Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Whole30 Halfway Point

So - I am officially halfway through Whole30.  Today marks day 16 with no dairy, sugar, grains, legumes, and booze.

As I mentioned in my weekly meal plans, I have not knowingly slipped up on the diet portion.  I have, however, had alcohol, though in very much lower quantities than pre- Whole 30.  On one hand I can be totally mad at myself for "failing" but on the other, I'm really proud of myself for the overall lifestyle change I've experienced in the two weeks.

My thoughts so far?

-This has been an unbelievably fabulous experiment.  It has certainly been challenging and at times, a total pain in the ass, but so, so worth it.

-Its not difficult to follow if you 1) plan accordingly 2) commit and 3) have a good attitude.

-I don't miss foods as much as I thought I would.  I was really nervous about giving up cheese. I love cheese.  Haven't missed it.    Carbs?  Strangely, have not had any wild cravings. Yes, I would love to do Pizza Friday but it is what it is.

-We are eating not only real, but also good food. It sounds really cheesy but I do not feel like I am on a diet.  Life is too short to eat food that doesn't taste good.

-I am sleeping hard at night, and not getting up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.  On a related note, it's amazing how well you feel after a night of not drinking.  One night when I had wine, I woke up in the middle of the night with my heart racing, a headache, and unable to go back to sleep. #sobrietyforthewin

-My skin is the clearest it has been in the longest time.  I don't suffer from too horrible acne but do have the occasional pimple.  I have not had one since Whole30.

-Lastly, I feel amazing and I am seeing results!!  You aren't supposed to weigh yourself on the program but I am motivated by progress. I am down almost 6 lbs!  I have not taken measurements lately, but I can tell my clothes are fitting better. I have more energy and honestly just feel GOOD.

If you have been considering trying Whole30, I am a believer.  I am excited to see what the next 15 days bring.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dining Room Transformation

Our dining room has been a work in progress since we moved in.  We are working with an incredibly small space so it's taken some tweaking to get it just right.  

I knew I wanted to use the glass top table to open up the room a little bit, but the other pieces have been slow to come together. 

Move in day- 
We lacquered the wooden chairs and painted them off white.

Since May, we have recovered the chairs, replaced the light fixture, rearranged the art, and most importantly, hung curtains!!

I can't believe what a difference the curtains and lighting make to soften up the room. It feels so much warmer and more inviting.  I didn't realize how harsh and prevalent the blinds were.

I still need to style the corner butler table - a fun World Market find - but I can't decide what direction to go.  Fancy trinkets?  Bar cart?  

Other than that, it feels good to check one room off the to do list!

(Shout out to Collins for the photobomb)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Whole30 Week 2

Week 2 is in the books! This was an interesting one as I was traveling for work in Chicago 2 days.  I made sure to pack plenty of approved goodies (cashews, bananas, almond butter, larabars), but traveling/ eating out is not the easiest thing in the world when you are cutting out grains and dairy. I am happy to say I did not cheat on the diet portion but I did succumb to some vino... And it was worth every drop.

Here are the meals that made our rotation when I was home and in the kitchen.

On day 1, we gave this a B. However, my mother always said to make chili and spaghetti the day before you want eat it to make sure the flavors meld.  Sure enough, after begrudgingly opting for leftovers a few days later, it was delicious and I would definitely make again.  Just don't cook this at 6 to eat at 6:30!

Lemon Herb Salmon  
Same winner from last week's post and still so, so good. I roasted the green cauliflower and sauted the shredded Brussels in ghee.  Have you ever cooked with ghee? My verdict is still out. I feel like it has a really strong flavor to it that I'm not sure if I am crazy about.

Filet Friday
Prior to Whole30, Friday meant one thing- Pizza Friday.  It's the best tradition ever and one of the things I miss most. However, these filets (cooked in the cast iron skillet and finished in the oven) made up for it.  While Filet Friday does not have quite the ring to it that Pizza Friday does, it will have to do for now!! (P.S. Finishing the filets with rosemary -- thumbs up!)

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti
No picture but this is another keeper.  Earth fare is having a great sale on grass - fed beef at 4.49/lb so a Sunday supper of spaghetti was in order. We served over roasted spaghetti squash with a kale salad.  With the dreary weather we have been having lately, a cozy comfort meal was excellent. 

