Easy Come, Easy Go…Does Not Apply Within the Diet World!

By Marianna Boyce

I texted an accountability update to my sister before church recently.  With ten more pounds to lose, I’m still pleased with my current weight of 145 pounds.  Cindy constantly makes me laugh, so I thought I’d pass a smile onto you.  The screenshots of our conversation are quite comical, but they certainly ring true for most of us.  Her spontaneous ending remark is credited with renaming this blog post.

When Every Woman Blog published my post, “New Year…New You…No Dieting,a couple of months ago, a coworker and sweet friend shared it with others.  What Neya didn’t share was that she implemented this plan for herself.  She was a sneaky secret keeper—until she couldn’t hide it any longer.

image3

A few weeks into the new year, I noticed she was losing weight.  Unbeknownst to me, she was following some of the tidbits of advice I gave in my first blog post of 2019.  She chose the “My Net Diary” app instead of “Lose It.”  We are having a ton of fun on our journey so far, but when our calorie intake exceeds our limit, we agree it is detrimental to our psyche.  Nothing can be done once the choice has been made to eat the burger, fries, chocolate cake—or all three.  Other than laughing about it, our secret is moving on and making better choices the remainder of the day.

image4

Neya is a beautiful new mom.  After sweet baby Mason was born, she weighed in at 234 pounds.  Having lost twelve pounds since the first of the year, she currently weighs in at 222 pounds.

For every good weight loss plan, there is an exercise program to match.  Being young and vibrant, Neya is signing up for a gym membership.  I’m so proud of her for taking steps to improve her mental and physical well-being.  A healthy mama is a happy mama.

Regrettably, I approach exercise from a different angle.  In the past, I always enjoyed a challenging workout, but now shudder at the thought of it.  Rheumatoid arthritis and similar illnesses take a toll on the human body.  Exhaustion and pain typically rule the day.  My pain levels are now mostly tolerable, but I cannot subject my joints to workouts I accomplished in the past.  Since daylight savings time has ended, my plan is to simply enjoy an evening walk in my neighborhood at least three times a week.

It’s not as easy as it used to be, but I resolve losing the last ten pesky pounds one small step at at time.  Doing something is better than nothing at all.

I will update you on our journey in a future post.  Hopefully, we will be reporting positive results.  How are your health and wellness goals?  Do you need a fresh start?  There’s no shame if you do.  It’s never a “one size fits all” situation.  Simply do what’s best for you!

Refocus, rebalance, restart—because you’re worth it! 

Update on My Weight Loss Journey

by Tina Michelle Cameron

Hi everyone. I am 10 weeks and 5 days into my weight-loss journey. I have been under physician supervision since I started this journey in December 2018. I have not done as well as I had hoped regarding working out, but I am pleased so far with my weight loss and improvement of my blood pressure. I have cut out my go-to snack of Pringles, and I am 5 days short of 1 year without any soft drinks. I’ll admit there are times when I would love a good ice-cold Coca-Cola or Mountain Dew. This is the longest that I have ever gone without soft drinks since I was a teenager.

I am following the Keto diet. I know there are mixed feelings about this diet, but I am doing more of a modified Keto. I am not eating lots of fats every single day. I have increased my protein intake and decreased my sugar and carbohydrate intake. My nurse practitioner wants me to have a little carbs every day just not a lot. I have increased my water intake from 1-2 glasses a day to almost 3l daily.

When I began Keto, I found an app on my phone to log my food, water, weight, and exercise daily. The app calculates it for you and makes it easy. I will admit, I have not logged anything in the past few weeks, but I need to get strict again with this as it really helps you see what you have done. I also will be getting back in the gym tomorrow morning as my graduation is fast approaching in May, and I want to look nice when I cross that stage for my BSN degree at the University of Alabama.

I have found some really good recipes from a coworker-Brittany who is also doing Keto, and I have found some by simply doing a Google search. For the first time in a very long time, I am cooking every few days and enjoying it. The recipes I have enclosed below will last me a few days and with my hectic schedule, it is just easier to eat the same thing for 3 or 4 days in a row. I hope you enjoy the recipes, and I look forward to hearing from you. As of today, I have lost 21.5 lbs. and my blood pressure is within a normal range.

Egg Roll in a Bowl

This dinner recipe features ground pork, cole slaw mix, and seasonings to create a low-carb egg roll served in bowls.

