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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Whole30 Week 2: How Habanero Meatballs Ruined My Marriage

A recent grocery store stop at HyVee.

Have you ever wanted to find out if your significant other really, truly cares for you as much as you care for them? Maybe you just wonder about enduring something difficult together and still coming out strong? Well forget about reality television or week-long vacations alone together, have I got the plan for you! Trying Whole30 is the perfect way for a couple to find out how far they can get into a challenge without killing one another.

To illustrate my point I thought about posting a "before" picture of my husband and I, with us lovingly smiling into the camera, cheeks smooshed together; clearly a couple in a happy, healthy marriage. This would be followed by a picture of us now, two weeks into Whole30. The problem is I don't have any pictures that would clearly illustrate our feelings towards each other now, so I would have to improvise. The best "during" picture I could imagine would be that of a lion and lioness, teeth barred, fur flying, hurling themselves at one another- fighting for that last bite of zebra leg.

Let's go back in time a little. Week one of Whole30 was great! After a few days of the diet our headaches were gone, our energy was back to normal and we were excited to incorporate something different and healthy into our lifestyle. It was fun to plan the lunches we would bring to work. I was enjoying making homemade healthy meals for my family to eat in the evenings. I actually liked shopping for compliant foods at the store.

Life was good, really good.

...And then we had the soy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, free range habanero meatballs.

One of my more adventurous recipe adventures, I combined 2 cups of frozen squash (from my garden) with 3 fresh tomatoes, some fresh garlic, and various herbs. I served this seemingly innocent paste with some pre-made habanero meatballs I found at HyVee, with a side of sliced, coconut oil pan-fried potatoes. 

It all smelled really, really great.

However... it did not taste great. Somewhere between the vegetable paste and the spicy peppers in the meat, the meal flopped significantly.

As my husband and I tried to quickly gulp down the dish without tasting anything, I could feel the tension rising. Obviously, he and I had both started to become weary of some of the meals we were eating, but had not said anything to each other. We had been putting on a strong front that was about to crack. Other than us both agreeing that this meal was not my best culinary attempt, nothing else really came of it that night. 

But this wasn't over.

The next night we had an argument about my initial promise to plan his lunches for him if he agreed to do this diet with me. I disagreed that I should have to prepare every single lunch that he brought to work every single day. He insisted that that was an agreement I had made with him. This all ended with me, at 10:30 at night, stubbornly cooking up several meals for him and placing them in the refrigerator in nice, neat little Tupperware containers for the rest of the week.

Did it end here? Nope. Of course not. 

The next morning instead of taking a Tupperware I had specifically prepared for him until midnight the evening before, he took the meat I had also prepared that was intended for supper that night. I couldn't believe it! After all that fuss he took the wrong food. And now I had nothing to eat for supper (which I had been dreaming about all day in my head). This led to me sending an angry text. Or two.

Okay. I am going to stop here for minute. Let's think about this. My husband and I have NEVER fought about food before. Well other than that one time at McDonald's when I was frustrated that everything was so unhealthy and he said something along the lines of, 'Just eat it, it's not like you're a supermodel.' This is a new topic of semi-regular argument for us.

And it's not just arguing about food, food is all we talk about. What did you eat for lunch? What do you want for supper? Is this food okay for me to eat? Our text messages have imploded with grocery discussions!

Whole30 is not easy. It is hard. When I go online and research it, most people that quit usually do so around the second week when foods start to get boring and redundant. Even though we are struggling, we are committed. He has promised not to quit and so have I. We are in this together. And honestly, doing this as a team has been vital to both of our successes. 

We are halfway there, after all.

I joke, but the fact that we are impacted this much simply by just eliminating some of the unhealthy foods that we eat, is really scary. Food has such a mental pull on our ability to make smart choices. This experience has been really eye opening.

It's not all bad though. In fact some really good things have come from this so far. Although my husband is still waiting to see if this diet will impact his body positively in a noticeable way, I have been really happy. I have had no acne since this diet started. I have ABSOLUTELY no pain in my shoulder anymore so the inflammation seems to be completely gone (gluten I think). I have lost 7 pounds (but you aren't supposed to use this as a weight loss technique as it is obviously just a quick fix if you don't stick with the diet longer than 30 days). I also feel really informed about what I am putting in my body as well as my children's bodies. Although they are not eating all Whole30 compliant foods, they are making smarter choices that I hope this will continue long after these 30 days are over.

