DAY 757: No small feet

As long as I can remember, I’ve had one randomly, incongruously sized body part:  my feet.  I’m average height, but my feet are above average in length and way below average in width.  Unlike the rest of my body, they’re long and skinny.

When I reached my smallest adult size last year, I had lost at least a half-shoe size, which I regained over the course of the last year along with a bunch of the weight I had worked so hard to lose.  I suddenly find myself down another half-shoe size again, to 9 from 9½.  I’ve spent the day accidentally stepping out of my shoes while roaming the halls of my office.

While this is amusing and an overall encouraging sign of changes that are happening in my body, it’s also mildly annoying and bewildering.  I mean, come on, body!  You have tens of pounds to lose from the midsection, but you’re opting to drop the weight from what’s already the smallest part?!  DUDE.  Get right.

But like I originally said, it’s a good sign.  If this pattern of weight loss mimics last time’s, my silly body will shed weight in this order (which tracks so far this time around):

  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Chest
  • Feet
  • Legs
  • Arms
  • Thighs
  • Butt
  • Stomach

So, let’s go, body!  NEXT!

DAY 755: The dirty on Whole30

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I MADE IT.  ALL THIRTY DAYS.

Here’s the official Whole30 timeline of what to loosely expect along the way.  Here’s what actually happened to me:

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THE SCORE
Days with low-carb flu:  7.5
Days with a headache:  16
Days with diarrhea:  3*
Days constipated:  8
Days with no weird effects:  4

*I think there were more of these in the beginning; at least, I recall having loose stools often and going at least once per day.  I unfortunately didn’t start keeping a symptoms calendar until I started that wretched, wretched 4-day stretch of constipation, and by that point, I could only recall back a few days.

BROAD SUMMARY (MENTALLY [because the physical should be self-explanatory based on my calendar image])
Days feeling meh/normal/pretty much fine:  16 (1 – 16)
Days feeling fucking terrible:  5 (17 – 21)
Days feeling fucking awesome:  9 (22 – 30)

TL;DR
Did you ever get your tiger blood?  YES.
Was it worth doing this shockingly expensive, drawn-out, often infuriating dietary experiment to feel awesome for less than a third of the time?  YES.
HUH?  WHY?!  There is no TL;DR way to answer this question.  Trust me blindly or keep reading, champ.

First of all, let me say up front that I’m proud of myself for doing this.  At no point did I falter, or even consider abandoning ship.  I stuck with it the whole time and I owned this process, and it wasn’t without its challenges or massive frustrations.  If I could high five myself without looking like a total dork who never learned to clap right, I would do it.

Sticking to Whole30 truly did help me tame my “sugar dragon,” challenged me to face the way I’ve been using food to punish or reward myself instead of to nourish myself, and gave me the feeling of power and control over what I put into my body (ironically enough, on such a restrictive diet).  It got me back into the gym on a routine basis.  It (eventually) made me feel great physically and like totally baller mentally.  I learned to love almond butter.  I reached rain-man levels of label-reading expertise.  What I thought was already great skin, became even greater.  I got something I really wanted out of this, which was improved sleep.  It forced me to become comfortable with discussing my dietary habits with people, out loud.  And ya know, it just feels great to have set out to do something for 30 days, and to have inarguably risen to the challenge.  Above all, it punted me out of my I-don’t-wanna stupor, and gave me results along the way:  my final weight-loss number from Whole30 is 17.2 pounds (most of which was knocked off in the first 2 weeks).  I still have a long way to go, but holy hell, y’all.  That’s a big-ass number, especially considering that low-carb flu sidelined me for a full week and I didn’t really start working out in earnest until the final third of the program.

