Thursday, June 15, 2017

Boundaries, "Cheats," and Celebrations:My Whole30® Adventure: Eating and Drinking to the Glory of God Part 3

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“What in the world do you eat?” 

I’ve heard that a few times while explaining the Whole30® program. The answer is, pretty much everything, except for grains, corn, beans, dairy, preservatives, processed foods, sugar, and sugar substitutes. (Did I miss anything?) To be sure, the list of “don’ts” seems excessive, but here’s a way of thinking it through:

A Lesson in Boundaries

As a teenager and into my early college years, I rode and trained show horses. Nearly all my work was done inside a large arena. However, to fine tune maneuvers or to work with a young or non-compliant horse, the best environment was inside a fenced 30-foot circle called a round pen. The boundaries were tight, and this is where the best training happened. Results came almost immediately. Here, bad habits were broken and replaced with new disciplines.

One day, I visited a girlfriend at her country home. She asked if I’d like to go ride horses and of course, the answer was yes. Mind you, I was a very experienced rider and quite comfortable on horseback. But the ride she took me on was far different from what I was used to. We packed a sack lunch, went out into the fields and rode to a nearby lake. There were no fences and I remember the sheer discomfort I felt. What if my horse bolted? What if we saw a snake? Might we encounter strangers out there in the open fields? What about holes in the ground that may cause a horse to stumble or, worse yet, break a leg? For one of the first times, I experienced a ride without fences, without protective boundaries. I felt frightened, to say the least.

How does that apply??

Capture that thought and apply it to an eating plan. Without boundaries, there are a lot of potential dangers for someone with bad eating habits (yours truly, for instance). But inside the “round pen,” a place where boundaries are tight, intense training and quick results occur. The round pen isn’t the normal, everyday environment, but in its season, it is highly effective.    

For these thirty days on Whole30®, I am experiencing intense training inside a proverbial round pen. Here, bad habits are broken and replaced with new disciplines. Knowing that it’s a 30-day adventure and that boundaries will relax a bit in the coming weeks, I know I can complete the program.

Have I cheated in the first 14 days?

No . . . but sort of, maybe.  Here’s what I mean: 

I’ll admit that I’ve had one or two habitual spoon or finger licks as I’ve prepared non-compliant food for others. There are a couple of other rules that I haven’t followed to a T.  For example, we’re encouraged NOT to weigh or measure. By day 14, curiosity got the best of me and I caved. I jumped on the scale. In the grand scheme of “cheating,” a glance at my weight is worlds better than a hot fudge sundae. (You agree, right?) Honestly, my weight loss was highly motivating. But I believe it will fluctuate (as weight always does) so I won’t report it to you yet. Sorry.

“Cheat” number 2 also happened on day 14. We celebrated my mom’s 83rd birthday, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day all at once. There’s a rule in Whole30® that we are NOT to have dessert, even a compliant dessert. I broke that rule. I turned down the carrot cake but said yes to a small portion of homemade Disney-style Dole Whip. All the ingredients were compliant, while the idea of a dessert of any sort is not. I must say, I don’t feel an ounce of guilt. J And the Dole Whip was spectacular.

Are you dying of curiosity about the weight loss? Because I’m dying to tell you but am practicing self-control. (It takes a LOT of practice, you know.) I will hint that it was far more than 2 pounds per week. It was the sort of weight loss that would typically make me say, “that’s losing way too fast – it’s going to come back on very quickly too.” That may be the case, but I pray not. Once I step out of the round pen, I plan to stay in the safety of the arena for a very long while. I hope to avoid boundary-less trail riding and experience it in short bursts only. It’s more comfortable in the safety of the arena, and I’m thankful for the way the Lord reminded me.

I'm also thankful for another "successful" week in the books.  

Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 2 Corinthians 2:14 (NASB)

I look forward to reporting back next week. On to week three!

Check out the great Whole30® resources here:

Thursday, June 8, 2017

My Whole30® Adventure – days 1-7: Eating and Drinking for the Glory of God

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The adventure is underway! Or should I say “under-weigh” in this case?  

We’ve completed our first successful week of the Whole30® program. I explained our reasons for embarking on this journey in this post and so far, we’re excited about the potential this program offers.

I read this today:

“All that we do is either an investment in the flesh or the Spirit.”
~ Warren Wiersbe

For me, this “all” includes eating and drinking. I trust it does for you too. One week into the Whole30® program and I can begin to see how my eating habits were purely driven by the desires of the flesh. Lord, help me put the old habits behind me and glorify You with all I put into my body.

