Me and Kitchens: Whole 30 and Eating Right

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve blogged.  The reason?

I’ve been in the kitchen.  I’ve been in the kitchen A LOT.

Bacon wrapped sweet potatoes sprinkled with cayenne pepper, chili powder, and cinnamon

Bacon wrapped sweet potatoes sprinkled with cayenne pepper, chili powder, and cinnamon

banana with cashew butter, blueberries, and unsweetened coconut shreds, sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg

banana with cashew butter, blueberries, and unsweetened coconut shreds, sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg

Twice baked sweet potato with bacon and egg

Twice baked sweet potato with bacon and egg

You guys, before I even go any farther in this post I have to get very honest and tell you a few things about me and kitchens.  First, I am not a person who loves to cook.  (Or at least I haven’t been in the past).  I will cook because, out of all of us in this family, I am the best person for the job.  My husband, {{BLESS HIM}}, has many talents but cooking does not make his long list OR his short list.  I cook because I have a hungry family, and I follow recipes because they help me make food taste decent. But I’ve never aspired to be a good cook, is what I’m saying, and I’ve never really felt at home in a kitchen.

Also, it just so happens that we live in an area where there are a lot of foodies.  I can’t even count the number of my friends who have their own chickens, herb gardens, and vegetable gardens.  Orange County is ripe with wealth, and on three or four days a week I can drive a mere 10 minutes to a dreamy farmer’s market to buy all sorts of scrumptious produce.  And it seems all around me are friends, born and raised in Orange County who grew up with parents who modeled hosting luscious dinner parties with elaborate table settings and parsley-dashed plates.  I did not grow up that way at all.  Sometimes when it comes to cooking, I feel a bit like I’m playing U9 soccer with David Beckham.  I’d rather cheer David on than try to get on that field and score a goal.  I know my place.

BUT.  But, being fed up with these extra few pounds, and being inspired by one of my friends who was doing the Whole 30 and feeling fantastic, I decided to make a life change.   I decided to give the Whole 30 a try.

Chicken zucchini patties drizzled in curry mayonnaise with basil-lime cauliflower rice

Chicken zucchini patties drizzled in curry mayonnaise with basil-lime cauliflower rice

food4

apples sautéed in coconut oil with nutmeg and cinnamon

If you are interested in learning more about the Whole 30, you can read more here. Or you could also pick up the book It Starts With Food. But the skinny is, for 30 days, you cannot eat sugar, grains, legumes, or dairy. For 30 days, you choose to purify your body from all the non-essentials, the non-whole foods, to allow your body a fresh start.

What can you eat? All kinds of things! Bacon. Eggs. Steak. Chicken. Fish. Greens. Zucchini. Squash. Artichokes. Bananas. Sweet Potatoes. Salads. Berries. Apples. Nuts. Avocados. Tomatoes.   And the list goes on.

I’m not gonna lie.  It was not easy.

But one of the things I like about the Whole 30 is that it is not scale focused. You commit to eating healthy for 30 days, and you vow not to step on the scale during that time. You base the ‘success’ or ‘benefits’ of the program on how you feel.

And let me tell you something else. I was NEVER hungry. NADA. Did I have cravings that first week? Yes. Did I have detox headaches? Yes, days 5 and 6 I thought my head was going to explode. Did I have initial bouts of restless sleep? Yes, I sure did. But all of these things WORE OFF after ten days of sticking with the program.

banana scrambled eggs sprinkled with cinnamon with a side of fresh berries

banana scrambled eggs sprinkled with cinnamon with a side of fresh berries

grilled chicken and spinach salad with cashews, apples, and berries drizzled with a balsamic dressing

grilled chicken and spinach salad with cashews, apples, and berries drizzled with a balsamic dressing

Now, because I know you are wondering: I stepped on the scale the day after my Whole 30 ended, and I’ve lost five pounds. Not bad for one month.

But here is what I gained as far as how I felt:

Less joint pain. I’ve been nursing a bum right shoulder (volleyball injury) for over five years. I still play volleyball and after I play, my shoulder is sore for days. I used to treat it with two days of anti-inflammatory medication and ice. Not anymore. Don’t even need it. Also, I occasionally have right knee pain, even when I’m sitting and doing nothing. I chalk that up to my gait and these skinny little legs holding up this curvy Italian 5 foot 10 inch frame. But no more knee pain. Gone.

Best sleep of my life. After day 10, I slept like a QUEEN. I’d lay my head on the pillow and fall asleep within five minutes, and sleep the WHOLE NIGHT without waking. AND, the best part, I suddenly became a morning person. You guys, I have NEVER been a morning person. And now, crazy, I’m waking with a skip in my step in the morning, feeling rested and ready for the day. This might be because I’m off sugar, or might also be because I am off caffeine. (You are allowed black coffee on the Whole 30, but I take my cream and sugar with my coffee, if you get my drift, so I have not had caffeine these last 30 days either.)

The shape of my body changing. My clothes started fitting differently and better. I inherited back my wardrobe.

Less guilt and shame. You know that feeling when you stay up late and you eat junk you know you shouldn’t, and you climb into bed thinking “I shouldn’t have eaten that.” I went 30 days without that guilt. Or when you over indulge, and you’re so stuffed you have to unbutton the top button on your pants just to move, and you think, “UGGGG. I should NOT have eaten all of that!” Gone. Or when you have a glass of wine and you say something you probably shouldn’t have said because you are being more “honest” and your filter is down? I don’t have that either. Or when you try on pant after pant and they’re too tight, and you chastise yourself for lacking willpower. Gone. The fact is, I am proud of myself for eating this healthy. It was hard work. But I fueled my body and stewarded my body like it was something to be invested in. Because it is.

Restored spiritual health: Maybe the biggest gain of eating this way and all the hours in the kitchen has been a spiritual one. This was, by far, the best and greatest surprise.   I had spiritual awakenings I desperately needed as I chopped, diced, peeled, and mashed. So much so that I am going to do an entirely separate blog post about it.

So that’s my Whole 30 journey in a nutshell. I fully intend to keep at it because all the benefits have been worth all the work.  It is not easy taking care of ourselves, my friends.  But it is so important.

ground chicken and zucchini meatballs with onions, minced garlic, and smoked paprika

ground chicken and zucchini meatballs with onions, minced garlic, and smoked paprika