The Whole 30 effect

So the husband and I have been on the Whole 30. Except our Whole 30 was more like the Whole 5 out of 15…Whole third? Anyways.

For those that don’t know, the Whole 30 is a cleanse diet/lifestyle of sorts that’s all about getting back to the basics of what we put inside our bodies – essentially paleo clean-eating. Friends (both autoimmune and not) have raved about how great it makes them feel; how it purges cravings, heals your gut and generally makes you an all-around better, tap-dancing, dream-achieving person.

She looks like the kind of person who does the Whole 30 successfully, no?   Photo: Pinterest
She looks like the kind of person who does the Whole 30 successfully, no? Photo: Pinterest

While you can’t exactly (definitely) call it a successful go, I did learn a few things. For example, I thought I’d have an easier time of it than the husband, seeing as I’ve already had to cut so many of the offending foods out of my diet. What I hadn’t counted on though was how much I relied on all the replacements for my restricted ones, which were just as hard to go without. The endeavor started so promisingly, but it quickly culminated in a sticky, half dozen donut binge surrounded by a haze of chocolate icing and hangry marital tension.

The whole thing got me to examine my cravings. I’ve often felt like I’m ruled by food, but maybe it’s actually my perspective. Reading about bloggers who “haven’t had a single craving in years!!!” fills me with a hope that I too might one day be freed from food if I just tried, planned, micro-managed harder. One day when I was miserable because all I wanted was the Mediterranean Quinoa at the Whole Foods hot bar and I was hungry damnit, I thought – maybe there’s a better way. Maybe it’s not about fighting every single gram of good-tasting thing because it will make me a healthier and therefore better and therefore happier person, but it’s just not punishing myself with a completely unrealistic standard that works for someone else. And that thought filled me with a new kind of hope. All that said, food nirvana is much easier said than done, though.

Have you tried the Whole 30? I would love to hear what you think!

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Morning start

Morning routines are super important to how you feel for the rest of your day. They say you should eat like a king in the morning a prince at noon and a peasant at dinner. Or, queen and princess in my case ;). What you eat in the morning affects your mood, your energy and what food choices you make throughout the rest of your day. I’m a big fan of morning routines (plus they get me to work on time!).

So part of entering into a super healthier lifestyle, this week I tried substituting morning coffee for warm lemon water. “They” say it offers a ton of benefits when you drink it first thing, before you do absolutely anything else. My favorite ones were that it kicks off your digestive system, cleanses your system / is a diuretic, clears skin, energizes you and enhances your mood. I’m all about the energy, cleansing and clear skin so I was totes down to give this whirl.

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I can’t lie.. it was kinda rough.

Perhaps my biggest mistake was giving up on coffee the same week. I hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep the weekend before and felt like I had never fully made up for it until I was able to sleep in on this lazy Saturday morning. I don’t drink a ton of coffee, usually just one small cup in the morning. I just love it in the mornings, sometimes just the smell is all I need!

Regardless, I was tired all week. In my job, I’m sitting at a computer writing content and researching all day so if I’m tired, my eye lids start getting heavy. Looking at my screen gets harder and before I know it I’m starting to drift asleep.

Plus it turns out that half of a lemon in just a mug of hot water tastes pretty terrible. At first it isn’t so bad. The warm water is soothing and delicious in the AM, but then when it cools down…it’s just a little too much.

Although I did feel kinda tired all week, I did notice feeling more energized after having the warm lemon water. Furthermore, my skin was breaking out over the last few weeks, and I already see improvements.

I’m definitely going to keep up the lemon water in the morning.

The Instagram rabbit hole

The Instagram rabbit hole is a dangerous one. You think you wanted to follow just one instagram account of cute puppies? Yeah right. Because then then there will be that moment when they post a squeeze-worthy golden retriever puppy and say “see more by following..” … and it begins.

For me, it began when I started following some yogi instagrammers. These gals get in some crazy positions and are both yoga and emotionally encouraging. I loved that my feed was filled with headstands on a surfboard, meditation on a beach, and some crazy pretzel like positions in a gorgeous studio. It inspired me to start practicing yoga at home when I’m not in class to improve my practice. What a concept, right? (ha)

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But that was just beginning.

