February 20, 2017

Whole30: The First Five Days

I wasn't going to write about this, but reading other people's blogs about it has helped me with info and inspiration, so what the heck?

Five days ago, I started the Whole30 diet/eating plan/whatever you are supposed to call it. (Some people get a little snippy if you talk about it incorrectly.) Lots of my friends were doing it, some of my favorite authors were doing it, and I kept seeing recipes on Pinterest that didn't look too bad. But I cannot tell a lie. When I first looked at the rules, I decided it was not for me. No ketchup. No Diet Coke. No Chick-fil-A. No, thank you. But then I decided it was only for 30 days, and I needed some reining in when it came to my eating habits and I can do anything for 30 days, right?

Why I did it:

Last summer, life got little crazy. My disabled dog got really sick and required more care than she already did, my mom got really sick and really couldn't leave the house or do much for herself for months, and I was crazy busy with work, but then even work turned kind of weird and stressful. Then my dog died, and my mom ended up in the hospital for a few weeks, and I think I've been exhausted ever since it all happened. I try to eat low carb most of the time, but I'm pretty sure I existed on chicken nuggets and ice cream during that time frame. And then the holidays and I traveled some, which meant lots of yummy food. After all that I knew I needed to get it together, be healthier, have more energy, etc., and I needed something with some new rules.

The Whole30 plan has plenty of rules. I won't recall them here, but let's just say it took me several hours and approximately $200 (my weekly grocery bill is usually around $60) to figure them out. That also involved visiting four stores and a local farm. That was Wednesday, February 15th. On Thursday, February 16th, I started. Here's how it's going so far.

I definitely recommend cleaning out your pantry/fridge before starting Whole30. Here is my little starter kit.

Day 1 

I have to get up at 4 am a few days a week, and Day 1 was one of those days. Thankfully, I didn't have anything elaborate planned. My mom boiled me a few eggs, and I grabbed a banana for breakfast. When I got home, I slept through lunch, so that was no big deal. By that evening, I was starving. My original plan was to make this Asian salad I found on Pinterest, but it seemed like too much trouble. Instead, I pan-seared some chicken, baked a slice of cabbage, and baked some sweet potato chips, most of which ended up black instead of orange. I hate cooking and am not good at it. That's one strike against Whole30, but the meal was decent and something I'd eat anyway, so no big deal. I kind of wanted a Diet Coke before bed, but I kept downing water and had a cup of hot cinnamon tea, and it was all good.

My first attempt at pan-seared chicken. It was actually pretty amazing.

Day 1: Cabbage, sweet potatoes, and chicken. Not too bad.

Day 2

Day 2 was a stressful day, with or without Diet Coke...and cheese and fried chicken. My plan was to get up and work for most of it. Everyone else had other plans for me.

My dog was having some kind of issue, and she woke me up at 5 am. I took her out, but that didn't help. I'll spare you the details, but I ended up giving her a bath at some point that morning and having to trim a bunch of her hair. I did it all with a terrible headache that was quickly turning into a migraine. While I don't know that there are any Whole30-specific rules about taking medication, I had decided I was not going to take any during these 30 days. But then the cat got stuck in a bag and wouldn't let me catch her, and my mom needed help trying to get into her bank account online, and the ladies at the bank were being jerks, and then my dad had a car problem and I had to go follow him to the repair shop and take him home, and it just seemed like a never-ending day. All I wanted was Diet Coke, but I stuck to it.

For breakfast, my mom was kind enough to fry a couple of eggs and peel an orange for me, plus I had a little slice of leftover chicken from the night before. I skipped lunch again, though I did eat a banana and a handful of pecans. Supper that night was one of my favorites so far - chicken fajitas in lettuce wraps and sweet potato chips, more orange, less black. I went to bed feeling pretty good. I've got this. Except I was craving cheese dip. And spinach dip. And cheese in general.

Sweet potatoes and chicken fajitas - my favorite meal so far
This chicken looked and tasted so delicious. I need to make more.

Day 3

Saturday was another 4 am day. My mom cooked for me again, which has been a lifesaver — more eggs and grapefruit. Then I slept through lunch. Again. Spoiler alert: I haven't had lunch any of these five days. I actually slept until 5:30 and missed a chance to visit with my favorite kiddos which sucked. But this no caffeine thing has me tired, well, constantly. When I woke up, I snacked on a little of the leftover chicken from the night before and cooked up a steak, baked a potato, and stir fried some kale salad with almonds and sesame seeds. It wasn't a great meal. The dogs ate most of the ($18.99 a pound grass-fed) steak, and the kale salad was way too oily. After I baked the potato, I seared the face in the cast iron skillet where I cooked the steak with a little extra ghee and garlic, and it was crispy and amazing with green onions chopped on top. But I spent over an hour cleaning the kitchen that night, after cooking dog food and my food. I hate cooking. Have I mentioned that?  I knew there had to be a better way. So, before I went to bed, I got two packs of Springer Mountain chicken out of the freezer (that's the only kind of grocery store chicken I like anymore), put them in a bag with a bottle of Whole30-approved Lemon Garlic Tessemae's dressing, and marinated them for the grill the next day.

