Whole30 – It’s all downhill from here

Well hello, Internet!

Here we are on Day 18 of our Whole30 — several days “over the hump,” midway through our third full week, very nearly out of the teens. If you’re familiar with the Whole30 Timeline, this is what whole food fans refer to as the “Tiger Blood” phase!

I don’t know about Tiger Blood, but I have seen “non-scale” improvements in several areas:

  • The food is good. I haven’t tried a lot of new foods, but I’ve definitely become more comfortable with preparing meals from scratch and using whole foods. We’re still eating too many white potatoes, but I only recently realized that sweet potatoes actually taste sweet on their own (without brown sugar and butter)! I don’t even think that they need cinnamon! And that’s just one example of my “good food” discovery.
  • I have way more self-control than I thought. I’ll talk more about my bad habits below, but saying no is becoming easier (that may be because I know that I’m one step closer to being able to say yes as I progress through my Whole30…shhh).
  • We are saving a ton of cash money! Anyone who is concerned about whole foods causing a spike in their grocery bill should consider how much they will save by not eating out as frequently. We’ve been eating out once, maybe twice per week, whereas we used to eat at least five meals outside of our home each week. In addition, many whole foods purchased in bulk (and in season) are far less expensive than convenience foods.
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A colorful, simple, last-minute meal that we tried this week (roasted veggies and chicken)!

There are, of course, some tough aspects, too.

  • My instincts toward junk food are still alive and well. I have become very conscious of some bad habits and toxic attitudes I have toward foods that aren’t so good for me. When coworkers offer me a snack or treat, it’s bizarre how I am wired to just say “Sure!” without even thinking, “Am I hungry? Is this a good choice if I am hungry?” It will take a lot longer than thirty days to break this habit, but I’m thankful that it’s being brought to light now (and I’m learning to arm myself with appropriate snacks if a craving hits).
  • I have had some moments of real boredom with the diet. These seem to occur most frequently on the weekends, when we have a lot of time at home and I feel so unenthused by preparing all three meals in my kitchen. I have tried to fight this by injecting lots of new meals into our meal plans; check out my Made it & Ate It board on Pinterest for meals we’ve tried so far!

I’ll still be posting daily snapshots over on my Instagram Story, so if you like pictures of people’s food (if you’re on Instagram, you clearly at least tolerate such photos), check out my Instagram!

Toward the end of our Whole30 (the last day of which is April 10th), I will post an update on the reasons we embarked on this thing in the first place. Stay tuned!

Whole30 – 1 day at a time

Yesterday was my first day of our Whole30 diet. It ended up being a looong day, which I think can be partially attributed to the start of Daylight Saving Time and the late-setting sun, but it’s also because I spent nearly the whole day in our kitchen.

After church, I set to work making breakfast for us to eat for the first half of the week (Egg, Bacon, and Sweet Potato cups), then moved to lunch (Bacon-Wrapped Chicken and carrots sautéed in ghee), followed by snack prep: washing and cutting fruits and veggies and making Whole30 compliant mayonnaise and ranch dressing for the first time. Finally, when I was desperate to go chill on the couch, I realized it was getting late, and quickly threw together our dinner (meatloaf and baked potatoes). Luckily, I was able to spend quality time with my couch for the hour that dinner baked in the oven. 🙂

All told, our day was full of eggs, bacon, sweet potatoes, fresh fruit, chicken, carrots, and meatloaf, with no grains, dairy, or sugar in sight. And we survived!

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The Whole30 Timeline refers to Day 1 as the “So what’s the big deal?” day. I saw glimpses of that yesterday, but all that meal prep was work. I see where our bad habits with convenience foods and eating out originated: I don’t think I have time to eat right. But yesterday, I proved that wrong.

Now that I’m cruising into Day 2, I want to remember the satisfaction I felt yesterday after making good choices all day long. I want to remember how delicious my homemade, dairy-free ranch tasted right out of the jar I’d blended it in. I want to remember all the colors of my foods strewn across my countertop and my plate. I want to remember the guilt I didn’t have when I climbed into bed last night.

Day 2, I’m coming for you.

Why Whole30?

