Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! We went for mellow this evening. Carved pumpkins. Fried sausages. Bathed children. Gave candy to the usual 8 trick-or-treaters. No trick-or-treating ourselves because our first-grader doesn't seem to like a. costumes or b. talking to strangers with candy. I'm totally fine with that.

Now we're roasting pumpkin seeds and spaghetti squash, listening to "Good Times" by Chic and drinking Sierra Nevada Torpedo ale (whoo! that stuff tastes strong).

Fun fact: We used electric tealights in our jack-o'-lanterns this year! You can hardly tell what with all the filters and exposure tweaks I threw on this photo.

Did you have a happy Halloween? Can you believe tomorrow is November?? Happy bday ACB!!

Running While Dressed as J.S. Bach

I'm impressed by how well my 5K season has been going! Here's a recap. First I came third in the Brattleboro Walk-In Clinic 5K at the beginning of September. Next I was 1st woman in the Maple 5K that came at the end of that month. Then I ran in the Newfane 5K in October and placed... not at all.

Then today, I got my ultimate challenge (a giant Vermont hill) and better yet, dressed up as one of my favorite dudes IN HISTORY. Because it's Halloween. Basically, dressing up as J.S Bach in today's race makes me proud to be alive. I won as first woman. Also my husband pointed out I won as first eighteenth-century composer.

The hour before dawn

Outside by 6:30am, running in the dark, in the rain. My hood is up and shutting everything out. My iPod blasts "Gangnam Style." It's my own little world--and I love it. Here's what my iPod selected for me this morning:
  • Gangnam Style: Psy
  • Go!: Tones on Tail
  • Astronaut: Shy Child
  • Mirror in the Bathroom: English Beat
  • I'm in the House: DJ Aoki
  • Future: Cut Copy
  • Invaders Must Die: The Prodigy
  • Pop Song Automaton: Glory Glory Man United
  • I Wasn't Made for Fighting: Woodhands
  • FU2 (an awesome remix of Lady Sovereign's "Love Me or Hate Me") 
Do you have favorite running or workout songs I should be adding to my playlist?

Whole30 Reflections

I've been thinking about the Whole30 "paleo" eating plan that we did for the month of September (technically, September 3 to October 3). I still haven't gone back to the way I ate before. I still generally avoid grains and legumes, and my dairy intake is very moderate. I do have some sugar and some alcohol, but a lot less than before (ha!).

Why? I felt clean and good during my Whole30 month, and I'm not ready to mess that up. When I go off-plan, such as staying up until 11pm on a Saturday drinking beer with one of my oldest friends, I just get back on the paleo wagon afterward and feel fine again within a few days.

A random list of what I've learned:
  1. Hey! Don't buy asparagus in the fall.
  2. Read labels on anything that has a label. Did you know certain club soda has sulfates? Did you know certain turkey sausage has sugar? Did you know certain tomato sauce has agave... stuff? Don't just TRUST that an item has nothing bad in it. Check out the label before spending $$.
  3. There's no need to go crazy with meat consumption. Look to boost veggie intake instead. I took to grouping vegetables into three categories: salad stuff, greens (kale, spinach, string beans, etc.), and starchy (winter squash, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, etc.). I tried to have some of each every day, sometimes two per meal.
  4. I liked Well Fed, the Whole30 approved cookbook by Melissa Joulwan. It is a slim paperback, but useful and beautifully done. It was a relief to have as an inspiration and a reference.
  5. It was key to have easy snacks like apples and sardines on hand. Apple slices with almond butter was a fabulous snack for me, especially after a 5K.
  6. Coconut oil, avocado oil, and organic grass-fed ghee were all worth the investment. At our local coop, these cost at least $10 each. The coconut oil and ghee are great for cooking (roasting, frying). Avocado oil is lovely for drizzling, such as over a pile of steamed kale with salt.
  7. As I wrote in one of my posts, the Whole30 seemed to break down into four week-long periods. The first week was "This is totally weird." The second week was "This is weird and also awful." The third week was "I think this is working!" The fourth week was "This is working, and now it's going to end, waaah." I do miss it, but it could just be because it took an immense mental effort so I'm proud of myself for that.
  8. It was useful to have special food prep time on the weekends and/or in evenings, such as steaming sweet potatoes & beets, baking up winter squash, making sauces & mayo.
  9. To replace our usual adult beverages, we invested heavily in seltzer. We shared at least one liter of seltzer a day to try to forget we weren't drinking yummy beer or wine. It worked.
  10. I recommend paying the $14.95 for the daily whole30 email. It's not that you can't find the basic info on the Whole30 website and forums. But that takes time and effort. The daily email chunks info up into useful bits, and provides some good links. It wasn't 100% applicable every single day, but I liked it. It also helped me keep track of what day we were on. Thirty is a large number for some.
  11. I'm glad I had an exercise plan and ran every day for my Whole30. It was a good test for how my body was working and feeling that day. It helped me clarify what I needed food-wise and rest-wise. And I'm sure it helped the "diet" (weight loss) aspects of the program be more effective.
  12. I like to think of the Whole30 as non-inflammatory, not as a "caveman" or "ancestral" diet or whatever. The health aspects are what resonated the most with me, and seemed to resonate with people who were interested in what I was up to.

