I recently realized that I may be one of the most committed designers that I know.
Ok, that's totally just me being a bit big-headed, but I had that thought a lot last week, as I was going through my very first ever juice cleanse.
You see, as my biz is growing I'm finding myself with some really awesome opportunities. A recent one is with my client-friend Claire from Vidya Cleanse, who has hired me to help turn her guided juice cleanse offering into an online experience. We'll call it an eCourse, for lack of a better term, for the moment.
As I've worked a lot lately with these online experiences (as developer and eSales manager for Braid Creative, designer and developer for Mama Hussy, and working on a current project for Connecting the Gaps – which launches tomorrow, and soon to begin work on a local project involving video) I'm finding that developing these experiences works a lot better if I can go through the process myself. It's easier to develop and plan as an insider than it is to do it from the outside.
So, when Claire contacted me to help her turn her guided cleanses into an online experience, I knew I had to go through the process myself. I needed to have the consultations, deal with the shopping list, make the juices, and experience the support for myself. So, I hired Claire to guide me through my first cleanse.
Holy sh*t, guys. It was the hardest thing I've ever done.
Since recently coming off Whole30, I do believe that that experience lend itself largely to my cleanse, but it was still super hard. And, I'll tell you, I never could have done it without Claire there with me.
I'll be totally honest and admit that I had dinner on day 2, and a little cup of veggie soup for lunch on day 4. But, for the other days, I rocked it like a super star. And by super star I mean that I went to work every day with a little The Very Hungry Caterpillar lunchbox filled with an ice pack and three juices.
And all the while I kept thinking how I may be a bit crazy: going days without food (I cheated, so even that's not true) for a client project.
Regardless, I'm ready to rock the planning of the Vidya Cleanse online guided cleanse. Our goal is to have the first session in January, so get to planning. Or, if you want to do a guided cleanse now, get in touch with her. If you've ever wanted to do a cleanse, you have to do it with Claire. She's magical.
We're on the home stretch! After today we're looking at one week and one day left in our first Whole30.
And I say "first" because this won't be our last.
We're definitely in the phase of feeling awesome where we don't ever want to not feel this awesome. I'm getting more efficient with prepping and cooking so that I'm not in the kitching 24/7 (and David's not cleaning dishes 24/7), my headaches are gone, and we're sleeping like rocks. Big, unmoving rocks.
Here Are Some Fab Things We're Eating
- Shrimp skewers cooked with paprika and cumin, on top of a bowl of homemade guacamole
- Morrocan meatballs from Well Fed
- Lots of eggs, homemade pork sausage (pork from Bowers Farm) (pork sautéed with salt, pepper, lots of fresh sage, and a bit of fresh rosemary and thyme; best sausage ever), and sweet potato hashbrowns
- Curried chicken salad in lettuce leaves; hold the chutney, at least until Whole30 is over
- Ahi tuna salads from City Hardware (restaurant across the street from the studio), hold the cheese and dressing, oil and vinegar on the side
- Pork loin covered in garam masala, wrapped in bacon (found at Fresh Market in Huntsville), and baked, aside carrots and mashed cauliflower
- lots of avocados, berries, coconut milk, butternut squash, and smoked salmon. And paprika on everything.
As we're coming to an end, David and I have been talking a lot about what we'll do once these 30 days are done. The consensus is that we'll continue to eat this way, but a little less strictly. David almost had a freak-out recently when he ordered a steak and it came out with non-clarified butter on it; not a reasonable reaction for an adult.
The only thing we're on par with adding back in is alcohol, which is ridiculous – I know – but I'm over it. I want a cocktail.
But as far as bread, rice, and even cheese, we're pretty done. Over it.
Even after an insane week, I still managed to get in the kitchen everyday to make us good meals for every meal. It's definitely just becoming part of life now, like brushing your teeth, or going to the potty. You just make time for it because it's necessary.
However, we do still have a whole week to go. We may be ready to knock over a McyDs in 8 days, but I'm not betting on it.
Today marks the half-way point to our Whole30. Yesterday was the end of 2 weeks.
The past two weeks have been a mix between tough and super easy. On the one hand we're loving how we feel (for the most part), loving the food we're eating, and loving accomplishing something. On the other hand we're ready for a little convenience, I still feel like utter shit occasionally, and we miss our friends.
