Whole30 Splurges Update

tessemaesauceAs mentioned in my recent Whole30 Round Two: Half Way Point, I had invested in a few additional splurges to help me with my food prep repertoire. Earlier this week, Matty’s BBQ Sauce, Lemon Chesapeake Marinade, and Italian Salad Dressing arrived from Tessemae. I immediately made some Whole30 friendly Chicken Fingers (recipe compliments of my awesome cousin’s TGIPaleo website; look under SPECIAL DIETS via horizontal menu bar and scroll down to choose Whole30) and used Matty’s BBQ sauce as a dip. Delicious with a capital D! I have missed BBQ sauce a bit; between making my own homemade sunshine sauce and mayonnaise, I tessemaecardget a little lazy and this hit the spot. I have already used the Italian Dressing which is great and look forward to the Lemon Chesapeake dressing for my Whole30 crab cakes. By the way, I loved the handwritten postcard that came with my stuff picturing the Tessemae crew on the front. Made me smile as they look like a fun group!

freezerPaleoMy BIG SPLURGE arrived Wednesday at the perfect time! Completely spent after a hard workout, as I pulled into my driveway, I see the delivery from Premade Paleo sitting at my front door!! Opening the box revealed a styrofoam cooler packed with ice and my 10-day supply of frozen breakfasts, lunches, and dinners which I quickly transferred to my freezer because I was just so excited to start eating! By the way, what you see in the picture above shows only my breakfast and lunch meals. The dinner meals are located in the other pull-out shelf above not pictured.

premadepaleoMy first meal? Cocoa-spiced pork loin with cauliflower and mushrooms. Fabulous!  For breakfast this morning, I thoroughly enjoyed the well-seasoned, flavorful Turkey Skillet dish.  Since I knew today’s work schedule would press me for time, I packed the Chicken Roja with Vegetables in Chimichurri Sauce for lunch. Easy to briskettprepare at work and very, very good. Finally, this evening I had the Braised Coffee Brisket with Sautéed Swiss Chard and Parsnips for dinner (pictured to the left).  While I was skeptical about how pre-packaged food like this would taste, after four damn good meals, I am very satisfied with my PreMade Paleo investment as it has been money well spent. Bon Appetite and continued luck to all of you on your own Whole30 Journey!

Whole30 Round Two: Half Way Point

Dont-Quit-Half-Way-Through-560x374Today is Day 15 of my Whole30 Round Two and I feel great; second time around has been much easier although this past Thursday (Day 12) was challenging. I came home from a productive day at work, an awesome workout with my fabulous trainer, was prepping my dinner per usual when I suddenly started thinking a little too much about a few social events coming up; BBQ on Saturday night, Cards vs Cubs game on Sunday, possible road trip for a surprise party, upcoming reception for Jehan traveling all the way to St. Louis from Sri Lanka, another party here, a party there.

mindWhile chopping some vegetables, the voice in my head was justifying how much easier it would be to simply go buy a bag of tortilla chips and make my own version of loaded nachos (my biggest vice). As I shook that thought out of my head, my mind quickly shifted to mentally cataloging what non-Whole30 compliant things are residing in my pantry or fridge (peanuts, chocolate chips, vodka, wine). What can I cram in my mouth so this whole thing can just be over? It was the strangest mental game that my mind was challenging me to; I eventually realized I was simply tired and cranky. Once I ate my dinner and had my tea, I was fine and very, very, very glad that I did not sabotage this journey.

chompsSo, plugging along very well and decided to splurge on a couple of items to make things easier. For example, the recently purchased Whole30 approved 100% grass-fed beef snack sticks from Chomps save me in a pinch as a pre-workout meal and are so good. I always have liked jerky but most products are filled with  premadepaleoprocessed crap and sugar. The arrival of some Whole30 approved salad dressings and sauces from Tessemae should come any day now.  Can I make my own salad dressing? Of course. Am I occasionally short on time or lazy? YES. I am looking most forward to having some BBQ sauce that isn’t filled with sugar, sugar, sugar. Oh yeah, and the BIG SPLURGE? Ordered ten pre-made paleo meals from PremadePaleo, all Whole30 approved, for when I am tired, crabby, cranky, lazy, or whatever.

sheppieBy the way, I still make a lot of my own food and here are a few of my top favorites from Whole30 Round Two! From the cookbook Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan, Shepard’s Pie is to die for and down-right delicious (the picture is what I made and what I quickly ate!). Instead of mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower is used.  Seriously, I can’t tell the difference. I make my own sweet potato chips and use the chips instead of a fork to eat some ground meat that has been topped off with home-made guacamole. Jicama “Potato” Salad is unbelievable. I skip the slow-cooking step and simply fry up the chopped jicama in coconut oil mainly because I am impatient and I prefer the crunch. Delicious!