One of our "dream text chats" where we pretend we
can eat anything we want.

Look forward to another biting update next week. Oh and a few of you have asked for recipes from some of the yummy food experiments I posted about last week. Click here and here for those recipes.

Have you tried Whole30? What was the hardest part for you? Comment below.

Monday, February 22, 2016

@Garmin Marathon Training Starts Now!

Released from PT since my December 2015 
shoulder synovectomy and debridement.

I'll admit that as far as running goes this has not been a great year for me so far. In recovering from surgery for the first six weeks of 2016 to the battle of bronchitis these last four weeks, I have not been able to run like I have wanted to for a couple of months. I have faith that March will by my turn-around month but this start to the year has been rough. And depressing. If you don't run you might not understand how important running is to my sense of peace, balance and overall happiness. Things feel really "off" lately.

Last year around this exact time I was just getting over a different 6-week break from running due to a stress fracture in my tibia. The good news is that despite that, I was able to still train enough to run the Garmin half and finish in under two hours last spring. It was my worst half marathon time to date, but I ran it all. I was really happy with that outcome at that time. 

This year will be the same. I am now 8-weeks out from the Garmin half marathon and it is time to start training. My lungs are still really tired and sore, my body endurance is not used to running like normal, and my mental toughness is awful right now. To get me ready to run a half very soon, I created a training plan and I started it this week. It is pretty modest the first week or two with the hopes that with the inhaler, antibiotics and steroids, as well as rest and the passing of time, everything will all come together to get my running back on track these next few weeks. I also don't want to jump in too quickly and risk a stress fracture again so I have to slowly increase my mileage each week.

My 8-week training plan.

The training plan above is what I am going to shoot for. Many times for half marathons I don't really train, as my normal running pattern and distances are basically enough to get me ready. This time is very different and will likely be a significant challenge. When I run 3 miles right how it feels like I ran 8, so this is going to be an interesting couple of months.

When I get through this race I plan to register for a few more summer and fall races, but it is hard to commit when I am not sure how the next few months will go. I guess we will see!

I'll be sure to keep you updated. 

Have you ever came back from a break from running? What has helped you get back on track? Comment below.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Whole30 Week One: So far so good!

Smoothies are a yummy treat this week.

Well I survived week one and somehow my husband did too. Only 23 days left and so far so good. So how has it been going?

The first few days were difficult. I am not going to lie. Even though I had meals and snacks planned out, during the first few days I still ravishingly craved all of the things I wasn't supposed to eat. I felt like all I could think of was the food that I had to cut out. It helped that my husband and I had each other to complain to, but it did not help that our kids were/are still eating less nutritional food for meals. I continue to offer them everything I make that is whole 30 compliant, and sometimes they eat it, but they still eat many of the foods they always have. I am requiring fruit or boiled eggs (I still let them have cheese sticks) for snacks now though, rather than cookies, chips and other less healthy options from before.

Grilled turkey and sweet potato fries.

Roasted chicken and vegetables.

Pot roasted beef and chicken and veges.

Since the first few days things are better. I did have a few headaches over the first 3 days and lower energy but I am also battling walking pneumonia and bronchitis at the moment so I can't really distinguish the two issues as far as symptoms.

My saving grace.

There are a few items that are Whole30 compliant that you can buy. I am still learning to like the taste of LaCroix drinks but it sure is nice to grab a can of something and crack it open. Larabars have saved my husband while he has been at work, and we have loved all the flavors of the Tessamae's condiments we have tried so far. The bbq sauce, ketchup, Southwest Ranch, and Balsamic Vinaigrette have been my favorites so far, but all are helpful when cooking and eating to add healthy, natural flavors.

Soy-free, broth free tuna and a homemade trail mix of almonds, 
pumpkin seeds and raisins. I usually add a dried fruit too.

Lunch and snacks for the day.

