this:

This was absolutely the most disappointing meal we ate this past month. The turkey burger was dry and NOT good, the watermelon was funky, and the sweet potatoes and avocado were still too hard. The mushrooms and onions were good. Everyone else who tried this recipe loved it, so I’m sure I just did something wrong. Not sure if I’ll try again, though.

We ate new and different foods and discovered new favorites, and the kids did, too. Little Sister loves asparagus. Baby Sister loves mango. Little three and alternates between eating anything and everything and eating nothing, almost on a daily (hourly?) basis. I rekindled my love of avocados. And HOW did I live for 33 years and no one told me I could put guacamole on fish? To die for. (Guac is my Frank's. I put that $*&% on everything!)

The Whole30 takes commitment. 90% of the time, the only clean room in my house was my kitchen because I was constantly cleaning it. Meal planning and prepping things ahead of time was essential for us. There is no ordering a pizza when you don’t have anything thawed for dinner. (No cereal or PB&J, either!)

How do we FEEL, though? Was it really worth it?

Yes. Yes. Yes! A hundred thousand times--YES!

I found this graphic during week one and braced myself.

But days 2-7 it never happened. I felt so good, I worried I was doing it wrong.

Part of the Whole30 is not weighing or measuring during the 30 days. It’s not a “diet.” It’s not about how much weight you lose--it really is about changing your relationship with food. That said, I absolutely couldn’t wait to get on the scale yesterday. I knew I’d been losing because I could see and feel changes and people have been making comments, but I wanted to know how much!

My Results:

I lost 17 lbs.
I lost 17 inches.
I haven’t had a migraine in over a month.

I did this with some friends and we all took "before" pictures in our underwear. Around day two or three, someone said we should take pictures with our clothes on, too, so we could actually share our results. I thought it was a great idea...but I never did it. I do have a clothed picture that was taken on my birthday a couple of days before we started, but I haven't taken an "after," yet.

J’s Results:

He lost 9 lbs.
He reports that he has more energy during his runs and bike rides.
Mentally, he feels more clear.

Overall, we FEEL great.

And did it change my relationship with food? I think so. In the beginning, I can’t even say how many times I started at a bag of popcorn or a box of cereal and wondered, “Did I just eat some of that? My breath doesn’t smell like popcorn, but did I just eat some?” Even just last weekend, I was pulling a chicken finger apart for Baby Sister and licked my fingers when I was done. WHAT? Why did I do that? I can’t imagine how much I used to eat without even a conscious thought. I even dreamed about eating “no” foods--not that I wanted them, but that I ate them by accident and was really upset about it. It was disturbing. (Happy to say most of those thoughts went away during the second week or so.)

Food is nourishment. Fuel for our bodies. That’s all we really need. For the first time in my life, I GET that.

One thing I will say--that I’m SURE is not the program’s intent--is that I am a little afraid of food now. I feel so good that I’m afraid to add foods back in that might be harmful to my body. Why on earth would I WANT to give myself a migraine? Or make myself sick? The problem is...if I don’t reintroduce things, I’ll never know what to avoid forever. And really, there’s no sense to NOT eat peanut butter if I don’t have any problem with it.

We’re doing it for another 30 days, making it a Whole60. We’re kind of on a roll, we’ve discovered some great recipes, and we really like eating this way. I thought I could never give up cheese or yogurt or tortillas...but, to be honest, I haven’t even missed them. I’m not saying I’ll never eat cheese again, but I’ll definitely eat it differently. I won’t sprinkle it in every dish...I’ll eat cheese. Good cheese. (Okay, I’ll stop thinking about cheese now. Now.

I promise to check back in and update on how it’s going. I miss writing. Do you miss me?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Say Something

Say something, I’m giving up on you.

Turbo Jennie sent out the video to this song, sung by  A Great Big World with Christina Aguilera. I . watched it one time and I fell in love.

I’ll be the one, if you want me to.

I watched it over and over again, crying each time

Anywhere, I would have followed you

During their AMA performance, I whispered, “I love this song” even as tears stung my eyes. I couldn’t breathe.

Say something, I’m giving up on you.

I shared the video with a friend at work. “It’s missing a word,” she said. “Shouldn’t it be ‘Say something OR I’m giving up on you.’?”

And I am feeling so small

“No,” I told her. “There's desperation without it. ‘Say something. HURRY. Say it right now.’”

It was over my head


I know nothing at all.

“There’s just something about it. It just calls to me,” I said. “I don’t know what it is.”

And I will stumble and fall

I felt stupid. I watched again alone that night.

I’m still learning to love

And I cried and I cried and I cried

Just starting to crawl.

The next morning, it hit me.

Say something, I’m giving up on you.

