Paleo: It’s Back! (Bonus: our favourite Paleo recipes)

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I know, I know. It’s been aaaaaaaaaages. There are no excuses, but when you have a full-time job and a man and a dog and a house and you co-own a website that showcases the best things to see, do, and buy in rural Ontario, well, your blog moves to the back burner. For years. And years.

But today I decided to grace you with my presence because I wanted to tell you that I’ve gone Paleo. Again. This time, apparently, for good. Or at least for the foreseeable future.

Something’s Gotta Give
After gaining and losing and gaining and losing my “freshman fifteen,” then moving in with Johnathan and doing my last (read: super-stressful) year of school and getting a “big girl” job, etc., those fifteen became more like thirty and nothing was fitting anymore and I decided (again) that enough was enough. I declared that, as of the first Monday in February, I was going to start another Whole30.

YES, I knew that prepping and cleaning would take a lot of time and energy. YES, I knew healthy food would cost more. But I was adamant. Johnathan agreed that he would eat what I cooked (taking into consideration that he doesn’t like to eat everything that I like to eat) and go along for the ride.

So the adventure began… 8 weeks ago. Feels like forever, but for many Paleo-eaters, it’s only the very beginning.

The Return of Real Food
I started cooking Whole30-friendly dishes for both of us: no grains, no sugar, no legumes, no potatoes, no corn, no additives or preservatives, and no dairy for me. As the month went by, my would-be Whole30 turned into Paleo as I found recipes that used honey or maple syrup and made “Paleo-ified” desserts and tortillas and other such indulgences. Johnathan kept his cheese and coffee cream and I started meal planning.

And here we are. We’ve each lost roughly 15 pounds (we don’t own a scale, so the actual amount is a mystery to everyone), our taste in food is changing, and we feel great!

Striving for Balance
At the end of our first month, we decided to “eat socially,” but to stay Paleo during the week. We have few friends and zero family members on special diets, and we don’t want to be “those people” that refuse to eat what is served. Okay, we did that a bit during our first month, but not anymore.

Yes, we may pay the price for it, and we try to make clean food choices when possible, but we are determined to be polite about it.

On our Table…
In case you’re here more for the “Paleo” tag and less for my story, here are some of the Paleo recipes that we LOVE and make often:

That Coffee Cake Banana Bread will definitely make you say “Paleo? OMG!”

‘Til next time…

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Whole30 Egg Salad

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I’m just going to jump in cold with this one, even though I haven’t written anything fresh here for over a year (don’t judge).

I’ve had a request for my exact Whole30 egg salad recipe, so I am happily acquiescing. I didn’t actually know my exact recipe, so I had to make it the other day to come up with an approximation that would work.

Without further ado, Whole30-compliant egg salad:

3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. mayonnaise (make your own with this recipe)

1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp. paprika
sprinkle dried dill
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and dig in!

Optional (and flavourful) add-ins: onion (of any type), celery or cucumber (for a bit of crunch), avocado! This last one should really not be in the optional section, because avocado makes everything better!

Adjust proportions to taste. Get creative. Try omitting the Dijon and paprika and adding curry powder or paste.

And let me know how you make out or what your other ideas are!

omelette

Real Food: Life after the Whole30

omelette

Many of you have read all about my recent adventures with food, or, more accurately, lack of many “normal” foods. Towards the end of February, I started what ended up being 54 days of the Whole30 diet, as proscribed by the Whole9 Life founders Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Yes, that “30” in there refers to 30 days, but I decided to go hard-core and do 60 54.

You will probably also be able to tell from the plethora of posts about the Whole30 that I enjoyed it. It was difficult at times, but it forced me to learn about good food. Real food. I had to start making my own salad dressings and using better oils. I began to use all those dried spices that had been taking up space in my cupboard. I started reading labels and growing increasingly disgusted with the food and beverage industry.

For 54 days (not including a “cheat weekend” after the first 30 days), I avoided all dairy, all grains and grain products (including corn and all of its derivatives), all sugars and sweeteners (including honey and maple syrup), all legumes (peanuts, soy, etc.), and most preservatives and additives.

After the first few days, I started to feel consistently great. I had a predictable and steady amount of energy from morning til night, and got great sleep. I was motivated to start running and do ab workouts.

