Thursday, 22 December 2016

Food, and Eating, and Meals, oh my!

Today I want to talk about what a typical day of eating looks like for me. If you follow me on Instagram (@atari_simply) you know that I like to show off my food quite a bit, heh. So let me take you through a normal day for me.

Breakfast: This is the meal that most people struggle with. Because if you can't have toast/bagels/muffins/croissants, then what's the point of living, right? Wrong. Breakfast is actually so pleasant for me now, and let me tell you why: because I get my ass out of bed and make sure I get a good meal in/enjoy my quiet morning and reflect on the coming day. I get up at around 5-5:15 every morning and go down to the kitchen. I turn on the Keurig and start to get my son's lunch for school put together, but while I'm doing that, I'm also prepping my breakfast. I fill a small pot with water and get it to boiling on the stove for hard boiled eggs, I normally do 6 at a time. Two for me for breakfast, two for my lunch at work, and two for the kids for breakfast. While I'm waiting for the eggs, I take to the cutting board and get some cucumbers and/or tomatoes sliced and put them on my breakfast plate, and also add some to my son's lunch, as well as in a container for a salad for my lunch (that I will add the eggs in as well). Once his lunch is done, this usually means the eggs are ready too, and I drain, cool and peel them. I always make sure that I drink a big glass of water before I start eating or drinking coffee. After I've finished making the breakfast/lunches, I make my coffee (black, of course) and sit down at the table to tuck into my food and check Instagram/emails. This whole process normally takes about half an hour. It's some lovely "me" time.

Lunch: If I'm going to work, I will usually make a salad similar to the one I described above, but sometimes I'll take leftovers from the previous night's dinner, or switch up the protein on my salad to tuna or chicken or whatever I have in the fridge. Same goes for the veggies. I usually buy a big container of baby spinach for my base, and add whatever veggies I have leftover in the fridge. For dressing, I literally just use balsamic vinegar, but if I'm feeling adventurous, I'll mix up a little dressing of balsamic, olive oil and Dijon or plain yellow mustard to give it some zing. Super tasty and super healthy.

Dinner: The trickiest of the meals, because I have to think about the family too at this point. I want to make them something that they will enjoy, but that is also Whole30-compliant. This usually happens in the form of a protein, and a couple of sides (roasted potatoes with steamed broccoli/carrots/cauliflower, for example), but sometimes, I make these one-pot creations. One night, I had company for dinner, and we couldn't figure out what we wanted to eat. Recipes and ideas were thrown around, but all contained cheese or sour cream, or dairy of some sort. Finally I said "guys, let me just make a mishmash and you're going to love it." Skepticism followed my statement, but I did it anyway. I cooked the ground meat we had, added some shredded potato, tomatoes, and peppers. Used the spices for "taco seasoning" and added some Frank's Red Hot sauce. The skepticism faded as their plates were devoured. The meal was delicious and filling. Goes to show that you can still have a Mexican-inspired meal without beans/corn/cheese.

Snacks: While I don't snack often anymore, sometimes I need a little pick-me-up after a workout or if I didn't quite eat enough at my last meal. I usually go for hard-boiled eggs, or almonds, or sometimes a piece of fruit (not recommended on the W30, they prefer you have your fruit as part of a meal, but I like to have an apple once in a while! I am an adult!). I always just make sure that I don't overdo it on the snacking so that I'm hungry by the time the next meal comes. In order to do this, I usually just take what I want to eat and leave the rest in the cupboard or fridge. It's easy to get carried away.

So this is a typical day of food for me! I hope you found this helpful in the sense that you don't need pasta or bread or rice or cheese or cream to make a meal complete, Sometimes you just need a little creativity and an open mind to make something look and taste great!

C xo

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Rounding up Whole30ers!

Good morning! The more I talk about the Whole30, the more people seem interested in it. And why wouldn't they be!? Even a stranger at the bus stop heard me talking to an acquaintance about my new lifestyle, and she turned around and asked me more questions about it! So cool! I've had a few people tell me they'll be joining me for at least the month of January for the W30! I'm so proud and happy for these people, because they will seriously have their lives changed forever. This isn't just a crash diet, it's a whole new lifestyle of eating only the most nourishing and best foods. I know what you're thinking, "But Chelsea, pizza is the best food!" It really isn't, and you know it.