Get Healthier Today! How To Start Your Own Whole30

doing-the-whole30Intrigued by my second round of The Whole30 Adventure, a few of my followers wanted to know if the program was spelled out online or if you had to buy the book It Starts With Food. The Whole30 program has always been made available for free online since 2009 at the Whole9 website.  During my first Whole30 Adventure (Feb 10 – March 12), I simply downloaded the following PDFs from the website as follows:

1. The Whole30 Program: what is Whole30 and an outline of how to follow the program. Scroll down toward the bottom to print off PDF version of Whole30 Program. Very nice!

2. Quick Start Guide

3. Grocery Guide

4. Shopping List (this was so key for me, love it, love it, love it)

5. Sneaky Sugars (totally used this in the beginning to help read labels to ensure that the ingredients used to cook are void of real and/or artificial sugar; very eye-opening.  You will be amazed how much sugar is in ingredients).

your_30_day_challengeBy using the five PDFs, I followed the program for 30 days (see Mission Accomplished). A huge help was the daily e-newsletter I paid for; this is not required (less than $20) but was a huge help to me, particularly during those days I just needed go-for-it-saidaonlinea little “You Go Girl!” pep talk and/or some tips, recipes or additional resource links. After my first round, per the recommendations of my two cousins (who  successfully completed their own Whole30 programs), I bought and read It Starts With Food and was re-inspired to repeat the program.  Another great resource that is not required for you to get healthier today by starting your very own Whole30 adventure!

An A.U. Adventure Worth Repeating – Whole30 Round Two!

Whole30-Version-31Earlier this year, I completed my very first Whole30 program, a 30-day nutritional program whereby specific foods are eliminated to let the body heal and reset. The focus is to cut out all inflammatory, gut-disrupting food groups and to eat real food for a full 30 days (hence the name Whole30) without any cheating. picassoBetween February 10 and March 11, I  successfully avoided consuming sugar of any kind (real or artificial), alcohol (yup, despite celebrating my birthday during this round), all grains (rice, wheat, corn, oats, etc), legumes (beans, lentils, peanuts, etc), dairy (with the exception of clarified butter or ghee), and white potatoes.  After reading my blog posts, two of my cousins in Baltimore (Lia and Sylvia) were inspired to do the same, successfully completing their own Whole30 with spectacular results in their overall health (while losing about 13-17lbs each).

the-whole-30-bookSo, what inspired me to do this a second time? Beyond the fact that this program delivered measurable results consistent with improved health (see my March 12 bog post) and made me feel awesome, the one thing both my cousins did that I had not done prior to starting Whole30 was read the book It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, founders of Whole30. While I had access to all the information needed to follow Whole30 from their website, I didn’t get involved in reading up on the science behind their method. Per the recommendation of both cousins, I recently purchased and read the book and became re-inspired to do a second adventureround of Whole30 with a few tweaks based on what I learned from reading the book.  For example, I will now follow their recommendations as it relates to the number of daily meals to have, when to have my pre-work out meal and when to have my post-work meal (neither of which count as meals), and what to actually eat for my pre- and post-work out meals. The other rules haven’t changed; no sugar, booze, dairy, grains, legumes or white potatoes for the next 30 days.  Not sure the second time around will be “easier”; I just know what awaits at the end of the next 30-days and can’t wait for Tuesday, August 27 to get here! Join in on my adventure by starting your very own Whole30 journey!

Whole30 Adventure: Mission Accomplished (and then some!)

successAs of this morning (March 12, 2013), I have officially and successfully completed my very first Whole30 program! The fun began on Sunday, February 10 and extended through Monday, March 11. My motivation for doing this was to get healthier. I feel great which is truly enough to recognize that this journey was worth the effort. Having said that, below is a quick summary of objective data showing the gains achieved in improving my health over the last 30 days.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERABlood Pressure: For the past three years, I have been taking blood pressure medication. Despite losing weight and following a low sodium diet, even when I was at my fittest about 1.5 years ago, it was still necessary to control my blood pressure with medication. Whether measured at the doctor’s office or at home with my own blood pressure monitor, on average, my readings always hovered around 130/85 (with medication).

