Author: Valerie

Your Health in Action: Eating Healthy While Maintaining Your Social Life

Tips for Eating Healthy While Maintaining Your Social Life

Whether you’re a seasoned paleo foodie, a chronic dieter or a newcomer to the world of clean eating, there’s a good chance that you’ve struggled at one point or another with how to stick to your program in social situations. Going out to a restaurant or a party can be pure torture (read: relatively inconvenient) for those enduring any kind of elimination diet or simply trying to eat healthier, especially when the people you go out with are ordering all the unhealthy foods you still crave.

Luckily, there are ways to make your social life a whole lot easier to maintain while still making your health a priority. Here are a few tips to get you started!

"But what will I eat at Tiffany's?" Holly asked herself, wondering if she could find a menu online.

“But what will I eat at Tiffany’s?” Holly asked herself, wondering if she could find a menu of their breakfast options  online.

Research the menus ahead of time.
Your friend calls you up and says, “We’re going to that trendy new restaurant downtown tonight. They serve cupcakes in champagne glasses for dessert so bring your appetite.” You immediately jump into a panic because: (a) Cupcakes sound amazing right now but you’re trying to kick your sugar habit. (b) You aren’t really sure what you’ll be able to eat because you’ve never been there. (c) Parking is horrible downtown, especially on a Saturday night.

Luckily, there’s an easy solution to problems A and B: go online and look up the restaurant’s menu online! As both a picky eater and someone who has completed a few rounds of Whole30, I do this all the time before going to a new restaurant. If I can make a decision before I leave the house, I am less likely to order a bucket of tater tots in a fit of hunger and panic. Knowing what you’re going to order beforehand takes away most of the pressure you may be feeling, so that instead you can focus your energy on finding the right parking garage. Planning ahead is key to your success!

*

Know your staples and substitutions.
Most of the time, I know I am safest ordering a salad or some combination of grilled chicken and veggies, and I am totally fine with it! Have an idea of what works for you before perusing the menu, and don’t be afraid to make substitutions. I am constantly replacing rice with veggies or asking for the sauce/dressing on the side, and most places are ok with these changes to an extent. I even keep a running list of my favorite healthy options and substitutions at local chain restaurants that allow me to stick to my program if I go out for the night.

*

Sabrina didn't have the heart to tell Linus that alcohol wasn't permitted on the Whole30.

Sabrina didn’t have the heart to tell Linus that alcohol wasn’t permitted on the Whole30.

Speak up.
If you decide to go out with friends, pick the restaurant. No more of this back-and-forth “I don’t know, where do you want to eat?” that seems to land you at the Olive Garden every time. (Mmmmm, endless breadsticks.) I have a few friends who are kind enough to ask me if I’m on Whole30 before we go out, but there are plenty of times I’ll take charge on a restaurant choice because I already know there won’t be anything compliant for me at other restaurants. Don’t be afraid to speak up and make the decision yourself!

*

Bring food to the party.
I’m guilty of snacking at parties. No matter how many people are present, there always seems to be more than enough food to nosh on between conversations and awkward one-armed hugs. I have never been to a single party where healthy food outnumbered the junk food (although one can only dream of a secret paleo society that hosts monthly parties featuring sweet potato gnocchi and cauliflower poppers). To keep yourself from gravitating toward the Cheetos, bring a healthy snack that people will enjoy and fits your own program. There are about a million ways to make a fun fruit salad, or if you are on a less restrictive program, you can always opt for healthier versions of your favorite junk food (Skinny Pop Popcorn and The Better Chip spinach/kale chips are two of my favorites). Besides, bringing food to a party is the proper thing to do!

*

Ann didn't want to spend her entire Roman holiday focused on food, so she and Joe hopped on a Vespa to cruise around the city instead.

Ann didn’t want to spend her entire Roman holiday focused on food, so she and Joe hopped on a Vespa to cruise around the city instead.

Focus your activities on something other than food.
Fun fact: Not every social activity needs to involve a meal. If you find it difficult to stick to your program while out in a restaurant (because, let’s face it, this is no easy feat), stop going out to restaurants. Invite your friends to go bowling or visit an art festival. Watch a movie in the park. Find a museum in the area that you’ve never been to before. Have fun without bonding over how much you’ll hate yourselves for ordering the mozzarella sticks.

