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The 'Whole30' Experience

Day 27: SUN, 19th, FEB 2017

From the beginning I knew I wasn’t going to complete the ‘Whole30’ challenge because my sisters wedding fell right before day thirty, I wanted to enjoy her celebration and let it serve as my reward for making it through the majority of the program. My first indulgence didn’t happen until the afternoon where I enjoyed breaded calamari, a steak with mashed potatoes and the glorious vanilla with strawberry filling wedding cake. I’ll admit that a part of me felt guilty for eating these foods but I know everything in life is about balance and I decided to let it go and enjoy the evening.

As I left the venue I was greeted with a feeling that I’m all too familiar with that I didn’t miss---the feeling of being bloated. It wasn’t nearly as bad as it was pre ‘Whole30’ but it reminded me why I started the program. It’s great to know how my body feels when I nourish it properly versus when I eat foods that are unnecessary. I woke up Sunday morning knowing that I enjoyed myself the day before, evaluated how it made me feel and decided that I wanted to stay on track with the progress I made on the ‘Whole30’.

Getting outside my comfort zone and challenging myself to live 26 days with a different dietary plan was a rewarding experience that I will recommend to anyone. It showed me that I can not only cook, but I can cook delicious nutritious meals, I have the willpower to pass on foods that are not suitable for my body's performance and that we really are what we eat.

Thank you to everyone who shared their experiences, read my entries, commented and liked them and took the time to listen and offer support, y’all served as a major inspiration when I started to doubt my intentions. To my personal chef & partner in crime Kevin, thank you for being patient, making salmon cakes with me and allowing me to experiment in our kitchen---who knew you would become a fan of spaghetti squash! I’m glad we found something else we can do together. Finally, I want to give a BIG shout out to Nicole Grabow and Maggie Seay for introducing me to the program and giving me the encouragement to accept the challenge, it really has changed my perspective on nutrition and diet---thank you!

I leave you with some ‘food for thought’:

~ The food you eat can either be the safest & most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.

~ Every time you eat is an opportunity to nourish your body.

~ You can’t out exercise bad nutrition.

~ You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces, just good food from fresh ingredients. Julia Child

Day 21: MON, 13th, FEB 2017

During my run yesterday afternoon I thought hard about the past three weeks and what this experience meant to me. The original reason I started this program was because I wanted to give my body and stomach a chance to ‘reset’ from the month of indulging I did over the holidays, I was able to accomplish that and gain more knowledge about who I am. What I realized is I have an addiction to food that isn’t always healthy, it doesn’t support the hard work and training that I do every day.

I’m passionate about fitness, knowing that I can design, create and transform my body at anytime through hard work and dedication blows my mind. But it takes more than hitting the gym 5 times a week to make these changes, we need to feed our bodies with the proper nutrition it needs. What it boils down to are the choices WE make every day and I wasn’t always making the best ones. In my mind I would say, ‘I’m going to workout nine times this week, I can eat ANYTHING I want!’, that’s true with moderation but I didn’t have that---if it was in front of me, 9 out of 10 times I would eat it.

Throughout the past 21 days my body has changed for the better because I had the willpower to avoid certain foods, foods that I used to crave and thought I couldn’t live without. I realized the results I deserved were being delayed because I chose to eat foods that were counterproductive---that’s frustrating.

There’s a saying ‘I workout to eat’ that I used to live by, but now I choose to say ‘I eat to workout’. The importance of nutrition is something I will no longer take for granted, it needs to be the same level of priority as my training. I now know that I can teach four cycling classes, one circuit class and kick my own ass in the gym another four times a week without consuming large quantities of heavy starches like breads, rices and my personal favorite, tortillas. I know that I can sit through dinner or go out with friends and choose not to eat an entire basket of chips or fries. I know that I can cook delicious colorful meals that are full of proteins and vegetables and feel satisfied, not bloated. I have grown over the past month and have a greater understanding of how my body works---that feels amazing.

Day 17: THURS, 09th, FEB 2017

While I was talking to a friend about the latest recipe I was going to try I caught myself saying cooking is ‘fun’, I don’t think I have EVER used ‘fun’ and ‘cooking’ in the same sentence! But it’s true, I find it thrilling when I come across a new recipe and start to research all the ingredients and order them on Instacart. I took a shot at recreating the ‘Whole30’ stuffed peppers recipe and they were amazing, check it out here.

