weight loss ticker

"Extraordinary results don't require extraordinary actions, they require ordinary actions done daily."

Friday, April 7, 2017

Reset Again

I try not to see setbacks as failure but rather as opportunities to re-evaluate and reset my goals and how to accomplish them.  The past two months have been challenging for me as I've struggled with cravings for the very foods that I know will make me sick. The good news is, I haven't gained weight back. But my recent lab work showed a few bad numbers creeping back up and I've noticed the return of some of my symptoms like joint pain which means inflammation in my body.

My main goal over all remains better health. Losing weight is part of that since I obviously still have unhealthy fat that I need to lose and can't ignore. It isn't a matter of trying to lose a few pounds to look better or fit into a favorite outfit, but rather to get rid of the truly excessive unhealthy fat (especially around my middle) that adds to my struggles with high cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar as well as joint pain.

But part of my reset mentality is to not be so tied to the numbers. I tend to become obsessive over them and that also isn't healthy. Having lab work done is necessary as a check-point to see what's going on and whether progress is being made but it also causes me stress. I always feel like I'm going to take a test that I'm sure to fail no matter how much I prepare because inevitably one number or the other is going to be red flagged as not within the ideal range and some doctor is going to tsk-tsk over it and want me to take some prescription medication that could make me worry more. Honestly, those warnings that come with those kinds of meds scare me more than the health issue itself.

After having done the Whole30 plan off and on for nearly 20 months (it will be two years in August), I know how important diet is to my health. Not diet as in a weight loss "diet", but as in nutrition and food choices. I learned that certain foods truly do cause inflammation in my body and therefore aren't good choices for me even if they are perfectly healthy for everyone else.

The supplements my naturopathic doctor recommended have helped improve some of the health issues but lifestyle and food really is the key. It's all pretty simple, really, but does require a commitment and discipline to choose well.  That is my challenge moving forward as I reset and get get myself back on track.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Food Freedom

I've been reading Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig (co-creator of the Whole30 program) and it has been helpful as I move forward with making the foundation of Whole30 my lifestyle as much as possible. I'm making a positive change from focusing on food in an unhealthy, obsessive way to simply making mindful choices knowing that food itself is amoral; it isn't "good" or "bad".  That said, part of choosing is acknowledging that some foods do make me feel worse physically. When I eat something like pizza, I do so fully aware that my choice comes with negative consequences. These days I'm able to turn it down more easily because it simply isn't worth feeling sick the next few days. It isn't deprivation; it's choosing health and well being and that is always a good thing.

Naturally, I have to pay attention to food as I plan my meals and shop for groceries but it is no longer a constant mindset like before.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Day 25 Reset

Continuing with the Whole30 plan and doing well sticking to it. The plan encourages focusing on "non-scale" victories - improvements that aren't weight loss related. This week I discovered that my finger nails are stronger than I ever remember them being. They were a little longer than I usually let them grow and as I was trimming them I noticed they were healthy and strong. I don't like long nails due to always having my hands busy with crafts, housework, etc., but I also kept them short in the past because they were thin and weak. So I will take that as one more sign that my body is getting healthier.

I've done a little better with exercise although not as well as I should, but something is better than nothing.  I've tried to follow a strength training routine that leaves me just sore enough the next day to know my muscles are being challenged but not the kind of pain that tells me I am hurting myself. I'm optimistic that I am getting stronger but it has been a wake-up call to realize how weak I was. As I put myself through a test I found online for strength and mobility for people over 50, I did ok with some areas (upper body/arms), but was sadly deficient in others (abs and legs). But, at least I know what to work on now.

I plan on continuing with my food and exercise plan going into February. This is now my lifestyle.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Day 9 Reset

Today will be spent on food prep for the week. For me, that is the biggest part of my success with staying on the plan. When I get hungry, I know exactly what I'll eat and the food is ready to eat cold or cook quickly.  Otherwise, I'm tempted to grab whatever is available even if it isn't on my plan.

My go-to food prep is to cook several pieces of chicken breast (usually in the crock pot), brown ground turkey and beef, and cut up vegetables. I also use a lot of frozen vegetables which makes things easier.  Everything gets put into portion size containers so all I have to do is grab a veggie or two and a protein for a quick skillet meal which is my favorite.  For salads I always have either the bagged variety or a big mix I prepared myself and I only have to add some chicken or tuna, avocado or olives, and dressing.  I also make a large spinach omelet that I divide into four servings and just reheat a portion in the microwave each morning.

My go-to snacks if needed may include hard boiled eggs or some other protein, fresh vegetables, nuts or olives, and maybe a piece of fruit. 

I avoid eating out at restaurants when I'm doing a Whole30 cycle because even though the menu might offer healthy things like salads, roasted vegetables, and grilled meat, I still can't be sure what they actually are using to prepare the food so for me, it's best to just avoid eating out if possible. I just don't want to be that person who hounds the waiter with instructions on how to prepare my food and what can and can't be used. Plus, the very real temptation to have something yummy (meaning fried, cheesy, or includes bacon!) on the menu that is completely off the plan is a stress I don't need.

Today I'm starting a weight training schedule that is for beginners so I don't over do it. It's done on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and takes less than 20 minutes so it's very doable. I'll still do some cardio on my exercise bike every day too.

Today's meal plan:

Breakfast: spinach omelet, coffee with coconut milk, avocado
Lunch: Salad with tuna, olives, and Tessamae's cracked pepper dressing
Dinner: Tilapia, sweet potato, broccoli

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Day 5 Reset

I'm calling this round of Whole30 a reset because I'm not doing it for the first time. I'm just getting back on track with what I was already doing after taking a break from it over the holidays; resetting my food plan and disciplines.

So far it's going well. I'm not experiencing anything negative like sugar withdrawal (a.k.a Slaying the Sugar Dragon), probably because I did avoid most sugary stuff as much as possible over the past couple of months. Salty and fried foods are my worst triggers more than sweets.

I have several resources at my disposal to help me, shown in the photo above. I just finished re-reading It Starts With Food by the authors of Whole30 and it has been a good reminder why certain foods are inflammatory and should be avoided.  It motivates me to stick to the plan knowing the science behind it.  The cookbooks help give me ideas for adding variety to my meals. Even if I don't actually follow a specific recipe, I often find inspiration for using certain seasonings or ingredients in my own versions.

Another challenge I am facing is advice from other people. Don't get me wrong. I know they mean well and it isn't that their suggestions are bad/wrong. It's just that I follow this plan to the letter when I'm doing it and so called "gluten-free" recipes that try to mimic foods like pancakes, bread, desserts, or pizza only keeps me wanting those kinds of foods. To be honest, I haven't found gluten-free or sugar-free substitutions that I like. I'd rather indulge in the real thing every once in a while than to try to re-create it with ingredients that leave me unsatisfied.

I also was reminded by a couple of well-meaning people that the real trick to weight loss is to eat everything but in moderation and that it isn't healthy to eliminate entire food groups. And just exercise more (burn more calories than you consume). That's true for most normal people but not for me. Certain food groups like dairy and grains do make me sick and that isn't healthy. There are plenty of ways to get nutrients like calcium and fiber, most notably in vegetables (especially the brightly colored kind) and with this plan I eat lots of those.

Exercise is important but science has shown that health and weight loss success is at least 80% what we eat and the rest lifestyle. I can train for a marathon and would likely lose weight but if I don't avoid inflammatory foods I still won't be healthy no matter how thin or strong I get.

Everyone needs to find what works for them in achieving their health or weight loss goals and this is what is giving me success. At age 60 and having dealt with significant health and weight issues the past two decades, this is the only plan I've tried that is making a difference and believe me, I've tried them all out of desperation - everything except Barbaric surgery and that will never happen. I'm sticking to this without looking back or trying anything else new.

My exercise today:
30 minutes on the exercise bike (I'm doing 3 ten-minute sessions to help not over stress my knee).