Whole30 Surprises!
  • Sweet potatoes did become palatable. In fact, I am still enjoying them for breakfast on most days.
  • We ate two dozen eggs a week! That is about 2.3 times the normal rate, wouldn't you say?
  • Cauliflower is amazing! Also, acorn squash! Who knew?
  • The Whole30 is expensive. As mentioned above, the specialty oils cost about $10 each, and they last about 2 weeks. Plus, we spent an average of $200-250 a week on groceries, which is WAY more than we're used to. A lot of it was on high quality stuff though--dropping $50-90 at the farmer's market meant we had local meat, tons of local produce, and plenty to eat and choose from over the week. (Also some of it was on non-Whole30 stuff for the kids.)

Favorite Whole30 meals: 
Most hated Whole30 meals: 
  • bean-less chili
  • anything with jicama

So, would I recommend the Whole30? 

Yes, with reservations. I am a geek and a Capricorn and a mom and a runner, all of which may contribute to my being very willing to invest a lot of willpower into allegedly bettering myself and feeling like I've accomplished something FOR ME. However, I am so glad my eating partner did this with me, because his experiences really emphasized that this program is NOT for everyone. Some people will have problems and just hate it the whole time. He seems to be right back to where he was before and completely happy with that. No problem. But if the Whole30 appeals to you, give it a try!

Still mostly Paleo, I can't help it

I'm still pretty much eating the Paleo diet (animal protein plus vegetables plus healthy fats, with nuts, seeds & fruits thrown in) after completing the Whole30 thirty day eating program last Tuesday. I haven't had any more achey episodes (I slowed down what I was introducing each day, thanks for the support on that). I really miss running every day, which I stopped at the same time. I'm still collecting my thoughts for a big Whole30 wrap-up coming in a few days.

Here are some random recent food pics:

Saturday haul from the Farmer's Market: Apples, kohlrabi, leeks, peppers, cucumbers, black tomatoes, cauliflower, "perpetual spinach," acorn squash, peaches, lettuce, carrots, blueberries. Pricetag: about 50 bucks.

Cooking up Scotch Eggs for lunches

Steaming up assorted sweet potatoes for breakfasts

I made myself a little paleo dessert—roasted peaches stuffed with dried fruit & nuts

Ohhhh--it's not paleo anymore. Vanilla ice cream, baby.
Yeah, I've managed to reintroduce a few items that aren't paleo despite my general reluctance to return to my old ways. I put sugar in my coffee (still using coconut milk though). I had wine last week and beer over the weekend... not quite sure about those two yet. Vanilla ice cream is yummy. I've had some white potatoes. I ate Indian takeout without worrying too much about what was in it (though I avoided anything that was clearly legumes or dairy--I had the saag, but not the paneer). In general, it's slightly stressful trying to recalibrate to my own eating plans after the blissful strictness of the Whole30. I'll make a complete "normal" dinner for my family, then fry up some leftover chicken and roasted acorn squash for my own meal. I cling to the clean feelings that I had all last month, but it's hard because now I'm slightly... dirty.

Have you ever roasted peaches by the way? Or grilled them? I've cooked them up for peach ice cream, but roasting was new.

After the Whole30: What do I eat?

They don't tell you at the beginning that coming OFF the Whole30 is kind of difficult. Because after all, I'm treating my body as a giant science experiment. Eating clean for 30 days was just the first part, as I created my control condition. Now I get to play with the variables, also known as finding out which foods don't agree with me.
Yesterday, Day 31, seemed fine at the time, but it made today, Day 32, pretty sad. Below is not an exact representation of what I ate, but the caterpillar pretty much represents how I felt today.

"That night he had a stomachache!"

I didn't think I was going that crazy, but I had things like aioli, ranch dressing, wine, half & half, cheese, other cheese, salami, pepperoni, teriyaki steak tips--all of those are off plan (the cured meat because it probably has sugar, the teriyaki because it probably has soy). I'm starting to wonder if I'll even be able to eat "normal" food again. Or if I'll want to. I went back to Paleo food today to try to regain equilibrium. Can you believe I'm saying that?? That Paleo food is now what seems normal?

Ah, sweet paleo dinner: salad, chicken & acorn squash.

