As humans we have the tendency to represent ourselves by single labels, numbers, categories, or simple facts.  Common examples of this would be using your career, your age, or your biggest hobby as a catch-all label to represent you and your identity.

Since we love to quantify things, we often attach great meaning to the various numbers that can represent us.


Below is a short list of numbers that can be used to represent me. Some of these can be pretty variable, but I’ve picked an average or a recent number for this purpose.

32 – Age
5’4″ – Height
165 lbs – Weight
8.5 – Shoe size
8 – Books read in 2014 so far
29% – Body fat
0 – Number of children
10,000-12,000 – Steps taken per day
29 – Jean size I wore yesterday
4 – Average cups of coffee per day
5 – Years I’ve been in my current job
2200-2500 – Calories eaten per day
4 – Years of post-secondary education
12.5″ – Bicep measurement
125 – Facebook friends
225 lbs – Back squat PR
3 – Spartan Races completed
1 – Vehicle in our household
40 – Number of burpees I can do in 3:00

Which number about me is most meaningful to you as an outsider looking at me?  Which number tells you the most about me as a person?

Now thinking about your own list of these numbers (or similar), which of them do you attach the most meaning to?  Is it the same as the one that you thought was most meaningful about me?

I would bet that very few people (if any) reading this would say that my current weight is the most meaningful number on that list.  But how many of us attach great meaning to that particular number in our own minds?  We fixate on it, obsess about it, monitor it constantly, try everything possible to change it, break down when it doesn’t change, have a day ruined by measuring it.  And yet…this particular number holds much less meaning to those around us.

None of these numbers, weight included, tell you whether or not I’m a good person.  Taken individually, these numbers don’t give you a complete picture of who I am and only give a tiny glimpse into part of my identity.  The same is true for your own list of numbers.

We are all so much more than a number, whether that number is our weight, our gym PR, our age, or our pants size.  Maybe the next time you’re negatively impacted by thinking about one of these particular numbers, you’ll think back to this post and this reminder of that fact.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about which numbers you thought were most meaningful for me and for yourself!

day in the life

I saw this done recently on a blog floating by in Feedly. Unfortunately, I can’t remember which blog that was so this will be an uncredited rip off.

I thought it would be fun to do a “day in the life” through a photo taken during every hour throughout the day.  This turned out to be a pretty mundane day…but it was fun to try and find different ways to photograph the stats and spreadsheets I was working on pretty much all day long.

6 a.m. – Morning coffee and blog reading

7 a.m. – Driving to work. Took this photo after I parked.

8 a.m. – In the middle of eating breakfast at my desk.

9 a.m. – Working on stats.

10 a.m. – More stats.

11 a.m. – Preparing to conduct a job interview.

12 p.m. – Lunch at my desk. Leftover crockpot BBQ chicken and rice. This gave me a flashback to my Whole30 photos.

1 p.m. – Still stats.

2 p.m. – STILL stats.

3 p.m. – Cake with my coworkers for my birthday! A coworker was thoughtful enough to make a homemade gluten free cake so I could enjoy a birthday treat!

4 p.m. – Catching up on email to close out the work week.

5 p.m. – Walk with the dog after work.

6 p.m. – Made and ate dinner.  Pork chops with asian slaw.

7 p.m. – Taking vitamins during a break from watching 30 Rock.

8 p.m. – On the couch watching another episode of 30 Rock.

9 p.m. – Laying on the couch serving as furniture for the dog chewing his bully stick.

10 p.m. – Crawling into bed.

Maybe I’ll do this again in the future!




Paleo Freezer Meals

Prior to starting my January Whole30, I spent a day doing some food prep to stock my fridge and freezer with Whole30 meals to help the month go smoothly.

One of the things I did was prepare some crock pot-ready freezer meals.  In about 1 hour, I had prepared 6 bags to freeze that could be taken out of the freezer later and popped into the crock pot to cook.

I made 3 bags of beef stew and 3 bags of African chicken stew.

You can do this with any recipe that you’d normally cook in the crock pot.  Just prepare all the ingredients and add them to a freezer bag instead of the crock!  After you freeze the bag, make sure to pull it out of the freezer the day before you want to cook it to allow it to thaw.  Dump the bag into the crock pot and BOOM…dinner is made.

My beef stew was made with beef, onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, a can of diced tomatoes, and a mix of spices with garlic, parsley, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper.  Sorry, I’m too much of a freestyler when it comes to things like stews to be able to have a specific recipe!

