Saturday, June 28, 2014

coast to coast: western progression

There's this feeling I get when I'm on the East Coast; a feeling of comfort. It feels as if familiarity and lifelong friendships are wrapping their arms around me. Yes, that's it  I'd liken the feeling of being back East to a hug: comforting, tight, and unmoving.

It is that same sense of comfort, security, and tightness that drew me away. Though I was secure in the arms of those I loved, I was smothered in the grips of familiarity, of spaces small.

I safely broke out of comfort's tight hold by going to college halfway across the country, in Michigan. There, it simply felt as if my arms were hanging loosely by my sides. I was comfortable, but not comforted. I felt like Goldilocks trying out Mama Bear's porridge and chair: Michigan was too cold and too big. It wasn't right.

So then I tried something completely unknown, a lifestyle foreign and far from everything I was used to. I moved to Phoenix, to the valley of the sun. It was a time of challenge and a time of growth. My arms no longer felt wrapped around my core, nor did they lay limply at my sides. They were spread open, ready to embrace the new. And I did, I embraced the new. But the sun was imposing and the desert lacking. So when the West Coast called my name, I answered.

And now, with the familiarity of family coupled with the opportunity of the vast unknown, I feel just right. My arms, they're stretching high, tall and above me. I am not smothered, I am not lost, I am not stuck. I am home.

This westward progression of mine has been an evolution of character and happiness. With each step in the direction of California, I have unfolded. My arms are no longer wrapped around my core, hanging softly in confusion, or reaching blindly for the new. They're reaching up and reaching out into the endless space, and drawing in everything I love close.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Whole30 - Week 2

Garrett and I are just over halfway through our Whole30, and we feel great! I think we've hit the "Tiger Blood" phase. For me, this means that I am full of energy and always ready to do something active. Other than at work, I'm spending less time sitting and more time attending yoga class, going for walks, cooking, cleaning, and anything, really, on my feet.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. This post is supposed to be devoted to week 2. 

How did I feel in week 2? Well, once I got past day 10, I started to feel really good. Days 8 and 9 were filled with mild flu-like symptoms, with heavy sinus drainage, overall weakness, and a headache. I continued to consistently blow my nose through day 14 (TMI?), but as a person with a mild dairy allergy that leads to sinus issues, I wasn't surprised. 

I also feel like we figured out a better meal and snack balance in week 2. I didn't really think of snacks in week 1, or size meals appropriately (large enough) for the husband. After making these adjustments and again devoting time to meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking, it really started to feel like smooth sailing.

We got this.

Here's our week 2 meal plan:

Breakfast - Banana, Egg prosciutto muffin cups

Breakfast - Banana, egg prosciutto muffin cups
Lunch - Leftover steak and homemade guacamole
Dinner - Cauliflower crust pizza with homemade tomato sauce, all natural chicken apple sausage, red onion, and red bell pepper
Snacks - Apple with almond butter

Breakfast - Banana
Lunch - Leftover steak and homemade guacamole
Dinner - Leftover Whole30-friendly red curry from my sister
Snacks - Dried fruit (no sugar added)

Breakfast Banana, no-bake fruit and nut bar
Lunch - Leftover cauliflower crust pizza 
Dinner - Tamale Pie & fresh guacamole
Snacks - Apple with almond butter

Breakfast Banana, egg prosciutto muffin cups
Lunch - Leftover tamale Pie & fresh guacamole
Dinner Salad from Roam Artisan Burgers

Brunch All-natural breakfast sausage, mushroom, and onion quiche
Dinner - Burgers topped with guacamole, sweet potato fries, and braised kale
Snacks  - Dried fruit

Brunch - All-natural breakfast sausage and scrambled eggs
Dinner - Chicken tikka masala

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


If you know me at all, you know that I love food.

Good food is one of the things that makes me happiest in life. For that reason, I hardly ever diet. I don't like to deny myself of happiness.

But over the past few months, good food started to lose its appeal. True to routine, I was eating too much. And all of the sudden, eating too much wasn't making me very happy.

I started my first desk job in March. While I absolutely love it, I began to notice that packing on the pounds became much easier when I was sitting all day opposed to chasing horses and kids around the clock.

Not to mention all of the snacks we have in our office. I am a Goldfish cracker fiend. And cereal? Hell, I hadn't eaten cereal in years until I started my new job. Then, almost immediately, I was eating cereal almost every morning.

My diet became full of processed foods, pumped with sugar and preservatives and all types of things that aren't so good for you. I started to feel unhealthy.

