My Whole30 Experience

As I have said in my previous posts, I was not a fan of Whole30 because I hated the sugar withdrawals and I really don’t like being told “I can’t”.

I can’t:

  • have any sugar unless it is in a fruit or veggie
  • have any grains
  • have any alcohol (not that I drink–I’m 16!)
  • have honey (part of the sugar thing)
  • anything processed
  • have any dairy
  • have certain oils
  • and so forth….

The restrictions on Whole30 are hard because I accepted a challenge and yet I felt like I was put in a cage. Just the idea of “I can’t” almost becomes claustrophobic, wanting everything listed on the “I can’t”.

The funny part is, I like almost everything we ate over the 30 days. Actually, I liked everything, but some things not as much. For instance, curry I like the day it is made, but not left overs, while my mom really loves curry. Tuna steaks, I like but I don’t love. I will eat them, but probably wouldn’t crave them.

Now I am 4 days past the 30 and I am still doing it. I will actually continue on through to the 22nd for sure (I might cheat for prom) but I lost 17 pounds and I got into a pair of jeans I haven’t fit in since the 6th grade (not sure why I even still had them, but found them when cleaning my closet). For the first time in a long time I am under 200 pounds (190 on day 30) and it isn’t hard any more.

What sucks, is that I have to check everything. Food manufacturers sneak sugar in everywhere and choices I thought were healthy are packed with sugar.

Oh, I did try a sip of a Monster on Thursday, an energy drink I used to love and I had to spit it out. My taste buds can’t take the sugar anymore. I don’t know if I am happy about that or not.

Anyway, here is a bit of a summary:

First two weeks, I felt like crap. I hurt everywhere and had no energy. Headaches and mood swings all the time. Drank a lot of water to combat some of withdrawals. I don’t know if it helped, but it made me feel like I was doing something.

Week 3 was better. I still didn’t have the energy I saw my mom getting but I don’t think my energy levels were that bad to start so a boost in energy would not be as easy to see. Cravings were gone by this point and I started making meals myself and learning more on how to cook from scratch myself.

Week 4 I was pretty much the same as week 3 other than it felt like the longest week. That final countdown the last 7-10 days and I just wanted to no longer be in this “I can’t” challenge.

Even though I decided to continue the lifestyle longer, it no longer under the “challenge” and I won’t feel like I failed at all if I decide to have a cheat day. After I do have a cheat, I will go back to a paleo/keto type lifestyle because it works for me, and I NEVER want to have to go through sugar withdrawals again.

Would I do the Whole30 again? I don’t know. I hated everyday of feeling like I couldn’t even though it was still my choice. I didn’t feel like I had a choice because I made a commitment and I was going to stick it out no matter what. At this point, I want to tell Whole30 to shove it, but I like the results so I can’t.

Would I recommend it to someone else? Yes. I would tell them to understand everything about the challenge before they start though.

I guess that is all I have to say right now. 🙂

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Whole30 Results

We made it. Wednesday was day 30 and three days later, we are more or less continuing the same eating style (I did have sushi Thursday night).

By the halfway point, the side effects of sugar withdrawals were gone and I started feeling better, and I have been able to become MUCH more active as a result of doing The Whole30.

If you recall, I did not do Whole30 for purposes of weight loss, but to feel better and battle autoimmune issues. I do however, want to share with you the side effect of weight-loss I experienced with Whole30. I did not do body measurements because I couldn’t find a tape.

Day One–Sharlene: 256 pounds
Day Thirty–Sharlene: 231 pounds
Total weight loss over 30 days for Sharlene was 25 pounds.

Day One–Alee: 207 pounds
Day Thirty Alee: 190 pounds
Total weight loss over 30 days for Alee was 17 pounds.

Not great pictures, but–as you can see, I’m still fat and I don’t care. I feel better and I can not emphasis enough that weight loss is not my goal here, but it is a happy side effect.

And Aleesha’s before and after. The day we took the before it was really stormy and the lights were out so the lighting was terrible, but you still get the picture.

