Saturday, March 30, 2013

Stats & Day 5 recap

We have a little stat update!
Five days into Whole30, and here are some of the changes in our measurements.

Waist (around belly button): 33 inches.  (That's a 3 inch loss!)
Hips (widest part of my hips): 39 inches. (a 1 inch loss!)

Waist (around belly button): 51 & 1/4 inches. (Almost 5 inches!)
Where he wears his pants/belt: 45 1/2 inches.  (1/2 inch loss!)

Day 5 was difficult for me (Mandy). Detox hit me pretty bad, so I feel like my allergies are out of control.  Plus, I have a sty, so... I look particularly lovely.

Nevermind the Saint Patty's Day nails that need to be redone.

So, yesterday, I really wished I would have just gone Paleo rather than jumped into the Whole30 (which is a stricter form of Paleo).  Then I could have Paleo-fied my favorites (cake, for one) and fed my cravings.  But I realize one of the reasons we decided to do Whole30 is to slap that sugar demon down and overcome those fierce cravings... not satisfy them with something "a little healthier".

I made it through, and I am thankful.  The weird thing about being on this diet is that even when I feel cruddy, I feel good.  It's hard to explain it because, I know, that doesn't make much sense, but inside my body, I feel really good. My guts feel good. My heart feels good. My lungs feel good.  My eye may be swollen, my nose may itch, I may have a headache, and my hips may need a major chiropractic adjustment, but inside, I FEEL AWESOME. 

That's a strange feeling because, usually, when I feel bad, I feel bad all over. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

W30- Day four

We are cooking in the kitchen today!

We love working together in the kitchen, so you'll often find us working side by side.  Tonight we were thinking about chicken and dumplings, which, obviously, are not Whole30 approved.  We thought we'd go with that idea though and make a soup that has similar flavors, and chunks of cauliflower instead of biscuity-like dumplings. And, we figured, while we at it, we should make two pots. One for now, one for later.

It's always smart to make extra. Plan on having a day or two or three when you will not feel like cooking and will wish you could just run to Chick-fil-a or Taco Bell.  If you make a little extra every time you cook or bake, you can freeze it or pack it for lunch the next day to avoid extra work.

I've been sleeping really well for the last few nights.  I slept really long, for one thing, which was nice.  I don't know if it's the length or the quality... or both.. but man, that was nice.  When I woke up, I felt like I had a lot more energy and strength. At the job I'm currently working (I'm a superintendent for a commercial construction company), there are three huge, heavy overhead doors that have to be lifted manually every morning. Previously, I was wearing out after the second door, but today I "beast-moded" all three doors like they were tin cans.  Even shocked myself!

Lunch filled me up, and I actually had a lot leftover.  I was completely satisfied 2/3rds of the way through, and Mandy actually didn't include as much meat as she normally does (but to her credit, since I picked on her last time, she made sure I had plenty of her homemade dressing!), so I would have never guessed it would have been so filling. (But she did put in lots of olives this time.)  I thought I would finish it later in the day, but I never did.  Later, I went to James Coney Island and got a water and an unsweet tea.  Avoided the junk.

I didn't feel as groggy as I usually do today. A lot of times, after lunch, I feel like I'm going to fall asleep but I didn't feel that way today!

Think I may be allergic to eggs.  Sometimes when I eat them I feel like I'm having heart palpitations.  So we are going to eliminate them from my meals for a few days and see how that works.

Oh, and I was able to go down a notch in my belt! Yes! My pants were falling down all day. [Gonna have to get that man some 'spenders! -Mandy]

I felt really good when I woke up this morning to make Brandon's breakfast (at 5:30am). I usually go back to bed afterward, and I'm glad I did because today was the day that the sludge hit.  I actually had plenty of energy most of the morning.  I went grocery shopping with all five kids in tow, and was, once again, excited to find that my total was STILL half of what I normally spend a week.  *Fist pump*

I joked with Brandon that our vegetarian/low-meat diet was not only killing him but killing his wallet. Poor guy. I was excited to find a lot of organic chicken on manager's special because the "sale by" date is tomorrow. Loaded up on that stuff!  Anyway, after grocery shopping and lunch, the achy-ness hit me. I'm not sure if it's just the effects of changing my diet or if I need more water.  I think I've been pretty good about staying hydrated, so.. who knows.

