Saturday, March 23, 2013

Been There, Doing That!

Hey all! Had a much less stressful week, though every week has it's moments, right?

I am still recovering from the ear infection of the century - sheesh, finish working antibiotics and steroids! Wish I had been feeling well enough to exercise while traveling but it just didn't happen. 

I did managed to eek out the following exercise this week even while traveling for 3 days:

Monday - T30 Warrior workout (weights)
Thursday - T30 Warrior workout (weights)
Friday - Interval run with my 9 year old
Saturday- Interval run with my friend Hannah, then T30 Beast workout (weights)

So yeah, mostly weight training this week, but hey, it was something right? 

Kept my food on point, even though Panera tried to sabotage me.  I ordered off the hidden menu, and thought I averted crisis when the girl rang it up wrong and explained the salad to me (it was wrong).  She fixed it, then I grabbed my food and headed back to the hotel.  Got settled in to watch the Biggest Loser finale and found it had feta cheese all in it, and had some mystery dressing on the side.

Dressing from my purse to the rescue!!!

Yep, that's how I rolled.  I did end up with some cheese, but it didn't bother me much, dumped as much of it as I could, but you know feta, its tough without washing your salad (and I just now realized I could have done that).

Food otherwise was great, found an awesome cafe on Tybee Island (Sundae's) and LOVED the food there.  Lots of beautiful salads with fresh fish.  I tried a mango gazpacho that was incredible and I can't wait to recreate it here at home.

So speaking of the Biggest Loser, I was SO excited for Danni to win it.  She was my favorite throughout, so much heart and so dedicated.  She worked her fanny off (literally!).  There were so many amazing transformations in addition to hers, I was so proud of every contestant.  I honestly cannot watch that show, especially the finale, without shedding a few sincere tears.  Probably because I can compare my own journey to theirs. 

Of course, I haven't had time to focus ONLY on losing weight, I've done it while working full time career jobs that have all involved travel.  And I haven't had a personal trainer pushing me multiple hours per day, I relied on friends to meet me for walks, then trained myself to run using C25k, and did many hours of home workout videos.  I have had some gym time but don't prefer it, to be honest.  You all know running is my favorite.

So the one major thing I have in common with the Biggest Loser contestants?
I could have been on that show.  Easily.  At 285 pounds, I weighed more than most of the female contestants start off weighing on the show.


It still staggers me to think of it.

So yeah, I've been at this for 3 and a half years.  And it will be a solid 4 before I've reached my goal weight.  I have had some ups and downs, good days and bad days, injuries and recoveries and HUGE self-discoveries.  I feel fortunate that I have finally found my sustainable groove here and plan to keep the momentum up, forever.

Every time I think it's taking too long and I am tired of it, I remind myself of that girl that I don't recognize from 2009 at 285 pounds.

That's me in the middle.  Yep.  Wow.  I look sick.

Me and my loving husband.  I am so blessed he loved and pursued me, even at this weight.
I don't recognize this girl at all anymore.  In fact, people who knew me then, and didn't know me before, walk by me now with zero recognition.

Last weekend after church.

Last month in Orlando.


Yeah, I don't recognize me either comparing those pictures.  Sure, I have a ways to go, but I'm more than halfway to where I want to be, in fact, I'm around 2/3 of the way.
So every day I feel it's taking too long, I'll just have to come back to this blog and remember and breathe.  I'm glad shows like the Biggest Loser exist so they can help keep me in check.
Overall, I'm feeling great and still LOVING my food every day.  I'm 53 days into the Whole 30 and no sign of stopping.  I am going to start to reintroduce food this week; just grains to start, to see how I react.  Not doing it because I miss them, and have zero intentions of changing the way I eat right now, but I'm curious to know if I have a bona-fide allergy to it so I can just know.  I will give myself a full week to process the one day of grains to see if I get any gut interruptions, new zits, or headaches, etc.  Will let you all know how that goes. 
I got a new cookbook that I am SUPER excited about, it's called Well Fed.  It is INCREDIBLE and the food is easy to cook and amazingly tasty!!! Already made two recipes from it and have 2 more on the  menu for this next week!  You have to check it out if you are interested in Whole 30/paleo eating.
Keep on keeping on my friends...and as always let me know how I can help support you!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Strength TRUMPS Stress!

