What I learned from my first 20 days of Whole30

I’m on day 21, so I only have 9 days left.

I honestly am not feeling extreme changes but as motivation yesterday when I was losing motivation and found I lost around 10lbs so far.

Due to the insane changes in the weather, my Osteo was acting up and I have slacked on cardio but made sure I got a lot of other types of exercise in.

I am feeling a little better, never felt the “tiger blood” energy surge but little by little I am starting to feel a bit better.

I’m hoping my last week will feel better than I have been feeling.

Through week 1

Throughout week 1, when you’re supposed to go through withdrawal, but I never did. I was excited and felt better my first week than any other weeks. I had some cravings but they were manageable and I also went long periods without actually being hungry.

Since I am still able to have my plain, black coffee every morning that has saved me throughout

Week 2

Throughout week 2, I had nights I’d be out as soon as my head hit the pillow and other nights I felt like I’d be awake all night. Some days I had tons of energy and others where I felt I could sleep all day and still be exhausted. I am down 10lbs and down about 2 sizes, though.

Week 3

During week 3, I started feeling annoyed. I am not feeling the extreme benefits so many people said they felt and thanks to that I had a few days that i considered giving up, but since i am so close i started taking it day by day.

I’m now on the first day of week 4 and seeing the light at the edge of the tunnel.

I have found some healthy and filling breakfasts I can make fast and learned what to do to get rid of mindless snacking.

I’m learning how to listen to my body when it’s actually hungry and how to handle when I’m feeling bored instead of snacking.

Mindless snacking has been my downfall through the years. I’ll get bored, stressed or tired and start eating sugar.

I’m trying to relearn eating. Changing from eating out of boredom or stress and find new ways to handle.

Going so long without sugar is also making vegetables and other foods sweeter.

I’m now going into my last week so I’ll see how I feel from here on but the Whole30 has been a major change from how I have been eating.

Why is Sleep Such an Important but Neglected Resource?

This post does contain an affiliate link, so I will be paid a small commission for any purchase of the book but I am NOT affiliated with the book itself, I just found the book extremely useful and want to recommend it.

In our society and age, the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is used quite often. People don’t think twice about sleep when they have work to get done and sleep is often sacrificed. Our society is sicker than ever with heavy caffeine dependencies. I was constantly joking about being sleep deprived, then I found the book, “Sleep Smarter” and it’s changing how I’m looking at the most valuable resource to health, weight loss/healthy weight, younger looking skin and productivity.

According to Medical News Today’s website

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) 2015 recommendations for appropriate sleep durations for specific age groups are:

  • Newborns (0 to 3 months): 14 to 17 hours each day

  • Infants (4 to 11 months): 12 to 15 hours

  • Toddlers (1 to 2 years): 11 to 14 hours

  • Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): 10 to 13 hours

  • School-age children (6 to 13 years): 9 to 11 hours

  • Teenagers (14 to 17 years): 8 to 10 hours

  • Adults (18 to 64 years): 7 to 9 hours

  • Older adults (over 65 years): 7 to 8 hours

Here in our current overwork/workaholic state, we deem working more important than sleeping but there have been studies showing that sleep deprivation is as bad for your brain as a night of binge drinking. As you lose sleep, part of your brain starts to shut down- it causes you to lose impulse control, slows your reflexes, slows your mind down and you also lose focus. It causes changes in moods and cuts off sugar to the brain- which powers it and is why you start craving junk food- and lose the will power to resist.

Sleep repairs your mental state as well as helps your body heal and grow. It is impossible to work your best, be your best and look your best if you’re running on little sleep.

If you suffer any of these symptoms, you could be suffering sleep deprivation

  1. Excessive yawning
  2. Mood swings
  3. Trouble grasping even simple new concepts
  4. Feelings of zoning out and even losing touch with reality
  5. Forgetting
  6. Fatigue- constant
  7. Feeling excessively tired, even after sleeping for longer periods
  8. Trouble with concentration
  9. Clumsiness
  10. Craving sweet and junk foods
  11. No motivation for anything

Sleep deprivation has many effects on the body

  1. Lowered immune system
  2. Weight gain
  3. Respiratory and cardiovascular diseases
  4. Hormone production (sleep helps growth in children)

If you feel that you’re being affected by sleep deprivation, there are plenty of steps to take to fix it. The book I’m reading, “Sleep Smarter,” by Shawn Stevenson outlines 21 ways and the science to back them up. If you haven’t read it, I suggest reading it.

