Category Archives: Challenge

What Goes Up Must Come Down: Whole30 Week4 Recap

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I am closing in on the end! Tomorrow will be the “30” in my Whole30! It makes me so happy to know that I have had this incredible experience that not only was great for my body, but will also lead to some serious changes in my eating habits and how I think of food.

I have to admit that there have been times (especially in this last week) that I have just been ready to get it over with. Not so I can binge, but so I can make healthy choices on my own without the added pressure of doing a Whole30.

Life and good food happens.

Cavegirls top their burgers with more protein.

Cavegirls top their burgers with more protein.

I’m ready to be able to join back in! Over the last few days I have felt a little overwhelmed with all of the Easter candy in stores and yummy recipes popping up on Pinterest. Everything I learned does not go out the window after this week. I want to be armed and ready on Easter Sunday to make health choices and to resist the cravings that have built up over the past month.

That’s why this post is about a few of the realizations I had on Whole30…I need to remind myself why I am doing this in the first place so I can stay on track the other 335 days of the year. I even plan on re-reading ISWF this weekend so I don’t miss a thing.

This experience taught me that my pre-Whole30″healthy” diet I had been following is not really that healthy. Here is how I know:

  • Before the W30, I ate whole grains, plain Greek yogurt, and exercised fairly regularly so I thought I was making good choices. So good, in fact, that I let my otherwise healthy diet justify the rest of the junk I was eating. The truth is, you can not out exercise poor food choices, nor can you counter-act the effects of that double fudge brownie after dinner by eating your veggies.
  • I realize now that the franken-foods trained my body to crave certain foods at specific times or situations. I know now that my food-situation associations led to bad eating habits. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that a craving is your body’s way of telling you that you need something for its “nutrition.” This is a nasty cycle: eat junk –>crave junk –> develop bad habits –> feel guilty and stressed for giving in –> eat even more junk.
  • Before this month, I had headaches almost daily and felt dizzy and disoriented several times a week. I always felt like it was something nutrition-related. Advil never helped, so I thought maybe it was a caffeine headache but I still felt fuzzy. Then I thought maybe I have low blood sugar and tried a sweet snack. I even went to the doctor and she determined it was probably low sodium levels…so I kept Gatorade and pretzels in my desk. Despite “self-medicating” with salty  processed foods, sugary candy bars, and soda I still felt bad almost daily. After reading ISWF, I started realizing the awful things I was doing to my body when all I wanted was some relief! No wonder I continued to feel so bad!
  • I learned that reaching for sugar, salt, or fatty foods when stressed out is an automatic response. It was my only known solution to feeling crappy physically, so I used it as my fix when I was just stressed or bummed out, too. What about when a day hits that I am stressed out AND already feel fuzzy-headed? You guessed it. An all day snack fest on sweets! I certainly had a bad habit of “treating” myself to something sweet when I was sick or in a bad mood because I “deserved” it.  But, NO! My body deserves REAL food!
  • My sweet tooth came with some serious consequences that I did not even realize until reading ISWF. I grew up eating a snack after dinner almost nightly. I grew accustomed to this and my body has come to expect and look forward to it. ISWF showed me a nasty pattern that was going on. When I crave sweets at night I try hard to resist, but I usually end up giving in shortly before bed. Eating sugar that late spiked my blood sugar and of course what goes up must come down. And then comes the rather inconvenient side effect of ravenous hunger at 3:00am, so then my stomach talks all night and keep me up. No surprise that I am dragging the whole next morning. And the next night? Despite feeling exhausted, I toss and turn all night. And how do you think I used to cope with feeling draggy the next day? You guessed it. Diet coke and chocolate!

These revelations alone make the experience more than worthwhile. I can’t wait to share all of the other successes of my experience with you!

I am definitely in my eating and workout groove by Week 4. Morning gym sessions are becoming regular for me and food planning and prep takes a lot less time now that I know what I am doing. Some recipes this week were no-brainer repeats from earlier in the month and others were more experimental.

The warm weather last weekend made it a perfect grilling day, so I had a lot less prep to do on my own. The hubs grilled the most amazing steak I have ever had (I devoured it before I thought to snap a pic…maybe it is for the best because you would be super-jealous.) There’s no recipe to share, I would have to loan you my husband and that is not happenin’!