Food plan:
Breakfast: spinach omelet, coffee with Nutpods vanilla coconut/almond milk creamer (Whole30 approved - photo below).
Lunch:  Large salad with chicken, Tessamae's Cracked Pepper dressing (Whole30 approved), 1/2 avocado
Dinner: Spaghetti squash with Italian meat sauce, 1/2 apple.
Snack (if needed): Celery with guacamole, small serving of chicken

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Day 3 January Whole30

So far, so good. I am on day 3 of the plan and already feel better. I can tell my digestive system is thanking me for avoiding the things that make it sick! My joints feel better today too but that may be due to exercising more the past two days.

I purchased a journal to plan my daily menu, exercise, and keep track of my blood sugar as I go through the coming year.  I loved what the front of this little book says:

It resonated with me because I read it as "Be the Person You Didn't Believe You Could Be." It's more about what I believe than what others think. I still struggle with doubts as to whether I can continue to see significant improvements physically at my age but I have hope. All the prevailing wisdom and expert advice out there says anyone at any age can improve; that any exercise or healthy habit yields positive results. I have no delusions that I will look and feel like I did a decade or two ago, but I have nowhere to go but up so any improvement is a big deal.

For exercise, I am starting slow and steady. I have several resources and tools to build on (DVD's, hand weights, balance ball, resistance bands, etc.) but this week my goal is to do 30 minutes each day on the exercise bike and gentle stretches to help my joints - baby steps to build on as I get stronger and more flexible.

My menu plan today:

Breakfast: spinach omelet, vegetable juice, coffee with coconut milk
Lunch: large salad with tuna, Tessemae's cracked pepper dressing, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 apple
Dinner: spaghetti squash with Italian meat sauce (using ground turkey, mushrooms, tomato sauce, seasonings)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Motivating Words

As I continue my health journey into 2017, I'm choosing to not dwell on what might have been or what I could have, should have, done differently in the past. The fact is, I'm here today with challenges I'd rather not have but it's not too late to change the direction and make what's ahead better. 

Some people ask me what I did to lose weight and want to know the quick and easy overview of Whole30. My best advice is to just read the book. It isn't quick or easy (although for me it gets easier the longer I do it), and it isn't "just like" other paleo or low carb diets. I follow it to the letter when I'm doing a round. I don't try to find ways around the rules or look for substitute recipes to pretend I'm eating pizza, baked goods, or pasta. And this is not considered a weight loss diet even though that is a welcome benefit for many of us. There is no calorie counting, weighing or measuring food, or having to write down what you eat. The focus is on improving health by starting with food.

 Some quotes that keep me focused:

"Extraordinary results don't require extraordinary actions, they require ordinary actions done daily."

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending."  

"If something is important enough, you will find a way. If it isn't, you'll find excuses."

"Starting today, I need to forget what's gone, appreciate what still remains, and look forward to what's coming next." 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Ready for 2017

I am planning on doing a Whole30 round for January, not because of any New Year's resolutions but because I want to continue my health journey as I turn 60 January 6 and welcome getting back on track after allowing myself to go off of it over the holidays. I didn't go wild with food but went off the plan enough that I'm physically feeling the consequences of it which confirms once again that certain foods really do make me sick.

I was within five pounds of my first weight loss goal and decided to add my next goal to the weight loss tracker.  Part of the Whole30 plan is to not focus on weight loss and not weigh oneself at all. In fact, they suggest throwing away the scale forever. But, weight loss is necessary for me to be healthier so it is something I look to as evidence that the plan is working for me (along with non-scale evidence such as improved lab work, feeling better over all, etc.) I won't weigh in very often - just now and then to track progress without obsessing over it or allowing the scale to define who I am.

Exercise will also become more of a daily routine for me. I am determined to kick myself out of the sedentary lifestyle I'm drawn to as someone who would rather read than sweat. Nothing major - just the discipline of doing some kind of physical activity every day for at least 30 minutes whether it be walking, riding the exercise bike, doing an exercise DVD, "aerobic" housework, strength training, etc. Anything that gets me moving.

I also bought the new Whole30 and Well-Fed Weeknights cookbooks so my plan is to try at least one new recipe each week to add variety to my menu.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


It's been a while since I posted anything because there isn't really anything new to report. I'm continuing to follow Whole30 most of the time while not being on it strictly through the holidays. So far the good news is that I have lost a little more weight instead of gaining so that keeps me motivated to continue with it.  The bad news is that when I eat foods that are off the plan I do pay for it with feeling sick and achy. I can really tell that dairy and breads (especially yeast breads) aren't my friends. But it's good to know what to avoid if possible, and if I don't, there will be consequences.  My recent lab work also showed that my glucose and cholesterol levels had crept up due to not sticking to the plan as strictly so that is also something I need to keep in mind.

Our kitchen remodel is mostly done so it is easier to prepare the right foods again. I was challenged that way without my kitchen and had to rely on the microwave and crock pot so I found myself resorting to packaged foods more for convenience.

I have just six pounds to go to reach my first goal of losing 50 pounds. It would be great to reach that milestone by the end of this year or if not, by my 60th birthday in January.  My exercise bike is the go-to exercise source most days now that the weather is not as good, along with some strength training using a resistance band and hand weights.

Moving forward into the new year!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Simple Motivation

I knew this on some level but the presentation has motivated me more than ever to exercise.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August Update

August went ok. I did struggle at times to stay on track but managed to lose a couple of more pounds plus I bought a new top in a size smaller than what I was wearing so I will count the month as a success because any progress, however small, is still a step in the right direction. For me, it's all about the baby steps and making those daily choices one at a time.

I intend to continue with Whole30 at least most of the time going into September. I have to confess that while some people see a night and day difference being on the plan, that isn't the case for me. Yes, I do feel some better but not amazingly so, but when I eat something that is a source of inflammation in my body I am sick for a few days (upset stomach, achy joints, headache, etc.). So for me it is more how bad I feel off the plan than how well I feel on it and that is still a source of motivation for me.

One thing I have dealt with this past month is wondering if I'm too old to expect any significant improvements physically. Science says there is plenty of reason to hope for it, but mentally I struggle with embracing it. I let myself feel older than I should and I'm not sure why. I'm working on that.


Food plan today:

Breakfast: Spinach omelet, coffee with coconut milk

Lunch: Salad with lettuce, olives, avocado, Tessamae's dressing, grape tomatoes and tuna

Dinner: Skillet dinner with ground turkey, zucchini, and mushrooms

Monday, August 1, 2016

A New Month - A New Start

I like the first day on the calendar. For me, it represents turning the page to a new start as I move forward. August is a good month to start a new Whole30 cycle. There are no events or holidays to worry about and the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables this time a year makes it easier. So today is officially Day 1.

I didn't do as well during the past few months as I hoped, giving in to challenges (wedding, etc.) and emotional eating. In some ways I regret doing reintroductions of food in March after being on the Whole 30 plan for over six months. Reintroducing foods was helpful because it revealed what foods are issues for me, but it also threatened to take me back to old habits and created cravings for things that I had not really missed while I was committed to the plan. I found myself thinking a little of this or a little of that was no big deal but doing that once turned into twice, then an almost daily thing. I am sure that is why I haven't consistently lost weight since April. And the thing is, I didn't really enjoy any of it like I thought I would. Even pizza. Pizza is still my nemesis - the one food I always want and the one food that always makes me feel sick because of the cheese and crust. On a positive note, none of it was like before with complete mindless eating so I'm happy I've overcome some bad habits.

August also marks one year since I sought out a more natural path to wellness with Dr. Thiel. Although I would have liked to have lost more weight, having lost 35 pounds is better than none at all or having gained instead so I am happy for that success. I hope to reach my first goal of losing a total of 50 pounds by the end of December, so 15 more pounds to go and then I will evaluate what the next goal will be. If I can stay with the plan with the same commitment as a year ago, I have no doubt I will reach that goal.

Yes, weight loss is still a main goal because losing excess weight does lead to better health so it needs to remain a focus but with health as the ultimate goal. In the past 12 months my blood sugar has become more regulated and is in normal range most of the time.  My ankles don't get swollen like they used to, especially in the summer. My last lab work showed improvements in lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides and improved liver function so those are telling markers that I'm on the right track however slow the progress may seem.

So today is my new start and I'm looking forward to the discipline. As strange as it sounds, I do better with a list of do's and don'ts and when I was completely commited to the Whole30 plan, I never felt deprived. My challenge is that we are still in a state of disarray due to the kitchen remodel but it's still doable; just takes more planning ahead so as not to resort to convenience foods. Having Brad do most of the work himself saves us money but the trade-off is that it takes longer. Hopefully it will be done by the end of this month.