Another long and crazy week comes to a close and wow, what a week this has been.  I always say that right?   I hope I don't always sound like an exhausted, whiny person.  Oh well...I always promised reality right? Mine anyway.  This post is full of challenges, illness, drama, financial woes, temptations, resolve and answered prayers.  In no certain order.

So it started with me beginning to feel ill last week towards the end of my travels, Thursday I think.  Sore throat, glob of who knows what collecting at the back of my throat.  I kept telling myself it was just all the stale airplane and hotel air and that I would be fine.  I resisted the urge to eat comfort drive thru food (which will one day seem more a punishment than a comfort!) and took some meds. A few days of Dayquil/Nyquil daquiries and I'd be right as rain.

Yeah, I was wrong.

Monday I was still feeling BLAH and realized the aching/pain on the sides of my neck, in the same area where my eustachian tubes live, were settling in for a serious week of ick, I headed to the doctor.

On a side note, I'm using COBRA insurance this month and of course, nothing was updated at the insurance company, even though it will be backdated effective 3/1, so I had this sneaking suspicion I would be paying out of pocket for everything this week.  Yep.  Add to that the fact that I only got a partial paycheck when I would normally have a full one budgeted (switching from bi-weekly to semi-monthly pay at my new job) and I just purchased 2 tires for the front of my car and some parts for Stephen's truck...sheesh, needless to say the financial pressure was on and I began to feel the stress on me and my emergency fund.  I share all of this not at ALL to get anyone to feel sorry for me (though we won't turn down donations - just KIDDING!) and honestly, God showed up and showed out like He always does (a few unexpected checks/refunds in the mail) and I didn't end up being that short (other than in stature), but THIS my friends is what slips and bad food choices are made of.  The beginnings of stress, pressure, and it building continuously throughout the week.  I felt it mounting.

I started Amoxicillan not realizing I'm immune to it (oops) and Friday night, my right ear closed itself off to the rest of the world while I never really felt better throughout the week, just worked through my Nyquil hangovers.  GREAT.  I already don't have the best hearing (or listening?) so add to it that I can hear nothing out of my "good ear" (that's a joke for my friends who know that same ear lost its tip in a car accident in 1996 and it had to be sewn back together) and the stress continued to build.

The following is a pretty detailed recount of TODAY as I want you to know exactly what happened and how I handled it.

All good stories start like this, "See what had happened was..."

This morning I decided I have to be well, as I'm heading out on another work trip on Monday.  First, I googled home remedies and found that if you take a wet washcloth, zap it in the microwave for 2 minutes, then wrap it in a dry washcloth and apply it to your ear area like a compress, it should help loosen the fluid that is causing the ear to be blocked.  I felt like it felt hot, but did it anyway.  Did it loosen the fluid?  No.  Did I sustain a good first degree burn to my right ear and ear lobe?  YES. 

Compares nicely to my very white other ear.  Yes it does.  STRESS.

So I drove myself to the Urgent Care center in Dublin, GA and as I arrived realized I just missed the St. Patty's day parade, which means, you guessed it, TRAFFIC!

Ain't nobody got TIME FOR THIS!  I might have BRONCHITIS!  (Please see THIS VIDEO if you don't know what I'm referring to here, and you are welcome, and yes, she is for real).

Continued pressure.  STRESS continuing to build.  Please note it is also 1:30pm and I have not had lunch.

I prayed as I pulled into the parking lot of the urgent care center that ALL of the cars in the parking lot were for the pizza place next door.  I walked in and there was NO ONE in the lobby.  Score answered prayer #2!

Was in and out of the Urgent Care pretty quickly, friendly doctor who is also a runner and understands my frustration with the GORGEOUS weather we're having and my uncooperative immune system.  Shot of steroid, new script and on the way home I went.

I stopped to buy some Larabars on the way home as I forgot to stock up at Publix in Macon last night, and I know they are a good price at Kroger.  Let me digress for a moment to tell you I don't eat ALL Larabars, ONLY the ones with just fruit/nuts in them.  None of the ones with chocolate or peanuts (legumes) of course.  So they are W30 legal, but I also don't eat them every day.  They are GREAT to help me stay on track while I'm traveling in the event I don't have GREAT choices at meals or get hungry outside of mealtime.  Since I had not had lunch, I decided this was an emergency and ate one in the car for part 1 of my lunchtime meal.  I felt crappy and was not going to cook myself up an amazing lunch once I got home. The steroids hadn't kicked in yet anyway.

