Tag Archives: healthy habits

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.

Reflections

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.

Reflections

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!

negative self-talk

I’ve realized recently that it really bothers me when I hear people speak negatively about themselves.  It’s something that I almost always have a reaction to and I have a hard time just letting it go and biting my tongue.  I want to speak up and say something (kind and gentle, of course) to people who are speaking negatively about themselves to hopefully cause them to pause and think critically about why they’re engaging in negative self-talk.

So I’ve started speaking up.  And I think it’s been well-received so far.  I made a post on Facebook this morning (the text of which appears below) and was encouraged by the positive reaction of my friends to expand upon my thoughts here.

I think negative self-talk is one of the most destructive habits that we’ve developed in our society.  In the quest to appear more humble we’ve swung the pendulum to the point where I believe it’s more acceptable to tear yourself down than it is to take a measure of pride in something you’ve accomplished.  How backwards.

Why does it matter?  It matters because by being constantly critical of ourselves and speaking negatively about ourselves we end up truly believing those things we tell ourselves, regardless of what the reality may be.  Negative self-talk can also change how we are perceived by others, with women who engaged in negative talk about their bodies being perceived as less likable by strangers.

Ultimately, it matters because positivity, love, and kindness are going to get us further as individuals and a society than negativity and hate will.

Does this mean that we have to stop wanting to change ourselves?  Absolutely not.  There’s nothing wrong with looking at your current health, fitness, or other circumstance and thinking “I’d like to improve upon this.”  The trouble comes when the motivation for that change is hating where you are now, rather than aspiring to be something awesome.  There’s a massive difference in how we’ll react to a goal of “stop eating crap” vs. “eat more whole, nourishing foods”.  The first (negative) goal is keeping us focused backwards on the “error” or the behaviour we dislike.  The second (positive) goal gives us a productive, forward-thinking action or behaviour to focus on instead.

I know first hand that negative self-talk is a damn hard habit to break.  I still catch myself saying and thinking negative things about myself.  But at least now I have a keen awareness of when I’m doing this and try to stop it and reverse it.  It’s not a change that happens quickly, but I hope that the more we speak up with each other we will encourage our friends to not only stop tearing themselves down, but to take pride in what they accomplish.  We may need to “fake it until we make it” but I hope that some day a positive body image will be the norm rather than the exception it is today.

So try this: next time you’re thinking negatively about yourself, your body, or what you can do I challenge you to stop and imagine yourself saying those things about your best friend. Would you ever think or say those same things? Would you ever tell your best friend that she was fat, weak, slow, or not good enough? And how would you react if you heard your best friend saying those things about herself?

I’m guessing you’d never consider saying those things to someone else. So why is it okay to tell ourselves these things? Only when we stop being our own worst critic can we become our own strongest supporter. Be as kind and loving to yourself as you can be to others and then watch the magic happen.

weekly cooking WOD

One of my favourite ways to stay ahead of the meal planning and prep is to do a big “cooking WOD” on the weekend to stock my fridge with prepared meals and make the week’s cooking go smoother.  I just finished up this week’s cooking WOD (Workout of the Day) and thought I’d share what I made and how I managed to prepare 4 days worth of meals in under 2 hours.

First, the meal plan.

photo 1

  • Saturday – beef stir fry (no recipe)
  • Sunday – meat and salad for lunch (no recipe needed), dinner out
  • Monday – smoked paprika chicken thighs, corn on the cob
  • Tuesday – carne asada taco salad, homemade grilled corn salsa (I’m freestyling, but that recipe is similar)
  • Wednesday – buffalo chicken “pasta”
  • Thursday – lazy cabbage rolls (basically just ground beef, cooked rice, diced tomatoes and shredded cabbage in a casserole…perhaps a recipe post in the future)
  • Friday – homemade burgers (Curtis’ special secret bacon jalapeno burger recipe) and sweet potato
  • Saturday – leftover burgers

I took a look at the whole week and what we had going on.  We plan to train Monday through Thursday evenings (after work and before dinner) so I need these dinners to be super fast and simple because we’re usually pretty hungry as soon as we get home.  These are the dinners that I’m preparing for with my cooking WOD.  The dinners are all double servings so they make our lunches for the following day.  This meal plan also had to account for some backlog of veggies from our weekly CSA bag (hence the odd stir fry combo on Saturday, which turned out to be delicious).  After making the meal plan, I did a rough list of what could be done in the cooking WOD.

