Day 26-27: The Whole 9 (Yards)

Holy Cow! I’m almost done!! It feels like forever since the last time I had all sorts of things. I honestly barely miss some things (rice? what’s that?) while other things I’m fantasizing about (omnom gimme challah). My Whole30 Daily email today was about the “now what?” moment after Day 30. The people behind the Whole30 insist that “It starts with food”, but it doesn’t end there. Whole Health is an amalgam of 9 interconnected factors:

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I have to say, eating VegWhole30 hasn’t been the amazing, life changing magic that I expected. Now, to their credit, the website is very clear about the fact that it does not believe vegetarianism is a sustainable healthy diet in the long term. I of course disagree for several reasons. In any case, they include a disclaimer saying that doing Whole30 as a vegetarian could not guarantee you the same life changing effects that doing Whole30 the regular way could bring. Still, I was hoping I’d see a bit more difference in myself. Oh well. That brings me back to the Whole9 point. I have some deep rooted physical and emotional needs that won’t all be taken care of by changing what I eat. So, succinctly, here are some brainstorming ideas for what I would want for living my best life:

Nutrition: continue eating well, even after Whole30. Continue to develop my meal plan and meal prep skills so that I can save money and eat better consistently.

Sleep: sleeping 8 hours a night. The overwhelming majority of what I read about sleep assumes that I, like apparently most people, have trouble sleeping. Even doctors I’ve spoken to start spouting off suggestions about how I should dim my lights and turn off my electronics, yada yada, without listening to me when I say I could stare at my phone for an hour in a brightly lit room after exercising at night and having a big dinner, and I could still sleep for 10 hours and want a nap the next day. I don’t need suggestions on how to fall asleep or stay asleep. I need suggestions on how to stay awake and clear headed! I feel like it’s gotten better this month, but I’m still not where I want to be.

Exercise: supplement my dancing with yoga and strength training, maybe even some fundamental dance skills like beginning ballet or ballet barre. I would also love to learn a new skill just for fun, like aerial circus arts!

Stress management: I have decided that having a massage a month would make my life a lot better. I’ve been putting this off for a very long time, but it’s finally time to make it a priority. It took me waking up with severe torticolis and being stiff necked for days this week to finally get me and my husband to the point where we say “yeah, budgeting for a massage a month sounds like a great idea!”

Temperance: I think this has to do with limiting yourself on certain things? I mean, this kind of feeds into my previous statement of limiting myself to less sleep. However, one thing I’ve noticed? I have trouble eating without something else going on; looking at my phone, watching tv, reading, etc. I should really challenge myself to eating with no distractions more often.

Active recovery: Ooh boy. Physically? I have flat feet. I could get that checked out. But really, it’s my mental health that I should be focusing on active recovery with. I could journal, I could fill out CBT worksheets, find a creative arts therapist, all sorts of stuff. I’d have to look into it.

Personal growth: so many things I want to do! I wish I could learn all the things! I could start by keeping up with weekly torah portions, like I always say I will and don’t actually do.

Fun and play: I’ve been giving myself a lot more me time to play video games recently, and I realized how much I missed it! I hope to keep it up when school starts.

Injury rehab: Well, I don’t have any actual injuries to recover from. Do my flat feet count?

 

So, that’s me and what I’ll be trying to work on for the next while. What about you? What would your Whole 9 look like?

 

Day 25: Playing Catch Up

I’ve been irresponsible about blogging, obviously. This tends to happen to me. I’ve tried several times to blog regularly about a few different things. I get really excited for a while, and then when the excitement goes away I stop. I’m trying to not do that now, even though I haven’t written in a few days. The good news is that I’m still Whole30 compliant, even if I haven’t been writing about it. The better news is that I’m on Day 25! Honestly, by this point I’m ready to be done. It’s been great, don’t get me wrong. I’ve learned a lot about food and about myself, I’m cooking a lot more, I’m eating better, and my relationship with my food has improved a lot. My singing voice sounds better (thanks, no sugar and no cheese!), my head feels clearer, I’m waking up with more energy (even if I still sleep a lot.) Still, maybe it’s because I’ve been at this for 37 days, but I’m ready to be able to take my friends up on their invitations to go eat dim sum or actually use my drink ticket when I perform at bar shows. I have a plan for reintroducing all the food categories I’ve been avoiding, slowly. I end Whole30 on Shabbat, and am looking forward to having challah. I’ll skip on the wine for now. Challah, of course, has sugar, butter, and flour. I’ll spend the first week reintroducing those before moving on to other things like cheese or rice.