Avoid the scale.
In general, a lot of experts suggest avoiding the scale (or cutting back on its use) regardless of your social life, but my tip in particular focuses on restaurant visits. Most restaurants will pack your food with tons of salt, so if you’re planning a weigh-in any time soon, you may want to wait.

"Do I look like I care what you think?" Jo asked, posing fabulously with the Nike of Samothrace.

“Do I look like I care what you think?” Jo asked, posing fabulously with the Nike of Samothrace.

Stop caring about what others think.
When you change your lifestyle, especially when that leads to dietary restrictions, there will be naysayers. Don’t listen to them. Remember that different food groups and chemicals affect everyone differently. I would love to lose weight while eating endless bowls of pasta and laughing in the faces of my enemies, who have gained weight eating that same pasta, I know this is not possible for me. I know how gluten affects my skin, mood and stomach, so when people comment that I should be eating “whole grains” and “in moderation,” I’ll smile, thank them for their suggestions, and keep doing what I’ve been doing. You know what works for you better than anyone else does (except your doctor, of course), so if your friends start giving you unwarranted dietary advice, ignore them or change the subject.

What are your tips for maintaining a social life while still eating healthy? Sound off in the comments section below!

Link Love Wednesday: Post Valentine’s Day Bliss

Link LoveHope everyone who celebrated had a wonderful Valentine’s Day or, for many of us, Day-To-Eat-All-The-Things! I’ll admit that my Whole60 went off the rails around the holiday, with a few nights out to dinner and more chocolate temptation than I knew what to do with. Thankfully, my junk food honeymoon period is reaching its end, and I’m ready to start trying new healthy recipes again. How did everyone else celebrate the holiday?

As you recover from your own sugar comas, take a look at the latest and greatest in Link Love! :)

What are some of your favorite links throughout the week?

The Weekend Five: Ways to “Treat Yo Self”

Five Ways to "Treat Yo Self" | So It Must Be TrueHappy Valentine’s Day, readers! ‘Tis the season for beautiful flower arrangements, complaints about the commercialization of the holiday, and more trips to Godiva than usual. Whether you’ve decked out your home in reds and pinks or you have your doubts about a flying baby with a magical arrow, Valentine’s Day can serve a greater purpose than merely sending us into a panic over dinner reservations. Instead, Valentine’s Day can remind us of the most important relationship we have: the relationship we have with ourselves.

Let’s face it – while this relationship is incredibly vital to all aspects of our lives, we don’t always give it the love and attention it deserves. We speak negatively to ourselves and place undue blame for things that happened years ago. We sacrifice the quality of the relationship – sleep, nutrition, personal relaxation – in order to fulfill our obligations to others. We put less time into ourselves than necessary because we don’t believe that time to be important.

Five Ways to "Treat Yo Self" | So It Must Be TrueNot long ago, I recognized a need for improvement in this area of my life, so as one of my New Year’s Resolutions, I promised to do at least one nice thing for myself (or, as my friends on Parks and Recreation might say, “treat yo self”) every week. This doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, but it requires me to make myself a priority from time to time and to think about what I want.

Moving forward, how do you plan to make yourself a priority? Check out five ideas for ways to “treat yo self,” and sound off in the comments section below with your own personal favorites!

The Weekend Five: Ways to “Treat Yo Self”

1. Take a night to yourself.
Turn off your phone, log off of social media, and relax. From time to time, we all need a night away from the craziness of our daily lives. Instead of fishing for the latest friend drama on Facebook, stay at home and do something you enjoy. Binge-watch your favorite series on Netflix. Read that book you were dying to read that has been gathering dust on your shelf. Take a bath. Do something non-stressful and appreciate the time you have alone. For introverts like myself who have very social careers, it is extremely important to do this in order to feel refreshed and fully functional after a week of networking.

*

Five Ways to "Treat Yo Self" | So It Must Be True2. Buy yourself a fun non-essential.
By this, I don’t mean “max out all your credit cards while buying things you don’t really need in the first place.” (Somehow, I feel that Blu Cantrell’s song Hit Em Up Style is applicable here.) I do mean that occasionally it can be nice to get yourself something within your means for no reason other than the fact that it will bring you joy. Recently, I stumbled into an antiques store with the intention of buying a gift for a friend, but I ended up walking out with a cute necklace for myself as well. Stay within the confines of your budget, of course, but allow yourself to splurge (within reason) and treat yourself to that product or service you really want: an accessory, a manicure, a video game, flowers, etc. (Keep in mind that if your happiness is too closely tied to the things you purchase, you may have a shopping problem.)

