So, I didn’t finish Whole30, and I’m not going to.
Here’s what I learned through doing it twice, and lasting about 10-14 days each time: I should probably avoid sugar and grains for the most part. Dairy and legumes aren’t much of an issue for me, but sugar and grains definitely affect my energy levels, and make me feel bloated and gross. So I guess it was a worthwhile experiment to learn what my “bad” foods are.
The problem is that foods containing sugar and grains tend to be my favorite foods (cookies! donuts! cake!), so it isn’t practical to avoid them altogether. But I’m trying to adjust my usual daily routine so that they become occasional treats rather than daily staples, and so far that’s working ok.
Also: artificial sweeteners. This is the first time in my life I’ve cut out artificial sweeteners completely. I was a Diet Coke addict from middle school until about 2 years ago. After I gave it up, though, I always put Sweet & Low in my coffee and iced tea. I’ve cut that out – I gave up iced tea completely, and now just put a little milk in my coffee. And I’ve noticed that since I started doing that, I have significantly fewer headaches.
(The Whole30 book mentions that artificial sweeteners are several hundred times sweeter per tablespoon than regular sugar, so they tend to trigger the part of our brain that craves more sugar. I don’t know how much of that science is true, but I’ve noticed that I have less frequent “OMG I need some Skittles” urges now, so that’s good. I mean, I still want the Skittles, don’t get me wrong, but it’s less… urgent? I don’t know. It’s odd.)
And yeah, this post so far can pretty much be summed up with this GIF:
I know, I know. I’ll stop.
So! Other stuff.
This weekend, the girls were with me, and Chris and I really wanted to see the new Avengers movie. I thought Catie would enjoy it, because she seemed to like the first movie, but she wasn’t in the mood. So, we left the girls with my parents on Saturday night, and had a little movie date night.
The movie was good – honestly, I never watched any comic book movies until Chris and I started dating (well, ok, Christopher Reeve as Superman when I was a kid, I guess). Now I’ve seen several of the Marvel movies, and I think they’re pretty fun. I mean, they’re not going to win any Oscars (except maybe for special effects), but they’re entertaining.
Thinking of other TV/movie stuff, here’s some random notes on things we’re watching:
* Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD – Sort of related to the Avengers thing. It’s more of a spy show than a superhero-y show, and it’s pretty light and fun to watch. (I mean, the superhero/alien stuff does come up, but it’s not the main focus.) Also, I kind of have a crush on Clark Gregg. But I tend to go for nerdy, funny guys, and he is a total nerd who gets the best one-liners.
* Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – I really didn’t think I would be able to get Chris to watch this with me, and even he thought it was funny. So, consider that a ringing endorsement if I can get the dude who doesn’t watch sitcoms to watch a sitcom.
* Justified – We started watching this on Amazon Prime recently, and we’re about to start season 2. I think I like it? Some of it is a little gory, and there are some highly questionable Southern accents being thrown around, but it’s good. And Timothy Olyphant is… uh… not hard to look at.
* Game of Thrones – I’ll be honest, this is Chris’s show, not mine. I can’t cope with the extreme violence, so I hang out in the room while it’s on, but I usually play Candy Crush on my phone, so I have something else to look at during the gross parts. (I don’t do well with violence/gore. We only made it 2 episodes into the Walking Dead before I started having nightmares and had to stop. I’m a wuss.) So, I watch it, and I’m curious to know what’s going to happen next, but I’m also still like, “wait, who is that guy and how is he related?” Chris says my confusion at Game of Thrones character names is how he feels at my family reunions, which I guess is fair enough.
* The Americans – It’s SO GOOD. Season 3 just finished, and dang. It’s also got some really intense violence where I have to cover my face, but the characters are so complex and the storylines are fascinating, and it’s just. so. good. First 2 seasons are streaming on Amazon Prime. Go watch it, if you haven’t already.
* Better Call Saul – I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Chris and I both liked it a lot. Already can’t wait for season 2.
* Once Upon a Time – I really loved this show for a while, but it’s now in season 4 and starting to get a little ridiculous. A lot of the plotlines lately are wearing pretty thin. I think it was pretty clear they were running out of Disney storylines when they brought in Cruella DeVil as one of the villains. I’m not sure if/how they can turn it around, but for whatever reason, we’re still watching it. I guess I just want to see how it ends.