Headed to the pharmacy to find I arrived when they close for lunch.  Seriously?  STRESS.  I went home and talked my hubby into going back up there later to get my meds.  He's amazing.

Then I ate some leftover zucchini spaghetti and that with the Larabar made my lunch.  Less protein than I'd like, but hey, I'm sick and it was all fruit, nuts, veggies and goodness.  And I didn't stop at Wendy's to get a jr. bacon cheeseburger, though the diet coke devil deep down inside me threw it out there as a suggestion on my way to Kroger.  Larabar won.  I'd say that worked out pretty well.

A few hours later I still felt soooo blah.

And had a sudden hankering for POPCORN.

I am on Day 46 of the Whole 30 with NO CHEATS.

Let me explain, my husband makes the BEST stove top popped popcorn EVER.  But of course, I have no idea how I would react to popcorn since I haven't had it in so long.  I already decided to delay reintroducing grains, dairy and legumes until I'm no longer sick, you know, so I can actually TELL what doesn't agree with me for future reference.

I asked him to make me popcorn.  My 9 year old girl jumped on that bandwagon faster than you can say Pop...and he promised he would as soon as he was done tweaking his sermon.

Lucky for me that took too long and it was time to make dinner.


Suddenly, I felt better (hello steroids kicking in).  I cooked a beautiful dinner of chicken legs and my favorite brussel sprouts salad. (don't worry I'll share some recipes below).  My wonderful husband had cleaned the kitchen completely while I was at the doctor, and I was determined not to make him regret me cooking.  So I cleaned while I cooked.  There was the burst of energy I needed.

The chicken was delicious.  I had two chicken legs, and usually eat three, but I haven't exercised in over a week and really wanted the W30 dessert I was making.  And two satisfied me.  Progress there, if you know me at all...

Yes, I said dessert.  I've not called anything dessert in a really long time.  And honestly, you might not call this dessert either but it was amazing and very sweet to me while also containing some heart healthy fat and the raspberries were just wow in the balsamic vinegar.  Poached pears in a coconut raspberry sauce with toasted almonds.  Holy Yum.

So literally as I'm typing I hear my husband in the kitchen right now making something.  Wanna know what it is?  Popcorn.  He was kind enough to ask me if it was still OK to make it, even if I didn't want any.  Of course I said yes. Think I'll have any?

Well I won't.  Because the craving has now passed.  I won.  Again.  And I'm still in clean eating/paleo/W30 land and feeling GREAT.  Each win = strength.  And since strength trumps stress, and my life has had an unusual amount of change and stress as of late, I'd say I'm faring pretty amazingly.

There truly is not ONE food that I miss or crave enough to undo all the good I've done.  And every day/week/month that passes, I feel stronger.  Since you can't usually see stress coming in advance, I'm stockpiling that strength right now.

I contemplated not counting my W30 days anymore...but I think I will, as it is a great reminder of how far I've come.

Yesterday I weighed in at 200 pounds even.  I know the scale will fluctuate some over the next week as I get back to my workout routine (shooting for 3-4 workouts this week, not going to overdo it until I know I'm well for sure) and begin building my muscle back up.  I'm back to 85 pounds down.  That feels incredible.

There's no going back - and not because I am afraid to, or uncertain of myself, but because I DON'T WANT TO.

Three words sum it up.  AH-MAZ-ING.

And now for the pictures and deets!

Here's a quick pic of me and my girl at Outback last night for dinner. I had the ribeye (I cut the fat off), grilled asparagus and steamed green beans. NO bread (though I did handle it for my daughter and prepare her a few slices).  I added my own secret balsamic vinegar to the veggies and they served them dry (see picture below of my new secret weapons). Yep, I'm a ninja W30er.

Clara's Zucchini Spaghetti.  Don't miss pasta at ALL with this dish!  I make my sauce from scratch - sorta - 1 large can of tomato puree, 2 cans of diced tomatoes (with no additives/salt added), a can of tomato paste and my own seasoning like oregano, minced fresh garlic, parsley and a pound of grass fed beef.  I used my julienne peeler (click HERE if you don't know what that is, I had it for years and never used it) and scraped the raw zucchini into "noodles" then blanched them (in and out of boiling water VERY quickly as it doesn't take long to make them into mush).  The centers of the zucchini are tough to peel, so I chopped those up once I made all my noodles and added them to the sauce.  I added blackened onion to the top, because blackened onion makes EVERYTHING yummier and more flavorful!