I ate a lot, learned a lot, went through vegetables and eggs like nobody’s business, spent a lot of money on groceries (and I didn’t even get the ideal grass-fed organic meats I was supposed to), and ultimately lost at least 15 pounds (I haven’t done a final weigh-in since losing more weight after the diet was completed). I was getting “wholly healthy,” as I called it.

At the end of my 54 days, I needed a change of pace. Even the Hartwigs admit that the Whole30 is a bit too extreme for anyone to keep up for any extended length of time. The Whole30 is actually a stricter version of the Paleo (Paleolithic, Stone Age, Caveman, etc…) diet, and only meant to be undergone for 30 days here and there.

Having done such an intense diet for two months and then needing to break free, then finding myself in exams, then packing, then moving (to a city and in with my boyfriend=major transition), then looking for a job, and on and on, I fell off the good-food wagon. I guess I’m “lucky” to be one of those people who wasn’t wracked by cramps after every bite of “normal” food after so long an abstinence, but it was altogether too easy to fall back onto more convenient foods.

Convenience and frugality warred against my new good-food habits, and cooking for a non-vegetable-or-healthy-food lover further compounded my dilemma.

I still haven’t fully made peace between the warring factions. Farmer’s Markets have made it easier to justify the purchase of good-quality vegetables and meats, and I am attempting to home-make bread, dressings, sauces, burgers, chicken fingers, and other favourites and staples.

My plan of action is to real-food-ify my kitchen as much as possible. By “real food” I mean non-processed, non-preserved, organic ingredients wherever possible. I will use honey instead of sugar, olive oil instead of vegetable oils, organic flour and vinegar, make my own spice mixes (like seasoning salt), and generally go back to buying items without preservatives and additives.

The trick will be bringing Johnathan along with me, but I accept it as a personal challenge!

Two amazing bloggers help our real food revolution on an almost daily basis: Lisa Leake of 100 Days of Real Food, and Heather of A Real Food Lover. These ladies have made the spices and the sauces, the breads and the pastas, and have real food solutions for almost any “normal” junk-filled dish.

The bread recipe I have been making lately is from 100 Days of Real Food. It has turned out differently every time I’ve made it (I think I’ve been making it with 4 1/2 cups of flour instead of 4 1/4. Oops), but it’s infallibly delicious!

Honey Whole Wheat Bread recipe

What are your go-to real food solutions? How have you managed to wean your household off of additives and preservatives? I’d love to hear your stories!

sanity restored

Why 54 days are better than 60.

54 days

55 days plus a 3-day weekend ago, I embarked on a bit of an extreme diet journey. Extreme from the perspective of most of us who have gotten used to relying on refined carbohydrates and artificial sweeteners and the convenience of processed and fast foods. Normal if you think of how food used to be for most of the history of humanity.

I did what is called the Whole30 diet, which rules out grains and all grain products, dairy, sugars and all sweeteners including honey and maple syrup, legumes, and common preservative and additives such as lecithins, sulfites, MSG, and carageenan. Few people would be able to do the Whole30 all the time. It’s meant as a sort of nutritional reset, a time for your body to heal from all the non-natural stuff you’ve been pumping into it for your entire life. It’s not your fault–it’s our culture’s fault.

After the success of my first month, I boldly decided to do two. My friend Erika did, after all, and she had inspired me to try the Whole30 in the first place.

Something went wrong in my calculations, and I put yesterday in my calendar as the last day, Day 30, time to celebrate! Last week, I began to get excited. I could finally eat some cheese! Dig into the chocolate that has been accumulating in my candy jar, taunting me! Check to see if the bottle of wine I opened before all this started is still remotely good!

Having just come through about 10 days of academic zombie madness, where avoiding that chocolate was an exercise in self-control I didn’t know I had, the idea of finishing became very very enticing.

I could finally relax my Kaiser-esque food regime, buy cheaper food, eat some of the convenient-and-less-nutritional stuff in the freezer, have dinner with someone without a long list of I-cannot-eats.

I got excited, and I began to count on yesterday being the last day. Then, the night before last, I realized my mistake. Yesterday was not day 60, it was day 54! Oh no! A sort of despair started to settle in as I thought about having to forgo that bottle of wine I had promised to share with my BF’s parents on the weekend, about not being able to enjoy the potluck dinner with friends we are attending on Saturday.

And I started to think about what it really means to quit at Day 54 rather than Day 60.

