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

whole30alum.jpg

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:

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 6.32.39 PM

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 743: To sleep, perchance to food-dream

OK.  It’s day 20, and I feel like I’m back tracking.

I have slept terribly the past two nights, in spite of taking melatonin on Sunday night.  Last night, after 2+ hours of trying and failing to fall asleep, I ultimately gave up and went to the kitchen to start preparing today’s lunch and tonight’s dinner.  Still not wound down from that, I went ahead and filed my taxes.  Finally, I trudged back upstairs around 2 AM where I lay awake for another hour before finally dozing off sometime after 3.  I also peed four times between when I first lay down and when I scraped myself off the mattress when my alarm went off for the 5th time this morning.  I usually only get up once or twice throughout the night.

I also had the worst headache yesterday that I’ve had since starting Whole30.  Two pills didn’t kill it during the day, and it clung on and on until I took another dosage before my first attempt at going to sleep at night.  It then took a while to dissipate, which at least it finally did.  As I sit here typing this, I can feel another one creeping on.

I continue to have inexplicable and frustrating stretches of constipation.  That just infuriates me.  In. fur. i. ates. Me.  Anti-bloat diet, my ass.

And to add injury to insult, I am all of a sudden having knee pain.  KNEE PAIN.  For the first time in my life, I have aching, stiff, sore knees through absolutely no strain or exertion.  I’ve been totally phoning it in on the physical activity, and what little I’ve gotten has been pretty non-strenuous.  Even at my heaviest weight of 303 pounds, my knees were fine.  I’m years and miles away from that point now, and partway through this healthy dietary tweak, I’m struck with it out of absolutely nowhere?  Not fair.  Also, not logical.

What the eff is going on here?!

This better be the death throes of toxins leaving my body or something.  I am SO irked about what I’m experiencing this far into the program.  The hardest shit is supposed to be over.  It’s been almost 3 weeks and I have experienced, mmm, approximately zero of the program’s touted health benefits.  For all the extra investment — and I do mean investment — of time and money to stick to the strident rules of Whole30, to experience nothing even close to “tiger blood” is outrageous.  Not only am I not feeling better, but I’m actually feeling worse.  I am so glad I’ve ignored the guideline about not weighing yourself; if it weren’t for my knowledge that I’ve dropped a lot of weight, it’s hard to imagine I could convince myself to stick out these last 10 days.

Oh, oh, oh!  But THEN!  I’m all skittish about stopping after day 30 because what if all the pounds that fell off were just water weight, and I instantly gain it all back during reintroduction?  I won’t fit into my MoH dress.  I’ll be miserable and inconsolable.  It will all have been an utter waste, in every possible sense.  Ugh, I can’t even let myself think about that, but the thought keeps popping into my head.

I’m exhausted.  What I wouldn’t give for a guilty food dream right now.

DAY 737: There will be tiger blood

Well, here I am on day 14 — almost the halfway point of Whole30.  I’m basically disregarding the timeline at this point, because it has been of virtually no use to me.  All I can do is hope that the tiger blood I’m supposed to suddenly get 2 days from now is really coming, because I am B-O-R-E-D of this.  Actually, that’s not the best characterization of how I’m feeling, but it’s something akin to that.

I’ve finally started getting deeper sleep, but I have to coax myself out of bed in the morning because I just want to keep sleeping.  It’s also taking some time for me to feel calm/relaxed enough to fall asleep at night in the first place, which is weird and annoying.  So, so far, moderate progress on the sleep front.

The digestive issues are far from resolved.  If anything, there are just new twists and turns to the saga.  I had several days of sudden diarrhea (1-2 times those days) in the middle of last week and then over the weekend, which hasn’t happened again since Sunday.  Since then, I haven’t pooped at all.  I am a crabby thing when I’m constipated, so these last 3 days haven’t been my favorite.

And then, of course, there were the low-carb flu days.  (I’ve concluded decisively that this was what hit me on the night of day 3, not an actual cold.  I’ve read a metric shit ton about it lately, and I’m thoroughly convinced.)  It was an unpleasant occurrence that prevented me from good sleep and from working out, so needless to say, I was only too happy to kiss that mess good-bye when it finally started dissipating this past weekend.

Also, the cost of this has been exorbitant for me.  In the past 2 weeks, my grocery bills have doubled.  I am one person, eating and prepping meals for one.  The health benefits are one thing, but it’s simply not financially sustainable.  I’m hoping that much of that has to do with the fact that I really didn’t have any Whole30-compliant staples, i.e. almond butter (which I did cave in and buy, only to discover I’m not a fan >:(), and staples are a big up-front cost that then last a few weeks.  Unfortunately, the other side of that coin is, there really aren’t that many compliant staples — hello, you’re eating whole foods which need to be purchased fresh and consequently consumed pretty immediately thereafter.  I get it.  But holy crap.  I definitely had not anticipated this type of hit to the wallet.