Because the Whole30 is over, I also got to weigh myself. I didn't weigh myself before Day 1, but I know what I usually weigh. I was VERY SURPRISED to find that I am now about 17 pounds lighter. That's over 10% of my body weight gone. And it felt like it disappeared in the first few days--I felt less puffy almost immediately, and started getting comments early on. That makes me think there is something to this inflammatory foods thing. I don't think I lost fat, I think I lost inflammation! I can't put it any better than just saying I feel less puffed up. (That phrase always makes me think of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.")

More good news: For those who have read some of my Whole30 posts, I would like you to know that the broken owl mug with the condensation forever trapped inside is no more. Here's the replacement:


Whole30 Day 30, DONE!!!!!

Is it strange that eating a certain way can make you feel really proud of yourself? I have had a pretty good month because of this Whole30 madness. The first two weeks were not great, but things turned around on Day 14 and I've been having a good time. Sure, I still don't have the energy I'm used to on my regular runs (except for that crazy 5K. I was well caffeinated!). I still don't quite know what to make for dinner. But I have more clarity in my thinking and functioning, like I am using more of my cylinders (to use car talk) or directories (to use server talk) than before. It's kind of exciting and kind of scary, because it took a lot to get to this place, and I am pretty sure that I can't maintain this place for very long.

Still, I found out what the Whole30 was like. That was the whole point. I would recommend it, but with reservations. Take my fellow eater for example: he found little or no benefit from the Whole30 (that he'll admit anyway). He has stocked the fridge with non-Whole30 foods that he's going to start eating ASAP tomorrow morning! I'll try to get him to take photos of what he eats tomorrow, ha.

Here's the food recap from Day 30:

Avocado-salsa omelette, yummy black tea


Lunch: leftover chorizo & cabbage, fresh veggies

Snack: orange

Dinner: steak tips & mushrooms with cauliflower rice & salad
Day 30 reflections: People have been so kind about this diet thing, asking about it, being encouraging, congratulating me. I am very touched and feel so supported. THANK YOU!

I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. Theoretically I could eat anything, but I won't. This experiment has taught me to be think twice. Also because I've clearly lost weight and am feeling good, I don't want to mess that up by plunging into a Happy Meal and a chocolate sundae. I love those things, but I don't feel like I NEED them. I think my basic plan is to wait for a signal that there's some other food that I NEED. And also, red wine. And also, white wine. Here's another strange development on par with liking sweet potatoes--I actually don't mind coconut milk in my coffee. It's been so long since I've had milk and sugar that I can't tell the difference. The other day I walked by a row of chocolate bars without flinching. I know these things are actually kind of easy when I'm inside the strict realm of the Whole30. It's easy to say "Not for me" when I know it's a finite challenge. Will I keep saying "Not for me" about these foods—dairy, grains, legumes, sugar—when I'm on my own? You know I'll keep you posted.

Whole30 Day 29, almosttherealmosttherealmosthere

One day left after today. Thank you so much to everybody who has been reading along and supporting me on this mad experiment. Just knowing you're checking in now and then has been really helpful! And to the readers of the future who are researching the Whole30 and have come upon this blog, I think you can do this thing. If I can go without wine or cheese or crackers or chocolate for 30 days, anyone can do just about anything. Poke around on this blog under the whole30 tag if you're looking for food ideas or "what it's like." I'll also be writing an overall roundup in the next few days.

So yeah, one more day and we'll be done! We're basically just running out the clock, using up the plantains and chorizo and other unusual foods that we probably won't be replacing any time soon. Here's today's food!

Breakfast: egg & sweet potatoes (we forgot to buy kale this weekend)

COFFEE. My coffee mug is totally falling apart. It has been through a lot.

Lunch: leftover Gilfeather turnip & crab soup

Teatime: tea

Snack: apple

Curried veggie hash, chicken tenders, acorn squash
Day 29 reflections: I'm in disbelief that we managed to get this far! Back on Day 1 at the Guilford Fair, October seemed like a long way away. Now I am a paleo machine who loves things like fruit and vegetables. Before this I pretty much hated fruit, and couldn't be bothered figuring vegetables out. But when they're all you've got for nutrition besides grass-fed beef (kind of), you learn a lot about their virtues and possibilities. I have learned to love sweet potatoes! I have been eating kale voluntarily! I have considered an APPLE a decent and satisfying snack! I actually tried pretending that spaghetti squash was anything like spaghetti! (It's not.) I made a salad with every color of the rainbow! You know things are strange when a carrot or a dill pickle becomes a fancy treat.

Then there's the witnessing of work lunches--incredible tapas, whatever you want to order from the local Chinese place, wine evenings, the apple pie à la mode party... I had none of it. One time I ate some tapas olives and once I had that lone takeout salad. People were very kind trying to think of things I could have, but I was honestly happy with my rabbit food salads and such.

Happy October my dears!