The African chicken stew was adapted from the recipe in Well Fed 2.  Here’s another blogger’s adaptation that you could use to guide you in making this delicious dish if you don’t have Well Fed 2 (I left out the vanilla for the Whole30).  Just add your raw chicken thighs and onion to the bag.  Mix the crushed tomatoes with all the spices and the sunflower butter and add that in too.  For my bags of this stew I also added cubed sweet potatoes, which I highly recommend.

To make the freezer bag prep lightening fast, put all your bags together assembly line style.  Get all the bags out and add the meat to each one.  Keep the open bags lined up and handy on the counter.  Then chop all the onions at once, adding them to the bags as you go.  Do the same for the sweet potatoes or other common ingredients.  If you’ve got a willing helper, they can do the tasks such as adding the meat to the bags, measuring spices or opening cans while you chop!

A quick and simple way to build up a little “freezer pantry” of bags like this would be to just double up the next time you’re prepping something for the crock pot.  You would make your one batch for the crock pot that day as usual, but as you’re prepping everything, you’d also be making one batch in a bag to freeze for later.

Having these pre-made bags really helped the Whole30 go smoothly.  It was nice to have them handy to pull out each week for a nearly effortless meal!  Don’t be afraid to experiment with different recipes for this…the crock pot is amazingly forgiving!


Whole 30 – Days 21-30

As I explained here, I’m doing a Whole30 for the month of January.  See my recap of Days 11-20 here.

As an added challenge for myself, I decided to photograph and share all of my food intake for the duration of the Whole30.  I want to show a real-life glimpse into eating this way and hopefully give others some inspiration for their own food choices.  Below are all the meals I ate on days 21-30, along with some added information where applicable.

Day 21

Breakfast: egg salad and veggies. Lunch: gyoza meatballs from Well Fed 2 and sweet potatoes. Dinner: African chicken stew. Snack: walnuts and grapes.

Day 22

Breakfast was like this old photo. Chicken breast, eggs, veggies. Leftover African chicken stew for lunch. Roast beef and salad for dinner. Apple before the gym and pomegranate after dinner.

Day 23

Breakfast: chicken breast, eggs, veggies. Lunch: leftover roast beef and salad. Dinner: pork stuffing casserole (lots of veggies in there) and mashed sweet potato. Snacks: walnuts and a pomegranate.

Day 24

Breakfast: salad with chicken and avocado. Boiled eggs. Lunch: pork casserole and banana chia pudding. Dinner: beef stew with sweet potatoes. Grapes.

Day 25

Pre-gym snack: 3 boiled eggs, banana. Brunch: eggs, sausages, tomatoes, grapes. Dinner: steak, sweet potatoes, green beans. Snack: macadamias. Unpictured: munched on some fruit and veggies at a party.

Day 26

Breakfast: side pork, eggs, veggies. Lunch: chicken wings. Dinner: spaghetti squash lasagna, Caesar-ish salad (basically just a garlicky, lemony mayo). Snack: fried plantain. Also ate an apple and some grapes in there.

Day 27

Breakfast: boiled eggs, apple. Lunch: leftover spaghetti squash lasagna (half eaten photo but not forgotten!). Larabar for an afternoon/pre-gym snack. Dinner: chicken thighs, tomato and cucumber salad. Snack: grapes and cashews (forgot that photo so using an older one. Let’s pretend those macadamias are cashews.)

Day 28

Breakfast: eggs, veggies, apple. Lunch: leftover chicken thighs and tomato and cucumber salad. Dinner: meatballs and veggies. Snack: grapefruit. Nope, I’m not sick of raw veggies.

Day 29

Breakfast: eggs, chicken, veggies, mashed sweet potato. Lunch: meatballs I inhaled before photographing and broccoli salad. Dinner: taco salad. Snack: grapes and macadamias.

Day 30

Breakfast: chicken, eggs, veggies. How fitting that I ate this on my final day. Lunch: taco salad. Dinner: pork roast and broccoli salad. Snacks: apple, grapefruit, strawberries. A fruity day.


I kept feeling fantastic through the end of the Whole30!  My mood was great, my focus was great, sleep was solid, and gym performance was strong.  I kept the food simple all month to keep stress low, focusing on the dishes and foods we really love that are also Whole30-compliant.

We did baseline testing at the gym on January 25….

Since we last tested at the end of September, I took my time for the test from 6:59 to 5:54 this time.  I know my overall fitness and strength has improved since the fall, but I also know that fueling my body as well as I did throughout January played a role in this improvement.

