The Dirty 30; The Whole30 Finale (Week 4)
Week 4 is complete! (Drop the mic).
I wanted to start the week off adding a liver and gall bladder cleanse (I know, it seems a bit extreme but at this point, I feel as if I have already gone through the wringer with the program, what else was left to loose?).
I researched the G & L Cleanse and also a Candida Cleanse (i.e. for a Leaky Gut- look it up- it really exists!). I was so tired of animal proteins and saturated fat (via avocado, clarified butter, bacon fat, etc, etc,) by week 4 that a cleanse like this sounded oh- so- great!
I wanted to feel better. I was no where close to feeling that Tiger Blood energy and vibe that was mentioned. I was still having my highs and my lows; despite eating so well. I was still foggy in the morning, reaching for a coffee cup; crashing by mid day only to repeat the cycle all over again. I slipped and snacked instead of eating a full meal every 3- 4 hours on week 3. I also felt so full from the previous meals, that I spent a lot of time skipping a meal this week- which is a 'no, no' in the rule book. I couldn't help it- I just wasn't hungry. Eating was becoming such a chore! (FYI- still whinny like week 1 too- WTH?). I felt like I needed to flush my system OUT! I was tired of eating. Alas, I didn't go all extreme with the cleanses. (That would have been ANOTHER blog post, whew!).
I ended week 4 reducing the animal products and the saturated fat intake that I consumed. I boosted my fruit and my tea intake, drank less coffee, and really focused on my energy levels. I also forced myself to get outside and get the blood flowing. I rented a bike one day. I walked around another. I wrote recipes, menu's, this blog, updated my social media in coffee houses vs. being at home. I even went to the gym (which that in itself should win me a medal- I detest gyms, for they are germ popping grossness! yuck!).
I kept myself focused on getting outside whenever possible this week. I took advantage of the weather (We got our sunny and 75 back!) and the week was quick and painless.
I also went old school and brought my composition journal with me wherever I went. (okay, I confess, the journal was more adorable, like a bling-ed out teen diary) and started writing my TO DO LISTS and my shopping list, meal prep plans, equipment lists, and upcoming meal delivery schedules in the book versus my phone, or my computer. That's right Ladies and Gents, I actually used a pen and paper. (NOTE: one should really should hand write more on the daily, my penmanship was that of a 4th grader! Yikes!).
Let's talk about the Up's and Down's of the Whole30 Program (thru the eyes of THiS Chef).
Remember, I didn't go into this with high expectations, it was just purely based on research and sustainability for MY lifestyle. I started this program thinking it would NOT be hard at all because "I am a chef, and because I cook daily".
Yeah, well, not so much.
It WAS tough, and I AM a chef and I DO cook daily. (step in Karma).
Here are my TOP 10's (AKA Chef's Top Ten):
- Grains were not missed at all during my meals at home, but they were damn near impossible to overlook when out of the house and trying to order more that just a salad, anywhere. It seemed like every party I went to, people had bread, crackers, tortilla chips, rice, etc. Where were the crudites?
- Dairy was not missed until week 3. When it became tough because kids were walking around with cones, friends had cheese plates out at their gatherings, or pre-mixed salads at festivals contained cheese. Even my favorites breakfasts started to taste bland without Feta or Goat Cheese. (kinda of like Peanut Butter without the Jelly).
- Vegetables had to become the star of the show, as proteins and fats were a limited amount of my daily intake. Some days this made me happy, some days this made me blue. It was like that left out feeling from the popular chicks. You were glad to be excluded one day, and bummed the next.
- Proteins and Fat consisted of a measurement that was aimed to help me feel less like throwing myself on the couch after each meal, but eating proteins and fats with every meal, it was making me feel just too full and uncomfortable. Big downer. I couldn't find the light at the end of the tunnel from here.
- I did save myself tons of calories a day by not snacking in-between meals (you'd be surprised how many calories one can intake by eating nuts, fruits, protein bars, almond butter, or even drinking things like kambucha, coconut waters, or even vitawaters on the daily).
- I became THAT person who asked things like "Does this contain any sulfates, dairy, soy, hidden sugars, corn, hydrogenated oils, MSG?" and "Do you source your products locally and are they sustainable and organic or at the very least full of humane practices?" (Go ahead, ROLL YOUR EYES at me- I rolled my eyes a lot at myself this month).
- I learned that going out to eat (at a resto or at a gathering) doesn't provide much choices for folks who really have food allergies or that have a health condition that could benefit by eating a certain way.I was really agitated each time friends suggested meeting them for food/drink- because all I could really eat was PROTEIN and FATS. Eating all that protein and fat could really reap havoc on your digestive system. I don't know how the Atkins Dieters of the 90's and early 2000's did it.
- The no sugar thing, that really wasn't as hard as I thought it to be. There was times when I was like "F*ck! I just want a gosh darn ice cream or a kit kat bar!" but that moment passed, and I went on to eat a strawberry. (which by the way, I only had covered in chocolate or in my Sunday mimosa previously).
- The no beans, rice or legumes was easy. I don't eat much of them anyways.
- Alcohol, honestly- this was the ONLY thing in this program that was not tough at all. If you know me at all, this is just - weird, cuz I sure do love my day drinking while I recipe test and write. But I was pretty golden on this piece. (who am i right? "Will the REAL Martha, Please stand up? Please stand up?")
I guess now I can give you the full assessment and my last thoughts (I feel like Jerry Springer when he gives his last thoughts on his show- can you hear that famous chant? "Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!") .
It IS absolutely sustainable to eat this clean and mindful providing that you are one of those who can pack your own food for your workday and can spend time prepping and shopping. Most of us just can't honestly do that- it takes a lot of effort if you want to keep eating new things. I don't feel it was sustainable for the long term. This requires eating at select places, packaging your own stash of Whole30 approved food, and making sure that you are on a schedule of eating so that you can get the best benefits. I can set my OWN schedule between clients and I STILL struggled on keeping up with the scheduled meal times.
The one thing that rang true over and over is WE as a society need to eat better. We need to care about what we put into our bodies, Maybe eating whole30-ish daily is too unrealistic for some, but making at least one meal a day which really focuses on clean eating- it IS possible to make a great conscious choice to eat better.
What an experience it was to do the Whole30.This program made me turn it up a notch and really conduct my daily life like I do for my clients, writing recipes, menu's, shopping, testing, planning. I learned so much about my eating habits, and paid much attention to what my actual needs of nutrition are vs. my wants.
It was mind blowing to learn so much about myself in this time and how my relationship with food can be critical to my health. As a chef, I am mindful of what I cook for others, but I neglected to really understand that I too, need to eat well balanced meal just like my clients do. I realized that while I spend my days cooking for OTHERS that I didn't pay much attention to MY needs, my health, and many, many, many times during any month, I had a tendency to gravitate toward street food, take outs, sandwiches or just over consuming random "snacks" at home just to get by and eat SOMETHING. I didn't really spend time, focusing on mindful eating. My desire to help others achieve their nutritional needs overshadowed my own needs. (which is ironic because I really DO eat well at home, ask my boyfriend Nate).
So I end this post with a montage of all the meals I had during this enlightening month. It was a crazy journey. Thanks so much for being a part of this with me.
NOTE: My breakfast was pretty much the same. Eggs with veggies. Lunch was leftover meats and a salad. Dinners were new, its when I felt I had more creative ability with the produce and the styling.
What will I eat now? Well, I sure do hope that month old gummy bear in my denim jacket is still good. But then again, it's probably best that I don't. :)