Whole30: CONQUERED!

Mally's

Yesterday was the last day of my Whole30! I can’t believe it. What an amazing month it has been. I feel exactly like Seth here:

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So, you’re probably wondering what I accomplished and what I thought of the program?

Starting Weight: 166                   Ending Weight: 153!!!

Starting Waist: ~ 36 1/4″             Ending Waist: 32 1/4″ !

Energy: My energy levels have definitely skyrocketed. I’m more clear minded and awake even on days where I don’t get enough sleep.

Physical improvements: I’ve dropped a pant size or two and my belly is much flatter (not quite where I want it to be yet but getting there). The skin on my face has cleared up as well and I think my hair even looks better. I also have less stomach issues and don’t feel bloated anymore. Like, ever.

Overall, I am very excited that I did the Whole30 and looking forward to continuing my healthy eating habits. (Though I confess- after some serious “What do I eat?!” anxiety this morning- I did have both a pancake and a cupcake. But let me warn you now, it was not a good idea. I didn’t even have to punish myself for it, because I felt gross immediately after I was done. I’m definitely right back to my Whole30 ways after that experience! Now I understand why they say to easeeee yourself back into eating normally afterwards.)

It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.

– Dallas & Melissa Hartwig, It Starts with Food

A lot of people today and over the past 30 days have congratulated me on how disciplined I was to do something like this. To them, I say the above. While I appreciate the sentiment and am very proud of the long way I have come- it really was not that hard. Hard was realizing that my favorite pair of jeans no longer fit. Hard was being winded running up the stairs to the El. Hard was feeling like I didn’t deserve to have a husband like Jon because of how unattractive I felt.

That’s fucking hard.

Not eating ice cream or chicken fingers for 30 days? Not hard.

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So what did I learn that I can share with you to help you through your Whole30? :

  1. Do your meal prep and grocery shop ahead of time.

Probably one of the most reiterated things you will hear if you decide to read up on the program is that especially in your first two weeks, Whole30 can be overwhelming. You’re trying to learn what you can and can’t eat, you’re trying to figure out how you’ll still be able to socialize for a month, you might be cranky from lack of carbs or stuck with a pounding migraine from sugar withdrawal. My first suggestion is to figure out which day of the week works best for you to go grocery shopping and go shopping each week on that day. Take the time to peruse the aisles, reading ingredient lists closely but only stock up on what you need for a week or even a few days. Remember: The products you’re eating should have no added preservatives in them so if you buy too much, some of your food may go to waste.

Also, use said day to chop up and roast/sauté/bake up a shit ton of vegetables so that when you don’t have time to cook, you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to make a Whole30 compliant meal. I also found that blending up smoothies ahead of time and storing them in a mason jar was a nice way to get my fruit in throughout the day. (*Note: Whole30 does not suggest using smoothies as meal replacement so I used them as snacks.)

2. Figure out which stores carry the best variety of products, at the most reasonable prices. 

 At first, I thought that the best store for me to shop at would be Whole Foods. They kinda market themselves as the Organic Mecca, am I right? But I quickly learned that a cart full of groceries there (even with Jon’s discount) was just not going to be realistic on our budget. So I set aside the time to drive a little bit out of the way and go to a fresh produce market that I love each week (seriously Chicagoans, if you haven’t been to Stanley’s, you’re missing out). For my meat, and beloved chicken apple sausage!, I hit up Mariano’s weekly deals and got a nice big bag of frozen chicken breasts from Costco. Not to discount Whole Foods though! They’re great for the products that are a bit more obscure- like coconut milk with no carrageenan, coconut and almond flour, dates, and Tessemae’s Dressings among others. Those bulk bins? Amazing.

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3. Don’t think of the foods you’re not eating, focus on the foods that you are.

For the first few days I just wanted a bagel or a Hershey Kiss sooooo bad. They consumed my thoughts and I seriously considered saying EFF IT and grabbing one. But somewhere around day 9, I started realizing- hey! I’m eating some really delicious stuff! I don’t have to have bread with my zucchini noodles, they’re delicious just the way they are! Whole30 is all about getting you to enjoy the “healthy stuff” in its simplicity. So focus on how amazing that dijon mustard glazed salmon tastes melting in your mouth, or how crisp that bacon is. I guarantee that once you reach that 30 day mark, you won’t even think a waffle sounds that good anymore. I swear!

4. Find ways to participate in social events while maintaining Whole30 compliance. 

I would have been completely miserable this month if I couldn’t have gone out with friends or had people over the house because I “couldn’t eat anything”. Food is a HUGE part of our social life so this is something that was very nerve-wracking for me. Don’t be afraid to suggest restaurants where you know you can eat something compliant (ie sushi restaurants for sashimi) and don’t be afraid to go to bars! Yes, it sucks, hard, not to be able to drink socially but you can find an alternative that will make you feel included. My go-to was a tonic and lime- I’m not promising it will be as satisfying as a real drink the first, second or even third time but by the end- when Jon offered me a sip of his wine “that I could spit out”, I confidently told him- Nope, not worth it. 

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Friends!