3. Go outside.
I’m a firm believer in the importance of soaking up the sun… even for just a few minutes. I love eating lunch outdoors when the weather permits, going for walks on my local nature trail (maybe not as often after encountering my first bear back in November), and bringing a book to the pool while I attempt to become slightly less pale. :) Even when it is raining, I have been known to read outside on the porch behind my screen enclosure. Of course, I am fortunate to live in Florida, where winter is usually pleasant and most of the above activities are possible year-round. However, when the weather is tolerable for you in whichever state you live, I urge you to get outside and enjoy the surrounding nature.

Five Ways to "Treat Yo Self" | So It Must Be True4. Visit a local landmark or free community event.
While I live just north of a very touristy city, run by a certain Mouse, I love to travel slightly off the beaten path to those nearby hidden gems. From historic towns to art museums to local festivals, I enjoy looking for (cheap) adventures that don’t require a boarding pass or precious vacation time. Visit your city’s convention and visitor bureau website for ideas on upcoming events or exhibits, or simply google “free/cheap things to do in ____.” You will be amazed at the cool things you find without breaking the bank.

5. Take on a new project.
Try out one of those DIY creations you have been eyeing on Pinterest. Attempt a recipe for something you’ve never made before. Teach yourself a new song on your instrument of choice. Start a blog! Whatever it is that you want to do, make time for it and have fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously – just enjoy yourself!

What are some ways you like to treat yourself? Share your favorites in the comments!

Your Health in Action: A Guide to Effortless Meal Planning

Courtesy of Spud Comics

Courtesy of Spud Comics

Embarking on a new diet or wellness program can often be challenging. As you attempt to eliminate those “problem foods” or to introduce new super foods to your lifestyle, you may not know where to begin! Those regular staples you once fell back on are now out of the picture, and you might find yourself struggling to figure out what to eat or how best to stock your kitchen.

Meal planning can be a simple and effective answer to the overwhelming questions, “What groceries should I buy and what should I make for dinner tonight?” No matter what your dietary preferences or limitations may be, a meal plan is a great way to prepare yourself for the week ahead and to avoid wasting food!

I’ve created a meal planning template of my own that I use regularly, and I find it extremely useful to incorporate into my busy schedule. Click here to download my meal plan template as a Microsoft Excel file that you can edit, or click here to download the PDF version to print.

Weekly Meal Plan Template & Tips from So It Must Be True

Having a meal plan keeps me on track and helps me avoid going to Publix four times in one week (as much as I love grocery shopping). It also allows me to turn my “hey-I-saw-this-on-Pinterest-and-I-want-to-make-it” dreams into a reality because I know which ingredients to purchase ahead of time.

Here are a few tips for creating your own weekly meal plan that works for you:

  • Think about what you will be doing that week. In my event-driven job, I am constantly working during meal times and often exposed to delicious but unhealthy free foods. (I’m thinking of you, pizza!) When I think about my schedule when meal planning, I can determine when I will need to pack a lunch that will keep me away from the pizza box, or (if I know I’ll be working late), I can decide ahead of time to pack a snack to tide me over until I get home. On my personal downloadable meal plan, you can actually fill in your daily activities and add notes for these days.
  • Think critically about meal prep. On my meal plan, I like to include certain tasks, such as “defrost chicken” or “hard-boil eggs,” to ensure that these foods are ready by the time I am ready for them. I may also incorporate my weekly schedule by adding the reminder to “pack lunch for tomorrow.” These “meal prep tasks for the next day” are the perfect way to make sure your ingredients are ready to go.
  • Consider packaging and portion sizes. Buying a fresh head of broccoli? Think about how many servings you will make with that, and implement those into your plan. For example, if a package of cauliflower florets yields two individual recipes with cauliflower, you should include two cauliflower meals on your meal plan so that your produce doesn’t go bad.
  • Keep staples on hand. If you know that you regularly use a certain ingredient, such as almond flour or coconut oil, always make sure you are fully stocked. It’s always disappointing when you are dying to try a new recipe but have to run to the store at the last minute to pick up a basic ingredient. Always check your cupboards before shopping.

Once again, you can download my weekly meal planner template as an Excel file here or as a PDF here. For recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest boards!