And yet, I don’t think I would ever do this again.  The main reason is that it was astronomically expensive for me.  I’m not exaggerating when I say my weekly grocery bills doubled.  To give an example of the runaway costs I had on Whole30, I site breakfast.  Typically, I eat a bowl of passably healthy cereal (Cheerios) that I buy on sale at CVS for $2.50/box, and it lasts me over a week, along with milk from the grocery store that also lasts me over a week, for which I pay under $4.00.  Assuming each lasts me 10 days, that means one day of breakfast costs me roughly $0.65.  SIXTY-FIVE CENTS.  It’s practically free.  On Whole30, however, grains and dairy are no-nos, so I had to seek out compliant options — quite the quest within itself — and then I had to properly balance my plate.  For breakfast alone, I had to have starch (let’s say breakfast potatoes, which cost me about $6 to make last for the week), protein (let’s say Aidell’s chicken-apple sausage, $6.00/package, which lasts two days), and fat (usually avocado, which I can make last 4 days — thanks, refrigeration! — for $1/each).  I would also usually add in a fruit to help inject some fiber into the meal (let’s say raspberries, $4.00/package, which lasts two days, according to serving size).  Are you seeing how this adds up insanely fast?  Pricing this out per food item and factoring in staying power gives me a breakfast that costs $6.10 every morning.  SIX DOLLARS AND TEN CENTS.  It’s almost ten times more expensive every day!  And that’s just ONE MEAL!  Extrapolated across the full month, if I had had this meal for breakfast every day (which I did not, but I’m doing this just to drive home the point), it’s a total cost difference of $163.50!!!!  UNAFFORDABLE.

Beyond that, the amount of time it takes to plan (i.e. find compliant, balanced recipes that I liked) and prepare (i.e. cook and portion out) all the meals and snacks is something you should be provided a time machine for.  And I don’t mean a gizmo that lets you travel through time; I mean one that lets you add hours to your day.  Honestly, I thought this would be a very minor adjustment heading into Whole30 because I already put in so much thought and time into my menu planning and prepping efforts, but this knocked my socks off.  I’m used to sacrificing my entire Sunday to the kitchen altar of the nutrition gods, but even cooking morning to night did NOT give me enough time, especially if I had any hopes of getting a workout in.  I repeat:  cooking morning to night for an entire day was not enough time to get ready for the week!  Taking the example of breakfast again, something I never had to do any kind of prep for when I was simply eating a bowl of cereal, I was now having to fully prep an entire additional meal in addition to lunches and dinners for the week, increasing my kitchen work time by 50% right off the bat.  I had to sacrifice more and more of my weekend to Whole30 prep time, and it got a little dicey pretty often.

Finally, doing Whole30 can be a bit of a lonely experience.  I’m fortunate that I had a co-worker roped in with me, and I’m very glad I was vocal about my decision to take on the program ahead of time so that people I see regularly would already be in the know and implicitly give me support and accountability, but social situations could be very trying.  It’s basically impossible to find something at a work function that’s likely to be compliant, aside from an undressed pile of lettuce and perhaps some raw fruit or veggies.  There is sugar in everything.  EVERYTHING.  It’s also an isolating feeling to be at a celebratory event and be the wet blanket who’s not raising a glass of fizz to the guest of honor, or digging into the cake alongside the rest of the guests.  I’m only grateful I didn’t have to do any traveling during those 30 days; that would have been straight-up painful.

All that being said, I *am* glad I did it this once.  I learned a lot, and I think differently about food now.  On day 21, when I was up to my ears in frustration with stalled progress and feeling stymied by the whole thing, I would have said it was a pure waste of time and money.  On day 22, the Whole30 gods mercifully gave me my tiger blood, and there was no turning back.

I’ve done one day of reintroduction (sugar), and just those 12 waking hours were enough to show me the effects of sugar on me:  it makes me feel guilty, and it immediately exhausts me.  After a few days on Whole30, I had no more energy crashes and maintained a pretty consistent level throughout the day pretty much every day.  One day back on sugar, and the spikes and crashes set back in immediately.  Mind you, it wasn’t even an unusually high amount of sugar; it was a bit that was a casualty of preparation from each meal (except the cupcakes — yeah, plural.  I was at a bridal shower and I baked those bad boys blind on day 30.  You really think I didn’t deserve both of them?!  😉 )  I hate sugar now.  I mean, I still like the taste, but I hate the concept of it.  It has wrecked many a person’s relationship with food, myself included.  Taste wise, I do now detect a chemically/artificial taste in sugary foods that I didn’t previously.  It’s interesting… and unnerving.

This week, I’m actually back on the program.  There was one last recipe I wanted to test out, and I figured that while I’m at it, I might as well just keep on the program full-time the rest of the week.  I’ll continue reintroduction at the end of that.  I’m curious to see what I’ll discover.

If you’re considering doing Whole30, my best piece of advice to you is to economize your money and time.  You should save money for a few weeks before you start, and you should plan out all your meals before you even begin the program so that you save yourself that time once you get started.  Search for and build your little Whole30-friendly library of recipes well in advance, and write out your grocery lists by week so they’re ready to go when you get there. Believe me, you’ll be grateful for that little gift of time you give to yourself.  Oh, and if you can, definitely get a friend to do it with you.  The support will help keep you going when it feels like the tiger blood fairy has forgotten you.

