21 days trial

Day 7

Today is day 7, making it the longest period of time that I have gone without eating processed foods or sugar. I feel great. Well, honestly I feel a bit sleepy and my throat hurts a bit, but my mind is clear and I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment for where I am now. I’m even thinking about treating myself to a pedicure to celebrate 🙂

Today I made a tasty smoothie for breakfast- blueberries, strawberries, kale, spinach, and Greek yogurt. It was super tasty and didn’t leave me feeling stuffed the way eggs and bacon sometimes do on weekday mornings. Even the cat wanted to get in on the smoothie action. She was crawling all over me while I ate it on the couch, and a couple of times almost managed to stick her cute little face in my cup.

I’ve lost a few pounds for sure, but I feel like I’ve lost about 20. I definitely don’t look any different than I did last week, but I feel more solid, less flabby, and stronger, more energized. I’m excited to get to the point where my clothes start to feel looser and I can actually see a difference in my shape. But on the other hand, I didn’t exactly notice when I was gaining weight. In my mind, I look no different than I did 30 lbs ago. Of course, I can see the difference if I look at pictures side by side, but in the mirror I look the same as I did in college. Maybe it’s because I look at myself every day and the change happens so gradually it’s hard to notice. Or maybe there’s some level of denial that I could let myself get this big.

I remember in college I did Weight Watchers. I think at that point I was in the 180s. I always told myself that I would never let my weight get about 200. Well somewhere along the way I stopped paying attention, or stopped caring and by the time I got to AmeriCorps I was at 206. That was a huge shock for me! I’m pretty sure I burst into tears at the doctor’s office.

Despite hours of hard labor during my 10 months in AmeriCorps, I don’t think I ever dropped below 200 lbs. The problem was the food. Our galley on campus had unlimited fried foods, breads, processed junk. Every meal ended with an ice cream sundae. I often felt sick after I ate, but never had the mental strength to change the way I was eating. At one point, while working in Alabama, my team decided we were going to eat healthy in the conventional wisdom way- lots of veggies (good), tons of whole grains (bad), lean meats (not the best), and several small meals throughout the day (not great). I felt constantly hungry and unsatisfied the entire time. All I wanted to do was eat and eat and eat everything in site. I didn’t have access to a scale at the time, so I don’t know if I lost any weight. My guess would be no since my clothes never seemed to fit any differently. My entire team was also afflicted with the worst gas ever. Our van smelled terrible and outsiders tried to stay as far away from us as possible. Not great.

Last year I tried to do something similar. I found a blog written by a woman who took a 100 day real food challenge with her family. It’s a concept I wholeheartedly respect, it’s just her execution I have issues with. She had several meal plans and shopping lists. Most of the meals contained some kind of grain product and/or beans.

I attempted to do the 10 days on my own. I ate a lot of quinoa, black beans, and things made with whole wheat flour. I think I lasted maybe 5 days. During the entire time, my stomach hurt and I had terrible gas. I remember too that I tried to go out for a friend’s birthday. I felt so miserable while still trying to eat this way. It was an unpleasant experience for everyone.

So, what is the moral of the story? Well, less than I week eating 100% primally, I feel awesome and haven’t experienced any of the issues I had before when I would try to eat “healthy.” My energy levels and mood are both stable. My stomach doesn’t hurt after I eat. While I totally commend that woman for taking the processed foods out of her family’s diet, I have to wonder if for some people I diet modeled after hers will do more harm than good. She doesn’t report on having any issues so maybe the flour and beans aren’t a problem for her. That’s great. Perhaps I’m more gluten sensitive than I though? I’ve never had a test done and probably won’t ever. There isn’t one diet that’s perfect for anyone, but I do believe that I have found the one that is right for me.