You'll have to excuse me a little today, as I'm suffering from another one of these Whole30 headaches this morning, and I'm not feeling very friendly towards this whole experience.
What We Enjoyed About This Week
Unlike the first week, we're definitely getting into the flow. Meals are coming together easier, and therefore the rest of our day is too.
We're both seeing huge changes in our bodies, too. David's abs are getting crazy defined, and he swears his arms are visibly growing with every workout. He's always had such a big imagination.
My shorts are way loose, my bras are more comfy, and I went for my first jogs since starting Whole30 this week. For the first time in years I didn't have to ice my knee afterwards. Effin' magic.
Both of our faces are getting super clear and smooth. We're pretty.
David's sleeping like a baby. I'm not because his sleeping-so-good snoring is keeping me awake. I can only imagine how nice it would be, though!
What We Didn't Love About This Week
I'm still getting killer headaches, and David is always hungry. I honestly just can't cook enough for him, and I'm not about to go home mid-workday to cook him a fourth meal. So, during regular meals I'm cooking up more veggies and protein than I feel any three people should eat in a sitting to satisfy his hunger. My god, I just wish I could fill him with some rice.
My headaches aren't a daily occurrence now, but are still around occasionally. I think I may not be eating enough too, but I honestly can't put more food in my mouth. And I'm about to turn orange from all the sweet potatoes and butternut squashes we've been eating. And the eggs!! I'm sick of eggs. We're going through about a carton a day.
(OMG, talk about some disgusting first world problems. I hate this post.)
(Told you, I'm feeling foul.)
The Next Two Weeks
We're both over the honeymoon phase and just ready for this doggone thing to be over. Though we both agree that we'll probably both adopt a largely paleo diet after this Whole30 is done, because we really do feel great (besides my headaches), we're both ready to have options again.
We're excited to get back to having a glass of wine with our friends, or finishing chewing food that we realize last-minute isn't Whole30-compliant (like we did earlier this week when we realized the rice paper wrapping our summer rolls was a no-no, mid-chew), or when planning a night out doesn't involve picking out all the places we can't go because we don't want to be oddballs (wine tasting, movie theater [I don't think I can hack the smell of popcorn right now], or snack-filled game night).
Only two more weeks of hibernation and we'll be done. We're ready.
We've officially been Whole30-ing for an entire week now. One week down.
To begin, since I posted about our decision to do This Thing a week and a half ago, some things happened. Really, just one thing: we cheated.
In the last post I said how we would be spending the remainder of the month of August on our regular diet and start Whole30 on September first. Well, while downing our cheese stores, having our "last meals," and logging our food and feelings, we decided we were effing crazy to keep doing that to ourselves and just started. We started 2 days early.
And so, here we are a week in, and going strong.
The Hardest Parts
The [Perceived] Convenience
I have found myself, multiple times, wanting a bowl of Cheerios. Now, I should make it clear, I don't want the bowl of Cheerios, I just want the convenience that comes with your entire breakfast being three easy steps of pour, pour, crunch.
Now, it's also "perceived" convenience because it really doesn't take much longer to crack open an egg, open up an avocado, and pull out a bunch of grapes. This is totally just the American in me wanting my food now. I'm getting over it.
Not Thinking About Food
I am sick and tired of thinking about food. Because this plan is so strict, I'm constantly in food-planning mode. Do we have all the ingredients for the next meal? What about tomorrow? What about this or that? Since I can't "make do" with missing ingredients by boiling up a bit of that big bag of rice that I keep in the pantry, I'm constantly living with food on my mind.
I don't have headaches. I haven't in years. But I'm having them daily. It all started on the evening of Day 1 with a splitting everyone-shut-the-eff-up-and-leave-me-alone-I-wanna-die headache into a mild throb just above my eyeballs. I'm usually fine until late afternoon, then BAM, I can't stand lightbulbs.
The Sleep, Or Lack Thereof
For the first 5 nights David and I tossed and turned like it's nobody's business. It was zero fun, but have started sleeping like babies, so it's totally made up for.