You can get it here.

 

Some of the ways listed (that have scientific backing)

  1. Set a schedule to always go to bed and wake up around the same time.
  2. Turn off all electronics 2 hours before bedtime
  3. Sleep with a cooler room temperature
  4. Don’t consume caffeine too late in the afternoon
  5. Keep in mind that we sleep in cycles- each full cycle is 90 minutes (1 1/2 hours) so try to set an alarm at the end of a cycle (2 full is 3 hours, 4 is six hours and 5 would be 71/2). If you wake up in the middle of a cycle, that is why you’re tired and groggy. In order to fully function and feel refreshed, you need full cycles.

The book goes in depth about the importance of the steps and has another 16 tips but those are the ones I am personally working on and have found to be of particular use in my home.

As you can see, sleep is a very important resource that we do not get near enough of. There is no use to stay up all night working on a project- you might “finish” the project, but it will not be your best if you’re too tired, the two hours after you wake up are said to be the most productive hours of your day- so that is the best time to work on important projects.

If anyone feels like I did, like no matter how much sleep you get you are never functionally awake, read this book. Just a few days after reading it and working on changing a few things, I feel more energetic and don’t take as long to get out of bed as I used to.

 

Life during the first week of the Whole30

I’ve been studying up on the Whole30 for a few years. I’ve had it recommended and read a lot about it for autoimmunity and inflammation.

Three years ago, I was diagnosed with Hashimotos when I had to have half my thyroid taken out. I’ve been medicated but my meds have had to be adjusted every few months. I was also diagnosed with a mix of IBS and Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance and have been on a strict gluten free, low dairy diet. I found myself craving and eating chocolate way more than I need so I decided to quit studying the Whole30 and the day after Easter, I made myself start.

Rules of Whole30

  1. No sugar, unless it’s fruit in moderation, no sugar is allowed at all.
  2. No legumes- I tend to gravitate towards soy due to eating gluten and dairy free foods primarily but I have heard a lot of bad about soy and thyroid. This is a change I’ve been wanting to make for a while and I can live without beans or peas.
  3. No Grains- slightly less difficult than giving up soy but not so much. Since ridding my diet of the majority of grains I was eating, I’ve been having trouble finding a good gluten free bread. Baked sweets are the hardest for me personally but bread itself isn’t hard at all.
  4. No dairy- aside from chocolate (which covers 2-3 categories here), it’s not an issue. I ate very low dairy to begin with and chocolate was the reason I couldn’t fully give up dairy.
  5. No alcohol- this is a nonissue. When I do drink, I only have drank 1-2 times in the past couple years and last time closed my throat up, so I’m pretty much over it. The last 7 or 8 years, every time I attempted to drink, it would cramp my whole body up and I would be hurting until I finished drinking enough for a buzz so it’s not worth the calories (or hangovers)
  6. No stepping on a scale- I don’t do this too often but now, I’m wanting to just because I was told not to…
  7. Don’t sub normal deserts or baked goods with compliant remakes- Ok, this one is understandable but… paleo cookies are just as good as regular…

How I’m doing so far

My end goal is to try to stick to a Paleo majority diet when I finish. I also am hoping to lose some weight. I lost 50lbs within a few months of having my third baby- before and immediately after my thyroid surgery. Part was normal postpartum weight loss but part was due to my thyroid being hyperactive (the reason I had to have part removed)

My meds are stable and working, I start to lose- they quit working and I stop losing or even gain so that was part of why I decided to try Whole30. I also have 2 forms of Arthritis and thanks to having scans in multiple areas on my body, I have inflammation issues and this is supposed to help with inflammation.

 

The first day was pretty stressful, I was back and forth. It was easier than I thought it would be but I really missed desert.

The second day was actually easier and by the fourth or fifth, I was starting to wake up better and felt better in general. I never “detoxed” and I didn’t budge on sticking to the diet.