Once I had that all figured out, I pulled all the meat for the WOD out of the freezer to thaw and did my weekly shopping.  I usually do the planning and shopping on one day, and the cooking WOD on another to spread out the work.  By this morning, all my meat was thawed and the fridge held everything I needed to cook.

3…2…1…GO!

photo 2

  • Put spaghetti squash and chicken breasts/thighs in the oven to bake.
  • Make marinade and put steaks in.
  • Start rice in rice cooker.
  • Put eggs on to boil.
  • Shuck and boil corn cobs.
  • Brown ground beef.
  • While beef is browning, chop onion and cabbage.
  • Assemble lazy cabbage rolls and pack into freezable dishes. Label and freeze.
  • Once the squash and chicken are out of the oven, prepare smoked paprika chicken thighs and put them into the oven to bake.
  • Chop onions, jalapenos and tomatoes for corn salsa.
  • Chop and store cooked chicken breasts and thighs, spaghetti squash.
  • Pack and store any finished and cooled items still left out.

It’s tough to make a nice linear list of what I did because there are so many overlapping tasks.  Rather that just standing by the stove watching my beef cook and poking it with a spoon continuously, I’m over at the counter chopping up the next ingredients I need or putting away a cooked item.

Start to finish, that list took me about an hour and 40 minutes to complete.  I still have to grill the carne asada steaks and corn to finish up the prep for those items, but that will only be about 15 minutes more hands-on time later today.

Now thanks to my cooking WOD my weeknight meals are super fast to prepare after we get home from the gym.  Here’s what needs to happen each night to finish off dinner along with my estimate of how long it will take…

  • Monday – grill corn plus steak for Tuesday (10-15 min)
  • Tuesday – slice cooked steak, assemble salads (5 min)
  • Wednesday – reheat chicken and squash, make immersion blender mayo (10 min)
  • Thursday – put thawed casserole in oven and set the timer before leaving for the gym (1 min…I mean, how long does it really take to turn the oven on and put something in??)

Pretty darn quick dinner prep times during our busy weekday nights!

Investing the time on the weekend to plan and prepare for my week ensures that the whole week goes smoother.  It means that we’re fueling ourselves with delicious and healthy foods all week long and not getting stuck in the “I dunno, what do you want for dinner?” trap.   A small time investment on the weekend makes nutritious, real food more convenient than convenience junk food.

It is not even an option for me to not make the time in my week to plan and prepare my meals.  I value my health and fitness enough to make this a valuable way to spend my time.  I hope this has shown you that real food can be quick and simple with a little planning.

Behind the After

No, this isn’t going to be like those posts I’ve seen floating around recently exposing what a sham before-and-after photos are when they’re used to sell snake oil weight loss products.  I want to share some of my thoughts on living and being a successful real before-and-after.

I actually still struggle with thinking of myself as a successful “after”.  I don’t always own this new identity that I now have.  Part of the reason for this is that I am still constantly adapting, reflecting and continuing to implement changes in my daily life for continued growth and progress.  There’s also the fact that I lived 28 years as the “before” and I’ve only been living as the after for a couple of years.

So what’s it like to be the after?

It’s awesome.  I’ve achieved a major goal.  I’ve improved all areas of my life.  I’m happier than I ever thought possible.  I’m healthy, strong and fit.