What are your weekly meal plan tips? Share yours in the comments section below!

Whole30 Recap: Week 5

Whole30 Week 5 Recap | So It Must Be TrueGood evening, Whole30-ers! For those of you who completed the program in January, your 30 days are over. Congratulations! For others, you may have started your Whole30 later in the month or are planning to embark on this journey at another point in the future. I started to feel the positive effects of the program toward the end of January, and decided to extend my Whole30 to at least 60 days.

Whole30? Whole60? For those of my readers who are unfamiliar with these terms, the Whole30 is a 30-day strict elimination program that cuts out gluten (including non-gluten “grains” like quinoa), dairy, soy, sugar/artificial sweeteners, legumes and all of the bad chemicals we find in processed foods. The program is designed to help participants discover the effects that these problem foods can have on their physical and mental health. People who complete the program report better moods, weight loss, improved skin, sound sleep, and much more. I highly recommend it!

For the first four weeks, I shared a list of meals I ate and observations I made on a day-by-day basis. However, because this has started to become repetitive after the first 28 days, I have decided to limit my weekly recaps from now on to simply include my observations, tips, and any new recipes I tried that week. (Besides, how many times can you read “Moroccan Carrot Salad” and “hard-boiled egg” in one sitting? :)) For a more detailed recap, please visit Week 1Week 2Week 3 and Week 4 to see how I felt at the beginning stages of the program and what I ate. You can also check out my introductory post here.

Feelings and Observations

Whole30 Week 5 Recap | So It Must Be TrueThe program really felt like second nature at this point. Because of my adventures in the kitchen throughout January, I already had some favorite recipes up my sleeve that made it easier for me to meal prep. Admittedly, I didn’t feel very well this week – I suffered a few headaches and stomachaches – but I’ve changed up a few habits to see if that will improve in the next few days. I would like to see some more changes in appearance (i.e. weight), but I know that will mean dragging my lazy butt to the gym and getting up earlier than I’m used to. I just need to push through and continue to form healthy habits!

New Recipes

Whole30 Week 5 Recap | So It Must Be TrueTakeaways from the Week

  • It is important to think positively and expect things to turn out for the best. I was freaking out on Tuesday when I cooked the Chicken Fajita Stuffed Peppers because (A) I had never poached chicken before, (B) I had never shredded chicken before, and (C) I had never baked stuffed peppers before. I was so afraid this dish wasn’t going to come out the right way, even though I followed the directions, but you know what? It was delicious – one of my favorite Whole30 recipes thus far! I spent all that time worrying that it was going to come out horribly and that I would have wasted all that time and food, when I could have focused my energy into something more productive (like cleaning up the mess I made in the kitchen!).
  • The Internet has everything you need. Seriously. Need to learn a new technique? There’s a video on YouTube for that. I am learning a lot from short how-to articles and videos I find. You don’t need to own Julia Child’s cookbook (or even have access to the Food Network) to learn how to cook.
  • Some cravings do start to go away. I’m not going to lie – I would love a bowl of penne pasta right now – but I also remember how bad gluten has made me feel in the past, and it reminds me that the initial taste isn’t worth the stomachache or skin breakout. There are still some foods that I would love to have, but my cravings are diminishing as I recognize the negative effects that certain foods have on me.

What have you learned on your Whole30 thus far? What awesome recipes have you tried? Sound off in the comments section below!

Link Love Wednesday: Everyone Loves Puppies

budweiser puppyHappy Wednesday and Happy February! I’m not sure if you knew this, but there was a pretty important football game that took place over the weekend. Did you catch it? Thankfully, as a non-Seahawks fan, the odds were ever in my favor, but as a marketing/PR professional, I was more invested in the commercials than anything else!

What was your favorite commercial? Did you do anything fun for the Super Bowl? Sound off with your Super Bowl excitement in the comments section below!

What are your favorite links? Sound off in the comments section below!

Go Patriots! :)

Whole30 Recap: Week 4

For those who began Whole30 on New Year’s Day, can you believe the month is almost over? For me, Week 4 was the week when the program became almost second nature. I still had a lot of temptation (here’s looking at you, free pizza and Chipotle), but I came out of the week strong. My pre-Whole30 ailments still aren’t completely eradicated – you’ll read more about that in a bit – but nevertheless, I know I’ve come a long way since we rang in the New Year.