Just don’t ask me to be that friend.  I’m taking a hard pass on doing Whole30 again.

DAY 750: True come dream

Two nights ago, I had a major first.  While unconscious.

I was dreaming that I was at some sort of banquet-y lunch with a massive dessert table.  Of course, I gravitated directly towards the dense, chewy, chocolate chip cookies displayed on it.  I picked one up, studied its delicious mushiness, and placed it back on the table.  I picked up another, gave it the same inspection, and set it back down to examine another.  After the third or fourth time I put a dream-cookie back down, I shrugged and walked away.

No, no, no, you don’t get it — my dreams are the place where I relatively safely, albeit at the cost of fleeting waking guilt, stuff my face with nutritional contraband.  I always eat the illicit brownie, piece of cake, cupcake, ice cream, chocolate, or cookie.  But this time, subconscious-me chose not to eat that little piece of dessert heaven.

I still don’t think you heard me.  In my dream, which I have never been able to control, I opted out of a cookie indulgence.

It might sound silly, but this almost feels like a bigger deal than making the safe choices in real life.  Why?  Because DUDE.  This means that the lifestyle change has so deeply permeated my mind that it now lives in my subconscious.  I have embraced it so wholeheartedly that even in my dreams, which express my true desires, I’m going for the healthy option.  I truly, at all levels, want to be healthy.  The cookie, real or imagined, no longer has the hold on me that it used to.  Even at my strongest point of total weight-loss dominance last year, I never managed to achieve this level of mental strength and control.  I’m sure I haven’t dreamed my last food-binge dream, but I’m also sure that having dreamed my first opt-out-of-food-binge dream is a BFD.

Dream-me’s actions are rooted in my general lived experience, but they also come from a specific incident at the end of last week.  On Friday, I was stuck at a work conference for the third day in a row, and it was a Whole30 dieter’s food desert.  (Incidentally, on day one of the conference, The Sugar Association’s Board of Directors was meeting down the hall from my group.  I should’ve burned it down.  HISSSSSS!)  At lunch that day, I was wringing my hands over whether or not the cold-cut turkey set out was compliant.  I had hungrily taken three slices to cut up into my plate of lettuce and cherry tomatoes, but it seemed unlikely that the lunch meat was safe to eat because it almost always contains added sugar.  Finally, I decided not to risk it and pushed it aside in favor of my boring-but-safe rabbit food.

While this inner struggle was playing out, I was looking it up on my phone and wondering aloud to a co-worker who knows of my Whole30 endeavor about the predicament, and another co-worker overheard and asked what was going on.  I explained, and she was kind of horrified to learn what Whole30 was.  She asked, “What do you do when you have a bad day?!”  (Implication: what do you binge on when you want to eat your feelings?!)  I simultaneously appreciated the completely normal, honest reaction she had, and also felt a sudden click of recognition that this is what they’re talking about when they refer to unwitting, sugar-addicted victims of SAD (Standard American Diet).  It was the first time that struck me in such a crystallized way.  As I was processing my reaction to her reaction, I checked myself to make sure I didn’t come off like one of those goddamn judgmental, holier-than-thou dieters.  I took a beat and said, “One of the things Whole30 helps with is changing how you relate to food, so it gets you away from doing that.  I mean, it helps that it’s no fun bingeing on carrots.”  She chuckled, and that was kind of the end of it.

Leading up to this conversation was my walk along the lunch buffet line.  Coming away with a plate of greens and some puny vegetables was a big, fat bummer, even though none of the options looked stunningly awesome.  Passing the cookie-laden dessert table and sitting down to eat with my cookie-laden colleagues was a bigger, fatter bummer.  I really wanted a cookie.  I vocalized that I really wanted a cookie.  I even went back over to the dessert table, knowing that I wasn’t going to take one, just to look once more at what I was missing.  I told myself they probably weren’t as good as they looked, shrugged, and walked away.

And then a few nights later, my true came dream.

What’s funny is that when I’m all by myself, I could give a rat’s ass about a cookie.  I don’t think about junk food normally; I just go about my day and eat the things I’ve spent hours and hours planning and preparing for myself.  It’s these social situations that are murder.  Already, it’s hard even finding something that I’m confident will be compliant, but then watching everyone else be able to indulge in whatever without having to think about or care about what they’re eating, is extra hard.  I never feel like I’m about to cave in those instances, but I do feel resentful and envious of the people who get to eat things other than lettuce.  (Always prepared, I did have my home-cooked lunch with me that day, and at an odd hour of the afternoon, I snuck back to my office for the sole purpose of microwave access so I could eat it.)