Exercise today: 30 minutes total on exercise bike

Food plan:
Breakfast - spinach omelet, coffee with coconut milk, 1/2 avocado, vegetable juice
Lunch - Salad with Tessemae's dressing, olives, avocado, grape tomatoes, and tuna; fresh strawberries
Dinner - Sauteed zucchini and mushrooms with turkey, 1/2 nectarine

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

One Day at a Time

One thing I know about myself is that I can't look too far ahead when I set goals because I easily become overwhelmed.  It's the same with my health and weight loss goals.  It helps me to focus on smaller goals that allow me to take it one day at a time. I want to lose more than 50 pounds but that is my first goal and I'm well over half way there. Once I reach it, I'll set another goal.

I can do just about anything for one day. I can exercise and eat according to my plan one meal, one session at a time. If I can be "perfect" for one meal, I have succeeded. If I get in a brisk 10 minutes on the exercise bike or a walk, I've achieved a goal.  And if I do those things once, then I can do them again three times a day.

So just for today, I'm being "perfect". Breakfast and lunch were completely on plan and I've completed 20 minutes on the bike. 

This weekend begins the kitchen remodel so I'm thinking ahead for meals without a stove and oven. It shouldn't change how we eat too much but will take some extra planning to use the microwave, electric skillet, outdoor grill, and crock pot.

My new favorite from Tessemae's:
This is seriously eat with a spoon straight from the jar good and is approved for Whole30. I've used it as a veggie dip, on sandwiches (lettuce wraps), in cold chicken salad, and on pan fried fish and turkey burgers.

And my morning coffee got better:

I blend the coffee with coconut milk and a teaspoon of the chocolate powder. It would be even better with some sweetener, but is still good without it. The photo below isn't mine but my coffee does looks like this:


My menu for today:

Eggs, vegetable juice, coffee with coconut milk and chocolate powder

Pan fried tilapia (coated with almond meal for crispiness), steamed broccoli, 1 banana

Skillet meal with chicken, cauliflower, and sweet potato cooked with olive oil, 1 strawberry popsicle (pureed strawberries with almond milk).

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pressing On

I dropped the ball so to speak and caved in to a meal that wasn't Whole30 so I need to start over. But overall I'm still doing ok but I do notice I'm hungrier between meals than before so I'm trying to eat more veggies with each meal rather than more protein (which I'm already pretty generous with). We'll see how that works. The first time around I was able to go 4 or more hours between eating before feeling hungry but this time it seems I'm hungry after 2-3 hours. I just don't want to fall into a snacking habit but I also know that true hunger is not something to ignore.

The discipline of exercise is still a struggle. I literally have to force myself to be active because my preferred state is rest rather than activity! lol  I'd rather be reading or at the computer writing or doing a craft than getting hot and sweaty, especially during these hot humid summer days. I just don't like to sweat or get too warm. I don't like anything that makes me physically uncomfortable but activity is what keeps the joints limber and the metabolism going so it's something I have to do, like it or not. I'm not talking about running or extreme anything. I just need to get on the exercise bike even if only for 10 minutes every hour, take a walk, stretch, do some strength training with hand weights, etc. No marathon training, just doing what will make my heart and muscles stronger and my joints more flexible. It's also good for me mentally and emotionally to get those endorphins going.

I'm hoping being more disciplined with exercise will also help me get below a certain weight range that I've been stuck at for several months. I don't discount the progress made but I tend to look at weight loss in "tens" and want to get out of the range I'm in.

One other thing I struggle with is that while I can tell I've lost weight, no one else seems to notice or if they do, they don't say anything. I realize that it is probably more noticeable on someone who is 150 pounds and loses 25 than it is for 35 pounds lost on someone significantly overweight.  That said, my waist is almost 7 inches smaller and just last week I ordered clothes online in a size smaller than I had been in and had to return them all because they were too big! I decided to wait a bit and see where I'm at next month before ordering again. I might need two sizes smaller by then (fingers crossed!). I can get by with the clothes I have for a few more weeks.

I could also tell a difference after seeing pictures from Nate's wedding. At first I was thinking how big I looked but then I compared them to Caitlin's wedding six years ago and there is definitely a difference so I'll take that as a positive confirmation and give myself credit for progress!


My meal plan for today:

Breakfast: eggs, avocado, vegetable juice, coffee with coconut milk

Lunch: big salad with tuna, Tessemae's dressing, apple

Dinner: spaghetti squash with meat sauce, salad w/dressing, fresh blueberries

I really do like the Tessemae's dressings and sauces. So far I've tried the spicy ranch, ranch, ceasar, and cracked pepper salad dressings, ketchup, bbq sauce, and regular mayo and liked them all. This week I'll be trying the mild buffalo sauce and Chesapeake mayo (I think it is more spicy than the regular). They are more pricey than most store brands but for me it is worth it as it adds variety while helping me stay compliant with my food plan. And I'm the only one using them so they last longer. :)

Here's the link to a 20% off coupon for anyone interested in ordering from them:


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Day 9

I'm doing well getting back to healthier eating. I really haven't had any cravings which has helped me stay on track.

Earlier this year I got rid of clothes that were too big. That was a step of faith. I didn't want to be that size again but hesitated because what if I gained weight back?  But I decided to let them go and was glad to find some things in my closet in a smaller size that fit now. I had to do a little shopping to round out my summer wardrobe but not a lot since I don't plan to be this size next summer.

I'm enjoying the sauces and dressings from Tessamae's and they provide a welcome variety to my meals.  So far I've tried the catsup, bbq sauce, and cracked pepper, spicy ranch, and caesar salad dressings.  The caesar isn't my favorite for salads but it does make a good marinade for chicken. I also like the mayo and have used it for tuna and egg salad lettuce wraps, and also added some homemade ranch seasoning mix to it for a veggie dip. I know I could probably come up with my own recipes for these condiments but right now they are affordable to buy since I'm the only one using them.


Today's meal plan:

spinach omelet (my go-to breakfast)
coffee with coconut milk

pan-fried tilapia with brussels sprouts
1/2 avocado
fruit popsicle (blended fresh strawberries, blueberries and almond milk, frozen into popcicle molds. Each one is just a couple of ounces so it gives me some fruit but not too much at a time).

Skillet meal with chicken, cauliflower, and sweet potato cooked in a little olive oil

Snack if needed:
hard boiled egg or tuna, vegetable juice

Friday, June 3, 2016

Day 3

The first three days back on my plan have gone well. I expected it to be difficult with cravings and such but so far so good. There is nothing coming up socially this month that will tempt me to eat anything I shouldn't. But this isn't just for another 30 days. As before, I plan on sticking with this for as long as possible. Reintroducing foods and then going completely off the program last month showed me that those foods just aren't worth the consequences.

One challenge I face this summer is when we remodel our kitchen. It will be doable but I'll have to really plan since I won't have a stove for a while and will rely on a crock pot, microwave, or an electric skillet. I'll probably have more salads too. Not looking forward to the process and decisions to be made - so many choices! -  but am excited about a new kitchen.


Meal plan today:

Breakfast: coffee with coconut milk, eggs, vegetable juice, 1/2 avocado

Lunch: tuna wrap (tuna, Tessamae's mayo, chopped veggies wrapped in lettuce leaves), 1/2 apple, lemon flavored LaCroix water (naturally flavored sparkling water with no salt, sugar, or artificial additives)

Dinner: spaghetti squash with meat sauce, 1/2 avocado

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Official Day 1 on Whole30 Restart

I started back on the Whole30 plan yesterday but since today is June 1, I will make it my official start day.

As I gear up for a new month of healthy eating, I read this from the book It Starts With Food by the authors of the Whole30 plan to remind myself of the benefits and why I'm doing this:

The food that you eat should:

  1. Promote a healthy psychological response. As a rule, we think the foods that are good for your body should also not mess with your mind. And we think the psychological effects of your food choices are perhaps the most important factors to consider during your healthy-eating transformation.
    This is why the Whole30 includes rules like, “No Paleo-ifying desserts or junk food” or “No stepping on the scale for 30 days.” The guidelines aren’t just about how these foods (and behaviors) are affecting you physically, but also how they play into our unhealthy relationships with food, eating, and our bodies.

