Whole30 Week 5 (Re-Entry)

I have to admit that I weighed myself last week. It’s technically not supposed to be allowed on Whole30, because you aren’t supposed to be thinking about your weight during the protocol, but I gave in and stepped on the scale at the gym. I had in fact lost a little bit. I think it’s more the running, coupled with the fact that I have just not been eating as many carbs (I haven’t had any white potatoes, even! Just.. the recipes I’ve been making don’t call for them, so I’ve not been doing it!). I don’t say this to gloat.. if anything, it shows that you will likely lose weight on Whole30, even if you aren’t restricting the amount you eat in any way.

Because it’s not the kind of diet that has anything to do with amounts. I have eaten more food this month than I normally do. I have simply eaten almost no un-food. I did not consume calories that left me empty yet. But I sure as heck never ‘went hungry,’ in fact I felt fully justified in eating any damn time I felt anything resembling hunger because, at worst, it was a misguided sense of biological clock that suggested it, and what was I going to do, overdo it on bananas? So give me the bacon (sugar free), the fried chicken, give me so much soup I can’t sit up properly anymore. Give me the scrambled eggs and the sweet potatoes and all the healthy fats…

I’m not underweight like I was during the dark times, so don’t worry. I’m still within a healthy range, and I’m looking and feeling fit, rather than scraggly. (Like if you need numbers… my ‘normal’ range from Japan life was 125-135, changing seasonally. Lately, I’d been holding steady at 130 for many months now [this is only important to me because I wanted to be able to deadlift my own weight]. In the dark times I was as low as 112. I don’t like to talk about it because everyone thinks stress-not-eating is a better than stress-eating, but it isn’t better, it’s just a different response that is just as unhealthy. However, I’ve been really happy with the 130 readout, and wouldn’t mind a bit more if it came in the form of muscles! The only problem here is that shape changes require new clothes… sigh).

 

Anyway, that confession aside… it’s time to work on re-entry!

 

I am still on the fence a bit about whether to do it in order or to slow-roll it. I think I might do a little of both. It’s a lot of work for me to plan out a daily meal schedule (hah.. hahaha) so for now… I just allowed myself to cruise the grocery store and decided that legumes are not off limits, and neither are things with a negligible amount of sugar.

Re-Entry Day 1 (4/2)

Sunday. I treat myself to the grocery store buffet line and include bacon even though it has sugar in it from the curing. I also get white potatoes which I somehow had not eaten until this day.

I feel more or less the same.

Lunch is a weird mashup of fish and finely chopped carrots, red onion, and celery, all mixed with mustard. Not super good, but passable.

A hearty snack of unsweetened banana chips and almonds, mmm mm.

For dinner I make some baked turbot as fast as I can, because I was tutoring and then RPG-ing and it got late and I was still hungry.

Re-Entry Day 2 (4/3) – some legumes?

Today I actually ate some legumes. Just a little. I used soy sauce in my morning bradycakes and then had a snack in the afternoon that was a little bowl full of dried crunchy chickpeas (kinda spicy!) that were on sale at the store this week. I feel a liiiiittle bit gassy after the chickpeas, but I have also been told if you eat the beans without the rice, you’ll have the gas (but if you eat the beans together with rice it completes the protein and you don’t have gas… I’m not basing this on anything but hearsay)!

Anyway… lunch was leftover turbot and some applesauce (actually this apricot-applesauce, not sweetened or anything — apples are sweet enough!) and some handfuls of banana chips and almonds because I was just bored and munchy.

At dinner time I made some Spicy Cauliflower which turned out pretty good, to go with the last of the turbot.

I guess tomorrow I’m back on the Whole30 for a couple of days, but it’s easier once you’re used to it. I should have tried peanut butter, but we don’t actually have any (Scott eats almond butter and for months I just haven’t).

Re-Entry Day 3 (4/4)

Well the chickpeas are definitely getting blamed for making me gassy. I had another small bowl of them after dinner just for funsies. To be fair, I am not saying all legumes are responsible for this effect, because these are a specific kind of dried product with other stuff in it too (I should have thought about the other ingredients in the spice blend that covers the chickpeas!).

Tuna-avocado bowl for lunch with some chickweed. Generous helpings of banana chips and almonds. A whole pot of coffee (with cinnamon!) in the afternoon (oops…). To be totally honest, I’ve been sleeping rather well with this Whole30 business, even when I have had a whole carafe of coffee to myself in the afternoon. So… you know, there’s that.