The one thing I’m pleased with, of course, is the weight loss I saw on the scale.  I hope it not only sticks, but that it keeps climbing.

I’ll be taking my ass to the gym tonight, for the first time since starting Whole30.  Ideally, getting fitness back into my routine will have a beneficial impact on all of the above.  And it better get me some pretty potent tiger blood, stat.  I haven’t been thinking about quitting or anything, but let’s be real: I’m in it for the tiger blood.  I was promised tiger blood, and if I don’t get the vaunted Whole30 tiger blood, I might just lose my damn mind.

Just to end things on a good note, I’ll gush about the AMAZING meal I made for my lunches this week.  It’s a Whole30-compliant recipe combining chicken, pecans, and apple chunks with warm fall spices in a fantastically creamy coconut milk sauce.  It’s completely off season, but it made my entire house smell amazing while I was cooking it this weekend, and it’s kept well in the fridge and reheats very nicely.  I’ve just been eating it over crunchy kale greens with a side of Brussels sprouts.  (There’s conflicting information about whether or not arrowroot is compliant; it seems largely acceptable, but if you just want to be totally safe, you can skip it and the dish won’t suffer at all.)  So, the joy of a new meal experience that I really enjoy — especially as someone who typically hates cooked fruit in any setting, including/especially desserts — is a total victory.

Happy hump day, y’all.

DAY 731: Happy worth day, dear body

Two years ago today, I made The Change.

It was tentative at first, but it stuck… for a while.  For months and months, I gained steam and experienced a lot of successful changes physically, mentally, and emotionally.  After nearly a full year of hard work, I eagerly laced up my running shoes and went for my first-ever outdoor run in the refreshing spring air after work.

It was also my last outdoor run.

I spent the remainder of 2016 undoing most of the work I’d done from March 23rd, 2015, until that date.  I couldn’t even bring myself to post on my first worth day because I was too busy falling off the wagon, sabotaging myself, and feeling 360 degrees of shitty about it.  One little thing went wrong, and then I allowed every little thing to go wrong and nearly ruin my weight loss.  What a waste.

This year, I’m not at the size I thought I would be when I imagined myself two years out at my start date on this day in 2015.  I’m trying to claw my way back to the levels of health and happiness I had managed to reach previously, before I will really be able to believe I can attain my ultimate goals.  If I started out two years ago feeling tentative, that’s amped waaaaaaaaaay up this time around.

Shakiness aside, I am making sure to recognize my efforts today.  The path I’ve taken hasn’t been straight or without significant obstacles, but it’s started taking me back towards  where I’ve long wanted — and needed — to go.  As my mission enters its toddlerhood, I recommit to the girl who has always occupied, and will always occupy, this body:  I will be fearless.  I will work hard.  I will see to it that my last outdoor run was only my most recent outdoor run, not my final outdoor run.  I will one day stop being ashamed of this body and strive to not only accept it, but to see it as beautiful.

I am worth it.

Happy worth day, dear body.

DAY 728: Timeline, shmimeline

the-whole30-timeline-ol6w5a

Well, it’s the start of Whole5, and  I’m still on track.  Thing is, my Whole30 Timeline experience is syncing up, um, in almost no way.

I read and re-read the timeline numerous times before starting Whole30, and many more again since.  I obviously expected and planned for some variation, and I’d say my days 1-3 were more or less in keeping with the timeline (What’s the Big Deal? and The Hangover), although the 3 days combined were more like a hybrid of the two phases merged into one.  Since I’d mostly been eating clean already, the only sign of detox I had was a daily headache, which I’ve concluded is caffeine withdrawal from kicking coffee completely rather than from Whole30, although I’m not a scientist or a doctor, so will concede that it could be a factor.  I’ve mostly been a little nonchalant and waiting for the other shoe to drop.

On Saturday (day 3), I was watching a live show in a theater and suddenly started sneezing in a way I recognized as not allergies.  Over the course of the rest of the day, I became draggier and felt my nose and ears clogging.  By the time I got home at 11:00 PM, it felt like a full-on cold, complete with a sporadic wet cough.  Thanks to the congestion, I got my sleep in small increments that night and finally got out of bed yesterday morning feeling unrested.  I puttered around the house the rest of the day, canceling my Sunday plans and not even making it to the grocery store, let alone the gym.  I crawled back into bed around 4 in the afternoon and napped off and on, then got up around 7 to eat dinner, and got right back into bed as soon as my last dish hit the drying rack.  I slept even less last night, and the crap I’m coughing up has gotten more… non-nondescript.  I guess I’m officially sick, although certain sources on the web suggest this is a bodily reaction to the detox (which was my guess/hope) rather than a proper cold.  (The Whole30 website categorically rules out this possibility.)  I so rarely succumb to any type of illness that I’m always ready to attribute symptoms like this to something else.  Maybe it’s a coincidence, maybe it’s the detox, or maybe it’s some cruel joke of a joint effort of the two.  In any event, it’s fucking annoying to be getting even less sleep!