5. Do your Whole30 with a friend. 

Kind of self explanatory. It’s a heck of a lot easier when your roommate/significant other/friend wants to eat healthy with you than when you’re the odd man out while everyone else is eating pizza. That’s why I’m doing my second Whole30 so soon with my husband! (Starts September 7th, btw, and I plan to post on it more frequently than I did with this one.)

6. Keep it simple. 

Your first instinct is going to be to go to Pinterest and pin all the Whole30 recipes you can find, or to go out (guilty!) and buy a Whole30 cookbook but I’m here to tell you now, keep your meals as simple as possible. At least for the first two weeks, if not the whole program. In the beginning, make things interesting by using spices and experimenting with different techniques- that way you’ll figure out what you like most and what foods your body will respond best to throughout the program. After you get the hang of the rules, shoot for the moon and make that crazy complicated dish! I’m sure it’ll be delicious. But by staying simple in the beginning you are also less likely to break one of the Whole30’s big rules- which is not to recreate foods that your craving using compliant products.

I hope you’ll consider joining me on September 7th as I embark on my next Whole30! Stay tuned for recipes, tips & tricks on my journey to a healthier me.

Love & healthy habits!

North of Wrigley (1)

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Whole30- 21 Days!

Copy of Mally's

Today I hit the 21 day mark of my Whole30! Kind of unbelievable to me. And I’m still going strong!

How I’m feeling: AWESOME. No other way to put it, energy levels are sky high, clothes are starting to get really loose and I’m loving the way I look in the mirror. Hubby doesn’t seem to mind either 😉  My skin is also starting to clear up which is a nice little perk.

What I’m eating: I had a great weekend and managed to go to the produce market near us, Stanley’s to pick up an incredible amount of groceries. Look at what I got for $70!!! This should last both Jon and I completely through the week.

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My favorite meals this week so far were:

  • Salsa crockpot chicken- I threw a couple of organic chicken thighs in the crockpot with a whole jar of Whole Foods’ 365 brand salsa and put it on low for 8 hours overnight. When I woke up I had delicious, moist shredded chicken to put on a baked potato or eat by itself. Amazing!
  • Pork with cauliflower steaks, asparagus and a roasted red pepper sauce- We had a ton of leftover pork from when Jon smoked it a few days ago and we love our leftovers! So we had that along with some cauliflower steaks (cut your cauliflower into slices instead of florets and grill them in some olive oil), sauteed asparagus and a roasted red pepper sauce

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~ To make the sauce: I put some red peppers over the gas burner on my stove to get some nice char marks on the outside. I then put them in a bowl covered with saran wrap to “sweat” the skins off. I also roasted a whole head of garlic and then combined the red peppers, some of the roasted garlic cloves and tahini in the food processor until it was the consistency I wanted.

Challenges of the week: The cravings are starting to go away! My in-laws and hubby ate cinnamon rolls and Swedish bread and all sorts of delicious pastries right in front of me yesterday and you know what? I didn’t even want ONE. BITE. Same with a lot of the other food I’ve been craving. It really just doesn’t seem as appealing any more.

My goal this week is to read up on how to reintroduce some of the foods (like beans and some dairy) in to my diet. I never made it to that part in It Starts with Food and with the 30 day mark fast approaching, I need to!

Also exciting news: I’ve recruited two more people to do my next Whole30 with! The first one is my husband, he’s seen how great I’ve been feeling (and looking) and has decided he wants to get on track with me. And I’ve also recruited one of my good girl friends. Looks like we’ll be starting right after Labor Day weekend!

Have I convinced you to do a Whole30 yet?!

North of Wrigley (1)

Whole30- Week 2 Complete

Mally's

WEEK TWO- DONE!

Two weeks ago, I embarked on my Whole30- and honestly, I’m like a vegan now (except exactly the opposite in terms of eating habits)- I can’t tell enough people how great I am already feeling and how awesome this program is.

Just how great am I feeling you ask? Well I’ll tell you.

First of all, I’m already down seven pounds. People who have already done Whole30 are yelling at me right now like- You’re not supposed to weigh yourself until the end! I know I know. But I needed a little bit of motivation last week (Side story- my dad and husband ate a pizza AND meatball parmigiana hero right in front of my face while I was eating a salad) and this DEFINITELY HELPED. I can tell I’ve lost a couple inches too although I haven’t measured myself because I was able to fit into a pair of jean shorts yesterday that I literally haven’t worn in two years… Not quite sure why I held on to them if I didn’t fit into them but that’s not the point.

Second- I’m feeling way more energetic. I don’t feel like I need a sugar pick-me-up at 3pm every day and just my one cup of coffee in the morning is sufficient. I haven’t even been going to bed earlier. Jon gets home at 11 or so after work, so we usually stay up until midnight and I get up at my usual 6:30am. I’m less sluggish during the day and more focused as well.

I am eating until I’m satisfied- which is sooner than it used to be! Part of the point of Whole30 is that you are eating foods full of fiber and eliminating foods that interfere with your body’s natural satiety hormones (leptin and glucagon) which are responsible for telling your brain where to distribute nutrients and when to consume. This seems to have taken full effect at this point which is pretty exciting to me.