As much as the task of photographing everything I ate wore on me by the end of the  month, I’m very glad that I did.  I had a lot of fun earlier today looking back at every meal I ate and seeing just how many times I ate that same breakfast of boiled eggs, chicken breast and veggies (9).  I was proud to see all the colourful fruits and veggies in my photos.  And the photos definitely helped with some of the accountability of making good choices throughout the month.

Finishing the Whole30 feels great. It reminded me of just how amazing I can feel and perform when I’m focusing on giving my body the best fuel.  I’m so thankful to my friends who cajoled me, err, encouraged me to join them in this challenge. 🙂

Coming soon….my life after the Whole30.  Today is Day 31 and the only non-Whole30-compliant food I’ve eaten has been pastured bacon.  I don’t plan on changing much, but I will write about what may change and why and what my “strategy” is moving forward to ensure I can keep feeling this wonderful.


Whole 30 – Days 11-20

As I explained here, I’m doing a Whole30 for the month of January.

As an added challenge for myself, I decided to photograph and share all of my food intake for the duration of the Whole30.  I want to show a real-life glimpse into eating this way and hopefully give others some inspiration for their own food choices.  Below are all the meals I ate on days 11-20, along with some added information where applicable.

Day 11

Pre-gym breakfast: 3 boiled eggs and a spoonful of almond butter. Post-gym breakfast: scramble of ground turkey, sweet potato, and apple. Dinner: steak and kale with garlicky mayo dressing and almonds. Snack: pistachios and grapes.

In December we tried a new restaurant in town – Craft Beer Market.  They served a surprisingly delicious kale salad.  I’ve recreated a version at home for myself that’s Whole30 compliant (the restaurant version had shaved parmesan). It’s the simplest dressing…homemade mayo with a clove or two of crushed garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.  So tasty!

Day 12

Oh man. Day 12 was the start of a beautiful friendship with a new recipe – PaleOMG’s pizza spaghetti pie. Just stop reading now and go make that dish.  Pre-gym breakfast: boiled eggs and a random “Buddy Fruit” (coconut milk and fruit puree) from the fridge that had to be used before it expired. Post-gym breakfast: turkey, sweet potato, and apple scramble. Lunch snacks: leftover kale salad, cucumber, cashews. Dinner: pizza spaghetti pie with snap peas. Grapefruit after dinner.

Day 13

Breakfast: egg salad over mixed greens. Lunch: leftover pizza spaghetti squash, roasted caulflower. Dinner: African chicken stew with more roasted cauliflower. Snacks: peas, Larabar (no I wasn’t driving, just sitting in my car), banana, grapes.

Day 14

Breakfast: chicken breast, 2 boiled eggs, raw veggies. Lunch: leftover African chicken stew with roasted cauliflower. Orange for an afternoon snack. Dinner: pork “stuffing” and salad with avocado. Pistachios after dinner.

And now for a game of how many days of the Whole30 can I eat the exact same breakfast….

Day 15

Breakfast: I enjoyed yesterday’s so much, I did it again. Chicken breast, eggs, veggies. Lunch: leftover pork “stuffing” and an apple with almond butter. Pre-gym snack: coconut milk chia pudding with banana. Dinner: taco salad and fried plantain. Snack: cashews.

Day 16

Breakfast: Again! Chicken breast, boiled eggs, carrots and cucumbers. Sick of seeing that yet?! I’m not sick of eating it!Lunch: taco salad with avocado. Dinner: pork roast and broccoli salad. Snacks: coconut milk chia pudding with banana, pistachios, pear.

Day 17

The best part of leftovers is that I can reuse pictures when I forget to take a photo of my lunch! Breakfast: chicken, eggs, cucumber, celery with almond butter. Lunch: leftover pork roast and broccoli salad. Dinner: chicken thighs and cucumber. Snack: pistachios.

Day 18

Pre-gym: chicken thighs, apple. Post-gym: chicken thighs, salad, tangerine. Lunch: egg salad and sweet potato. Dinner: spaghetti squash lasagna (I can’t bring myself to keep calling this “pizza spaghetti pie”…it’s practically noodle-less lasagna anyways. So delicious I went back for a second piece. Larabar for an after dinner treat, along with unpictured grapes.

Day 19

Breakfast and lunch were both leftover spaghetti squash lasagna. Dinner: chicken thighs and garlicky kale salad. Snacks: carrots and celery, grapes, macadamias.

