Before You Whole30…

Here is my golden rule of the Whole30.

  1. Be prepared.

Sorry guys, I teach kids – Disney speaks my language.

Anyway, I am really serious about this golden rule. It served me well in Whole 30 Round 1, and has proved to be even more important in Whole30 Round 2.

How you prepare:

1.Mentally

  • Examine your WHYs. This should happen in your decision-making process about whether or not to do an elimination diet in the first place. Why are you doing it? If you want to improve your general, overall health, make a list of some specific annoying health-related things that you want to get rid of. My naturopath told me, in our first meeting, “this is your space to be the biggest hypochondriac you’ve ever been. Name everything that’s wrong, and pretend we have a magic wand that can fix all of it.” Do this for yourself before your Whole30. Here were some of my issues that I hoped to fix:
    • Sleeping poorly – I kept waking up at 2:30, unable to fall back to sleep
    • Skin problems – hand eczema that would get inflamed after eating
    • Bloat – I always felt like I had air bubbles in my stomach
    • Anxiety and stress – whenever I’d get stressed, my body would panic. Stomach aches, sweats, and manic hyperfocus ensued, which was draining and counterproductive.
    • Headaches and fatigue
    • Extreme bouts of grouchiness, especially during the school day
    • Head fog – my head felt totally cloudy, like I couldn’t think clearly
  • Write down how you feel right now. This might be similar to your WHY list, but it will be a good thing to flip back to when you’re questioning if the diet worked for you, 30 days later.
  • Write down how you want to feel. You might discover some more WHYs in this process.
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My pre-W30 journaling

I also had in mind some specific habits I needed to break. I realized that after a stressful class, I always craved chocolate. I would eat too much of it, have a manic sugar high, then crash hard (and need more) an hour later. Ditto dessert after dinner. Ditto, really, sugar of any kind. So, that was one of my main goals: examine the craving and think about if I really needed it. Based on that, I’d either eat a balanced snack or wait until the next meal (if I wasn’t really hungry…about 75% of the time, it turns out). Think of some habits that aren’t serving you well. If you can’t think of any, you may discover some as you go along.

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My pre-Whole30 Costco haul

2. Physically.

  • Prepare your space. Collect all of the non-compliant snacks and put them out of sight or give them away. I put all of my snacks on the porch and forgot about them. If you won’t forget about them, eat them all before you start or find someone who will. You will be happy you did this in week 2, when your resolve is fading.
  • Go to Costco. Here’s my list:
    • Tomato products (diced and paste) – read the label in case of added sugar
    • Applesauce (unsweetened, they sell Tree Top in packs of 2), and canned pineapple – both are sweet treats
    • Bone Broth – chicken or beef, read the label for non-compliant ingredients
    • Ghee and/or coconut oil (they sell HUGE jars)
    • Aidell’s chicken apple sausages (they sell packs big enough to freeze), or a compliant Italian one that they also have
    • Whole chickens (if you have the fridge and freezer space)
    • Chicken thighs or breasts to freeze
    • Dried fruit (they have sugar-free mangoes)
    • Nuts (walnuts and almonds are compliant, no icky oils)
    • Spices
  • Order compliant things from Amazon.
    • Nutpods (3-flavor variety pack)
    • EPIC, Rx, or Larabars for emergencies
    • Primal Kitchen Greek Dressing and Avocado Oil Mayo (contains egg)
    • Tessemae’s – look for the compliant ketchup, BBQ sauce, dressings and marinades, or buy the Whole30 starter kit. These will liven up your salads and protein servings even on the laziest days!
    • Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides – when added to coffee with some coconut oil, they make it creamy and satiating, plus they’re good for joint health and other things
  • Acquire, from anywhere (Trader Joe’s is awesome, though):
    • Coffee
    • Coconut milk, cream, and flakes (Trader Joe’s has all of them)
    • Sweet potatoes and onions (from Costco for me)
    • Frozen mangoes, butternut squash
    • Riced broccoli (fresh) and riced cauliflower (fresh and frozen)
    • Ginger and garlic, herbs
    • Fresh fruits and veggies
    • Lacroix (SO GOOD) and Kombucha (Synergy is mostly sugar-free and has so many flavors)
  • Other helpful things:
    • Whole30 and Whole30 Cookbook – recipes, tips, tricks, and everything. Most stuff is also on www.whole30.com.
    • Follow @whole30 and @whole30recipes and @melissa_hartwig on Instagram. There, you will find a whole bunch of other people doing what you’re doing and loving it! It’s inspiring.

