Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Whole30® Results - Wrapping Up the Adventure

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We tried Whole30® and the results are in!

Today is a great day! It’s the 30th day of our adventure!

Does this mean our journey is over? NO – in fact, it’s just beginning. Tomorrow, on day 31, we begin the reintroduction program of all the foods we’ve removed from our diet over the last month.  We’ll slowly add legumes, dairy, gluten, grains, and other food groups back into our eating plan and discover any adverse reactions that our bodies experience. Here’s to listening to our bodies and learning why we feel so much better now.

It’s been an informative, challenging and highly rewarding month of an intense eating plan. I will share my weight loss with you, but to remind myself – and all of you – that this is about more than a number on a scale, let’s first cover some of the other benefits we’ve noticed.

What are the Non-Scale Wins?

Page 43 of the Whole30® book begins a multi-page list of non-scale victories. Instead of sharing what could happen if you engage in Whole30®, I’d rather share some of the victories we’ve personally achieved:

  • Fewer blemishes
  • Glowing skin (with many compliments, by the way)
  • Lightened under-eye circles
  • Stronger, thicker hair (I struggle with alopecia so this is HUGE! AND, my eyelashes are actually growing back!)
  • Brighter eyes
  • Less bloating
  • Less joint swelling
  • Higher confidence (I’ve noticed that Mike carries himself differently. It’s fun to see.)
  • Fewer seasonal allergies (another HUGE victory in our house.)
  • Less heartburn
  • Less chronic pain in shoulder/back/knees/ankles and other joints
  • Improved blood pressure
  • Fewer sugar and carb cravings
  • FEELING IN CONTROL OF FOOD. I can’t overstate this. Wow.
  • Improved attention span
  • Clearer thinking
  • Falling asleep more easily (not Mike – he could already fall asleep in under 3 seconds and it’s hard to improve on that!)
  • Sleeping more soundly
  • Wake to feel fully rested – the snooze button? What’s that for again?
  • Fewer night sweats
  • More even energy levels

Are you shouting, “Enough already!”? There are more victories to list, but I wonder how many bullet points you’ll actually read.  :)

Here’s the thing: 

These last 30 days have been some of the most stressful I've experienced in a long while (NOT because of Whole30®). There are parts of my life that literally seem to be imploding and there’s nothing I can do to help or fix it. On top of that, my mom who lives with us experienced a stroke. Mike’s dad had a bout with some chest pains (everything is ok with both Mom and Dad, thank God). We even had to say goodbye to the world’s best dog – the one I’ve told you about that used to lie beside me and encourage me with tail wagging as I wrote Finding Joy in the Journey and Victorious. I miss him a lot.

We’ve enjoyed house guests and road trips. And somehow during this time, I haven’t stress-eaten. I haven’t grabbed a cookie for comfort. I haven’t even felt strongly tempted to do so, and yes, there have been cookies and ice cream and cake and French fries in my house, even right in front of my face. This is a profound victory, whether I lost a pound or not. 

My ultimate goal is to break the bondage that food has over me and to walk in freedom and victory. For the last 30 days, I’ve achieved this. To God be the glory.

Hidden Sugars

One truly amazing thing we've learned about is hidden sugars. We’ve learned to recognize it along with a plethora of terrible additives that are in our food. Even if there is no sugar shown in the nutritional value of a product, ingredients often list a type of sugar (primarily dextrose) as an additive. The amounts are small enough to sneak under the radar of nutritional values, but those little buggers are in there.

If nearly everything we eat has a trace of added sugar and we add in more refined sugar with sweets and sugary beverages, how much sugar are we ingesting? A lot more than we think. A. Lot. More.

When we purchase low-fat alternatives, the labels indicate that extra sugar is added. This helps to make the food taste more like the higher-fat option. I’m no longer afraid of dietary fat and have lost weight eating plenty of it. I do, however, have a new mindset to avoid sugar except on rare occasions.

Hidden sugars explain a lot, like why we struggle with weight in our country. And sugar feeds much more than fat cells in our body. Cancer, I’ve learned, thrives on sugar. Those two are besties. It’s time to break up their relationship.

If you’re curious to learn more, I highly recommend that you read up on nutritional issues. They’re not as complicated and hard to understand as I expected. I’m no expert, so you need to gather your wisdom from those who are.

What’s next?

The reintroduction phase has me slightly terrified, but we’re planning to march right through it. I don’t want to trigger cravings. I don’t want to add pounds. Thankfully the book teaches us how to navigate those things.

Before I started the program, I was afraid that I might learn I am gluten intolerant – news I didn't wish to discover.  Now, I truly want to know. I’d love to have eyes wide open to something that is making me sick or causing inflammation, or moodiness, or hormone swings. I’m not afraid to go without my beloved bread or cheese. I still love it, but it no longer calls to me as loudly from the kitchen. I can save such things for special occasions and infrequent treats.


Because I’m in control.

Mission accomplished.

Get to the Weight Loss Already!

There it is. I lost 17 pounds on the 30-day program. Mike lost 21 pounds. He worked out a few times while I didn't work out once.

Most of the weight loss happened during the first 14 days, so I’m slightly disappointed with the total pounds lost. I was mentally prepared to report a much higher number to you. Still, 17 pounds is nothing to sneeze at. And as I said, the journey is just beginning. I expect the number on the scale to eventually become a friend and not a foe. Even if it doesn’t, I like how I feel and am more confident with how I look.  

The number on the scale doesn’t define me. Jesus Christ defines me. This I know.

Thanks again for walking this journey with me. I’ve appreciated your support, encouragement, and most of all your prayers. If you decide to take the Whole30® adventure, please let me know. I’d love the honor of praying for you!

Be strengthened today, by His Word,
Psalm 119:28

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.