A typical breakfast for me - and YES it's HEARTY!  And yummy.  2 eggs scrambled with one Andelle's Apple Chicken Sausage link (they are HUGE btw and have zero sugar or sugar substitute, sweetened by the real apples in it and real fruit juice), half a Haas avocado with a dash of sea salt and Cayenne pepper.  Seriously.  So so good.  I ate carrots after this too, they just didn't make it into the picture; I definitely needed more veggies with this meal; could have added spinach to the eggs.  Absolutely FULL until lunchtime.  It's GREAT!  NOT ALL Andelle's sausage is have to check the lables and be sure there is no added sugar or fake stuff, ok?

This is one of my FAVORITE fast go-to meals.  I prep the chicken breast ahead of time, grilling it or crock potting it then shredding it.  I take a bag of broccoli slaw mix (its just the veggies, no dressing) and this time sauteed it in macadamia nut oil.  I added 2 cans of diced pineapple (without the juice) and some w30 approved Fish Sauce (which is kinda like a soy sauce without being soy -lol) and a dash of unsweetened coconut to finish the dish off.  SO SO GOOD and super easy. 

Tonight's beautiful dinner.  The chicken legs came from a recipe called the D^$N Fine chicken - we'll call it Clara's mighty good chicken.  Find the recipe HERE at another great website for those following this eating lifestyle.  The brussel sprouts is an adaptation of a recipe I used to make.  Clara's I-Promise-You-Will-Love-Brussel-Sprouts-Salad: I dice the brussel sprouts and then steam them in the microwave for 2 mins.  In the meantime I blacken, you guessed it, an onion.  I also diced two small apples (used to use craisins but don't anymore as they have added sugar).  I toss the brussel sprouts, apple and blackened onion into a sautee pan with some macadamia nut oil (my new fave as of tonight) and balsamic vinegar (the kind with no sugar and only naturally occuring sulfites) until it gets beautiful and browned like this.  Toss in 2 slices of cooked crumbled Applegate Farms all natural bacon and its AMAZING.  Husband loves it too.  Trying to convince the wee one to agree...patience.
My new secret traveling weapon - my very own organic olive oil and balsamic vinegar in travel size packs!  These will be a staple in my travel bag now along with my avocados, larabars for emergencies, cuties oranges (they're not just for kids!) and much more portable than my bottle of macadamia nut oil (which I DID pull out in a few restaurants - giving everyone the, yes, I am and I dare you to comment look).

Poached pears in a coconut raspberry cream sauce with toasted almonds.  This recipe is in the It Starts with Food book, so I don't want to infringe on their copyrights by posting it...just check out the book, in the back, where the recipe section is.  Was super duper yummy and felt like a real dessert and was completely W30 approved!

I LOVE THE FOOD I  EAT!!!  Have I mentioned that yet?  Seriously.  I haven't counted a fat gram, a point, or a carrot since this thing started.  And I've lost 14.4 pounds to date (in 46 days).  25.6 since the beginning of the year.  85 since 2009. 

Looking forwward to amping up activity again and seeing the muscle burn off more fat!

STRENGTH TRUMPS STRESS. This is my big learning for the week. Hope you are inspired by it too.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Eating with Purpose

Wow, what a crazy few weeks!  I've traveled all week, every week, since February 18th.  If you have kept up with me, you will know I have planned and organized my food as much as I could to stay on track.

Then last week traveled the entire week and couldn't plan ahead.

And STILL lost weight.

This week was even crazier, bringing air travel into the mix; way harder to fit healthy food into my bag when my shoes already make it hard to close.

Here's what I avoided this week with my travels that were all either put in my room or in front of me:

peanut butter crackers, Milano cookies, sandies cookies, oatmeal on the go bars, GIANT chocolate chip cookies, chocolate milk, chocolate mouse torte, s'mores over an open fire, candy everywhere, croissants, muffins, brownies, chips,grits, mystery dressing, WARM yeast rolls, butter rolls, pizza, lemon slushies and I am SURE I have left something out. 

All this in 3 days, a hotel resort, crazy meeting schedule and a theme park. I felt really strong.  One day the lunch option was a ham croissant, with pasta salad, chips, a brownie, hummus and veggies.  I ate the ham, veggies, a little bit of hummus.  I bartered my brownie for more veggies. 

I had also packed a few "emergency food" items - some Larabars (only the one with NO chocolate) since they are literally made of dates and nuts only.  I also had some grassfed beef jerky that was really tasty and a great protein/fat source.