Because I am planning a Whole60 through the month of February, I will still post an entire Week 5 recap next week, featuring Days 29-35. After Week 5, the recaps will get shorter. Instead of a day-by-day list of what I ate and how I felt, I will simply post my weekly takeaways/general feelings and a list of new recipes I tried and would recommend. (A full list of meals is going to get repetitive after a while because I’ve found some favorites that I will be making regularly!)

Enjoy this week’s batch of recipes and daily observations! I had a major attitude adjustment in Week 4 and started to get excited about cooking again. I hope you find some fun meal inspiration that excites you, too. If you’re new to this blog, be sure to check out my introductory post, as well as my recaps for Week 1Week 2 and Week 3.

Some disclaimers before you get started:

  • I am not a medical professional of any kind and I will not claim that what has worked for me will work for you. If you have any medical questions, please consult a professional.
  • This is not a full meal-plan for everyone following the Whole30. There are some days where I just can’t handle a large meal, so I might just stick to roasted veggies or something light. There are other days when I might eat a small (compliant) snack in between meals, and those snacks are not necessarily reported on my blog. Please listen to your body. We are all different!
  • I repeat meals that I enjoy. You will not be getting a list of 90 different dishes, mainly because I am a creature of habit and when something tastes good, I want to have it again!  :) However, I will still be testing out new recipes every week, while rotating in some of the old favorites.
  • You can follow along on my Instagram page, where I post meals and recipe ideas daily!

Whole 30 Weekly Recap | So It Must Be True

Day 22 (Jan. 22)

Feelings: When I looked in the mirror this morning, all I could think was, Wow, I look really pale. Then I realized that I wasn’t looking any paler than usual – my skin just isn’t as red and irritated as it used to be. I’ve battled with eczema my whole life, but it’s reassuring to see how significantly my healthier eating habits have improved my skin.

Whole30 Week 4 Recap

Breakfast: A bowl of strawberries and blueberries. (I was staying at my sister’s place and didn’t have the same food access as I do at home, but the night before, we picked up a few staples for me to keep there.)

Lunch: Moroccan Carrot Salad (inspired by @bloemingfabulous’s guest post on @whole30recipes Instagram feed, packed ahead of time) and applesauce. At that time, I was at a workshop where free pizza was served… and oh, did it smell delicious.

Dinner: Market Salad from a local salad/sandwich restaurant, with raisins, apple slices, oranges and grilled chicken.

Day 23 (Jan. 23)

Feelings: I had an early morning event, but still felt energized throughout the day. I was a little hungry, probably because of the lack of protein at breakfast, but overall I was in a good mood and felt productive. My willpower game was strong. We sponsored an event that catered from Chipotle, and it took every fiber of my being not to grab a bowl of rice and beans with cheese melted on top. Mmmmmm, melted cheese… where was I?

Breakfast: A bowl of strawberries and blueberries.

Lunch: Salad with mixed greens, red bell pepper, cucumber, grapes and hard-boiled egg. Thank goodness for the salad bar.

Dinner: Curry Roasted Cauliflower (inspired by @danikabrysha’s guest post on @whole30recipes Instagram feed) and a hard-boiled egg.

Day 24 (Jan. 24)

Feelings: Boundless energy! I don’t know where it’s coming from… I still don’t get enough sleep, but I definitely have way more energy at all times of the day than I did prior to this Whole30.

Breakfast: Apple with almond butter and cinnamon.

Lunch: Two hard-boiled eggs and a bowl of raspberries.

Dinner: Spinach salad with grilled chicken, oranges, cabbage, and carrots.

Day 25 (Jan. 25)

#SelfieQueen

#SelfieQueen

Feelings: I experienced the first headache I’ve had in a while, but I don’t think it had to do with my food choices. My entire family is prone to headaches, and while I think that sugar consumption makes mine happen more frequently, I also understand that there could be other reasons why I experience them. I was also a little bit stressed this morning, but found that I bounced back from that stress very quickly.

Breakfast: {gasp} I had a smoothie! My boyfriend mixed up a smoothie for me with strawberries, banana and spinach. If this breakfast choice bothers anyone, I urge you to visit this Whole30 blog post on the rules vs. recommendations.

Lunch: Moroccan Carrot Salad (inspired by @bloemingfabulous’s guest post on @whole30recipes Instagram feed) and a hard-boiled egg.