Day 20

Breakfast: chicken thighs and veggies. Lunch: chicken thighs and garlicky kale salad. Apple before the gym. Dinner: gyoza meatballs from Well Fed 2 and kale salad. Snack: banana chia pudding.


The photos definitely became a challenge in Days 11-20.  I was completely in the stride of the Whole30 and just thinking about food less in general so I forgot to take photos more and more. (Spoiler alert: I’m writing this on the evening of Day 23 and this is still a problem….)

Also a symptom of thinking about food less…all the repetitive meals!  I did discover a couple of really tasty things in these days, but it’s just been so much easier to keep eating the stuff that we’re really enjoying rather than trying too much new stuff.  Work is busy, life is busy and it’s quicker and easier to just go with the stand-bys.  I’m very fortunate that I don’t quickly get bored of food.

There have been no thoughts of quitting the Whole30, no major cravings that I just can’t shake, and no perceivable negative effects.  I started feeling the “tiger blood” right around the end of the first week and have kept feeling amazing ever since.  The energy has helped me to tackle projects at home and at work that I’ve been putting off for quite some time.

The non-Whole30 foods that I miss the most are white potatoes and white rice.  I enjoy sweet potatoes sometimes, but I just don’t LOVE them enough to eat them multiple times per week.  I actually usually find them too sweet to eat with meals.  White potatoes and rice are usually my go-to starches.  I haven’t craved them, I just miss their starchy blandness.

The structure and goals of the Whole30 helped me conquer a big old demon this month.  On the 17th-19th my husband was out of town.  Usually this would have lead to some sort of binge and junk-food-apalooza while I was alone.  This time, nothing changed from the Whole30 eating I was already doing.  I honestly think it might be the first time in my life that being home alone for an extended period of time didn’t lead to a binge.  Pretty excited and proud of that!

Bring on the last 10 days!

Whole30 – Days 0-10

On January 1 I started a Whole30.  This is actually the first time I’m completing the program, however this really is not too far off from how we eat year-round.

As an added challenge for myself, I decided to photograph and share all of my food intake for the duration of the Whole30.  I want to show a real-life glimpse into eating this way and hopefully give others some inspiration for their own food choices.  Below are all the meals I ate on days 1-10, along with some added information on the recipes used.

“Day 0”

Planning and preparation are key!  I’m calling the whole preparation phase “Day 0”.

A few days prior to starting, I sat down and planned out our meals for the entire month.  I did this via a Google Calendar so I could also see what other things we have going on that impact meals.  I didn’t worry about coming up with 30 distinct dinners, rather I filled the month with stuff that I’ve made before, we enjoy eating, and fits with our busy weekdays.  I also tried to plan meals that would make the most of the freezers we have freshly stocked with beautiful, pastured pork and grass-fed beef.  Keeping it simple!

Also a few days prior to starting I did a big food prep day (with some major assistance from my husband) to stock the freezer with things like pre-cooked meatballs and pre-mixed bags of slowcooker meals.  Within a few hours, I had about 10 meals already stocked in the freezer and ready to go!  I’m going to post separately about how I prepared 6 crockpot bags in 60 minutes which will each feed us for 6 servings.

Heading into the first few days of the Whole30, the fridge and pantry were stocked with everything needed for the first few days of meals.  I made a batch of compliant mayo and some vinaigrette to have quick and easy salad dressings.  The meal plan for the week was posted on the fridge (like always around here).

Day 1

Breakfast: Eggs, spinach, avocado, tomato. Black coffee and banana on the side.  I have black coffee every morning, even though it’s not mentioned.

Lunch: Pork casserole inspired by stuffing. My recipe is here.  Dinner: Meatloaf and broccoli salad with homemade mayo, sunflower seeds, red onion, and raisins.  Snacked on almonds.

Day 2

Repeat of yesterday’s breakfast, leftovers for lunch, fruit and unpictured almonds for snacks, Moroccan chicken stir fry from Everyday Paleo for dinner.

Day 3

Egg salad and an apple with almond butter. Grapefruit I forgot to photograph. Leftover Moroccan stir fry. Chocolate chili and salad. Cashews and grapes.

Day 4

Breakfast – leftover chili. Lunch – egg salad and blueberries. Snack – veggies and homemade ranch. Supper – smoked paprika chicken thighs and sweet potato.

Day 5

Breakfast: salad and leftover chicken thighs. Lunch: egg salad and veggies. Dinner: pork chop, roasted beets, and veggies. Snacks: grapefruit, chia pudding made with coconut milk and banana, macadamia nuts. A very snacky day.