  2. Promote a healthy hormonal response. Chronic “overcarbsumption” of food-with-no-brakes leads to reliance on sugar for fuel, an accumulation of body fat, triglyceride buildup in the liver, and an excess of glucose and triglycerides in the bloodstream. But you can stop overconsuming, dial all the way back to insulin and leptin sensitivity, retrain your body to burn fat and, to a significant degree, restore normal cortisol levels, by doing one simple thing: changing the food you put on your plate.
    This is why our plan includes nutrient-dense, whole foods (no nutrient-poor-but-technically-Paleo options!) and why we include guidelines like, “Eat three meals a day, trying not to snack,” and “Start your day with a breakfast focused on protein and fat.” The food choices and mealtime habits you’ll develop on your Whole30 will start to restore a healthy hormonal balance quickly.

  3. Support a healthy gut. We believe you should consume only foods (and drinks) that support normal, healthy digestive function; eating anything that impairs the integrity of your gut impairs the integrity of your health. This is why the Whole30 is 100% for 30 days—no cheats, slips, or special occasions. If you’re sensitive to a particular substance, it only takes a tiny amount to promote disruption in the gut (and elsewhere in the body). You must completely eliminate all potentially problematic foods for the full 30 days to allow your gut time and space to heal.

  4. Support immune function and minimize inflammation. Your food choices should result in a well-rested, highly-effective defense system. In other words, food should not cause excessive ongoing immune activity, also known as chronic systemic inflammation. Chronic systemic inflammation is at the heart of metabolic syndrome.  This is perhaps the most significant standard of them all, because systemic inflammation is related to just about every lifestyle-related disease and condition you can think of. It’s also sneaky, and can manifest itself in any number of different ways in the body—no two people’s symptoms are alike. (Emphasis added by me because this is what I have/had.) And it’s why we eliminate the foods and beverages we do, as they have all been shown to promote inflammation either directly, or indirectly through impaired gut integrity.

I also reminded myself of the simplicity of the meal plan: animal protein + lots of vegetables and a little fruit + good fats + seasonings, plus no weighing or measuring food is needed except when following a specific recipe.  And, I know from having done this for six months straight previously that I will feel better! That is my main motivation and I do well with structure and a list of do's and don't's. I don't have to work to fit a food into my plan with points or counting calories or carb and fat grams. I simply don't think about the "don't" list and focus on what I can have.


Food plan for today:

Spinach omelet, Knudsen Organic Vegetable Juice, 1/2 avocado, coffee with coconut milk and a little coconut oil. (I use a little hand-held blender from Ikea to froth it up a bit - see photo below).

Large salad with chicken and Spicy Ranch dressing (Tessamae's), 1/2 avocado, olives. (Salad includes a variety of lettuces and kale...very green!)

Spaghetti squash with homemade Italian meat sauce. (I use ground turkey, mushrooms, Italian spices, garlic, and tomato sauce.)
Frozen fruit "ice cream" (Blended 1/2 cup almond milk with small banana and about 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries then froze it. I poured it into a freezer container but discovered it is pretty hard to get a spoonful out since it's not creamy like regular ice cream. I had to kind of scrape it out a little at a time. Next time I will do it as individual popcicles.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Starting Again

May was quite a whirlwind of activity with our son's wedding and visits with family, plus an extended visit with our granddaughter! So fun.

The downside is that I went completely off the Whole30 wagon. I do mean completely...pizza, ice cream, cheese, processed foods, restaurant food, bread. Ugh!  All those symptoms came back...achy joints, headaches, swollen feet and ankles, intestinal upset and pain, and fluctuating blood sugar levels.  I usually did well with breakfast but things just seemed to go downhill after that. There were also days when I forgot to take my vitamins and supplements which I'm sure took a toll.

But the good news is that I'm once again in attack mode and am back on Whole30 completely and to the letter.  I'm spending today meal planning. That is key to doing this well. I have lots of chicken cooking in two crock pots that I will then divide into containers for meals. The freezer is stocked with tilapia filets and containers of frozen vegetables ready to thaw each day as needed, as well as fresh veggies and fruit in the fridge.  I also made a big salad to use over the next few days.

Tomorrow I'll cook a batch of spaghetti squash and homemade sauce (tomato sauce, ground turkey, mushrooms, and Italian spices) for several meals.

I ordered several Whole30 compliant sauces and salad dressings from a company called Tessamae's. They are a little pricey but will help me stay on track by giving me flavor variety and since I'm the only one using them, they should last a while. Plus, with our son now out of the house our grocery bill will go down, allowing me to afford the healthier choices I need.

If nothing else, going back to the old foods and habits was helpful as it confirmed how bad they are for me and how sick those foods make me feel.  I'm looking forward to feeling better again.

On the weight loss goal, I did gain a few pounds (likely water retention since my wedding ring is tight but clothes aren't) but that doesn't concern me. I'm sure by the end of June I will have lost that plus more.


My food plan today:

Breakfast: spinach omelet, coffee with coconut milk, strawberries
Lunch: large salad with tuna, black pepper dressing, olives
Snack: iced decaf coffee with almond and coconut milk
Dinner: chicken skillet with cauliflower and sweet potatoes, 1/2 avocado

Lots of water!

Friday, April 22, 2016


Actually, I don't have much of an update. My weight loss remains at 36 pounds since starting Whole30 last August. So that's still an average of 4.5 pounds lost per month which is good and I'm thankful I haven't gained any back. Still, there is that part of me that hoped it would be more at this point.

I have struggled with the return of some cravings since doing food re-introductions in February and March even though I didn't add anything back to my diet after discovering those foods did not settle well. Something about just having certain things again, even if only a bite or two for one meal, seemed to trigger cravings that I thought I had overcome. But, I'm resisting and hope soon I'll be back to where I was earlier when no food tempted me. It's a mind battle as much as much as a physical desire.

Nate's wedding is a month away and with that comes stress and feelings of anxiety. I'm prone to be an emotional eater, even when the emotions are positive, so the next few weeks will be a challenge. As happy as I am for him and the families involved, I admit I'll be glad when it's over.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Another Whole30 For April

Most of February and March was spent reintroducing foods and today, April 1, I am officially doing another thirty days of Whole30 to the letter. My reintroduction proved that certain "forbidden" foods on this program really do make me feel worse. Although my blood sugar didn't go up, digestive issues, headaches, and joint pain increased during that time, and I also didn't lose any more weight. So while I can't say I will never again eat certain foods, I will know there is a price to pay if I do. Pizza, cheese, processed meats, and bread are not my friends and I realize they will never be.

I am in another cycle of de-cluttering and I think the two go hand in hand...simplifying food and simplifying my surroundings and life in general. Both make me feel lighter and ready for the next phase, whatever that may be. With our son getting married in May, we will officially be empty nesters. That doesn't bother me in the least. Yes, there are things I will miss with no kids left at home but overall I'm looking forward to what's next for Brad and me. We have plans to downsize to a smaller home at some point so the purging of excess household items is a good first step. Each trip to Goodwill has been like stepping on the scale and realizing I've lost a few more pounds!

My meal plan for today:

Breakfast: spinach omelette cooked with olive oil, coffee with coconut milk, organic vegetable juice

Lunch: large salad with tuna, vinegar and oil, avocado

Dinner: skillet dinner with chicken, diced sweet potato, and cauliflower cooked with olive oil

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Motivation Remains the Same

I wrote my first blog post about six months ago about why I needed to start this journey. As I said then and what continues to motivate me is this:

"Hope is a great motivator. Being told that it is entirely possible to turn things around and that it is not too late is empowering. Having a plan and listening to one professional voice of reason instead of succumbing to "Google-itis" with conflicting information overload is freeing. It won't be easy because some major changes in what I eat and shifts in mindset will be necessary. Yes, it will be hard but there are other things that are even harder. Like getting cancer, developing diabetes, having a stroke or heart attack, or living with constant pain and anxiety. Being anxious every time I go to a restaurant because I might not fit into a booth (yes, that has happened and it is humiliating) is hard.  Food decisions are not hard by comparison. Getting in exercise that doesn't require training for a marathon or American Ninja Warrior is not hard compared to waiting for something bad to happen that makes any exercise nearly impossible because I wasn't willing to do enough to make myself stronger.