It’s me.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you.

With everything going on in my life lately, I haven’t been taking very good care of myself.

Anywhere, I would’ve followed you.

Not eating well. Not sleeping well. Not doing anything for ME.

Say something, I’m giving up on you.

Maybe I’m giving up. On me.

And I will swallow pride

It was quite the “aha” moment.

You’re the one that I love

There were more tears, of course.

And I’m saying goodbye

But relief, too.

Say something, I’m giving up on you.

Maybe it is stupid.

And I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you.

But I feel like my mind has been trying to tell me something.

And anywhere,  would’ve followed you.

And I’m just now understanding.

Oh, say something, I’m giving up on you.


Say something I’m giving up on you.

I’m finally listening.

Say something.

Monday, June 10, 2013


"I've been reading your blog."

The words were innocent, but the admission from my uncle shocked me.

I'm not really in hiding, but I was surprised to learn he took the time to read the things I'd written.

In that moment, I tried to remember the last thing I'd written about. "Oh," I think I said. Then, "OH."

I wish I could say that things have changed in the last 9 months or so, but they really haven't.

Okay, that's not true. Some things have changed. My grandpa died. Baby Sister turned one and started clapping and saying "mommy" and walking. My dad found a mass on his kidney, and while he hasn't necessarily been diagnosed with cancer, it's still terrifying. In October, our finances took a turn for the worse, but we climbed out of the rubble and things are better than they've been in a long time. Things are happening.

I'm still stressed...between work and school and the kids and the Hubster working two jobs, I feel like nothing ever gets done. My house is a disaster area and I'm trying to breathe through it and activate my tunnel vision until my classes end on Friday.


I wish I could say that I've managed to eat healthy and keep up with exercise even though I had to cancel both Weight Watchers and our gym membership...but I don't really like to lie.

I am, however, trying. And that's the truth.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Day One

 After a month long absence, I finally went back to Weight Watchers. I didn't want to go and I had a million and one excuses, but I had promised people, including myself, that I would go. I don't really have the money to spend on it, especially if I'm not even making the effort to go. Pulling into the parking lot, I had to fight the urge to turn around and leave. Thank God my friend was there to walk inside with me.
I squeezed my eyes shut as I stepped on the scale, whispering that I didn't want to know the number, and could she please just hit the "reset" button for me and tell many how many points I get each day? I still can't bring myself look at the little sticker taunting me from the book inside my purse. After weighing in, I wanted to leave, but followed my friend to our usual spot. How can I just pretend that everything is normal? I wondered if everyone was staring at me. Do they know how close I am to losing to it? My hands shaking, I dug my fingernails into my skin, blinking away tears from time to time.
I left right after the meeting, not daring to talk to--or even look at--Leader Pam and barely acknowledging my friends. Deep breaths in the parking lot, and then I drove to Target for some fresh fruit and health(ier) groceries. Unfortunately...I started crying before I made it there and had to sit in my van for a few extra minutes. When the tears wouldn't stop, I just wore my sunglasses inside. Today was one of the miraculous days were I managed to not run into anyone (or everyone) I know while shopping.
Fast forward to tonight, and I'm prepared for tomorrow. Yes, it would be nice if I was going to get more than 6 hours of sleep, but the fact is, I'm not. I don't even know if I remember the last time I did. At least my breakfast and my lunch are made for tomorrow. The Hubster teaches tomorrow night, so dinner is (almost) ready, too. I've even got most of my tracking entered. I'm ready for Day One.
I've made it through Day One before. Day One is actually pretty easy. It's Day Two...Day Ten...Day Seventeen...that are hard.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Chest Pain

There are not very many words that will get someone quicker medical care, besides “I can’t breathe,” or “My water just broke!”

I haven’t been feeling well, lately—and no, this won’t turn into another “I’m pregnant!” post…we’re done with those for sure! My tonsils are swollen. Not painful. Not red. Just swollen and making it difficult for me to swallow. I thought, at first, that it might be an allergic reaction, since, you know, I’m allergic to everything. But it didn’t go away.

On top of that, I’ve been having chest pain. A heaviness. The weight of the world crushing me, stealing air from my lungs.

I had an idea of what it might be, but scheduled an appointment, anyway.

Chest pain.

The words bring a controlled panic and an onslaught of tests. Oxygen level: Normal. Chest x-ray: Normal. EKG: Normal. A strep swab, WBC, and mono test for my swollen tonsils: All Normal.

I try to work up the courage to say the words, but she says them for me: “Could it be anxiety?”

My chest tightens more, my swollen throat closes, and tears burn my eyes as I nod, not trusting my voice. She asks what I could be anxious about and I whisper, “Everything.”