It’s hard work.  There’s no definite end point on this journey.  I’m continually striving to keep improving, keep making healthier choices, keep learning more about my body, and keep getting fitter and stronger.  I have years of practice on all the unhealthy habits I used to have and it’s hard work to keep building new healthy habits.  But that hard work is what got me here and will keep me where I want to be in life.

It can be confusing.  As I mentioned above, I still don’t fully own my new identity.  I still have instances of not recognizing myself in a mirror.  Buying clothing is always time-consuming because my first attempt at grabbing a size to try is almost never right.  My perception of my body is not the same as what I actually have.  I struggle to think of myself as “normal” or “healthy” and don’t self-identify with much of my new self yet.

It can be hurtful.  Thin people are exceptionally judgmental of overweight and obese people.  Hell, everyone is judgmental of overweight and obese people regardless of their own health/weight status.  Because you now look different, you start to be privy to different conversations and start to hear snippets of how people used to talk about YOU.  Those words and judgements have affected me deeply multiple times and made me unable to find my voice to stand up for myself and others.

It can be frustrating to have a body that bears the scars of years of obesity.  At times I’ve been more frustrated and unhappy with my physical appearance after weight loss than I was before.  When you realize that the loose stomach skin you still carry around is negatively impacting your weightlifting form, a lot of frustration can bubble up.  When you want to wear the cute bathing suits or dresses that you’re starting to feel comfortable in, it can reduce you to tears in the change room when you realize that extra skin doesn’t fit inside a particular piece of clothing.  You get regular reminders of how far you’ve come, but you also get regular reminders of the mistakes you made in the past.

You feel the weight of all the people who tell you that you inspire them.  I love knowing that my experiences can provide inspiration to others who may be in desperate need of that inspiration.  I love helping people see that their goals are completely within their reach and especially love helping them in any small way to reach them.  But when you know that people are looking to you as a role model or an inspiration, it can add pressure to live up to their expectations of you; to live authentically and set a good example while not wanting to let others down or negatively impact them.  Being that positive role model has been a difficult thing for me to reconcile within myself.

It can be disheartening to watch others struggle through the same things you’ve struggled through.  When you’ve found a path through those struggles, you want so badly for everyone to be able to just see the clear path through that you know is there.  Watching people now starving themselves on Lean Cuisines and 1200 calories per day in an attempt to lose weight is so difficult.  You know that these people are doing what they’ve been told is right, but you also know that that advice is shit and that they’d be so much happier and healthier if they ignored the mainstream.  But like so many things in life, this is one of those areas where most people need to find that path for themselves.

On reading back it may look like I’ve really taken a negative slant with this post.  I’m only spending more time on the challenges of the “after” simply because I think the interwebs abound with people proclaiming all the great things about having achieved a significant health/weight change.

It’s a no-brainer that I’d never even consider trading where I am now with where I used to be.  But I want to share all these things I did in the hopes of building understanding of all the complexities of the health journey.  It’s never EVER as simple as just lose the weight and everything is great.  I guess I just feel a little misunderstood.

I feel like sharing these things may help others who only ever see/hear the sunshine and rainbows to feel better about the fact that they still get down in the dumps or frustrated, despite being a successful “after”.  I feel like sharing these things may help others who have never undergone a journey such as this to see a little bit more behind that smiling after photo.

Edit to add…

A few hours after publishing this I saw a link to this post come across my newsfeed.  She nailed it in so many ways.  Though not completely parallel to the thoughts I expressed here, the general theme of not being able to fully appreciate someone’s story from the outside looking in rang true and familiar to me.  Perusing the links on that post lead me to another post on “owning your journey” that struck me most of all with the final line

“And next time you may be the one being judged, remember they don’t know your journey.”

I needed to read that for many reasons, but most of all to affirm my challenge to myself to continue opening up and saying what I want to say.  This post is an effort to share some of that journey, and anyone who happens to read these words will hopefully have a little more understanding of how and why I am who I am today.