I only have 4 days left (including today) on Whole30.  I’m starting to feel apprehensive about going off the program when it ends.  It’s like after spending all of 8th grade English being absolutely forbidden from ever writing with a being verb — sounds impossible, but is really just super challenging — I felt guilty when I started using them again in 9th grade, even with full permission of the teacher.  True story.  Even though I will have successfully stuck it out all 30 days, it will feel wrong to start consuming grains, dairy, etc., again.  I’m also nervous I’ll suddenly regain a lot of weight, and I simply can’t afford to do that.  Unfortunately, I literally can’t afford to maintain this diet fully, so it’s a bit of a conundrum right now.  At this point, I’m thinking I may end up going on for at least another week, to give myself a bit more time to figure it out with a little less pressure because the 30 required days will have passed.  In any event, I had anticipated feeling relief by the time I reached this point, so it’s a total surprise to be feeling hesitant about going off of it!

In non-Whole30 news, I’ve been good about sticking to my work-out regimen, even in spite of some scheduling challenges.  In addition to arms and cardio, I’m keeping my new core workouts on regular days, and I’ve noticed it’s been helping with my digestion (unless that’s just a huge coincidence).  On Sunday, I did back-to-back classes at my gym, and my legs still haven’t forgotten — but it hurts so good.  My sleep has been much better and more consistent, and I am feeling more energetic overall.  I know I said this was non-Whole30 news, but the truth is that it’s probably related to at least a small degree, of course.  I’m relearning more and more that all of this is a delicate balance, and every component of it matters.

DAY 747: Flyin’ high

That’s day 24 on the books.  Less than a week to go on Whole30!

The very next day after my last post, everything changed for the better.  I didn’t want to post about it at the risk of jinxing myself, but it’s been a long enough trend now that I can at least report on a pattern.  All of a sudden:  improved sleep, regular poops, not a single headache, and good workouts.  I’ve been dreaming nightly of oh-shit scenarios where I’ve accidentally consumed a prohibited Whole30 item, and waking up in massive relief to find that it didn’t happen.  Beyond that, I am constantly thinking about working out.  I will be in the middle of a sprint on the elliptical, thinking about working out.  It does not make sense.

This must be my version of tiger blood.  It’s not euphoria and unlimited energy, but I am grateful this upswing has finally found me.

I’ve started doing regular core exercises along with my arms circuit for the first time.  I’m almost finished prepping my food for this last week of the program.  I’m eager to see the final results.  Regrettably, I only weighed myself before starting; I did not take measurements or photos.  However, if I’m pleased with the results, I’ll likely incorporate a large part of the program into my typical diet for at least the short-term.  Hopefully, that will still help me continue on my weight-loss mission, but lessen some of the expense.

Here’s hoping for a strong finish (and beyond)!

DAY 740: Headlines

1. I finally made it to the gym today!
2. I got a headache again today 😦
3. I weighed out for round 2 of my DietBet and won!
4. Since starting Whole30, I’ve lost a whopping 14 pounds!  Whaaaaa?  (And I still have 13 days to go!)
5. For my height, I have moved (back) from extremely obese to just regular obese.  Ah, what a strange milestone to celebrate.

That’s all I’ve got for today.  Short, but a lot.  Kinda like my BMI.  😉

DAY 732: Cheater, cheater, healthy eater

It’s day 9 of Whole30.  According to the timeline, my pants are supposed to be feeling tighter on days 8-9.  They’re not.  Everything is feeling looser, including the ring that slid off my finger yesterday and had to be relocated to a neighboring digit to preclude a repeat event.

“Fuck it,” I thought to myself around 9:00 last night.

And I headed to the scale.

And I weighed myself.

Now, there was the inherent risk in this of being completely crushed by the number I saw.  What if it was higher?  What if it was infinitesimal?  What if — heaven forbid — it was completely unchanged?!  I figured it was worth knowing, even though it wasn’t the final Whole30 weight-loss number.  I stood on the scale, looked down at my toes, and saw…

…a 10.6-pound loss.

Yes, honey.

I’ll repeat that:  As of 9:00 PM on day 8 of Whole30, I had lost 10.6 pounds.