I still feel pretty clear-headed, which is good.  Usually my body and my brain are both breaking down at the same time. I also noticed that my face is MUCH clear, so that's awesome! Love having glowing skin!

Happy Almost-Friday, y'all! :)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

W30- Day 3

Day 3 of our Whole 30 Challenge!

  Brandon and I had different experiences today.  After making Brandon his breakfast and lunch, I went back to bed and, later, woke up to find two of my children feeling sick to their stomachs- likely that virus that has been going around.  Only one was throwing up, and after breakfast he was feeling much better. I figured it would be best for them to lay around and do very little, but I had a ton of energy, even though I had a relatively small breakfast (2 eggs, one slice of turkey, and a couple grapes).  I also had a pretty small lunch- a few bites of leftover steak, more turkey slices, and.. what else did I eat? Oh, right, sugar snap peas and carrots.

Like I said, I (Mandy) had a good bit of energy, although I admit I struggled this morning because it seemed easier just to have a slice of toast or skip breakfast altogether.  I'm glad I didn't because I surely would not have had the energy I did (and still do) have so I wouldn't have managed to accomplish all I did.

I ended up cleaning the whole homeschool/playroom, which also meant a lot of rearranging, organizing and purging (not the throw up kind. I mean the throw out/donate kind!), ditto for the living, dining, and kitchen areas.

So, I spent pretty much the whole day cleaning, from morning until evening.  I'm not sure if that was just one of those freak circumstances where I have lots of energy and feel motivated to overhaul the house (possibly driven by the clutter that seems to accumulate when one has five children), or if it is diet related.

Brandon, on the other hand, said he never felt satisfied today (even though he had a big breakfast and lunch). He was very hungry when he got home and was really exhausted and achy. This sounds about right since, in past whole30-like cleanses, he has felt similar around days 3-5.  Plus, he had a mentally exhausting day at work.  Therefore, the result was "GRUMPY GRUMPY GRUMPY HUNGRY" (his words).  "I'm determined to press through, though," he stated.

Because I was still busy putting the finishing touches on the house-overhaul, my husband made a delicious dinner of gumbo, which, yanno, we're Cajuns, so....

Before you say gumbo isn't Whole30/Paleo, I assure you, we adjusted the ingredients to make a dish that tasted very similar to gumbo (I've never liked that thick roux taste anyway).  Instead of rice, we used cauliflower.  If we had fresh cauliflower, we would have made cauliflower rice, but we only had frozen so Brandon placed pieces of cauliflower in the gumbo toward the end, and it soaked up the flavor nicely.  I didn't even miss the rice!  (He thickened it with arrowroot. I know some people feel it's not Paleo because it contains starch, but.. meh.)

I'm thinking I will use cauliflower to make a chicken and dumplings-like soup.  Wouldn't that be tasty?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Before Whole30 Stats


285 lbs (appx 130 kilograms)
Chest: 53 inches
Waist (belly button): 56 inches
Where I wear my belt/pants: 46 inches (typically wear a size 42-44 in jeans though).
Thigh: 30 inches


a little less than 125 lbs (appx 56 kilograms)

Chest- 35 inches
Waist - 36 inches  (oh, great, my baby bulge is bigger than my boobs).
Hips- 40 inches
Thigh- 23 inches

But weren't you guys vegetarians once?

This is a question I have been asked by several folks when I started considering trying what is called the Paleo diet.  (Let me state here that I don't believe in an old world, so I don't agree that the world is millions of years old, but I do agree with many of the findings of those behind the Paleo movement.  But, this is not a blog to discuss the age of the universe or religion.)

I know it must seem strange that I was once a raw vegan, and so I figured it would probably be good to blog about our journey over the last couple years.