Then I started following one fitness Instagram account that the boyfriend follows. Just something to give me a few recipes every once in a while and some pictures of abs for me to peruse while I eat a chocolate chip cookie freshly dipped in a tall glass of milk. Yum.

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One thing lead to another… and now here we are. My Instagram account is flooded with fitness tips, recipes, abs, butts and healthy living tips that I now enjoy while sipping on some cucumber juice instead. Although my Instagram account is still dappled with fashion, photography and design, it’s quite obvious where the majority of my Instagram feed leans towards. To be honest, I love it.

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Instagram gives me an easy and pretty way to get great healthy tips. I’ve recently started more life changes towards clean living and most of them have derived from an Instagram post. Who woulda thunk? (Okay, I guess marketers, i.e. myself, figured that out a long time ago)

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A clean and healthy living is my mojo lately and something I’m becoming more and more passionate about. Although I’m not coming off any juice cleanse and I still enjoy the occasional frequent pasta bowl, so far it’s an exciting journey. So just start preparing yourself for some posts on the random things I’ve been trying. Tonight for instance…dandelion tea? More on that later.

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Eating healthy, Eating Out, Eating Cheap and why those don’t go together

I am currently under going a strategic effort to eat healthier in my day to day life. Sometimes I am totes down for gorging on some pancakes from Company Cafe because I know I have the calorie space that day, but other times I need to opt for the granola and fresh fruit. This is starting to become fairly easy because I notice such a change in my body and how I feel when I eat better versus when I over eat and fill up on crap. It’s also especially easy because I simply can’t afford to eat out all the time so there’s way less opportunity for temptation. But as I mentioned in my last, this was a busy weekend. I ate out for virtually every meal. EVERY MEAL. And what I realized is how expensive it is to eat healthy. This pisses me off. 

Now I realize I have no right to be angry. I’m aware that everyone knows it can be expensive to eat healthy. You can get a whole meal of grease at McDonalds for like a penny, versus packing your lunch full of pricey veggies, fruits and hard boiled eggs  (plus these take time to prepare – obnoxious) OR paying $15 for a decent salad. 

Since I was very aware I would be eating out so much that weekend, I was armed and ready to fight against tempting fatty foods full of sugar and cellulite. Saturday morning, post the boyfriend’s triathlon, we stopped at a breakfast place and I had to say no to the 900 calorie eggs benedict (sometimes I really hate when restaurants post the calorie counts…) and yes to the oatmeal with fresh fruit. Granted, it was delicious. But I refused to even look at my boyfriend’s hollandaise sauce for fear of drooling all over his heavenly plate. The oatmeal was an $9 event, my boyfreind’s eggs benedict was $8.  Just a few hours later, I was at brunch for my roommate’s birthday at Cedars Social. Yet another place chock full of delicious menu items. The French Toast was begging me to order it. It teased me with its hot maple syrup and fluffiness. I managed to mumble to the waiter that I’d have the fruit plate and two egg whites on the side. A meal that cost me $14 but was significantly smaller and less complicated than all the other menu items. The French Toast was $10, for example. 

I guess what I am getting at is that I HATE that eating healthy is so expensive. To me, the hard part was just making the healthy choice and fighting my eternal sugar cravings. But now, in addition, I have to consider the economic effects of eating healthy when I eat out. Even now when I go to the grocery store and load up on fruits and veggies, my grocery bill comes to an easy $60 without even trying. So I eat healthy, lose weight, but then can’t afford to treat myself to a new dress to celebrate my good eating habits. Where is the justice in that? For now, I’ll settle for a good Vogue or Cosmo to get me through these trying times [ha]. But my credit card is just not as happy with my diet change as my yoga practice (and my yoga pants) is. 

Get some sleep

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This is going to seem like a strange goal for the week. But my goal is literally to get more sleep. Sometimes I’ll get in bed at 1 AM and not even think about the fact that I am getting up in 4.5 hours until the next day around 2 PM when I crash. This has been going on for months now and it’s just getting silly.

As you can imagine, this isn’t the best thing for my work life or career. I find it so difficult to think creatively and focus when I feel my eyes could close at any minute.

So yes. I want to work to get more sleep this week. I think that means timing myself for surfing the web, staying productive and just making myself get in bed around 10:30 or 11 PM to read a little before the lights go off.

