Whole 30, Days 29 & 30 – It’s a Wrap (but hardly over)

Hard to believe, but we’re at Day 30 of the Whole 30 Challenge. Was it challenging? Oh yeah. Rewarding? Absolutely. And honestly, now that it’s over not much will change. We’ll probably turn down a glass of red wine, I’m definitely having a coconut bliss bar and Dave will likely tear into a bag of rice chips, but then really, we’ll be back to Whole 30 eating.

This whole experience was really an introduction to eating primal for us – and we love it. Neither of us have any intention to reverting back to old ways of eating. We’ve learned a lot about our cravings and what they mean. We’ve organized our food shopping and prep to minimize time in the kitchen. We’ve come up with a gaggle on new most-loved recipes and we feel better than ever physically. Will we never indulge again? Of course not. We’re human and we love food. But our attitudes have definitely changed.

I knew this for certain when I moved the stove out the other day to sweep behind it. I’m a bit embarrassed to tell you what I found – a Christmas cookie. And not a home-baked, so good your eyes roll back in your head, to-die-for cookie. Just some store bought processed piece of white flour and sugar junk. It made me realize that while there may be cookies in my future, they won’t be this kind. If I am going to put something in my mouth I know full well won’t support my health and fitness goals, it damn well better be the most delicious, decadent, divine version of whatever it is. It better nourish my soul and my senses if it’s not going to nourish my health. And for me, I think that’s the biggest reward of all, coming to this new place of thinking about my diet.

Now where’s my corkscrew…?

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Whole 30, Days 23-25 – Pre and Post Workout Nutrition

pre workout options of muffins or chicken and avocado, and post workout options of a protein shake or beef and yams

It’s been a few days since we’ve posted. No, we haven’t been stuck at the bottom of a pint of hagan daz. Truth is, thanks to bulk cooking and a handful of reliable high-yield dishes, our daily meals are down to a sweet science – which is good since both our schedules have kicked up into the decidedly hectic range. But now that we have B, L & D under control, what about pre and post workout nutrition? Well as it turns out, this is an area where the Whole 30 approach flies in the face of conventional wisdom.

In traditional body-building circles, pre-workout meals are mainly complex carb, often from grain or fruits, plus a little protein. Think cottage cheese and fruit, a whole grain muffin or oatmeal and egg whites.

Whole 30/primal pre-workout meals on the other hands are smaller snack size combinations of protein with a little fat. Think sardines in olive oil or chicken with avocado. Choose easy digesting foods and allow enough time so you’re not working out while you’re still digesting.

Post workout, old-schoolers will tell you to get an easily absorbed protein and a quick sugar into your body after training – and most do it via a protein and fruit or juice “recovery shake”. The idea being that quick absorbing simple sugars help shuttle protein into your muscles.

The “new school” approach agrees on protein, but differs when it comes to fruit and simple sugars. Instead, the Whole 30 Success Guide recommends eating a meal size portion of easily digesting protein and a fist size portion of a carb-dense vegetable like yams within 15 – 30 minutes of training. They say relying on fruit as your primary carb source post workout is a mistake because fructose is processed exclusively in the liver, which means the  “fuel tanks” in your liver get filled before the “fuel tanks” in your hungry muscles.

I’m going to be honest, as important as Dave and I both know pre and post workout nutrition is, we sometimes find it a challenge to get these meals in. For one, I find my paleo meals fill me up and I’m not hungry for another meal before my workout. Poor excuse, but there it is. Our workouts also falls within an hour or so of a regular meal, so that last meal essentially becomes our  “pre-workout” fare. On the other side of the coin, we also sometimes launch right into another regular meal post workout and miss the benefits of getting that extra nutrition to our hungry muscles right away. To be clear, your post w/o meal is a ‘bonus’ meal. You should still be eating your next regularly scheduled meal 60 to 90 minutes afterwards.

We know it’s a challenge to schedule these meals; we struggle sometimes too, but we still can’t emphasize enough how important it it to optimize your training. If you’re working out hard, and you should be, it just makes sense to get the most out of it.

What’s your strategy for pre and post workout fueling?

Whole 30, Day 17 – Beef Crackers (aka dry beef jerky)

bowl of home made beef jerky

Alright, so our batch of jerky wasn’t our best effort this time. Still edible – and still about 1000% better than most store-bought crap, but definitely  a bit on the dry side.