With the stress of work and having to attend several marketing events, which means I’m surrounded by alcohol and a lot food I can’t eat, this week has been challenging. The food I prepared on Sunday didn’t last all week and I’ve been forced to eat out a hand full of times, luckily I’ve found a few places by the office that are ‘Whole30’ compliant with a few modifications. I’m the type of person that can eat the same meals every week so when I find dishes that are compliant and good I stick with them. Needless to say I’ve been eating a lot at Chipotle and Zoe’s Kitchen, both have restaurants all over town so they are easy to access while on the go. You know I’m a fan of the Chipotle’s carnitas salad and at Zoe’s I’ll order the salmon kabobs plain with a side greek salad that I sprinkle olive oil and lemon juice on---thanks Candace for the lemon juice recommendation!

It’s so easy to eat un-healthy foods while you’re on the go, one of my hobbies is finding snacks that are tasty, have few ingredients and you can eat with one hand (I’ll admit it, I tend to drive and snack quite often!). I stumbled across a line of products call 'Go Raw' at ‘HEB ALON’, each snack only has about three ingredients and they are ‘Paleo’ and ‘Whole30’ compliant. I wouldn’t munch on them every day but they are a good option in case of an ‘emergency’. I have tried their spouted cookies and bars and have become a fan of both.

I have one more event to get through Thursday evening, a bowling happy hour. I’m going to focus on killing the competition and not killing myself over what I can’t eat. I’ll have to sick to what I’ve learned, plan ahead and eat before the event---here’s to a few more days of experience, education and willpower!

Day 13: SUN, 05TH, FEB 2017

I’m one day away from hitting my two-week mark and I’m feeling GREAT about my decision to start this journey, putting myself in an unfamiliar situation has proved success can arise from doubt and uncertainty. Not only has my stomach settled and my skin improved, but I have a greater appreciation for proper nutrition and what it can do for our bodies both physically and mentally.

This week I spent two days in College Station, TX visiting my alma mater for a landscape architecture career fair and student workshop. During my drive I started to think about the choices I was going to have to make to stay on track with my new diet, and for the first time in a long time I felt confident about what I had to do. In the past I’ve made time to work out and stay active but I usually followed it up with a meal that was less than nutritious. What was my excuse? I was away from home, I needed to enjoy the local foods and splurge on whatever I wanted to. Not understanding at the time how that affected my body, I will think twice about what I choose to feed myself. A visit to College Station would typically include, chicken strips from Layne's or a burger and fries from Koppe Bridge, this time I made much healthier choices and ate most of my meals at Blue Baker and had a delicious carnitas salad with guacamole from Chipotle---all of which are approved ‘Whole30’ meals.

What it boiled down to was that I needed to think a little bit harder about what I was going to eat and plan ahead. There is always a better option, you just need to make the effort to find it. We all make choices in life and I’m finally seeing the benefits of making the healthy ones.

Over the week I learned two new tips that have made this process more enjoyable. As a replacement for standard dressings I was adding olive oil and vinegar over my salads, it’s not bad but let’s face it, there isn’t much taste. Since fresh guacamole is allowed I started mixing it into my salads and letting it act as my dressing---it’s changed my life! My second tip deals with my late night craving for sweets. One of my favorite ways to get my ‘sugar’ fix is by mixing in frozen strawberries, blueberries & raspberries with a freshly peeled banana. As the frozen berries melt they create a syrup that tastes so good with the bananas, it just works for me!

All in all I’m proud of the progress I’m making, if any of y’all are interested in this challenge please feel free to chat with me about it---I’m half way through! J

BONUS TIP: Chipotle has a great nutrition section on their website that allows you to see the full breakdown of your meal as you prepare it, check it out! Chipotle Nutrition Calculator

Day 6: SUN, 29th, JAN 2017

I can’t believe that I’m only one day away from completing my first week on the ‘Whole30’, I have learned a lot about food and my body in this short period of time. Going into the weekend I was nervous because I knew I would come face to face with many temptations. The first was on Friday night when I met Kevin for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Paloma Blanca Mexican Cuisine, I walked up to a table with queso and chips---talk about having second thoughts! I took a deep breath, moved the chips to his side of the table and made it through the evening without falling off the wagon. I chose to eat at Palmoa Blanca because they have a gluten free and paleo approved menu, check it out here. Thank you for being a progressive restaurant!