Here come ALL THE DISCLAIMERS and a BUT STILL:

  • The first week of any diet change is the best week.  It’s the body’s freak-out-and-adjust period, where it sheds tons of water weight and other crap you don’t need.  So, it’s not like I’ll be dropping 10.6 pounds per week here.
  • My period started yesterday.  (I have a vagina and corresponding lady bits.  I discuss my period sometimes like a grown-ass woman.  If this bugs you, go read someone else’s blog.)  All my period bloat happens during PMS week, and then I lose weight the week of the actual perioding.  So, that’s a factor.
  • I had several bouts of diarrhea on day 8, leading up to the scale reading.  (I have an anus and corresponding human bits.  I discuss my bowels sometimes like a grown-ass adult.  If this bugs you, go read someone else’s blog.)  So, that surely had an effect.
  • I’ve had whatever this illness is since Saturday night, which is often a dehydrating force.  So, that likely showed up on the scale.

BUT STILL…

TEN POINT SIX POUNDS, Y’ALL.

I’m not sorry for weighing myself.  In fact, I’ll probably stick with doing it once a week for the duration of the time I stick with Whole30 (and I phrase it that way because, as of right now, I’m seriously considering just sticking with it through the wedding I’m in in May).  Furthermore, I’m cheating on Whole30 in a couple of other ways that Melissa Hartwig would probably have my head for:

  • I’m snacking between meals.  Yeah, that’s right, I’m intentionally snacking.  I am not changing my usual eating rhythm of eating every 3 hours, even though Whole30 stipulates that you should restrict yourself to only 3 meals per day and not snack unless you’re desperate.  Welp, not this chick.  I’m sticking to my 5 meals because I know it works for me, body and soul schedule.  I don’t think it’s worth veering off of that, so I chose not to from the outset.
  • I’m not perfectly balancing my proteins, fats, and carbs at each feeding.  I mean, I mostly end up doing it just by luck, but I’m not melting my brain trying to make that happen.  I am not adding almond butter to every apple I eat just because I must have healthy fat.  I mustn’t.  I wantn’t.  So I willn’t.  (Coincidentally, I do happen to eat an apple and actual almonds at the same scheduled snack time, but the point stands.)  The balance will mostly work out over the course of the day.  Mainly, I just want to get enough veggies, so that’s primarily been my focus.

I don’t think these two grievous modifications will drastically skew my results in any direction, nor am I quite that inclined to care.  The big point of Whole30, which I am adhering to 100%, is the elimination.  Here’s what I *AM* doing:

  • No added (refined) sugar
  • No legumes
  • No alcohol
  • No grains at all
  • No soy
  • No dairy
  • No coffee (not a part of the program; added by me)

Therefore, the intended anti-inflammatory experiment has room to run, and I’m still doing it “right.”  I hereby absolve myself of my sins.

Deal with it, Melissa.

P.S.  10.6 pounds.  Just sayin’.
P.P.S.  Someone even commented today in reference to Whole30 that “it’s working.”
P.P.P.S.  Shut up, Melissa.

DAY 730: Sick and… not that tired!?

You know you’re sick when you’re shoveling spicy homemade Indian food down your gullet without smelling or tasting any of it.

In spite of that, I’m still trucking along on Whole30!  I’m now halfway through day 7, and even though I’ve been sick for over half the time I’ve been following the program, I’m still going strong.  I’m nearly 25% of the way there!

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Even though I’ve been sick and sleeping even less/worse than I already was, something weird is going on:  I haven’t been feeling extra tired.  In fact, I’ve actually been feeling ready to get out of bed when I wake up in the morning, and I don’t hit a crash point during the day, ever.  I’m ready for bed at bedtime, but I’m not dragging myself there with my last ounce of strength.  On top of that, I have been taking zero medicine or soothing agents (like cough drops), as nothing I could find had no added sugar.  This bears reiteration:  I’m feeling this way in spite of being sick and taking no medicine for it.  I’m not bouncing off the walls or anything, but usually when I’m sick, I’m bedridden and whiny until I feel 100% better.  This is a totally different experience of illness.  It’s… bearable!

I’m also NOT in the I Just Want a Nap phase anymore.  I’m officially in no man’s land.  If I suddenly start tracking the timeline, I’ll be pretty irritated if it’s just in time for the My Pants Are Tighter phase.  That would send me straight into Kill All the Things for totally non-food-related reasons.  Whole30 gods, if you’re reading this, please consider my request to stay off the charted path until Tiger Blood, kay?  Kay.