My husband and I once owned a barbecue restaurant.  It was right next door to our home, so, as you can guess, we often ate food from our restaurant- mainly fried shrimp,hushpuppies, nuggets, chopped beef sandwiches, dirty rice, and, of course, a bunch of french fries.  In fact, I would say I ate a huge plateful of french fries sprinkled liberally with cayenne pepper at least once a day (often more).

(Spring 2006)

A friend of mine was a raw vegan and was telling me how he overcame various health issues, so I decided to go for it.  That proved very difficult since I wasn't really good with preparing my own food, and I had this tasty restaurant (that I lived next to and worked at a lot of the time) always presenting temptations.  I don't think I lasted very long.

When we moved to Texas, I experienced a chain of miscarriages.  I realized that my diet was likely causing a lot of problems with my body, especially my fertility, so I decided to do "the raw vegan thing" again.  After a couple months of being a raw vegan, we conceived and that baby stuck!  (We had four miscarriages previous to her.) This was the first pregnancy in which I didn't feel deathly ill for the first 20+ weeks.  It was the first pregnancy in which I didn't feel constantly sick to my stomach or struggle to keep down even the smallest amount of food.  I was amazed!

My husband did not do well on the diet. He constantly felt hungry, so I tried adding beans and grains to his meals in order to fill him up.  I had read a lot of information on the importance of not eating meat which I thought was accurate (and some of it is, especially in respect to factory-farmed, hormone- and antibiotic-stuffed meat!), so I thought he would do much better without meat, if only we could figure out foods that would satisfy his stomach and not leave him feeling grumpy and starving in an hour.

This did not work, so we slowly added back meat, mainly sticking to chicken and seafood, with the occasional steak or burger.

Brandon has always struggled with pain.  For much of his life, he suffered from Fibromyalgia, but, by the grace of God, was healed one day when a group of men laid hands on him. While he had overcome much of the pain and suffering from FM, he was still experiencing a lot of aches and pains (mainly in his back) and a real lack of energy.

We tried various things and often went back through periods of vegetarianism and veganism, doing juice fasts and cleanses, and trying to find a way to get both of our bodies back on track. When we found out we were pregnant with Molly Jo, we were during a juice fast and transitioning into veganism and then into vegetarianism (feeling it would be best to take it slow).  Once again, I had a smooth pregnancy- no extreme sickness like I had with the first three- which I related to eating plenty of living, raw foods.

With Evie (left) and Molly Jo

During my time as a raw vegan, I did see major changes.  I gained energy. My migraines disappeared. And of course, my body was leaner.  But I still never felt full, and I had a difficult time getting enough iron (I was severely anemic) so I took various supplements.

So, for the last few years, my husband and I have been on a low or no meat diet with lots of raw, fresh fruits and vegetables, "healthy" grains and a variety of legumes.

So, side note- we homeschool, and in our homeschool lessons, I have been teaching the children about nutrition.  We've learned a lot about cortisol, how our hormones are effected by foods we eat, micro and macro nutrients, etc.

Earlier this month, I had posted a picture of a quinoa dish I had made because I had heard quinoa was really healthy and much better than rice (which our diet was pretty thick with).  Someone commented that quinoa caused inflammation, and I immediately dismissed it.  I mean, there's so much conflicting information out there. Quinoa is healthy and good for us, right?  Especially for those on a low or no meat diet, right?

But her comment stuck with me, so I was forced to research it out, which led me to information regarding the Whole30. I have several friends and many Instagram pals who are Paleo, so I was vaguely familiar with it, but I decided I should research it a bit more.

I was pretty astonished by what I found.  Grains and legumes are harmful to my hubby! I felt pretty bad that I had been making his gut and pain conditions WORSE, even though I was trying to make us healthier! I won't go into detail about that as there is much information out there about grains, legumes, and dairy and how these three things negatively affect the body, directly relating to those who struggle with chronic pain and gut issues.  I'm just saying, the research I found was going right along with what I had already learned (and taught my children) about how our bodies work.