It means I went without grains and sugar and dairy and legumes and preservatives for 54 days!! It means I’m running 20 solid minutes tonight! It means I have lost weight! It also means I have spent so much time shopping and planning and cooking and packing meals and washing the resulting dishes. I have spent so much money on vegetables and meat, money that I didn’t really have. It means I have little patience left for waiting for a sip of wine, a taste of chocolate, a bite of cheese.

It means enough.

sanity restored

I was on a mission to get “wholly healthy.” I didn’t get all the way there, but I got 54 days and 5 weeks of Couch to 5K closer. I learned a lot about food and cooking and spices and oils and myriad ways of making vegetables into something yummy and crunchy.

Now, for me, “wholly healthy” means backing off of the strict diet. Relaxing my boundaries a bit, a little at a time, finding a balance between what I have learned and what my real life is. Taking some time away from the stove and giving it to some of the people in my life. It means enjoying those things that I have always loved, albeit with much greater moderation than ever. It means learning how to say “No, thank you” to a second helping of whatever delightful carb is offered.

It means greater sanity. And sanity, for me, sometimes feels too thinly spread across the fabric of my life. I will take more sanity over 6 more days without cheese or chocolate, thank you very much!

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.

I finished the Whole30

Results of the First Whole30

I finished the Whole30

 

I officially finished my first Whole30 on March 22nd, so I weighed myself that night. Since I historically weigh myself in the morning, I stepped on the scale the following morning, too.

As far as I can tell, I have lost about 4 or 5 pounds in my first month, but there is so much more to the list of benefits I chalk up to my nutritional reset:

  • I no longer feel like a stuffed sausage in my clothes. I had been bursting out of all of my underwear and jeans, but no more! It feels so great!
  • I feel good. All the time. Except when I go too long without protein.
  • I have lots of energy. I no longer “flag” in the evening.
  • I don’t have that afternoon “slump” I used to have. Some days I still feel a bit of a psychological need to drink some (black decaf) coffee in the afternoons, but I don’t lose energy midday, which means that I don’t have the need to binge on sweets or caffeine!
  • I took up running. I started the Couch to 5K program a few weeks ago, and I really enjoy it! I’ll be blogging more about that experience in the future.
  • I have the motivation to do regular ab workouts. The battle against belly flab is ON!
  • I have learned so much about food. I have realized that poor nutrition is the culprit for so many of life’s difficulties (poor energy, disease, obesity, high blood pressure, inflammation, etc.), and combating it is easy! It seems tough at the beginning, but, once you get the hang of it, it’s easy. Anyone could do it.
  • I have (almost) eradicated cravings for refined carbs, aka poison. The Hartwigs (the creators of Whole30) say that the only way to slay the sugar dragon is to starve it. My dragon isn’t dead yet, and unfortunately this past weekend breathed some life back into him, but he won’t survive much longer. If he knows what’s good for him, that is.
  • My would-be chronic tailbone pain bothers me much less. I didn’t notice this one until last week. 12 years ago, I fell and injured my tailbone. About 5 or 6 years ago, I started experiencing what became a constant irritation or inflammation in my tailbone that has made long trips and long days of class very uncomfortable, and in some cases unbearable without Advil. Over the last couple of weeks, I stopped taking Advil, and noticed that I wasn’t nearly as bothered about sitting as I used to be. Hmm.
  • Potential for reduced PMS symptoms…? I have a slight suspicious hope that my sometimes mama-bear-like PMS symptoms have been reduced with the addition of awesome nutrition. I don’t know if it’s true – only time will tell, but I will continue to hope.

There you have it – my results! I unfortunately didn’t take a first-day picture, so I didn’t bother taking a Day 30 picture. Perhaps I’ll remedy that for my second Whole30, which starts today.

Speaking of which, if you’re interested in what I eat on the Whole30, check out my Whole30 Eats section in the menu bar.

Click here for Whole30 Eats

Drop-down menu

Crack, aka pizza

Cheese and Bread and Chocolate, oh my. AKA: I fell off the horse for 3 days.

Crack, aka pizza
Crack, aka pizza

I finished my first Whole30 last week. Thursday was the official day 30, but I continued the diet through Friday.