Chicken "Alfredo"

Chicken “Alfredo”

I did create an awesome grilling seasoning that I threw on beef burgers, chicken burgers, and chicken breast. I have been eating this meat paired with veggies all week as part of meals and workout snacks. I also happily repeated the Salmon Croquette recipe from a fellow Badass Babe. I also got inspired by a couple pins I saw over the weekend…added a little paleo goodness…took out some nonsense….and came up with a new Pumpkin Breakfast Casserole and  Chicken “Alfredo”.

Pumpkin Breakfast Casserole

Pumpkin Breakfast Casserole

That one even fooled the hubs! I’m super-excited to share this one with you so check back this weekend for the recipe!

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Camping with the Whole30 and the Snack Attack Continues…Week 3 Recap

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Whew, what a week! I don’t know about you, but mine flew by! The hubs and I went on a last minute camping/dive trip over the weekend and we have been recovering from our jam-packed weekend ever since!

dive trip

I’m happy to report that this week things started leveling out. I feel pretty normal. No weird food dreams, no headaches, no icky stomach problems. I’m starting to feel like this is how things are SUPPOSED to be. I even forget that I am doing something different...it’s starting to come naturally. I’m realizing that I can no longer pass off all those afternoon headaches and digestive problems to other reasons. This revelation lead to one happy camper! LITERALLY! All weekend I couldn’t help but think about how sick I felt on the last camping trip…but this one, I felt like myself again! I’m sleeping deeper AND I have more energy during the day. I pushed myself to mix up my routine by trying new exercises and lifting heavier weights.

The proof? I had the stamina to last through a 90-minute Kangoo Jumps session with Badass Fitness and then hop right in the car for a weekend dive trip. I’ve been getting up at 5:00 am this week to weight train at the gym…something I have never been able to motivate myself to do on my own.

kangoo

I got into my groove in the kitchen this week, too. Planning a W30-compliant weekend of camping meals was a challenge but I think I got it right. It took two coolers, but here’s what I packed:

  • For lunch I ate a yummy chicken salad with raisins, pineapple, and carrots over spinach (recently featured on the Badass Fitness blog…check it out!)
  • Dinner I splurged and bought W30-compliant hot dogs, since I had not had much processed meat this month I felt it was ok. I paired it up with W30 compliant pickles, sauerkraut, and baked a sweet potato in the coals of the fire.
  • Although I found plenty of ideas of things to roast over the fire in place of s’mores, I passed since paleo-fying junk food is a no-no.
  • W-30 muffins (watch out for baking powder!) and hard boiled eggs made for an easy, on-the-go breakfast.
  • Some fruit, avocado, and home-made coconut carrot bars served as pre-dive snacks
Pre-dive snack! We forgot to bring a knife, so my dive knife came in handy!

Pre-dive snack! We forgot to bring a knife, so my dive knife came in handy!

My only mistake was that I included too much fruit and other naturally sweet things. I struggled with the sugar monster for the rest of the week because of this. I stayed away from dates–something I realize is a pure sugar-bomb and should only be used as an ingredient, not a snack.

The rest of the week we enjoyed cabbage roll soup with cauliflower rice, baked flounder, chicken curry (thanks, ISWF), two varieties of tuna salad for lunch, and my favorite breakfast so far– “baked” apples, breakfast sausage, and spaghetti squash.

whole30 meals week 3

The downside of the week is that I still snacked! The W30 transformed me from a grazer who eats snacks and meals based on the clock, rather than hunger, to a cavegirl who stores large amounts of food in her belly for 5 hours between meals. My morning and late night snacking is done for, but the afternoon has been more difficult. I usually end up thinking about what I can grab a tiny bite of at home before I even leave work. Then I don’t even close the fridge door before I have bites two and three. This leads to a snack attack all the way up until dinner…I nibble on fruit and veggies while I am cooking. This has gotten worse since I have no need for a pre and post work snack most evenings anymore.

Before you say, “THAT is your biggest problem?!” Hear me out.