Last but not least, I am wayyyy less bloated. That was one of my biggest motivators for starting this program in the first place and I am happy to report, Whole30 is definitely working on that front.

Week 3 here I come and still going strong!

Win of Week 2: Resisting cake AND mac and cheese AND alcohol at our BBQ on Sunday!

Strugglemuffins of the week- I really wanted bread or rice soooo bad Thursday and Friday. I had a complete meltdown on Friday night and told Jon I was going to quit but he was really supportive and encouraged me to keep going.

Feel free to share your favorite Whole30 recipe in the comments! Thanks for reading!

North of Wrigley (1)

Whole30: Week 1 and Done!

Mally's

As a Long Island girl who grew up on bagels and buttered rolls, I am about to write a sentence that I never thought I’d utter…

I HAVE GONE A WHOLE WEEK WITHOUT BREAD.

Yup. That’s right, I did it. I’ve completed one week of my Whole30! And you know what? It was not as difficult as I thought. Don’t get me wrong, it was a struggle for sure but I jumped on and off the struggle bus throughout the week so at this point I’m not as exhausted as I thought I should be.

To recap- On Monday, I embarked on a Whole30 challenge. Essentially meaning I would cut out dairy, grains, legumes, alcohol, sugar and the rest of “the good stuff” for 30 days to focus on “whole foods” (seafood, meat, veggies, fruits, healthy nuts/oils). The goal is to reset your biological systems for more efficient functioning and to reduce inflammation among other things.

Well, anyone who hasn’t done a Whole30 or even heard of it is probably wondering what the hell I’m eating right about now. So let me tell you (I’ve been very bad at accountability pics but maybe next week)!

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Breakfast:

For breakfast right now I’m eating a LOT of eggs and potatoes. On Monday night I made myself a giant batch of sweet potato hash with grilled onions and usually I add two eggs over-easy to that and occasionally some bacon. It’s delicious and filling which is super important to me. I also have a coffee (black) alongside.

Lunch:

Lunch right now has been fairly simple, usually a grilled chicken breast or some ground beef I mixed up with sautéed veggies… Both with a side of sauteed veggies. I’ve also been having Larabars, which I’d discovered as part of the OptIn Study and have come to really adore. To drink is usually just water but I’ve picked up some coconut La Croix this weekend which are DELICIOUS, so I plan to include use those this week.

Dinner: 

Bless his heart, that husband of mine. He has been sooooo good about helping me to find Whole30 compliant dinners. I did the sweet potato hash on Monday and grilled chicken breasts, Thursday I went out for sushi and was able to have sashimi BUT hubby also made me “zoodles” (zucchini noodles) twice this week using some of the ground beef I had premade as a meat sauce. Ah-may-zing. Might be one of my new favorite dinners. (Pictured below!)

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The “Spiroli”- How we make our zucchini noodles! Super easy and fun

The finished product!

The finished product!

So while I have been eating well, I confess I woke up on Thursday morning with a headache so bad I thought my head would split in half. I’m thinking it was most likely sugar withdrawal but it went away with a few ibuprofen. No sign of another one coming on soon either, which I take as a good sign that maybe my body didn’t have all that much detoxing to do?

I would also like to add that I made it through 3 parties this week- 2 at work and one that my in-laws were hosting- without breaking down! I resisted cupcakes, cheesecake, pizza, you name it 🙂

I’m feeling so motivated right now and can’t wait to share how the rest of my challenge goes with you. Have you ever done a Whole30? If you have, feel free to share your favorite recipe in the comments. If not, would you be interested in doing a challenge like this?

North of Wrigley (1)

Day 2 of Whole30

Mally's

So yesterday I embarked on what is probably going to be one of the biggest challenges in my life thus far- the Whole30. For those of you who don’t know what that means, I’ll spell it out for you:

– No alcohol

– No sugar

– No dairy

– No processed foods

– No legumes

– No additives

– No grains

I’m sure you’re staring at this list thinking  WT-ACTUAL-F, is she crazy?! Why would anyone do that, especially someone who lives in Chicago, where the only months to enjoy being alive are June-September?! 

I know right? I can hardly believe I’m doing it either. For someone who is addicted to bread and has a chef-hubby, it would’ve seemed nearly impossible a few months ago. But after researching a bit and reading It Starts with Food (a guide to all things Whole30 by the creators of the program), I was totally hooked.

The premise is to “restart” your bodily functions by eliminating anything in your diet which may cause an unpleasant reaction- inflammation, skin reactions, etc. I’ve been feeling like absolute shit lately, tired and sluggish, despite my efforts in exercising more than ever and Whole30 lists increased energy as one of the many benefits of the program! So what exactly am I eating? That’s the surprisingly easy part-

– Meat

– Seafood

– Vegetables

– Fruits

– Eggs

– Healthy fats (oils, nuts, seeds)

Thus, I can make some great meals even sans my beloved grains! On Day 2 I’m feeling a bit tired and a little hungry but otherwise it’s smooth sailing so far.

Stay tuned for updates and meal plans as I make this journey to a healthier me!

North of Wrigley (1)