I came across this quote by Carl Bard: "Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." I'm choosing to not dwell on what might have been or what I could have, should have, done differently. The fact is, I'm here today with challenges I'd rather not have but it's not too late to change the direction and make what's ahead better."

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Starting Again After Reintroduction of Foods

I've reintroduced a few other foods because I wanted to know how my body would react. I guess I wanted to know if giving them up was worth it or not. Pretty much everything not allowed on Whole30 had a negative effect when I tried them again. Nothing major, but enough discomfort to convince me that I should continue to avoid them as much as possible. It isn't that I will never have those foods again but if I do it will be with the knowledge that I will not feel well the next day or two. I'm officially back on Whole30 as outlined in the book but it isn't for 30 days; this is now my lifestyle.

Still no "tiger blood" - that daily energy and sense of well-being that many on Whole30 experience - but not feeling more blah and droopy than usual either so I'll take what I get. But come to think of it, in the past I've spent winter wanting to hibernate and now I do feel like getting up in the morning instead of pulling the covers over my head for another hour or two of sleep. Maybe that is MY version of "tiger blood" even though I'm still more of an Eeyore than a Tigger.

Exercise in general remains my biggest challenge because I'm just not naturally drawn to physical activity. I'd rather curl up with a good book or do something crafty than go for a walk but it's a discipline I'm working on. I'll fake it to make it as I pretend to love hopping on the exercise bike or go through a series of stretch and mobility exercises or do strength training with the resistance bands.

As of today I have lost a total of 35 pounds. When I do the math after being on the plan for six months, that is an average of about 5-6 lbs. per month and more success than I've ever had. If I do this another six months that may be another 30 or so but even if it is less, anything will be more than if I did nothing.  And the other non-scale victories like lower blood sugar and triglycerides, no foot and ankle swelling, etc., are even better because my main motivation from the beginning was for better health. I will turn 60 next January and I want that decade of life to be better than the past two have been.

My exercise plan today:
30 minutes total on the exercise bike
15 minutes of the stretching/mobility DVD

Food Plan: 
Breakfast - 2 eggs, coffee with coconut milk, organic vegetable juice
Lunch - tuna with large salad, vinegar and olive oil, avocado, 1 apple
Dinner - chicken stir fry with sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and cauliflower

  (Not my photo but very similar to what my salads look like. I usually add kale along with a variety of lettuces.)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Reintroduction of Dairy

I decided to reintroduce one food that I've done without since August: cheese. The result was an upset stomach and not feeling well for a few days so I guess cheese/dairy is something that triggers inflammation for me. It tasted great and I do miss it but knowing that it makes me feel worse is reason enough to continue to avoid it.

I also tested adding a little honey to my coffee (with coconut milk for creamer) a few mornings and it didn't cause a spike in blood sugar or trigger any cravings for sweets, probably because I had it with other food at breakfast. While I don't plan to have it every morning, I will give myself permission to indulge in a cup now and then while avoiding all other sugar/sweeteners. I don't want to reawaken the sugar dragon!

I haven't tested other foods like wheat/grains and legumes yet, mainly because I haven't missed those as much as I did cheese. Maybe I'll do it at some point but for now I'll pretty much stick with the Whole30 plan as outlined in the book

Exercise continues to be a challenge due to achy joints but I did discover a DVD workout by Miranda Esmonde-White that doesn't cause more pain:

I was only able to do about five minutes of it the first day but am adding a little more time each day as my strength and mobility improve. It's gentle yet surprisingly effective. One of the issues with having arthritis or joint/muscle pain is that exercise is supposed to help but if it hurts the motivation to move more just isn't there. The trick is to find something that doesn't make me feel worse during or after instead of better and this seems to be a good choice. I also spend some time each day on my exercise bike but can only do about 10 minutes at a time before my knee starts to hurt.

Another addition to my daily menu is a cup or two of green tea. I'm not crazy about the taste of it by itself but it's good for me so I make two cups of it in the morning then add a little to my water throughout the day with ice and maybe a slice of lemon. I like it better that way.

No more weight loss but the way it seems to work for me is that I go a few weeks without seeing it on the scale then suddenly it goes down so I'm not discouraged. I started all this knowing it would be slow and steady rather than a fast track so I'm content to let my body heal and progress on its own.

My meal plan today:

Breakfast: spinach omelet, organic vegetable juice

Lunch: large salad with tuna, olives, avocado and homemade vinegar and oil dressing

Dinner: stir-fry with olive oil, chicken, mushrooms, cauliflower and sweet potato

Monday, January 11, 2016

Progress One Step at a Time

I don't have any major updates, just continued slow and steady progress. I had lab work done last week and was glad to see a few "bad" numbers go down. Still some work to do but at least they are heading in the right direction. My vitamin D levels were low when I started in August and are now into normal range thanks to the supplements I'm taking.

Overall I'm still encouraged by the results I'm seeing with the Whole30 program. I intend to keep doing it as outlined.

Something that is helping me with meals and my budget is better planning. I divide frozen veggies into smaller containers that I can thaw in the fridge as needed for the week. I cook enough chicken and ground turkey to last the week, also divided into smaller containers. I like doing skillet meals so this makes it handy to toss together meat and a few handfuls of various veggies cooked with a little olive oil. I can also add broth for soup if I want.

Spaghetti squash is a new favorite food which I top with homemade Italian meat sauce. It is not just like pasta but is a satisfying substitute when I want the taste of spaghetti and meatballs or even pizza.

I make a big batch of salad to last several days too. A while back I bought a salad spinner that helps remove the excess water from greens after rinsing them which keeps salad fresher longer. Then, the salad goes into Rubbermaid Produce Saver bowls which also keeps it fresher (picture below, got mine from Amazon).

My meal plan for today:

Breakfast: spinach omelette, organic vegetable juice

Lunch: salad with tuna, avocado and olives, homemade vinegar and oil dressing

Dinner: chicken skillet with cauliflower, diced sweet potato, and mushrooms

Sunday, December 20, 2015

More Weight Loss

As mentioned in my previous post, I had not lost weight for over a month so I was happy to see that the scale finally moved when I weighed this morning. I've now lost 30 pounds total over the past four months, and 5 inches off my waist. Those numbers, along with the other improvements, keep me motivated to continue.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Survived our Family Christmas

We had our official family Christmas on Saturday since the kids from California came for a visit. I actually stayed on my food plan despite more temptation than usual. I won't say it was easy, but I planned ahead and had plenty of compliant food prepared. So I succeeded in staying with the program for both Thanksgiving and Christmas!  We will still have a nice dinner on Christmas day but it's not with the whole family so it will be simpler and since I'm the cook, there will be plenty of choices for me.

I haven't lost much weight since last month. I think my body is just adjusting to the changes it has gone through these past four months and my expectation is that the weight will start to go down again. I'm trying to not let the scale be a main focus.

I'm not really counting days on the plan any more - I'm tracking by months now - but my intent is to continue to do it as prescribed every day. My goal going into the new year is to try new recipes compliant with the plan. I have the cookbook Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan and got the second one, Well Fed 2, for Christmas so between those and the recipes on that author's website and the Whole30 website, there should be plenty to choose from. 

What I ate today:

Breakfast: spinach omelette, avocado, organic vegetable juice

Lunch: chicken, green beans with almonds, olives

Dinner: spaghetti squash with Italian meat sauce (ground beef, onions, mushrooms, tomato sauce, seasonings), olives

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Day

I stayed compliant for our Thanksgiving dinner. Enjoyed turkey, diced sweet potato and onion roasted with olive oil, and crispy pan fried green beans (cooked with a little olive oil).  I was a little tempted by the pumpkin pie but decided that even one bite would likely trigger the desire for more and might re-awaken the "sugar dragon" so I'm not going to risk it. Instead I'll pat myself on the back for making it through day 101 without having to start over.

