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 739: Whoa, we’re halfway there!

BONJOVI-2

It’s day 16.  Do you know where your children are?

I posted this yesterday on DietBet, but it bears repeating:  I am SO. SICK. OF SALAD.

I’ve had a lot of late nights recently, resulting in needing to order food instead of eating the yummy, healthy, Whole30-compliant dinners I have waiting for me at home.  The only thing that seems safe to eat in those circumstances is a very basic build-your-own salad without dressing from a fresh salad joint.  And man, I am so over salad at this point.  I’m also over shelling out additional cash on pretentious salads — yeah, that’s a thing — on top of the substantial amount of money I’ve already spent to make the meals I’m neglecting in the first place.  GRUMBLE, GRUMBLE, GRUMBLE.  I’m looking mad forward to eating at home all weekend.

Yesterday, the halfway point, was a decent day.  I had a meeting that went on entirely too long, and when I emerged from the staircase afterwards on the way back to my office, two co-workers were chatting by the elevators.  One suddenly stopped herself mid-sentence and called out, “Is that… is that you?”  I turned around and said, “Yes, I’m me!”  She started saying she thought it was me, but she wasn’t sure; I looked so good, could I help her with losing weight?!  She must have said 3 or 4 times how different or good she thought I looked.  (I rarely see this person.)  That felt pretty nice.  (Thanks, super flowy, former oh-honey top I was wearing yesterday!)

Yesterday evening was a good-bye gathering for a colleague, and I was the designated cupcake picker-upper.  Not just any cupcakes, mind you.  They spent Wednesday night in my fridge, all day Thursday in my office, and Thursday evening staring at me while everyone else partook.  That fudgy chocolate frosting looked amazing, but was it?  I have only the word of other people — and foggy, fond memories — to go on.  Passing on those babies wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, actually; honestly, having them at home and in my office for nearly a full day was fine.  I didn’t think about them at all.  It was watching everyone else eat (and enjoy) them that gave me a pang.  I’m telling myself it was mostly FOMO while I remind myself what sugar does to my insides.  That shit looked sooooo yummy, though.  *single tear

The one thing that has started feeling like a sacrifice is coffee.  Go figure, right?  The one thing I gave up voluntarily, outside of the program’s guidelines, is the one that has started to hurt.  BUT, BUT, BUT!  Yesterday was the first time in over a week I did not get a headache!  I had several early on, then a few days without, and then straight headaches for about a week and a half.  They were more of the dull, nagging variety than the throbbing, painful variety; enough to be annoying and prevent clear thinking or ease in falling asleep, but not a light enough touch that I could avoid taking something to make it go away.  The night before last, I noticed the headache was a little lower in strength than the ones leading up to it, and I rolled the dice:  I went to bed without popping Excedrin, and the headache went away.  I slept normally all night and had no remnants of the headache when I woke up in the morning.  Then, no headache during the day, and I went to sleep pain free!  Magic!  It’s not exactly tiger blood, but I’ll take it.

You know, one thing  I have taken from this is that being open about my dietary restrictions has been very helpful, and not embarrassing.  This comes as a complete surprise to me, given how uncomfortable I have been all my life with letting people into this weight-loss stuff with me.  It feels like THE most personal thing I could share, no matter how limited the sharing is.  I feel appreciative and humbled by being proven dead wrong about this.  The implicit accountability, support, and encouragement from people has been incredible.  I’ve even intentionally told my parents I’m doing this, and they won’t even see me during these 30 days.  LIGHT BULB!  I don’t have to do everything alone.  A lesson decades in the making.

Sadly, I STILL have not made it to the gym.  It’s on the docket for tomorrow, right between SLEEP IN and PLAN NEXT WEEK’S MENUS.

Fifteen down, fifteen to go!

DAY 725: One done…

Twenty-nine to go.

Good news: I survived day 1 of Whole30!  My only unpleasant feeling was a slight headache in late afternoon, which I suspected was from having zero caffeine in over 24 hours.  Within 5 minutes of popping some Excedrin, the headache was gone.  (This confirmed my hunch; Excedrin is 50% caffeine.)  I’m actually feeling a tinge of a headache now, but I’m gonna try to avoid medicine to see if it will go away naturally.  If not, maybe I’ll take just a half dosage of Excedrin a little later.  I guess my body does have some amount of dependency, even if I haven’t been consciously jonesing for coffee (yet).

