Tag Archives: navel gazing

Awareness (Whole30, week 4)

salmon and fouscous(Weekend meal: pan-sauteed sockeye salmon, homemade pesto (no cheese!) and cauliflower fous-cous)

I am so close. Almost there. Day 29. And yet, looking ahead, I am not feeling an incredible urge to change much of anything in the ‘new normal’ I have established in the past month. This happens to be a convenient attitude with which to approach the next phase of the Whole 30, a 10-12 ‘reintroduction’ period. During these follow-up week(s), single food types (dairy, legumes, grains) are introduced – in the context of an otherwise Whole30-approved diet – one after the other, in order to identify ‘problem’ foods that may have been hindering me from being the best I can be. In the beginning, the idea of this self-experimentation was one of the biggest selling points of the program; now, towards the end, I’m a bit more cautious.

eggs in baskets again (Eggs in red bell pepper ‘nests’, avocado and blueberries)

You know who is counting down impatiently? Batman*. He has been incredibly supportive, endlessly patient and up for all sorts of food experiments (he did not strictly follow the Whole30 with me, but did eat a lot of my food – in the interest of solidarity – I’m sure – and laziness/avoidance of cooking two meals each time ‘round). But, we both miss our ‘Stir-Friday’ tradition (no noodles, soy), and there is no way I would let his birthday pass this week without raising a (real) drink in his honor (no booze). Plus, that delicious steak he likes to make on Sunday afternoons? Even better with a red wine reduction/shallot sauce.

garlicky beef stew and squash(Weekday picnic – garlic beef stew, zucchinis tossed with pesto)

However, as in any disciplined venture coming to a close, I have engaged in some pretty intense navel-gazing about the process. Mostly to consider where I go from here and what are the lessons I want to take from the past four weeks. With the obvious caveat that I cannot speak to my personal issues with specific foods (I’m sure that post will be coming in a week or two), here are a few general things I’ve learned, which I aim to focus on in the coming weeks/months ahead:

pesto egg scramble (Tomato, turkey, pesto scramble, avocado, raspberries)

I can trust my mind (and my stomach) again. One of the key points made in It Starts With Food, was that, during the Whole30, participants eat what feels like a huge amount of food. Wholesome, real food is often not as caloric as its junky counterparts, so to ensure that our daily needs are met, we pile the vegetables high and do throw an extra half avocado on the side. Initially I was stuffing myself silly and was shocked to realize I could not tell when I was full (model case of leptin resistance). I slowed down, turned off the computer during meals and focused on making food worth eating at the dining table. Within a week, I was putting my fork down halfway through dinner, satiated and delighted to have finally found the connection between my brain and stomach. After almost a month, I trust that connection implicitly. I have to take care to go slow and pay attention, but when I do, I know how much is just right for me.

 kale and sausage(TraderJoe’s Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage, lemony garlic sauteed kale)

Anything can be a comfort food. I had no idea what to expect in regards to cravings when this began. I am a lover of all things cheese, bread and noodle-y – so I assumed my dreams would be filled with wheels of brie and I might have to be physically held back if someone around me was to serve up a plate of fettucini Alfredo. I could not have been more wrong. I had days when my (chubby) emotional eating devil would pop onto my shoulder and whisper sweet nothings of tuna melts and pizza into my ear – how comforting and delicious they would taste – justifying such a breach in protocol by exclaiming how hard the day had been. With my mind clear (point #1), it was almost embarrassing to note how many times I had previously fallen for this argument. Not this time. Instead, I’d make a savory, thick bowl of chili, or persuade The Bat to make me one of his out-of-this-world onion-jalapeno burgers, sweet potato fries on the side. I learned that my comfort food is anything that is delicious – irrespective of its carb/cheese content. And, if I ever want anything to taste more decadent, I just should dip it into some homemade olive oil mayo.

 salmon salad(Leftover salmon/fous-cous salad)

My willpower is strong. It is not undermining myself to say that I have never been known to be a woman with unwavering willpower. It’s dizzying how fast I can talk myself out of a morning jog, or into a day spent on the couch in my pajamas. But when it comes to food, I have found myself stronger in ways I never knew I could be. Mostly in the lunch room. And at Monday morning lab meetings. And Friday afternoon Journal Club/Happy Hours. The first week it was hard, passing the pastries and turning down a cold beer. Now I don’t even glance. Except when the pistachios come around.

sole (Dinner out at Fish Public – Petrale sole, almonds, green beans – partial cheating because of browned butter? Probably. And I am ok with that.)