Here on day 5, I have to say I’m really not feeling the bloodlust that the timeline’s Kill All the Things phase portends (even in spite of the sleep deprivation).  I’m more in the I Just Want a Nap phase, which I’ve been in since before starting Whole30.  Haha.  I’ve been having food dreams again, which is characteristic of a later phase as well as something that happens to me anyway, but I have no cravings or desires to murder anyone.  I haven’t had another headache since Saturday, so The Hangover feels safely over.  Staying off the scale has been the true test of willpower so far.  I’m a bit incredulous about the effectiveness of this program right now, which is mostly because I’ve been so tethered to the scale as THE metric of results and I haven’t weighed myself since before I started this whole endeavor, and since right now, I feel markedly worse, not better.  I have no temptation to quit, though.

DISCLAIMER:  If I’m making Whole30 sound easy, don’t be fooled.  lot of work goes into this in terms of planning and meal preparation, not to mention real-time adjustments.  (I did great on my day away from home all day Saturday!)  I was also already eating clean before starting this, so it wasn’t too much of a shock to my system to cut out the alcohol I wasn’t consuming, the grains I was eating in moderation, the added sugar I was restricting, the legumes I enjoy but scarcely eat, or the dairy I took nearly exclusively in the form of milk or cheese, nearly exclusively in the early part of the day.  Also, it is only day 5; that’s not enough time for any kind of thorough analysis of anything, especially not a drastic dietary modification.  That said, the scientific part of my brain is curious and eager to see how the full effects will bear out.  This detox flu/head cold needs to GTFO, though.

In the meantime, however, I can’t plot myself on the Whole30 Timeline.  I’m traveling without a guide, I guess.

Off the edge of the map, mate.  Here there be monsters.

9b47425ebbc43fdcd658fc46052567c6.jpg

DAY 715: Not drawn to scale

Getting back on the horse has been so exhausting and challenging, I can’t help but curse past-me for having gotten off in the first place.  That was dumb, past-me.  SHAME ON YOU/ME/US.

As I’ve most recently lamented, sleep has been a problem lately.  Just when the remedy to that arrived (my new mattress and box spring finally came at the end of last week!), I had a nasty allergic flare-up amid a sudden onset of spring that has woken me up persistently throughout the night so I can give in to full-body coughing fits.  It’s really just the loveliest.  I can only imagine how much worse it would be without my Rx antihistamines and allergy shots (though I really don’t have to imagine)!

This, and a slightly indulgent Saturday (two meals out that included mostly healthy choices, with the exception of one cocktail and one pastry, and zero gym time although I still made all my daily steps), converged to stall my weight loss.  My scale has been showing me wildly inconsistent numbers that seem like they’re just being randomly generated by some gremlin living inside the scale, and I’ve given in to weighing in often multiple times a day just to try to identify what my real weight might be.  Foolish and counter-productive, is what I’d call that venture.  I am now swearing off the scale until the end of this week.  I know for my own sake I can’t weigh in more than once a week.  Back to that.

Also, I’ve been generally slacking at the gym.  I still go for the most part, but I’ve been letting myself off the hook of really pushing myself.  I know the pounds aren’t gonna drop off for free; I have to pay for that shit with my sweat.  What I’ve been doing hasn’t been cutting it.  I know that, and yet I haven’t been pushing myself.  Come on, self.  Scale gremlin lives off this kind of laxness.

I’m also wearing orthotics now, as prescribed by my podiatrist.  As my body adjusts to their correctional effects, there’s some stiffness and soreness in random joints up and down my legs.  I know it’s temporary, but it is a bit of a hindrance.

Things are finally trending toward equilibrium, though, and I’ve slowly noticed I’m feeling more rested when I first get up in the morning.  I’ve even dared to let myself believe that the slimmer neck and shoulders on the body I’m seeing in the mirror might be real.

During my Sunday visit to the gym, I did some interval jogging on the treadmill for the first time in ages, maxing out on 3 minutes straight at 5.0 MPH.  Last night at the gym, I self-insisted on my arms circuit and event tried a new machine that had always been a little intimidating to me (the rower) before pushing myself on the elliptical (which only exists in models I don’t like at my gym).   Still not a profuse sweat, but a good start.  And honestly, the post-workout soreness from the two days combined is highly satisfying.

This morning, walking down the stairs to leave my building, I felt more energetic and lighter on my feet.

And then when I arrived at work today, I got the affirmation of a co-worker.

Her:  “You look like you’ve lost some weight.  Have you been losing weight?”
Me (out loud):  cheshire

Me (internally):  “Why, yes.  Yes, I have.”  (HEAR ME, SCALE GREMLIN!  HEAR ME!  **shakes fist**)

In your face, container of brownies that mocked me at the grocery store last Friday.  You can bite me.