Anyhow, I’m getting ahead of myself. Still 6 days to go (including today). I reevaluated my goals for August. Exercising every day is too ambitious. Instead, I told my husband that I’d work out with him 3 days a week at home. That, plus my regular dance schedule, sounds like a good start. I am also still planning on keeping up with my food goals. “It Starts With Food” after all, right? For me, that means keeping up Whole30 until the 11th and then after that being conscientious about reintroducing food groups; continuing to meal prep for myself, and sending my husband at least one lunch a week to work; and blogging about my progress. As for non-food related things, I’m decluttering and organizing my house (finally) and doing some important school related things before the semester starts. That should keep me plenty busy until the start of my last full time semester of grad school!

I keep having bizarre Whole30 dreams. I dreamed that I had a delicious sugary dessert, and realized after 3 bites or so what I was doing. I was like OH NO! I WAS SOOO CLOSE, WTF AM I DOING?! And then I realized. Wait. I’m at a table with a whole bunch of wizards and witches, there’s a river running through the room with whales and dolphins jumping out of it, and there’s Mary Kate and Ashley. This is a dream. Well then, if it’s a dream I’ll go ahead and enjoy this delicious dessert!

I got my magnesium supplement in the mail yesterday. It’s pretty neutral in flavour, and it’s not a pill, both of which are great things. I’m looking forward to seeing how this further improves my health. In the meantime, here. A picture of something I made myself for breakfast the other day: minted cucumbers and strawberries, from The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking. Have a happy week, everyone!

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Day 10: Non-Food Stuff to Catch Up On

I am again two thirds away from the end of the program. Yay, double digits! This feels like a good time to go over some of the non-food related items on the program as outlined by my Whole30 Daily emails that I really should start getting a move on.

Sleep: My problem has never been that I don’t sleep enough. In fact, I sleep too much. However, because I have PTSD, and have struggled with depression and TMJD (temporomandibular jaw disorder) for most of my life, the quality of sleep that I get is not very good. What ends up happening is that I sleep too much, and still feel tired. I could sleep 12 hours, wake up, and then 2 hours later have a 3 hour nap- all without impairing my ability to sleep at night. What I want to be able to do is train my body to reduce its sleeping time, meaning I want to be able to sleep only 8-9 hours a night, not take naps longer than 30 minutes during the day, and still be fine. That sounds like a dream to me! My Whole30 Daily emails tell me I should be waking up near dawn. That idea makes me really sad because I’m a night owl. They also say that I should establish a regular bedtime and waking up time, which sounds more realistic at the moment. If I could go to bed at 1:00 AM and wake up at 9:00 or 10:00 six out of seven days in a week, it would be fantastic. Fortunately, I never developed a caffeine addiction (like most people in my country), so I don’t have that holding me back.

Magnesium: My doctor had already told me that I should look into getting magnesium and lithium supplements to help my mental health. Interestingly, she said taking magnesium supplements may help me because I have night sweats, and these can sometimes be caused by a salt imbalance in the body (and magnesium is a salt.) However, she cautioned me to avoid magnesium oxide supplements, as she said that magnesium oxide is basically useless because we just pee it out. This is apparently the same thing that happens with zinc oxide. Instead of magnesium oxide, she recommends 200 to 400 mg of magnesium citrate, glycinate, fumarate, or taurate twice a day. Interestingly, Whole30 Daily also recommends taking magnesium, and specifically recommends taking Natural Calm before bedtime. I am definitely planning on giving this a try. It is a 350 mg dose of magnesium citrate in the form of a fizzy beverage powder. You mean I don’t have to take yet another pill? Heck yes!