I murdered that poor expensive steak. But the potato was excellent.

Day 4

By Sunday morning, aka Day 4, I was feeling pretty good. I noticed my clothing fit a little better, and the headaches were gone. I got up on my own fairly early and knocked out three blog posts for a client. My mom made me an awesome sausage and onion omelette and cut up some kiwi. It was a gorgeous day here in the ATL, and I had plans to work outside. I planted some sweet peas and lettuce seeds — I swear I will have a successful garden this year if everyone will just stay health and alive — and came back to the house to grill all 14 pieces of the lemon garlic Springer Mountain chicken. I made some more potatoes like I did the night before, and I mixed up Greek dressing to put on my kale salad. So similar to Day 3's supper, but I was all about putting in less effort.

By the time I sat down to eat, I could barely finish any of it. I was tired. I wasn't that hungry. I was in bed by 11, which is highly unusual for me, even on the days I have to get up at 4 am.

Thank goodness for my mom's willingness to make my breakfast is all I have to say. 

Grilled chicken, potato, and kale salad. Could not eat but half of it.

Day 5

Today is Day 5. It hasn't been the best day for Whole30-ing. First of all, I woke up at 5 am in a panic because I forgot to do something for work. After I took care of that, I went back to bed, and then shortly after, my mom called to wake me up. I had to take my dad back to get his truck from the repair shop. After a quick visit with my cousin and her kids who were heading out of town, I came back into the house to get dressed and tried to navigate breakfast, but I couldn't think of a single thing I wanted to eat. The thought of food in general made me want to throw up. The plan was to eat leftovers from last night, but that wasn't going to happen. I love meat. It's my favorite food group. But the grilled and pan-seared meat — all I've had so far — offers a similar texture, and I'm so tired of that texture. I'm a picky eater, and a lot of it has to do with texture rather than taste. I need some soups, some tacos, some burgers, something, but that requires more planning and cooking and I don't want to cook anymore.

So, that's pretty much how my morning went. After I took my dad to get his truck, I went to Home Depot and Lowe's to purchase some gardening supplies. It was really my first trip to a store since buying groceries.  The local Home Depot has two restaurants in the parking lot area, and they both smelled so good. And while I was standing in line I almost grabbed a Diet Coke out of habit. I was so hungry and thirsty, but still, nothing appealed to me. On the way home, I stopped by Kroger to grab a few things I was running out of, and suddenly, I wanted fruit, so I picked up some more kiwi an bananas and ate two bananas as soon as I got home. That's all I've eaten today.

I also purchased some La Croix water and kombocha, because I was dying for a drink with some flavor. Normally, I can't stand La Croix, but it was better than nothing. I'm not yet sold on the kombocha. Tonight, I'm planning to eating leftover grilled chicken. I didn't want to cook, so I'm going for easy.

Final thoughts? 

The first five days have been a bit stressful, but all in all I've made it through. I learned so much, and while I don't intend to eat like this forever — a girl needs cheese, so I'll probably go back to low-carb with some modifications — I will take some of these rules and tricks with me into the future and may even do this again occasionally when things get out of control. 

Some things I'll do differently this week:  

  • Eat breakfast daily, even if it's a banana and a handful of nuts. Not eating it today made me cranky and tired and miserable to be around.
  • Make some different types of meals. I found a compliant spaghetti sauce at a local farmer's market store and a friend sent me a recipe to make my own, so I may have some fake pasta dishes with broccoli slaw or spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. I also have some mock fried chicken and soup recipes, and I have a pot roast I can throw into the Crock Pot with some veggies, which I'll probably do tomorrow.
  • Don't feel like I have to turn into a Pinterest-addicted gourmet cook. It's okay to eat boiled eggs and leftover chicken occasionally. 
  • That said, embrace foods I already like. Like sweet potatoes and chicken fajitas...two of my favorites even when I'm not watching what I eat. If I want to eat fajitas every day til I'm sick of them, then so be it. It's not against the rules. 
  • Drink more water. Even if I have to get up in the middle of the night, I feel so much better. 
  • Also, embrace the La Croix water. My biggest craving has been for Diet Coke, not cheese and bread as I thought it would be. The La Croix isn't great, but it mixes things up a bit. 
  • Try to make some breakfast dishes ahead of time or have leftovers from the night before. Sharing a kitchen with my mother at the moment is not ideal, especially for this plan, but on the days she didn't make my breakfast (which was much appreciated) I was grumpier than I should have been.  
  • Five Guys is kind of Whole30 compliant. My original plan was to not eat out at all during this little experiment, but my hatred of cooking had me Googling "what restaurant food is Whole30 compliant?" late one night (and by "late," I mean 10:30 *yawn*). As it turns out, Five Guys does not cook their burgers in any type of oil or butter or weird spices, so I can have some...without the bread, cheese, and bacon. So, I've made a deal with myself that if I'm still doing this on Friday (and I will be), I get to treat myself to a couple of burgers with lettuce, onions, and pickles. 
  • Only 25 more days to go. *phew*
La Croix good. Kombucha bad.