Shining through…

Archive for February, 2012

WholeLife

Today is my official last day of the Whole30.  When I started it, I thought once this day got here, I’d be super-excited.  I am, but it turns out that the cause for my excitement isn’t what I thought it would be.  Instead of planning meals full of all the things I’m once again “allowed” to eat, I’m actually pretty excited about how great I feel.  And the weight I’ve lost (and am continuing to lose).  And how amazingly good real foods taste.  And how easy it is for me to identify when I’ve eaten something that my body doesn’t like since there are now so few potential culprits.

The bottom line is, 30 days truly is enough time to create a new habit.  It’s not like I had terrible eating habits to begin with, but I have identified a few things I’m much better off without…and I don’t want to go back.  One thing I’ve figured out is that even just a little bit of sugar really messes with me.  So why would I start eating it again?  (On that note, either the Texas Ruby Red grapefruits this year are exceedingly sweet, or by cutting out added sugars I can now taste the true flavors in them.  I tend to think it’s the latter.)  Same thing with most carbs:  I just feel better when I don’t eat a lot of them.

At the beginning of this thing, I was really missing milk and cheese.  Truthfully, that hasn’t changed all that much.  There are some times that all I want is a glass of milk, especially at night if I’m hungry but don’t want to eat anything. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to cut dairy permanently because it has never bothered me, but after the things I’ve learned, I will be a little more judicious with its consumption.  Also, after 30 days without it, my body very well could rebel.  Finally, dairy can curb weight loss and I’m currently about halfway to my goal. We shall see.

One very gratifying aspect of these changes I’ve made is that several friends have quit laughing and/or calling me crazy, and they’ve begun to scrutinize their own diets.  I’m getting a lot of phone calls and texts asking my opinion on the best source for grass-fed beef or how to make ghee or which coconut oil to buy or when the withdrawal headaches will go away.  I’ve also got friends who are seeing results from their changes, and that makes me so happy.  I think, more than anything I could say, the results speak for themselves.

So…I thought 30 days was going to be sooooo difficult.  And there were times it wasn’t easy.  But I can honestly say that not only am I proud of myself for completing them, but I’ve also made some changes for the better that I am pretty sure are permanent.  Whole30, for me, has become WholeLife.  And I feel so good about that.

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Half30

Today marks Day 15 of my Whole30 program, the halfway mark, and I’m still alive.  I’ve learned a few things, been pleasantly surprised by a few things, and overall, found this a lot easier than I expected to.  Here’s the breakdown:

Stuff I’ve learned:

1.  All about the “carb flu.”  This is essentially the withdrawal that your body goes through as it learns not to rely on quick sources of glucose, aka carbs, for fuel.  You feel a little run-down, a little “off” for about a week, and then all of a sudden, everything levels out.  Some people have far worse symptoms than I did, probably because I wasn’t eating a lot of carbs to begin with, but those intense cravings for enchiladas and popcorn I experienced?  All part of it.  I mentioned withdrawal, and that’s exactly what’s happening.  Carbs, especially wheat, trigger addictive symptoms in your brain.  When you have carb cravings, it’s not because your body actually needs them.  It’s because it’s physically addicted and has gone too long without a “fix.”

2.  Dairy spikes your insulin 3 times higher than any other nutrient source.  Learning this pacified the zombie cheeses that were chasing me relentlessly and has made me re-think my dairy consumption post-Whole30.  At this point, I doubt I’ll forgo it completely, but I will definitely be more moderate.

3.  I hadn’t been eating enough. For the first week and a half, I would find myself feeling nauseated and my leg and arm muscles would feel very weak before I realized I needed to eat.  Interestingly, I never had hunger pangs to cue me.  I’m not sure why that is – maybe someone more knowledgeable than I can tell me – but I took to keeping a bag of snacks in my car with me (raw almonds/large flake coconut/dried cranberry mix, Larabars, pistachios, raw nut butter single-serve packs, nitrate/nitrite-free jerky, etc), and that has helped a lot.  Also, as I had read would happen, the further I’ve gotten into this, the more self-regulated my eating has become.  And I also have noted a correlation between a carb craving and the need to eat:  if I find myself thinking about crackers or tortilla chips or whatever, I know I’ve waited too long.