* The Flash – This is the show Catie and Chris watch together, while I go play with Lucy. I don’t get it, but they both love it, and I like that they have a “thing” they do together.
* Blacklist – I don’t even know why I put this on the list, we started season 1 on Netflix and gave up. It’s absurd. Every single episode has at least one moment where one of us says, “well, that’s dumb, nobody would ever do that.” It’s got Mike from “Homeland”! And the girl who played Jess in “Bend It Like Beckham”! And James freaking Spader! And it still sucks. Sorry, I can’t.
Anyway, not much else going on here. Trying to get outside and enjoy this spring weather as much as possible before it gets too unbearably hot.
The kids don’t seem to mind too much either.
I had every intention to try to stick to the Whole30 plan while we were on our trip to Austin, and I failed pretty spectacularly.
There was pizza. And cupcakes (from a food truck! Oh, Austin, you so quirky). And a pineapple upside-down cake that even my health nut uncle had like 3 slices, it was THAT GOOD.
So, that didn’t work. And one of the rules with Whole30 is that if you cheat on the plan, you have to start over on Day 1. So that’s what I’ve done. I’m now on Day 3 of this second round, and so far it’s pretty good. I sort of feel like since I made it to Day 10 the first time, I kind of know what to expect now? I’ve found a few recipes that I really like, a few more I still want to try, and it feels manageable.
That is not to say that I don’t miss the hell out of bread and cheese, because LORD do I ever. But this is temporary. And I’m really curious to find out if my diet affects some of my other health issues, or maybe they’re completely unrelated, who knows.
Really, the hardest thing is that you’re not allowed to weigh yourself until you complete the program – the theory seems to be that you may hit a plateau, get discouraged, and quit, so it’s better to just do an overall before and after. But I’ve been in the habit of getting on the scale every day before I shower. Is that obsessive? I don’t know, it’s just part of my daily routine. I moved the scale to the other bathroom so I won’t forget & weigh myself by accident, but now I feel like I’m forgetting something. (I have my watch, my make-up is on, what’s missing…? Oh, right.)
It’s a small thing and it’s dumb, I know, but it’s weird.
On the exercise side of things:
Since the half-marathon last month, I haven’t been able to run more than about 3 miles or so. The plantar fascitis in my left foot has been hurting too much, and I didn’t want to risk making it worse, so I’ve been taking it easy. But we’ve been having such gorgeous spring weather here, and my foot was feeling a lot better, so yesterday I ran 4 1/2 miles. First time I’ve done that since the half-marathon, and it felt really good. My foot hurt a little afterward, but not too bad.
And I’m still enjoying the Betty Rocker 30-Day Challenge workouts. I try to mix them up – sometimes I just do the recommended workout for the day, sometimes I’ll do 2 of her workouts back to back – but I try to keep it so that I’m always doing something different every day. It’s been a pretty effective way to kick my own butt.
I admit, though, I don’t really care for her workout videos, she’s a little too perky for me (she’s one of those people who claps a lot when she talks), but I just program the moves into the SecondsPro app on my phone, and do them on my own. I prefer that, because I can also use my own music. It’s kind of fun.
So, yeah, we’ll see how this little Whole30 experiment goes.
I’m up to day 9 on Whole30, and I haven’t killed anyone yet. Sometime around Thursday (day 4), the “carb flu” kicked in and I started feeling awful. It really does feel kind of flu-ish, your head hurts and you feel achy all over and it’s just miserable.
Friday night (day 5), I went to Drag Queen Bingo with some friends, which should’ve been a blast. (It’s an outing with other grown women! I almost never get to do those! I got to dress up! And it’s bingo! And drag queens are hilarious and fun!) And instead, I just felt… tired and sad. When your friends are all sitting around with beer and snacks, and you just have a bottle of water? That’s pretty lame.
At some point, there were cupcakes. I TURNED DOWN A CUPCAKE. That may have been the hardest “no thank you” of my life.
