Simplified Food/Fitness and the Whole30

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MyFitnessPal is not a friend of mine.

We were introduced on New Year’s Eve…me, wedged between couch cushions (bloated with the aftermath of celebratory, poor food choices)…him, quietly downloading his little App self into my unsuspecting world.

It was a good relationship for approximately nine days until we spiraled our way into an argument of wills. He brazenly projected his bright red -400 calories back to me after a day of failed restraint. I felt awful.

We broke up.

I finally had to admit it was a “It’s not you, it’s me” scenario. Calorie counting has never been a happy thing for me, although in the context of US eating habits, I’m a healthy eater (it’s an annoying portion size deal). Why would it magically jumpstart good eating decisions on the dawn of a new year (in my 40’s no less)?

At the risk of goin’ Oprah on you, I decided to write down what I knew for sure about what my body needs to be in a happy place…not to mention what my head needs as well, as it attached to said body.

So, big surprise, I found the needs to be simple. I raised my white flag in the face of a very un-simple method that was filled with enemy phone apps and cereal that tasted like the front yard.

1)      Drinking 64 oz of water a day (no small feat when you’re in a classroom all day) strangely always helps with bloat

2)      Not eating after 7:00 works for weight maintenance

3)      Running not only works, but it clears my head in the doldrums of winter

4)      If it doesn’t live in my pantry, I won’t think to eat it

5)      Green smoothies are a wonderful way to get my veges, but also a vehicle for avoiding fattening teacher lounge snacks after the students leave

6)      I cannot be trusted with chips and salsa anywhere in a one mile radius

7)      My Italian-loving palette can be fooled by zucchini noodles

8)      I feel like a wildebeest if my morning exercise routine is skipped

9)      A raw food diet makes my skin glow and I get the “zing-ees” (incredible alertness at  the usual slump hour of 4 pm)

10)   Protein/Vege meals solve my stomach IBS issues and I feel uber-good.

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I’m getting it now that simpler is better when it comes to maintaining a fitness plan as well.

I discovered at age 22 that running agreed with me and the very act of strapping on the Nikes provides momentum to get out there on the trail. I also found 20 minutes, some simple weights, a post-it note of cardio/ab/strength moves, and a swept garage is all I need to do the rest. The mound of work-out videos (a smirking Jillian Michaels at the top of it) loitering in my utility room just reminds me daily of what I’m not doing. Frankly, less has got to be more when it comes to making a commitment at 5:00 am, my work-out time of choice. If it’s not simple I will find every excuse (lint rolling a fleece jacket, anyone?) to avoid getting out there and gettin’ er done.

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In my cyberspace stumbling, I have uncovered a wonderful place.

The Whole 30 has descended into my home and I have been reading like crazy. I’ve dabbled in Paleo over the years, but could never find the strength to completely clean sweep the pantry of snack foods disguised in green and brown packaging with ORGANIC sprawled across the front. THEY ARE STILL SALTY CHIPS (even though 4 out of 5 healthy eaters find them to be a good substitute for the usual chip/salsa fare). The premise of the Whole30 is to eat only raw foods (avoiding carbs) for 30 days. These are the guidelines.  Judging by the forum comments about the degree of detox on specific days (i.e., Day 5: “I want to kill everything”), I’m a bit scared of how I will feel, but I’m going for it as of February 10th. Totally random start date, I realize, but for various reasons, that’s the day. I’m gearing up by eating mostly proteins/veges/fruits/nuts up until then—the hardest part (sadly) is giving up my sweet little glass of wine I enjoy while I’m cooking dinner every night. I feel some self-examination coming on the face of this challenge, and honestly, I could use it. It’s clear that separating the emotional part of eating from “food is fuel” is a hard road for so many of us, but I’m ready to explore the contentment and sanity this view can bring.

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I’m also cracking open this book by the same folks to jumpstart this whole shebang. The science part always resonates with me.

I’m looking forward to the simplicity with this way of eating more than anything. I find that when food choices get complicated (especially when I’m standing in front my open fridge), I get flustered. I don’t want to spend so much time mapping out what goes into my mouth…it’s exhausting. Yes, there will be a fair amount of planning, shopping and pre-cooking items for this upcoming 30 day sojourn, yet I have found that Sunday afternoon works great for that. I like throwing things in my teacher lunchbox on Monday morning, knowing that I have all the snackage I need to get from 8-4. The C.Y.A. factor in my sugary treat laden workplace is KEY.

I’ll keep you posted as to how this little experiment goes. I’m hopeful that it will shut down some old habits and the murky film over my food attitude will be wiped away. I would like to see a simple diet add to the overall simplicity quest in my life in ways I never imagined.

How ’bout you? What do you think of a 30 day challenge of this magnitude?

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The Stuff Dilemma

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It seems that many people numb themselves with stuff.

By numbing, I mean finding comfort and temporary joy in acquiring things (a boat/fancier car/club memberships/a TV in every room/Imelda Marcos shoe collection/etc) instead of facing the music on what is missing or present (i.e., the elephant in the living room). The gamut of American dysfunction comes in many forms, but what I’ve seen swirling around me is loveless marriages, depression, spoiled children, drug and alcohol dependency, debt, insecurity and loneliness. Not to get all “Why are we in this hand basket and where are we going?” on you, but I’m guessing if it’s that visible in my own small corner of the world, it’s running like rampant rats in all areas.  It seems that the rug where all the ick is being swept is beginning to bulge and buckle. At some point the ick needs to be dealt with or it will wedge itself deep into the grooves. A trip to Europe and a new motorcycle will never be enough to patch a major hole that starts to unravel in the family fabric.