Later today I'm planning on reading parts of It Starts With Food and the Whole30 book to review the program and motivate myself going into December. There are a couple of family gatherings coming up so I want to plan ahead for those.

I did weigh myself this morning and didn't lose anything since I last weighed a couple of weeks ago but I'll keep doing the program and hope for more loss next time.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

100 Days

Today marks 100 days on Whole30. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving but I intend to stick with the program. If I decide to have a taste of some "forbidden" foods, I'll just start over the next day.

My results continue to encourage me to stick with the program...weight loss, lower blood sugar, less joint pain, etc.

Today's meal plan:

Breakfast: scrambled eggs with salsa

Lunch: tilapia and roasted cauliflower, 1/2 avocado, 1 apple

Dinner: salad with turkey, homemade dressing, 1/2 avocado, olives

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Day 90

I read my calendar wrong in the previous post. That was day 83, today is day 90 which means I've done the Whole30 and supplement protocol Dr. Thiel recommended for three months now. I would not have guessed that I would stick with it this long but a lot of the motivation comes from seeing results. If not for those, I likely would have stopped after the initial 30 days.

I plan to keep going with this plan as long as possible because if it's working, there's no need to risk undoing my progress over foods I've proven I can live without.  At some point it's inevitable that I'll find myself in a situation where I have no choice but to eat something I've avoided or can't be sure what the ingredients are, but that hasn't come yet so I'm pressing forward one meal, one day at a time.  And yes, I do plan on sticking with it for Thanksgiving and Christmas. There's nothing that tempting to me that I can't say no to and since I'm doing the cooking, I can make sure there are plenty of good choices for me.

Here's where I am today:
  • Down 26 pounds
  • Blood sugar is in normal range most of the time.
  • Less swelling and pain in my ankles and feet.
  • Less hair loss.
  • No food cravings.
  • Feeling more balanced with moods.

One thing I am doing today is planning meals for the next couple of weeks and making a grocery list. I'm in a bit of a rut where meals are concerned and don't always have the best choices on hand so I settle for things that aren't as satisfying even though they are compliant with the program. If there is a "hard" part of this program for me, it is the planning and the cost. It takes discipline to plan and stock my fridge and pantry accordingly and I have to be diligent in looking to see what is on sale at the grocery store and plan my meals around it.

My meals today:

Breakfast: scrambled eggs with hot sauce, 1/2 avocado

Lunch: Tilapia, red potato, green beans

Dinner: Salad with tuna, olive oil and vinegar dressing, 1 apple

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Day 83

Today is day 83 with the Whole30 program and my journey to better health. I've now lost 26 lbs which I'm happy about. That averages out to a healthy 2 lb. loss per week since I began this, give or take. I know the number on the scale isn't what defines my health or who I am, but it is still a welcome affirmation that this is working.

My blood sugar continues to be in normal range the majority of the time and that is huge for me.  It means the pre-diabetes diagnosis is reversing and that is the most important result I was hoping for.

In the Whole30 program, most people typically reintroduce the "forbidden" foods one at a time after the 30 days but this is working so well for me that I am continuing without reintroduction. I'm doing well with the foods I'm allowed and haven't really missed the rest. Sure, every now and then I would like pizza or cheese but I remind myself of the progress I've made and that kills any craving effectively. I don't need to fix what isn't broken.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Day 73

Day 73 of this journey toward wellness and exchanging poor habits for better ones. Still no "tiger blood" (lots of energy that I didn't have before) but I'm continuing to see progress however slow and steady, which may actually be my version of tiger blood for now.

I like the picture of the turtle and strawberry as it reminds me that anything can be overcome one step (or one bite!) at a time and that's what I'm doing.  I'm learning to not look too far ahead but instead focus on today because just for today I can do this.

Meal plan for today:

Breakfast: 2 eggs, 1/2 avocado

Lunch: tilapia, olives, roasted Brussels sprouts

Dinner: grilled chicken breast, butternut squash with olive oil, green beans

Snack if needed: 1 hard boiled egg, olives

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Slow andSteady Wins the Race

Staying in the "slow and steady wins the race" mindset today.  Some days I have doubts and wonder if I can do this but I also remind myself that there is no fast track to healing and losing weight. It is the daily discipline that will get me to my goals. Moving forward without looking back.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

It's About More Than Food (Day 68)

My focus the past two months has been on changing my diet to something more healthy and healing. I've seen several positive physical results that I've mentioned in previous posts, but there is another side of this. I find I'm becoming more mindful of all my habits, not just those related to food.

I'm paying more attention to other things that might be causing stress such as activity level, what I watch on t.v. and how much, what I'm feeding my mind through what I read, think, and who I listen to. I'm also more more mindful with finances as a sort of spending "diet" where I make a conscious effort to think before acting just as I now do with food.

Exercise continues to be more of a challenge for me than food or anything else. I still don't feel the "tiger blood" burst of energy each day and some days the arthritis still rears its ugly head so exercise isn't something I'm drawn to so it has to be a willful, conscious decision. One reason it is harder is that the benefits aren't always instant and in fact, sometimes makes me feel worse before I feel better, but I know as I continue the benefits will come.

I also sometimes do this program "sloppy". By that I mean I have been sticking to the rules of the program but it doesn't always look pretty or perfect. Sometimes I'm not as prepared as I should be so I resort to less quality for convenience sake such as canned foods instead of fresh and not always organic due to budget restrictions and availability. Sometimes I find myself falling into a menu rut because I didn't take time to come up with variations. But I'm still doing the program and it's still working for me despite my lack of creativity at times.

My meals themselves aren't that pretty. I've visited the Whole30 forum and their Instagram feed and one would think that a requirement of the program is to prepare meals that are food blog photograph worthy! Seriously, some of these people style their food for photographs!  But for me, I'm just hungry and want to eat so I don't give much thought to how it looks on my plate.

I'm not criticizing those who want to share their meals. Those photos actually inspire me with ideas for my own meals as much as any cookbook recipe but even if I use the same ingredients or foods, mine never look as pretty so I don't bother taking pictures to share with anyone.

But, here are some examples of good Whole30 compliant meals that I borrowed (ok, stole) from some participants on Instagram:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Why This is Working For Me

During the past 58 days I've wondered why this is working; what is different this time from all my past attempts to lose weight and feel better. Nothing has "stuck" like this.

I think it's because I trust Dr. Thiel's recommendations for nutrition and supplements. She is not selling anything so her motivation is her desire to help people get well.  And I trust her knowledge. One reason I sought out a naturopathic doctor was to be able to cut through all the fads and conflicting information out there.

The other reason this is helping is that I like structure and having a black-and-white, "eat this, not that" program. Choices are fine but I work better with a list of rules when they make sense.  The Whole30 program is one I was able to embrace from day one and run with without trying to tweak it. The only way to know if it would work was to follow it to the letter.

I know many people would claim it is just another fad diet, is unhealthy because it eliminates entire food groups, and that it isn't sustainable, but for me, it is working.  Yes, I've eliminated dairy, legumes, grains, and all forms of sugar from my diet for now but I've replaced them with more vegetables than I've ever had, healthy fats, nuts, and good proteins. There is no nutrient lacking in my diet and my body is responding by healing itself without the stress of inflammation those other foods caused.

Monday, October 12, 2015

More Confirmation That I'm Getting Better (Day 56)

I had two confirmations this morning that the protocol Dr. Thiel has me on is continuing to improve my health.

My two main concerns going into this were being overweight and being pre-diabetic.  This morning I was happy to discover that both my weight and blood sugar numbers were lower than they have been since I started this program. I have now lost a total of 18 pounds and my fasting glucose was 93 (normal is below 100).  Both numbers leave me motivated to continue and give me hope that if I can stay the course, I will get well.

I know Whole30 doesn't like the scale and weighing oneself, but the truth is, when one is as overweight as I am (let's call it what it is: obese), it is important that weight loss be part of the journey to getting healthier because obesity contributes to so many of the other health issues. This goes beyond just changing body composition for those of us who are truly obese so let me have this. But in keeping with the Whole30 philosophy concerning the scale, I have definitely let go of the need to weigh every day like I used to and the scale no longer holds me hostage emotionally. Now it is just an occasional check point. It isn't the most important number any more but it does help me stay motivated when I look at that alongside all the non-scale victories. 