While losing weight is PART of it, it's not the POINT of it. I know in yesterday's post I spoke about my weight loss journey, but that was merely to illustrate how I got started on this new, lifelong journey. The point of the W30 is to clean out your system and heal you from the inside out. Taking out all the bad stuff, and kind of doing an experiment on yourself to find out what works and what doesn't. The point is for you to feel your very best by eating as much of these nutritious meals as you need to, and really listening to your body when it tells you it has had enough. Chew slowly and deliberately, make sure the pieces are small enough so your organs don't have to work as hard to break down the food, you'll see how much of a difference this makes. I was never able to stop myself when I got full before, but now, even if I only have a bite or two left, I'll push the dish away because I've hit my maximum food intake. This is a huge personal victory for me.

I've just learned so much over the last two months, I can't even express my gratitude to this program. I love that the creators actually explain why each food is being removed and how it unknowingly affects us and our hormones, and how much our hormones have to do with EVERYTHING that goes on inside. Just incredible.

I know that giving up a lot of the foods that you currently love and are used to seems scary and hard. Some people have even told me that they can't do the Whole30 because they can't live without [insert off-plan food here], or that there's no way they can drink their coffee black. It's honestly not that hard. If you want things in your life to change, you have to make a change you've never made. That was my philosophy, and I took it and ran. Sure, I miss bagels and cream cheese (do I ever...) and hummus (still meaning to try this cauliflower hummus recipe) but I'm not dying. Actually, I'm better than ever. The positives outweigh my attraction to these pseudo-healthy foods. I have had some off-plan stuff, like red wine, cheese, pita, corn chips, but they don't make me feel good (except the wine, and I will miss that in 2017) . When I reintroduced them, I almost immediately felt their effects on my insides and quickly ruled them out, deciding to stick to my clean-eating ways. I, again, have to mention my husband, and his amazing support. He intentionally waits until I'm not home to eat his salty snacks like Bugles and chips and dip, because he doesn't want me to suffer while watching him enjoy these foods I used to love. I can't express how helpful this small gesture has been with helping me stay on track.

All this to say, if you've been reading or researching the Whole30 and are considering giving it a try, just go for it. Don't wait until "the right moment" take charge of your life now and see how good you can feel! You can do this! Believe in yourself and love yourself enough to at least try it. You won't regret it.

C xo

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

My Weight Loss Story

With January fast approaching, and my Whole365 on the horizon, I wanted to share my weight loss story.

My journey starts way back in 2002. I was 16 and had just gotten into a new relationship with an older guy. At that time, I was slim, active and was loving life. He drove me around, which meant less walking for me, and we ate A LOT. Lunches would consist of Kraft Dinner at his place, or taking a drive to the local McDonald's or chip truck where we would order ridiculous amounts of food and share it amongst our little group of friends. I'm sure everyone remembers high school and not caring much about what we put in our bodies, or worrying much about how it would affect us later in life. I was no exception. I would eat as much as my boyfriend and his friends, coupled with little to no exercise, it quickly caught up with me.

Fast forward to 2007. I was 231 pounds, depressed, eating my feelings, and still trying to eat as much as I could. I ignored my stomach's cries to stop what I was doing and trudged on. I eventually thought I needed to stop this ridiculous cycle and sought help in the form of a book called The Fat Smash Diet. After reading through the guidelines, my boyfriend (who was also overweight) and I dove into this lifestyle change. I told my dad and step mom about my plans, and they were overjoyed, having been meaning to talk to me about my weight gain. I asked Dad to take some "before" pictures for me, which he willingly did. After our photo shoot, I looked at the small preview of my pictures on the camera, and was brought to tears at the sight of myself. I had never seen such honest pictures of me, because the mirror lies. I had rolls I never knew existed, and about three chins. These pictures were devastating. But they were also motivating! I was determined now more than ever to get my life back on track.

After following the Fat Smash for the recommended three weeks, I was down 30 pounds and feeling like I could take on the world! But here is where I went wrong... I decided that since I had done so well, I would "treat" myself with a Baconator from Wendy's and a large fry and coke. It was greasy and disgusting, but it was my treat and I was determined to eat it all. After all, I had earned it. Boy was I wrong. After that, it was a fast food frenzy again. I had learned nothing in the previous three weeks about how I should be feeding myself. I thought that if I lost some weight, I would just stay there and could do whatever I wanted without facing any consequences, I was still young after all. Of course, that's not true, and I was quickly packing the pounds back on. I was disappointed and angry, which meant reaching for sugary and salty treats as comfort. Which meant I was back in my vicious cycle.

About a year after my failed diet, my boyfriend and I broke up and I moved in with my dad and step mom. There I was only eating three meals a day, and I had started going to the gym three times a week. I'm 21 years old at this time, and watching the weight melt off my body. In the first year away from my bad habits, I was able to lose 70lbs and was at a healthy 155lbs. I felt sexy for the first time in my life. I was able to shop in the stores I had only dreamed of shopping at in the past. Everything was great. However, my sugar dragon was still there, still trying to claw its way back out.