Today we celebrated a coworker’s birthday. It’s tradition to have some sort of sweet treat at some point during the day and today was no exception. During our Monday morning all staff meeting we had these giant pastries from one of the best bakeries in the city. I will admit I took one. Not a whole one, really it was just one quarter of one which was still huge. I indulged for a few different reasons. 1. It looked AWESOME, 2. I think it would be unsustainable to miss out on very special occasions, 3. I still have some hang ups about being the odd man out when it comes to food. This is a holdover from living at my parents’ house and have it be a big deal and openly discussed whenever I was on a diet. If I was trying to make any kind of healthy change and I ate something that was “off plan” my parents would say, “Is that on your diet?” “Are you allowed to eat that?” It was incredibly embarrassing and I still am uncomfortable talking about my diet with others.

That being said, I did end up telling a coworker today about the dietary changes I am trying to make. Her and I talk about things like that every now and again. She mostly talked about her own diet and health problems, but I did chime in at one point and talk about what I’m doing. She was very supportive, but of course followed it up with the “Oh, I could never do that.” I usually just smile and nod when people say that. Because the honest truth is no, you never could do that if you have that kind of defeatist attitude and refuse to make your own health a top priority. I know for me that’s why I was never able to change and it’s still something I wrestle with.

On to the good stuff. Last night I threw a roast in the crockpot and let it go all night long. I kept the seasoning minimal so that I can use the beef in a variety of ways. I used beef stock. It turned out AWESOME. Probably my best one yet! For lunch today I brought some of the roast and about half of the leftover asparagus from last night. Finger lickin’ good. I even had some lunch envy from some coworkers…now that feels great!

The rest of the day dragged on. I don’t hate my job, but my heart just isn’t into it. I have a plan- in Soon I will start classes to get my certificate as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. I am so excited! I finally came to realize that this is what I wanted to do sometime last year. I was really struggling trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I have a masters in nonprofit leadership, and I work for a nonprofit right now doing fundraising. While I wouldn’t change a thing about my journey to get where I am, I realized that I just wasn’t fulfilled. And I didn’t really have a desire to take the next step up in the fundraising world. Reading about nutrition, food policy, cooking, and the like was and still is something I spend a majority of my free time doing. In fact (and I am admitting full on nerdom saying this), 90% of the books I have read in the last 3 years have been about food in some way.

I really had a hard time admitting that food and nutrition were things that I was passionate about. I mean, at 200+ lbs I don’t really look the part of someone who is knowledgeable about nutrition. Who would pay me to help them get healthier?

So this 21 day challenge is really a way to get me where I want to be to pursue my passion. I am officially registered for the NTP program and classes start in September. that gives me plenty of time to get a handle on my own health.

Tonight I decided to try a recipe from the cookbook “Make it Paleo.” Lot’s of great stuff in there! Tonight’s culinary adventure- and eggplant crust pizza! Something to know about me- I usually just use recipes as a rough outline of what to do and rarely follow them exactly. Sometimes the results are great. Sometimes they are a disaster. Tonight’s was somewhere in the middle. First, the recipe said to grate the eggplant with a cheese grater. Um…yeah, that didn’t go so well. I ended up just putting it in the food processor. Much easier! Next, the recipe called for a mix of flax meal and almond flour. I had neither so I substituted for an equal amount of coconut flour. Now, coconut flour has a very distinct taste that doesn’t necessarily scream PIZZA! When I looked at the online version of the recipe, one comment suggested subbing much less coconut flour. Oops. Third, I missed the step in the recipe where it said to squeeze the excess moisture out of the eggplant. I think this made my crust too soggy.

I put tomato sauce, spinach, bacon, onions, and parmesan cheese on top. Overall, not bad. I wasn’t impressed with the first bite but then it grew on me. If I made this again I would definitely follow the directions more closely, use less coconut flour, and maybe just roll out half the dough at a time to get a thinner crispier crust.

So, now that I’ve been eating steadily healthier I am finding myself with so much more energy in the evenings. I think I’ve touched on this before. I need to figure out something to do with myself now that I’m not ready to crash at 6pm. Sitting on the couch is no longer cutting it. Tonight it was too cold and windy to go out for a walk. I’ve been doing pushups and squats randomly. It’s just not enough. I can’t wait for summer so I can go out and do sprints in the evening.

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