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 15 minutes

Total Time 25 minutes

Servings 4 servings

Calories 396 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground sausage
  • 1 bag dry coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • sliced green onion

Instructions

  1. In a large, deep skillet, brown sausage. Meanwhile in a small bowl, combine garlic, soy sauce, and ginger; set aside.
  2. Once sausage is cooked through, add dry coleslaw mix to skillet and stir to combine.
  3. Pour soy sauce mixture into the skillet and stir, continuing to cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until cabbage is wilted, but still a bit crunchy. Serve with sliced green onion.

Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving

Calories 396 Calories from Fat 270

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 30g 46%

Saturated Fat 10g 50%

Cholesterol 81mg 27%

Sodium 1804mg 75%

Potassium 544mg 16%

Total Carbohydrates 10g 3%

Dietary Fiber 3g 12%

Sugars 4g

Protein 20g 40%

Vitamin A 3.9%

Vitamin C 52.3%

Calcium 6.7%

Iron 13.9%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

20190124_084300

New Year…New You…No Dieting!

By Marianna Boyce

I hope everyone had a great start to the new year!  Hopefully, if you made any resolutions, you will keep them much longer than I ever did.  If you read my last LMC post, “D-I-E-T…That Dirty Four Letter Word,” you already know I swore fad diets off forever.  I chose the whole lifestyle change instead.

I simply started by cutting my calorie intake.  I continued eating the food I was normally eating, just much less of it.  What a novel idea!  When I lost five pounds in a few weeks, I was surprised and excited all at the same time!  This pushed me to go a step further.

I had to make myself accountable in some way so I downloaded a calorie counting app on my device.  I measured everything for a couple of weeks just until I was confident in the portion sizes I should be eating.  On days I exceeded my calorie allowance, I logged everything anyway!  Seeing the overage in calories ALWAYS encouraged me to make better choices the following day.

Helpful hints…

  • Download any free calorie counting app of your choice. I personally like the “Lose It” app.
  • When entering your personal information, set your goal weight 10 lbs lower than your actual weight. Losing 10 lbs is obtainable for anyone.  Set new goals as you reach each one.  “Inch by inch, anything’s a cinch.”
  • Log all food and drinks…even one itty bitty Hershey Kiss. (22 calories by the way)
  • Eat only enough to keep from being hungry. Fueling your body throughout the day makes for a good experience which is how it’s supposed to be.  You should never be hungry, but you should also never be “stuffed”.
  • Drink plenty of water! It has zero calories!
  • Don’t go back for seconds.salad
  • If you love salad, load up on lettuce, carrots, cucumbers etc. Eliminate or go easy on cheese, bacon bits and croutons.  Choose wisely on dressing.  Don’t go overboard if you choose the creamy ones.
  • If you love bread and dessert, don’t cut them out completely, just cut the portion at least by half.
  • If you somehow find yourself at Rush’s or McDonalds, choose a smaller burger and skip the fries.burger
  • Always have healthy snacks available at home and work. One ingredient snacks such as grapes, bananas, apples, almonds, pistachios, or boiled eggs are good.  Any of these, plus a glass of water should be enough to satisfy.  (Unless you have a food allergy to them.)
  • Eat or drink protein if possible. Protein makes you feel full.
  • If you like chips, buy the individual small bags of baked chips. They are more expensive but they are pre-measured and only average 150 calories per bag.  Limit yourself to one.  You’re at least getting to eat chips!  How cool is that?
  • If you walk or exercise, log that in also. This will credit more calories to your account for the day.
  • Your goal is staying below your calorie allowance. This is when weight loss will occur.
  • Weigh once a week in the morning before you eat or drink anything. Don’t be afraid to step on that horrible scale!  If you are serious about this method, it won’t be long you’ll be happy to step on that wonderful scale.  (Yes, I just said that!)
  • Don’t beat yourself up over a bad day. Log it all in, get over it, and move on to the next day.  Don’t EVER wait until the following week.  Your progress is worth more than tossing it out the window for one bad day.  It’s going to happen, but this should never derail your plan.

 If your goal is to lose weight and keep it off, stop “dieting”.  It’s easy getting started.  Simply cut down on what you’re currently eating.  If you are under the care of a physician and on a specialized diet, stick with your doctor’s plan.