Chicken dish at Chili's - minus the rice with steamed veggies.  So good!

Power Steak bowl from the HIDDEN menu at Panera!  2 eggs, steak, avocado and tomatoes.  SO good!
Stopped to grab lunch from food lion since no decent restaurants on I95.  Got a cobb salad (no cheese) with oil and vinegar, a large carrot (YES I ate the carrot later while driving) and fresh fruit. So good!
This is what all that healthy, purposeful eating equals.  Feeling fabulous in an awesome form fitting dress!  Worth it!
 I flew back into Augusta late Wednesday night, then grabbed a steak and veggies from Logans for dinner.  This was great except they put WARM YEAST ROLLS in my takeout bag.  These became a gift for the front desk at the hotel.  Out of sight and smell, out of mind!

Biggest learning of the week?

I'm not OBLIGATED to eat ANYTHING.  I hear so many people say "I just couldn't say no" or "I didn't want to be rude." 

Well...I don't care about how my eating will affect anyone else's mood.

Does that sound harsh?  It shouldn't.  Because MY health is about ME.  And my food choices directly affect my health. 

I have food sensitivities.  Not anyone's business that the main sensitivity I've found is that grains make me fat and bloated!

It's still a sensitivity.  And the people around you, if they truly love YOU and support YOU will not only understand, but will try to accommodate you.

Now, this doesn't mean you have to be a jerk to people, in fact, the nicer you are about it, the more accommodating others will be to your specific needs.

So the whole point of this rant is that if you eat with a purpose, to fuel your body, then the excuses go out the window.

Eating purposefully means planning, seeking out the best items on the menu, and being prepared.  Putting your health and nutrition needs above "pleasing the crowd."  This week on the Biggest Loser, the 5 remaining contestants got makeovers, then went home for 2 weeks.  So super risky!  We watched them all struggle at restaurants with their friends and families. 

Some were saying, "Well, you've been so good, just do it this once!"

Would they say the same thing to an alcoholic?  I think not.  Well, real friends anyway, right?

"Just once" turns into just today, then just this weekend, then just until the end of the month.

Seriously, been there, done that.

I got on the scale this morning a little curious.  Haven't run since Tuesday but lots of walking around and airports and lifting luggage.  I managed to pick up an icky cold virus somewhere so I didn't get much gym time in this week.  My body needed rest.

I got on the scale this morning and was down another 1.8 pounds from last Saturday.

At this point, I am losing weight effortlessly.  Because MOST of the effort was in getting into the habit of how I eat now.  And I'm in that habit and its easy to eat this way almost anywhere. 

I never lost weight this easily before.  I know as I ramp my workout out back up this week once my cold is better, I may see some movement on the scale as I build up more muscle again and that's ok.  My body is becoming very efficient at metabolizing what I'm eating.  This is a great change.

So when I eat, I am still enjoying food, you should know that.  I crave healthy protein, colorful vegetables and amazing sweet fruit.  But I'm definitely eating with a sincere purpose to fuel my body appropriately.

And since it is responding so well, I think I'll continue.  Thank you very much.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

90 days of UN-Dieting and Whole 30 Round 1 Recap

OK, here it is.  The recap of my Whole 30 experience, and wrap up of the 90 day challenge I joined in December.

If you follow my blog, some of this will sound repetitive (sorry) so feel free to skip forward.  I have some new followers, so want to be sure to summarize the entire story quickly that has led me to HERE and why you should take my word for this Whole 30 plan and why I will be sticking with it going forward.

So in August 2009, I decided to make a change.  I weighed 285 pounds, was miserable, sick and unhappy.  I also have a brain tumor that I was officially diagnosed with in April 2009.   You can read my entire back story Part 1 and Part 2 that goes into details - but don't freak about my brain tumor in case you don't read all about it.  It's stable, likely benign, and truly the symptoms are so mild compared to many.  I am blessed.

In about 2 years, I lost 103 pounds.  I basically made small changes over time, limited fried food, then added fruit and veggies more, less cheese, etc.  I ate most things in moderation but overall made big nutrition changes overall.  I guess I followed somewhat of a "clean" eating regimen for that time frame.  All of my grains were whole grains, whole wheat bread, pasta, etc., and they were limited at that.