We started with a good cut of meat recommended by our butcher Rob at Brady’s Meats. Trust me, you only pick the wrong cut once because what you end up with is akin to beef flavored chewing gum. We’ve also been experimenting with marinades and are faced with the added challenge that most paleo jerky recipes use coconut aminos, which aren’t available in Canada. Why not? Who knows? Maybe for the same reason you couldn’t buy stevia for years. Actually, this calls for a little tangent…

So way back when I first heard about stevia (for those in the dark, stevia is a herb used as a sweetener, it’s related to the chrysanthemum flower, 300x sweeter than sugar and doesn’t elevate blood sugar, cause cavities or feed candida – brilliant stuff) but back then, not available in Canada. I had to try it so I found a supplier willing to ship to Canada. Since it wasn’t legal here, the supplier filled out the customs label with Anonymous White Powder. No kidding, that  they let into Canada, but a harmless herb – no way. Crazy!

Anyhow, so my search for jerky marinade sans coconut aminos led me to jensgonepaleo.blogspot.com and her A Really Tasty Beef Jerky Recipe, using apple juice as the base. I didn’t have the Penzey’s BBQ 3000 spice she recommends, so I used an equal amount of ground black cardamom, which gave it a nice smoky barbeque flavor. I think next time I’ll also add a little balsamic vinegar to replicate the tangy soy sauce flavor I’m guessing the coconut aminos would give.

Just a note for those who don’t know. Tamari is NOT a good substitute for the aminos. Despite how many paleo jerky recipes you’ll find that use it, It’s made from soy, which of course is a legume and doesn’t belong in a paleo kitchen. Not to mention the questionable effects it has on hormones and the fact that virtually all soy grown these days is GMO. No thanks.

For those toying with idea of making your own jerky – try it! The Food Lover’s Primal Palate has a great post (and a good recipe if you can get your hands on coconut aminos) plus step-by-step instructions using the oven if you don’t have a dehydrator.

Like making your own mayo, it’s one of those things that fills you with pride when you’re done. Even if you do accidentally leave them in too long at too high a temperature and end up with tasty beef  “crackers” like we did, you can still feel proud that you’re eating a healthy, home-made, 100% paleo and Whole 30 approved snack.

Whole 30, Day 15 – What’s In & On Our Fridge

Fridge full of prepared food

If a picture is worth a thousand words, have a gander at our packed fridge. We spent most of Sunday afternoon and evening in the kitchen preparing food for the days ahead.

Last week we were in the kitchen every night.Not this week, man! We’re going to have a few batch cook nights and rely on high volume dishes like sheppard’s pie and stew, but we’re planning one three nights per week without kitchen duties! To help make that happen, I decided to rearrange the whiteboard on the fridge to track not only what we wanted to cook for the rest of week, but the groceries we’d need to do so and the resulting leftovers we need to eat.

Here’s what we netted for our Sunday efforts: a week’s supply of layered green salads, an apple avocado salad dressing, six portions of a hearty egg casserole with lean beef and turkey sausage, a double batch of chunky tomato salsa, a thick stew made with grass-fed beef and local organic root vegetables and a batch of jerky waiting to go into the dehydrator. It took a little longer than we thought it would, but it feels good to start the week with a fridge full of nourishing food.

Whole 30, Day 12 Everybody’s (and every body’s) Different

man sprinting on one side, woman asleep at computer on the other side

Guess which one I'm feeling today?

Whole 30, day 11. I was scrolling through the Whole30 facebook page reading posts by people at various stages of this challenge and was amazed (and at times, slightly jealous) of the variety of experiences people are having. There are people feeling “fantastic” after just a few days, boasting of high energy levels and good moods. There are people “Woot”- ing and going on about their clear skin and loose jeans. Hmph. If I had the energy, I’d almost want to hate ’em.

Of course I’m kidding. But I am surprised at how friggin’ drained I am, pretty much all day. Dave’s energy level is pretty stable, but mine is in the toilet. Of course, the facebook page is also full of posts by people feeling equally as lousy, struggling with fatigue and headaches, cravings and bloating…we really are all unique. I thought because our diets were pretty stellar before this great adventure, the transition would be fairly seemless. But I have to remind myself that the body is adjusting, the gut is healing, the metabolism is shifting and these things take time – and energy to process.