I’ve read in the past and recently that people who get 8 hours of sleep a night are more productive, eat healthier, have better more efficient work outs and well they probably look better too. Plus, how can I be living intentionally if I’m too tired to get up and make myself a cup of joe?

With that said… good night.

 

Inspiration: Ahimsa

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I had an amazing week on my mat.

At Gaia Flow they always emphasize focusing on your own practice and not looking at your neighbor and try to do their practice. To not go further than you can. To not strive to go somewhere your body isn’t ready for.

Prior to my Wonderlust 2013, I assumed this didn’t apply to me and I jumped right into their hardest level courses just as fast as I can. It’s not that I’m an overly competitive person, it’s that I saw people doing amazing poses and was just like “Yep, that. I want to do that. Now. Right now.”

But now we’re post euro trip. As I’ve said before, I had to start back in the easier classes. The more I’ve stuck with these so called “easier” classes it the more I realized how I was becoming more flexible and more graceful in moving from pose to pose. It’s been kind of an amazing thing to be a part of. I’ve really changed my outlook on my yoga strategy and am looking forward to mastering those foundational poses and improving my practice. One of the girls whom I I have yogi envy of, stated that she has been practicing for 8 years. I, on the other hand, am going on 8 months. So can I really expect to be at her level? Hell to the absolute no. But the improvements I’ve seen in my practice just make me so excited to continue my yoga journey, one downward facing dog at a time.

The other reason that my yoga week has been so amazing, is that we are working on practicing Ahimsa this week. Ahimsa is practicing nonviolence. Do no harm to yourself or to others. Or as the image above states, peace with yourself, peace with the world. If you have love for yourself, you’ll spread that love into the universe. Every class you go to the instructor may have a different perspective, anecdote or suggestion on how to bring this into your life. I believe that taking my yoga practice a little slower is just one way to practice Ahimsa, but that’s just on my mat. The beauty and the goal of Gaia Flow Yoga is what you bring from your mat to your life. So one of my instructor’s provided us with this little nugget:

If you truly love yourself, you could never hurt another.

– Buddha

I just loved this and really connected with it. Because truly, if you love yourself, you know how important happiness and love truly is. So you would never want to steal that away from someone. Whether it’s a stranger, a close friend or a family member. I think this is just amazing inspiration and a great goal for yogis and non yogis alike. I plan on bringing this into my everyday life. Although I do believe I never purposely cause pain or harm to those close to me, what about those strangers you pass on the street or the barista at your local coffee shop? I wouldn’t say I’m ever openly rude to them, but why not smile, ask how they are, and actually care about their response? In the end, they’ll feel great and you’ll feel great.  (The practice of ahimsa also might explain why yogis are just so happy and nice all the time)

All that to say, my yoga practice and my instructors at Gaia Flow were such an inspiration for me this week. Now excuse me why I go drink a gallon of water to recover from last night’s sweat fest on my mat. TMI?

Found Tiffany’s?

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The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet

– James Oppenhiem

I had a very Finding Tiffany’s moment the other day. My dad emailed me something about an impending family trip we are taking in May and referred to it as happening in “a few weeks.” I scoffed and said to myself “in a few weeks? There’s absolutely no way…”, my parents and their forgetfullness is just totes adorbs. And well, as it turns out May 11th is in fact just a few weeks out and as always, my dad was right.

Why is this moment so great? Maybe it’s all the yoga, new relationships or new work responsibilities  but I feel like I’ve been so lost in the today that I am no longer constantly waiting for what’s coming next or counting down the days to the weekend. There’s so much happening in my life right now, right this second, that time spent where I’ll be in five years seems wasted. Each day is presenting its own challenges, its own quirks, its own joys and its own sorrows. I feel I’ve been lavishing in each and every one and working each day to its fullest. Perhaps I should be planning a little more than I am (no need to remind me, Bank of America), but I’m okay with taking some time off from a plan to plan. Maybe I’m still on “Spain time” but this week I’m just continuing to focus on the here and now and loving each and every minute of it and those I choose to spend it with.

So, Tiffany’s found? Blog over? Not quite. The effort to live in the now while planning for the future will always be a juggling act. Plus, there’s always something to improve, something to strive for and something worth working towards. Which brings me to goal numero dos.