Are you ready for the report about the first week? Here’s what we learned/recommend after 7 days of eating whole and clean:
  • Get the Book. I’m glad I purchased the book. It’s well written, informative, easy to understand, and highly motivational. Some of the book details can be found on the Whole30® website, but I enjoy holding the book in my hands, highlighting, and spilling ingredients on the recipe pages. For me, it was a no-brainer investment.


  • "Wholly" Yumminess, Batman.  The recipes provided are delicious. Really. Whole30® has introduced us to new food combinations and cooking methods that create delightful meals. There was only one meal so far that was sub-par and that’s because I experimented in replacing an ingredient I didn’t have. Bad decision. All the rest of our meals were packed with flavor and surprisingly satisfying.

  • Grocery Shopping: Slower and Costlier.  I shopped the first time alongside my daughter who is also doing Whole30® with her husband. It was great to have our two minds together as we tried to remember what we read. We walked through the aisles while researching the book as it was wedged into the “seat” section of the grocery cart. It took a long time to find approved groceries, but we trust it will become a simple process as we move forward. Grocery bills were also quite a bit higher than normal. We’re keeping in mind, however, that the large bottle of extra virgin olive oil should last several months, and many of the costs are up-front investments needed to stock our kitchens with healthy ingredients.

  • Cravings?  Honestly, except for day 5 (which was my hardest day), neither Mike nor I have experienced cravings. We were even invited for ice cream and easily declined.  Day 5 came with some personal intestinal discomfort and I desperately wanted to lay on the couch and eat comfort food. I resisted every urge. If you’re praying for me during this food challenge, I thank you. Your prayers very likely helped me stand firm against some strong temptations on day 5 and could very well have warded off any feelings of denial during the rest of the week. Please. Don’t. Stop.

  • Side-Effects.  Brain fog and fatigue hit hard the evening of day 3. It felt like I hit a brick wall and could no longer hold a thought in my head. It was gone the next morning but hit again after dinner on day 4. This led to day 5, which was a bit of a struggle as I mentioned in the point above. Outside of those bouts, I've experienced little discomfort or grumpiness. 

  • Sleep.  So far, I have not slept well while participating in Whole30®. I have no idea if that’s due to my dietary intake or the higher-than-normal stress we’ve managed this month. I’m hoping that sleep improves as we progress.

  • Black Coffee. Yuck. Even after a whole week, yuck. We’ve switched from half-caf every morning (we enjoyed that combo because it afforded us the opportunity to drink MORE coffee) to full-caf because I’m drinking about 1/3 of my normal amount these days. Stevia is one ingredient I’m looking forward to reintroducing to my diet. 

  • Noticeable Changes.  Okay, what is it with guys? They simply think of losing weight and it falls right off. Mike looks fantastic. His face is thinner, his belly is flattening, and his jeans are already looser. Me, not so much. However, my hair does feel thicker (something I’m over the top excited about). I have a small patch of eczema that appears a bit smaller. Outside of that, I didn’t see radical changes during the week. Keep in mind, it’s recommended that we don’t weigh or measure during the program. Our “job” is to work on eating healthy foods. We won’t share weight loss numbers until the end.

  • Favorite Recipes.  In January, Mike purchased a side of beef from an associate and stocked our freezer with 400 pounds of grass fed meat. (I’m toying with the idea of writing a cookbook of 101 ways to prepare ground beef.) One of the great draws to Whole30® for us was that it allows us to consume the beef we have on hand, although we do mix it up with chicken and occasional pork. On the night of day 7, we had our kids over for a steak dinner and feasted as if we were on a cruise ship. Simple ingredients, light seasoning, and grilled meat made us feel as if we were eating like kings. Our favorite new recipe so far is sheet pan fajitas (which I found in this pin on Pinterest - please see my comment about Pinterest below). It's simply chicken breast cut into strips and baked with onions and peppers. I added some approved seasonings and served it with green beans because I had them on hand. Odd combo, I know, but it was amazing. Breakfast is wonderful.  Our favorite is scrambled eggs, 1/2 of a sliced avocado, and fresh blueberries. A week ago I'd have told you that I don't like blueberries. But they're in season right now and oh my heavens they're incredible. I purchased a Costco-sized clamshell today.  

  • Pinterest. Be careful here. Many Whole30® recipes found on Pinterest have unapproved ingredients. This is another reason why I enjoy having the book on hand to double check that shopping list.

  • Eating Out. Mike eats out often for work and this week ordered a chicken breast and side salad then discovered cheese in his salad bowl that he had to pick around. Another day he ordered a chicken breast and steamed broccoli. I did not eat out during week 1 of the program. (Yes, I’m hoping for bonus points there!)

All in all, our first seven days of Whole30® felt like a great success. It was far easier to stay on track than I anticipated. Having prayer and family support makes a giant difference, I know, but the program is also surprisingly simple to follow.

