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:

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 11: My Husband Rocks

As I was sitting on the couch planning my meals for the week, my husband sits down next to me with a cheese and bean burrito in hand. He starts waxing poetic on the virtues of the blessed tortilla.

“These tortillas are amazing. They’re so fluffy and delicious! I almost feel like grabbing another one to just eat it by itself.”

“Go for it. You know I can’t eat them,” I say, avoiding eye contact with the tortilla.

He comes back, and just keeps expounding on the tortilla’s virtues.

“Seriously, this is so good! It’s flaky, and soft, and…”

I interrupt him to meekly ask, “Would you please stop singing the tortilla’s praises now, please?”

“Oh! Aww, kitty, I’m so sorry!!”, he says, realizing what he’s done. And he doesn’t stop there.

“This tortilla is awful. I am only eating it to get it out of your sight. I would rather be eating literally anything else. It’s so disgusting.”

 love adorable sweet up relationship GIF

I married the best person. That is all.


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 🙂

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 12: Considering starting over

Note: I did not say considering “quitting”. I said considering “starting over.”

You know how Whole30 and VegWhole30 have slightly different rules, one of them being that in the original you can’t have soy products and in the veg version you can have some? Well, last night I had some Braggs liquid aminos on my tofu. I had been having such a hard time finding coconut aminos, that I finally caved in when my roommate said she got me Braggs. Unlike regular soy sauce, which contains wheat (and sometimes sugar), Braggs is only non-GMO soy beans and purified water. As a friend put it, it’s less soy sauce and more “soy juice.” I figured, if I am allowed to have tofu, surely I can have Braggs right?

As I got into bed last night, I realized I felt kind of bloaty and uncomfortable. I wondered if it was the Braggs, or if it was because I had had chickpeas for both breakfast and lunch (which, btw, even though you can have legumes on the VegWhole30, you’re supposed to eat them “in rotation.) This morning (Day 13), I got on the Whole30 forums and asked about VegWhole30 and Braggs. No one has yet given me a solid yes or no answer, but the consensus seems to be I’m really pushing the envelope here. It’s not on the VegWhole30 shopping list, for one. One user commented that “I would say the spirit of choosing legumes would be to get alternate protein sources, but not a free card for other products.” Ouch!

There’s more to my considering starting my count over than the potential Braggs infringement though. I technically have stayed strictly within Whole30 approved ingredients for my meals, but my habits haven’t been that great. I’ve eaten way too many Larabars, for example, and upon closer reading what the official “can I have?” guide to the Whole30 says about them, I’m pretty sure I’ve been cheating:

We recommend using Larabars as emergency snacks, or fuel during endurance athletics. They’re as close to candy as you can get on the Whole30 (with dates as a binder), so don’t use them to satisfy sugar cravings. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between a Snickers bar and a Larabar!

I think that starting my Whole30 over, now that I have more realistic expectations about meal prepping, and now that I have a clearer understanding of what I’m doing, might not be a bad idea. The Sugar Dragon, of course, reared its ugly head to say “well, if you’re going to start over anyway, you can give me a chocolate bar, right?”

Shut up, Sugar Dragon. I don’t feel bad about starting over because it’s a conscious choice and not a failure. If I, on the other hand, give in to feelings of defeat and indulge in a chocolate bar “because I already failed”, then I would have a harder time thinking it was a smart choice.

Anyway. Day 1 again tomorrow.