My other goal for the week is a bit more taboo in a sense and I actually considered not posting about it. I have come to the conclusion that I wish to lose weight. I’m not necessarily overweight nor chubby, in fact according to most BWI measurements I’m right smack dab in the middle. But there’s always been that extra 5-15 pounds that I just don’t think belongs on my body. So, I’ve decided to make a valiant effort for the first time in my life to make it go away. My desire to trim down has stemmed from several events. The first is Europe. I ate like a king and the walking tours simply didn’t provide me with the calorie burn I needed for all that pasta. The second is because my metabolism will actually let me shed some pounds (and with my 24th birthday rapidly approaching…) it’s only going to get harder as I get older. The fourth is well, I have several family and friend events coming up in the next few months and frankly I want to look damn good for those photo opps. And third because I want to see if I can do it.

The “I want to see if I can do it” is really my strongest motivator. Ever since New Years I’ve experimented with a multitude of tests for myself. The first was giving up all sugar, including the kind in breads, deli meat, past sauce etc. This wasn’t that difficult but mostly I found myself eating almost worse because if I found something with no sugar, but still high in calories, I decided that I deserved it. I also tested out the giving up of desserts. I tried this for a few months but when Valentine’s Day rolled around and I was on a first date, I simply couldn’t say no to a Lavender Vanilla milkshake and risk cutting the night short (which I have never regretted since the milkshake was the best dessert I’ve ever had and the guy turned out to be well worth the extra calories). And then it was just downhill from there. I enjoyed these little challenges to test my will power, something I thought was in the pits due to my escalating love of sweets. But I found that saying no was easy, and that days I ate well and put good nutrients in my body I felt amazing. Furthermore, I do not wish to be controlled by food nor cravings. I am also not a foodie nor a cook (and I can’t afford to eat out all the time), so eating to me is a means of getting energy and not being cranky, so I don’t really feel like I’m missing out on anything. A craving for chocolate simply should not result in maybe one, okay two, well maybe just four more halves, Snickers minis. I want to be able to think to myself ‘yes, I do want chocolate, but no it isn’t worth the calories or the terrible run I’ll have later.’

So for the next month or so I’m going to be eating cleaner. I have no real time table on this as I hope it will turn into an all over life change. And I just hate the word diet, as it leaves me with the bad taste of no carbs, starvation and desperation.

Plus, fruits and veggies are way more fun than buying a pair of Spanx. Now, I’ll be honest, I will be keeping some prosecco in my diet. I’m not a miracle worker here people.

Inspiration: Gwyneth Paltrow

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I can’t say I’ve given much thought to Gwyneth Paltrow in the past aside from the occasional movie, red carpet dress or snicker at her daughter’s name (Apple). But all that started to change when I read about her new cookbook, It’s All Good, on one of my favorite blogs, A Piece of Toast. Celebrating all the reasons they love Gwyneth is a fond pastime for their blog, and I have to say, I’m starting to get it. I love that she’s family-focused, seemingly very genuine and follows her heart in pursuing a variety of interests instead of pigeonholing herself or letting others do so.

True, her cookbooks have come with some criticism. The Huffington Post likened the cookbook to flipping through a  J. Crew catalogue (um, why is that ever a bad thing?). Others have made fun of some recipes’ obvious or simple nature. But you know, that’s exactly why I like it. Pouring through the pages as the type of cook who has youtube-d “how to cut broccoli” and “how to cut eggplant” in the past couple months alone, I find the way she describes the book, organizes the recipes and details them quite helpful. Does she have a “recipe” for how to hard boil an egg? Yes. But I’ve seriously had some bad egg boiling experiences in the past so I welcome the break down! She also has a great section about stocking your pantry, which taught me a lot about different types of food and their uses / combinations.

Gwyneth (after this many nights reading her book we’re on a first name basis) is…

  • Inspiring me to learn more about food, nutrition and cooking.
  • Inspiring me to continue living a healthy life starting with what food I put inside me.
  • Inspiring me to look for more opportunities to love on people through food and hospitality.

Tax-free treats

gluten dairy free turnover recipe

Doing your own taxes is an adulthood rite of passage all must face at some point or another…unless you happen to be one of those girls whose dad does it for you until you get married, at which point your husband does it for you.

I am not one of those girls.