My second time around, I did most of these things before Day 1. If you’ve already started, you can still go get these super useful supplies! It’s never too late to shake up your Whole30 ingredients. Food boredom is real.

Lastly, keep a food journal. Maybe it’s pictures on your phone, maybe it’s that cute little notebook you’ve been wanting to buy…but get it, and track your progress. Record what you eat and how you feel. I’m still editing my system for this, because it can get tedious. But it’s well worth it when you can look back and see the progress you’ve made, and how much better you feel! It’s also a great resource if you decide you need a doctor’s help.

It seems like a lot, but preparation is SO key. Think of all this hard stuff now (maybe a weekend of work) making your life easier for the next month! If you get really advanced, you can make some Whole30 meals and freeze portions of them, too.

There are more layers to being prepared, but I’ll cover those next, with meal prep!

Does anyone have favorite clean food products? I’m always looking to add to my list. 🙂

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Started the New Year off with a Whole30-approved brunch for my friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before You Whole30…

Why I Needed the Whole30 Reset

On Sundays, I cook. Today’s meal-prep menu:

  • Whole chicken, slow-cooked and shredded (carcass saved for bone broth)
  • Sweet potatoes and onions, roasted in EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil) with cumin, turmeric, ginger, garlic powder, salt and pepper
  • Butternut squash and carrot soup with Italian turkey sausage
  • Overnight chia pudding with almond butter, coconut milk, coconut flakes, and cacao nibs

Everything is packed in tupperware for portability and stacked in the fridge. It seems totally efficient – until I try to get something from the back of my shelf, and a mason jar and Kombucha bottle fall on my toes. It happened three times today…

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Breakfast hash: sweet potatoes, sausage, and spinach

Why, you ask? Why all the prep? Why spend my whole Sunday cooking?

I’m on Day 28 of my second Whole30 Reset.

A year ago, and for years before that, I was not in great physical shape. I don’t mean I wasn’t exercising – on the contrary, I had gotten involved in Spin classes (at The Beautiful Bike, highly recommended), and was exercising hard. I mean that I was sleeping poorly, I had chronic allergies, I had eczema on my hands, and I had random and acute stomach pains. I constantly felt tired, bloated, and low on energy.

It turns out, I have Hashimoto’s Disease, which is an autoimmune disorder where my body attacks my thyroid with homemade antibodies. Thyroids regulate metabolism and hormones, which affect energy levels, skin, hair, the immune system, the body’s stress response…in short, they’re super important, and mine was just non-functional.

I went to a doctor and she prescribed me Levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid hormone that replaces the hormone that my body isn’t producing enough of and balances out my system. She told me to get my blood tested again in a year, to make sure it was working.

Fast-forward to this fall, a year later, when I finally decided it was time to consult a Naturopath. I had already done a month of Whole30, in August, and had experienced such drastic results that I knew something more was wrong with my system. My new doctor tested my blood and discovered that my thyroid was way out of whack. Like 1300 antibodies when there should be 30. Not only that, she tested me for food sensitivities, and I reacted to so many things. (Lettuce, tomatoes, and radishes?? Grapes? Lemons? Yeast??And cane sugar.)

She told me: you’re going on an elimination diet, but not during the holidays. So I decided that I’d get a head start on my own with the January Whole30.