The kids were with Dave over the weekend, so they didn’t have to deal with me being so horribly irritable. Only Chris had to put up with me, bless his heart. But I only snapped at him a couple of times, and I apologized afterward, so I think he’ll be ok. Saturday and Sunday (days 6 and 7) really were the worst – I expected to crave foods that I wasn’t supposed to eat, but I wasn’t expecting to feel so sad and depressed. It’s weird how much all of this has affected my state of mind.
But I’ve been feeling better since Monday/day 8, and hopefully it’ll continue to stay this way.
One of the things they say in the book is that when it seems hard, just repeat to yourself, “it’s only 30 days.” The problem is, that doesn’t really help, because it feels like FOREVER when you’re in the middle of it. The best analogy I can think of is when you have a newborn and you never get to sleep for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time. Obviously that stage of babyhood is finite and eventually ends, but it sure doesn’t feel like it at the time.
Tomorrow, the girls and I are flying to Austin to see my sister and brother-in-law. I don’t know if (or how) I’ll be able to stick to the Whole30 plan while we’re traveling. I have a bunch of nuts and dried fruit in my carry-on for the flight, and I figure I’ll just do my best. If I go off the plan, I’ll pick it back up when we get home. I’m trying not to obsess too much about it, because I really want to be able to relax and enjoy this trip.
I have a whole bunch of things I want to talk about, so let’s break this into sections:
The kids were with me for Easter weekend, so we did the whole Easter bunny thing, which they loved. Lucy got a(nother) Elsa doll, Catie got a Skylanders coin purse, they both got tons of candy. On Sunday morning, we went to church, and afterward I got this pic of the girls with my parents that I love.
Catie is looking off to the side and my dad is squinting from the sun, but whatever. I still think it’s great. I don’t know if I adequately express how grateful I am that my parents moved up here to help me out with the kids after Dave and I split. I honestly don’t know how I’d get by without them.
Normally, on Easter Sunday, we do the big Southern meal that’s kind of like a Thanksgiving remake. Ham, green bean casserole, dressing, sweet potatoes, etc. I just couldn’t get excited about the idea of cooking all that food, and I asked Chris and my parents if they’d be ok with just grilling out instead. They all said that sounded good, so instead we did grilled chicken, veggies, burgers, and hot dogs. It was yummy, and it was a really beautiful day, so I didn’t mind being out on the deck at my parents’ house, working the grill all afternoon.
Last year, we had to do a mini-egg hunt inside because of rain/mud, but this year it was dry enough that my mom was able to hide the eggs around her yard, and let the girls have their own Easter egg hunt.
(It was in the mid-60s, I don’t know why Catie kept insisting she was cold and refused to take her hoodie off. I think she just really likes the hoodie.)
2. Lucy and Potty-Training
This is a subject I’ve kind of avoided, because I worry about what I write here that might embarrass my kids when they’re older. But here’s the summary: Lucy has been partially potty-trained for well over a year. She got the peeing part down immediately, but she never could get the hang of pooping in the potty. I thought she was just stubborn and holding it forever. She would have what she’d call “funny toots,” which were basically… well, sharts. (Which, FYI? Not funny at all when you’re the one who has to clean it up.)
And I mean, I tried everything. Bribes, threats, reward charts, you name it. And it wasn’t location specific – she had just as many accidents at my house, Dave’s place, daycare, my parents’ house, etc. It got to the point where she was having so many accidents every day that Dave and I both were about to lose our minds.
It finally occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t intentional? She’s old enough that she started to seem kind of embarrassed when it happened. So I googled her symptoms, and literally the first thing that comes up? Lactose intolerance.
Oh. Ummm. Huh.
Out of curiosity, on Friday, we switched her to the Lactaid lactose-free milk, and added probiotics twice a day, and LITERALLY OVERNIGHT, she started pooping in the potty and having no accidents. Just like that. Poof, she’s cured.
Today, we went to the pediatrician to follow up. Our doctor said that something like 80% of the world’s population can’t properly digest cow’s milk, so it’s entirely likely that Lucy is one of them.
And I realized, this might also explain why Lucy has always had such a big belly. I shrugged it off as just part of the way she’s built, but I swear that in the past 5 days since she’s been off lactose, her tummy has started to shrink. Even Dave noticed it too.