Sixth through now was easier but harder. I have random cravings hit but hardly ever last. I keep getting mad at myself for even attempting this and sometimes feel like I put myself on a strict diet without my consent but give me unsweet iced tea and coffee and I’m fine drink wise. I thought quitting pop would be hard but it’s only when I see people drinking Mello Yello (my only pop of choice) that I even notice.

I’m doing my best to keep from thinking about food when I’m having a craving and I checked out Whole30 Day by Day, It Starts With Food and a WHole30 cookbook (since starting to make my own mayonnaise and finding some mustard, I’m doing better- I have condiments 🙂

I’m also starting to crave the taste of different meat dishes and I’m looking forward to eating meat more than thinking about sweets

What I’m noticing already

I’m no where near as gassy as I used to be- I have cut back on broccoli and cauliflower but I had gas all the time on a regular diet (thanks to IBS)

I also have IBS-D and haven’t since starting (I did throw up once, but I used jarred garlic I had accidentally left out for a day or two. I threw it out and have been fine since)

I’m getting better at quickly throwing together recipes, I have tried meal prep and planning things out really isn’t my strong point.

I am having more energy, and at times waking up nonexhausted- I used to have to sit in bed for close to an hour trying to orientate myself and no matter how much sleep I got, I was always exhausted. I’m starting to feel better when I wake up and not as groggy.

I’m not past the hard part yet. I’m hoping to feel a drastic change as the month goes on, but right now, I’m counting down until I can start adding things back- I’m still hoping to go Paleo after this experiment ends.

 

I’d love to hear Whole30 success (or failure) stories. Feel free to comment if you have ever done the Whole30. How did you manage to avoid going crazy? How did you feel at the end?

Homemade Nut Milk

It’s hard to find Whole30 compliant nut milk. Most in stores have additives and added sugar. I’ve been playing with testing out different nut milks.

Here is what you need to make your own. The ingredients for vanilla or chocolate nut milk are not compliant with the Whole30, 100% cocoa is but no sugars are allowed. You can leave the sweetener out and make flavored, compliant milks

For the milk you need:

Nuts, filtered or bottled water, cheese cloth, bottles or cups

To flavor:

Vanilla bean paste, cocoa, sugar/agave or any other sweetener (not compliant with Whole30) or any natural flavoring you want to experiment with

To make the milk:

Take a cup of nuts (I tried pistachios and cashews) and soak them over night in water.

When they’re soft, drain and put them in a blender with fresh water.

After they are a fine paste, take a cheese cloth and strain the residual nuts out.

Sweeten or flavor the nut milk if you like and store in the fridge.

If you want chocolate flavored

Put 3-4 Tblspns baking cocoa or melted baking cocoa and mix with the sweetener

Stir or shake

Drain again with another piece of cheese cloth to get all extra chocolate or sweetener out.

If you’re using hard baking chocolate, melt it on the stove and sweeten, then mix in the milk.

Whole30 Compliant Sweet Potato Hash (whole30 day 2)

I glanced at some sweet potato hash recipes and looked in my own fridge. Since I needed something to tide me over until lunch, I mixed

1 avocado

2 eggs

1 small sweet potato, chunked

5 cherry tomatoes, sliced

3 slices of bacon, chopped

1 squirt of olive oil (extra virgin)

I cooked it all for about 20 minutes on low heat and spent the last 15 covered

It was delicious and made the house smell good as well. It only took a few minutes to prep.

Yes, You Can Eat Healthier On A Budget

The Paleo diet has been called a classist diet and written off as being only for more wealthy and privileged people, so have diets like the gluten free, vegan or even just eating healthier but they don’t have to be.

With the right planning and the right items, you too can eat healthier foods on a lower budget. Below, I’ll give some of my tips from my personal experience.

Every time I go grocery shopping, my goal is to buy healthier foods and slash my monthly budget. We have a family of four, with a three-year-old who is dairy intolerant and I, myself, am gluten and lactose intolerant.

When I first started down the gluten free path, before we found out my daughter had issues with dairy, I found myself spending over 200 a week trying to maintain a new diet as close to my normal diet. I felt a lot better, but I still felt sick so I started to cut back on the processed specialty foods I bought.

As I cut back on the specialty foods, my budget cut itself. We now are in the 120/every 2 weeks range. There will be variations with states, we live in a lower cost of living state (but also lower wage).