The Parts That Have Surprised Us
How Much Food We're Eating
OMG, we're eating a ton. I used to survive on a fried egg and grapes for breakfast, a couple of PB crackers for lunch, and a mostly healthy dinner. Now I'm eating what I used to eat for dinner three times a day. It's so much food!
How Freakin' Yummy Our Food Is
And it's really good food. I've ate some of the yummiest things of my life recently. Like a watermelon and jicama salad with seared tuna, and a squash and homemade sausage quiche that we all devoured maybe a bit too quickly. We're eating really well.
I Haven't Had Any Cravings
Beyond the craving of convenience, I have yet to have a single craving. David keeps talking about pizza and bacon, but I couldn't honestly care less. Not a single craving.
I really have been enjoying the hell out of the food. We're eating so much fresh food that sometimes I kinda get excited about the next meal, while I'm still on the one I'm on. And apart from being tired of being in the kitchen, I'm loving being in the kitchen. I've been making up some fab meals, like the Mexi Tilapia Salad below. Yum.
Mexi Tilapia Salad
Season tilapia filets with cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper and broil for 5-10 minutes, or until done.
While the tilapia is cooking, top salad greens with chopped avocado and sunflower seeds.
Mix cilantro vinaigrette and salsa to a consistency and flavor you like.
Top salad with tilapia filet and smother in dressing. Enjoy!
David and I will be doing Whole30 in September.
We're approaching This Thing like a big old experiment. We've talked about doing it for weeks, and when I brought it up again a few nights ago, David went from "meh-meh-meh" to "alright, I'm in."
We talked about when (start now, or plan ahead), and why, and how. We decided to hold off until September so that we have the structure of the month to help guide us through, but also to make monitoring other parts of this experiment a little better.
This eating-whole-for-30-days experiment has two main parts:
- Seeing how we feel
- Seeing if it's really more expensive [for us]
Whole30 Experiment Part 1: Seeing How We Feel
It's no surprise that we're doing this to be healthier and happier. But, we need to make real, measurable goals, like weight, diminished pain, and boosted energy. We have to see how we feel.
Here's Why We're Doing It
Here's why I'm doing it:
- Lose weight: I've been stuck on the scale for months. Like 18 of them. I gained a good bit of weight the Spring before last due to a huge issue with my IUD. Once we got it sorted out, I have been completely unable to shake the weight.
- Manage cholesterol: Partially genetically, I've had high cholesterol since I was a teenager. I'm usually able to keep it down on my own, but haven't been able to so much lately. A recent blood test for getting life insurance brought it to my attention that I've been failing.
- Get rid of inflammation: I have a very bad knee, having had two surgeries in the past 9 years leaving me with little cartilage left in my right knee. Sometimes it just gets aggravated and swells up, leaving me limping around for days. I'd like it to go away forever, along with my occasional desk-job induced carpel tunnel.
- Get rid of bloating: No explanation needed, I'll assume. Adios, bloating.
- Moodswings: I'm a moody SOB. If I don't eat lunch by 1 everyday, run. Just run.
Here's why David's doing it:
- Level out energy: Poor David crashes everyday around 3pm and just passes out. Like a small child (and usually with Cute Kid; their naps coincide).
- Get rid of dry skin and redness: Since we had Cute Kid David has had issues with his cheeks occasionally swelling up, turning crazy red, and becoming very dry. The first time it actually happened was when Cute Kid was a week old, and happens periodically since. We can't figure out what causes it, but have learned to manage it with aloe and coconut oil. But, we'd like it to go away for good.
- Get rid of shoulder pain: David occasionally experiences an unexplained pain in his shoulder. Again, no idea what causes it.
- Manage anxiety: David experiences mild (and often uncalled for) anxiety.
- Sleep better: Unlike me, who can meditate myself to sleep in seconds, David usually has serious trouble falling asleep at night, or waking up in the middle of the night again unable to fall asleep. No good.
Now, I definitely feel all kinds of crazy expecting that 30 days of whole eating will cure all our ailments, but I feel it is important to set some goals, and measure any changes: good or bad.
Here Are Some Things We Expect to Find Challenging
- Not drinking: We don't drink a lot, but we do drink kind of often. More importantly, we don't like being told not to drink. The not drinking part was why David refused to do this with me for so long. I think we both might find this to be the hardest part.