Exercise: Of course I’ve been belly dancing, but I have known for a while that I need to supplement my dancing with another sort of “regular” workout to improve my endurance, strength, and flexibility. My university’s gym offers free group exercise classes, but since I’m not enrolled in classes this summer, I can’t take those until the fall. I hadn’t enrolled in anything else because of money. Whole30 Daily sent me a conveniently long list of exercises I can do without spending any money. Unfortunately, most of them involve running. I hate running. I can’t think of many exercises I’d despise more. And yet… sigh. Maybe I should give this list of 31 exercises a try for the rest of the summer. If I do one each, 6 days out of the week for the rest of my summer break, I’ll finish them all by the time school starts again. I’m more likely to do that than kettle bells, which the emails also suggest. I would probably need to get up pretty early if I’m going to be running anywhere, since it’s summer in Texas and the heat here literally kills people. More motivation to stick to a sleep schedule, I suppose? Also, I hope I’ll be able to go back to yoga again soon, because I miss it.

Look at me, doing all these things I never thought I’d do. Eating eggs on a regular basis. Running. Eating things like beets that I used to hate. Maybe there is something to the “Whole30 will change your life” thing after all. aXm139xjU

I leave you with a slightly confusing, yet oddly insightful InspiroBot quote.

Day 9: Family Dinner Time

I realized after the fact that one of the recipes I had chosen for my meal plan this week involved using some equipment that we don’t own. Oops. So, change of plans. For breakfast prep, I made sweet potato applesauce mash, which was easy to make although time consuming because the sweet potatoes had to roast in the oven for an hour. I also made the applesauce from scratch, because I didn’t trust store bought varieties to not have sugar. The end result tastes like something you’d eat at thanksgiving. I feel like nutmeg and cinnamon have the power to make food remind you of the holidays for some reason. If I wasn’t on Whole30, I would have added just the slightest bit of honey, but honestly, it’s plenty sweet on its own.

I wanted to make dinner for the three of us, and wasn’t totally sure what I was going to make. I figured I’d just start chopping onions and prepping the vegetables we had until something occurred to me. The tomatoes needed to be eaten STAT, so I chopped those too. Wait. Were there enough zucchinis to make more zoodles? Yes! I made a thick sauce with onions, cilantro, garlic, tomatoes, and mushrooms and let it simmer while spiraling the zucchinis. This time I tried cooking the zucchini noodles instead of throwing them in raw. I actually left them a bit too long because I got distracted, and some of them turned black. Crap. But then I tried them and was like… omg… this is actually really good. They didn’t even taste burned, just roasted. In any case, cooking the zoodles really brought out a lot more flavour. Since the “sauce” was really more like a stew, I just threw the zoodles in there too. As I was prepping, I was wondering what to do about a protein source. Last time I made zoodles, we were starving after a couple of hours. I had already had white beans for two or three meals, so I needed something different. I was really disappointed to come home from the supermarket with tofu that I realized (too late) had a sulfate in it, so I can’t eat it. Then I remembered I had frozen organic edamame. Yayy! I put those in a pot to boil, drained them, and put them on top of the whole meal.

My roommate, husband, and I all sat down together at the table to eat dinner for the first time in what feels like forever. I was so happy that we all liked the dish. The edamame was a great addition. Cooking the zucchini noodles also was a great improvement from last time. By the end of the meal, we all felt full. And it was so nice to actually sit down and talk instead of stare at a TV. It’s moments like these that make families, blood related or not 🙂

Shabbat Shalom, everyone!

Day 8: Dance Dance Dance

So, I’ve mentioned I’m a belly dancer, right?

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Photo by Easy Street Images

I am one week away from participating in my first ever competition.  I’m competing in two categories, as a soloist and as a member of a dance troupe. I am nervous, but also really excited. I’m getting down to the nitty gritty of planning my hair and makeup, I just got my costume fitted, and have plans for a mani pedi spa day to prepare. Oh, and of course, dancing every damn day.

I have a Russian dance teacher, who is very sweet and also has very high Russian dance teacher standards. I know I’ve done well when she doesn’t tell me I’ve made many mistakes. So it means all the more to me for her to tell me that she thinks I have really good chances in this competition, and that I’ve gotten much better.