Take a week or two to familiarize yourself with your new app.  Logging will get quicker.  This app will begin to remember your favorites so be patient.  If you don’t like logging, do it for three months.  Once you know your limits, you can discontinue logging but keep eating wisely.  I’m the type of person that needs to keep track.

I have lost 10 lbs since October.  This time span includes 2 family reunions, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.  My clothes are fitting much better already.  One photo is me this past summer at 155 lbs.  The other is me at 145 lbs which is where I am currently.  My goal is 135 lbs.  This is where my body is at its optimum.

Some may need to lose more and some less.  Regardless of gender and if given a fair shake, this can potentially create a HAPPY NEW YOU for all of 2019, and even beyond.  This is what works for me.  I would love to hear what works best for you.

 

 

D-I-E-T… That Dirty Four Letter Word

By Marianna Boyce

KermitThe new year is upon us and I know many of us make that pesky “diet” resolution with all good intentions.  I did for many years, until I decided to swear them off all together.  I was tired of all the unsustainable fad diets I had tried.  I was ready to try something different.  The premise was quite simple.  The cost?  Zero dollars.  I actually resolved on 12-31-13 NOT to diet!  This revolutionized my life.  It could potentially do the same for you.  Did you just roll your eyes?  Please keep reading…

I was 45 years old and weighed 155 lbs at the time.  My goal was to lose 25 lbs by the summer of 2014.  For me, the download of an app on the new iPad I received from Santa that year was all it took.  There were many calorie counting apps available but I chose the “Lose It” app.

cookiesWhat did I eat?  Anything I wanted, EXCEPT I was quite diligent in not eating above the number of calories allotted for me by the app.  Yes, I had tough days where Zestos or Rush’s was my choice for the day, but I logged in everything anyway!  My device never once exploded in my hand or fussed at me!  I never allowed one bad day here and there to derail my plan.

In 28 days, I had lost 10 lbs!  I was thrilled!  It had everything to do with calories, calories, calories!   Combining better food choices with a brisk walk at least three times a week in the early spring melted away the last 15 lbs.  By summertime, 2014, I was at my sister’s pool very confident in my new mint green and pink bathing suit.  I hadn’t owned a two piece in years!  I felt incredible!

All it took was dedicating 5 to 10 minutes every day to log my calorie intake.  I remained dedicated for a full 2 ½ years.  This kept me honest and my weight was always very well maintained in the 130 to 135 lb range for that entire time.

It was June, 2016, when my life was turned upside down.  My mysterious illness, and the daily chronic pain that came along with it, caused me to stop logging completely.  That was the first time my extra weight returned.  Now that I’m feeling somewhat better, I have set a new goal for myself.  Trust me, if this hadn’t worked for me the first time, I wouldn’t be doing it again!

If you want to try it, download any free calorie counting app on your device.  Input the initial information it asks…age, weight, height, goal weight, etc.  No one else will ever see this info unless you choose to share it.  Just know that it will not work unless you are 100% honest all the time!  Trust me!  I tried fibbing my way through here and there and it didn’t work!  If you do it right, you will lose weight.

If you plan to try this method, I have a word to the wise.  I would be conservative on your GOAL weight to start with.  Let’s say you weigh 250 lbs and need to lose 100 lbs.  Set your goal weight at 240 lbs.  This allows you more calories to start with so its not such a drastic change.  This is more incremental and less stressful.  (Baby steps ladies!)  Once you lose your first ten lbs, pat yourself on the back and set a new goal for 230 lbs, and so forth and so on.

I’ve lost eight lbs since 10-18-18.  This equates to about a pound a week.  I could’ve been further along, but I still lost weight…Thanksgiving included!  (Of course I was over on calories that day.)  The pound cake I had was heavenly!  It was definitely worth every calorie, and I logged in all three pieces!

applesWe never have to wait for a new year to improve our health and wellness but it just so happens 2019 is here now.  If you’re tired of fad diets and you’re ready to make a change, this may very well be for you.  Of course, feel free to check with your doctor before starting anything new.  I wouldn’t consider this a diet per se.  It’s simply a lifestyle change.

I hope you choose to join me.  What have you got to lose?  I will share tips that help me, and will also continue to update my progress in an upcoming post.

Happy New Year everyone…especially if you’ve chosen NOT to diet!

Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall

By Tina Michelle Cameron

Well, my 6-week healthy eating and working out is not going as planned. I have lost 6 lbs and zero inches. I am disappointed in myself—again. I have not been walking and have used my new stationary bike only three times. I am stressed with school, overly fatigued and no energy. And, have no self-control when it comes to Halloween candy! I am one that stress eats, happy eats and in general have a very sweet tooth. There, I said it—all my excuses. When I usually get started on a “diet”, I am focused and usually obsessed about it, but, if I slip up, well, I slip up in a big way. I was keeping track of everything that went in my mouth and well, after 2 weeks of that along with my brain saying, I’ll log it in when I get up tomorrow or when I get home and one day leads to two, then 3 weeks of no logging my intake.

So, starting November 1st, 2018, I will once again, begin my one thousandth diet and I have promised myself to start keeping my food journal logged in on my phone as well as a daily exercise program. I am beyond upset and disappointed with myself—again. I am tired of being tired, tired of being overweight and unhealthy and tired of staring at the cute clothes in my closet that I cannot fit in. I am like Oprah in that I have a whole range of sizes. I am in disgust at my body, my thighs especially and my sagging skin.

I will once again try the Keto diet. My goal for now is to lose 10 lbs by January 31st, 2019.  I think that is a doable goal. If you would like to join me, please email me at tmcameron@crimson.ua.edu. I do better if I have a partner to keep me in line.

I will keep you guys posted once a month on how I am doing and would love to hear from you all. So, in the meantime, please feel free to send me any advice, recipes or workout regimens. I am posting one of my favorite recipes from Weight Watchers for those that like Little Debbie Snack Cakes or chocolate cupcakes.

Recipe for chocolate cupcakesWeight-Watchers-Chocolate-Cupcakes-Post4

1 can pumpkin and 1 box Devil’s food cake mix.

Mix both ingredients, bake as ordered on cake box to make the cupcakes, refrigerate after baking, they last for 5 days. You can also slice open and place a tablespoon of fat-free cool whip in it and reheat for about 10 seconds in microwave. Yum-yum—enjoy!! Depending on the size and quantity they are 2 to 5 points each.

2-Ingredient-Chocolate-Pumpkin-Muffins-and-Cookies

 

Acquired Tastes

By Rachel Sircy

Normally, I write blog posts that are meant to be instructive and helpful – hopefully someone has found them helpful. And for this post I was going to write about an article I’d read recently about things in your home that you should buy organic other than food – the list includes everything from cotton swabs to couch cushions. Apparently, we live in an incredibly toxic world. However, I decided against it, not only because that article seemed a bit far-fetched to me, but also because I’ve been thinking about something random and strange lately, and I just thought I’d share. Do you ever notice how people change over time? Like, when you go back to a high school reunion and they tell you that so-and-so just married what’s-his-face, and you stare for a second before you manage to ask, “Didn’t they hate each other in school?” People are full of surprises and the funny thing is that sometimes the people who surprise us the most by the way that they change are the ones that we know best.

Take my husband and me. Before we were married, my friends and I used to refer to my husband as the human garbage disposal. Not the nicest name, I know, but we were referring to the fact that he would eat anything that was put in front of him. My friend Shannon and I in particular loved this about him because when we were all in college together (before my husband and I were even dating), if Shannon or I ordered something at a restaurant that we didn’t like, we could always feed it to Elisha. (Elisha is my husband’s name. It’s pronounced sort of like Elijah. Don’t call him anything that sounds like Alicia. He hates that.) In those days, the only thing that Elisha positively would not eat was mayonnaise. This thing with mayonnaise began when he got a stomach bug as a child and the last thing he remembered before barfing his guts up was eating was a submarine sandwich with extra mayo on it. You know how those things go. The last thing that you eat before you get sick becomes the food you can’t stand to even talk about. Well, some people get over those aversions given time, but my husband has gone in the opposite direction. Not only will he still not eat mayonnaise, he now will not eat sour cream, ricotta cheese or pretty much any food that is both soft and white. He doesn’t even like white icing. In fact, he told me recently that his culinary tastes are narrowing. Things that he used to enjoy like curry, tea, etc., are now things that he just can’t stand to eat or drink. And he informed me just last weekend that he really isn’t up for trying anything new. I wonder if it’s my cooking…