Then, to be able to celebrate my friend’s birthday on Saturday and celebrate finishing the Whole30 with my boyfriend on Sunday, I took a two-day diet break. I pretty much fell off the wagon for two days: On Saturday I had a muffin for breakfast (tried two but couldn’t even eat the first one), and cream in two coffees.Then, my body was freaking out, so I gave it two bananas and a whole bunch of raw veggies. It didn’t get any protein until around 5:00 pm. Bad scene, not to be repeated.

Dinner on Saturday was a delightful catered party spread that included homemade salsa and tapenade and fruit and veggies and meats and artesanal (sp?) cheeses and wraps with goat cheese and sauces and crackers and… SOOO good! Definitely worth “falling off the wagon” for. Or horse. I started with horse, I had probably continue with horse.

The bite-sized finger-food party grazing spread was fantastic. I had been in touch with the caterers beforehand to make sure I wasn’t falling off the horse for a meal full of deep-fried food and breads and sugars, etc. But no, of course no. These people are way too classy for that.

I also tried a couple of the signature drink, The Justin, named in honour of the birthday boy. After no alcohol for a month, I felt like two was enough, and what with a glass of punch besides, I started having a major thirst issue and couldn’t drink enough water.

But I’m pretty sure it was the dessert that caused the painful pangs in my belly the next morning. Justin’s mom is the dessert queen. I do not exaggerate. In all honesty, she is the Martha Stewart of our region, but dessert is possibly one of her brightest stars.

There was an entire table full of desserts that she had made. Cupcakes. Cheesecakes. Pies. A gigantic red velvet black forest trifle cake. Chocolate. Peanut butter. Strawberries. Skor. Caramel. Whipped cream. HEAVEN!!!!

I couldn’t help it. If the dessert was going to kill me from the insides out, I was going to die with the best dessert in the world on my lips. So I tried at least a bite from three desserts, including a whole (small) slice of pecan pie. Mmmmmmmm!!! I didn’t even have the presence of mind to take a picture of that plate of goodness, such was my eagerness to devour it.

Yesterday morning, for a few minutes, I felt cramp-like pangs in my belly. Then I got up and added cheddar and sriracha  to an otherwise Whole30-compliant omelette, and cream to my coffee. Ahh dairy, I’ve missed you! In the afternoon, I ate leftover braised cabbage, aware I would be sinning majorly that night.

Knowing I’d be going another month without any kind of grains or dairy, I decided to pile on another layer of dirty eating and make pizza for my celebratory dinner with Johnathan. Caveats? I put lots of veggies on mine, and made the dough and sauce from scratch. Both involve non-kosher ingredients. It was a cheat or bust kind of weekend, I guess.

Then I proceeded to deviate further and I ate an absolutely heavenly leftover cupcake from the party the night before, and then one my most favourite awful foods: a Cadbury Creme Egg.

Oh, and full disclosure: I had 2 glasses of wine with my pizza.

By now, all the Paleo people are cringing. Sorry, guys.

As much as I enjoyed all of those flavours that I had missed and will continue to miss, I was glad to get back to the strictness of the Whole30: I’ve gotten used to feeling great all the time, and all the cheese and chocolate and cupcakes in the world can’t give that to me.

Pushing the reset button

Today was supposed to be the first day of my second Whole30. It started well, but when dinner-time hunger pangs hit, I felt the need to not waste the two pieces of leftover pizza in my fridge. So I had to strike the attempt and postpone Second Whole30, Day  until tomorrow.

This second edition of the Whole30 is going to be even more hard-core than the first: no Fudge Babies. Less fruit. Less almond butter, less smoothies.

I’ve been inspired by a great opportunity which I will tell you about tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, I’m excited to get my good sleep back and lose the residual tailbone pain…

I DID IT!! I MADE IT TO DAY 30!

I DID IT!!! I MADE IT TO DAY 30!

I made it! I actually did a Whole30 without cheating! Yes, folks: no grains of any kind, no dairy of any kind, no sugar/sweetener of any kind, no legumes, no preservatives, no additives…!

This is kind of a big deal for a bread, cheese, chocolate, and wine lover.

It’s not over: After some celebratory eating this weekend, I will continue on to do another Whole30 (I’ll need another badge for my site, I guess…) to really kick my bad eating habits.

doing-the-whole30

Whole30 Day 27: Life on the road to Getting Wholly Healthy

doing-the-whole30

Since I started the Whole30 diet four weeks ago ago tomorrow (has it already been that long?!), the way I think and feel about food, as well as the way I interact with it, has changed.