So what does any of this have to do with Whole30?

Of course, Whole30 really isn’t just about food, it’s about lifestyle. That includes things like stress, sleep, and exercise. Dancing has been my favourite exercise hands down, for so many reasons. Belly dancing has been a huge part of my life for years, and one of my favourite things about it is that I’ve seen dancers of all shapes, sizes, ages, and genders. Once I realized that no one was asking me to be 90 lbs and that I was actually good at this dance, my self esteem shot through the roof. It would be easy to forget how much exercise it actually is were it not for the fact that I’m kind of a swamp monster and I sweat profusely. I used to do yoga a few times a week too, which I loved dearly. I’ll get back to it when we can spare the extra $100 for the unlimited monthly pass at the place I was going at.

Anyway, I digress. On a more practical level, being in the competition next week means I’m going to have to take some extra food prep precautions. The competition is part of a 4 day long convention, of which I’m going to 3 full days. That means I need to be prepared to pack about 5 meals while I’m there, because I’m almost positive there will be nothing there that I can eat. I also have to make sure the food is substantial enough to get me through multiple hours of dancing every day. Energy snacks may be in order for this one.

I’m open to suggestions, as always! In the meantime, I’ll be over here making faces at myself in the mirror to practice my stage face. Game ON.

Day 6, version 2: Eating Things I Never Thought I’d Eat (And Liking Them)

I was never a picky eater, but there were two things growing up that I really did not like. Eggs and beets. We’ve talked about my aversion to eggs before. I really did try to like them! Beets never got the benefit of the doubt. In Costa Rica, we have a very popular salad that we call ensalada rusa- “Russian salad”. Just like I really doubt that “Greek salad” is actually called Greek salad in Greece, I have confirmed that “Russian salad” as I knew it is definitely not known as Russian salad in Russia. Ensalada rusa does contain several elements found in a lot of Russian cuisine, such as beets, potatoes, sour cream, and hard boiled eggs. My Russian belly dance teacher tells me the closest thing is Russian “Venigret”.

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(Photo found on Pinterest)

I digress. The fact is, growing up, I couldn’t think of many things more disgusting than Russian salad.

First there’s the Spanish word for beets. Remolacha. It sounds revolting. Ensalada rusa also has the colour of Pepto Bismol, which was in my mind inextricably linked to a very bad time. And of course, the hard boiled eggs didn’t make it any more appealing to me.

It wasn’t until many, many years later, when a friend invited me over for dinner and served a salad with fresh beets, that I realized that my hatred for beets had been misguided. All the beets I had ever had in my life had been canned! I still hate canned beets, and I have been pleasantly surprised to find that fresh beets are almost nothing like them.

Fast forward to my Whole30 experience. I’ve eaten more eggs in the past two weeks than I probably ever have in my life. I’ve been very happy to come to the realization that my dislike of eggs is really a dislike of yolks, specifically runny yolks. So instead of cooking them “sunny side up” (if you can believe it, I had to google how to do this), I flip them over so that the yolk gets cooked too. Which brings me to my next food adventure: “Sweet-beet hash with egg on top”. I got this recipe from the back of a package of Veggie Noodle Co. spiralized beets.

Stop the world! Lindsy is eating something that has BOTH EGGS AND BEETS! Voluntarily!!! (My Mami would probably be proud).

It was pretty simple. The thing that took the longest time to prep was the roasted sweet potato. You basically add onion, roasted sweet potato, mushrooms, spinach, and spiralized beets to a cast iron pan with some balsamic vinegar and put fried eggs on top.

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The result was so pretty and colourful! My husband jokingly said “Yes, you should always eat things with many different colours to ensure good nutrition. So let’s eat skittles!!” (lol, right?)

But really though. I was actually really happy with the result. Overall the whole dish was slightly sweet, what with the vinegar, the beets, and the sweet potato, but also had lovely salty notes from the eggs, and a lot of earthiness from the beets, spinach, and mushrooms. I chuckled to myself a bit. My inner child is probably looking on in horror at me eating something a little too much like ensalada rusa. I’ll have a talk with her about it, and make this again in the future.

