How do I feel: RELIEVED! I made it to the end and didn't panic, freak out (at least not in public) and was able to eat (almost) enough food (almost) all of the time.
Doing things and keeping commitments is HARD WORK, people! Not because it's actually difficult to not eat certain things, or cook specific ingredients or meals. It's hard because when you change something as elemental in your life as food, guess what? Everything and everyone around you continue to move about daily life as if nothing has changed at all. After all, for them, it hasn't! It's just business as usual. Maintaining your "new" way of operating can be difficult because you're used to using XYZ foods every day, you miss having said foods, or you don't have the time to figure out how to do a dish differently. Also, you might realize things taste different/bad/not satisfying, things you're not supposed to eat are in front of your face all the time and damn, they smell good too, and also because lazy (just being honest).
I am relieved that I was able to commit to a project and execute on it every day. I am relieved that I don't have to blog every single day anymore (no offense, but aren't you sick of me yet?! Lord knows I am!) or worry about letting a reader or two down, or more importantly letting myself down if I weren't able to complete the challenge.
Before we get into answering some much anticipated questions and sharing details with you, please take a second to read this part (seriously, you guys, don't skip forward, this part's important to me):
I want to reiterate my purpose of this experiment: [here's what I wrote on Day 1]
This experiment, while only 30 days, will teach me more about what I’m capable of cooking within ingredient constraints, time constraints and also give me a true idea of my own food preferences, minus all the junk that gets added to everyday ingredients I’m used to using on the fly.
If you know me IRL (In Real Life), you know the following:
- I love a good challenge
- I am INSANELY competitive (but now mostly in a good way, and primarily just with myself)
- I love projects that have a beginning, middle and end
- I love seeing results, being able to measure empirical data, and analyzing how to move forward based on concrete evidence
- I am hyper organized, sometimes to a fault
For the course of this experiment, I’m not going to put up any fake fronts about how I am or am not eating/feeling/looking – you’re going to get the real deal. I’m taking this back to the old school version of blogs, back when they were still “web-logs” (glorified online journals, if you will).
That was the point of this - take a process that many people use or experience for lots of other reasons (to discover food allergies or sensitivities, to help with immune disorders, to change their relationship with food, to feel better or make physical changes, etc.) and approach it strictly for a "what happens to my cooking when I only allow myself limited ingredients" experiment.
Here is a link to the Whole30 program if you are interested in educating yourself about it. I am not affiliated with it in any way whatsoever.
Getting back to how much I like data and understanding deltas now. I wish I would have kept a written log (besides daily posts) of all the vegetables and how many pounds of each I consumed. (yes, I could go back and calculate it all, but we all know that's not happening. Like, ever.)
On the off chance the last 30 days proves to be remotely helpful or encouraging for anyone thinking about embarking on the Whole30 for any reason, I'd like to maintain the transparency I started on Day 1. As you may recall, the Whole30 program recommends you keep track of where you start and end (not vital to my reasons for doing the Whole30, but I know everyone is curious, so why not!) with pictures and measurements.
Last reminder - I’m keepin’ it REAL, this is seriously first thing in the morning, no make up, puffy eyes, right out of bed. I am normal. There are no delusions of grandeur that I look like a model without 2hrs of hair and makeup, and certainly not before 8pm. I do not wear makeup to bed and I am the angriest morning Gremlin you've EVER MET. Seriously, it's rough. You'll see the face I'm making below....that's supposed to be me smiling. Notice how I am not *ACTUALLY* smiling? It's because I haven't had coffee yet.
**Also, please notice all the pictures on the left were definitely taken without my contacts being in, which explains why they're all blurry - I checked them after taking them, but since I didn't have contacts in, they totally looked like they were in focus! HA! well.......meh, whatever, we're not going for picture quality here (obviously).
I don't really notice a difference being in my own body, as in, I don't notice the weight change, size change or any difference in my clothes. But here is what happens when you restrict your ingredients, are in your early 30's and still attempt to workout, run, take dance class, etc. during this process: bust 36″ → 34", waist 28″ → 25", and hips 38″ → 37.5". And lastly, straight up height and weight: 5’9″ → 5'9" (imagine that, my height stayed the same!) and 148lbs → 140lbs.
