Positive Reinforcement (Whole30, week 2)

IMG_0234(Tomato, scallion scramble)

So, as it turns out, completely removing pre-packaged and processed foods out of my life took up a bit more time than I had originally anticipated. I had thought that the Whole30 challenge was not that different from how I had been eating (minus the lack of dairy… and wine), but it turns out I spent a lot of time blogging while rice was on the stove – only to be topped by some veg and an egg. Not quite the same. Between the time spent finding new recipes, shopping, cooking, getting super excited about projects in the lab and adjusting to a new schedule (The Bat has rotating 24h shifts – the 8pm-5am shift just began), another week has flown by. Let’s just say finding balance within this system is a work in progress.

steak salad(Mediterranean salad with grilled steak at Karl Strauss Brewery Restaurant)

Let’s get to the good news. I’m officially halfway through my Whole30 (if you are lost, read here to find out what I am babbling about)! I have not knowingly cheated. I say knowingly because these past 7 days included more than their share of eating out obligations – work lunches, friend visits (so good to see Camille!) – and I did my best, but restaurant kitchens are sneaky spaces.

IMG_0249(Joe’s special frittata, green salad, peach)

All in all, I am feeling great. Not just good. Great. It is rather amazing. My ‘belly issues’ are so much better; I have had little to no pain from day 5 onward. I cannot remember a time in the last six months when this was not lurking concern in the back of my mind and now that concern is fading. I also assume that the lack of anxiety about my belly is probably also helping, which makes this a win-win situation – even better.

IMG_0238(Tom Yum soup, green salad with lemony red-wine vinaigrette)

After writing last week’s post and opening up about what I’ve been struggling with, I felt much more confident explaining my plan to friends, colleagues and family, all of whom have been incredibly supportive. This has been a great help at family birthday parties (last weekend) and group dinners. Knowing that everyone is aware of my commitment to the Whole30 means that I think twice about ordering the house salad – hold the cheese, garlic bread and dressing.  There have been moments when habit and social protocol have made me miss the security of a glass of wine in my hand, but it turns out club soda with lime is refreshing, I like being the designated driver and I can enjoy everyone company as much (if not more) when not indulging alongside.

IMG_0242 (Greens omelet – garlicky sauteed kale, avocado; olive oil mayo, sambal olek)

Not everything is glowingly positive; although the negatives are definitely superficial compared to the benefits I am starting to reap. There is an element of boredom that is setting – not with eggs (a frequent complaint), but with beverages. Water, herbal tea, black coffee (and this, for me, only before noon). I have tried to curb my craving for bubbles with mineral water – and it is working for now. But I am missing variety here – juices (while not forbidden they are not encouraged, mainly for their lack of satiating nutrition), sodas (definitely a guilty pleasure) and, of course, a glass of white wine to kick off the weekend.

IMG_0236(The Bat’s burgers, spicy sweet potato fries, salad, homemade olive oil mayo)

Other than that, I have few complaints. The rest of the negatives are merely psychological associations in my own head. Why is macaroni and cheese the only food I associate with ‘comfort’ after a long day – why not lemon garlicky sautéed kale? Or a creamy avocado topped with salsa? I have also had several nights in which I awoke, riddled with guilt because, in a dream, I forgot about the Whole30 – ate a sandwich – and really let myself down. I guess that goes to show how serious I am taking this challenge? And, perhaps why it is good there is a time limit, lest I punish myself too intensely if when I fall off the wagon.

turkey scramble (Turkey spinach scramble, sambal olek)

So, the current perspective is overwhelmingly positive. And, I have saved my most exciting highlights of the last week for last:

IMG_0247 (Roasted sweet potato, beet, sausage hash topped with egg)

First, I happened to be visiting the doctor last week (around day 8) – for something totally unrelated. Despite strict Whole30 rules to not weigh or measure oneself throughout the process, my OCD brain was curious to know whether the looseness I thought I felt when pulling on my jeans was real or imaginary. Turns out that, as of that point, I had already lost 4 pounds. Great news, right? Honestly, I am pretty sure all of that was derived from losing the persistent belly bloat with which I had been walking around for months. My clothes continue to feel loose and I have not dared weigh myself since, but I am optimistic.

csa(This week’s CSA: Oranges, kale, lettuce, fennel, grapefruit, round zucchini-like squash, broccoli, plumbs, red onion, rosemary, parsley, a huge bunch of basil, carrots, peaches, blueberries, cucumber and red cabbage)

Second, I finally had a chance to incorporate our CSA into the mix. I had started the plan after skipping a delivery while visiting Washington, D.C. This allowed me to really cater those first few meals to what sounded best – probably a smart move at a time when I was mixing everything up. But in this second week, it was fun to add the extra challenge of creative cooking within the Whole30 framework. I spent all day Sunday prepping sautéed greens, spicy ground beef, roasted veggies and dicing herbs to be used in my meals throughout the week. So far, things are coming together more quickly and I’m hoping to spend that extra time updating this space instead of in the kitchen, over a hot stove.