At the end of 2008, I met the man who would eventually become my husband. We had a whirlwind romance that led to a pregnancy early on in our relationship. While I was thrilled to be starting a family with him, I had completely forgotten about my food rules, and figured "I'm pregnant! I should be able to eat whatever I want, and it'll be fine!" Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Before I knew it, I was back up to my highest weight: 230lbs. I waited the six weeks after giving birth, and decided to try and get my weight back on track. And I did! In the form of home workouts. Having a new baby, I wasn't able to go to the gym like I had done before, and turned to Beachbody workouts, as well as a Nike fitness workout program for the Xbox. While keeping my eating in check (I had cut out soda and junk food and only stuck to my three meals rule that worked so well for me before) and eventually brought myself back down to 160lbs. This took about two years, and I maintained it for just as long.

Now we're in 2013, I'm hovering around 165-170, and hubby and I decide to have another baby. I told myself I would keep up with the workouts and eat sensibly, but of course I did the same thing with this pregnancy as I did with my first. Threw caution to the wind and ate like a pig. After I gave birth this time, I was 239lbs. My biggest ever. I was depressed and angry again, but why? I knew what would happen, I'd been there before. The problem was that I. Couldn't. Stop. No matter how hard I tried, my brain/body would fail me, and I ended up face-first in a bag of Cherry Blasters every night. I found myself having to lose an excess amount of weight for the third time in my relatively short life.

As shameful as this is, I would go to the convenience store, spend $30 on junk food, telling myself I would only eat a little tonight and save the rest, but that never happened. I would always eat it all. Always. I would eat when I wasn't hungry, I would eat when I was happy, sad, stressed, you name it. Food was my drug of choice, and my sugar dragon, my best friend. I would eat in secret, too. Go into the cupboard when no one was home, eat the entire bag of goldfish crackers I had bought FOR MY KIDS, and hide the wrapper at the bottom of the garbage can. You know those "funny" memes: "I don't just eat the pizza, I eat it until I hate myself" well that was my daily reality. I started looking up symptoms of overeating disorders, and decided to talk to my doctor, who indeed diagnosed me with the eating disorder. At least now I knew that it wasn't my fault, it was a chemical imbalance in my brain and body making me feel this way. I knew I could be stronger than it, and I planned to be.

Over the last two years, I've struggled with different diets and health plans. I tried shakes, and portion control, it worked for a little while, but in the end I would always go back to the way I was with food. Too much, too often. I found I had the discipline, but only for a short time. Thanks to the Whole30, I now know why that was.

While I was keeping my portions under control, I was still eating the foods that I loved, those with no brakes. I was still allowed cheese, and pasta, and rice, and was allowed cheat days. Well, what do you think I would do on those cheats days? You guessed it, eat sugar, and crackers and chips. No wonder I wasn't able to break the cycle. I was just sabotaging myself over and over again.

Finally, I found the Whole30 and my prayers were answered. Since starting the program on October 10, 2016, I have not touched artificial sugar, only those that occur naturally in fruits and vegetables. I feel the greatest I have in my life, who knew my 30th year would be my best? I certainly didn't. I was struggling with an eating disorder and feeling like I had no hope of recovery. But now, now I feel like I have finally achieved food freedom! I only eat when I'm hungry, and I keep the sugar dragon chained to the walls deep in the cellar where it cannot see the light of day. Yes I still have cravings, some days are worse than others, but I can control my impulses a little easier now. Most cravings only last about 3-5 minutes and then they go away. Sometimes you just have to be tough on yourself to get to your goals. Don't allow yourself to have cheat days, because they just reinforce bad habits, and it's a slippery slope.

Today, I am a mere ghost of the person I used to be. A much healthier and happier picture of myself. I'm 164lbs, but that doesn't even matter anymore. What matters is how I feel, how my clothes fit, and what I put in my body. I finally learned how I'm supposed to feel, and that is happy. I'm supposed to feel happy!

C xo

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Muscle Soreness and the Whole30

So I've noticed something different lately. I have been getting less muscle soreness when working out. I was worried that it was because I wasn't pushing myself hard enough, but I really don't think that's it! In the past I would do my workouts, and sometimes start feeling sore the same day, but lately, and especially this week, I've been finding that I'm not getting as sore (almost no soreness at all). I pulled out my Whole30 (W30) book to find out why!

Turns out that due to systematic inflammation from eating foods that don't agree with me, my body wasn't handling the activity well, causing soreness in my muscles and joints. Since I've cleaned my system out of all the foods that don't belong, I've been feeling a lot better post-workout.