I figure we have tried so many things, it can't hurt to try one more. So that is why we are in the midst of our Whole30 Challenge.

For us, it's not about subscribing to a label.  We just want to feel good.  We want to have energy. We don't want to look like stuffed sausages.  So, we're giving it a try. We can't yet say that it's the way to go or it's working for us, but I do see that some of the similarities between our former raw vegan diet and this Whole30 could be the key to optimal health, that is- no sugar, no grains, no legumes, and no dairy.

We shall see!

W30- Day 1, Brandon

How I felt about going on the W30: 
I've actually been really wanting to get healthier because I've been feeling really lethargic. When I started this current job, I was eating fast food pretty heavily (two meals a day), and I could feel my body being poisoned. I just got to a point where I felt like my body needed a reset. That's why when Mandy came to me and said she wanted to do this diet I was down with it.

Biggest struggle on Day 1:
Not having enough of Mandy's homemade salad dressing for my salad.  My breakfast filled me up and kept me full, as did my lunch.  So it really wasn't a huge struggle today.  I was hungry by supper time (which was running late since we had some things to do in town), but I wasn't losing my mind like I usually am when hungry.

I had cravings for:
I thought about food.  I thought about McDonald's, but it was more like I stopped to pump gas by a McDonald's and thought, "I would sure like a large fry right now. I could probably justify a large fry. It's just potatoes and fat!"  But I decided I would just stick to the diet.

By the end of the day I felt like:
Sleepy.  I felt extremely tired, but I've been really tired for the last couple weeks. I was kind of irritable after supper, but I think that was because I was tired, and I didn't want to get up and deal with anything.  I feel like I am already getting better sleep and having a bit more energy (since I have already been changing my diet before we started Whole30).

On the positive side:
I feel like, since I'm getting such good rest, if I get a few more days of that I might be completely recharged! (It's been a long time since I've gotten good sleep or felt recharged.)

W30- Day 1, Mandy

Day one has come- it's time to get serious.  While I have been following the Whole 30 for most meals over the last week, I did allow myself little treats. I nibbled on a chocolate bar throughout the week, had sweetener in my coffee, had a soda, and enjoyed my last non-W30 meal [Chick-fil-a, I confess]. Now that it's Monday, the official start of our Whole 30 challenge, it's down to business.

I made my husband's lunch last night- a salad loaded with meat, a side of carrots, a couple boiled eggs, sliced almonds for something crunchy, and a Lara Bar in case he needed a snack.  I woke up early to make his breakfast- scrambled eggs and chili leftover from lunch the day before.

I do hope he will be filled and not cranky and starving by dinner, but I realize he will probably be filling a bit hungry and cranky until his body begins to adjust!  We've been through this before (not the Whole30, but a candida diet). He knows how it goes. The first week and a half always seems to be the hardest.

I made a frittata for breakfast and have one piece remaining which will be perfect to put in husband's breakfast or lunch tomorrow.  Shortly after breakfast, my friend Nanci called me to see if I wanted to meet up for lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant.  This posed a little issue because, like I said, FAVORITE restaurant. Whenever I think of Gringo's Mexican Restaurant, my mouth begins watering over the thought of their deliciously creamy green sauce which I could honestly drink, but usually do the dignified thing and just dip my chips in it.  Both green sauce and chips are off limits, and you know how it is.... One usually mindlessly consumes chip after chip without thinking about it.  It's simply reflex when you sit down at the table!

I decided it would best to check the website so I could be prepared to order when I got there, rather than having to pour over the menu in the restaurant while lovely scents wafted over me.  I settled on a fajita salad for myself (no cheese, no sourcream, extra guac) and mixed fajitas for the kiddos. I decided to let them go for the chips, green sauce, and tortillas, although I did mention that it was not on our diet. Surprisingly, they did not go overboard. We didn't have any refills on green sauce, chips, or tortillas as we normally do (which is probably mostly due to me anyway), and there was still plenty remaining.