Day 6

This was the first day back to work after vacation. I noticed how being at work made me feel like snacking more throughout the day.

Breakfast: egg salad and veggies and an apple. Lunch: pork chop, beets and a pear. Snacks: almonds and grapes. And finally…dinner brought to you by the letter P: pork, parsnips, and peppers. And salad to combat the beige/brown of the plate.

Day 7

Breakfast: leftover pork and parsnips with unpictured veggies. Lunch: roasted chicken salad with guacamole. Dinner: beef stir fry. Snacks: grapes and spicy sweet potatoes.

Day 8

The day I really started struggling to remember to take the photos during the day at work!

Breakfast: boiled eggs, pear, unpictured snap peas and cucumber (so much tougher to remember these photos for the meals I eat at work). Lunch: leftover beef stir fry and a mandarin. Pre-workout: apple. Dinner: meatballs, sweet potato, carrots and broccoli. Almonds for a snack.

Day 9

Day 9 photos were just not meant to be… Breakfast: leftover meatballs and carrots. Lunch: spinach salad with chicken breast, eggs, tomatoes, and guacamole. Dinner: crockpot beef stew (one of my pre-made bags from the freezer) and roasted cauliflower. Snacks: orange, grapes, macadamia nuts, and a special evening treat of fried plantains.

Day 10

Had much better success with remembering photos today! Breakfast: 4 boiled eggs, a bunch of veg, almond butter on celery. Lunch: leftover beef stew with yams. Snack: blueberries. Dinner: the best chicken wings ever…Eleanor’s Wings from Quick and Easy Paleo Comfort Foods (recipe isn’t online…just go buy the book. It’s worth it, I swear!) Snack: grapefruit and some almonds.


Overall I’m feeling GREAT.  As I mentioned, our regular food routine really isn’t too far off of the Whole30 standards, so this is getting us back into the normal swing of things after Christmas indulgences.  Just a few days in I really felt the extra energy kick in!

It’s also been interesting to see how my food habits differed from the days spent at home on vacation versus the days when I returned to work.

One way our regular diet deviates from the Whole 30 is that we usually include white potatoes and white rice for some additional carbohydrate as both of us tolerate these foods well.  I’ve been making a conscious effort to keep our carbohydrate intake up through things like the yams, plantain, parsnips, beets, and fruit.  So far I’ve felt like my performance in the gym has been stronger in all areas with the cleaned up food after Christmas, but that’s to be expected with returning to fueling myself with real food instead of gluten-free cookies.  I am curious to see how I feel in the gym for the remainder of the Whole30.


Maintenance.  I kind of hate this term.  Someone asked me recently if it was great to finally be in maintenance.  I had to reply that I didn’t know because I didn’t consider myself “a maintainer”.

Sure, I’ve kept off the weight that I lost a couple of years ago.  In the weight loss world this makes me a maintainer.  But I’ve hardly maintained anything other than a commitment to keep improving my health and fitness.

Maintenance implies satisfaction with where one is at.  It implies staying static…holding the line…not changing.  I don’t feel like this is my life at all.  I wanted to say that I’m in the opposite of maintenance, but every dictionary I consulted for this opposite gave me words like neglect…disrepair…ignorance.  That’s not right either!

Instead I feel as if there are regularly new challenges and problems to navigate and find solutions for.  When life doesn’t present these to me, I have been forcing myself to seek them out…no matter how small those challenges may be.  It’s through navigating these challenges that I’ve continued to learn, grow and develop.

In addition to seeking out new challenges to face, it’s important to remember that losing weight doesn’t magically make all the issues related to food, weight, body image, exercise, confidence, etc. disappear.  Contrary to promises in popular media, being a smaller size is a not a magic pill for happiness and perfection.  Even at 120 lbs lighter than I once was, I am still constantly working on all of the issues that got me and kept me obese for so long.  Recovery is more than just losing the weight (but that’s a whole other post…).

Maintenance is where I was for 28 years of my life.  Maintenance is what kept me obese and unhealthy.  THAT was neglect…disrepair…ignorance.  As bad as that sounds, I was comfortable there.  Losing weight didn’t get me to “maintenance”.  It took me away from that point and helped me learn how to challenge myself and grow.

Actively work to avoid maintenance.  Seek out challenges and problems to solve, big and small.  Learn from the process of facing those challenges and take that knowledge with you as you keep moving forward and growing.