Two more things I can add to my (non-scale) confirmation list:
  • There's some space between my tummy and the car steering wheel now. When I started, I didn't have to squeeze into the car and it wasn't a tight fit but I could still feel the steering wheel against my stomach as I was driving.
  • I took my blood pressure last week and it was 127 over 75.  When I started, it was typically in the 140's and 150's.

My food plan today:
Breakfast: spinach omelet with salsa, 1/2 avocado

Lunch: homemade chili with ground turkey, 1/2 avocado, roasted cauliflower and broccoli

Dinner: tilapia, stir-fried zucchini and mushrooms

Snack if needed: 1 hard boiled egg, olives, carrots

Exercise plan: 
20 minutes on bike
2 trips up and down the stairs to help strengthen my knees since stairs are my biggest challenge.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Day 51 of 100 - No Tiger Blood Yet

The Whole30 book talks about experiencing "tiger blood" at some point during the first 30 days, usually from day 16 forward. By that they mean many people experience energy and stamina they never had before, and having the switch flip to awesomeness.  In other words, physically feeling like a super-hero or the Energizer Bunny. 

I have not felt that. There may come a day that I realize I really am more energetic than I've been in a long, long time or that I actually feel better than I have in years, but that kind of  "tiger blood" has not been part of my journey yet.

The truth is, I have a lot to overcome with health issues that have built up over decades. Any one of them by itself is a deterrent to losing weight and feeling better so dealing with multiple issues makes it even more of a challenge. I'm also older. My experience is not going to be like that of a 20- or 30-something with relatively minor health or weight issues. I don't downplay their success or their desire to get healthier but the bottom line is, an obese post-menopausal woman who has metabolic syndrome (insulin resistant, pre-diabetic) is going to have to work harder and take longer to get better. And that version of "getting better" may not ever look like what someone much younger experiences. It's just how it is but it doesn't make it impossible. Anything I do now to get better will add to the quality of my life going forward.

I need to see this as me being more like the tortoise in the fable than the hare where slow and steady wins the race. People younger than me and with less health issues will feel that "tiger blood" sooner but for me, it is a more like a walk-a-thon where everyone gets to finish without having to compete with anyone else.  For me, it isn't a sprint to see how fast I can go in the shortest distance; nor is it a marathon of significant distance where time still matters. Most days it is literally just putting one foot in front of the other, being disciplined and consistent with my food and exercise, and patting myself on the back at the end of the day for doing it.

I have a goal. There is a finish line that I'm setting my sights on, but there are no requirements as far as how quickly I get there or when I must finish. Or what I must look like.  It's not likely I will develop 6-pack abs but without a tummy tuck they will not be visible anyway. Ever. I accept that.  My body may end up looking like a deflated balloon as I lose excess fat, but if it is a healthier body I can accept that too.

Each day I stay with the plan is a victory in and of itself.  Today I'm focusing on the positive changes experienced so far. This is my version of "tiger blood":
  • lower blood sugar (glucose) levels that are getting closer to normal
  • weight loss (14.5 lbs so far)
  • 3" lost in my waist
  • less joint pain most days
  • no more food cravings
  • no more emotional eating
  • less depression about my health and body
  • less hair loss and better hair in general (this is a new one that I realized this past week)

Food plan for today:

Breakfast: spinach omelet with salsa and olives

Lunch:  Zucchini and mushroom stir-fry with tilapia, 1/2 avocado

Dinner: Chicken breast with roasted cauliflower and broccoli, 1/2 avocado, 1 apple

Snack if needed: 1 hard boiled egg, a few olives

Exercise: 20 minutes on exercise bike, two trips up and down the stairs (Stairs are my biggest challenge so I figure doing them in my house every day is the best way to build strength in my legs and knees.)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Day 46 of 100 - Pressing On

Without weighing and measuring, it's sometimes hard to tell what kind of progress I'm making other than the changes I've noted previously. But I am pressing on and continuing to stick with the food program and supplements. I've been monitoring my blood pressure a few times a week as well and it has been lower than in previous weeks. Another non-scale affirmation!

I know that it will take time to reverse my health issues and give my body time to heal. I'm encouraged that I'm doing the right things to help that happen and will be patient. Whatever happens over the next month and beyond will be an improvement over not doing anything at all.

Earlier this week I struggled with thoughts of guilt for being in the health I'm in. I should have made better choices, I should have seen it all coming and stopped it somehow, I should have tried harder to lose weight. Thankfully, I was able to push those thoughts aside and quit beating myself up. Yes, I have some responsibility in where I am but there were also things going on in my body that were working against me every step of the way and that I had no control over without understanding what was happening.

As they say, when you know better you do better and that's what I pat myself on the back for. Taking steps to be proactive with my health is something I can take credit for, from when I first set up the appointment with Dr. Thiel to reading the Whole30 books in order to understand how to reduce inflammation through food, and to simply commit to the plan. Once I got to that mindset, the rest fell into place and honestly hasn't been that difficult.

My food plan today:

Breakfast: 2 eggs, 1/2 avocado

Lunch: pan fried tilapia, olives, roasted broccoli, cauliflower, and butternut squash

Dinner: ground turkey burger, salad with homemade dressing, apple

Monday, September 28, 2015

Day 42 of 100

I don't want to be negative about doing the Whole30 and making lifestyle changes in general on my journey to better health because I am seeing some positive changes, however small. The reality, however, is that this is not a miracle cure. It is not a fast-track to weight loss or resolving health issues that took decades to develop. I knew that. But the truth is, I still don't feel great yet and hoped to feel better at this point.  And the other side of this is that I'm working to reverse things that took decades to develop so I have to understand this will take time. 

Today I'm trying to focus on the good things that have happened so far...lower blood sugar, less swelling in my ankles, less joint pain over all even though I do still have days where it flares up. I have to understand that while a lot of things will improve, it doesn't necessarily mean I'll never have to deal with them again.
I also am choosing to not compare my journey with those who have experienced impressive results just a few days into the Whole30 program. It just takes longer for some of us than others and I accept that.

I did have some victories over the weekend as I successfully turned down donuts, pizza, cheese, and cookies that all found their way into my house via the husband and son.  They did not do it on purpose to try to tempt me. In some ways I welcome it because I know if I can be strong and turn down such things right in front of me then there is no scenario that I can't overcome. That is empowering.

My food plan today:

Breakfast: Eggs, avocado, vegetable juice, banana

Lunch: Large salad with tuna, olives, homemade dressing, apple

Dinner: Stew with ground beef, red potatoes and green beans

Exercise: 20 minutes on exercise bike

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My Exercise Metric

What do I want from exercise? If I do it just because I'm "supposed to", then I won't likely stick with it if it doesn't benefit my daily life. At this point I have no interest in training for a marathon. I'm not competing for anything. I'm not interested in joining a gym. I just want daily life to be easier and want to use common sense ways to get stronger such as walking or riding my exercise bike or using hand weights and resistance bands at home.

So what I want to achieve with exercise is:
  • To be able to go up and down stairs without getting out of breath or feeling my legs (especially knees) can't handle it. It's a challenge for me now.
  • To be able to do daily housework without getting worn out - things like vacuuming, mopping, etc. 
  • To be able to carry in several bags of groceries from the garage to the kitchen without getting out of breath.
  • To be able to get up and down off the floor to play with my granddaughter easily and to actually be able to chase after her. Right now I don't think I could run if I had to.
  • To be able to walk further distances without being out of breath or feeling like my knees and feet can't take it. Sometimes the distance from where I park to the entrance of a store seems so far away and I confess there have been times that I've just decided it wasn't worth it and left without running that particular errand.
  • And this is one of my biggest reasons: To feel if I fell down (and wasn't actually injured) that I could get back up on my own. Right now it's a big fear because I'm not sure with my weight and lack of strength that I could get up without help. 
I'm sure there are more reasons but for now, those are my ways to measure if exercise is beneficial.