About a week prior to starting my Whole30 program, despite the 130/85 reading, I made the personal decision to stop taking my blood pressure medication. Naive? Perhaps. Nevertheless, during my doctor’s appointment on Thursday, March 7 (Day 26 of my Whole30 program), I told my doctor about not taking my meds for the past month. She measured my blood pressure and it clocked in at 122/70 without medication. I have been medically cleared and no longer have to take blood pressure medication!!!!!!

cholesterolCholesterol: Cholesterol is a fat your body needs to work properly although too much can increase chances of heart disease, stroke, and other problems. Types of cholesterols include: 1) HDL or “good” cholesterol (standard range = 40-60 mg/dL with higher numbers better), 2) LDL or “bad” cholesterol (70 – 130 mg/dL with lower numbers better), 3) VLDL or very low density lipoprotein (5-40 mg/dL), and 4) Total Cholesterol which is the value of all the cholesterols mentioned above combined (less than 200 mg/dL).

Prior to the Whole30 program, my Total Cholesterol was consistently above 200 and technically considered high (219-230), however, since my HDL levels have traditionally measured above average (74), my physician wasn’t too concerned (yet). Wish I had more impressive news but my cholesterol results from last Thursday haven’t changed from my baseline. As I continue with the paleo-life as much as possible, I will be very curious to see my results six months from now.

lab report for cholesterol with pencilTriglycerides: Triglyceride is another type of fat that your body makes although it also comes from the food your eat. Leftover calories are turned into triglycerides and stored in fat cells for later use; eating more calories that your body needs may result in high triglyceride levels. Normal levels are less than 150 mg/dL. Prior to Whole30, my levels have been over 100, averaging around 125 mg/dL. Results from last Thursday show levels of 70 mg/dL which is great news since optimal levels for cardiovascular health are 70-100 mg/dL.

meas tape and forkMeasurements: My trainer records measurements at six specific levels of the body: 1) shoulders, 2) bust, 3) waist, 4) hips, 5) upper arm, and 6) upper thigh. My measurements were recorded first thing in the morning the day before starting my Whole30 adventure; these same measurments were taken first thing in the morning the day after completing my Whole30 program.

Losing inches and/or losing weight is a relative progression as everyone’s body does it at its own pace. Based on my past progress, on average, I would lose about 3 total inches (sum of all six measurements mentioned above) about every six weeks. For example, my pre-Whole30 red-down-arrow-himeasurements taken 30 days ago (February 9, 2013) reflected a loss of 3.75 total inches compared to previous measurements (December 21, 2012); note, the time between these two measurements was longer than usual (eight weeks). Today was a little different in a good way! Comparing my pre-Whole30 measurements (February 9, 2013) to my post-Whole30 measurements (March 12, 2013), in the past 30 days, I have lost an additional 5.75 total inches [shoulders (-1.5″), chest (-0.75″), waist (-1.5″), hips (-1″), thigh (-0.75″), and arms (-0.25″)].

12lbWeight Loss: As mentioned throughout my various posts, the purpose of doing this wasn’t to lose weight; rather, it was to get healthy. Nonetheless, I look at any weight loss as the icing-on-the-cake. For the record, based on my past progress when in the same weight range, on average, I would lose about 3-5 lbs every 6 weeks (yes, even when on Weight Watchers). During my Whole30 program, I never once counted a calorie, approximated a Weight Watcher’s point, measured out a portion, or even worried how often I ate. When I was hungry, I ate and simply stuck to the plan in terms of what foods and ingredients to avoid. Over the course of this 30-day program, I lost 12 pounds.

namasteNext Steps: Moving forward, I am going to continue to integrate many of the principles of the Whole30 program into my life. I have lots to reflect on but the one thing that I know for sure is that I will NEVER cook my food with chicken broth to save calories from fat. Instead, I will use ghee (clarified butter which is delicious), olive and coconut oil. It makes everything taste so good. Beyond that, I am just going to quietly enjoy my little accomplishment and look forward to tonight when I reintroduce myself to a glass of well-deserved delicious red wine. Thank you to everyone for your support. You made the journey much easier to achieve!