Conversely, my culinary tastes are expanding. As a child I was an irritatingly picky eater. I remember time and time again my mother getting frustrated with my whining over having to eat this food or that. I remember my parents and grandparents bribing and begging me to eat things. I didn’t like ground beef. I didn’t like cheese. I didn’t like mushrooms. I didn’t like lima beans or Brussels sprouts After getting sick once, I wouldn’t eat cheesecake or cream cheese in any form except smeared on a plain, toasted bagel. I didn’t like any food that looked, smelled or tasted different than what I was used to eating every day. Once, my mother who was normally as honest as the day is long lied to me about the eggs I happened to be eating. We were staying at my great-grandmother’s house. Great Grandma Deaver raised ducks and chickens, but mainly got her eggs from her ducks. My mother put a plate of over-easy duck eggs and toast down in front of me. I was, of course, immediately suspicious and I began asking what was wrong with these huge eggs on my plate. My mother smiled sweetly (I’m sure she wanted to shake me) and said that Granny just happened to raise really, really big chickens. I ate the eggs and found that they tasted better than chicken eggs. But then my mother triumphantly revealed that they were actually duck eggs and I screamed and refused to ever eat eggs at Grandma Deaver’s house ever again.

Over the years, I’ve grown to love cheese, cheesecake, mushrooms, lima beans and Brussels sprouts. Of course, in the case of each food, I had to choose at a particular moment to force myself to eat them. Cheese was something I came to love somewhere between the ages of three and seven, I believe. Cheesecake, mushrooms, lima beans and Brussels sprouts were foods that I only decided to try after I had been married. brussels-sprouts-1856706_1920

Initially, I was inspired by my husband’s openness to food. I wanted to be as open minded to food as he was. Then, about 6 months into our marriage, I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I found myself cut off from easy and familiar foods like take-out pizza and doughnuts. I was forced to try new, bizarre foods like quinoa (which I pronounced quin-Noah until some nice hippies at the health food store corrected me) and cakes made from rice flour and potato starch. This re-routing of my dietary habits was the final sealing of the deal. At first, I wanted to try new foods and then I had no choice about it.

Recently, I’ve surprised even myself by my willingness to try seafood. I HATE seafood. Nothing that I have tried so far in my life has made me change my tastes on this front. In fact, the only reason I’ve been willing to try fish lately is that my cholesterol has become a problem and fatty fish are touted as the culinary cure for cholesterol issues. I think that people who love seafood (and this is most people that I come across) don’t understand what I mean when I say that I don’t like seafood. I’m going to try to explain this here because I want it to be clear what a miracle it is that I’m even willing to put the stuff in my mouth. When I say that I can’t stand seafood, I do not merely mean that I baked salmon fillet on boardprefer chicken or beef. I mean that everything about seafood – the sight, the smell, the texture – is repulsive to me. I find the smell of the ocean itself to be slightly nauseating and that smell of fish, even the stuff that people swear is “not fishy”, is a concentrated dose of that oceanic scent. When I say that I don’t like fish, I mean that often times I have to hold my breath when I take a bite of salmon or tuna (two of the only fish I have managed to choke down) and that there have been times that I’ve had to hold on, white-knuckled, to the edge of the dinner table in order to force myself to swallow the bite I’ve taken. I gag and dry-heave the whole time that I eat fish, but the point of pride for me is that I DO eat it. I don’t enjoy one second of it, to be sure, but I force myself and (occasionally) win the war against my food aversion.

I guess the thing I’m wondering – and I would love some feedback – is, does it seem worth it to choke down food that I hate in the hopes that it will one day become an acquired taste? I’ve always heard that a varied plate is a healthy plate and frankly, that is why I try new foods. I once knew a nurse who could count on one hand the foods that she would eat. They were all white, starchy foods. She believed that it would be better to die young and happy, eating the foods that give you pleasure, rather than live a long time gagging on stuff that you find disgusting. So, what is the general consensus? To eat or not to eat stuff I don’t like, that is the question. You can comment with your thoughts below. I am excited to read them!

 

Food for Thought

Disclaimer: Our bloggers are not health experts. Contact your physician if if you are thinking about starting a new dietary program.

By: Shannon Boatwright

“Food for thought” means something that warrants serious consideration. Now let me tell you something you should already know…what you eat and drink matters immensely to your overall health and quality of life. Thus, it should certainly be food for thought!

Now there are tons, upon tons, of diets and healthy eating programs out there. But what we need to focus on if we want to truly be healthy, is a change of lifestyle.