My next temptation was Saturday afternoon when I met my family for a burger at The Long Horn Cafe. This was going to take some will power because not only was I around burgers, fries and onion rings but also pickle chips! I told myself at the beginning of this process that I didn’t want to restrict anyone else from eating what they wanted just because I was participating in the ‘Whole30’, I wanted to challenge myself to maintain a normal life and not live in a 30-day bubble. I ended up ordering a bun less Angus burger, which was delicious and juicy, a plain baked potato and a side of lightly seasoned green beans. I know it sounds boring but it was all really good! I avoided the fried goodness and stayed on track---It’s about the small victories right?

On the drive home I started thinking about what feeling ‘full’ really means to me. I know I’m not a large guy but I eat more than most people I know, to the point where I feel uncomfortably full and bloated. In my mind I thought I needed rice, pasta and bread to be full, but in reality it just made me bloated and sluggish. Eating a diet full of proteins and vegetables, feeling full without the negative side effects, has really opened up my eyes to see how our bodies react to certain foods. It’s like being hung over from food rather than alcohol, both can make you feel sluggish and a little useless. It all goes back to that one word I love to use---balance.

Day 3: TUES, 25th, JAN 2017

One of the coolest parts of participating in this challenge is the support I've been receiving, thank you for sending me your positive vibes and love! Everyday I meet someone who has tried the program or is in the middle of it and they've all had positive experiences. I love the suggestions on food & snacks so please keep them coming!

Today was the first day I've had the opportunity to eat out while on this challenge and I was nervous. I don't want to be the person with the complicated order, the guy who questions every meal down to the ingredients and preparation style---we've all see the movie 'Waiting' right? Luckily one of my girlfriends, who is one of the gals that inspired me to take this challenge, had a great suggestion, we ate ceviche at one of my favorite seafood joints El Bucanero! I avoided the chips and asked for an extra side of sliced cucumbers, an excellent alternative.

This experience made me think about the upcoming weekend and how I was going to approach eating out on my own. I found a great article by ‘Real Food with Dana’ titled Whole30 Restaurant Survival Guide that made me excited about what’s to come. Her #3 tip is one that really resonated with me, ‘FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN EAT, NOT WHAT YOU CAN’T.’. I like the positive spin she takes on the experience because it’s just that, a positive and healthy change. I know I’m on my way to a healthier and wiser version of myself and I can’t wait to meet him!

Day 1: MON, 23rd, JAN 2017

Today has been a good day, I woke up feeling great about this new adventure and excited to learn about food and how this new diet will affect my body. My body is extremely sensitive to many foods, not only am I lactose and gluten intolerant but I have a minor case of IBS (irritable bowl syndrome). When I eat certain foods I feel and get bloated and it will last for several days, it messes with my mind because I know I am in good shape but the feeling and look of being bloated makes me think otherwise.

Because of all these issues I want to learn how to manage them better and I know fixing my diet is key---I do NOT want to rely on medication. I figure the best way for me to do this is to neutralize my diet and remove all of the artificial ingredients, excess sugars and unnecessary carbohydrates like french fries and potato chips from my life for 30 days and see how I feel. Food plays a critical part in how our body functions and it's time for me to learn what my body really needs.

As I mentioned earlier, I woke up feel pretty good. I had a slight headache throughout the day but I blame mother nature for that one, darn cedar! I made the spaghetti squash with paleo meat sauce last night (checkout my BodyArchitecture Facebook page for the recipe!), and it actually held me over till the morning. I snacked on raw almonds and two of my favorite bars between and after lunch, the blueberry protein RXBAR & the EPIC Bison Cranberry bar---both filled me up till it was time for me to eat lunch and dinner. So far so good, but this was only the first day. I hear that the third day is when your body can start to react to the changes and make you feel sluggish. I can deal with sluggish but I don't know if I can deal with being HANGRY! ;)

Talk to y'all tomorrow!