Whole30 Home Stretch

Today is day 23 of the Whole30 Program and I am in the home stretch of this adventure with just one more full week to go before I am officially done!  Many of you following my Whole30 adventure have asked some great questions and I figured I would quickly share with you my answers.

Why did you decide to do the Whole30 Program?

pillsAbout two years ago, I was temporarily put on a  medication that really screwed up my metabolism; despite eating relatively healthy and working out diligently, I gained 35 lbs.  Once I got off the meds in June 2012, I assumed the weight would “fall off”.  Despite busting my ass in the gym, eating healthy, and doing many things to get in shape, nothing was happening.

Whole30_NOToward the end of October 2012, after many bonked work- outs and several episodes of tears at the gym, my trainer revamp my eating regimen to include necessary amounts of protein in my diet. Finally, my body  started to respond and I was able to see a light at the end of a very long tunnel. In an effort to rid my body of any residual meds and toxins, I committed to the Whole30 Program as a much-needed “body vacation”, whereby the focus was eating nutrient-dense, non-processed foods full of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.  The purpose was to establish a healthier metabolism while maintaining a balanced immune system. I really wanted to re-boot my entire system and to focus on my health (rather than a number on a scale).

Is there anything specific that you miss?

red-wineThe only thing that I have occasionally been mourning is that glass (or two) of good, red wine, particularly when I am out to dinner.  Surprisingly, I don’t miss the cream and sugar in my coffee anymore.  I don’t really crave sweets but that doesn’t mean I am no longer haunted by the “sugar dragon”.  Just this past week while on business in Minneapolis, although I had no problem giving my fries away, when my salad came with an Olive Garden-esque warm, garlic breadstick with a side of butter, it took monumental strength not to cram the breadstick, the butter, and the accompanying plate, for that matter, in my mouth.

How much weight have you lost or do you hope to lose?

get-off-the-scaleI don’t know and I don’t care.  I did not elect to do this program to lose weight.  The Whole30 program is designed to provide the opportunity for the body to heal by eliminating gut-disrupting, inflammatory ingredients.  The Whole30 program actually discourages getting on the scale so that the focus remains on how you feel without any prejudice offered by a number on a scale.

What are you going to do once your 30-days are over? 

conscious-mindI will continue to consciously eat healthier and focus my food intake toward real, pronounceable ingredients but make no mistake: the very first evening after the Whole30 adventure will include a Whole30 friendly dinner with a glass (or two) of good, red wine. Having said that, is an order of beef nachos from The Post going to happen in the unforeseeable future? Yes, although not every single Friday Happy Hour. Will I eat bread? Probably but certainly not as much as in the past. Will I drink beer during NCAA March Madness? Absolutely. Some things will never change.

Whole30 Halfway Point!

HalfwayPointToday is Day 16 of my 30-day, Whole30 challenge so I am just a little over half way there! Has it been challenging? Yes. Can I finish this? Absolutely. The fact that I have been eating “whole food healthy” 75% of the time for the last handful of years has been my saving grace; this program is more of a temporary state of eliminating certain ingredients, additives, and foods which requires diligently reading labels, particularly when it comes to making sure all added sugars, both natural and artificial, have been keepgoingeliminated.  Read a few labels at the grocery store or take a look at your pantry…any product containing the word sugar, sucrose (along with anything ending in “crose” or “tose”), syrup, nectar, fruit/cane juice, honey, molasses, sorghum, aspartame, Equal, Nutra-Sweet, saccharin, Splenda, Stevia, Truvia, Sweet-n-Low, or a bunch of sugar alcohols (i.e. glycol, glycerol and anything ending in “ol”) is off limits. On top of that, no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no alcohol, etc.

Rather than focusing on what I can’t eat, below is a quick snap shot of what I have been making from scratch and totally enjoying!  This entire experience has reminded me how much I do like to cook and I plan on doing that more often.  In addition, the sincere support of my family, friends, and co-workers has been invaluable.  Thank you so much!

spaghetti squashCreamy Tomato Basil Chicken over Spaghetti Squash (left) courtesy of my cousin Camilla Maybee’s website TGIPaleo.com

crabcakesCrab Cakes and Sweet Potato-Coconut Soup (left) courtesy of Jan’s Sushi Bar

tacosaladMexican Salad with homemade guacamole via  Whole9life