I’ve made my peace with eating baby animal so long as it comes from somewhere nearby. I used to buy the stuff from New Zealand, and I got nothing against NZ or their baby animals, but if there is lamb to be had at the farmers’ market from my favorite farm, then I am so down. So I made lamb burgers with non-dairy tzatziki, which is a-ma-zing (the lamb? Or the sauce? BOTH, my friends. BOTH.)… So delicious. A handful of chickweed, the last of the cauliflower, and I’m set to go.

Tomorrow is a day at school, so I’ve got to be ready with packed lunch and snacks!

Re-entry Day 4 (4/5)

Breakfast bradycakes, and then lunch is a great leftover set, including lamb burger and the non-dairy tzatziki, with some cut up carrot and celery sticks to also dip in the tzatziki. I brought along a little hummus for some more chickpea attempts, and dipped the carrot and celery in that too. Plus the almonds + banana chips that has become a go-to snack.

For dinner I do baked salmon with the delicious nuts and herbs and coconut oil (which is still almost painfully amazing), and a round of baked veggies. I use this recipe, although instead of just sweet potatoes, I also used some red onion and brussel sprouts, halved. Made the sauce, too. Delicious, though all told, pretty time consuming.

Re-entry Day 5 (4/6)

Bradycakes breakfast, and leftovers lunch (salmon, yes please, with some of the veggies and sauce to go on ’em!), with the snack of almonds + banana chips, and applesauce.

For dinner I make Mexican Pressure Cooker Beef, and then later do some Brussel Sprouts Slaw. I end up really frustrated because of my evening schedule having to build around an online lesson smack in the middle of everything (from 6 to 7pm), and the MexiBeef being done looooong before the veggies. I’m frustrated again by how long some of these things take to make, and how much prep is required. (The beef is relatively easy.. the slaw is a timesuck. I just keep making it because it is tasty. And I love Brussel Sprouts Chips.)

Re-entry Day 6 (4/7)

Bradycakes as usual for breakfast (now I’m doing combos of blueberries and smashed up frozen raspberries), and leftovers for lunch — the last of the MexiBeef is coming to school with me (along with a tiny thing of cilantro leaves) and a container of sprout slaw.  And a baggie of almonds and banana chips of course, the last of them (until grocery trip).

I stare longingly at muffins that are offered to me, leftovers from a class breakfast before a field trip.

In fact, I know they are in the staff room right now, and that are calling to me. I don’t even like this particular flavor of muffins, but oh, muffins as a class of food… I almost broke for thee. I wondered, why not, I mean, I’m done with the 30. But gluten-bearing grains with that much sugar aren’t supposed to come til later. And if not later, then I wanna wait for a muffin flavor I really like to consider worth-it enough to capitulate.

Still. IT’S HARD TO SAY NO THANK YOU TO FREE MUFFINS.

Also there is nothing left for dinner in the house, so we end up getting burgers. I do my best, but I’m pretty sure there was a little dairy in the sauce that was a little bit still on the burger I ate. No bread or cheese or whatnot. Um, but also fries. Ingredientially fine, habitually problematic, and so delicious. Probably not okay. But I sleep well.

Re-entry Day 7 (4/8)

Grocery store in the morning, and a huge helping of the old standby (eggs n’ sweet potato hash).

Today I threw in the towel and had some shwarma from Newroz Market. Worth it! The first bread I’ve had in a loong time, and it was so good. Very fresh (made in house), and the seasoning on the meat (I opted out of sauce because I still wanna keep away from dairy and sugar as much as possible) was amazing, and they are a Halal place, so I figure it’s gotta be clean stuff. This sandwich was delicious. Also, it was way past lunchtime and we were tooling around south of town, totally pushing the foodclock.

I did take a nap later that afternoon, and I can’t say it wasn’t the breadcarbs, but still worth it.

 

 

 

I’ve been having technical difficulties (ranging from forgetting my power cable places, limiting my computer use, to losing home internet until a new modemrouter is shipped)…. so I’m gonna go ahead and post this, although it might need some edits later. I just wanna post it so I can leave this internet-having place and go to internetless home.