My carb cravings have all but disappeared. I confess I really wanted to snatch one of Johnathan’s McDonald’s fries last week, but I restrained myself.

I am getting used to waiting a while for my food to be done. That and stocking up on pre-cooked veggies and raw veggies and stuff like that. Good food takes time!

Every time I go to the store, I buy avocados. And coconut milk. And tomatoes.

For the first time in my grown-up, shopping-for-myself life, I go through fruit and vegetables before they go bad! Though that pineapple that’s been around for a couple weeks might be done for. Oops. In my defense, I bought it in the first couple of weeks of my Whole30, when the sweets cravings were pretty strong, and I was eating about a case of clementines every day. Well, at least a handful of them, anyway.

That was before I found out I was supposed to take it easy on the fruit, lest my body not be allowed to learn that what it needs most is vegetables!

Fresh vegetables are important components of a...
Veggies: Learn to love them!

My “Whole30 and Getting Wholly Healthy” post talks about how I stopped weighing myself, even on the Wii Fit. This diet, this process is not about losing weight, as much as I would love it if my little paunch would just disappear forever (Keep reading to see what I am doing about that).

I make my own salad dressings, either using extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) and balsamic vinegar or another vinegar, or using my homemade dairy-free mayo as a base and adding garlic and/or spices, etc.

Instead of ketchup or barbecue sauce on meats, I use salsa or guacamole.

Real food tastes good, people! You just have to get out of the habit of relying on processed, sugar- and preservative-laden ingredients, and you’ll discover that the grass really is greener on the other side.

Cheating?

A few people have asked me whether I have cheated on the diet. Since I am a goody-goody that tries not to break clearly-defined rules, the simple answer is no. Technically, before I realized that not all bacon was made alike, I ate a lot of bacon the first week on the diet. I also ate a lot of fruit that first week or two, not remembering that thing about going easy on the fruit.

Also, even though Dallas and Melissa of Whole9Life are adamant about not trying to “Paleo-ify” dessert items while on the Whole30 by making cakes with almond flour or coconut flour, or breads, etc., I have to confess to a lingering sweet tooth which led me to the Fudge Babies recipe. I have made two batches of these over the past couple of weeks. Each batch makes about 10 balls of chocolatey goodness, and most days I only eat one, if any. Since they’re made with mostly raw, Whole30-approved ingredients, I don’t consider this a cheat. Though, if I were more hard-core, I would ix-nay those, too, I suppose. My sweet tooth has also influenced me to keep a container of banana pieces in the freezer for those moments in the evening when I’m studying or reading and could really use something that tastes yummy.

Fudge Babies
Fudge Babies

There have been a few times, while making a Whole30-approved recipe, that I have used something like curry paste which was already in my cupboard, that may have contained traces of things I’m not supposed to eat, like soy and peanuts, or a common preservative. Again, I don’t consider this a cheat because it was in such small amounts and because I’m a poor and starving student: I can’t afford to buy everything brand new!

Exercise

Yes, I have begun a regimen of regular exercise as part of this whole personal get-healthy endeavour. Many Paleo eaters are also Crossfit-ers. That is WAYYY too intense for me right now. I am getting my body in shape more slowly and easily.

A couple of weeks ago, I started the Couch to 5K running program. I will officially do the third run of the second week. Couch to 5K is an interval training program designed to get beginners out and running at a pace they can handle, then build their endurance until they can run 5K non-stop, 9 weeks later.

In week two, I warm up with a brisk five-minute walk, then run for ninety seconds, then walk for two minutes. I repeat the run and walk six times, then do a five-minute walk to cool down. On Friday, I will run ninety seconds, walk ninety seconds, then run three minutes and walk three minutes. The first week was one minute running, ninety seconds walking. You can see how easy it is for the couch potato to get their rear in gear. (More about the Couch to 5K in an upcoming post)

Then there’s the wee paunch I mentioned earlier. You probably never noticed it – I apparently have a gift for hiding excess weight. I have no idea how this is possible, because it’s clear to me any time I put on a pair of jeans and flesh squidges up over the belt. Gross, right?

The Plank
The Plank

It’s not huge. I’m not fat. I just don’t want to “let myself go”, if that makes sense. Imagine what that little paunch-ette would turn into if I were to start having babies before getting my stomach muscles into good shape! I would probably be a lost cause at that point.