As I was say, I feel really good! A month ago, it was a struggle to climb the basement stairs with laundry, and now I am doing 2+ mile hikes on uneven terrain daily, with a goal of making it to 4 miles by the end of the month. I am doing core workouts and strength training daily as well.

I sleep better, my concentration is so much better, I haven’t had a fibromyalgia flare since week one, fewer headaches/migraines, I notice my skin is less dry, and my gut does not hurt.

Would I do Whole30 again? Absolutely! Would I recommend it to others? Most definitely. What will I do now? Continue with pretty much the same lifestyle, only adding honey occasionally (I like honey mustard from time to time, and I like some honey in Zen iced tea) and allowing for the occasional cheat (I might have a glass of wine for my birthday, etc…) but limit them so I don’t get complacent. Alee plans to continue until the end of May with no changes at all.

To be honest, I like healthy food. I don’t feel cheated and when I am faced with “what do I want?” I will pick healthy food over junk. I never want to sugar detox again, but I do think doing the Whole30 from time to time with the stricter limits of zero cheats and zero added sweeteners help keep me in check.

Well, I’m off to hike! Have a great weekend!

Whole30 Day 28

As day 28 gets closer to an end, I have compliant chili simmering on the stove and know there are only 2 days left of this challenge where I “have” to be compliant.

I am actually going to continue on with Whole30 probably through the 29th of May (It’s my birthday and I well, who knows, I might want wine).

I feel great other than my allergies which have kept me from posting. I live in a very small town stuck right in the middle of corn country and with farmers in the fields and what they spray on the fields, spring is has my eyes swollen, nose runny and lungs wheezy and looking at a computer screen outside of what I have to for work has been impossible.

So far the journey has done what I wanted, and I it is my goal to have a lifetime of healthy eating.

We have set a new goal, and I will post about that separately, but it is huge, exciting, and scary! I can’t wait!

I will post on Wednesday night with a more in depth over view of the last 30 days, what worked, what didn’t and Alee will have a post up by the end of the week. We will also have a reveal with out pictures!

 

Whole30 Day 16

It is hard to believe it is already day 16! WOW! It doesn’t seem like that long since I was getting my meal plan ready.

One of the rules of Whole30 is not step on a scale for 30 days, but I broke that for blogging purposes. At the beginning, I was 256 lbs, and this morning I am 242 lbs. Alee started at 207 lbs and this morning she was 199 lbs.

To be honest, I don’t feel like I have lost 14 pounds, though my clothes have gotten much looser. I just don’t feel like I look any different. I think since I am so heavy, it will take a lot more before I can personally see anything.

Again–the purpose behind doing the Whole30 is not for us to loose weight but to get healthy. Sure, a side effect of getting healthy is weight loss, but we have no goal or expectations other than a healthy lifestyle. The real benefits we are seeing is more energy, healthier skin, better sleep, and less autoimmune responses.

I will post pictures of us tomorrow. My internet is being difficult and a technician is supposed to be out tomorrow to try and fix it, but uploading a photo is just not going to happen tonight.

 

Whole30 Better than sweet fire chicken stir fry

Better Than Sweet-Fire Chicken (Whole30 Compliant)

This recipe is really good, and Alee and I both love it. It is now one of our go to meals. Like most things I make, this is flexible, so make it your own! I also included a .doxc file if want to print it, Better than Sweet (Should you need and .rtf or a .pdf. let me know).

Better than Sweet-Fire Chicken

  • 1 pound chicken breast
  • 2 TBS Tapioca Flower
  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion (chopped)
  • 3 Cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 4 Stalks Celery
  • 1 Yellow Pepper
  • ½ Cup Diced Fresh Pinapple
  • Splash of Chicken Bone Broth
  • 2 TBS Coconut Aminos
  • Salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Hot peppers of your choice (and add according to your taste—I like spicy so 2-3 chopped jalapenos is good for me, but if we have company I tone it down).
  • Snow Peas (I did not measure them, I just tossed in a package I got from Aldi).