Meat will be and has always been the big part of my budget. I try to only buy manager special (Walmart). All I have to do is toss it in the freezer and it lasts almost as long as newer meat does.

I try not to have to cook more than one meal, so even the two on normal diets eat a lot of dairy substitutes and I have a few gluten substitutes I do indulge in (although I try to stick with non-modified, naturally gluten free foods)

Here are a few tips from my experience with lowering our budget to 120-200 every other week.

  1. Keep track of what foods you actually eat. Impulse buying random foods you won’t eat is a major budget killer. Just because a food is on sale or looks good in the picture doesn’t mean it won’t go to waste. Pay close attention to what foods stick around past their expiration dates and be careful not to buy more and pay attention to the few foods you always eat fast.
  2. Go through your pantry to see what you have on hand and build meals around staples like beans, rice, grains or other foods. We all have food taking up space in our pantry. When you’re trying to stick with a budget, grabbing a bag of rice or beans and tossing it in the crock pot is usually a good plan. Rice and beans are healthy but cost next to nothing- they can fill you up, compliment a meal or work on their own, so they are great staples to keep stocked up. Going shopping in your pantry can help you find foods that got pushed to the back or are close to expiration but will make good meals- and it’s one less day you need to shop for.
  3. Find stuff marked down– some produce will be marked down and set in a special area of the store.
  4. Plan meals for 2 weeks at a time, take inventory of the exact amounts of food you will need and buy exactly enough for each meal- no more and only shop for perishables in between.
  5. Plan snacks the same way as meals and buy exactly enough for 1-2 weeks of snacks
  6. Stick with the list
  7. Buy frozen berries and frozen vegetables- you’ll get a low cost, full meal worth of vegetables. They are just as healthy and they don’t go bad. The 1 meal frozen veggies usually cost between .88 and 1.00, so you can buy a bunch for a lower amount. Frozen berries will be more expensive, but they still last much longer than fresh and being frozen has no affect on how healthy they are. There are a couple brands that sell the frozen vegetable sides in steamable bags, just toss in the microwave and heat them for about 5-7 minutes.
  8. Batch cook- Pick one day you have off work and cook as much as you can for 1 week. Portion everything out and put it in the freezer. When you are too tired or don’t have time for a meal, throw a container in the microwave and heat it up like a microwave meal. It will be healthier and cheaper than buying a microwave meal.
  9. When you have the time and energy, make it instead of buying- Making a loaf of bread is cheaper than buying a few loaves every week. If you look on the right sites (like Pinterest), you can find recipes for anything from bread to yogurt, nut milk or specialty products. If it exists, someone has come up with a recipe and likely posted it online.
  10. Generic is just as good as name brand- Most grocery stores have generic brands of pretty much any food. The generic brand is almost always cheaper than coupons for the name brand options and is always cheaper than name brand full prices
  11. Be careful with coupons- You can find a lot of coupons that look good, but pay attention to prices. Look at the generic option- they are often cheaper than
  12. Apps like  Ibotta, Checkout51 and Shopkick work wonders- It all depends on what foods you buy, but my first few months with Ibotta, I made over 50 in gift cards. I also use the gift card options for credit card and loan rewards and have saved hundreds over the course of one year. When you have the right apps mixed with the right rewards points, you can get a lot.
  13. Apps like the FLIPP app help compare sale prices of different stores. You download the app and put in your general location (zip code). It will give you the ads for all the grocery stores in the area so you can compare what items are on sale and where.
  14. Start your own herb and veggie garden This is one that saves me on tomatoes and various herbs yearly. If you can grow a lot, you can save on seasonal and even sell extra or can the extras for out of season use.
  15. Pay close attention to “sell by” vs “use by” dates. If your food says “sell by” that doesn’t mean it is bad and it can still be ate. That message is only for the staff at the store and it means to take it off the shelf. It may not taste as great but it will still be good. Use by doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, but it’s a good idea to taste a tiny bit or sniff it to make sure it’s not bad. It should be thrown away shortly after.
  16. Ordering online helps curb impulse buys. If you order your food on Amazon, Walmart, Kroger or any other grocer, you can either have it delivered or pick it up in store. Walmart is now offering in store pick up, you order online and sign in at a kiosk. When you place the order, it sends it to an employee who shops for you. Seeing the items and cost in the cart can help offer you a reality check and save you on impulse buys.
  17. Go to the store right after eating a full meal It might sound like an “old wive’s tale” but it holds true. If you shop on an empty stomach, you will impulse buy what looks good. If you eat a snack or a full meal and go while satisfied, you are more likely to stick with just what you need.
  18. Stick with the outer parameter of the store- When you enter the aisles, you’re entering the processed foods. If you stick with walking around the outer parts, you’re likely to find the less processed. The meat is almost always along the back wall, dairy/dairy sub coolers are on the edge of most grocers as well as the produce section. I know from experience (former grocery store cashier) that a buggy full of meat and produce, beans, rice and other real foods is actually cheaper than a buggy filled with processed foods.
  19. Avoid pre-cut produce- When you buy the produce pre-cut (apple slices instead of full apples, etc) you are paying for the convenience of having it cut for you. It’s the same reason bottled drinks in coolers are more expensive than the room temperature bottles on shelves. You pay for the convenience instead of just the product.