Now, don't expect that these changes to your body will be immediate. The first week into my W30 I felt like garbage, and they warn you about that too, first week = killer. I was sore and groggy and cranky. It wasn't until a couple of weeks later that I started to notice a difference in the way my body reacted to exercise and how different I felt afterward. This feeling is just so freeing. I remember being completely immobilized by muscle pain before, getting up and sitting down was a real struggle! But not so much now, thanks to the W30! I really don't know where I would be without it.

C xo

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Planning, planning, planning

As I'm getting ready to embark on this new journey, I'm starting to plan my next year. I want to make sure I have all the pillars that I'm going to need while I'm going through this very important chapter in my life. Whether that be my friends, family, Instagram, or the community I'm hoping to build here, with this blog. I can't stress how important it is to have a strong support system of loved ones who understand and respect your decisions, no matter how drastic or crazy! I am very blessed in that sense because my family is so supportive and loving, especially my husband. I really don't know how I would've gotten through most of my sugar dragon cravings without him!

Another aspect of planning is planning ahead and planning your time (planning, planning, planning!) As an example, I worked both my jobs yesterday and I know that there isn't much around me where I can get Whole30 compliant foods, so I made my lunch and dinner at the same time. Granted, I basically had the same meal twice in a row, but I changed it up a bit by putting different proteins on them. The salad base was baby spinach, tomatoes, onions and carrots, took me literally five minutes to put it together, then added hard-boiled eggs on one and a can of tuna on the other, and voila! Two healthy meals on the go. Next time, however, I would eat the tuna one at lunch and the egg at dinner, my tuna salad was pretty soggy when I got to eat it. But it was food and I was hungry. I should also probably mention that when I make salads, I only just pour balsamic vinegar on them, so I carried the bottle around with me yesterday because I lacked an adequate container, heh.

Anyway, you do what you gotta do. I set a goal, and only I can ensure that I reach it. You have to put yourself first and be your own cheerleader because no one else it going to do it for you.

C xo

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

My Big Decision

Hello and welcome to my new blog! I know some of you follow me on Instagram (@atari_simply), and that's fantastic! Thank you! If that's the case, then you know that I've been following a Whole30 diet for the last couple of months.

Before starting, every morning I would wake up feeling SO HUNGRY, my stomach hurt so bad that I was literally throwing up EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. Is that any way to live? I didn't think so. While browsing the hashtag #weightlossjourney on Instagram, I stumbled across a few people doing the Whole30. I had never heard of it and decided to check out their website. What I found was a simple and effective method to heal your body from the inside out. By cutting out grains, legumes, sugar, dairy and alcohol, I would be ridding my body of inflammation and toxins and my hormones would be able to work in harmony with each other again, properly digesting food and nourishing me. I was in. "Sign me up!" I said to my husband.

After my initial 30 days, I felt fantastic! I was slimmer, and feeling healthier in all aspects of my life: energy levels, fitness levels, sleeping better, mental health, stomach pain. I even lost 13lbs and 15 inches in the process! Everything was working together the way it should! I was happy. So I decided to keep going, I reintroduced red wine and corn chips to enjoy some homemade salsa and guacamole (both Whole30 approved) and felt relatively okay. The thing that really threw me off was this past weekend at our annual family Christmas party. You think "Christmas party" and instantly see food and drink and merriment, well, this party was no exception. I knew that I was going to cheat here. I told myself that about halfway through my Whole30 I would have some unhealthy snacks at this party. And that's exactly what I did. And regretted it about an hour later. I had cheese and pita and dip. (I decided not to drink that night because I wasn't sure how my system would react, good thing.) My stomach was hurting so bad the rest of the night. Everyone says "Treat yourself!" "You're allowed a treat here and there!" Yeah, that's fine and good for some people, but to me, this was no treat. At the time of consumption it was rich and tasty, the texture was also strange to me, and actually took me about half an hour of staring at the food before I actually could eat it. I was afraid that eating this stuff would throw me back into bad habits, and it almost did. I sat there for a while eating and eating. I had to force myself to walk away from the table. These were foods with no brakes. And then the stomachache started and I was out of commission.

The next morning I woke up and felt better, but I spent a lot of time in the bathroom... if you know what I mean! That's when I started thinking about my New Year's resolution. I was thinking and thinking, but I'm already doing a lot of the things that I could resolve about my life. Then it hit me. A year of Whole30! A Whole365, if you will. I thought "If these foods react so terribly inside my body, why would I go back to eating them?" So this is my big decision, and I invite you to follow me on my new journey!