*This recipe cooks really fast so have all your veggies cut up and ready to go or you will end up with some things over-cooked and some under-cooked!

Brown chicken in olive oil with onion, garlic, season with salt pepper and red pepper flakes (I won’t put a measurement for the seasoning, you know what you like—remember your red pepper flakes are spicy and you also are adding other hot peppers so take that into account when seasoning. Also, they tend to get spicier as they cook).

Once onion starts to look transparent, add peppers, pineapple, and celery and a splash of Bone Broth (if you don’t have bone broth an clean regular broth will do—this will give you a bit of a sauce when you are done).

(If you want to add broccoli or cauliflower, add them before the celery, peppers and pineapple because they take longer to cook).

Add in your coconut aminos. I would not recommend skipping the coconut aminos because they really add the flavor needed in my opinion.

Add in tapioca flour (arrowroot starch would probably work too). This is optional, but it will thicken the juices to leave a nice sauce coating.

You can adjust seasoning if needed, or if you want it sweeter, add some more pineapple.

Add the snow peas last! They cook really fast, and I know I like them to still be a little crisp. I stir them in then turn off the heat and cover for about 2-3 minutes. Cook longer if you like them softer.

Whole30 Healthy Eating Feeling Great

Healthy Shopping on a Budget (Whole30, Paleo, Raw)

One of the hardest parts of eating healthy for me and my family is budget. Some people don’t really know what is like to be low income, but my family does. We spent the last 6 months living on a take home pay of under $1000 a month. I don’t say this for any other reason than to say–I understand how hard eating healthy can be when you are poor.

I am happy to say that other streams of income are coming in the last couple of months, and I pray that continues, but health issues, job losses, etc… can really make a grocery budget non-existent.

I do want to point out that we are more blessed than some, as we have very little debt, including a house that is paid for, so I know there are many out there who have it much harder.

When I know I need to eat healthy in order to control my autoimmune responses, but I have a hard time affording the food I need. If I eat food that is bad for me, my autoimmune response will keep me from being able to work and increase our families income–well you get the point. It is a vicious cycle that I believe many deal with everyday. I’ve had those weeks where I barely had enough to buy ramen noodles, let alone something healthy.

For me, the answer to healthy eating is more of a formula.

  1. Planning
  2. Preparation
  3. Where to shop
  4. Accepting that I won’t always get what I want

I started bullet journaling for my shopping lists and menus. I plan out meals for 30 days–3 meals a day. This includes planning for left-overs. It is so nice to have something ready to reheat for breakfast or lunch anyway, so DO plan to make an extra serving or two for left overs, and when you shop STICK TO THE LIST!

When I plan, I start by thinking if there is something new I want to try or something I don’t have all that often and add those in first. Then I figure how many other meals I need to make and fill that in with my “go-to” meals. For us, we will always eat: tacos on lettuce wraps or on salad with homemade taco seasoning; a variety of chicken stir fry; curry; pepper steak; Spanish style cauliflower rice; clean bacon (Alee likes it for breakfast–not so much my thing); homemade tomato soup; salmon or tuna; and whatever hot-dish (whatever veggies or meat on hand tossed together).

Plan around what is on sale and if that means you need to plan bi-weekly rather than monthly, do that. For instance, if chicken is really cheap, I will make more stir-fry. Tuna Steaks (frozen wild caught) were cheap this month so I got a couple packages–I would pass if it was not on sale.

YOU MUST PREP! Preparation helps to ensure you don’t waste food (and you aren’t stuck with nothing to eat when you are really hungry). When you are on a super tight budget, food waste simply is not an option. One example is that if I have roasted chicken one night, I will be making a chicken and veggie soup with the left over chicken in the next day or two (you can make your own bone broth too! YUM). Veggie cuttings work great to flavor broths–or if you garden you can compost any cuttings to help your crop! One big prep I do is cook up 5 or 6 pounds of hamburger at a time, make taco meat and freeze it in small batches. This makes for a quick meal on days we are in a hurry. Heat it up and toss in on some salad, or other veggies. It also means that I don’t waste any leftover meat because it is frozen in small, easy to manage batches. No matter what works for you, just be sure to prep so you don’t waste time or groceries!

