Hi, friends! So I’m on Day 25 on my first Whole 30, and I have a bunch of random updates to share. Apologies in advance for this being all over the place.
Thing #1: A fantastic, Whole 30-compliant 24 hours in Atlanta.
I flew in to Atlanta on Saturday, Nov. 9, for a work trip, arriving a day early to visit my college roommate Hannah and her boyfriend, Kyle. (Check out their awesome movie, TV, game and comic book review site called Geekrex here.) Hannah and Kyle have done low-carb challenges before and generally eat a Paleo diet during the workweek (allowing themselves some leeway on the weekend), so it was no surprise I had zero trouble staying on track while visiting them. When I arrived, Hannah had made me a snack of sauteed bacon and Brussels sprouts with a drizzle of balsamic reduction (YUM). She had even purchased a kombucha for my enjoyment later that night! And to top it all off, they took me to an amazing paleo restaurant for dinner, Urban Pl8. It was liberating being able to order basically whatever I wanted off the menu. We started with a delicious Asian beef lettuce wrap appetizer and kale chips with a rosemary aioli, then for my main course I ordered this AMAZING chicken tagine dish with sweet potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes and mushrooms. The broth was so flavorful and delicious. I ate the entire thing.
The next morning, our brunch locale (R. Thomas) featured exotic birds to entertain guests during the wait.
The menu was huge and impressive, with tons of healthy options. I got some coconut kefir and freshly-pressed apple/carrot/ginger juice in addition to my eggs and greens. Weekend in Atlanta = Amazing.
Thing #2: Digging out a box of skinny jeans.This past Friday, I dug out a box full of jeans that haven’t fit me in about two years. It felt pretty awesome. I wore a pair on a double date with our friends Carrie and Brad on Saturday and felt like I looked like a legitimate 29-year-old for the first time in a awhile.
Thing #3: Tips on how to build meals for a spouse or partner not doing Whole 30.
I know some people struggle with accommodating spouses on Whole 30, but this has not been a challenge for me. My husband would eat just Whole 30 meals if that’s all I made, however he likes a LOT of food, so I have been adding a serving of grains to most of his meals. For example, I made Trader Joe’s Chili Lime Chicken Burgers topped with guac and bacon for dinner one night, and Jeff got cheese on his burger and a bun to round out his meal. Other times I have thrown some garlic bread or roasted fingerling potatoes onto his plate, in addition to the protein and veggies.
Thing #4: Homemade sweet potato chips.
One large sweet potato sliced on the 1/16 setting of a mandolin, 2T coconut oil, salt and pepper, and 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Watch them carefully, as my first batch burned to a crisp while I got sucked into Scandal in the other room. But oh dear lord do these help on days where I would punch a baby for some tortilla chips.
Thing #5 (and it’s a big one): Some serious struggles with staying on plan.
In the spirit of full disclosure, the third week of Whole 30 ended up being extremely difficult for me and I ate off plan several times. The biggest reason was travel. I didn’t do a very good job planning my travel meals while visiting Alabama and Connecticut the last couple weeks. One downside of this plan is that if you are in a fairly remote area with very few restaurants and grocery stores and no kitchen, it can be pretty difficult to find Whole 30-compliant options.
Now, I travel for work quite a bit, and one of the first rules I set for myself is “no eating like you are on vacation.” It can be very tempting to sample all the delicious local specialties everywhere I go, but that’s a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, sometimes I break my own rule.
The first slip-up (that, in retrospect, ultimately led to all the others) happened during a business dinner in Alabama. I was dining at a local Italian restaurant with a wonderfully sweet older woman who volunteers for my organization. I ordered a salad to start and sausage and peppers over a bed of steamed squash for my dinner. Then they brought out their signature garlic knots. My dining companion proudly told me the garlic knots were considered a “must-try” for anyone visiting Auburn when the waiter set them down on the table. Now, I probably should have just told her I was gluten intolerant or something like that. It seemed too difficult to try to explain this caveman-style way of eating to an older Southern woman. So I gave in and had one (about the size of a golf ball). Within about five minutes of ingesting it, I felt dizzy and nauseous. I couldn’t focus my eyes and had a hard time listening to her. I honestly felt like someone had slipped me a neurotoxin. The feeling passed after I ate my meal. After dinner, I went back to my hotel and did a hard workout on the arc trainer and drank a ton of water.
The next day, I did pretty well (omelet for breakfast, spinach salad for lunch) but did end up consuming a couple definitely non-compliant items starting with a smoothie that most likely contained dairy during a fit of hunger and a tight schedule, which led to me thinking “well, screw it, I’ve already had dairy today” and getting a small tart Pinkberry from the campus food court that afternoon.
I got back on track when I got home from the trip thanks to this amazing spaghetti squash marinara dish. A pound of Italian sausage, a pound of lean ground beef, a no-sugar-added organic marinara over the innards of a huge spaghetti squash made AMAZING leftovers for lunch that week.
Unfortunately, virtually the same thing happened during my business trip the very next week, except even worse. The system broke down in Connecticut. With very few restaurant options and literally no grocery stores within a 30-minute radius of my hotel, the cards were somewhat stacked against me, and frankly I just didn’t try to make it work. Something came over me and I just could not stay on plan. I didn’t WANT to. This really caught me by surprise, because for the first couple weeks my willpower was ironclad, but for some reason I lost complete control and ended up consuming all kinds of terrible things (cookies, pizza, beer and chips, to be exact). I have never had an issue with binge eating, and this was the first time I’ve honestly felt completely out of control like that.
I got back on track the next day with an hour-long workout and 60 oz of water to flush out my system, and I felt immensely better almost immediately. I admitted what happened to Jeff when I got home, and I have recommitted to the plan. I’ve been struggling to understand why this happened, and I think it just comes down to being on such a restrictive plan. It felt like there was no end in sight, I didn’t plan well, and I wasn’t eating enough due to limited options. Hungry Lauren does not usually make good decisions. (Amazing how I have to learn this lesson again and again.)
So it happened, but I’m not going to let it get me down. I am back on track and feeling great, so I’m committed to finishing strong! I am still loving my “snack plate” breakfasts to start the day on the right note. This breakfast satisfies me without any type of blood sugar crash, the hallmark of a good Whole 30 meal. Trader Joe’s plain steamed beets have been an enjoyable addition lately.
And as for what comes after the challenge, I’m going to mainly continue this style of eating, however I’m adding back in:
- Dairy. I have not seen the improvements I hoped to get from eliminating dairy (namely, clearer skin). I find a little cream in my coffee and a little cheese to be extremely satisfying, so this addition will help make the plan tolerable long-term.
- Alcohol. I have learned so much from eliminating alcohol; specifically, that I do just fine in social situations without it most of the time. But I do want to enjoy some drinks over the holiday season, so I’m just going to be more mindful of my consumption moving forward.