Now I just feel like an idiot for not googling it sooner. All the pain and suffering (and laundry detergent) I could have saved.
I started Whole30 on Monday, so this is day 3, and I’m kind of… fine? I keep waiting for really bad cravings to kick in, but so far I’m ok. I had a really terrible headache yesterday, and I wasn’t sure if it was because of a weather front that came through, or because of sugar/caffeine withdrawal. Maybe both? But I feel better today.
The biggest challenges for me so far have been that (a) I’m used to having a hard candy or a mint after I eat, and I miss that little sweet fix, and (b) practicing “mindful eating” and not eating in front of my computer or TV is a lot harder than I expected. (And BORING. It’s so boring.)
Recipes I’ve tried:
* Sweet potato hash – this is basically sweet potato fries in hash brown form. Highly recommend. Chris and I both loved it, and this will likely be added into our regular recipe rotation even after Whole30.
* Asian meatballs – I made this because of Melissa’s suggestion when she did Whole30. I had the same trouble she had finding the recommended brand of fish sauce, so I used coconut aminos and I still thought they were really good. Chris didn’t care for them, but he isn’t much of a red meat eater. (That’s a new thing, in the last year or so, that every time he eats red meat, it makes him sick.)
The biggest surprise discovery? I really like kombucha. Which is funny, because when I bought it at Earth Fare last week, Chris smelled it and laughed at me. He was like, “You’re never gonna drink that crap.” But it’s good! It’s kind of fizzy like Sprite.
I can also see how people in 12-step programs should stay away from it, because the bottle says it has “trace amounts” of alcohol in it, but it gives me that lovely warm fuzzy feeling in my neck and shoulders like when I have that first sip of a cocktail, so I can see how it would be dangerous for some people.
As far as exercise, I’m trying to ease off running until my foot feels better, so I’ve been doing the Betty Rocker 30-Day Challenge workouts. Some days I’ll do 2 of them back-to-back – for example, one of her ab circuits, followed by a “full body burn” cardio workout. Her workouts are short (about 15 minutes each), but they’re hard. It feels like enough to keep me active and not lose my endurance level while my body adjusts to this new eating routine.
I mean, I figure that if I can run for over 2 1/2 hours, I can certainly manage a 15-minute workout, even if I am suffering from the “carb flu.” (That’s not my term, that’s what the Whole30 people call the withdrawal symptoms that people go through when they cut out sugar and processed foods.)
So, 3 days down, 27 to go. Doesn’t feel unmanageable so far, but ask me again in a couple of days and I may have changed my mind.
Diets are a weird subject because they’re so person-specific – I’ve mentioned before, my theory is that in order to be successful on a diet, you need to find one that works for both your body and your brain. What works for one person may not work for another, and what one person finds easy may be completely unmanageable for someone else. We’re all special snowflakes, right?
The Whole 30 plan is one of those that’s been on my radar for a couple of years as various friends of mine have tried it, and I kind of shrugged it off as another low-carb fad diet. Then I learned more about it, as far as it helping with other health issues than just weight loss, and I thought it might worth trying.
Since the half-marathon, I’ve had to ease way back on the amount of exercise I’m doing, because of various injuries (not just the plantar fascitis in my foot, but it seems I’ve also done something to my right ankle, and I pulled a quadricep muscle that just won’t heal). And I was exercising for at least an hour (sometimes longer), 5-6 days a week, which is probably a little on the excessive/unsustainable side.
I’ve also had issues with my sinuses ever since the balloon sinuplasty last summer, and for the last several weeks, I’ve had headaches nearly every day. Not migraines (I’ve had those before and they’re horrible), but at some point every day, I get a dull aching pain my head. It’s not a sinus headache – those usually hit me right behind the eyes, and this is more toward the back of my head. It’s not debilitating, it doesn’t keep me from functioning, it’s just really annoying.
Essentially, between the exercise-related injuries and the sinus/headache issues, I’m taking ibuprofen at least once a day, sometimes two or three times a day, which is probably not ideal for optimal health.