Also not pictured and full disclosure - I made the worst meal of my life this week. I have been majorly into coconut lately so I attempted to make chicken with spices and shredded coconut.  It was a complete disaster. Usually if we don't like dishes, we can at least finish our plates.  This time, it could not go into the trash quick enough and I'm still gagging thinking about it. I guess you win some and lose some.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Whole30: Week 1 Menu

Well, week 1 is in the books!  As they tell you to expect, I had horrible headaches and cravings and thought about quitting on day 3.  However, I held strong, and quite honestly it has not been that bad!!  I can already tell a remarkable different in how I feel and sleep.   

Here's a recap of our dishes.  

This was a random pinterest find that intrigued me by the different flavors and ingredients.  The spices here are not my typical go - to (nor is lamb) but in the interest of keeping things in the kitchen fun, I decided to go for it.  Both Lash and I really liked this just because of the difference factor.  

Citrus Broiled Salmon with Kale Salad and Tomatoes
A single lady meal while Lash was working.  I seasoned the salmon with lemon, olive oil, garlic, s/p, and broiled for 8-10 minutes

Lemon Herb Salmon with Kale Salad and Roasted Green Beans and Butternut Squash
The BEST meal of the week by far.  This salmon is insanely good.  I am still dreaming about it and wishing we still had leftovers. This will be on the rotation.

photo via cooking light
We loved this soup recipe prior to Whole30.  I modified it to be compliant (no sugar, etc) and it was still delicious.  Tons of flavor, does not taste healthy, but is! 

Charred Tomatoes and Herb Chicken Saute, Cauliflower, and Kale Chips

If you ever have an "ugh, I don't feel like cooking/ how can we make this chicken work" meal, bookmark this recipe!    90% of the time you will have the ingredients in your pantry.  My mom, sister and I are hooked. To make this Whole30 compliant, you can sub ghee or omit and just char the tomatoes.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Brain Dump

1.  We went to NeedtoBreathe last night at the Performing Arts Center.  As always, they were absolutely amazing. . . so much so that we are debating driving to Clemson tonight to see them again.  Groupie in the making?

2.  I just finished reading The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand.  It's a great easy summer read, like most of her books are - but grab a tissue!

3.  The Skimm is a highlight to my morning.  Outside of the daily newsletter, I also love following their Instagram account.  I found this particularly funny (though it could be #Whole30problems affecting my sense of humor).

4.  I have been living with a severely cracked iPhone since early August, but despite my typical lack of patience, I saved my pennies for the 6's release.  I cannot wait for the upgrade to come in the mail today!!

5.  TGIF!  This week has crawled by, and I am so ready for the weekend.  Here's hoping the weather holds off and is beautiful!  I feel like its rained more this September than I ever remember.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I love the creativity and possibilities that come with meal planning, grocery shopping, prepping ingredients, cooking and more than anything - sharing a meal with those you love.  The kitchen is my happy place.  My mom is an unbelievable chef (co-authoring a cookbook while I was in high school), and her love of cooking has rubbed off immensely on my sister and myself.

Despite this passion, I have to watch what I eat and be very diligent about exercising.  We grew up in a healthy household so making good decisions generally isn't hard for me.  I like healthy food.  I grew up playing a ton of sports and love the feeling of a good sweat.  I am a big believer that diet is 85% of the puzzle and exercise 15%, and typically find this works for me.

Unfortunately over the past few months, I have been out of balance.  Coupled with a few glasses of wine more nights than not, bread, dessert, whatever - all of a sudden - Houston, we have a problem!!  I've tried making minor adjustments to my diet here and there to try to get the results I wanted, but it wasn't happening.  I need a shock to the body to get things back on track.  After reading It Starts with Food, I have challenged myself to a Whole 30.

The Whole 30 challenge is simple.  Focus on those foods that are good for you - good proteins from meats, seafood, and eggs, vegetables, fruits, and good fats.  What I love most about this program so far is that I can still cook meals that actually taste good, while feeding my body the nutrients it needs.   More of less the strictest form of paleo, all alcohol, dairy, grains, legumes, and sugar are prohibited.  (Of that list, I don't know if I should be embarrassed to say this or just brutally honest but I think alcohol will be the hardest... followed closely second by cheese.)

I'm currently on day 3.   I don't really look at this as a diet - but more of a nutritional reset for my body.  The program emphasizes whole foods, so your body can naturally detoxify and purify itself of all the junk we put it in while restarting your metabolism and resetting your immune and digestive systems.  Participants report an average weight loss anywhere from 6 to 15 pounds, more energy, better sleep, and clearer skin.  That all sounds pretty good to me!