What I did just get a sudden craving for, through the power of suggestion of scent as I passed by the office of one of my grazing co-workers, is peanut butter.  Oh, peanut butter, how delicious you would be on a bagel right now!  Or an apple.  Or a spoon.  Or just, like, ya know… my fingers.  I miss you, peanut butter.

I didn’t sleep spectacularly well last night, but I didn’t expect to after only one day.  I’m realistically hoping to report sound sleep within a week or so.  I did have some bizarre dreams, but that’s probably unrelated (?).

Anyway, between the delicious aromas of others’ non-Whole30-compliant food and my desperately itching for a little extra sleep in the morning, I’m feeling pretty TGIF.  I am nervous about the full day out of the house I have planned for tomorrow, and I have to mentally (and geographically!) map out where I can safely go for sustenance.  Of course, I’ll arm myself with snacks, as usual, but I’ll need proper meals at some point.  To be clear, what I’m nervous about isn’t slipping up on day 3; what I’m nervous about is not having any options and consequently not eating at all.  THAT will give me the mother of all headaches.  So, research, research, research!

Otherwise, today has been pretty uneventful so far.  I’m supposed to be experiencing The Hangover phase of the Whole30 timeline, but I’m hoping that since I was generally eating clean prior to this (just not Whole30-clean), I can skip or at least go through a lesser version of that phase.  I’m not feeling tempted by anything except that I have already had to check myself on the compulsion to get on the scale!  Last night, I almost wandered absentmindedly to check my weight, but I remembered not to just in time.  So silly some of the things that are almost automatic.  I weighed myself the night before last so that I can have an accurate measurement of any changes in my weight after I finish Whole30, but I’ll have to keep away from weighing in again until mid-month for my Transformer round weigh-in.

Eating so far has been on point, but I haven’t hit the gym in a few days and won’t be able to again until Sunday, unless I happen to naturally wake up early enough to go tomorrow before my long day of plans.  The skimpy work-out time is OK right now, but I’m not letting myself get away with it past Sunday.  Hating my gym is a valid feeling, but not a valid excuse to lose needed exercise.

Things are still smooth 36 hours in!  Ohhhhh, so many hours left to go, though.  Hi-ya!  (That’s what a Whole30 ninja says.  I checked.)

DAY 724: Whole30, the Whole30, and nothing but Whole30

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The day has come:  Whole 30, day 1.

This actually turned out to be as great a day to start as I had hoped.  I selected and committed to this start date a little over a week ago, allowing for a cheese-centric weekend with friends and a catered all-day meeting yesterday to pass.  My area ended up with winter weather on Tuesday, so I opted to telework that day, and it allowed me to prepare one of my favorite meals while I was at home, which magically happens to be Whole30 compliant (although my eyes did spring open wildly as I was drifting off last night in sudden fear that the tomato paste I’d use contained added sugar [I confirmed this morning that it does not]).  I’ll have to cook dinner when I get home from work tonight, which will be a semi-random concoction of things I don’t mind eating, all together in one dish.  *shrugs*  Weekday meal planning ain’t my thing.  I’m looking forward to having this weekend to map out the rest of the 30 days in one fell swoop.

Yesterday’s meeting concluded with a happy hour, so I made the rare exception and had a cocktail and tasted small bites of two sinful apps before heading home and realizing I had no dinner there!  So, it being my last day before Whole30, I grabbed some Mrs. T’s pierogies and some ice cream from the store on my way home.  Right there in the middle of the frozen foods aisle, I was very politely chatted up and asked out.  Seriously.  With no make-up on, face generally looking like trash, and arms full of an ill-advised pre-Whole30 mini binge that was composed of trash.  I did him a favor and declined, as he only would have become a Whole30-compliant meal… but it was very flattering.  And only mildly embarrassing.

Anyway, day 1 is now halfway over!  I’m about to dig in to my lunch, and later, one of the two co-workers who joined in on Whole30 with me asked if we could get together and have a welfare check-in for day 1 support.  I did Weight Watchers in my mid-20s and the thing I liked the most was the meetings; I’ve been so insular with my weight loss this time around that I’ve limited my support system to basically only strangers on the Internet.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s VERY valuable and helpful, but sharing Whole30 — even to the extent that I’ve freely discussed my choice to do it with people I know and see every day — has been great.  I think it’s because it’s not necessarily about weight loss; it’s just about health.  I have explicitly framed it that way, even though I’m sure most people can infer that it’s linked to my overall efforts.  I’m still skittish and uncomfortable talking about losing weight with anyone other than fellow fatties, but this is hopefully a sign that I can come around on that.