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Where your ‘pissed-off’ meets the world’s need

Just before Martin Luther King, Jr.’s calendar day, I was half-listening to the daily presentation/devotional at the school where I sometimes work as a substitute. It’s a Christian school, and the presentation that day was by the lady who runs the on-campus service learning center. She was encouraging the kids to take advantage of the no-school Monday to engage in community service.

At that school, all students have community service built in to their graduation requirement. Like most mandates, this has the effect, for many, of being another box to check. How many hours do you have left to do? What events can you attend that will count towards it, and when will you be done and able to let it go and focus on other things. Which I get. I still like that they have to do it, though, because it might have a chance of leaving some trace of impression on at least some of them, and when it comes to shaping high-schoolers, I have learned that you can’t make them appreciate what you want them to appreciate – you can lead those flighty young horses to water, but that’s it.

Anyway, after reminding them and us that Dr. King said anyone can be great, because anyone can serve, she projected a quote.

“Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.” (Frederick Buechner. Although the quote may more accurately be “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”) She said that where your joy meets a need in the world, that is where you must serve.

And I was thinking about this, and had just recently finished reading A Man Called Ove, which if you haven’t read it, first of all, please do, and second of all, you should know it’s about a curmudgeon who does not seem to feel much nor express any joy. Where he serves is where he gets irritated. And I sort of laughed to myself and thought, for some of us, maybe instead we should serve where our greatest pissed-off-ness meets the world’s need.

And then I started to think about what pisses me off.

I like to think I’m a pretty easygoing person, that I love things, and that hate has no place for me. But I hate waste. I just hate it, and I always have. This is in my sociological DNA. I am a product of two sides of the same coin — and while I don’t actually have a memory of my parents telling me “Waste not, want not,” it was encoded into the way they were brought up, because their parents had no choice. So even though, as I live in modern America, I do typically have a choice, I am still an echo of my grandmother who nearly starved to death in Europe during the Second World War.

It isn’t only food waste that I hate, because I hate wastes of time and other things as well – materials, produced things, energy. I hate wasted effort, even.

The only other thing I hate is carelessness that leads to wanton destruction. So, people who text and drive and thereby endanger everyone else on the road at that moment? That makes me angry. People who can’t be bothered to find a trash can (to say nothing of any attempts that could be made to like, I don’t know, reduce trash in the first place) and who just throw their shit out the car window? Yeah, that makes me strangely apoplectic, which can be absurd as there is usually no one around by the time I’m walking across that parking lot and there is just trash strewn about. It also pisses me off when our landlord puts yard waste (like branches or whatever) into our trash can — because fuck, those are just sticks! Sticks don’t need to take up space and emit gases in a landfill as they decompose! They need to just decompose and enrich the fucking soil or something!

 

Okay. So I guess there are actually a lot of things that piss me off.

The problem with motion motivated by your greatest anger rather than your joy can be how overwhelming the negative can feel. I’m never gonna be able to stop assholes from throwing trash out of their cars, even IF I were to run up on one of them and give them what-for. Even if I take the branches out of my own trash can, I can’t stop the landlord and anyone else on the block from putting sticks in their own trash cans.

My pissed-off hits the pavement in a place where I kinda feel powerless.

But, that doesn’t mean things aren’t happening. I’m kind of heartened when I see other people and other groups moving on the same stuff that bothers me. I did a few mornings with the Nashville Food Project, gleaning from Whole Foods (which was actually really quick, just cruising through and picking up the stockpiles of donations they had set aside for us), sorting and then helping a bit with food prep. It’s encouraging to see that there are in fact some systems in place to scoop up the unsold food and repurpose it.

Over winter break, I was part of a group discussion about gleaning ugly vegetables for processing (chopping, freezing, etc.) to sell to local restaurants, so that the restaurants can boast “local produce,” and the ugly stuff can be consumed instead of just picked over because it isn’t perfect looking. (Because heck, if you’re in a grocery store and you have a massive bin of apples, you’re going to pick the nice ones. Why shouldn’t you? Even I do this. I could very easily nom on the misshapen one, or cut off that tiny tiny bruise or bad spot, but why should I?) But I’m starting to see ads on social media for a home-food-ingredient-delivery service that does just this out of Cali.

While I’m disappointed that it seems that boat is sailing without me, I am also glad to see it’s sailing.

I also just signed up for Compost Nashville, because through a series of misadventures in composting by myself, I have finally given and and admitted I should leave it to the pros. But I’m glad there are pros. And I feel like… I could be one, too, I would just have to narrow my focus and choose it.

