doing ANOTHER whole30

Whole30: Redux

doing ANOTHER whole30

Yesterday, I started a Whole30. Again. As in, I’m doing a Whole60 (with a little 3-day break in the middle).

If you’re like most people and are very happy eating bread and flour and rice and cheese and yogurt and milk and candy and potatoes and chips and things out of cans, etcetera, this might seem crazy. One month ago, I may have agreed with you. Now, I am excited for another month of strictness–I’ve gotten so used to feeling great (see my last two posts) and I am eager to find out what else I can accomplish through my nutritional boot camp.

This second Whole30 is going to be even more hard core than the first. Before I explain how, though, I have a bit of an announcement: the founders of the Whole30 diet, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, have asked me for permission to direct other Whole30-ers to my new Whole30 Eats section as food inspiration. Remembering how much I relied/rely on other people’s experiences for food ideas, how could I say no?

In the interest of maintaining the integrity of their program, they made sure I got a copy of their Success Guide. You don’t have to have the book to do the Whole30, but it really is a very handy tool, and it showed me where I could make even better food choices. Also, since I am basically receiving an official Whole30 endorsement, I need to shape up and do things the right way.

That means some things will change:

  • No chewing gum. Gum is artificially sweetened, so it’s a no-go on the Whole30. I wondered about that during my first month, but since I didn’t have the Success Guide, I didn’t have all of the details. I may look into other breath-freshening alternatives, or else really try hard not to breathe on anyone. My apologies in advance. 😉
  • Taking fruit out of the spotlight. Fruit tastes great, can be very fulfilling, is a fantastic complement to most meals, but there is so much naturally-occurring sugar in it that it helps keep the “sugar dragon” alive longer. I want to starve that monster to death. So: I will eat less fruit, including trying to abolish the breakfast smoothie, unless I can make an enjoyable version that contains lots of veggies and little fruit.
  • Abolishing the Breakfast Smoothie. I know. My trusty breakfast smoothie. I will be sad to see it go, but I learned in conversations with Melissa Hartwig that liquid meals aren’t the best choice for those trying to lose weight, because the “I’m full” signal isn’t quite the same as when you’re chewing. I also learned that almond butter, which I was going through at a steady pace, isn’t on the Whole30 “go for it” protein list, but rather on the “eating-it-occasionally-is-cool” list. All this, combined with my decision to move fruit out of the spotlight, means that I will be looking for creative ways to get “real” protein (eggs, meat, etc.) into me at breakfast time, along with veggies.
  • No Fudge Babies. These little balls of Paleo goodness got me through some long evenings of reading and studying. However, they fall into the “no-no” category of “Paleo-ified” desserts, which the Hartwigs clearly forbid, lest that “sugar dragon” be allowed to remain alive. When I get an evening craving, I will eat a few almonds and some veggies.
  • Cutting back on the bacon and cold meat. As much as I loved the (additive-free) bacon and smoked turkey that I found at the farmer’s market last month, I realized that neither one is on the “great” list of proteins, and should be enjoyed occasionally, rather than regularly.
  • Fewer almonds. If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you’ve heard me talk about almonds before. They have been my super snack over the past year or two. While they’re not bad, they’re not on the “best” list, so I’m going to try to rely on them less. When in doubt, eat veggies!
  • New Balsamic Vinegar. I didn’t realize until I read the Success Guide yesterday that my balsamic vinegar (like most cheapies) has sulfites in it. Oops. Sulfites are a “no-no” on the Whole30, so it’s time for a new bottle.
  • Using clarified butter. This is the only “dairy” product allowed on the Whole30. Clarified butter has been melted and the milk solids skimmed away, making it a good fat rather than an evil one. It also helps to start with a good-quality, organic, grass-fed butter. I would venture to say it’s worth splurging on the good-quality stuff.
  • Eating more good fats. There is another diet out there where people eat coconut oil with every meal. On this diet, you don’t have to do that because you’re cooking with coconut oil and coconut milk and olive oil, and eating avocado, etc. I know it sounds backwards, but I’m convinced that good fats can make a lot of difference for a healthy diet. A diet without fats is difficult to maintain–you aren’t giving your body any extra calories, so without good fats, it won’t have much to run on. Besides, coconut and avocado are good for your skin and hair, etc. What did hydrogenated vegetable oil ever do for you?
  • Even more planning ahead. You really have to be on the ball with a diet like this. Especially if you have days like I do this term, where I leave my house by 8:30 am and don’t return until 9 or 10 pm. You have to get creative. You have to spend several hours cooking in order to have containers of good food to take with you when you’re out. You have to be disciplined in your determination to only eat foods you have made, unless you have access to a store or restaurant with Whole30-compliant meals. I don’t, so plan ahead I must. The tough part for me this month is going to be planning for breakfast. The smoothies were pretty easy, even though they took up more time than I had ever dedicated to breakfast on a morning where I had somewhere to be. Now, I have to prepare eggs and veggies… I’ll need even more discipline and creativity for that.