The posts I’m most impressed with are those about increased awareness, something we’re really noticing too. My draining day ended with car trouble and having to be rescued by my night in a shining pathfinder. And my first inclination as I stepped through the door was “Could I ever use a glass of wine right!” The correlation between emotions and eating is so obvious now. Dave craves crunch during movies out of habit and boredom, or cookies or apple pie because it would taste “fun”. You gotta ask yourself, what are you really feeding – the body or some other need? If I’m really honest, I’ve often fed my boredom, stress and a need for nurturing with “treats” that never really do the trick.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never be one to eat only for survival. I enjoy cooking and love eating way too much to ever consider it merely a means to and end. But the deeper we get into this Whole 30 challenge, the more I suspect we’ll come out of it with a new clarity about our food choices and a new take on what true “nourishment” really is.

Time to hit the sheets. Nighty night all!

Whole 30, Day 4 – Improvising

Today was one of those days where food took a back seat. Though I did have a little spell romanticizing about wine and Dave confessed to craving chocolate.

Overall though, our minds were on other things today and we relied mainly on leftovers. God bless bulk cooking. I was still feeling flu-ish so left work early and did a hot yoga class to help speed the detox. Somehow I just knew I’d feel better afterwards and it worked like magic! God bless hot yoga. David had lasik eye surgery today, so food was the last thing on his mind. He ate, but couldn’t really see the food I put in front of him! God bless him.

My cooking schedule went out the window today. I’d planned to do make green soup and meat balls, but honestly sometimes you just have to listen to your body. I had exactly enough energy to get tomorrows frittata in the oven and that was it. Speaking of breakfast, our’s was pretty good today: baked eggs, sweet potato hash, avocado and salmon ‘bacon’ (wild salmon skin fried crispy). Lunch was a large salad and leftover Sheppard’s pie (which we could happily eat every day, it’s sooo good. Here’s the recipe from marksdailyapple.com) and here’s a snap of the lazy dinner I threw together, curried shrimp dumped atop a big salad and a side of purple cole slaw. Sometimes you just have to make the best of it.

Hasta manana folks!

Whole 30, Day 2 – Temptation

Whole 30, day 2. Phone rings, it’s David. He’s at the grocery store looking at all the things he can’t have. “Get out of there!” I tell him. Why torture yourself? Truth is, he’s looking for kale to make a batch of kale chips, craving the crunch he used to get from his beloved rice chips. No kale, no crunch, sad Dave.

Food wasn’t a problem for me today. Did two workouts and had plenty of good food to feed my appetite. My issue today was a sugar-detox headache that set in mid afternoon and lingered like a bad smell. Damn you sugar.

Our local butcher was closed today so I couldn’t stock up on grass fed goodness. Shame because I was planning to make Sheppard’s pie with cauliflower. Mmm, mashed cauliflower…so good it almost tastes sinful! But that will have to wait until tomorrow. Tonight, we thanked God for leftovers and made due.

We’re doing the Whole 30!

It’s the end of our first day doing the Whole 30 Challenge and overall, a success.

I spent the last few days planning and preparing menus for the next two weeks and yesterday we decided to get rid of the last vestiges of non-compliant food – through the most enjoyable portals we could think of – our mouths! It wasn’t a lot: one bag of organic rice chips, four squares of yummy madagascar dark chocolate and a bottle of chilean cabernet, but it was still enough to leave us both groaning from the effects and wondering why we so compelled.

This morning we started the day with our usual: hot water and lemon juice. Grandma swore by it and lived to 97. We normally follow that with a cappucino, but decided instead to opt for green tea. Almond milk cappucinos just aren’t as satisfying as those made with raw milk. Besides, part of this challenge is not to simply modify old eating patterns, but to change them, so green tea it is – for now. I whipped up an omelette with some organic free-range eggs, tomatoes and spinach topped with salsa. Lunch was leftover dinner from last night: wild sockeye salmon with some purple yams (yum!) and big ass green salad. We had another half portion of the salmon with a half an avocado as our pre-workout meal, as per Whole 30 guidelines. This was new – eating fat before a workout. Our post-workout meal and dinner were rolled into one and consisted of  roasted organic chicken, a side of butternut and spaghetti squash and another big salad.

At the gym, David pushed some heavy weight around.  But I have to say, my workout kinda sucked. I decided to do the Bodyrock.tv fitness test and it wasn’t pretty. The last little while of loafing about and eating with abandon have really had an impact both on my waistline and my strength. Apparently my fat cells don’t care that it was Christmas. But I know I’ll get it back, so I’m choosing not to get too emotional about it.

Well, that’s it for now. Time for some shut-eye. Will update with photos later. ‘Night!