- Not snacking: You know, like really snacking. I like chips and David lives for ice cream. Actually, cutting my usual salty snacks out will probably be harder for me than ditching alcohol.
- Socializing: We always socialize with a chip in our mouth or a drink in our hand. Though, this is something that David and I have discussed changing before (we know it's important that Cute Kid see us socializing in ways that don't involve food and drink) it will still be a huge challenge to find other ways to spend time with our friends and family.
- Dumping our bad food habits: When I'm famished I have a bad habit of going into the kitchen and just popping some crackers in my mouth while I begin prepping dinner. You know, to hold me over. And we also have a bad habit of choosing bad foods without thinking. Like the other morning I made a conscious decision to go the day gluten-free, and then after dropping Cute Kid off for school David suggested we stop by for a chicken biscuit, and I was half-way through before I realized what I was doing. Pathetic.
- No cheese: Yea, just cheese.
- Eating meat: Though we're not – by any means – vegetarians, I rarely cook meat. All our meat consumption comes from not-my-kitchen. I don't mind eating it, but it freaks me out to touch raw meat, and the fact that I'll need to prep and cook it almost every day for a month wigs me the eff out.
- Our new busy schedule: Now that Cute Kid is in school and David has his instructor gig at the university, our previously leisurely schedule is definitely now a busy one. It's going to be challenging for us to ditch a quick trip to a downtown restaurant for the "hassle" of a home cooked meal.
But Here Are Some Things That We Have Going For Us
- We already don't eat a lot of traditional bread: We don't do dinner rolls, or take sandwiches to work/school. I never buy loaves of bread. But we make up for it in couscous, rice, and tortillas.
- No travel planned: We have no travel planned for the month of September, which is good considering how much we eat when we travel. We experience places through food, and not whole food. Sauce-y food.
- We already have a big food budget: We spend a large part of our expendable income on food. Like, a really large part.
- We're already accustomed to eating a lot of veggies, and are food snobs: As the big food budget may indicate, we already buy mostly fresh produce, mostly organic, and most local. And we are complete snobs when it comes to everything else.
- I don't drink coffee, and David does only occasionally: Even though coffee is allowed on Whole30, it seems that taking it black (or with only coconut milk) tends to be the hardest thing for most people going through the program. Luckily I have no caffeine addition to cater to, and David's is practically non-existent. I do drink green and mint teas kind of regularly though, but always drink them neat.
- We're doing it together: I can't imaging going at this alone, and am so excited that David is doing it with me. We'll hold each other accountable the entire time. (But I also know he'll make a great cheating buddy, but we'll try not to go there.)
How We'll Be Tracking How We Feel
We'll be keeping a daily food/feeling journal. We actually started yesterday with tracking the week before we start, and then we'll track the 30 days. I plan to post our meal plans and general field notes here every week.
Whole30 Experiment Part 2: Seeing If It's Really More Expensive
One of the common "issues" with Whole30 is that it's so expensive. Since we're cutting out our three biggest food expenses – booze, restaurants, and cheese (not kidding, we eat a lot of good, snobby cheese) – I wouldn't be surprised if our food expenses came out to be about even with, if not a little less than, our usual spending.
Though, I'm completely aware that we're not the usual Whole30 doers. We already minimize our processed food significantly more than the average American family (and probably most "above average" ones too). No easy boxes of hamburger helper or prepackaged sauces will ever come through my door. I'm not kidding. We're total snobs.
At the end of our Whole30 we'll share a recap of our August (regular eating) vs our September (Whole30 eating) expenses, and see when it is that we actually spend more.
What Happens Now
David and I will be taking the next 5 days to finish out August and our regular eating. We're tracking our food and feelings in our little Moleskines, reading up on all of this (our current arsenal: Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan, It Starts with Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig and Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo), and cleaning our our fridge. I have a good ol' wedge of brie that needs to be eaten. We're also having a few "last meals," like ordering in pizza and a trip or two to eat some Mexican food.
I'll be back next week to fill you in on what a regular week for us looks like, then we'll begin this thing. I'm actually really excited.
(Above book links are Amazon affiliate links, so if you buy I'll get a kickback. This doesn't effect how awesome I think they are. Because I really do think they're awesome. Just so ya know.)