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Obsessive Tendencies

For the past few days, I’ve been thinking a great deal about something.

It almost borders on obsession. And normally, that’s cool. When I’m having a fangirl moment, I can turn to outlets like this blog, and then whether my devotion is temporary or long-lived, it gets expressed, and I can move on.

Friday, for the first time in a long time, I locked my keys in the car. To me, doing this is a signal, a sort of symptom.* You are massively preoccupied. It normally correlates to a weird kind of anxiety, a spacey kind. My normal anxiety leads me to fastidiously check on things, to pat my pocket before I shut the door, to follow the habits I’ve built to guard against this very accident. There’s a level of nervousness that drives this, because ain’ nobody go the time or the money to deal with a lockout.

But when those safeguards fail, and when I slip into that weird stare-at-the-wall-before-breakfast kind of melancholic anxiety, well… that yields different results. (One of which is enlisting the help of one math teacher, one security guard, two maintenance men, and the locksmith [huzzah] friend of said maintenance man to assist in breaking in to your car. A little scratched paint and gritted teeth, but no $80 fee.)

I won’t say this recent preoccupation is the direct cause of this event. But I am observing that they are happening around the same time.

It isn’t something people discuss in ‘polite company.’ It’s money.

I prefer not to think about money. This was all fine for some of my working life. I have no idea how it worked in Kansas, but somehow we lived within our so-meager means. In Japan, we were basically subsidized foreign explorers without much (most of us, anyway) in the way of responsibilities (most JETs don’t have families to feed, although some do have debt). It puzzled me for a little while, that we as JETs were making the basic equivalent of 36K a year, and that was such abundance, but the thing is, my expenses were quite low there – subsidized rent (I paid less than half what I now pay), plus no US income tax for those years meant that the 36K was pretty much the take-home pay. They were also good years to be earning yen because the dollar was up at that time. I digress. What I mean is, there was hardly a question of having enough, even given our desires and propensities to travel on breaks and try things like skiing for the first time.

 

I have what I call “obsessive tendencies,” which have been observed to serve me well in some ways (I can pretty much ascribe at least half of my good-grades record to these tendencies), but which can be massive bringdowns in other circumstances.

When I obsess about something, pour my energy into thinking about it, it’s not really voluntary. I could probably force myself to stop thinking about whatever it is for at least a little while, but it would take a massive effort, possibly some chemical assistance, and I think all the while some part of my brain would still be gnawing on it, unable to let it go.

This is part of what makes teaching a potentially terrible career choice for me. Teachers are never done anyway, but if you can’t learn to shut it off and take time to be a real person, you’ll eventually implode. I kind of imploded. I did learn resistance, but it still took such an effort, and yielded such half-assed results, that I ended up leaving the job at the end of last school year despite not having a solid plan.

When I was a teacher, I didn’t really have to think about money, either. I was still making more than I spent, though not by much (and partly because I had no time to go and spend it on things), so I didn’t crunch numbers and I didn’t really think about it.

Now, though, because I work three jobs, I do think about it. I have a spreadsheet that I built to help me calculate how many hours I need to schedule for myself in a given week to ‘break even,’ and I just recently recalculated it and re-calibrated it to a more realistic set of numbers (using actual averages, rather than just budgeted projections of what I hope I think I spend), and I had to face the sobering reality that I’m still not making ends meet. I’ve been losing money for six months now. Some months more, some less, and to be fair, I have a cushion (thanks, Japan life), but the fact that it’s happening, that I can calculate it and see how much it is happening, is something that has begun to weigh on me.

Sometimes, I crunch out the numbers and schedule out the week, and then the week flies by, and I feel like I have converted all my time into dollar signs, and my time is actually meaningless, because I’m spending all of it just to scrape up as much as I can, to slow (not stop, not yet) the hemorrhaging of funds from my savings account.

It sort of fucking sucks.

It’s a spiral of suck, in some ways. What I hate most about it is how stingy it makes me, how ungenerous of spirit, how I start to see things in terms of guarding what’s mine, how selfish it makes me feel, like I have to be selfish, even unto myself — I can’t ‘afford’ to give myself time off and must relentlessly make myself work more hours so that I can try to break even this month.