Where to shop–this is big for me. Locally, groceries are so expensive! I actually travel over an hour to Aldi to get affordable groceries each month. If you have a discount food store that carries quality groceries, GO THERE! Even having to travel once a month, the money I save there is massive. For things that are hard to find, I shop at Thrive Market online (this is a referral link*, whether you use it or not, I would recommend that you check them out). Thrive Market has a lot of things I use to cook healthily at a much lower cost than I can get them anywhere else. For instance, I use a LOT of coconut aminos since we do a lot of stir fry. I save about $3.00 a bottle from Thrive over anywhere else, plus they offer percent off discounts pretty regularly.

There is a membership required with Thrive, but if you shop there regularly, you will save more than that rather quickly. Your membership with Thrive Market will also pay for a free membership for a low income family to help them save money on healthy items. (If you need a free membership–google Thrive Gives and fill out an application). I am currently reaping the benefits of a free membership, but I will gladly become a paying member as our situation improves.

Lastly, accept that your healthy eating may not always mean you get to eat what you want. You might have to eat a lot of eggs, hamburger, and turkey burger if you are not vegan (and I honestly am not familiar enough with vegan diets to say give an example here)–but you can get creative (also, if you watch–grocery stores often mark roasts and steaks down for quick sale at cheaper prices than hamburger). You won’t starve, and after those pesky cravings are gone, you will find that simple tastes better and you eat more for sustenance than for “what sounds good”. Also, you won’t be able to eat all organic, grass-fed, cage-free everything. Simply make an effort to eat as healthy as you can within your budget.

I wish you luck in your quest to eat healthy. I hope that it does for you what it is doing for me. I feel better, have more energy and my autoimmune responses that have kept me unable to function several days a month are fewer and fewer. I am able to get back to living, and it feels so good.

*This post contains a referral link to Thrive Market. I would not recommend them if I did not love them. If you chose to become a Thrive Market member and use my link, I get a store credit and you get a coupon for a percentage off. If you want to check the out and don’t feel comfortable using a referral, I understand. Simply Google Thrive Market. They offer a 30 day free trial so you can see if you can save money on some healthy staple options. Affiliate links on this site go to Alee’s college fund, but referrals like this one will simply be applied to our families grocery shopping budget.

Whole30 Better than sweet fire chicken stir fry

Whole30 Day 14

Alee and Me has made it through day 14! The tiredness is gone and so are the cravings. We both have more energy and our sleep patterns seem to be improving some.

Alee says she is not sure she has noticed enough of a change to make it worth it. I have noticed less pain, better skin, weight loss (I think), more energy and generally just feeling better.

A have several friends who are starting Whole30 on May 1st and we are starting a Facebook support group. while I will be on day 21 then, I am hopeful I can be of help to them. I would suggest a support group if you want to try this.

Tonight we had a chicken stir fry I called “Better Than Sweet Fire Chicken” (because that is our favorite entree and Panda Express). Watch for the recipe, I will post it soon!

I will write a post about physical activity this week, and I will post some midway pictures.

Sorry for the sort update, I will try to do better!

Whole30 Compliant Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup (Whole30 compliant)

We are not big fans of raw tomatoes but we like tomatoes in things. A few years ago, we had an abundance of them in our garden. Alee wanted grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup (she never ate the soup but like to dunk her sandwiches) so I threw some stuff together and attempted to make my own.

NOTE: I will add photo’s later–I have to make a new batch and take some! I wanted to get the recipe up in case anyone wants to try it.