I got down to 182 pounds and was doing GREAT.   Here is how I looked from June 2009 - March 2012:

But I hit a plateau in March of 2012.  I couldn't get below 182 and seemed to be stuck around 185.  I was exercising HARD - running alot in addition to doing Zumba and Boot Camp.  Around the same time, my nutrition started slipping.  I was using power bars to add calories in when I probably should have added more veggies.  I had to eat more as I was burning upwards of 3500 calories/day.  But I didn't choose the RIGHT things.

Eventually I got tired of spinning my wheels.  I was wearing a size 10, feeling like I looked pretty good overall, and truly started letting my nutrition slip even more.  I mean, I wasn't really "fat" anymore.

Alot of crazy and stressful changes began happening at the same time last year as well. My husband finally graduated from college and we realized we were going to move away.  In the midst of crazy moving, increased travel and stress, I slipped almost completely on my eating habits.  I work a full time career job and had to find new work.  Everything was up in the air for awhile. 

And so, I reverted back to my old habits of eating to stifle my emotion.  I felt so sick, gross, and that made me eat even more.  I busted the zipper on my favorite pair of size 12 jeans - the 10s had stopped fitting long before.  I had to go back and purchase a pair of 14s that BARELY fit me.  And wear big shirts to cover my stomach hanging over the waist of my jeans.

In just 8 short months I gained 43 pounds back of the 103 I had lost. 

I found myself at 225.6 again.  Disgusted, uncomfortable, miserable and lost again.

I joined a 90 day weight loss challenge on Facebook given by a trainer I began following on FB last year sometime, Nathan Trenteseaux.  His website is and he is a beach body coach, but more importantly, a trainer who really CARES about his clients getting results.  Nate does alot of what he does out of the kindness of his heart, vs. making money.  He has a heart for getting people healthy.  I had NO idea how the 90 days would go for me but I was all in.

December 4th I embarked on the journey of eating protein, produce and healthy fats.  For the first time EVER I was making SURE I used healthy oil to cook, ate an avocado a day, etc.  I have always been afraid of fat, even healthy fat, but man, was I wrong.  I was also using Shakeology, the beach body supplemental shake.  Then about 3/4 of the way through the month I got very ill.  Stomach burning, pain in my abdomen and the ONLY thing that made me feel physically better was eating crappy, processed carb-laden food.  The doctor ran all kinds of test.  Finally, I realized and isolated it to the Shakeology. Some kind of very awesome natural ingredient made me sick.  So I stopped using it and beginning of January started to feel better and got myself fully into the program.

So I consider December a bust.  I lost a few pounds but did not keep much if anything off.

So my 90 day challenge was actually a 60 day challenge.

In January I focused on healthy protein, produce and healthy fats.  I exercised a great deal and ate very well.  I lost 11 pounds in January.  I was pumped!  This included travel - and I killed it on my trip!  I was still eating dark chocolate though...more than I needed to. 

I decided toward the end of the month to try the Whole 30 program for the month of February; honestly, it was mainly to help my friend who has a bladder condition and IBS.  This way of eating supposedly helps people heal.  Read about the program here:  Read the testimonials of the MANY health conditions people have healed themselves with nutrition here:

When I first read about it, I thought, wow, this is pretty much how I'm eating, except I would be dropping legumes (beans), dairy, and dark chocolate for the month.  I have NEVER gone without dark chocolate. It has antioxidants!   So how bad could it be?  Well, anything you are addicted to is bad.  Period.  And I definitely had an addiction problem. 

I read the book, It Starts With Food (ISWF), by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, founders of the Whole30 program.  I signed up for the Whole 30 Daily emails to get supportive daily information.  It cost me around $35 for all of it.  Seriously.  You can also do it without the daily emails (there are support groups all over Facebook) and you don't have to read the book.  But man, both were incredibly helpful.  Cheapest "diet" startup I've ever done.

The first few weeks was tough! I was tired, a little headachy, etc. I did what I could but slept and rested as much as I needed to.