Here's what I've learned:
  • Lemon juice is amazing splashed in water.
  • Almost everything out there has soy or sugar in it! Read your labels people. I cannot believe how hard it is to find natural, pure foods (beyond most meats and produce) at the store. It is really, really scary to see all the additives in our foods. You can hardly find Tuna without soy or bacon or dried fruits without sugar added.
  • By day 6-7, I had no cravings for bad food.
  • It might be just my healing process, but this week my shoulder has felt so much better. I had surgery to remove some of the chronically inflamed material from my joint in December and this is the first week my shoulder has very little pain from inflammation. It is really, really incredible. Inflammation is something this diet is supposed to help reduce naturally.
  • Although you are not supposed to stand on a scale during Whole30, I have had to for doctor's appointments and I have lost 4 pounds. And I eat all the time folks!
  • It feels soooo good to make real meals for my family again. I was so sick of tacos, spaghetti and take-out pizza that it almost made me depressed to go grocery shopping each week. It is fun to plan the compliant meals I will make each day. We have had chicken breasts, salmon, talapia, roast beef, steaks, turkey burgers... It has been delicious.
  • You don't have to go to special stores. Other than ordering condiments online, I have not shopped anywhere but the two local, regular grocery stores nearest to my home and Target. You can even eat at Chipoltle, my husband did for lunch today.
And that's it so far. I will keep you updated each week. I would love your feedback if you have any. Comment below!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Whole30 Starts Now!

Today starts the first day of the rest of my life. Ha! Just kidding. Well, actually it does- from a literal and philosophical perspective- but also from a figurative one too.

As Lent approached I had trouble figuring out what personal sacrifice to offer. I thought about what I could do with my life that would change myself and my family in a positive way. I also wanted the sacrifice to be something that is challenging enough so that it is for more than just me. I truly wanted to choose something that every day when I think about doing it I will feel the need to remind myself that I am doing this for God too.

In the end, I did chose something that is selfish, because I will benefit from it if I succeed, but it is a sacrifice that will make my life, and the lives of those around me, healthier in countless ways.

I chose Whole30.

If dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free and soy-free scare you then you might want to stop reading. The Whole30 lifestyle means that you eat only foods that grow from the earth (barring wheat, beans, peanut butter, other legumes, potatoes, soybeans, etc) and roam the earth (barring any additives like sugar or most preservatives, or dairy byproducts). Salt is okay. And so is coffee (black). You eat this way for 30 days, hoping to retrain your brain to like only the good stuff again. 

Sound easy? Nope! It is really hard. And even harder to find products that fit into these strict categories.

I went to the regular grocery store to get the supplies I needed to get started, but I couldn't buy as much as I wanted. I didn't go organic on everything, waaaay too pricey, and I tried my best to read labels (not sure about the V8 or Naked juice)... but folks there are additives in almost everything! It is actually really scary.

Basically if I couldn't pronounce something on a label I didn't buy the product. If it had more than a couple ingredients I found that it probably didn't follow guidelines. I will definitely have to check out specialty stores to get more supplies. I did order some TesseMae's marinades online that are Whole30 approved which should add to the natural flavor of the food I eat and the meals I create over the next 30 days.

I honestly didn't feel like I spent that much more money at the store than when I buy our regular groceries, but I did find that almost everything I bought will need preparation. It really was eye opening. I have been buying pre-made, processed foods and meals or ordering fast food for my family way too much lately. 

So besides Lent, why am I doing this? Well, I need to make a change. I get migraines, I have serious insomnia, some of my joints are inflamed (ahem, surgery in December?), I have high bad cholesterol, I've gained a little weight and I have serious guilt about the food my family eats. Food is literally what keeps us alive and the choices I have made to keep my body fed have not been great lately.

What will be the hardest parts for me over the next 30 days?
  • Running. Typically when I cut out carbohydrates I lose some of the energy I need for running. Luckily, I am not planning on long runs until next month, so I think I can make it the next 30 days. Some foods like fruits, sweet potatoes, carrots and many nuts and seeds have carbs so I will focus on those when I know I will be running on certain days.
  • Cheese and Wine. I. Love. Cheese. Sharp cheese, smooth cheese, processed cheese, sprinkled cheese, melted cheese, cheese dip, cream cheese.... Cutting out cheese will be a challenge. I also really like wine. Alcohol is a no-no for the first 30 days of this challenge... not going to be easy.
  • Preparation. This will likely be the hardest piece of the puzzle to make fit. In order for me to stick with this 30 day challenge I will need to have meals planned and the fridge stocked. I am excited to make more meals, because as I said I do not like the pattern my family is in terms of the quality of the food we consume.