I recently completed the Whole30 Challenge. Now let me state something here – I have NEVER done any kind of diet. Ever. Was never my thing. I like food too much and I’ve always just believed that exercise was the answer for me and I could eat and drink whatever I wanted. I’m not in the overweight category, have never been a big soda drinker or sweets eater, and overall believed I was a pretty healthy individual. So this concept of focusing on changing my lifestyle for the better really attracted me.

The truth is, I shouldn’t eat whatever I want. At least not if I actually want to feel good and operate at my best! So what in the world inspired me to try this Whole30 thing? Well, amongst my busy-ness I noticed that one of my dearest friends, Tiana, had been posting things on Facebook about her healthy eating and weight loss. Though I was really happy for her, I honestly didn’t pay much attention to the details of her journey. Then my sweet Tiana came to visit me this past summer. Wowzers!! Not only did she look positively amazing – better than I’ve ever seen her look – but her health journey story with the Whole30 absolutely wowed me! Here was a woman, my age (in our very early, fabulous 40s), a kindergarten teacher assistant, with four kids and a very stressful home life. Before doing the Whole30 and changing her lifestyle, she would have anywhere from 15 to 20 migraines a month, had to get weekly allergy shots, experienced low energy and battled depression. Back in February she completed the Whole30 – a whole 30 days of eating and drinking healthy. It was her doctor that suggested the program in hopes that she would achieve positive results and ultimately all around feel better. She committed whole-heartedly, doing the program all alone in a house full of folks that did not join her in her mission to better health.  She stuck it out and has become a new and improved person, gaining much better habits and incredible awareness of what foods triggered ailments, etc. She went on to lose 40 pounds, has gained a life with zero migraines, no longer has to get weekly allergy shots and has boosted her energy levels immensely. Is that not crazy wonderful or what!??!

Needless to say, her story, her positive experience, totally captured my attention. I wanted, needed a body that functioned better! I desperately wanted to feel better while living my stressful, busy life. And though I considered myself a relatively healthy individual, I have learned so very much from my experience with the Whole30. Which by the way, is not a diet, nor a program really, it’s a lifestyle change. And the number one thing I learned is that the way you fuel and hydrate your body is absolutely critical to truly achieving good health.

Life is short, we have to take care of our vessel if we want to make the most of our lives!

Everyone’s experience with the Whole30 is different. We experience different benefits and learn different lessons. We figure out how to maneuver this healthy lifestyle change to best suit our needs and achieve health success. My biggest benefit is that since a drastic cleaning of my diet, I sleep better. Me! The chick that never sleeps well. The mom and teacher that can never turn off her brain! I can tell you right now that going 30 days without a whole lot of stuff that I really, really like, was totally worth it when I started actually falling right to sleep and finally sleeping well! I really, really hope to hold onto the key to keeping this benefit a part of my life.

Here are a few lessons I learned: 

1) I did not exercise as much as I should have while doing the thirty days, so I probably did not lose as much weight and/or inches as I could’ve. So, I learned that I really need to do better with that and move more on a consistent basis. Not necessarily for the sake of losing weight, but to benefit my body, activate and stretch my muscles, lubricate my joints, etc.

2) I actually experienced not having those afternoon slumps. You know, those moments in the afternoon when most people reach for that sugar filled, caffeinated drink to give you a boost? Yea, well I couldn’t do that while on the Whole30 and surprise, surprise, I didn’t need my sweet tea or coffee in the afternoon. I could drink some good ole water or cold green tea (nothing added) and feel good! For real.

3) I seriously love to cook. And boy did this experience ever give me a chance to get really creative with my cooking! Recipes change when you cut butter, certain oils, grains and dairy out of your diet!  And did you know that sugar is in almost everything!? Seriously, even my absolute favorite seasoning, Lawry’s, has sugar in it! This diet opened up a whole new world for me when it comes to reading ingredient labels! These products get so sneaky. Did you know that there are so many different words for sugar!? It’s crazy. So I learned and certainly experienced the reality and truth behind eating REAL foods, with REAL ingredients.

4) I learned that processed food is BAD. And now that I’ve tasted the difference, I sure do like the real stuff better. So much better! It’s amazing how it all affects your gut. Your body thanks you in so many wonderful ways, when you actually fuel it with real food and not processed, boxed and bagged foods.

The flip side – What I also learned:

1) I learned that I despise – I mean I truly cannot stand – my coffee with no sugar or cream. Yep, can’t do it. Drinking what seems and tastes like dirty water – NOT MY THING.