We Davidsons plan our meals every week. I make a 7-day plan on Sundays after church, write up the grocery list while Chris takes a Sunday afternoon catnap (usually with actual cat accompaniments), and then he makes a run to Kroger and drops off our week’s worth of recycling along the way. We usually stick to our meal plan with about 85% accuracy; Chris has pointed out that, as long as we start strong early in the week, we can rock that meal plan. Then, it starts all over again the next Sunday afternoon.

This week, our meal plan looks different. It’s full of protein, roasted veggies, and far too many baked potatoes. Cheeses and pastas, typical Davidson meal plan staples, are conspicuously absent. There are no sandwich days planned for lunches. I’m not planning to bake any treats for my coworkers.

Smells like Whole30.

This Sunday, we are starting a thirty-day diet of whole foods, with no grains, no dairy, no sugar, and no legumes. (“No alcohol” is also on the list, but that is not a concern for us, because we don’t partake.) It will be an exceptionally difficult change for us.

There are lots of reasons to do a Whole30. But all those reasons don’t apply to me. My list is relatively short:

  1. To examine my bad habits and gain self-control. I am an emotional eater. Most of the time that emotion is “boredom;” when I’m trying to relax at home on a weeknight, it’s comforting to munch on tortilla chips or split a row of Oreos with Chris when we’re catching up on our DVR. Or, after a stressful day at work, although we had a meal planned, we’ll end up at a restaurant and obviously I’m getting dessert because I earned it by suffering through the horrors of being a middle manager in an office setting. Whole30 will bring all those to light, painfully. But the thirty days will be just long enough to help me start new and improved habits of making good choices when in a tough spot.
  2. To gain a new perspective on meal planning. Real, whole foods were not a priority in previous meal plans. We rely more and more on convenience foods as we grow busier at work and life in general. I have been in a meal planning rut for a while now, and I no longer enjoy the task. I used to try recipes all the time (my Made It & Ate It board on Pinterest has almost 250 pins) but now I stick to recipes that I can cook with my eyes closed/while listening to Netflix in the kitchen. How will Whole30 help that? It’s forcing me to try all-new, compliant recipes (I have a board full of ’em), and new methods of cooking old staples but also new components, such as Brussels sprouts. Next week alone we will be trying ten new recipes. Watch out, world! My Pinterest board will hit 250 in no time!
  3. To have more energy and generally feel better. Speaking of being busy at work? We come home tuckered out every day. I’m ready for bed by nine o’clock every night, and we sure as heck don’t ever feel like exercising. (I’m lucky to make it through a Zumba class once a week.) Eating whole, goodful foods for thirty days can serve to balance out all the mysterious inner workings of my body. A reset in my digestive system will be a delightful and well-fought perk as well.

I will need to remember these reasons when I’m five days into the Whole30 regimen and feeling unsatisfied, restless, and tempted to quit. But from what I understand, the hard days will be crazy hard, but the good days in the second half of the thirty will be crazy great. And if I can meet the three goals I’ve set for myself, I will come out on the other side a happier, healthier me.

Have you ever done a Whole30?

Davidsons Watch Oscar Films IV

Hi friends!

This year, Chris and I embarked on our fourth annual Oscar movie watch! This year was rather different; instead of waiting for the nominations in January, we got a head start. We’ve basically been watching movies most of the year, with Chris diligently reading articles and blog posts with Oscars predictions since the fall began! This year, we simply didn’t have time to squeeze 10+ movies into an approximately six-week span. But I’m glad we took this approach, because I had way more fun without stressing about the time crunch!

Another reason this Oscar watch was different is that we only watched the nominees for Best Picture (and then, by default, those for Best Director). In years past, we’ve had enough time to fill in the additional categories for acting and writing; you can read about my experience in previous years here, here, and here. But, with a whopping spread of nineteen movies nominated for such categories, and our full-time jobs and (loosely-defined) social lives, we just couldn’t make that happen. But, honestly, after seeing all the Best Picture nominees, I looked at the list of additional movies and realized I wasn’t excited to see any of them. The Best Picture list this year was just excellent enough to make me feel like I wasn’t missing anything worth my time.

I stared typing this on my phone from a hotel room in Raleigh, and I’m finishing it up in the car on the way to Trader Joe’s, because we’re having a weekend away and I kind of forgot to blog until just now. So, I’ll be keeping this short and sweet, just like this year’s #davidsonoscarwatch!