I’ll check in again next week and let you know how the adventure proceeds. 

And to keep us Word focused, let's consider 1 Corinthians 6:12:  "All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything. (ESV).

Thanks for walking this journey with me. I appreciate the accountability and pray that blogging my adventure will inspire others toward health and Kingdom living. To God be the glory.  



Friday, June 2, 2017

Eating and Drinking for the Glory of God

I’ve had to re-examine my relationship with food.


Not so very long ago if you recall, I wrote about the success I found with calorie counting. (Read that post here). As with most new and wonderful things, the disciplined habits lost traction through vacations, ministry travel, family celebrations, and – if I’m honest – personal laziness.

Bondage to Food 

I realized all those months ago that food was a form of bondage for me. Rethinking how I ate and the weight loss that followed were newfound freedoms that I truly enjoyed. Until I discovered that I am shackled, once again.

I have a few problems in the healthy weight department. 
  • I’m of the age where hormones play a real and honest part in weight management. 
  • I’m of an age where I should know that I can no longer eat like a teenager. 
  • I’m not overweight, I’m under-tall. Yes, I’m a little short, but only on one end (as my Dad would say). 
  • I despise running. I can’t tell you how I despise it. And cardio. 
  • Walking – that I can do and I enjoy it for the most part, but boredom gets the best of me.

Before you jump in with every remedy for my bullet points, my reason for sharing them is to acknowledge the broken parts of my health regimen. I know what to do, I just don’t always have the will power or self-control to self-correct. (My smart self would say, “self-control is the fruit of the Spirit, so yes, you do have it,” but I’ll save that discussion for a much later time. My frustrated self is writing this post, not necessarily my smart self).

What Now?

Over the last few months, Mike and I have traveled a lot more than normal. We’ve watched our bodies balloon to unreasonable limits and know it’s time for healthy action. But we hadn’t formulated a plan.  We could embrace the why and the when but hadn’t landed on our how. And then a few puzzle pieces clicked together.

Interesting Similarities

I’ve recently received requests to pray for some serious health concerns for friends of friends. As the weeks pass and I learn updates of those needs, I repeatedly hear that nutritional counsel is yielding better results than doctors and medications.


A friend recently walked through a very strict program of food elimination with a nutritionist, with the result of discovering foods which were problematic for her. (When we eat everything, we have no idea what’s causing our inflammation, pain, mood swings, illness, etc.) But I’m not sick nor in pain. I’m just not healthy. There’s a difference, right?


Two weeks ago, my daughter was riding in my car, watching a personal video that a 20-something friend posted on social media. She turned up the volume so I could hear. This young woman was talking about a nutritional program she embraced and the “non-scale” (aka non-weight-related) victories she was seeing. Seriously? I’ve met this young woman. She’s amazingly beautiful, she seems to love the Lord and appears to have her stuff together. I guess we all have concerns that most of the world know nothing about.  The name of the program is Whole30®.


There were too many interesting, nutritional similarities to ignore. Jessica and I did a bit more research and we’re diving in. Mike too – and he’s probably the most excited of us all.

What scares me about Whole30®

The “what if’s” scare me. What if I discover I can’t tolerate dairy and have to forever give up my beloved cheese? What if gluten is an inflammation trigger for me and I have to live that lifestyle? Can I successfully navigate 30 days without dairy, sugar, grains, beans, or corn? You mean I can have salsa but no chips? How will I do it? Am I up for this? Will I truly blog about it, even if it’s a colossal failure?

What excites me about Whole30®

 These are the reasons I’ve said “yes,” even in light of my fears: 
  • I want to be healthy. Some of the “non-scale” wins are worth the risk of saying farewell to dairy for good. 
  • Many of the subtle symptoms I’ve experienced for years are listed in Whole30® as related to silent inflammation which can be relieved through food choices. Without getting too graphic, these include alopecia, arthritis, eczema, migraines, and more. 
  • I know that eating sugar causes us to crave more sugar. It’s an addictive substance. I’m ready to break the cycle. 
  • My family is on board. That’s always a win. 
  • There are “scale” wins associated with this program too. Bring it on.

Yes, God Wants Us Healthy, Fit and Well

Throughout the month, I’ll share my adventure with Whole30® in hopes that it will inspire us all to do everything for God’s glory (including eating and drinking according to 1 Corinthians 10:31). I know He loves me. I’m His child whether or not my jeans are too tight or my blood pressure is too high. But diminished health is not the best He has for us, especially when our health issues are self-inflicted. We all know that we can better serve Him and do His Kingdom work if we feel healthy, fit, and well.  So here goes my 437th attempt (approximately).

I’d sure love your prayers.

I’ll report back next week and let you know how it’s going.

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