Entering the “Adults who do their own taxes” club is particularly celebratory because of how deeply I dread it each year. Last year I was supposed to do my own taxes, only to practically cause my phone water damage from tearfully calling my dad until he took pity on me. But this year, I vowed to confront my fear of taxes like the independent, most-of-the-time intelligent woman I am…after months of procrastination of course.

I can’t really explain my somewhat irrational fear of taxes, but it probably has something to do with the shaming from seeing my total made versus the total in my bank account, the fact that I literally don’t understand a word of IRS-speak, the frustration from not understanding, the feeling of stupidity that follows for getting so terribly lost in those forms and the pressure of sending it off to the government, who I hear could really make my life hell if I screw it up. It’s all an awful lot for a perfectionist to take.

Despite my best efforts, some tears and multiple phone calls to my boyfriend, bank and TurboTax later, I finally filed my own taxes. Now let’s just hope I did them correctly?

It’s enough to make a girl stress eat, but my allergy elimination diet (ONE more week!) has me avoiding a lot of my typical edible solutions. Fruit is pretty much my only allowed source of sweetness, so I adapted my favorite low-fat pie crust recipe to make fruit turnovers. This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free / vegan and added sugar free, so eat, eat eat away!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup Gluten-Free Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Mix)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 tablespoons non-dairy milk (I used flax milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Fruit of your choice (I used peaches, strawberries and blackberries)

Directions:

gluten dairy free turnover recipe

  • Slice your desired fruit up into small bits.
  • Mix the dry ingredients in a medium – large bowl.

gluten dairy free turnover recipe

  • Mix the wet ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix well – It should look just like pie crust dough now, so if it’s still crumbly add equal parts milk (for crisp flakiness) and oil (for soft, anti-crumbliness) until it is malleable and crumble-free.

gluten dairy free turnover recipe

  • Roll out the dough and use a small bowl to cut the bottom of the turnover out. Sometimes this dough is hard to maneuver, so I rolled mine very thin straight on the cooking pan sheet.
  • Place your fruits of choice in the center of the dough circles on the pan.

gluten dairy free turnover recipe

  • Peel the remaining dough off the pan and roll out on your counter to cut the turnover tops out with a slightly larger bowl. The tops will probably need to be rolled thicker than the bottoms and picked up with a spatula so they don’t rip.
  • Seal with a fork pressed around the edges, then cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. You may want to bake them for an additional 5 minutes at 425 or 450 for extra crispness (I did). 

gluten dairy free turnover recipe

Enjoy your basically healthy treats and cheers to ten months of no taxes!

Starting from scratch

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My on-again, off-again relationship with my kitchen has been going steady for years, but my new gluten, dairy, and heck, everything free diet has forced me to spend much more quality time with my pots and pans as of late. 

I mean, I’ve always like the idea of cooking. But it just takes so long, ingredients can get a little pricey when you’re just cooking for one and it seems like an awful lot of effort to start from scratch after fighting traffic home from a long day at work. I knew if this month-long commitment for a healthier me was going to be successful, I was going to need a plan.

For the first week or so, I spent an afternoon making a huge bowl of white rice and grilling chicken kebabs with different seasonings so I could easily grab a perfectly-portioned meal whenever I was hungry or frantically trying to get out the door for work. Some vegetables helped liven up the rice every day, and I treated myself to the most adorable sectioned container to pack everything in. Luckily, my three years of work at an Asian restaurant also prepared me to not only eat, but enjoy rice for meals on end.

But nobody can eat rice 24/7, so this week I’m venturing into all the possibilities of quinoa. My experience with this grain can be summed up by the embarrassing fact I was walking around pronouncing it “Kwin-oh-uh” for far too long than I care to admit…My mind was blown to learn this is the exact same food as that grain everyone pronounces “Keen-whah”. Who knew?! Well, probably you did, but there you go.

I cooked this quinoa substituting half the water with chicken stock, then added basil, cucumbers, grape halves and a little olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Quinoa cooks just like rice, and I can’t stress enough to make sure you don’t add too much liquid. My first batch of quinoa came out a little lot on the wet side, which is not nearly as appetizing as the dryer, store-bought quinoa I’ve had before. I’d also advise drizzling the olive oil on top just before serving/eating, rather then mixing it in advance. Not only does this keep the salad from getting too moist, but it looks nice on the plate, too!