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Steak with tarragon butter, potato wedges, and veggies

The Whole30 is not a diet. It’s a dietary reset. There are actually many different dietary resets out in the world these days (including things like The Elimination Diet, and the make-your-own reset options in Food Freedom Forever). The basic principle is thus:

Step 1: In the case of the Whole30, commit to eating real food. Nuts, meats, eggs, veggies, fruits. For 30 days. That’s it.

(In other words, eliminate: sweeteners, sugar, processed stuff, legumes, grains, and dairy.)

Step 2: Eat three meals a day. Eat as much food as you want. Each meal must include a protein and a healthy fat. Do not weigh yourself (this is a very important part of the program, which is not meant for weight loss). Watch your body and life dramatically change in so many non-scale ways.

Step 3: On Day 31, begin reintroducing your favorite foods, one by one, very slowly, until you know exactly what they do to your body – and which foods are still worth it.

So here I am, on Day 28.

And I feel fabulous.

I have no more insomnia. My stress and anxiety levels have drastically decreased. My athletic performance has improved. I realized how bloated I’d been (a major sign of chronic inflammation) when I put my rings on my fingers last week and they nearly fell off. I don’t have any more sugar crashes. I’m infinitely more patient with my students, and have a better sense of humor. My willpower muscle is super strong – I’ve been successfully getting up to work out at 5 in the morning, before work.

Beyond the emotional and physical, there are so many other Non-Scale Victories. I’ve learned how to cook new things (herb-crusted roasted salmon with broccoli, anyone?). I found new products that don’t have any sugar added to them – a major feat once I realized how many things do. I read all the labels. I truly feel satiated by my food. No more hanger, no more cravings, no more angst over what I ate that made my stomach hurt…it’s Food Freedom.

In fact, I’m doing so well that my doctor wants me to continue for another 30 days. Then, we’ll undertake a very deliberate and systematic reintroduction process. I’m so excited to see what other health benefits come out of the now Whole60.

I’ve decided to do a little blog series, for any friends who are interested and for my own personal records. I want to remember this journey, and I’m happy to share. Just to be clear, I don’t think everyone needs the Whole30. I do think everyone who does it will have their own crazy, unexpected victories.

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We met the co-creator, Melissa Hartwig! 

I’ll be sharing my tips for success and my favorite Whole30 products, as well as some musings about why this program is so amazing and the psychological changes it has inspired. Follow along if it’s interesting – I figured that there are a ton of cool blogs and Instagram accounts and other resources out there, but sometimes the best resources are the people you actually know. I’m happy to be a resource for anyone looking to improve their health and establish those healthy habits for the long haul. You can hold me accountable for taking my own advice, too ;-).

 

 

Why I Needed the Whole30 Reset

Walking and Wondering

I’m reading a book right now (actually three books, but this one is the coolest), and it’s about the history of walking. At least, that’s what it purports to be, but I know differently; really, it is about contemplation. As is walking.

“When you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them, the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for you when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities. Exploring the world is one of the best ways of exploring the mind, and walking travels both terrains.” – Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust

My favorite way to discover places and to discover things is by foot. The above quote is the most perfect articulation of why this is my truth: while I walk, I move. I move through the world physically, of course. I also move through my mental world. Like writing, it is my medium for wondering.

Many times, I have wondered about myself. As I explore a city, I wander the nooks and crannies of my psyche, analyzing and processing and curiously probing the dark and far off corners. Or maybe there is something in particular that rushes to the forefront of my mind and demands to be heard. Often I wonder about other people, gripped by my fascination about perspectives outside my own. As I walk through these thoughts, I walk through the world.

Sometimes I am pulled back into it, and instead I notice the squirrel crunching through the fallen yellow leaves. Sometimes there’s someone else on the road, and I feel compelled to shoot the fellow walker a friendly smile.

Often I am tracing paths on a mental map. When I explored new places, I got lost and found myself again, over and over, until I never really felt lost. After reading this part of the book, I realized that I will never again feel lost in those places that I’ve walked.

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I’ve worn a rut in my mind, and I will always recognize it. When I walk in Walla Walla again, I’ll get flashes of past walks, of the girl that walked those paths. If I somehow journey back to Paris, or even tiny Somain, the invisible crop will be waiting for me. I am inextricably linked to those cobblestones and the landmarks that line them, and they run like a map through my mind.