  
This year I posted a micro-review on Twitter after seeing each film, using the probably-too-long hashtag #davidsonoscarwatch16. This was incredibly helpful for remembering my immediate thoughts after the credits rolled! (The only one I didn’t tweet about, I’m realizing, is Mad Max: Fury Road, because we saw it way back the day it was released and the Academy Awards weren’t on my mind so early in the year; suffice it to say, I would’ve given it A+!) Here’s this year’s list of nominees for the Academy Award for Best Picture, listed in the order that we saw them, and with the letter grade I awarded it via tweet:

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road. A+
  2. Bridge of Spies. B
  3. Spotlight. A
  4. Brooklyn. A
  5. Room. A-
  6. The Big Short. A-
  7. The Martian. B+
  8. The Revenant. A

When I list them all out like that, I’m reminded that over half of these films have one-word titles (articles excluded), a fact I noticed sometime last year when Chris and I lost two hours of our lives watching movie trailers when we discovered a program called, and this is not a joke, Nothing But Trailers on our Dish guide, and far too many of the films had one-word titles. (This is probably not a story I should have shared because, at the time, we were horrified to realize that we had actually spent so long literally just ingesting three-minute movie promos, and we should probably be embarrassed by this fact even know. Oh well!)

  
I honestly don’t know what else to say about these films. I know I could die happy if Mad Max won the Oscar for Best Picture, but it’s such a long shot and will likely sweep many of the technical awards (those effects though!). Chris’s prediction is that Spotlight or The Big Short could win because they are about Important Real Things. I enjoyed watching Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, and The Martian, but none of them were the best film of the year. The Revenant was excellent, if not a bit painful to watch.And I’ve not kept my love of Room, an artfully dramatic movie, a secret, but it wasn’t the overall Best Picture of this Oscar cycle, though Brie Larson was arguably the Best Actress in a Leading Role (having not seen all the performances in this category). That film haunted me for days after we saw it.

So I guess instead of having strong opinions that don’t matter, I’ll just wait for the results to roll in on my phone, because Chris and I will be driving back from North Carolina tonight when the ceremony begins. And then we can get a jump start on next year’s #davidsonoscarwatch!

Thankful for What I Have: November Decluttering Challenge

I love our home.

I love the skylight and the floral wallpaper in the kitchen. I love the little window in the bathroom that makes it feel bigger. I love our tall dining table that fits perfectly in its spot. I love the way the afternoon sun pours into the bedroom through the windows.

What I don’t love is the clutter.

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We Davidsons have problem spots: closets, cabinets, drawers, bookshelves. There’s hidden clutter in every room. It causes me anxiety when I know I need to find something cute to decorate for fall that’s buried in our entryway closet; I get frustrated when I can’t find a food item in our pantry and end up buying a replacement. Our clutter drains our time, money, and personal energy.

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I’m over it. I’m going to show my clutter who’s boss this November.

To celebrate Thanksgiving, I am embarking on a decluttering challenge with the theme of thankfulness. In springtime, Ann Marie Heasley of White House Black Shutters does 40 Bags in 40 Days, a “decrapifying” challenge wherein participants remove a bag (typically a grocery bag, but overachievers can do a trash bag) of clutter from their homes each day of Lent. I have loved participating in 40 Bags in 40 Days, but I can’t wait until February – the clutter has got to go now. In the month of November, I’ll be using the hashtag #thankfulfordecluttering on social media while I purge the junk from our problem spots.

Want to join me?

Later this week, I will share my personal plan to declutter my home and be Thankful for What I Have. To get started, I’ve created a calendar to help me keep track of each area that needs to be decluttered this month! If you would like to use it, you can download it at the link below!

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Click here to download the free November Decluttering Challenge calendar!

Need some ideas for areas in your life that need to be decluttered? Ann Marie has a pair of helpful lists that helped me get started! See Areas to Declutter and Non-Stuff Things to Organize to get going.

If you want to come along for the ride, follow me on Instagram or Twitter and use the hashtag #thankfulfordecluttering! I’m already so excited for a cleaner, tidier home and happier us.

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