Day 5, Take 2: Book Reports

I got two cookbooks in the mail today! I already meal planned this week, but I’m excited to get to use these for helping plan my meals in the future. Here are my thoughts.

The first one is Meal Prep: The Essential Meal Prep Cookbook by Tyler Smith. The title advertises “quick, simple, and delicious recipes for rapid weight loss”. I’m not necessarily going for the “rapid weight loss” thing, but it seems like a lot of meal prep cookbooks are geared towards people trying to lose weight. That makes sense, of course. Cooking more at home= less eating out + better portion control, etc. In any case, I liked the book because it has a dedicated vegetarian chapter and good advice about the meal prep process in general. I especially like the fact that it has a very handy table of how long ingredients last after they have been prepped in different ways. For example, onions can stay fresh in the fridge 3 days if sliced or minced, but they can last 7 days if peeled and kept whole. The book also tells you how best to store your ingredients for freshness. This is all very helpful because it tells me how far in advance I can prepare my food, and I can plan the order of my week’s meals accordingly. It seems like most of the recipes are pretty low carb and whole foods-y, so I won’t have to do too much adapting to the recipes besides substituting the meat in the non-vegetarian chapters. Each recipe also has prep instructions for how to portion out and store the servings. The book recommends investing in some good tupperware to portion out servings for the week. My tupperware drawer is a mess, so now would be a perfect opportunity to organize it and see how many containers I actually own that still have their matching lids. On another note, I still bemoan the absence of a vegetarian meal prep cookbook, but that’s not this book’s fault.

The second book is Whole: The 30 Day Whole Food Challenge by Michael Williams, offering a “beginner’s guide with 150 compliant and yummy recipes.” I’m not sure this book is actually sanctioned by the official Whole30, but at least I know that the recipes are Whole30 compliant. That’s at least as far as the ingredients go. I wanted a book in which I didn’t have to worry about altering the recipes to be both meatless and Whole30 compliant. This book also has a handy 30 day meal plan, complete with shopping lists for everything you’ll need that week. However, Whole30-ers be warned! This book does contain recipes for how to make some sex with your pants on foods, like paleo pizza and gasp! shock! horror! even Whole30 compliant pancakes!! I find it almost comical how emphatically the official Whole30 website tells you NOT TO EAT FREAKING PANCAKES! They say that every time someone asks them if they can eat pancakes, one of them starts to cry or get angry. So anyway… of course, not going to make the paleo pizza or banana “pancakes” in this book. Truth is, I don’t even really like pancakes to begin with. This book also has a significant amount of recipes for smoothies. I reread what the website has to say about eating smoothies for breakfast and found this:

First, we would much rather see you eat a meal you have to chew instead of drinking your calories, because satiety. Smoothies are usually super heavy on the fruit, which means you’re ingesting way more sugar than you would if you just ate the fruit in its whole form. Also, smoothies don’t usually contain protein, so you’re missing out on both satiety and complete protein, which is really hard to make up in just your two other meals. Plus drinking a huge whackload of fruit first thing in the morning can set you up for more volatile energy, hunger, and cravings throughout your day. But no, we’re not going to kick you out of the Whole30 for having a smoothie. Just maybe have some eggs with it, okay?

So basically, I can still do the smoothie thing, but I should still actually eat something for breakfast too. That would have been my first instinct as well, so it’s all good. Looking at the 30 day meal plan in this book, I’m now almost certain this is not an officially sanctioned book, because they suggest having just a smoothie (!) for breakfast on more days than not, and also having 2-3 snacks a day, including one after dinner (!). I’m definitely going to ignore that “advice”. I find myself wanting a snack sometime in the afternoon, but certainly not 3 snacks a day, and never after my last full meal of the day.

With regards to their technically compliant but “sex with your pants on” food; these might be good during the reintroduction period later, when I’m starting to break from the program but still want to stay mostly compliant. Clearly I won’t be following this book’s meal plan strictly anyway, but it’s nice to have as a reference. All the recipes in this book look pretty simple, which is a plus.

And that’s all for today! Good night, world 🙂