Exercise for today:
20 minutes on exercise bike

Food plan:
Breakfast: spinach omelet,  vegetable juice

Lunch: ground turkey patty, 1/2 avocado, olives, roasted Brussels sprouts, 1 apple

Dinner: grilled chicken, broccoli and cauliflower mix, 1/2 avocado

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Day 34 - Goodbye to Coffee

One thing I gave up on this journey to better health was coffee because I only like it with cream and sweetener. Coffee itself is allowed, but not the rest. After completing my first 30 days, I did try some coffee with half and half and stevia like I used to enjoy every morning. Yes, it tasted good but my digestive system did not like it. I'm not sure if it was the coffee itself, the creamer, or the stevia. It likely was the dairy, but it doesn't matter. I would rather do without than drink it black so I'm just going to concede that this is something I can live without. I'll test more for a reaction to dairy later because for now I'm wanting to continue with the program.

This is a beautiful handmade mug two of my kids got me for Mother's Day. Instead of coffee, I will fill it with tea when I want something hot and comforting in the mornings. I can still enjoy the special mug and my morning ritual but without anything that will upset my stomach. I'll be trying different teas to find one that I love. I have some favorites, but nothing that stands out as something I would genuinely look forward to having every morning.

My food plan today:

Breakfast: 2 over-easy eggs, 1/2 avocado, cherry tomatoes

Lunch: Spaghetti squash with homemade pasta sauce (gr. beef, olive oil, tomato sauce, seasonings), 1/2 apple.

Dinner: Same as lunch without the apple, and adding 1/2 avocado. I'm taking the easy way out and just doubling the recipe.

Not today. Taking Sunday as a literal day of rest.

Friday, September 18, 2015

I Wait All Year For These!

One reason I was successful with my first round of Whole30 was that there were plenty of foods I liked that were allowed. Things like avocados, olives and olive oil, fish, chicken, beef, nuts and seeds, and almost every vegetable and fruit, including potatoes. Because of needing to watch the blood sugar issue I do have to be careful with carbs like fruit and potatoes so I save them for when I want a treat more than including them with daily meals.

But there is one food that I wait all year for and that is Jonathan apples, my favorite. The first crop is always in September and yesterday I bought a bag. I will likely have one apple a day as long as they are crisp, fresh, and available!

My other focus going into this second round of Whole30 will be exercise. The past month I focused on learning how to eat better but now that I know what I'm doing with that, I can become more disciplined with activity without feeling distracted.

My goal is simple for the next 30 days: ride my exercise bike, do step aerobics, or walk for a total of 20 minutes a day (minimum) at least five days a week and do some strength training two days a week.  No training for a marathon, just getting into the discipline of common sense, doable activity that will strengthen both my heart and my muscles.

Exercise today:
20 minutes total on exercise bike

Food plan:
Breakfast: spinach omelete with tomato sauce and olive oil

Lunch: large salad with homemade dressing, tuna, olives, and avocado

Dinner: zucchini and mushroom stir-fry with turkey

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Day 30 - Last Day of First Round of Whole30!

Today completes my first round of Whole30 and I plan to continue. I've seen enough improvements to motivate me to embrace this as a lifestyle rather than a 30-day challenge.

This has not miraculously resolved my health issues in one month and I can't yet say I feel better than I have in years, but there have been improvements:
  • Lower fasting blood glucose. It was in the 110's -120's and even in the 130's now and then before, but during the past 30 days it was consistently in the 90's - low 100's. Normal is below 100 so I feel it is on track.
  • Less swelling in my feet and ankles.
  • Less joint pain. It isn't gone but I can tell a difference most days.
  • Less depression. My depression stemmed from feeling overwhelmed with weight and health issues and I now have hope that I can reverse most of them so that has contributed to a feeling of well-being.
  • No more emotional eating. No more going to the fridge as a way to deal with stress.
  • I've also been taking high quality supplements for my specific health concerns at the doses recommended by Dr. Thiel which I'm sure have also helped. When I have lab work done again I expect to see improvements in my cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.

I got additional affirmation when I measured and weighed myself: 12.5 lbs lost since August 11, and 2.5 inches lost around my waist! I know it may not be as much each month going forward, but I do believe sticking with this plan will eventually get me to my health and weight loss goals.

My assessment of the Whole30 nutrition plan is that it is not a fad and hasn't been that difficult. I had a few days that were challenging but over all I found plenty of allowed foods that I enjoyed so I didn't feel deprived. It is good, healthy food with no gimmicks. The biggest challenge has been the cost because without inexpensive, food-stretching ingredients like pasta, rice, and beans, it does cost more to eat lean meats, fish, fresh veggies and fruit, especially if I buy organic.  But, health care is more expensive so I'll do the best I can with my budget.

Food plan for today:

Breakfast: 2 eggs, 1/2 avocado, vegetable juice

Lunch: Salmon patty, green beans, 1/2 avocado, 1 apple

Dinner: Salmon patty, stir-fry veggies, sliced tomato

Friday, September 11, 2015

Days 24-25 - Fighting Doubt

Today is one of those days where self-doubt is creeping in because I really want to know how much weight I've lost. This program is strong on focusing on better health more than losing weight but when someone is as overweight as I am, it's hard to let go of wanting lose weight quickly even though I know there is no quick fix. I'm trying to focus on the "non-scale" improvements I've seen no matter how small and remind myself that this will take time. Every baby step toward better health has great benefits in the long run even if I don't see or feel it a lot now.  When I weigh myself next week after completing this first 30 days, I do hope to see a confirmation on the scale to add to the other improvements to motivate me to continue for another month.

I understand that a number on the scale doesn't tell the whole story of health for anyone (even thin people can be unhealthy) but it does matter when obesity is a contributor to being sick.  And I also know that getting thin for the sake of being thin is not my goal. I have no delusions of getting to some Hollywood standard that is not in my genes and would be impossible to maintain. Health really is the goal, and losing weight is part of that.

Today I'm reminding myself of the positive "non-scale" changes so far:
- lower glucose levels
- less swelling in my feet and ankles
- no cravings
- I'm 25 days in and have done really well with sticking to the program, beyond what I thought I could do. As far as food goes, it hasn't been that difficult.

Food plan for today:

Breakfast: 2 eggs, vegetable juice, 1/2 avocado, apple with coconut cream and cinnamon

Lunch: turkey, stir fry veggies (from bag of frozen mix - broccoli, pea pods, water chestnuts, red peppers, onion, celery), olives

Dinner: Roasted chicken, big salad with homemade dressing, roasted Brussels sprouts

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Days 22-23

I visited some blogs and Instagram posts of other Whole30 participants and wondered how they find the time to make their meals so pretty! They seriously look like they were styled for a magazine photo shoot. My meals are tasty but nothing worth getting out my camera for. It's enough that I take the time to prepare healthy meals and to be honest I'm pretty hungry by then and just want to eat! But, maybe I'll try taking a photo of especially good looking meals now and then.

Next week I will complete the 30 day commitment to this program but I've already decided to keep going with the exception of reintroducing coffee with some cream (probably coconut or almond milk) and stevia or honey. If it doesn't cause my blood sugar to go up and doesn't create a craving for more sweets, I will keep everything else compliant but add coffee back to my breakfast. I'm surprised that it is the one thing I really miss, more than cheese or pizza. I think it is the morning ritual I miss more than anything and with colder weather coming it is a nice way to start the day. Tea is ok but not the same. In the past I only had one cup each morning so I haven't missed the caffeine and didn't go into any kind of withdrawal.  But I'll see how it goes. It may turn out that it doesn't taste as good or evoke the ritual comfort on the same level as I remember and if so, I may just give it up for good.

Another positive is that I don't think about food as much, probably because I no longer have cravings for anything. I'm able to go 4-5 hours between meals without thinking about what to snack on. In fact, I really don't snack anymore.  Sometimes I'm genuinely hungry in the evening because I ate supper early so I'll eat something so I don't wake up in the middle of the night really hungry. But other than that, I don't do any other snacking.

I also was happy to find a brand of canned tuna that doesn't have soy in it.

Genova Tonno, Solid Light Tuna in Olive Oil, 5-Ounce Cans (Pack of 6)

Food plan for today:

Breakfast: 2 eggs, applesauce with coconut cream and cinnamon

Lunch: Roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, salad with homemade dressing, ground turkey burger 

Dinner: Ground turkey with Italian tomato sauce on spaghetti squash, olives