Day 12-17: What Happened While I Went AWOL

Greetings, internet!

No, I didn’t forget about this, and l didn’t fall off the Whole30 bandwagon. I can proudly say that my name is Lindsy and I haven’t had sugar in 29 days. Also, I’m more than half way through the program since I restarted it. This week has been super busy because I’ve been at a belly dance festival/ competition! 

(Me and one of my troupe mates)

 Yesterday I danced for 7 hours and today I’ve been exhausted! But l still wanted to drop a note here. I managed to stay compliant throughout the festival by making all the food l was going to eat out in advance. I made broccoli and asparagus frittata for breakfasts and roasted root vegetables with nuts and seeds for lunches and dinners. I also took some walnuts to snack on. I was very satisfied with my food, though I have to say dancing 7 hours made me really hungry and I dropped the store for extra snacks before the night was over. 

I’ll write more about my meal plan this week and how it went tomorrow, after l finish my last 6 hours of dance workshops. Need to get to sleep so I can be up bright and early. Good night!

Day 8: Dance Dance Dance

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

doumbec dance pic.jpg

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 7, version 2: First Week Done, Again!

Yesterday was the end of week one since my restart. I happened to have had a doctor’s appointment. I have made several significant changes to my lifestyle since the end of June, and a follow up was in order. Besides starting the VegWhole30, I also got an IUD placed right before the start of the program, and shortly before that, my doctor reduced the dosage of my medication. It’s hard to say which factor is responsible for any changes I’m experiencing, but given that no factor can be experienced in isolation, it doesn’t really matter all that much. The medication change and the IUD are here to stay, so the only variable that is likely to change in the near future is my diet. I’ll keep that in mind if I start experiencing anything new.

Doc was pleased with my report that since our last appointment about a month ago, my head feels clearer and I feel overall better. She had taken me off a medication that was only there to treat the side effect of my first medication. It feels really good to not take pills I don’t need anymore, and to be taking the minimum dose I really need from the other one (which thankfully isn’t enough to give me the side effect that was bothering me!). I still get tired a lot, but I generally have more energy. I could be seeing things, but I think my waist looks more defined. My belly dance teacher says she thinks I’ve lost some weight, but I feel like it’s more that my body constitution is changing a bit. The most significant difference is still that now I pay much more attention to the food I eat. The food I make is a joy again. It’s not “I’m going to half ass my way through making some pasta and call it a meal.” It’s not “I’m hungry and want to eat, but the only thing that’s prepared in the fridge is white rice, so let’s just put some soy sauce on it and call it a day.” It’s actually “I am so excited to dig into this stew I made today!” Last night I made a tasty white bean and sweet potato stew with collard greens, and got 5 portions out of it 🙂 I had one for dinner last night, gave one to my husband to take to work, and packed away 3 more. Slowly but surely the meal prep thing is coming along!

Another shout out is in order to my Whole30 buddy across the country, Samantha. I know I can ask her all the important questions:

Me: ok, can I ask you a gross question though?

Her: your period changing?

Me: … how were your poops? lol

Her: oh

 the fox and the hound GIF

Everyone deserves a friend like this.

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 🙂

Days 2-4, take two: Temptation, Taste, and Task Management

Hope everyone had a good Shabbat + weekend! My first weekend back on track has been pretty good, though not without challenges. I sang at the synagogue on Friday night, and was a bit sad to not be able to partake in the ceremonial bread and wine. Moreover… the oneg hosts brought nutella. Ohhh, nutella!!! In the days when I went from being a fat kid on the inside to being actually kind of chubby on the outside, I would happily eat a whole jar of nutella by myself. By the spoonful. Straight out of the jar. Yeah… I know. Soooo delicious though. And so sinful for so many reasons. First of all, nutella is basically horrible for you. It has hydrogenated palm oil in it, which has trans fat- terrible in and of itself, and awful when you consider nutella is also a sugar bomb. Palm oil is also one of the worst foods for the planet so there’s that. Why does something so bad have to taste so good?? I texted my friend Samantha, a great friend who lives across the country and lets me vent to her about Whole30 stuff:

Me: Girl. There’s nutella at the oneg tonight, and I’M DYING.

Her: Don’t do it.

Me: I knowww. I won’t. 😦

Samantha did the Whole30 this year and got really great results. Even if she’s not physically here, it’s great to have someone I can call on when I have questions or want to talk about my food choices. Not to mention it’s nice to get that extra morale boost when faced with the evil sugar bombs of doom. Something I commented to her this weekend was that my voice sounded really good with minimal warm up at this service. Sugar is bad for singing, and my first teacher advised me to cut it out of my diet. Now that I’m finally doing that, I’m wondering if maybe this is a benefit of the Whole30 that most people wouldn’t mention because they aren’t professional musicians. Samantha’s answer was that “sugar is literally the devil.” Seriously though.