In addition to abstaining from added sugar, grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, and chemicals like MSG, I’ve added coffee to the list.  I already take it black, so it would have been a cinch to continue drinking coffee on Whole30 without feeling deprived of the cream and sugar, but I think it’s in my interest to give it up, given my recent challenges with sleep.  I am not a caffeine addict by any stretch; I rarely make it at home even though I enjoy the taste because it’s more about the social ritual of grabbing a morning coffee with my colleagues.  I could do decaf, but I’m not going to go out of my way to consume it when I could just as easily cut it out entirely for 30 days (and enjoy the saved cash while I’m at it).  So, that’s my little extra twist on the challenge.

For full accountability, I will share that I have one planned cheat — but it’s not food.  It’s the scale.  Technically, on Whole30, you’re not supposed to get hung up on weight because you should be focusing on your body as a system and see the nutritional changes as a holistic benefit to your overall health.  I think it would be beneficial to me, actually, to completely ignore the scale for a month, and I was kind of looking forward to having a set of rules in place that would make me do so.  However, I’m going to do it exactly once over the course of the 30 days.  You could argue that I don’t have to, and I suppose that’s true and I am making a choice, but I’m currently in a Transformer DietBet, and the weigh-in for round 2 will pop up smack in the middle of my Whole30 experiment.  Yes, I could choose to forego it and still technically be in the bet and eligible to win the whole pot, but why short myself the round’s victory (I was already at my goal weight for round 2 when I weighed out of 2 Kickstarters earlier this week) and the prize moolah for it?  Sorry, Whole30.  I gave you my cheese.  I’m keeping one illicit rendez-vous with the scale.

Anyway, so far so good here on Whole1!  Fingers crossed all over that it stays as much that way as possible on Whole2 and beyond.

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.

DAY 690: Stark craving mad

I’m a guest at a wedding, and it’s dessert time.  The banquet table is piled high with every variety of cookie I could have imagined, and I want all of them.  I squeeze as many as possible onto the small dish in my hand, still staring longingly at the ones I had to triage out of selection and save for my second trip.  In the back of my mind, my conscience screams, “STOP!  You’re going to mess up your weight loss!  That’s too many cookies!”  In brash defiance of this warning, I reach out and grab 3 giant chocolate-chip shortbread cookies that I just carry in my hand back to my assigned table.  I sink my teeth into one of the cookies in my hand and immediately feel guilty… so I keep eating.  I’m about to plow into the plate of cookies before me, when…

I wake up.

And now I’m angry.  Not only am I angry at my subconscious self for not making it through all those cookies when I could have and it wouldn’t have actually mattered, but I’m also angry that The Mission has crept into my sleeping time.  It’s bad enough I have to deal with constantly combating cravings during my waking hours, but now I have to do it in dreams, too?!

Ahhh, yes, I remember this: the taunting food-dreams stage.  This phenomenon is apparently common among dieters who are going hard.  Even Neil Patrick Harris mentions in his autobiography that when he was on a grueling fitness regimen in preparation for his role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway in 2014, the period was marked by “the most vivid food dreams” of his life.  Avoiding nutritional pitfalls in favor of sticking to meal plans becomes so ingrained in a loser’s mind that it burrows into the subconscious and haunts the person’s dreams.  It’s evidence of dedication and the huge importance of The Mission for the person in question, which is all good stuff — but damn, what a tease it is!

My cravings during the day have been mostly in check lately, but I find that when I let myself think for too long about what it would be like to let a spoonful of ice cream or a bite of a thick, chocolaty brownie with rich, gooey frosting cross my lips, things start getting dangerous.  That’s when the evil voice in my head says, “It’s just one indulgence, who cares?  You deserve it!  It tastes soooo good!”  I have to remind myself that no, actually, what I deserve is a healthy life.  I can’t give in to that temptation and expect to succeed.  Not right now, anyway.  The taunting food-dreams stage comes at a time too early in the process for me to safely veer off my nutritional course without A) cursing my own name, or B) stumbling the whole way down the slippery slope instead of feeling certain about regaining my footing.

I have DietBets to win and multiple bridesmaid’s dresses to fit into.  This is no time to be messing myself up.

The person who brought in the box of Tagalongs to my office, however… if I find out who that was, I will mess THAT person up.  And I don’t even like Girl Scout cookies.

If memory serves, these dreams mark the death throes of the tentative phase.  The more-confident phase of momentum is coming.  My sanity and I are waiting for it with open arms.