I do not miss rice or legumes – or (shock!) bread. To be honest, the upcoming reintroduction phase scares me a bit. I would like to create a framework based on the past 30 days that would allow me to eat clean and maintain the confidence, pride and change in pants-size I have gained (or lost, as the case may be). Beyond that, I want to live in a way that allows me to not be dominated by my ‘belly issues’ – only recently a dream that has been made reality in the past few weeks. I am nervous about cutting out favorite foods (dairy, gluten), but have been pleasantly surprised at those things I have not missed – rice, beans, lentils or peanuts.  If I have not thought about those foods during the challenge, I see no need in rushing to introduce them now. Honestly, after discovering the wonder of cauliflower rice/fous-cous, I may gladly never eat rice again.

eggs and pesto zucchini (Over-easy eggs atop pesto-tossed roast squash, nectarine)

I must be kind to myself. At this point in my life I know my shortcomings. One of the worst (and most common, I suspect) is that I am simultaneously my harshest critic and an unrelenting perfectionist. That leads to a very ‘all or nothing’ personality in which I can rigidly control/plan/work in bursts, but the moment I allow for one pause, one donut – all is lost and I spiral downward into a mental vortex of guilt, elbows deep in the pastry box. It will take some time to devise a plan for moving forward from here – what I will eat with abandon, what I will save for special occasions and what are the foods that I will enjoy and suffer the consequence(s). Even after implementing that framework, I will stumble into excess every once in a while. In those moments, I need to acknowledge, pick up and get right back in it – not wallow in guilt and pasta. These are/will be difficult changes, but based on how good I feel now, the right ones for me. I need to remember that this was never about dieting per se, but to better my health permanently. It’s a marathon, not a sprint and all that. I just need to be kind to myself along the way.

pork and green chile stew(Pork and green chile stew, cauliflower rice)

I will do another Whole30. That goes without saying. Either to get me back on the wagon (see above) or just to re-focus on my long-term goals of health, energy, and mind-body connection. I am already intrigued if/how it will be different the second time around. It has been a great experience – one that I would recommend to anyone.

lunch salad(Lunch salad – lettuce, green onions, baby bell peppers, avocado, turkey, pine nuts, blueberries, balsamic vinegar)

One more day and then onto the next chapter!

fruit snack(Fruity interlude – when I forgot my picnic lunch during our Farm Tour last weekend, I shared some garden-fresh watermelon and tomatoes instead). 

*Calling my boyfriend “Batman” will never cease to crack me up. And we all know how annoying it is when people laugh at their own jokes.

sausage and eggs in a nest(Last egg of the week, alongside Artichoke and Garlic sausage and cantaloupe)

I have been/will continue to post my ‘clean eating’ on my Instagram (@researchingsandiego), which I am also looking forward to using for non-food photography purposes. Having that community has also been a huge perk and motivation in these past few weeks. Thanks to all of you for the kind words of support!


Leibster Award!


According to my calendar, I was originally scheduled to write about my April Aurora project, the Honey Cowl. As with the socks before it, however, the emerald cowl is not quite ready-for-prime-time (despite some pretty frantic knitting as of late). So, it was with a great sigh of relief and growing sense of excitement that I realized Not Merely Living had nominated me for the Liebster Award on Monday, providing ample procrastination motivation and pretty flattering all around. Thanks, Mere! I’m so excited to be a part of this!

Share 11 Things About Yourself:

1. I have not had cable (or working TV) in over 4 years! It is amazing how much I can do now that I have reclaimed my evenings (and lazy Sunday afternoons) from the boob tube (like this blog! And knitting! And this soup, which is the only thing I plan on doing this Sunday!)

2. I have two Bachelor’s degrees from UCSD – a B.A. in History and a B.S. in Microbiology. I was a much better student in history than in science. One professor summed it up perfectly, “you can do science during the week and history on the weekends, but you cannot do the reverse.” I chose science and rarely look back.

3. I dislike the (lack of) taste of water. Yet, I am determined to drink my 6-9 8oz. glasses each day. To resolve this, I add just a pinch of Raspberry Lemonade Crystal Light to each thermos-full. This provides just enough sweet tartness to keep me coming back all day.

4. Despite living in San Diego going on five (non-consecutive) years, I have never crossed the border to visit Mexico.

jaw crop

5. I had surgery in 2005 to realign both my upper and lower jaws, fixing a pretty extreme overbite and halting TMJ development. I now have 43 screws implanted throughout my skull (that is my xray above), as well as a chin plate – one of them can be felt alongside my nose – greatest party trick ever! The only glitch? The center of my bottom lip is permanently numb – that nerve never recovered.

6. When life is going really well, I celebrate by dancing it out. I come home, filled with joy, turn the music up loud, lights off (curtains shut), eyes closed and boogie around the living room until I am exhausted, satisfied and completely content.