What we ended up with was a tomato soup that she loved and I also enjoyed. We’ve made it multiple times since. The only tweak I made in making this Whole30 compliant was leaving honey that I had used in the original recipe. Honestly, unless you like a sweet soup, honey or even the date are not needed. (If you do add the date then cook it down, it does make a decent sauce to replace ketchup though.)

  • 2 Pounds Roma Tomatoes (you could use any kind, but I tend to always get these)
  • 2 Nectarines
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Fat (Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Tallow–any healthy fat)
  • 1 Chili Pepper
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper
  • 1/2 Pitted Medjool Date (optional)
  • 2 tsp Vinegar
  • salt, pepper, garlic, minced onion, chili powder, cayenne pepper

Prepare tomatoes by either blanching or roasting, then remove peel and core.

In a large pot, put prepared tomatoes, nectarines (pitted but doesn’t have to be peeled), Onion (cut in quarters), peppers (if you don’t like spice, you can use less or no peppers) and date if you like a slightly sweeter soup.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes.

Transfer to blender and puree mixture (it doesn’t work out as well if you puree it before cooking). Put puree back into the pot and return to stove.

Add your spices to taste.

Add vinegar last, and add it in parts. Sometimes you will want a little more or a little less depending on the natural flavors of the fresh ingredients. Alternatively, you can add lime juice instead for a different twist.

Simmer until it cooks down to desired thickness.

Play around with it and let us know what you think.

Whole30 Days One and Two; Meals

Day One Breakfast:

I am not a big breakfast eater, but I need to try and become one. I know that some protein in the morning will help me manage cravings throughout out the day. For day one, I chopped a mix of raw nuts, threw in some organic strawberries and blueberries (Remember the dirty dozen) and topped with a little full fat coconut milk.

Nuts are not the best daily alternative because their fat is usually higher in Omega 6 than Omega 3. However, a small amount adds a protein and fat boost, because the last think I want first thing in the morning is a sugar rush!

As you can see, the bowl I used is very small, so it was not a big portion at all, but it gave me some early fuel, and it tastes pretty darn good too.

Whole30 Breakfast
Chopped nuts, Strawberries, blueberries and coconut milk

Aleesha had a smashed up frozen banana (she did not like my nut and fruit bowl). One of the Whole 30 rules is to not recreate junk food, and what she had was sort of like ice cream, but another rule is to make it your own, and she isn’t an ice cream eater in general and likes frozen bananas. She added some blueberries and some chopped nuts.

Day One Lunch:

We didn’t take a photo of our lunch. We had some raw veggies and fruit, along with a pork chop (something hubby would eat) while we were doing our prep.

Day One Super:

I had a couple of soup bones out, so I made a basil veggie and beef soup. (I will post recipe separately.)

Whole30 Veggie beef basil soup
Roasted beef and veggie soup

Day Two Breakfast: 

I didn’t get a photo, but we had an egg scrambled with pico de gallo and a couple pieces of bacon. (Aleesha can eat duck eggs without it upsetting her stomach.)

Day Two Lunch:

We premade a bunch of taco meat using homemade seasoning. I had mine on chopped lettuce, Aleesha made lettuce wraps. We both topped it off with homemade Pico de Gallo.

Whole30 Taco lunch
Our go to! Tacos never disappoint!

Day Two Supper:

Fajitas!! (Haven’t made it yet, but this is what we have prepped).

Here are some before pictures for you all to see (horrible and all). I am not sure if there will be a noticeable physical change in 30 days, but I know we will feel great!

whole30 meal prep celery ready to go

Preparation Whole30 Day-1

Nothing is worse when embracing Whole30 (or any elimination diet) than opening a fully stocked refrigerator and there being nothing to eat! It is during these moments–when you’re hungry and time is limited–that you never want to be stuck having to cook a meal.

So, we prep. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a pro-meal-prepper! We are learning together here! This is one of the life changing this that can come out of the Whole30. Honestly, no matter how hard I try to eat healthily, there are times that just grabbing a PB&J is so convenient that I can’t pass it up.