Dinner: Coconut Lime Chicken Bites (from Daily Bites Blog), roasted potatoes, and a bowl of grapes.

Day 26 (Jan. 26)

Feelings: I had an easier time waking up this morning and was in a good mood when I woke up. I felt a rediscovered sense of adventure today and was ready to try something new in the kitchen!

Breakfast: Blueberries and a hard-boiled egg.

Lunch: Roasted broccoli (cooked at 400F for 20 minutes in olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic) and a hard-boiled egg.

Whole30 Recap Week 4

Dinner: Cauliflower Fried Rice (from Amuse Your Bouche). This dish was off the chain – it really tasted like fried rice! (I used coconut aminos instead of soy sauce to keep this meal compliant.)

Day 27 (Jan. 27)

Whole30 Weekly Recap

Feelings: I woke up about an hour before my alarm to find that my skin was uncontrollably itchy. When I went back to sleep, I started having extremely graphic, gory nightmares. I’ve been known to have weird food dreams during the Whole30, but never something like this! Suffice to say, I didn’t sleep well. I’m thinking the breakout stemmed from a contact allergy, because it was limited to one area and the rest of my skin still looked and felt drastically improved.

Breakfast: Banana with almond butter, blueberries and a nectarine.

This was so good!

This was so good!

Lunch: Cauliflower Steak (from Brooklyn Supper) and two hard-boiled eggs. This cauliflower steak was amazing! I adjusted the relish a little to include rosemary instead of parsley and garlic instead of shallots. I highly recommend trying it!

Whole30 Weekly RecapDinner: Zesty Chicken Bites (from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen) and Sweet Potato Fries (from Life Made Full).

Day 28 (Jan. 28)

Feelings: My energy was back! My horrible skin reaction from the day before seemed to have healed somewhat and I had a much more restful night of sleep.
Breakfast: Bowl of blueberries and a hard-boiled egg.

Lunch: Moroccan Carrot Salad.

Whole30 Weekly Recap

Dinner: Mexican Cauliflower Rice (from Slender Kitchen).

Takeaways from the Week

  • As I’ve learned throughout my Whole30 journey, it is important to try new things! Last year, when I started Whole30, I was all about those sweet potato recipes… This time around, I joked that this was Cauliflower Week, as I attempted four separate cauliflower dishes throughout the week. I now know what the cauliflower rice fuss is all about!
  • Another thing I mentioned last week rang true again this week: You haveto be prepared for difficult food situations. Does it sometimes feel awkward to bring your own food to a lunchtime event? Yes. Is it difficult to turn down pizza and Chipotle in the same week? Oh, yes (at least if you’re me). But it would be even more difficult to say no to these non-compliant foods if I didn’t pack along my own meals or at least have a game plan? YES. At the beginning of the week, make a plan that will keep you accountable on the days when you know that you’re going to be tempted. Don’t face your temptations while hungry!
  • While my mood, skin and energy are all radically improved, I am no longer seeing the same body changes I remember from previous rounds of Whole30. I’m starting to feel like I’ve hit a plateau (although it’s hard to judge those changes when you see yourself every day), so I am going to start thinking more critically about if/when I’m snacking, what times I’m eating (sometimes I start dinner waylater than I should) and how much exercise I’m getting. Still, I am very proud of how far I’ve come, and have very high hopes for the rest of my Whole60!

Any Whole30ers with a favorite recipe to share? Sound off in the comments section below!

Link Love Wednesday: Unlikely Animal Besties

455b070408942ce80a068a946516ca90_650xHowdy, friends! Hope this post finds you well and enjoying a relaxing, non-stressful Hump Day. Now that I finally brought my keyboard up to my apartment from my parents’ house in South Florida, I have a new way to unwind after work – by practicing my piano skills! No, I don’t have any sheet music up here, and no, I haven’t taken a lesson since elementary school, but it’s fun to attempt new songs and do something creative. Readers, what do you like to do after a long work day?

If your answer was “veg out in front of the computer and click on link bait,” then boy, do I have the blog post for you. ;) Check out this week’s link love and share your own favorites in the comments section below!

What are your favorite links from the week?

Whole30 Recap: Week 3

Week 3 has come and gone, and we are practically in the final stretch of the January Whole30! In spite of my very strong, very strange macaroni and cheese cravings (more on that later), sticking to the program has gotten easier and I’m starting to remember why I did this program in the first place! My headaches were chronic during those first two weeks, but they are finally improved, and I’m not experiencing the same kind of bloating I had before, either. I’m even planning to keep this going for a Whole60… and then who knows?