There are many other ways to save, but these tips have helped me cut my budget by 50-80 (depending on the large items I have to buy) per week.

If anyone has any other tips, I’d love to hear. I’d love to get my budget to about 200 a month, I don’t have time to coupon seriously but I’m always looking for more ways to save.

Simple Steps to Green Up Your Life and Live Healthier

You don’t have to live out in the country to live a more sustainable life.

You also don’t have to be a stay at home mom/housewife/house husband or stay at home dad in order to cook more home made meals or start making your own detergents, cleaners or anything else around your home.

Batch cooking and slow cookers are two of the best ways to make homemade meals when you and your spouse/partner work part/full time.

Batch cooking is best done on a day off when you can spend several hours prepping at once and a slow cooker just requires tossing the meal in the cooker in the morning, setting it to low and leaving it as you are heading to work. When you get home, you have your dinner ready.

Batch cooking can help with giving you a week worth of frozen, easy to fix meals. Just cook everything at once then portion out into tupperware- when you need something fast, toss in the microwave like a microwave meal and you have a healthy, home made meal fast.

 

There is a whole organization devoted to helping with urban homesteading, if that’s what you’re interested in trying. Urban homesteading is the city version of modern day traditional living- gardening, home baking and cooking, even growing your own grain can be included, collecting rainwater, making your own detergents/cleaners and hygiene products and can go as far as sewing your own clothing and other cloth items.

Some tips to get started-

If it’s legal, collecting rain water can be done in a small area. Check and make sure it’s legal and make sure the barrel or item you’re using is safe.

Rainwater is as natural as it gets and it’s free. If you collect enough, it will save you on your water bill and it helps when you live in areas prone to various problems (it can help if you live in a drought prone area or if run off and pesticide use is a concern, here is further reading about rain water harvesting)

Gardening

There are special lights sold to help tomatoes grow indoors. All it takes is a small enough area to put a pot and they have special pots to help grow tomatoes in small areas and inside your home.

Regardless if you have very little yard or no actual yard, if you can put something like a table or stand next to a sunny window, you can grow some plants indoors. You can also start a container herb garden on your kitchen counter.

Cleaning and Personal Hygiene

Making chemical free cleaning products as well as detergents, shampoo, soaps and deodorants are another easy way to make your life a bit greener.

Pinterest is a huge resource for recipes for any kind of cleaner or personal hygene product you can find. If you have vinegar, it’s a great start. If you clean a countertop with straight white vinegar, you can disinfect. It also works for a lot of other cleaning that I’m putting into a different blog post.

Baking soda helps as well. With it’s gentle but rough texture, it helps polish and can help get harder to remove stuff off dishes and other harder to clean items.

Borax is also a great tool to have in your inventory. Others that work alone or in combo are

1. lemon juice/lemons

2. Castile soap

3. peroxide

4. alcohol

5. salt

There will be other ingredients added but it will depend on what you’re using. Baking soda helps whiten teeth and peroxide can help as well. Baking soda also helps with exfoliating your face (gentle exfoliation) and salt can be added to coffee and coconut oil as an anti-aging exfoliant. Put lavender oil in instead of coffee and it can soothe skin and help with relaxation.