What I find particularly compelling are the new habits, new culinary practices, new favorite things that have crept into my daily life. As a cook, these are the things that fascinate me and the reason I am so very glad I did this. What you see below is a Chimichurri sauce I recently made from this recipe over at How Sweet It Is. I'm having it tonight on top of one of my other favorite new things - cinnamon pot roast with mint! Post coming in the next few days on my process for this staple sauce.
You may recall I found this awesome recipe for cinnamon pot roast with mint earlier in the experiment and now I've made it three times. A roast can be so very many different cuts of meat. And if you just bother to ask the butcher for "an off cut to roast in the slow cooker" they're more than happy to get you a budget friendly, beautiful piece of meat. This particular combination of ingredients yields a wonderful depth of flavor. And I basically created a sauce starter which I've reused each time I've made the roast. So it is literally cooking itself down into a deeper, more concentrated flavor profile every time I use it! SMART, Sampson, SMART!
I love my new morning routine with all the soft boiled eggs and their luxuriously thick yolks, along with my coffee and almond milk. I am NOT making my own almond milk anymore. It tastes way better, but I've got better things to do with my time, and I just don't care enough to bother. Plus, welcome to saving a boat load of cash by purchasing a container of unsweetened plain almond milk (a half gallon) for $3.25 instead of getting 2 cups (which is? That's right, a quarter gallon....we can do math) for about the same price and an extra 10 - 15 minutes of labor (which always happens to take place at 7am on a Monday when I'm swearing at myself for not realizing I was out during the weekend).
All the fruit with my eggs and coffee - keeping this. I actually am looking forward to incorporating all the extra almond meal I now have in my freezer into my green smoothies as the weather gets warmer. They travel great (for the bus ride) and I will use almond milk instead of yogurt, but keep up with my 2 cups of spinach plus 1 piece of fruit and some cinnamon.
You know what else I totally love now/again? Dates! (I mean the edible kind.) (OH MY GOD YOU GUYS, I MEAN MEDJOOL DATES THAT GROW ON TREES! wow. just wow......you guys are really immature sometimes, you know that?!?!?!) Anyway, (eyeroll) I love having a couple as a snack while I cook dinner, or I can add them to my smoothie for some sweetness, even though I usually won't because I'm not a sweet tooth.
I bet you're wondering what I ate on DAY 31, aren't you? Well, maybe you're not. Maybe you're totes over my food diary. It has been really weird to not keep one, I'll tell you that much. I have done food diaries many times before, but this was different because I was sharing it with all of you, something I'd never done before.
I'll at least share what I had for dinner that night. I made dinner for my friend Bridget, and took it to her house. I made the cinnamon pot roast with mint, and a baby greens salad with kalamata olives, capers, tomatoes and my other new favorite - avocado tahini dressing.
And I even had a glass of wine! That was my first add-in and I picked a red I thought would go with the pot roast. It was fine, but too sweet. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. It was still a nice treat, almost as nice as all the awesome catching up and conversation. Bridget is awesome, funny, talented, smart and fun to spend time with - great friend!
That was part of Day 31. I bet you can guess what I had for breakfast that day, right?
As I move forward, with the reintroduction phase (which I'm now half way through) I find it is hard to really know exactly what I am getting (as I've been dining out a bit more) and sometimes I'll add-in two 'new' things in one day, which I'm not supposed to do, but you know what? I'll live. I am figuring out what ingredients are staying off my plate for the most part, and what ones will get to make guest appearances. Most of all, I'm stoked that I have a new set of foundational standbys like raw almonds for snacks, eggs for breakfast every morning, new one-pot dishes, new sauces and dressings, and with all the seasonal crops changing, I get to explore new produce on the weekly.
Lesson of the day: The experiment NEVER really stops, does it? Extrapolate that in any way you want, it's still true.
Even when something scares you, in fact, especially when something scares you, do it anyway.*
*I can't take credit for that nugget of wisdom, but I will reuse it every day. A very awesome person told me that before I started this experiment, and they were totally right.
Thank you for being a part of this experiment with me, and for your ongoing inquiries, encouragement and well wishes! If you have questions or comments, it would be awesome if you would leave them below, rather than over email or Facebook. This way, it'll all be together. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to finish this croissant. Just kidding.....?