IMG_0244(Rib-eye. Avocado broccoli slaw, ‘spicy’ mayo)

Lastly, despite The Bat’s puzzlement over my insistence on following through with this plan initially – he sees how happy and proud I am as I chug along. Rather than fix meals in parallel over the weekend, he jumped on my bandwagon  and used his kitchen time to make Whole30-approved meals for us both. A giant onion-jalapeno stuffed burger, sweet potato fries and salad made for a great end-of-the-week Friday feast. And a succulent, medium-rare ribeye steak was certainly a great Sunday night kick-off for the week. Now that he’s coming home from work in the early mornings, he’s even getting into making me my favorite greens omelet (sautéed kale, avocado and sambal olek). Although he’s not playing along with the Whole30 for each meal, his patience and excitement in my progress make me feel like I can do anything.

IMG_0251 (Spinach and shallot scramble, avocado w/salsa, plum)

So, here’s to 15 more days.  As always, check-out my daily meal round-ups on Instagram (@researchingsandiego) where I am having so much fun exploring the #whole30 and #wellfed communities!

12 responses to “Positive Reinforcement (Whole30, week 2)

  1. I love that you love eggs as much as I do!

  2. So glad to hear that you’re sticking with it and feeling better for it!

    PS – B wants to join in after I showed him a picture of the sweet potato fries and burger. He’s always trying to get me to make burgers, steaks, etc without any accompanying carbs or starch.

    • It is a commitment, but I’m really enjoying the progress and the challenge. The sweet potato fries really are the things I’ve turned to in moments of weakness – the sweet and starchy can combat most every craving… And the burgers were amazing (thanks to The Bat). Cooking so much meat has taken me well out of my comfort zone, but it is a good skill to learn!

  3. So happy that you’re feeling better!

    I am jealous of all of the fruit in your CSA – mine starts this Friday…I am beyond excited (though I joined one that includes pastured poultry/meat/dairy – I’m getting a 5 lb. pastured whole chicken this week, which will be an experience).

    • Thanks! I am so happy as well…
      I am loving the fruit now that summer is (almost) officially underway. The stone fruits are so luscious and juicy – they are truly like candy. My excitement about getting CSA citrus has waned – this week I juiced it all on the day we received it. I have to say, an occasional glass of fresh squeezed OJ is a treat…

      • I can’t eat citrus (iffy even when I’m in remission) – I would have had to juice it as well.

        No stone fruits here in Ohio until late July…I’ll be getting strawberries this week (which is great, because I love them). I’m taking some ideas from your menu…I’m not doing a Whole 30, but I can only eat so many grains before I have problems (corn in the form of tortillas or chips is the exception). Never thought to do a scramble (I am dumb sometimes). LOVE eggs (I get them from the Amish for $1.50/doz through a coworker – they are amazing).

      • Scrambles are my favorite – everything can go in there! And so easy (plus, no worries about overcooking!). Of course, I miss the gooey-ness of cheese, but I do think that is all mental, they are certainly tasty enough without it… that top photo, with cherry tomatoes and scallions is my current favorite! And yay to summer fruit season. Our two weeks of fruit is already gone – have to stock up again this weekend. I’m craving melon… 🙂

  4. So, so happy to hear that you’re feeling better! Happy also that you’ve taken to it so well, without the usual complaints that people have! That’s wonderful. Also… sorry that I fed you a bunch of stuff that did you no good while you were here…

    • Thanks! It certainly helps that I *love* eggs… You have no reason to apologize. I gulped it all up – savoring it even more since I knew this was coming down the pike 🙂 That’s what vacations are for anyways, splurging with good friends 🙂 I wouldn’t change a thing (or bite)!!!

  5. Pingback: Inspiration (Whole30, week 3) | Researching San Diego

  6. Pingback: Awareness (Whole30, week 4) | Researching San Diego

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