Salt is abrasive, it can be gentle as a facial or body exfoliant but can also be rough enough to help get grease off a pan.

Alcohol cleans cuts and scrapes. It hurts but it disinfects. Using pure rubbing alcohol also helps kill various pests and helps sterilize.

 

Shopping

You can either buy reusable shopping bags from most grocery stores, Etsy or you can sit down with a sewing machine and make them yourself.

Not only do they take up less room than that huge plastic bag filled with plastic bags, they hold more (less trips to the car) and they can be used more than plastic bags.

They don’t get thrown out and end up in a landfill either so it’s actually helping if you’re trying to be more eco-friendly.

It’s simple to make a couple bags if you know how to sew (I’m going to do a walk through tutorial when I have access to my fabric and sewing machine)

There are also mesh produce bags you can buy online or in some stores. They keep your produce cleaner while using less plastic.

Not all foods you buy need to be labeled “organic.” Anything with a thicker peal doesn’t. (like avocados, bananas, etc)

The main concern a lot of people have with conventional vs organic are the pesticides used (growing your own is the only way to really ensure no pesticides are used and I have had some beautiful gardens in the past without any chemicals being used. If you have a thick peal that you’re not eating, there will be less residual pesticide left on the food you eat. The ones you eat like apples, pears etc are the ones you want to look for organic. The difference will end up saving you money in the long run as well.

Composting is also easy to do whether you live in a small apartment or house. Save your scraps (except meat and bones, etc). Here is a guide to show what items to compost and what benefits it gives your garden. It also reduces trash waste, which reduces plastic- even by a tiny bit.

Misc. Ways to Reduce Waste

Plastic is being banned in different forms in some cities, and for a good reason. It takes plastic over 100-200 years to break down once it’s in a landfill, it’s also being found in oceans and other bodies of water and actually harming some of the fish that live in those bodies.

Most of us use large amounts of plastic on a day to day basis (especially after our water was poisoned a few years ago, I only drink bottled water, since I starteed drinking bottled spring water the purified water or tap water has too strong of a chemical taste for me personally to stomach). Here are a few ways you can reduce plastic- in ways you won’t miss.

A. Buy a reusable stainless steel straw- you wash them out between uses and can take them with you to restaurants instead of using their plastic one time use straws.

B. Use reusable razors instead of disposable. The razor blades may seem like they cost more, but in the long run they will save money and it will be less plastic being thrown out.

C. Make deodorant or toothpaste instead of buying the ones in plastic. There are tons of easy recipes both on Google or Pinterest for home made products of both varieties. If you buy in a plastic tub, make sure you use all the product left instead of just tossing it out when it gets low. There is a roller made to get

D. Buy reusable shopping bags and produce bags

E. When you look hard enough, there are reusable zip lock bags as well- designed for food in your lunch but also reusable and washable so you don’t end up just tossing it out. Also- buy a lunch box instead of using a plastic bag. You get years of use and very little waste.

F. Use cardboard where you can instead of plastic. Any time you can choose between a cardboard container over plastic, go with cardboard.

G. There are many other ways to reduce plastic waste- look around your home and see what alternatives you can use.

2. Up-cycling old jeans instead of throwing them out or making a tote bag out of old shirts you were going to toss helps reduce waste.

3. Buying second hand. You do need to be careful about catching infestations, but as long as the clothing or items don’t have bugs or eggs, buying from thrift shops helps reduce waste as well. You’re buying other peoples’ old clothing and items they could have thrown out. It’s the same with consignments and sales. Also donating your stuff or selling your old stuff keeps more stuff from being thrown out

4. Switch to getting your bills online instead of snail mail, go to the magazine’s website to read the articles you’re interested in or donate old magazines to waiting rooms.

5. Read the newspaper online, recycle physical papers or use newspaper for packaging.

6. Stop buying paper towels and napkins- start using cloth instead. It saves money, trash and you can reuse for many years. Cloth is also more gentle, so it’s safer to use on types of glass.

 

These are a few tips to save some time, money and show that anyone can eat a little healthier and live a little greener regardless of how much time you have and regardless if you live in a small apartment or a large house with lots of land.

If you want to add any tips, feel free to comment any other tips and if you would like further guides with any of the items I mentioned, I will add it to my list of blogs for this site.