Those days end now. We will always have something good and easy on hand for breakfasts and lunches (Supper, I plan to cook and prepare). Anyway, we did some prep in our free time today, and I wanted to share some it with you. We still have a lot more to do over the next few days as we get in a habit.

Whole30 Meal Prep onions using chopper
We use a chopper for onions when we want to do a lot of them. (( used to use my food processor, but it broke, so it is this until I get a new one)

We cleaned all the fruits and veggies in a vinegar-water solution (well–not the onion) before storing them.

If you recall from my post “Here We Go! #Whole30“, I try to follow the dirty dozen, clean fifteen guidelines when deciding what to purchase organic.

Whether organic or not, I always wash with vinegar-water and then rinse and dry before storing it. This way, if I am in the mood for a blueberry or a piece of celery, I only need to grab and go.

Whole30 Meal Prep chopped onion in a jar
A jar full of onions! We reused a large salsa jar.
Whole30 Prep
We love peppers, and jalapeno peppers can be a challenge to cut last minute because I forget to use gloves! Doing them once a week during prep time using gloves makes it so easy when we want to make Pico de Gallo or salsa, or just to spice up a dish!

One thing I would highly recommend for anyone who wants to make meal prep easier–whether Whole30 or not–is at least one good knife. In my experience, a knife is not where you should cut costs. Get the best one you can afford. You will also want to make sure it is a straight edged knife so you can sharpen it.

I don’t have a collection of fancy knives, just three good ones that cost between $20 and $50 each. I know there are ones that are more expensive, and I dream of them! Forget that Louis Vuitton, I want fabulous knives! The ones I have though, are good, they keep an edge and are easily sharpened when needed. Because my budget is tighter than my jeans, I had to save for what I have, but I think they are money well spent!

When you get some good knives, or if you have them–TAKE CARE OF THEM! Clean them and dry them right away. DO NOT let them sit in the sink, or sit dirty. Treat them well, and they will treat you well!

IMG_2679

Okay, so I didn’t mean to go off a knife rant, but really–they make life easier!

Meat preparation is important too, but I did not get much of that done today. What I did do was cook up some bacon to be made in the microwave as needed. If you live in the US, you’ve probably seen the pre-cooked bacon packages, and you can make your own and use bacon that is minimally processed.

I am not a big fan of bacon, and neither is Alee, so we don’t risk eating a whole package at once, but for a quick protein source, a couple pieces from time to time are nice. What I do is cut the pieces in half (because I prefer smaller pieces) and put them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. I bake them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until they aren’t quite done.

 

Whole30 meal prep bacon
Uncured bacon can be part of your prep too.
Whole30 Meal Prep Bacon Cooked
Cook bacon a little less than how you like it, so when you heat it up in the microwave it doesn’t get overdone.

Remove the bacon from the cookie sheet and blot excess fat (unless you really like the grease, then you can leave it) and store in a baggie or container. You can even use waxed paper or parchment and separate the pieces like they do in the packages if you want. I just don’t care if they stick together, so I don’t bother.

I save the bacon grease from the pan. Remember, this is a good fat source (still, don’t over do it though) and using a little bacon grease for eggs, asparagus, or whatever you want can add a huge boost of flavor. I keep a container in the fridge, but my grandmother kept a grease can under her kitchen sink. She would drain off fat drippings from everything and slap in the pan when frying. The memory really grosses me out, so I always refrigerate it, but I am not sure if you have to. (I don’t strain the bacon fat either, but when I’ve done my own tallow in the past I did strain that.)

Whole30 Meal Prep Baggies
I need to invest in more containers but for now, I have to use some baggies. I love baggies, but I like to limit my use.
Whole30 Prep use it all up
Be sure to save cuttings for stock or set it aside to compost. Composting indoors is easy if you don’t have space outside.

Well, this post is really getting long! I will post tomorrow some more meat prep, and some make-ahead options. I will also post about our meals today and some “before” pictures.

Thanks for reading, and as always, please comment with ideas or suggestions–or just to say hi!