So, I decided to embark on the Whole30. Thirty days of cutting "out all of the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days." What, exactly, does this mean? Well, this is what I can eat during the Whole30: meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit, oils, nuts, and seeds. Things with very few ingredients, or no ingredients at all. What I can't have? Added sugar (real or artificial), grains, legumes, white potatoes, alcohol, carageenan, MSG, or sulfates. (If you're looking for more details, look here.)

Luckily, my husband is doing this with me. I'm not sure how strong my willpower would be if I had to do this alone, because, like I said before, I love food.

We're 10 days in and feeling pretty good. I've noticed some changes, which I'll share in the weekly meal plan posts. The most important thing that I'd like to share now, though, is that I haven't been hungry. At all.

I'll add our weekly meal plans as we go. Week 1 is up now:

Whole30 - Week 1

Garrett and I have officially made it through one week of the Whole30. Hallelujah! I kid you not -- never have I made it this long before through any dietary restrictions. Seven days may seem minimal to you, but to me, this is huge.

I attribute my endurance to:

1) Preparation. Had I not planned out each meal of the week and grocery shopped accordingly over the weekend, this whole thing would have fallen through the cracks on day 1. (See the general grocery list I worked off of here.) 
2) Time. Other than a few yoga classes, I left my evenings open to allow myself the time to cook dinners and prepare breakfast and lunch for the day(s) to come.
3) Open Calendar. Garrett and I picked a month where our social engagements were low -- no big events, no traveling, etc. There's no way I would do this over a vacation or during a time busy with celebrations (you can't drink alcohol!).

But mostly, I think that I've been able to stick to this (so far) because I haven't been hungry. 

So, with that, let me share our filling Whole30 Week 1 meal plan:

Breakfast - Egg muffins (eggs scrambled with onion and green pepper, baked at 350F until done), banana
Lunch - Salad (chicken, lettuce, cucumber, jalepenos, onion, no dressing)
Snacks - Apple with almond butter*

Breakfast - Egg muffins, banana
LunchHomemade chicken salad (chicken, onion, celery) with homemade mayonnaise (1 egg, 1/2 c olive oil, 1 lemon juiced, tsp of mustard)
DinnerSpaghetti squash with spinach marinara (5 tomatoes, 1/4 c water, salt, basil, oregano, pepper, onion, olive oil, garlic) and meatballs (1lb ground beef, 1 tsp basil, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, 1/4 c sundried tomatoes in oil)
Snacks - Apple with almond butter

Breakfast - Banana. Egg scramble -- eggs, red onion, green pepper
Lunch - Salad
Dinner Italian pork roast, broccoli, cauliflower rice
Snacks - Apple with almond butter

Breakfast Banana. Egg scramble -- eggs, red onion, green pepper
Lunch - Leftover pork roast, cauliflower rice, and broccoli
Dinner Apple dijon burgers and sweet potato fries

Breakfast - Banana, apple
Lunch - Salad from Mixt Greens
Breakfast - Sweet potato hash topped with a fried egg
Lunch - All-natural turkey breast from the grocery inside of the San Francisco Ferry Building (they prepare their turkey breast daily), apricots, and leftover broth from Friday's tikka masala
Dinner - Keema (without peas) and cauliflower rice
Snacks  - Banana Bread Larabar**

Breakfast - Sweet potato hash with onions and green pepper, topped with a fried egg
Lunch - Curried cream of broccoli soup
Dinner - Steak and sweet potato fries
Snacks  - Dried fruit (no sugar added)

Although I didn't feel hungry throughout week one, I did experience some changes in my mood and energy levels. On days 2 and 3 I was in a funk -- a little bit moody, testy, and down. The downswing of emotions was the side effect of my body going through sugar withdrawal (for real. See the Whole30 Expected Timeline here). On days 5, 6, and 7 I was pretty tired -- also totally normal. It wasn't necessarily fun, but once I passed day 7, my mood and energy levels were back to normal.

*I did a little overkill with the apple and almond butter as my snack in week 1 -- really, I shouldn't have had as many nuts as I did (read through Whole30 rules for explanation). I wasn't really thinking of snacks when I grocery shopped for week 1, so I made sure to add snacks to my list for week 2.
**Larabars are our "emergency" snack, as they're good to bring when you're on the go. Whole30 rules discourage you from eating them as treats, as your brain doesn't really know the difference between a Snickers bar and a Larabar. Each bar is different, so if you're picking some up, be sure to read the ingredient list. 

Also, sweet potato fries may have just become my new best friend. (Just wash, dry, cut into strips, toss in olive oil, sea salt and petter, and bake (lay out flat) at 400F until crispy, about 35 minutes.)