I agree I could be doing worse things than eating a handful of grape tomatoes, but it is not just about what I eat, as why I am eating it. ISWF has opened my eyes to what is going on behind our eating habits and here’s what I think is happening:

The frankenfood I have been eating all my life has shaped my eating habits. The artificial flavors and processed CRAP that I am used to is often saltier and sweeter than what is found in real food. These tastes trigger seemingly never-ending cravings that make you think you want more and more. The habit of eating handful after handful of frankenfood has been so hard to kick that it leads me to think that I cannot have just one bite of something. Sure, it is not too dangerous on the Whole30 (although snacking is technically against the rules, no matter what it is) when I’m eating uber-healthy foods. But what about when I am done and Neolithic foods start sneaking their way back into my kitchen? Now is the time to break through this habit! I am confident that I will succeed even if it takes a round 2!

Coming up: a recipe for Cabbage Roll Soup with Cauliflower Rice and more on my lessons learned from the Whole30 as I head into my final week!

Stop, drop, and plank!

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I love a good challenge. Throw the word challenge behind anything and I’m in. So, several weeks ago during a twitter #wellnesschat hosted by @BadassFitCEO on ab core power the idea of a February #plankaday challenge came about. Since the beginning of last month I have been perfecting my planks daily. I love daily challenges like this because it really pushes me to be disciplined. Even though it is something as simple as a plank, making a commitment and sticking to it throughout the month helps me feel mentally stronger and more focused. I highly recommend it!

Here’s the jist: idea is to start holding a plank for 30 seconds on day 1 and add 5 seconds throughout the month. Theoretically, you’ll reach 3 minutes by the end.

So how did I fare? Well, the hubs pushed me to go ahead and start at 1 minute, so a few days in I jumped to 1 minute planks and kept on going! Each day I could feel myself getting stronger and stronger. Some days I was a beast, others…eh, not so much. I endured and reached 3 minutes by day 25 or so….

Oh yeah, I can do a 3 minute plank, alright. But, after about 2:30, my back feels like it is about to break in half and I grunt and scream my way through the last 30 seconds. Hey, at least I did it, right?

Well, I don’t know about that. This little experience taught me some lessons. Sometimes form is more important than beating a time. Sure, I met my goal, but it was not exactly healthy for my back. I learned that I actually work harder and feel stronger when I struggle to keep perfect form but only stay in position for 2 minutes, rather then letting my back droop and make 3 minutes. This exercise worked my patience even more than it worked my muscles. I’m happy planking my solid 2 minutes for now because it is really making me stronger when I hold the proper form the entire time. Plus, I want to be strong enough to hold that plank at the end of workout when I’m exhausted or when it is in a 104 degree room at Hot Power Core! Since my month-o-planks ended, I came up with a few tips that really helped me:

  1. Planking is just as much a mental exercise as it is a physical one. It is boring. It can really psych you out. Keep your head up (literally, as well), stay focused, and push through. Tap into that “inner beast” I know is there.
  2. Location, location, location! Make sure you are somewhere you can get comfy in your plank! AKA the hard wood floor in my bedroom or the scratchy rug in my living room does not make for a successful plank! Weight lifting gloves or a yoga mat is helpful, but stay away from slippery towels or soft pillows.
  3. Get rid of distractions! In other words, remove yourself from anything that can piss you off. Maybe it’s just me, but I am quite moody during my last 30 seconds. I also become very particular…any little hair hanging in my face or if my pants feel “too heavy”…I can’t do it. (There were many pantless-planks done at my house ;))
  4. Form is everything! Keep your palms under your shoulders and keep your weight shifted forward. And tuck your pelvis! My fitness guru said this during Hot Power Core one night and it was like a light bulb went off! Squeeze you butt cheeks, tuck, and pull your belly button in towards your back. This tightens your abs, back, and legs. A proper plank uses the whole body! This really helps to take the stress off of any one part of your body. For me, the tilt helped to keep my body straight as possible and it took a lot longer for me to wear out my back.
  5. BREATHE! It’s difficult, but I promise it helps.
Not the best planking conditions...

Not the best planking conditions…

I enjoyed this experience so much I decided to take on a monthly fitness challenge! Whole30 in March wasn’t enough so I decided to add a daily push-up challenge to my list of things to do, too. I am starting a little late, but I was inspired by the #nomoregirlypushups challenge from Wine to Weightlifting, Dare 2 Dream Dare 2 Do, & Alex Tries it Out.   With the help of a very handy app and the support of my BFF, I hope to work up to 100 push-ups by the end of the month! Got any ideas for future fitness challenges or want to join me? Let me know in the comments section!

Coming up later this week: recap of Whole30 week one! See how I’m doing compared to the  Whole30 program timeline!