 During the third week, my relationship with the program was very love/hate. There were times when I loved cooking and trying new things, but toward the end of the week, my enthusiasm in the kitchen started to really decline. I’m hoping to bring more of that back in the fourth week!

Having said that, I’m excited to share my latest weekly recap, complete with my daily observations and meals. In spite of my lackluster meal prep toward the end of the week, I tried some amazing dishes in Week 3 that will definitely make reappearances in future meals. For those just catching up, visit my introductory post and then check out my recaps for Week 1 and Week 2, also known as the daily log of my headaches. ;)

Whole30 Week 3 Recap

Before you keep going, don’t forget to read through these disclaimers:

  • I am not a medical professional of any kind and I will not claim that what has worked for me will work for you. If you have any medical questions, please consult a professional.
  • This is not a full meal-plan for everyone following the Whole30. There are some days where I just can’t handle a large meal, so I might just stick to roasted veggies or something light. There are other days when I might eat a small (compliant) snack in between meals, and those snacks are not necessarily reported on my blog. Please listen to your body. We are all different!
  • I repeat meals that I enjoy. You will not be getting a list of 90 different dishes, mainly because I am a creature of habit and when something tastes good, I want to have it again!  :) However, I will still be testing out new recipes every week, while rotating in some of the old favorites.
  • You can follow along on my Instagram page, where I post meals and recipe ideas daily!

Day 15 (Jan. 15)

Feelings: I had a headache for a chunk of the afternoon, but otherwise, it was a good day. I tabled at an event at the university in the morning and early afternoon, and I felt like I was on my A-Game.

Breakfast: Trader Joe’s Apple + Banana Bar and grapes. I was on the go in the morning and ran out of hard-boiled eggs, so my protein intake was lacking.

Lunch: I hit the salad bar in the university’s student union – an impressive accomplishment, since this was yet another event in which free pizza was served (which is a common theme when your company works closely with college students!). My salad included romaine, hard-boiled eggs, strawberries, grapes, cucumbers and red peppers.

Although labor intensive, this was possibly my favorite recipe all week!

Although labor intensive, this sweet potato gnocchi was possibly my favorite recipe all week!

Dinner: Sweet Potato Gnocchi with ghee and herbs (from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen) and garlic-roasted green beans. This gnocchi was fantastic – I can’t recommend the recipe enough!

Day 16 (Jan. 16)

Feelings: I felt fantastic today and experienced an exciting little “non-scale victory.” There is a style of pencil skirt from The Limited that I love so much that I have multiple pairs, and I can always tell if I’m losing weight based on the way the skirt fits. Today, I noticed that the skirt hung a lot lower than before, and was therefore a lot longer. This was a nice reminder of my progress!

Breakfast: Hard-boiled egg and Trader Joe’s apple + banana bar.

Lunch: Mashed Sweet Potato! (Microwave your sweet potato, mash up the insides, mix with plain applesauce, and heat again. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve. So easy and delicious!)

Dinner: Sweet and Sour Chicken (from Paleo Leap) with red pepper, yellow pepper, water chestnuts and pineapple.

Day 17 (Jan. 17)

Feelings: I felt a lot thinner when I looked in the mirror, and noticed my energy levels are much higher than they had been for a long time. My mood is significantly improved.

Breakfast: Grilled Pineapple (inspired by @danikabrysha’s guest post on @whole30recipes).

Lunch: Salad with spinach, cabbage, carrots, orange, and warm grilled chicken. Yum!

Whole30 Week 3 Zesty Chicken

Dinner: Lemon Rosemary Potato Wedges (from Olive Tree Kitchen) and Zesty Chicken Bites (from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen). What a perfect dinner that my boyfriend and I both enjoyed!

Day 18 (Jan. 18)

Feelings: When I woke up in the morning, my stomach felt much flatter than it had felt for quite a while. My mood was overall positive, except when the Seahawks beat the Packers that evening.

Breakfast: Hard-boiled eggs, raspberries, and grapes.

Lunch: Moroccan Carrot Salad (from @bloemingfabulous’s guest post on @whole30recipes).

Dinner: Moroccan Chicken (from Closet Cooking) and roasted broccoli (cooked in olive oil, salt, and garlic at 400F for 20 minutes).