7. Consistency is my challenge (bane?) – I have always worked/lived/blogged in fits and starts. I do not like it. Real progress is made one step at a time, as long as one is walking each day. To this end (and inspired by Mere), I have made a May blogging calendar and, at least 3 days in (I started on Monday), it’s going great!

punch(Punch Brothers, my current favorite, on tour at Belly Up Tavern in Dec, 2012)

8. Music is the most direct line to my soul. Whether that is dancing it out, checking out live shows or singing along angrily with a break-up song on the radio. I have playlists for every chapter of my life and songs for each person that has passed through. When a beat drops, I cannot NOT move.

9. I need a view. In each city I have lived, I have found a place that looks out over the surrounding landscape where I can sit, breathe, think and process. I get so wound up in my own head sometimes that I literally need to see the big picture laid out in front of me to snap out of it.

paris from rooftops

10. I am a hands person. Maybe it is because mine are so teeny tiny – hands are the first things I notice about a new person I meet. I also love to do things with my hands – cooking, knitting, science-ing – all very similar when it comes down to it.

11. I am (still) a hopeless romantic. I believe in all the clichés – about loving yourself first before anyone else can, about finding the right one when you stop looking and, most importantly, that perfect matches (friends and lovers) are out there – everywhere – if you just open yourself up to the experience and opportunity.

Answers to the 11 Questions You Were Given:


What’s your favorite season? Spring. Still blustry and stormy enough to enjoy afternoons cuddled up with a great book (or blog) and steaming mug of tea, but you can feel the tide turning, the days getting longer and life emerging from it’s long winter’s nap. So much hope and beauty.

What did you want to be when you grew up? The first thing I can remember wanting to be was an astronaut. I got my first set of glasses in sixth grade and those hopes were dashed (not to mention my abysmal performance in math).

potato tart(Potato carmelized onion tart – amazingly delicious)

Sweet or savory? Savory. No question.

Favorite Boy Band? Do the Punch Brothers count? But pop-stravagant Boy Band? New Kids On The Block. Forever.

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? While I really appreciate quality non-fiction (Mary Roach and Christopher Hitchens are favorites), I like to read to escape the real world, so fiction almost always wins out. Due to The Bat’s influence, I am starting to branch into Science Fiction and Fantasy for the first time and am loving every page of it.


If you could meet anyone living or dead, who would it be? Cleopatra. I want to hear her story from the source (a very close contender would be Mary Magdalene, for the same reason).

What is one secret goal or dream you have for yourself? I dream of taking my writing and photography to the next level – making them more of a priority, focusing on learning the skills (and forging the connections) that would allow me to travel, write and take pictures professionally. I am thinking it’s a pretty competitive gig.

beach3(San Simeon coastline, CA)

What is the one thing you do/place you go that gets you refocused and energized? I go to the ocean. I inhale the salt air deeply and listen to the waves pound endlessly against the shore. Something about that power, the wind in my hair, and the wild, untamed beauty of the Pacific always sets things right. That, and I make a big pot of minestrone soup and garlic bread. There are very few problems that a walk on the beach and a steamy bowl of soup cannot solve.


(My brother’s dog, Moose, as a puppy)

What is your spirit animal? Labrador retriever. Cuddly, soft (ha), unconditionally loving, fiercely loyal, trustworthy, easily distracted and, while not the smartest of the bunch, willing to work as hard as it takes.

What are you most proud of today? That I truly love myself, exactly the way that I am. Sure, there are a few pounds I could lose and so many projects that I am saving for a rainy day. In the end, I am proud and excited about who I am, how I spend my time, where I focus my energy and the person I have become.

self portrait

What is one resolution for 2013 you want to be sure to stick to for the rest of the year? Consistency here, continuing to use writing and photography to explore who I am, how I eat and what is next for me.

Nominate 5 Bloggers

Camille of Croque Camille

Catherine of Ciao Down!

Margaret of Destination : Macaron

Marie of Meandering Eats

Tammy of Agrigirl’s Blog


11 Questions for the Nominee to Answer

1. What is your go-to, most comforting meal?

2. Top 5 destinations you hope to travel to some day?

3. Top 5 places you have already visited?

4. What song takes you back to your senior year in high school like it was yesterday?

5. What was your first car?

6. Coffee or tea?

7. What is your favorite thing to cook?

8. Favorite thing about blogging?

9. Three pieces of advice you would give younger you?

10. What would be your perfect date?

11. Could you recommend 2 books that moved you (any genre)?

Thanks again, Mere, for such a fun post! For those of you reading – I would love to learn more about you as well! Please, drop a quick comment about where you are from, what brought you to ResarchingSanDiego and what question would you ask your favorite bloggers?