2) I learned that my body does need some dairy and grains. Fortunately, I do not have any sort of lactose intolerance – as long as I stick with the good stuff and not anything processed in any way. My gut operates better when I have some milk, cheese, yogurt, rice and breads – in moderation, of course.

3) I learned that any type of what I call “fake sugar” is really bad for me. I can literally take one swig of something with aspartame or sweet-n-low, etc in it and it will send me straight to the bathroom. Not good. And guess what, that’s totally fine with me because that fake sugar stuff is terrible for you anyway! When I do have any added sweetness, I’ll stick with the real deal, thank you very much.

4) I learned that I can actually survive just fine without alcohol and still be happy. Yep, I was without my wine. Did I miss it? Sure, there were definitely moments. Ironically, the 30 days that the hubby and I dedicated to the Whole30 were literally filled with special occasions and big events! Ranging from my sister’s 30th birthday to about four different other family birthdays, dessert dinner theatre and other random, special events and celebrations. Not to mention school started back up for me and goodness don’t you know a glass of vino after a long day back to the grind would’ve be so lovely. But nope, didn’t do it, and I survived just fine! My hubby is not a big drinker at all, so that certainly helped me. Instead, we focused on food. But I have to admit, because I do indeed love to cook, I really missed being able to pair the foods with a good glass of wine. On the flip side though – do you know how much money I saved by not buying that wine to go with my food? A lot.

5) I learned that though I have always been a pasta and wine lover, surprisingly it was not the pasta and wine that I missed most and not what my body craved the most during my 30-day experience. I missed my coffee! My Café Bustelo coffee with my French Vanilla creamer and sugar. And when I say I missed it – it was a tragic loss. In all seriousness, there were many days that I literally fantasized about my coffee. In dramatic fashion, with total desperation, all I wanted was my coffee, declaring, I’ll never eat pasta or drink wine again, just let me have my coffee with my cream and sugar!!! But alas, I pushed through the pain and made it out. Will I indulge in my coffee now that my 30 days is up? Absolutely. But, will I be more aware of the amount of creamer and sugar I put in my coffee? Sure thing. And will I limit all the other sugar filled beverages I have so that I can at least have my coffee the way I like it? Yes indeed!

6) The hubby and I learned that honeydew melons are the best fruit on the planet. You might say we overdosed on honey dew. They are the sweetest, yummiest fruit! OMG. In fact, we both probably gained weight and did not follow the Whole30 rules as much as we should’ve because we literally ate so much of that succulent, sweet, heavenly produce. It was how we survived our loss of sugar and now we are forever fans.

7) I learned important, yet ironic lessons about quality and quantity. I discovered that even though the foods we were cooking with were top quality, fresh, real foods, I still have a problem. Quantity!! That southern clean your plate mentality apparently applies to me always. I still tend to eat too much and not listen to my body when it’s full. So I’ve learned to be more aware of how much I put on my plate. Too much food is still too much food, even if it is great-for-your-body food. Moderation! In today’s times we eat enormous amounts of food! And it’s not necessary! We’re consistently overfilling our bodies and what our body cannot process quick enough, just flat out turns to fat and makes us feel terrible! So I’ve definitely learned that even though I’m on a mission to eat real foods, I still must be aware of the amount I’m taking in too.

So all this being said, I want to thank my precious friend Tiana for being the best cheerleader and role model ever! She has supported me every step of the way and been such an inspiration. She even repeated the Whole30 days with me! I don’t think I could’ve done it without her. I am so proud of her dedication to changing her life for the better and so very thankful for her unending love and support in helping me change mine! And to my sweet hubby, Brad, I cannot thank him enough for suffering through this experiment with me! He did not have to do it, but he made the sacrifice and knew it would be easier on me if I had a buddy. He recognized the benefits of making the commitment and I’m ever thankful that we were partners through the experience. It made it all much more meaningful being able to learn through it together. I’m very proud of him for committing to it for the sake of his own health too!

The journey to better health doesn’t have to be such a battle. It’s simply a lifestyle change and really comes down to awareness, smarts, logic and effort. What you put in your body directly affects how you will operate and feel. Period. It’s that simple.

Do you want to get out of your own vicious cycle? How do you plan to take care of this one vessel you’re given in order to live your life to the fullest?

It is definitely food for thought. 😉