I ordered the Whole30 book, It Starts with Food, and read it on the trip to and from Atlanta over the weekend. (Um, I read it when Chris was driving, in case that wasn’t obvious.) And I’m not sure that I completely believe 100% of their science, but I think it’s worth a shot. I’m curious about how dietary changes can help with other things like allergies and chronic inflammation/pain issues. I mean, it’s entirely possible that it’s a load of crap and it won’t help at all, but it’d be awfully cool if I could fix these issues myself.
The diet itself sounds a lot like the low-carb/detox diets I’ve done before where I cut out all processed foods & just eat meat, vegetables, and fruit. So I’m pretty sure that I can manage that. Whole30 is a little different in allowing some things I didn’t have on other low-carb diets, like regular potatoes. Those types of carbs are pretty essential if you’re exercising a lot, so that should help.
The main difference for me is that Whole30 cuts out all sweeteners, including artificial ones, so no more Sweet ‘n’ Low in my coffee and iced tea. I’ll probably just stop drinking iced tea altogether (because completely unsweetened = BLECCH), and I’ll drink black coffee to wake up in the morning. It also means I have to say goodbye to the little sugar-free mints that I suck on all the time. That’ll be challenging, for sure.
As for the weight loss side… well, I don’t know. I’m smaller than I’ve ever been in my life, and part of me thinks I should just be ok where I am. But I still see cellulite on my thighs and flab on my upper arms, and hey, maybe a healthy eating plan and a more moderate exercise plan (to allow my injuries to heal) would help with that. My plan the last few months has been more on the side of exercising like a maniac while also shoving all kinds of junk food into my mouth as fast as humanly possible, which is probably not the greatest way to keep a healthy balance in check.
I’ve also heard that it becomes so much harder to lose weight when you’re in your 40s, and I’m going to be 40 in less than a year. So maybe that’s part of it, this feeling like I have to hurry up and get in THE BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE because, I don’t know, my metabolism is just going to shut the hell down on January 16th, 2016?
That’s dumb, I know. I’ve been joking that the half-marathon was my mid-life crisis. I didn’t buy a sports car or have an affair, I just ran 13.1 miles. But in a lot of ways, I think it’s kind of true that all of this diet/exercise obsession probably is a little bit of a mid-life “thing” (not a crisis, because it’s not that dire, just a… weird mental speed bump).
So, I’ve decided to try Whole30, but now the issue is that I don’t know when to start it. Initially I was thinking the day after Easter, because I mean, these Cadbury creme eggs aren’t going to eat themselves, right?
Here’s the issue: mid-April, while Catie is on her track-out break from school, the girls and I are going to fly to Austin for a few days to visit with my sister and brother-in-law. (First time taking two kids on an airplane by myself! I’m both excited and scared.) There’s pretty much no feasible way to stick to this restrictive diet while we’re traveling: we’ll be spending many, many hours in airports, and I’m sure we’ll be eating out some while we’re in Texas. And this is not a “on the go” eating plan at all, you basically have to prepare your meals yourself ahead of time.
The rule with Whole30 is that if you “cheat” at all, you start back over on day 1. Which is fine, I can see how that would give you the incentive to stick to it for the entire 30 days. But do I go ahead & start it, knowing that I’ll only be able to do it for about a week and a half, take a few days off, then start over when we get back home?
If you’ve done Whole30 before, what do you think? I could basically think of the pre-Texas trip as a Whole30 sneak preview, then re-commit to it for the full month after our trip? Or is it better to not even bother until I can do the whole thing with no cheats?
* This is not at all sponsored by anyone, in case that wasn’t completely obvious. Just something I’ve been thinking about trying for a while now and I’m finally doing it.
The past few days have been a little rough for me while I recover from the half-marathon. I wasn’t expecting to be in as much pain afterward as I was. I assumed that if I could run 10 miles, 13.1 wouldn’t be much different. I was so wrong.
A few weeks ago, right in the middle of training for the half-marathon, I developed plantar fascitis in my left foot. My doctor is also a runner, and between him and all my running friends, I felt pretty ok about dealing with it. But despite all the precautions I took (ibuprofen, ice, stretching, sleeping with my foot in a really awkward brace contraption), it flared up with a vengeance after the half-marathon. I couldn’t put my left heel down when I walked, I had to walk on the tip-toes on my left foot. (Awkward, to say the least.)