After the service, I went on a sushi date with a gal pal. Of course, I had sashimi instead of sushi. That was the most amount of fish I’d had in a single sitting in a very long time, and now I feel like I’ve O.D’d on fish. Like I said, I really don’t think I could go back to doing this regularly. I’ve considered adding fish a couple of times a week for the duration of the Whole30 just because they make such a big deal out of the benefits of it, but I just don’t think my system, that has been animal free for so long, could handle it. I’ll listen to my body and stick to my legumes and yogurt, thank you very much VegWhole30.

I was expecting my cookbooks to come in the mail this weekend, but alas, they did not. Bummer. I still planned my meals and shopped accordingly though! Tomorrow is going to be a day spent in the kitchen making stuff for the week.

The Whole30 Daily suggests having a shortlist of 3-5 recipes that can be made in about 15 minutes, for when hunger strikes and there’s no food just waiting to be eaten. I’ve only got 2 so far. Can anyone help me with more ideas? So far I’ve got tofu scramble and salad, plus roasted vegetables and egg whites. I’m all ears for suggestions!

 

Day 1.5: Definitely Started Over

Today would have been Day 13, but now it’s Day 1 again. While I haven’t eaten anything that was markedly off limits, I decided that I’ve been toeing the line a bit too close for comfort. I think my experience will be a lot better now that I know a bit more than what I did when I started the program. I ordered two cookbooks today which will get here on Saturday (thank you, Amazon Prime!) One is a meal prep cookbook which I hope will give me the guidance I need for making food for myself (and eventually others) in bulk, and the other is a Whole30 cookbook (note: not the Whole30 cookbook) that will give me plenty of more compliant recipe ideas. I think that these will really help me do better.

Of course, brains don’t like being told no. The moment it set in that I was restarting, it was like my brain started sounding craving alarms. WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE’RE NOT GETTING SUGAR OR CHEESE FOR AN EXTRA 12 DAYS?! YOU TOLD US THIS WOULD ONLY BE 30 DAYS! WTF, YOU *#@$ING %&*@!!!!

Again, Shut up Sugar Dragon. Calm down, brain. For the love of all that is good, stop sending me constant images of cheesy mashed potatoes followed by caramel chocolate bars.

I danced for about 2.5 hours today, which was a great way to get my mind off of my food choices. My competition solo piece is looking better and better, and my teacher thinks I have good chances.

Anyway. I have to remind myself. Why am I doing this? Why am I doing this again? I do believe that making better food choices will improve my life significantly. I have opened my eyes to how poorly I was eating before, and don’t want to go back to that life. I have remembered how good it feels to be in the kitchen. And I feel like, with the way that I was doing Whole30 up until yesterday, I really wasn’t going to get the most out of the program that I could. It is a conscious choice to start my count again. I do not feel guilt or shame. If anything, I feel excited that I get to spend another 30 days finding Food Freedom.

Not going to lie though, the cravings hiked up acutely today when I realized I was in this for longer than originally planned, and having the support of people around me (and online) has been invaluable. Thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the internet. The fact that you read this makes my day.

Day 10: Meal Prep Hurdles

So, the zoodler was lovely, and the zucchini noodles were beautiful and nutritious and delicious. And then about an hour after my zucchini noodle pasta lunch, I was hungry again. Ravenous, even. The green tomato shakshuka that I had made myself for breakfast in the morning (which turned out to be a pretty good experiment!), the one whose leftovers I had carefully packed for breakfast for myself for the next couple of days, called to me and ended up being my second helping for lunch. Around that time, my husband texted me to tell me that lunch was tasty and that he too was starving an hour later, even with an added banana. We realized we were going to have to prep much more robust meals if we were going to make this meal prep thing work. In addition, he’s about a foot taller than I am, and has always had one of those enviable metabolisms where he can eat anything and never get fat. He easily needs 500-1000 more calories a day than I do. And sadly, a zucchini noodle lunch just wasn’t going to cut it.

I also realized I got in over my head with wanting to make meals for my whole family. If I was just prepping meals for myself, it wouldn’t be too bad, but I thought I could prep meals for 3 and be fine. Wrong. I feel like I can’t keep up. Every time I make a meal, I feel like I already need to make the next one.

I think I’ve been doing it wrong. I need to rethink my ideas about cooking en masse. My regular cooking methods aren’t cutting it, and unless I want to spend all day in the kitchen several times a week, I need to figure out different ways to mass produce. I tried looking up “vegetarian meal prep” cookbooks on Amazon, and got nothing. There’s some slow cooker books, and meal prep books that have vegetarian recipes in them, but no book specifically marketed as “this is a book that will help get your family fed for a week with food you can make in bulk.” Maybe someone can help a veg girl out and make it happen? By contrast, an Amazon search of meal prep cookbooks yields several good looking results, none of them with vegetarians and vegans specifically in mind. Maybe I’ll get myself one of these books and adapt it as necessary to my needs.

So if anyone has any good ideas about vegetarian meal prep, I’m all ears! Off to the kitchen. Again.

1/3 of the way there!