I had forgotten about the creamy free icecream they offer on the way out the door.  Wow, that was tough. Not only did I have to refuse my favorite chips and green sauce, but the icecream as well!  That's the thing about restaurants and potlucks. When you are at home, you can avoid all those off limit, unhealthy things as long as you keep them out of your house. But when you're out at a restaurant, you will smell and see and taste in the air all those things you may wish you could have.. and even if you don't really want them, just the idea of them being off limits is enough to make you desire them.

But, score- I didn't give in!  Although my stomach is a little grumbly over missing what it really wanted.

This evening, after Brandon arrived home from work, we had some errands to run for friends of ours, so I shoved a take-out box of leftover fajita meat in Hubby's hands and told him to eat up as I snagged a sliced of chicken for myself. We both had a banana before leaving too since it was so close to 5 o'clock and I was pretty sure we wouldn't be back for at least two hours.

We were heading to errand number three two hours later (picking up medicine for my bestie whose toddler daughter had been throwing up for two solid days), and I felt my stomach grinding. When my Hubs ran in to the pharmacy to grab electrolyte pops and such, he brought back mixed nuts (almonds, pistachios, and cashews), and a handful of those helped for a bit.

However, by the time we got back home, I was in full crankster mode, and could hardly wrap my brain around cooking dinner, but I did manage to (garlicky thin sliced chicken on the stove top and garlicky green beans), but then I felt exhausted and my head hurt, so I went straight to bed while the kids graciously cleaned the kitchen (and they did a great job!).

Note to self- getting off the meal routine is not a good idea!  I was glad we did grab snacks this time (which I've been avoiding snacking for the last week) because otherwise I would not have survived.  Correction, no one in my household would have survived.  Who knew I could be so cranky when hungry?  I thought that was just my husband's thing. ;)

Last night we had a delicious steak and a side of asparagus.  Really, if we eat as wonderfully as we have all the time, who cares about all that off-limit stuff!  I was thinking, as I drove home from the restaurant, that I never really have intense, gotta-have-it-right-now cravings for, say, broccoli or roasted chicken breast or frittatas.  I've come to see if I'm intensely craving something, it's likely not because I'm hungry.  Those intense, gotta-have-it-and-have-it-now cravings are normally for things that are not real food. I realize they've been altered to make them addictive, and so it's comforting to know that it's not just me, but that these foods are actually engineered to make me crazy over them.

I'm really hoping to move past those cravings in these next 30 days. I may not ever be fully past them, but hopefully, I can get to the point where I can drive down the street and not have menus of tempting yummies scrolling through my brain as I pass stores, bakeries, and restaurants.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pre-Whole30 [The Befores]

Today I am posting our "befores", which is what we look like now, as I write this post.  We are hoping that, in thirty days, our "after" picture will show a major difference- not just only in weight, but in our posture, our skin, and our smiles!
Hi, we are Brandon and Mandy. Mandy is Texas born and raised, and Brandon is a good ol' Cajun boy (Louisiana). Once upon a time, we owned a barbecue restaurant in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Benefits? All the chopped beef sandwiches, french fries, onion rings, and snowcones we could eat! Down side? All the chopped beef sandwiches, french fries, onion rings, and snowcones we could eat. :-/

We have five beautiful children, currently ranging in age from nearly ten (in May) to one year (just celebrated on Saint Patty's Day!).

At the time of this post, Brandon is 31, and Mandy is 28. (We both have summer birthdays, so we'll be pushing that number up a bit in a few months!)

Here are some recent shots of what we look like now:

Brandon's goal: To lose 40 pounds short term goal (100 lbs, long term), defeat inflammation and overcome pain issues, repair gut, strengthen body, gain energy, sleep better, and breathe better!  I'd like to not feel exhausted at the end of the day so I can really spend quality time with my wife and kids.

Mandy's goal:  To lose the baby pudge,  get my hormones straightened out (these hot flashes, oi!), have more energy, and to feel alert and clear-headed.  It'd be really nice to be able to fit into all those cute clothes I never wear because of how they hug my belly.