I feel absolutely incredible.  Here is the list of benefits I've experienced from the Whole 30, some of which you read a blog or two ago:

The WHOLE 30 Benefits of Amazingness:
1) energy - I feel great and absolutely experiencing increased strength in my workouts.
2) strength - to tag on the above, I actually feel my muscles more than I EVER have - I told my husband I can feel my abs, the ENTIRE length of them, and I KNOW soon we will meet!
3) BAD cravings GONE - my prior cravings/issues with sugar. GONE. I even made pancakes a few weeks ago for my daughter, including handling dark chocolate chips with my BARE hands. NOT ONE made it into my mouth. Didn't even want them. (I felt a little bit like an alcoholic handling a beverage from their past - a bit shaky but couldn't believe how strong I felt!)
4) GOOD cravings HERE - I am craving things like: hard boiled eggs (which I haven't even made yet), brussel sprouts, lean meat, snap peas, green beans, broccoli, healthy soups, fish, etc. WEIRD but YEAH!  I went to sleep the other night in a hotel craving brussel sprouts.  WHAT? 
5) Physical Improvements - I lost 12 pounds of FAT.  How do I know it was fat?  I'll show you pictures soon so you can see why.  My hair is shinier, my teeth apparently whiter, I was told the whites of my eyes are very bright, my fingernails longer, white tipped and stronger than ever.  My skin is glowing (again, I'll share a pic).
6) My will is SOLID - I didn't feel unsure of myself even with all the travel. I traveled for HALF of my Whole 30 and kept on track. 
7) My GUT is GREAT - enough said.  Other than a reaction to some seafood that had my tummy sick for one morning, I'm more "regular" and normal in the bio department than I've ever been.  Even while traveling which is usually constipation city, right?
8) Sleeping like a BABY - No joke. I'm waking up in the same position, on my back, as when I go to sleep. I've never been able to sleep on my back (yes I have an amazing Serta IComfort mattress too) but man, the 8-9 hours I'm getting are solid.
9) Intense FOCUS - If you know me you know this is a huge deal. I'm usually the "oh look, something shiny" person in the room and have a hard time buckling down sometimes. I've had laser focus lately. Getting a ton accomplished at once and knocking things out, all kinds of things.
10) INCREASED HAPPINESS - this one is funny. I had read you might feel happy for really no good reason. This is absolutely true! Now, I do have one blessed life...a great husband, beautiful little girl, dog who adores me, and friends who are absolutely amazing. However...I still have a house in Florida that needs to sell, some big expenses coming up as I change jobs and have to have COBRA insurance and not one part of me is concerned. Granted, I'm a normally very positive person, but honestly, I feel more positive than I ever have.

What I have LEARNED:
1) Most Restaurants will accomodate you!  I traveled for HALF of the Whole 30 which seems impossible. Now, this means that I didn't always have "grass fed" or "organic" meat options, BUT I still experienced such success.  As long as you are kind to your waiter or waitress and explain you are sensitive to foods (no one ever asked, but if they asked me WHY I would have said they all make me FAT! lol) everyone wants to help you.  I experienced some AMAZING service and concern from complete strangers.
2) Panera Bread has a HIDDEN paleo-friendly menu!  Yep, folks, they do. You have to ask for it.  It has amazing ingredients on it and ANYONE doing the Whole 30 can eat there on that menu!  It's also affordable which is wonderful.  My other FAVE restaurants during Whole 30 were Longhorn and Outback steakhouses.  Great veggie options and good quality meats.
3) The Sugar Dragon talk is for REAL.   In ISWF they talk about slaying the sugar dragon once and for all.  Basically, even using fake sweeteners, even if they aren't "bad" for you, are still confusing our brains and triggering ridiculous cravings. This was a HUGE realization for me; remember how I used to blog about diet coke being the devil?  That for some reason, every single time I drank diet coke, I seemed to backslide on my diet?  Well, I absolutely know now that the aspartame in the diet coke made me crave sugar and crappy food.  WOW.  So yesterday was my birthday and I actually started Whole 30 at the end of January so by March 1, I would be able to eat cake.  Guess what?  I craved NOTHING off plan.  In fact, I had planned to eat a mango with coconut on it as my "dessert" after dinner.  Guess what ? I FORGOT!  Sugar Dragon is officially SLAIN.
4) I will be meeting my abs this year.  Having had a baby 9 years ago, my stomach is not going to ever be like it was when I was 16.  But I fully believe it will be bikini worthy, while it might not be perfect, sometime this year.  I am starting to see definition, and I FEEL them under my skin and fat.  They are there.  And they will be making an appearance.
5) My version of a "good" day and a "cheat" have changed.  ALOT.    For example, I got physically ill on Thursday, the morning of my 30th day! I ran 5k in the hotel gym which was probably too much given I only ran intervals once in two weeks (oops).  I felt pretty queasy while I was getting showered and dressed, and when I went down to breakfast, gobbled some fruit hoping it would help, but then promptly ran to the bathroom and threw up like crazy.  Felt better, so then I ate some more and drank some gingerale the incredibly competent and compassionate waitress brought me.  Ginger ale is SO not on plan but I was desperate as I had a day of work and driving ahead of me.  I felt like it was a cheat, but a necessary one.  And it didn't cause me to slide backwards at all.  Remember, I forgot to eat my mango dessert the next day!  hah!
6) FAT is not ALL BAD.  You NEED IT!  Our nation is STUCK on eating low fat and guess what? It doens't work.  I didn't track calories or anything like that this month but made SURE I ate FAT at every meal.  Avocado, cooking with coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil, enjoyed coconut butter and ghee (non dairy, clarified butter). 
7) All of the food on plan, is DELICIOUS.  So many diets claim "this is really good food and it tastes great!" when it really tastes like cardboard.  Not the Whole 30.  I felt like I was able to eat really yummy delicious food the entire time!
8) People WILL judge you.  They can't help it.  I have dealt with interesting looks, comments, you name it, since I began eating this way.  People telling me that it was unnecessary, unhealthy, etc.  Well, that's fine.  Say what you want.  I had to get over people saying whatever they wanted to discourage me and realize, many times, it comes from a place where they themselves are unhappy with their current eating plan. I held back from asking "and how is that working for you?" or "when will you see YOUR abs?" because it's not their fault they haven't learned what I learned.  It almost made me MORE determined to reach my goals and keep going. 