Pleasant surprises:

1.  Food tastes better than it ever has.  Seriously.  It’s like flavors have come alive; subtle nuances are screamingly obvious.  I think this must be what it’s like when a smoker quits and can suddenly taste food, but on a deeper level. Today I bought a box of organic strawberries, and J walked in the kitchen to see me standing completely still, eyes closed, savoring one.  I think it was the best strawberry I’ve ever eaten.  It’s so nice to enjoy real foods, things we take for granted or pass up in lieu of sugar-laden confections.  And I have found that I’m not a fan of finding paleo-friendly substitutes for most things.  If it doesn’t taste as good as the thing it’s trying to mimic, I don’t want it.   On the other hand, I’ve tried things I wouldn’t normally have tried before this and found that I like them.  Spaghetti squash is really good!  Organic coconut milk (the kind in the can, not the carton) is amazing in coffee.  Coconut sap crystals are just sweet enough, chock-full of amino acids and vitamins, and very low on the glycemic index, not to mention they don’t pack a carb punch at all and are completely natural.

2.  Stock – or as the paleo/primal community calls it, bone broth – is amazing at healing up gut issues and upset tummies.  I have now joined the British in enjoying their cups of restorative “beef tea.”   I can’t even explain this one, and I wouldn’t have ever thought (especially after making gallons upon gallons of the stuff in my culinary career) that I’d be excited about drinking a mug of warm stock with a sprinkling of Himalayan rose salt, but I am.  For a really informative article about the benefits of bone broth, go here .

3.  I need new clothes.  I had lost a few pounds after going gluten-free a couple of months ago, but the Whole30 has kicked that into high gear.  Well, maybe medium gear because it’s slow and steady, as opposed to a huge loss all at once, but I’m down at least 10lb.  Frankly, I’m okay with slow and steady because it’s the healthier way to lose weight anyway, and also, this is not at all some fad diet, so what I lose won’t be coming back.  This is a way of eating that our bodies were designed for, and just like putting the right fuel in your car’s tank improves overall performance, eating properly gets everything into alignment.  I’ve decided I won’t buy clothes until my birthday in May because I figure by then, I’ll have leveled out at the weight I need to be.  I’m not looking to be a size 2 – that’s not realistic for my body type.  But I am looking to be at my correct set point, and I’m on my way there.  (By the way, it’s a little uncomfortable but immensely gratifying when your husband scrutinizes you MOST clinically and says, “Your body has changed a LOT already.  I can see your progress and I’m proud of you.” 🙂 )  In addition, my skin is healthier and my hair is growing like crazy.  Must be all the protein and collagen in the bone broth. 😀

So, I have 15 more days to go.  At the end of it, I have promised M I will make gf cinnamon rolls and eat them with him because we missed his Muffins With Mom day at school.  So I will make them  – from manioc flour, which is the  gf basis for the amazing cheese rolls at Fogo de Chao, by the way, and also makes a phenomenal pizza crust and a reasonable flour tortilla substitute – and I will eat one with him.  But I have almost none of the already little sweet tooth I possessed before, and I am not a fan of intestinal upheaval, so I don’t see sugar becoming a habit again.  I will also slowly reintroduce some dairy and see if it halts my weight loss progress,  and I may eat some french fries from Elevation Burger.  I’ll write again at the end of the next 15 days and let y’all know how it all turns out.

***

PS – One of the best parts of this experience?  A certain friend of mine wrote that she was going to make soooo much fun of me as I called her, bemoaning my lot in Whole30 life.  I am delighted to report that no such call has taken place, and I actually feel great!  🙂

Isaiah 43:2a is REALLY Appropriate Here

I’ve been meaning to blog about my experiences driving home from school last Tuesday night for, oh, a week now, but silly stuff like homework has kind of monopolized my time. The drive back tonight reminded me – by dint of its being sooooo different from last week – that I really needed to share.  So here it is:

Last Tuesday night, the 24th of January, Central Texas had a pending forecast of severe thunderstorms and flash floods.  My class runs from 6:30pm to 9:20pm, and when it ended, the skies were still perfectly clear.  So I decided to take advantage of the fact that the Alkek library stays open until 3am, and I traipsed across campus to finish a paper there.  I guess it could have been the fact that my ears were well-filled with the lovely voice of Misty Edwards, but I never heard it start to rain.  Oh, but start to rain, it did.  And it rained.  And rained.  And rained.  We’re talking monsoon rains and hurricane winds.  (It seriously took me back to playing outside during Hurricane Alicia in Houston in 1983.)  So around 2am, I was trying to figure out how I was going to get to the parking garage where I’d left my car, which was a good 6-8 minute walk away in nice weather…

[Before I tell you the rest of the story, let me ask you a question: If you’ve been a life-long reader like I have, can you remember back to the very first really nice storybook you ever got?  The one that had beautiful watercolor art that SO perfectly illustrated the story JUST like you saw it in your mind? The one that had a dust jacket that wouldn’t stay on but indicated by its existence that this book was a Very Big Deal that Must be Taken Care Of?  The one that told a story in rich, expressive turns of phrase, so captivating that you found yourself completely immersed in the story and didn’t hear when your mom called you from the dining room?  Well, Tuesday night was like that book for me.  It was such a clear, clear picture of the truth that God makes a way where there isn’t one.  And the truth that He’s always with us.  And the truth that nothing is too difficult for Him / impossible with Him.] *

…The security guard on duty in the library insisted that I call for an escort from the courtesy patrol on campus.  He reasoned that I pay for the service, so I might as well use it, and I agreed.  So I called, and 25 minutes later, the patrolman, who had been rescuing people walking across campus, finally showed up.  We dropped a couple of people off and then made our way to my car.  As we drove to the parking garage, the patrolman received word that the campus had closed the main road because of flooding.  Now, I don’t get to the main campus too often, so I don’t know any of the other roads that head back to the highway.  But the patrolman knew a way.  He asked me to follow him as he dropped off the last person, and he would then lead me to I-35.  So I waded through 8 inches of standing water, got in my car, and commenced to go blindly – if not gently – into that not-so-good night.

Perfect!  Except that it wasn’t.  The campus is situated along a river, so numerous small roads were completely washed out.  At one point, I got to experience the built-in safety feature my car has where the wheels become VERY hard to turn so there’s better traction – freaked me out a bit, except I figured out what it was – and at another point, we had to come to a complete stop and backtrack because the little one-lane road we were on had disappeared beneath a roaring torrent of creekwater.  But finally, an hour later, I saw I-35 directly in front of me.  God bless that patrolman because he really went out of his way to help me.  I have no idea how we got there, but he got me where I needed to be.

Oh, but then the rain decided to be fruitful and multiply.  And did I mention that my wipers wouldn’t work on high?  I couldn’t see five feet in front of me for virtually all 50 miles of the drive.  And when a semi passed by?  Forget it.  That was extra-prayer time.  I went that entire way going about 40mph and finally got to my front door at 4:10am.  And since I was wired from being in a state of high alert for two hours straight, I sat back and thought about what had transpired.  And I truly did see the hand of God in every last bit of it.  The patrolman who got me to my car and then got me to the highway.  The car doing what it was supposed to do in high water.  The fact that even when I couldn’t see the highway, I never veered out of my lane.  The fact that traffic drove remarkably well – I didn’t pass a single accident.  The fact that my sleepy husband called at 3am.  I pulled over to call him back, and he told me he knew I’d be fine.

I had been talking with God, pretty much along the lines of, “All right, Lord, YOU drive because I can’t see a cotton-pickin’ thing!” when J called.  And it was like the Lord answered me through the words my husband spoke.  I’m not sure if it’s actually possible to have every fiber of your body be quiveringly alert and be at peace at the same time, but the rest of the way home, that’s how I rolled. 🙂  Slowly, but I rolled nonetheless.

So, someone reading this blog needed to hear that God is completely in control in the middle of your storm.  Believe it, latch onto it, stay in that place of knowing.  DON’T give up.  He absolutely makes a way when we feel totally unequipped and inadequate.  Sometimes that way involves your participation, and sometimes it involves your surrender.  But there is a way.

* See Jeremiah 32:17, Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27, Luke 1:37, Luke 18:27, and a whole slew of other verses

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