Day 19 (Jan. 19)

Feelings: Although I suffer from eczema, my biggest observation on Day 19 was that my skin felt infinitely smoother than it had in recent months. I still had some breakouts that were healing, but my skin was much softer and less irritated overall.

Breakfast: Hard-boiled egg and a nectarine.

Whole30 Week 3 Recap Salad

Lunch: Salad with strawberries and cucumbers.

Dinner: Hard-boiled egg, grilled pineapple (inspired by @danikabrysha’s guest post on @whole30recipes), and roasted broccoli. (Originally, I had prepared a much more exciting meal, featuring two new recipes, but I burned both beyond recognition and had to throw them out.)

Day 20 (Jan. 20)

Feelings: I woke up feeling queasy, and so it was hard to eat much for breakfast or lunch. I also experienced the famous Day 21 interlude a day early. Even though my skin, mood, energy, and weight are all drastically improved, I was discouraged by yet another failed meal attempt (explained in Dinner section) and major food boredom.

Breakfast: Raspberries. (It was all I could force down at that point.)

Lunch: Moroccan Carrot Salad (from @bloemingfabulous’s guest post on @whole30recipes) and applesauce. I had a working lunch that day, so this was an easy option for something portable.

Dinner: Roasted broccoli and two hard-boiled eggs. That night, I had also planned on a more exciting dinner, but once again, I burned my food into something ugly and inedible, and had to resort to my already-cooked eggs. This put me in an uncharacteristically foul mood for the rest of the evening – and suddenly, all I wanted to do was make macaroni and cheese (which is admittedly delicious, but not a usual craving for me and not even a food I buy). At one point, I tried to justify to my roommate that I should eat some beans, since they would be easy to make and not require a whole lot of clean-up. Finally, I sucked it up and avoided temptations. I was a total brat on the night of Day 20.

Day 21 (Jan. 21)

Feelings: Much more positive than they were on Day 20, that’s for sure! At several points in the day, I kept trying to remember why I was in such a good mood, and then I realized that my mood in general has been a lot more positive for no reason as of late.

Breakfast: Hard-boiled egg and two nectarines.

10899799_10155007955060627_372912679_n

Lunch: Cucumber Pasta Salad (from Holistically Engineered), applesauce, and Trader Joe’s Apple + Banana bar. This was yet another event that featured copious cheese pizza, my mortal enemy in the land of healthy eating.

Dinner: I spent the evening at my sister’s house, and because I hadn’t packed any food and was babysitting* while she was in class, my food choices were somewhat limited. I wound up ordering delivery from an Italian restaurant – a spinach salad with grilled chicken, oranges, and red pepper. The salad was not bad, but the smell of garlic bread from the other bag was oh-so-tempting. I sat there consumed with lust for the rest of the evening.

Takeaways from the Week

  • Whenever I felt the urge to run to the nearest grocery store or fast food restaurant and pick up comfort food, I had to remind myself of how much better my body has felt since I changed my food habits. I can’t say I will never eat pasta, dairy, or legumes ever again, but this week only solidified the fact that I need to make this a Whole60. (Still debating if I will keep blogging throughout Days 31-60! Thoughts?)
  • This is another week when preparation really helped me stay on top of things. With such an event-heavy job, I have to remember that not-so-healthy food will be served and I will need to compensate for that. Perhaps after the month is over, I will compile a list of easy-to-make pack-and-go meals that have helped me on these days!
  • Sometimes your enthusiasm will go in waves, and that’s okay. As long as you are sticking to the plan and working hard, you are going to see results. I am hoping for a more enthusiastic Week 4 for you guys next week!

What were some of your favorite recipes for the week? Anyone else planning on extending to a Whole60?

Share your experiences in the comments section below!

* – This is who I was babysitting last night.
lucille

Link Love Wednesday: The Meaning of Life

purpose-in-life-warning-to-others-ecardWhat’s shaking, readers? We’re already a few weeks into the New Year, but I’m still referring to 2013 as “last year.” Are any of you guilty of the same thing?

2015 is treating me well! Between attending events for work and attempting to cook without burning my kitchen down, I have been keeping busy and having a great year. What have you been up to since the clock struck midnight on January 1?

No matter what your plans have been, you’ll want to check out the latest in Link Love. Your computer will thank you!

What have been some of your favorite links this year?