This is what makes me lusty, for the wander and for the familiar at once. I know that both are fruitful: one will lead me toward new corners of myself, one will lead me back to old ones. The one is risky and exciting, alluring and adventurous. The other is comforting and enlightening, reflective and revealing of forgotten truths.

I love them both and all. I walk through old and new with the same fulfillment, the same curiosity, and the same feet.

Walking and Wondering

From French Girl to Latin Girl

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In high school, college, and my minimal number of years in “the real world,” I was always that girl who knows French. People who knew this fun fact, or heard that I had lived in France, would say something in French and ask me to translate, or ask me to say something French — as a test?

Now, I am Latin girl. People ask me to say something Latin, or they give me something in Latin to translate. Speaking French is no longer the most salient Fact About Me; what comes up first is Latin teacher.

I’m loving it. There’s a whole other side of me that’s been dusted off and put on, slipped over the French and the teacher and the studied-abroad. It’s the writerly, grammarly, linguistic-y side of me…back again. It’s mixed with odd echoes of my middle school self, enthusiastically chanting the declensions with my teacher and competing with my best friend over who could finish the most homework the fastest (we definitely failed the tests).

Here’s the thing that speaks-French me and reads-Latin me have in common: we love words, we love writing, and we love teaching. We love exploring different cultures through arts and literature, learning the histories, lesson planning, and spending time with kids. We get so nerdy-excited about language. Like, I bought a book on the history of sentence diagrams. I’m reading a scholarly article on classification of words into groups other than the traditional parts of speech. I’m back at school (again and again) and absolutely thrilled about it.

I’m also planning and organizing furiously, trying to get ready for the school year, but knowing that it’s a pipe dream, and instead I should adopt a carpe diem approach – seize each day, each lesson, each teachable moment as it comes. I’m confident that I will learn as much as my students this year, and that is exciting.

So really, French girl and Latin girl aren’t very different. Both feel like me.

From French Girl to Latin Girl

What makes a truly wonderful work environment?

  1. A boss (or bosses) who listens, leads, and makes everyone feel valued. Who reminds us all of the big picture, and makes discussion more productive by asking guiding questions and providing thoughtful input.
  2. Coworkers who listen, empathize, thoughtfully disagree or express their affirmation, and support one another. Who all work toward a common mission, and respect one another’s differences.
  3. Meaningful work toward something that everyone buys into, and thinks is important.
  4. A healthy attitude: everyone is trusted to put their best effort forward, without too much pressure or stress.
  5. Positivity and a growth mindset. Everyone is optimistic, people seem inspired and energized by the work they’re doing. Rather than clinging to a rigid sense of self and system, workers are flexible and adapt to the needs of each other and an environment in flux.
  6. People are comfortable taking risks, experimenting, and offering input without fear of being judged or rejected.
  7. Work can be independent or collaborative, as needed.
  8. Coworkers are supportive and understanding, communicating freely rather than condemning, judging, or being overly critical.
  9. Leadership is transparent and includes an appropriate amount of general input in important decisions.
  10. Work makes you, the worker, feel meaningful.

It may seem impossible, but I can check every statement in my new job.When I write the list out it seems to describe a truly wonderful school, or a truly wonderful classroom. Fitting, because I think Eton School really is all those things.

What makes a truly wonderful work environment?

Optimization

That title actually made me think of something completely different than what I’m going to write about. Or is it different? One of the Roman emperors, in legitimizing his supreme authority, called himself “Optimus Augustus,” which basically means the BEST Augustus of all the Augustuses (“Augustus” being a title of a Roman emperor in the late Empire).

Why do I know this, you wonder? I’ve been taking Ancient Roman History this summer for funzies, and also for my new job as Latin teacher (which starts Monday!). I just finished up that class and another which I was teaching, and I’m officially on summer vacation….for two more days.

