Thursday, May 5, 2016

Nearing the end of Whole 30...or am I?

We are nearing the end of Day 26 of this Whole 30 challenge and I stand here and say it's been incredibly eye-opening for me.  It's been 26 days since I've had a Diet Pepsi (this is a big one), a piece of chocolate, a chip, a handful of popcorn, a bowl of cereal, or anything restaurant except a Pablos' salad (hold the rice and beans, please) and our weekend at Mumford (more on that later).  And although Beau has been having mad cravings for pizza, nachos, ice cream, you name it this week, I can honestly say I'm still not there yet.  In fact, the thought of a Diet Pepsi or something from a fryer sounds downright terrible.  Putting nothing but clean and mostly fresh foods into my system for 26 days has transformed my relationship with food in every way.  I've always loved food and had a hard time visualizing myself finding success with something like this because I didn't want to rob myself of that joy.  But thirty days apart from some of my favorite things (like spaghetti) has only opened my eyes to the importance of food to my body and my life, and in return, we've started some new food habits that have been better for us in so many ways.  Produce no longer goes to waste in our fridge, an apple has never tasted so sweet, and my pants haven't felt this good in I don't know how long!        

Lessons learned this week...

1.  Breakfast, every day.  At first, I was pretty deliberate about having planned out breakfasts to make our mornings easier, however, the last week or so Beau and I have been making eggs and topping them with whatever we have in our fridge.  Sometimes, we go for an omelette filled with leftover veggies and a protein, other times, a fried egg (in ghee, of course) with a sliced avocado on top, and my favorite, scrambled eggs with halved cherry tomatoes and fresh basil.  Almost every morning, we have our coffee and eggs together at the table before heading out the door for the day.  This has been such a good change for us, and my new favorite way to start the day. 

2.  Did I mention meal planning?  This is the absolute, without-a-doubt, number one rule to a successful Whole 30 experience.  I plan my meals out on the weekend, get groceries, and coordinate with our schedule to make sure I have a mix of easy, interesting, and delicious meals that are going to provide leftovers to eat for lunches for the week.  Soups are a great option (this one and this one are my favorites), because they're generally easy to make and easy to bring to work the next day or two.  We always have the fixings for a good salad in the fridge, and Beau typically grills a bunch of chicken breasts at the start of the week to use as a protein.  Cashews, almonds, and Larabars are my go-to snacks, and I switch up my drinks from Coconut La Croix to iced tea to water with fresh lemons or limes.  Keeping things interesting and fun ensure that I actually look forward to my meals and not think about Jimmy John's #5.    

3.  Try new things.  This is what makes it fun.  Tonight, we had one of my favorite meals since starting Whole 30.  This pan-fried chicken with a creamy sauce of coconut milk and sun-dried tomatoes is something I probably would have never tried before.  It was so good, though, the kids even ate it, and there will now be a lot more coconut milk added to my pantry.  I love that I've made my own energy bites with chopped dates and cashews, that making homemade mayonnaise or avocado salad dressing is now second nature, and that drinking my coffee black makes me feel all grown up.  Oh, and I just purchased my second container of ghee.  I have arrived.  

4.  And lastly, we cheated.  Only a little.  I allowed myself a few Wisconsin cheese curds and a couple of beers at our Mumford concert, but did stay true to Whole 30 the majority of the time.  And last weekend while visiting Nate and Kate, Kate and I shared a bottle of red wine and I couldn't help but steal a hunk of a Dutch letter from the downtown bakery.  Those experiences and the foods that accompanied them were off plan and too good to pass up.  So, I indulged, felt a little guilty, and then mostly proud of myself for treating myself a little and then jumping right back in the Whole 30 mix.  According to the book, I should have started over, but let's not get too carried away... :)

So where do we go next?  Our official end day is next Wednesday the 11th and I haven't really thought about how I plan to celebrate.  That said, I do plan to implement much of the Whole 30 lifestyle as long as I feel motivated to do so.  The weekly meal plans, morning breakfasts, and far less convenience eating are all areas I am committed to keeping up with this summer.  And although I have every intention of Four Queens ice cream stops, maidrite picnics, and Mulligans patio beers, I hope these become celebrated treats and not everyday occurrences we easily take for granted.  

So, I guess you can say I'm a believer!  All those silly things the Hartwigs said would happen after the sugar dragon was slayed have indeed come true in my daily life.  I'm sleeping better, waking up feeling brighter and more rested, and I savor my meals and the food I eat in a completely different way.  Food has become less important, and more important all at the same time, and I've learned to tell the difference between real hunger and emotional appetite.  Most of all, I've identified a strength and a willpower in myself that makes me feel pretty amazing.  It's been a great reset right before summer and has gotten me even more excited for that garden that's going in this weekend.  Now if only we could grow an avocado tree...

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