Where do we get these messages that stuff will pave the way to a satisfying existence?

And why do so many folks practice score keeping when it comes to said stuff? Pulling up in the school drop-off zone in a Texas-sized SUV with more chrome than an appliance store may create a puffed up “I totally rock this” feeling, but it doesn’t make the man (or woman).  We know this, don’t we? Somehow the mom cliché’ “If your friend jumps off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge too?” comes to mind with such unnecessary purchases. Sleeping under a wool debt blanket eventually causes one to suffocate…hence the disaster we’ve been recovering from in what appears to be a society of broken hearts and wallets.

I am guilty.  I do know “thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s pink travel trailer”, but I couldn’t sleep until we found the perfect Airstream for the Blair Bunch. It wasn’t necessary, of course, but I did have intentions of family bonding and travel adventures when we pulled it into the driveway…you know..next to all the other stuff in the garage. Yet, I have been practicing restraint this year more than any other. I’m well aware there are children in Africa who don’t eat for days—I know this because I’ve been looking at the sweet faces of the Ameena School in Kenya we support on my laptop wallpaper. Their hollow eyes bore into my heart, asking me to examine where my loyalties lie and what I’m going to do about it. The fundraiser we hosted at our home was great, but it has to go beyond one night of money-raising. It has to slip under my daily habitual living like a pea under a pile of mattresses and eventually become un-ignorable.

First, there is purging.

If you walked past my house in the past month you would be in danger of being nailed by jeans and outgrown shoes flung out of windows.  I actually brought coffee to my new friends at the Goodwill drop-off station. I’ve since learned that purposeful giving is far more effective for the recipients, and not to mention, happier for the giver. My girls and I have been dodging Dr. Seuss-looking mile high pile of kids’ books and women’s clothes that continue to be spread around local charities. The best part of this process is that my children actually see where their discarded, sometimes unused, items have value.  It’s sickening how much gear has been placed in the “don’t want this anymore” section of our utility room dropping zone! We’re not a buy-a-Hummer-love-me-some-bling family, but we have an insane amount of stuff that seems to multiply like amorous rabbits.

I’m kickin’ some consumerism tail and takin’ names.

Rather than my first inclination to become a surly recluse and never leave the house again, I’ve decided to put the ky-bash on purchasing anything that isn’t necessary. For my youngest, the necessity of uber-fancy-running shoes from a certain coveted shoe company is not up for debate—thus begins the negotiations of how much she’s willing to contribute. The “We’ll put in a reasonable amount of  $_________ towards this item and you will need to come up with  $________” seems to decrease the perceived value of spendy (read: ridiculously overpriced, cheaply made) foot coverings.

That’s another thing: sense of entitlement.

I’m not just referring to overindulged kidlets, either. Americans in general—we seem to feel that we deserve certain things (even if they live outside of the budget). In the past month I have found unexpected rewards with pitching my glossies and curbing TV watching and blog reading. Fancy shmancy décor magazines and design blogs give me the gimmees…ugly little buggers that create a false sense of “if I don’t buy this rug, I may never complete the shangri-la that is my well decorated home”. It’s embarrassing, actually– something I don’t even feel comfortable admitting. I know some of you folks are with me on this—the gimmees wrestle common sense with an aggressive take-down move that borders on violent. Stand baaaack, Pinterest.

Banishing the visuals of what I’m missing seems to take care of wanting unnecessary things.

I’ve pretty much been having a Serious Talk with myself about how these changes are going to stick. ‘Wanting so much to make these days count with healthy hearts living in simplified homes…people on a quest to make a difference and have experiences together that shape a content, satisfying existence.

‘No need for numbing because they are truly living in a state of joy.

I’m not going militant with a decision to own only 100 things (good grief, how do people do that?) or moving to a tiny (and very, very cute) house behind my parents’ property, but I can tell that the tide of change has come in and I’m up to my knees in it.  I’m willing to go completely under, even if it gets a little chilly.

How about you? What is your heart crying out for these days? And what are you doing about it?

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It’s time.

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Using a sleek modern chair as visual inspiration, I’m reconstructing a world that is simpler, streamlined and lovely.

It’s no easy task. Frankly, I’d rather take out my own spleen with an oyster fork than declutter the garage…but (sigh) I know what I have to do….and I’m well aware that the declutter part is only the top layer of this journey.

I’ve been churning on this for awhile in my very colorful, complicated life. I do love the color in this vida loca, but I’ve also been craving some serious white space.

I will be looking at simplifying my wardrobe, design in my home, diet and fitness, and most importantly…family life. I am determined to temper the ridiculous schedule we’ve been maintaining. There has to be another way and I’m ready to find it!

Our family has found a wonderful escape in the form of a silver bullet we call The Twinkie.

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Our Airstream has already brought a great deal of adventure and fun into our lives. It will be a blast to show what on-the-open-road excursions can do for one’s state of mind….as well as squabbling siblings.

You can read more about my ever-evolving tale of suburban woe here.

‘Looking forward to sharing what I’m learning and what is inspiring this quest! I’m also ready to hear what works for you in your journey.

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 **A major shout-out and hearty thank you to the following smart humans who have led the way…I’m so grateful I found your message**

Becoming Minimalist

Be More with Less

Simple Life Together

The Minimalists

Rowdy Kittens