Obviously posting this fresh out the starts gates for blog 2.0 is a little raw and nerve racking.  But it's not a secret and I'm sure at some point in life, everyone has experienced their own low moment.  And that's okay.  Life is about balance.  There will be peaks and there will be valleys.  

So, I'm excited to see what happens!  Thankfully, I have a great support team including my sister who is doing this along with me - along with Lash in an adoptive way to suit his residency lifestyle.

I'll post our meals and recipes, and updates as we go along.  27 days to go!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Surviving the Corporate Travel

I mentioned in my first post that I travel quite frequently for work.  In a typical month, I spend about 40% of my time traveling.  I certainly am not anywhere near George Clooney's character in Up in the Air, but if you think of a month having four full work weeks, I'm usually gone Monday through Thursday two of the four weeks.  Usually, at least one week of that is in NY, and the other is spread between Chicago, Scottsdale, and other various locations as business needs arise.

Despite how much I love this aspect of my role, I will be the first to tell you it is not all rainbows and roses.  I had someone ask me recently to tell me all about the glamorous life on the road and I almost laughed out loud. I am not complaining but just shooting it straight.  Hotel rooms do not sleep like your own bed, eating out is fun and delicious but I miss homecooked meals with controlled calories and portions, and getting on a routine is damn near impossible.

Nevertheless, this schedule works perfectly for the season of life I find myself in.  Lash works insane residency hours with no routine, so I'm glad I am busy, too.  It has made us cherish the time we get to spend together, and make our marriage a top priority.  I love meeting new people, seeing different parts of the country, and being a part of something bigger than myself.  In this post newlywed - prebaby season of life, I'm having a ball devoting my energy into a career.

In the past year of traveling, I've developed a few travel tips I thought I'd share.

1 - Invest in a good carry on bag.  Don't waste your time with a briefcase, buy a small travel tote. 
My parents gave me this Briggs and Riley carry-on, and it is amazing.  It's durable for airport beatings and also has a built in expansion rod that gives you 25% more room for those times when you can't pack light.

When I first started traveling, I bought a large briefcase that I filled to the brim with unnecessary junk I thought I'd need.  The briefcase got heavy as lead and sure enough, my shoulders started to bother me carrying it.  I downgraded to this Michael Kors jet set travel tote and it is a gamechanger.  It has just enough room for my laptop, notebook, wallet, wireless house, and pen.  All you need.

2 - Keep a travel toiletry bag packed at all times.
Even when I am not traveling, this is left in the suitcase so all I have to think about when packing is my clothes. You will not believe how much easier this makes packing.  I keep this bag stocked full of duplicate toiletry items including a toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, and travel size items.  (P.S. How much have travel sized items improved in the last few years, finally!?)

3 - Coordinate your outfits and shoes.
Pick a color palette and stick with it.  Go with all black, brown, or navy and add in neutrals that you can mix and match and share shoes.  

4 - Be honest with yourself on how much workout gear to pack.
I used to pack a workout outfit per day.  While I was certainly eager in my intention, it never happened with the frequency I imagined.  Now, I try to be honest with myself and give myself a breather on days I know I probably won't have time and try to make more of a conscious effort to get it in when I can.

5 - Say hello to early mornings.  
I made the mistake once of booking a flight on a Sunday evening to be somewhere early for a Monday morning meeting.  That entire day was spent checking my watch to see how much longer before I needed to head to the airport, and I got to my destination lonely and bored.  It is so much better to have one more night at home in your own bed and get up at 4 am for that 6 am flight rather than kill your weekend.

6 - Spend 5 minutes extra and unpack in your hotel room.

I find spending a few minutes organizing the hotel room makes me feel so much more settled.  I always hang up my clothes, put the shoes in the closet, and set up my toiletries.

7 - Explore!
Even if you are strictly traveling for work, try to see some of the sites or experience some of the fun the city offers!  For example, when you are in Memphis, you can't order a salad.

8 - Never travel on Fridays.

Office days are critical to getting caught up on never - ending emails.  Plus, on Friday, you increase your likelihood for delays and compete with pleasure travelers.

9 - Embrace the chaos.
You are going to have hiccups and delays.  Hopefully not often, but it will happen.  Spend the $7 for a drink on the plane and just breathe.  Sometimes, if you are super delayed, they will give you the drinks for free!

10 - Hygiene is a priority.  Always.
Even if it means brushing your teeth in a sketchy bathroom, it is better than nothing and will make you feel like a new person.