The family problems that are boiling over after simmering for 30 years.

The teenager I’ve helped raise for 13 years who suddenly tells me I have no place in her life.

The sick relative.

The husband who refuses to communicate.

The weight I can’t lose.

The time I don’t have.

The house that stays messy and the bank account that stays empty.

The schoolwork I have to excel at. Someone told me yesterday that a C is passing, but I can’t get a C. I have to get an A.

The sleepless nights, partially blamed on my baby, but the fact is that I toss and turn long after she has finally gone to bed.

I can’t breathe.  I am in a constant state of panic. Of waiting for the rug to come flying out from under me.  What’s next?

It’s too much, but it’s too hard to talk about. Even with friends I love, my first instinct is to pretend, “I’m fine.” The words are out of my mouth before I can stop them.
I’m a terrible liar.

Everything is not okay.

I am not fine.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Coming up for Air

I've been spiraling, I know. I am not going anywhere, not circling the drain. I am clawing my way up to a point where I can breathe again. (Although, there are times I get a few precious breaths and then immediately get sucked back down again...I really am trying.) I wanted to share some lightheartedness tonight.

A few days before Baby Sister was born, this video went viral. While I was in labor, we watched it several times, filling my delivery room with laughter and keeping my thoughts away from contractions. Our nurse stayed to watch the video with us and later came back to find out what it was called so that she could tell the other nurses about it. I laughed EVERY. TIME. I saw it.

My labor was induced. I didn't want it to be...I had a somewhat traumatizing induction with Little Sister, and was terrified of a repeat performance. But I'm a big girl now, and older, smarter, and wiser, I was able to control the situation and still get the birth that I wanted.

My doctor was doing rounds when we arrived at the hospital, the Hubster, my mother, my doula, and I. I was asked a million and three questions and finally admitted and allowed to roam the halls to wait for my doctor to make an appearance. Once he did, he broke my water and we wandered some more, hoping to avoid the dreaded Pitocin.
No such luck. With only three contractions on my own, I was hooked up to an IV. My wonderful nurses allowed me to continue to move and to labor how I wanted to as the contractions grew more intense. My birth team took turns rubbing my swollen feet, my back, and holding my hand while we looked at pictures of Little Sister and Little Brother when they were babies. We watched this video and arm wrestled and talked.
An exam revealed I was halfway there. Disappointed, because I thought I was surely much further along, I retreated to the bathroom to cry by myself for a little while.
And that's when things got crazy.
My mom was the one who finally dragged me back to bed so the nurse could monitor us again. Another exam showed I was progressing even further, and she went to tell the doctor I was close.
VERY close! The next contraction brought pressure and pushing. There was some chaos because there was no medical staff in my room, and when they returned--responding to my doula yelling in the hallway, there were two doctors because it was shift change. The Hubster caught her as she was born--wearing my robe backwards because there was no time to put on the gown they had brought him--and, just an hour after being told I was halfway there, I was holding my baby girl.

Oh, and she is beautiful. A head full of shocking dark hair when her older siblings were all bald as cue balls. Big, blue eyes. Pretty, red lips. It was love at first sight. For all of us.

And now, whenever I hear this song, no matter the artist, I smile, and I think of those hours in the hospital, waiting on our second miracle baby, and the joy I felt when first I saw her.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I’m struggling to write these words. My emotions are too raw and my heart is too hurt to form sentences correctly.

I am a child again.

I didn’t have a happy childhood. I had a nice house to live in and food to eat and…I guess you would say “things,” but I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t beaten physically, but I was abused. Verbally. Emotionally.

My parents divorced when I was very young. An infant. I grew up in what they call a blended family. Only ours was a mixture of oil and water and I was the oil. Shake it all you want, you can break down the oil into tiny beads, but it will never be accepted as part of the water.

“This is our son,” my stepfather would say. “And this is Julie’s daughter.”  The words still echo in my head all these years later. Of course he wouldn’t want to lay claim to me. I’m nothing.

I was fat. Am fat. I would play outside and he would tell me the neighbors called and reporting sightings of a beached whale. And I retreated. My mother served up boneless, skinless chicken breast next to their burgers and slapped my hand with her eyes, her voice, if I dared ask for more. “Do you really need that?”

Thirty years later, I’m still causing problems. She tells me it’s not my fault, but it is. How could it not be? My words. My actions. The knowledge that so many lives would be easier if I had never been born blindsides me. This fight, this incident comes at a bad time. The onslaught of postpartum depression, surprising only because it hit me so early this time—this last time, isn’t helping.

I am a child again. Eating to fill a void that keeps expanding. Trying to ease the physical pain that feels unreal. Why does sadness hurt so much?