There you have it. My wee announcement, followed by several things that help you think I’m crazier than I was before.

Scale no weighing

Whole30 and Getting Wholly Healthy

Scale no weighing

On the Whole9 people’s list of guidelines for the Whole30 diet (which I started on February 22, 2012), there is a bit of a strange stipulation against weighing and measuring yourself:

One last and final rule. You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program. This is about so much more than just weight loss, and to focus on your body composition means you’ll miss out on the most dramatic and lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So, no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat or taking comparative measurements during your Whole30. (We do encourage you to weigh yourself before and after, however, so you can see one of the more tangible results of your efforts when your program is over.

This, of course, flies in the face of everything that we know to be normal about diets and weight loss programs, right? We’re all familiar with that Before and After series of torso shots of people standing in their bathroom in underwear. We hear of people stepping on the scale to monitor their progress.

It’s natural. We are curious: we want to know!

One of the things I really like about the Whole9 mindset is that health is not only about weight loss. Instead, it’s all about balance.

Balance between quality and quantity, between getting healthy and staying healthy.

I forgot to take the requisite torso shot on the first day of my diet, and again at the one-week mark. I regret that, and I regret that I didn’t realize this final rule until I went back after I started my second week to make sure I was doing things right.

But I’m excited. I am so proud that I made the decision to do something that is so against the grain in order to not lose control of my body and my health to comfort foods and convenience. I’m thrilled at how energetic I feel and that I have been motivated to take up running. For years, I have felt a distinct lack of discipline in my life, and I feel like I finally am gathering the skills to be more disciplined.

I’m actually considering making this endeavour a Whole45 or Whole60, in an attempt to completely break my dependence on sweets and any remaining emotional connection with food. It sounds a bit hokey for those of us that looooooove to eat, but I don’t want to be ruled by hunger pangs or enslaved to potato chips.

I want to be clear: this is not about shedding pounds. Yes, I would like to avoid having to buy another wardrobe, which means losing some girth in the hip-thigh-tummy region, and I’m afraid of “letting myself go”, which could so very easily happen. But I want to make the decision to be healthy, not just skinnier. Healthy.

Please comment with your perspective on our tendency to have an emotional connection with food…

The Ephemerality of an Idea

I am writing this post from my iPhone 4, typing with my middle finger as I balance a pen under my index finger.

I’m in a writing class, listening to the prof with one part of my brain, and, with the other part, thinking about how much of a slacker I have been on this blog.

When I updated my blog site this spring and downloaded this app on my phone, I had such romantic hopes that, now that I had such a handy productivity aid at my fingertips, I would be inspired to write regularly.

The romance then proceeded to wither a few weeks later when I got distracted by _____________________.


Today in the reading for my writing class there was a section on ideas: where to find them (just about anywhere), how to nurture them (write them down, then add to them as your mind digests them and comes up with related ideas), and how to develop them into viable story options.

The author kept an empty notebook with him at all times, so that whenever his brain churned out a new idea (often in the shape of, “I wonder what would happen if…”, or “What if…?”, or “Is it me? What is it about me…?” etc…), he could start to build a complete idea or ideas.

My brain ate up that idea. I get ideas at the most inconvenient times (2 a.m., driving, in the shower), but I’ve learned that the key is to record the idea as soon as possible, while it still retains the ephemera that only something brand-new can evoke.

So… What’s my problem, if I have ideas and I know enough to record them?

My problem is that I haven’t been honouring those wisps of curiosity and inquisitiveness that flit through my mind. I haven’t been writing them down or seeing them through.


By now, it’s later in the day and I have come back to this several times. I am
also now typing with both thumbs like you do on a smart phone.

I have a renewed resolve to do better, to try harder, to record thoughts before they fly away.

Will you be my sounding board?

Bottled Water: Why are we so lazy?

I have to apologize ahead of time, because I haven’t officially started my research yet, but I am starting to work on a short research paper about water, specifically drinking water that gets stored, transported, and sold in plastic bottles.

I have realized that we are lazy. Yeah, that’s the truth of it. We’re damn lazy! We are so used to having the convenience of everything we want, anytime, anywhere, and we often don’t have a clue about how we will end up paying for it with our bodies and our environment, let alone wasting our money on it now.