So I’ve been taking it easy, doing some yoga/strength exercises to try to stretch my muscles out. I’ve gone on a couple of short runs this week, and I feel… ok-ish? My left foot still hurts if I’m on my feet too much (like last night when the girls and I went to the grocery store), but it’s manageable.
Other stuff that’s been going on this week:
I had a parent-teacher conference with Catie’s teacher this week. Which was not particularly eventful, but there was one major surprise there: he mentioned that Catie is reading ahead of her grade level.
This is the same child who, 1 year ago, was so far behind her peers that the school had her working with a special ed teacher doing a “reading intervention” program. The same child whose first grade teacher told me that no matter what we did with private tutors, she was going to be behind the curve in second grade too. (I’m still angry at her first grade teacher for saying that to me and Dave. What the hell, lady?)
And now she’s ahead of grade level. Not by much, it’s not like she’s reading “War and Peace” or anything, but STILL.
I mentioned to her teacher that it surprised me because I still have trouble getting her to read at home, and he said, “Oh, that’s a shame, she’s a beautiful reader. That’s all she really wants to do in class is read.”
I’m still a little bit stunned by that. Although I shouldn’t be, Catie has made a lifelong habit of surprising me when I least expect it.
On the Lucy side of things: I think most parents say that the “terrible twos” are really nothing compared to the “treacherous threes,” and based on my experience with Catie, I would have been inclined to agree. But man, Lucy is just hilarious and delightful and so… easy. Like, way easier than any toddler should be.
I keep half-waiting for her to turn into some type of toddler demon hellbeast, but maybe her daytime personality is easygoing to make up for 3.5 years of waking me up at night? Kids have survival skills and all.
And because I’m always worried that I’ll forget this stuff someday, these are a few recent Lucy gems:
* When something bothers her, she says, “it makes me annoying!” (I will never correct her.)
* Most mornings, she climbs into bed between me and Chris, and goes back to sleep for a while. There was one day that she had missed her nap and was up past her bedtime, so she slept HARD all night. It was a weekend, and around 7:30 a.m., the whole house was sleeping quietly, and suddenly a tiny voice yelled, “EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!” Chris and I were like, “Oh ok, guess Lucy is awake.” I don’t even know how she learned C&C Music Factory, since that song came out about 20 years before she born.
* When we went to see Cinderella last week, one of the plot points of the “Frozen Fever” short before the movie was that Elsa caught a cold, and every time she sneezed, her ice powers would go crazy and tiny little snowmen would pop up everywhere. So, on Monday, when Catie came down with a fever (she’s fine, it was a fluke 48-hour thing), I told Lucy that Catie was sick. Lucy said, “I think she might make tiny snowmans when she sneezes.”
I said, “No, that’s silly, Catie doesn’t have ice powers.”
Without missing a beat, she said, “Maybe instead she make tiny Steves.” As in the main dude from Minecraft.
I was impressed with how clever that was, because she knows Catie doesn’t care about Frozen, so she took the general concept and applied it to the thing Catie loves, Minecraft.
* She can spell her name, and I don’t know if that’s normal for a 3 year-old or not, but Catie didn’t spell her name until closer to kindergarten, so it seems impressive to me. (I take no credit, that’s all daycare.) She likes the trailer for the Scarlet Johannsen movie “Lucy” because they flash the name at the end, and she says, “L-U-C-Y spells Lucy, dat’s me!”
* Dave texted me the other night when the girls were with him, Lucy had her iPad and was trying to look up Frozen videos on YouTube. Catie will often ask for help spelling the names of whatever she’s looking for (like Skylanders videos), so Lucy was obviously copying Catie when she said, “How do I type Frozen?” Dave thought it would be funny to just tell her the letters and see what she did with it. She managed to get the keyboard open and she typed all the letters correctly except the N. It’s both amazing and a little unnerving when you realize that your kids will be more tech-savvy than yourself sooner than later.
* She sings, “Meeeeee in the skyyyyy with diamonds!” Dave taught her that one, and while I have never been a Beatles fan, I have to admit that it’s pretty damn cute.