Anyway, the best of the best Augustuses, Optimus Augustus, relates to my post because I was going to write about this interesting tendency I’ve noticed in myself: the need to optimize.

I guess it’s both a larger societal trend and a pervasive social and cultural pressure in our nation of individualistic entrepreneurs. I mean, we are constantly under pressure to compete for the coolest “Insta”posts, the best vacations, the hottest body, the best job…you name it, we want to optimize it. I guess I knew this, but I’ve been realizing that I also do it in my head, to myself. I want to be a better person, a better teacher, set new goals and challenges for myself, succeed in new and different ways. I think this drive is super important for my future success. And yet…

Sometimes, I think there should be more said for accepting people, places, and things for what they are. The problem with wanting to improve everything is that the already-great things don’t get enough appreciation or credit for how great they are. I don’t get to enjoy the small moments of gratitude for what I have, if I’m focused on where I’m going next. I don’t get to appreciate what’s in my life for what it is, if I’m thinking of how it could be better.

Furthermore, who’s to say that there will ever be an Optima Anne, the best of the best, with the best life and the best people in it. I don’t even like to think that there’s an end to self-betterment, because that makes it a linear, rigid process. With that mentality, I guess I won’t be the best until I’m nearly dead…

So in the meantime, here’s to celebrating all of the journey – meaningful or not, pleasant or not, optimal or not. It’s all worth learning.

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Optimization

“Food Freedom” – Life on the Whole30

Hey there blogosphere, it’s been a while.

I’ve been busy with various things this summer: taking a class, teaching a class, having random adventures and doing random jobs. It hasn’t been sunny enough, not in the slightest. But already, it’s time for Fall and my favorite time of year – back to school!

One of my adventures this summer was the Whole30 challenge. Mom and I started June 11th, and now we’re approaching the final days. 30 days of NO grains, dairy, legumes (yes, even peanut butter), or processed sugar. I was mostly into it for the stomach benefits- I tend to get tummy aches all the time, with no rhyme or reason. I was also noticing that my eating was more emotional than physical. It’s easy for food to be a source of comfort instead of a source of fuel.

Here are some awesome things I learned from this month of intense restriction:

  1. Fat and protein are better sources of energy than sugar. The diet requires lots and lots of protein – 1/3 to 1/2 of every meal. That meant lots of bacon! Gone were the crashes and spikes of the sugar rush, and moments of fatigue were nothing but real, physical tiredness. More fuel please. Fat makes you feel satiated, meaning you’ll eat less, and it’s slower to digest so it hangs around a lot longer than sugar. It’s a shame that it’s been so demonized. Excesses of sugar turn into fat anyway.
  2. My willpower muscle needed exercise to get stronger. My limp, weak resolve (“maybe I’ll start that paper tomorrow,” “maybe I’ll exercise later”) has become way more proactive. I think about doing something, and I more often than not end up doing it. Even if it’s watching some Bones in bed. Hey, everything’s valuable in some way…But for real, I seem to have so much more power over my impulses through all of this exercise of my brain in resisting cravings.
  3. All my energy is clean. That’s what I feel like, like I’m running on solar power or something. It’s amazing. I’m so alert, without even having to pound caffeine or snarf a cookie. I burn it up, I get hungry, I eat some more.
  4. Meal planning is true “food freedom.” I think about food so much less now that I’m doing this. Counterintuitive, right? I think it’s because I’ve got to sit down and plan what I’m going to make for each day of the week, instead of getting take-out when I’m lazy or stopping for a treat after a long day. And once I’ve planned it, I shop accordingly and eat what I have. It makes it easy to forget about needing to eat when I have so much good stuff at home that I’ve already prepped. Prep is the key – the easier it is to grab some carrots for snack, the more likely I am to do it.
  5. Chocolate is a very big, important part of my food life. The only things I really miss are chocolate. And cheese. I’ll be reintroducing those in about six days.
  6. Even camping works out…

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So here’s to Day 24 of clean eats, may I continue all these good habits forevermore…

“Food Freedom” – Life on the Whole30