Bottled water. Why are we so obsessed? We want clean and safe water, yeah, I get it… but why do we (here in most of Canada and the US) distrust our (treated and safe) tap water so much?

The argument about bottled water tasting better might be a good one… if there wasn’t such a thing as a water filter that you can attach to your tap while filling your glass or reusable hard plastic (BPA-free, etc.) or stainless steel bottle. I completely get the issue of the taste of the water–I am a self-declared water snob, after all.

However, when you dig a little deeper into the issue, you will discover that, a) bottled water is simply glorified tap water; b) it takes SO much fuel to transport water around, when almost everyone has perfectly good water coming out of their tap; c) bottled water is basically a money-making gimmick, a commodity invented not with the goal of getting clean water where there is none, but with the goal of making a profit; d) the plastic bottles leech chemicals (BPA, antimony and others) into your drinking water, making it less healthy for you than your tap water. Really. True, some companies have eliminated tap water from their individual-sized bottles, but not from their big ones (the big blue ones that you refill and use with a dispenser at home or in the office); e) not only does it take a lot of fuel to truck bottles of water everywhere, but you know those little plastic bottles? They’re made with oil! That’s right, they’re a petroleum product–there goes even MORE of our non-renewable resources!

I am on a bit of a mission to educate myself and in turn rant and rave a bit to those who will listen that it pays to buy a bottle, one reusable bottle (okay, maybe more than one), and refill it. Plan ahead. You can do it, I believe in you! It pays in many ways: your wallet will be heavier, your body will be healthier, and the environment will benefit from having less plastic products tossed into its backyard and be able to hold onto more of one of its essential fluids, oil.

If you MUST buy a bottle of water (let’s face it, every now and then, you’re desperate and you forgot to bring a bottle and you don’t trust that homeless guy’s cup), FOR GOD’S SAKE RECYCLE IT!!

The Turkey, The Tension, and the Giving of Thanks


The Discipline of Serving One Master

When I was fourteen and new to the whole teenage thing, I went with my youth group on a missions trip for 10 days to a few places across Eastern Canada. Our motto was: “40 people, 10 days, 8 cities, 1 bus, 1 message: Get Off The Fence“. In those 8 cities, we did services: open-air services, youth services, church services, and everywhere we set up our equipment, we led worship and did some sort of dramatic interpretation of our motto, “Get Off The Fence”. Today, at twenty-five, that message is sinking in.

Jesus, talking to his disciples:

“He that is faithful with little things is faithful with big things also. He that is not honest with little things is not honest with big things. If you have not been faithful with riches of this world, who will trust you with true riches? If you have not been faithful in that which belongs to another person, who will give you things to have as your own?

No servant can have two bosses. He will hate the one and love the other. Or, he will be faithful to one and not faithful to the other. You cannot be faithful to God and to riches at the same time.”

The proud religious law-keepers heard all these things. They loved money so they made fun of Jesus. Jesus said to them, “You are the kind of people who make yourselves look good before other people. God knows your hearts. What [people] think is good is hated in the eyes of God. Luke 16:10-15, NLV

Tonight, PJ challenged the youth group where I “sponsor”. He asked, “Can you honestly say that God and not money or materialism is your master?” He encouraged us to weigh our motives, testing ourselves by inquiring which master occupies the most time, thought and effort in our everyday lives.

I know what people think is good, and I can usually emulate it quite well, especially in church, where people are quick to judge something that seems to serve the world rather than God. But when there’s no one there to watch me, no one to impress, I’m not quite that person. I recognize that God is in me, I have a good heart, I’m a leader, I’m a “woman of God”, I’ve made good choices, etc. Clarification: this isn’t about self-esteem, folks; this is about spiritual discipline.

Our speaker last week gave us 5 Spiritual Disciplines to live by:

1. Simple & Sacrificial Living
2. Prayer, Fasting & Study
3. Solitude & Silence
4. Worship
5. Service to Others

In my daily life, I don’t naturally choose to engage in these disciplines. I don’t fill more time with these activities than music, movies, shopping, reading, etc. (again, clarification: this is not about not being able to have fun with music, movies, shopping reading, etc., but rather about balance and, again, DISCIPLINE!)

I wanna be faithful and honest with those things that seem so inconsequential in this big, wide world of media and malls (both of which I will continue to love), and I sure as hell don’t want to languish on the fence between two masters. So help me God, I will learn the discipline of taking time to serve my true master so that I am not found unfaithful.