Hence the being proactive in giving my belly flab a run for its money. Every other day, usually on days I run, I do a series of tummy workouts based on this post on the Women’s Health website (thanks for that, Britt and Pinterest). I add as many crunches as I can take, both straight and to the side, some side weight-lifting (holding some weight in one hand, bend sideways so the weighted arm moves down towards the floor, then flex the ab muscles (think: love handles) on the opposite side of your body to pull yourself back to a standing position. Repeat several times, then switch sides.), and then I sit on a chair holding a broomstick across my shoulders (holding weights in my hands, too), and twist as far as I can to one side, feeling the pull in the side muscle on the other side. Then I twist to the other side, and repeat several times. These last two exercises are thanks to Johnathan.

Results

Is it magic? The Whole30? The exercising? No, none of it is magic. It is all part of a process. A time-consuming, effort-involving process that requires dedication and discipline.

But is it worth it? Absolutely. You will feel great by the end of your first week on the Whole30, ’cause you’re not putting ANY junk in your body anymore! Everything worth having requires some effort to keep, including your health.

If you’ve been following my posts, you may have read about how our new apartment must have a dishwasher. John hates to do dishes, and I’m not a huge fan, either. Doing the Whole30 has made the dirty dish situation infinitely worse: practically every time I walk in the kitchen translates into an extra ten minutes of dish-washing!

But even so, it is still worth it. I am willing to pay more, do more work, establish new habits, and learn new skills, all in the name of being “wholly healthy”. Aren’t you?

Continuance

That’s why I’m going to do another Whole30, back-to-back with this one, a Whole60, if you will.

At the end of this week, I’m going to have a glass of wine, a slice of cheese, a piece of whole-grain bread, and a small piece of dark chocolate, and then the next day it’s back to grain-free, sweetener-free, legume-free, dairy-free, additive-free living, until it’s practically second nature!

Layers of delicious

Breakfast Smoothie Extraordinaire

(Update July 4, 2013. I removed “a la Whole30” from the title of this post because I keep finding it on Pinterest, with comments from Whole30-ers cautioning against consuming smoothies during a Whole30. Is this still a good recipe? I think so, yes. Is it “Whole30”? Not quite. If you’re doing a Whole30, consider this as an occasional treat rather than as a key nutritional go-to.)

(Update March 27, 2012. In a recent conversation with Melissa Hartwig, co-founder of the Whole30, I learned that smoothies are less than ideal for the Whole30 program for a few reasons: 1) the spotlight tends to be on the fruit rather than the veggies or protein; 2) almond butter is classified as a fat that should be consumed occasionally, not a protein that should be consumed daily; 3) flax seeds are on the “limit” list for fats; and 4) liquid foods are easier to overeat than solid foods. That being said, make the adjustments you need to for your Whole30 and enjoy!)

In the 21 days since I started my (first) Whole30, I’ve become increasingly competent in the art of the breakfast smoothie.

The smoothie that I blogged about week before last has evolved past the alpha stage into a more complex, flavorful, and healthy version. Each morning, I look forward to my smoothie with greater anticipation.

I start with coconut milk
I start with coconut milk
Then I add some almond butter
Then I add some almond butter
A cut-up banana is next
A cut-up banana is next
...followed by a handful of spinach
…followed by a handful of spinach
...some flax seed
…some ground flax seed
And, to make it pretty and round out the flavour, frozen blueberries
And, to make it pretty and round out the flavour, frozen blueberries

I know I have not reached the level of Smoothie Expert yet, but I am sufficiently satisfied with this stage to submit it to you for beta testing.

Please give it a go and let me know what you think my next step should be.

Sarah’s Whole30 Paleo Smoothie, Beta Version

  • 1/3 cup high-fat coconut milk (read the labels and choose one that uses only guar gum as a “stabilizer”, and has about a 30% fat content. Good fat, remember!)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 banana, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup (or as much as you think you would enjoy) organic spinach or kale (you might want to blend the kale first before adding the other ingredients: I chewed each mouthful of this morning’s smoothie!)
  • 1 Tablespoon flax seeds (I use a version that is already pre-ground) (flax is a great source of Omega fatty acids)
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • A couple splashes of orange juice (sweetener and consistency regulator: my coconut milk tends to be thick, and adding OJ makes it pourable)