So a new reader that I just "met" on my FB page has inspired me to do something...I'm going to post pictures of myself in a sports bra and shorts.  God help me, I feel a little crazy doing this, but you NEED to see the difference cutting GRAINS out of my diet has done for me in just 2 short months. 

The first picture (far left) is from December, then middle is end of January after a month of Nate's protein, produce and healthy fats (where I was still eating dark chocolate, dairy and beans) and then the third picture is of me this morning after month 1 (well, 32 days) of Whole 30.

Don't believe that eliminating processed food and grains from your diet will get rid of belly fat?  I'm NOT EVEN SUCKING IN for the picture from this morning.  When I do flex my abs they get WAY flatter.  And in the front facing pic, you can see clearly that my abs are starting to get defined. 

My skin tone also looks better. I feel happier.  Check out my neck? 

Here are my official results from December to now:

Starting weight: 225.6.  Today I weighed 202.4.  That's WEIGHT LOSS of 23.2 pounds.

Inches off of the following areas LOST:
Neck:  .5 inches
Upper Chest/Shouders: 3.5 inches
Bust:  3.25 inches
Right Arm: 1 inch
Right Arm Flexed: 1.5 inches
Left Arm: .5 inches
Left Arm Flexed: .75 inches
Waist/Belly Button: 4.5 inches
Hips: 4 inches
Right Thigh: 2.25 inches
Left Thigh: 2 inches
Right Calf: 1.5 inches
Left Calf: 1.5 inches

Total Inches lost:  26.75

Read the "Grain Manifesto" from Dallas & Melissa Hartwig HERE.

Look, feel free to disagree completely with me.  But man, I can't wait to do my pictures each month going forward now.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this works for ME. Might not work for you.  But this isn't your blog, it's mine, right?

The Hartwigs do encourage reintroduction of grains, dairy, etc. in stages, so you can find out if you are sensitive to some of these items. I'm in no hurry to introduce anything.  I feel too good to stop now!

I highly encourage anyone struggling with their weight, sugar addiction or disease/pain like migraines, arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc. to give this a shot.  I have never felt better, more well rested, stronger, or happier with my progress, even though I did once weigh 20 pounds less than I do now. I know I'll get there again in a few months and then reach my goal forever.

I'm not THERE yet.  But will keep you all updated as I get closer and closer to my goal! If I can continue losing around 10-12 pounds a month then by July I should be one in shape chick!  And then what? I'll keep going.  Even if the weight loss slows some, and it might, I'll still get there in 2013.

This may be a Whole365 or a WholeForever.  Who knows?  Either way, I'm all in for as long as it takes and then some.

Because it's not just about the weight.  I also FEEL better than I ever have.  That matters so much.

Sorry for the LONG blog...but wanted to include all the pertinent details.  Let me know if you have any questions or comments or if I can help you in any way! In the meantime, I'm off to make a healthy yummy lunch and get on with my day while I prep for another week of crazy travel.  With no qualms at all.  Cause I got this!