Overall I am excited for this challenge but still a little apprehensive. I am all in, but it takes support to make big changes. Luckily, my husband is on board too! We are going to do this together. He has wanted to change the way he eats for awhile now and when I told him I would plan our meals for us to bring to work and eat at home he said he would was willing to give it a shot. I am not going to make my kids eat a strict Whole30 diet but I am going to encourage and offer smarter choices for them.

You will definitely be hearing more about this challenge. I hear the first week is the hardest as the body fights cravings so I will be sure to let you know.

Have you tried this before? Do you have any tips? I'd love some feedback- please comment below.

My groceries look quite different than my usual shopping 
trip to the store...

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Why It's (Not) Always My Fault

It's my fault he had no clothes on.

"Gross. I don't like hot dogs. This is your fault."

"My shoe came untied and I fell down. This is your fault, mom!"

"I stubbed my toe and it hurts! This is your fault!"

Sound familiar? I sure hope so, or my kids are secretly trying to drive me insane. From the weather being too cold, to them not being able to find their other sock, everything that goes wrong in my children's lives is apparently my fault.

But see, the truth is that it isn't.

Well... I mean, sometimes I might purposefully put green beans on the plate of a child that doesn't want them there or I may occasionally hide the iPad chargers when I have had enough of them playing on technology... Usually though, it really isn't my fault.

Even though they say it is- on a daily basis.

At first it used to make me mad and I would defend myself to the accusing child why the said occurrence was not my fault. I quickly learned that it was like talking to a wall. As time continued on and the blame became more ridiculous I started to realize that there really was nothing I could say. Their minds were set.

I mean, honestly, deep down inside don't they realize that the fact that their nose is running really couldn't be my fault? Or that kids are simply required to ride in car seats- they have to see this, right? Truly this honestly can't be their mom or dad's fault?

This whole mindset probably started when my kids were very young. If they were hungry, they cried and I fed them a bottle. I immediately appeased a need they had. If they were cold, they whined and I swaddled them. This continued on and on as they grew older and as they experience unhappiness, pain, or anger it must be my fault if I can't always or immediately alleviate it.

I am wondering when this wears off. Maybe it never does. I still blame my own mom and dad for gifting me with the genetics that made me short. But that really is their fault.

It would be nice if this particular joy of parenting were to fade and my children would begin to be more rational in shifting the blame, but I am not foreseeing this anytime soon,

I can only imagine what will be my fault when they are teenagers.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Shoulder Surgery Week 6: What I Have Learned So Far

Pain Goes Away With Time
Well folks, life has changed. Since I last updated you my pain level is now much more manageable, even without pain medication. Honestly, like every professional told me, I just needed to have patience. I am six, almost seven weeks post surgery and I have very little pain. Definitely no resting pain anymore and now only pain when I use my arm in just a few directions. And by "pain" I really mean discomfort. Holy improvement!

I Still Know How to Run!
Just like riding a bike, running comes back to you as well. The last two weeks I have been experimenting with pace, distance and terrain. Treadmills and trails are definitely more gentle than paved roads and sidewalks (but not always the most convenient). I can not run under 9 minute miles again yet comfortably, but I am getting closer. I ran 6 1/2 miles last weekend and it felt great! Hard, but really great. So, in the end, running is starting to become routine again. I am hoping for 15 miles per week this month and then a crash training session in March to get me ready of the Garmin Half in April.

My Kids Love Me
Near daily, as a child reaches for my right hand or tries to lay on my right shoulder and instinctively says, Mama, is this your hurt arm?, making sure not to cause me pain. I can simply now just tell them I am all better. Once in awhile if I can grab said child, I tickle them with my right hand just to prove it.

I am Better
Unless something drastic happens this will be my last shoulder surgery update. I have a few weeks of PT left simply to focus on my running form to hopefully avoid Synovial inflammation from happening again. I meet with the surgeon next week for what I am certain will be the all clear to return to 100% life.

I am told that it can take up to a year to get my right shoulder to work as easily and completely pain-free as my left shoulder does, but I can definitely live with this. I am much improved from surgery and PT.

Thanks for all of your support and for following my recovery. Let's hope 2016 is an injury free year for me!