It’s also existentially depressing, seeing all my time as portioned off, and not really seeing tasks to accomplish, but rather hours to be invested, hours of billable work. If all my time is to be portioned out thusly, what purpose is really in any of it? It makes me appear reduced, even in my own eyes, to a stack of hours in a column on a calendar.

I recently heard a podcast about scarcity, so I wanted to share the link for that here as well. It’s Hidden Brain: The Scarcity Trap. I think my obsessive tendencies do relate to this in some ways, although I don’t want to act like I’m in the truly dire straits faced by some. I just have this terrible fear of getting into those kinds of traps, and, perhaps pompously, feel that I shouldn’t have to worry about that, because I am an intelligent, educated, practical and capable young woman.

I also fear that I will look back on this time and think, man, I was so free to determine my own schedule, and I didn’t even take advantage of it. I should have let the bank account slip a little bit, and taken the time available to me to do more creative projects and invest time in things like relationships, and learning new things.

If, in the future, I am in a somewhat demanding, structured, and decently paying job, I can totally see myself looking back in this way. From that vantage, where money is not an issue anymore, the value would then be placed on time and freedom as a resource, and I will look back at myself worrying about money and think it must have been silly to do so, because I ‘should have known’ it would turn out okay, that I would end up with a decent ‘real job’ that I could tolerate and which would replenish what savings were lost. But from here, where that future is not guaranteed, it’s hard to not obsess and worry about the money stuff. I’m torn between these two realities: the obsessive tendencies and the spreadsheets with numbers, and fighting against turning myself and my life into just numbers.

I’m more than that. Right?

 

 

Anyway, better go. Time’s a-wastin’ and I had scheduled this to be billable time. Better go clock in.

 

 

*It always makes me think of the day I locked my keys in the car twice. In one day. Back to back. It was utterly stupid, but it happened during a time of high stress when I didn’t think I was feeling stressed.

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Whole30 Week 4

Day 25 (Monday, 3/27)

I made butternut squash cakes for breakfast, along with an egg. But my cakies did not look like that. I have a tendency to try to flip things too soon if they are in a pan and require flipping. If you read that recipe, you’ll notice that nothing holds the cakies together except the act of being fried together. I’m not good at this. So I mostly had a mashy pile of hot butternut puree with some crispy bits. Still good though, still quite good.

So… if something is tasty, you just keep eating it.

For lunch, I had leftover halibut and cabbage slaw.

I had a snack of almonds and some dried apricots (basically candy… whoa, remember candy?).

For dinner, I had leftover halibut and cabbage slaw. This wasn’t super nice of me, because after that there was no ready food for Scott. (Sorry!) Oh, and the rest of the butternut puree, I ate that too. So remember how I said there is no substitute for ice cream? I was wrong. This is it. This shit is amazing. Although it’s basically baby food? I do not want to stop eating it, and am stopped only by the bottom of the tupperware. It was good warm, and it’s good cold too.

Day 26 (Tuesday, 3/28)

Breakfast! Is more of those mashy butternut cakes and an egg. I do better with the butternut stuff this time, but it’s still not holding together well. It’s still tasty, though.

For lunch I experiment a little more with eggs and make some Thai-style omelettes, which turn out better than I expected. Before making these, I put some short ribs in the slow cooker, although they will at this point not be done til like 9pm.   ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Whilst waiting, I pull a redux of the brusselsprout slaw, and it is again very good.

Day 27 (Wednesday, 3/29)

I start dinner first thing in the morning! Because it’s kalua pig slow cooker.

Breakfast is the last of the butternut squash cakies with some bacon. And an egg.

Lunch is the rest of the short ribs and my first try of cauliflower rice (just the frozen kind you get in bag), which was not half bad when drowned in shortrib sauce. Oh and some of the leftover Brussels sprout slaw too. And later like a million almonds because I was so bored trying to make myself work on grammar rules for the ACT.

Later I make some more red cabbage slaw, because I still have some sauce and half a red cabbage and we need a side for the massive amount of meat that will be ready in a few hours and Scott said he liked it! (Many reasons)

I premake tomorrow’s lunch too (some avocado tuna on greens, etc.) because I’m not working from home tomorrow..! Ahh!

Day 28 (Thursday, 3/30)

Back to raspberry bradycakes for breakfast, and my lovely pre-packed lunch of tuna avocado salad, the rest of the broccoli slaw, an apple, a banana, and a bunch of almonds.

After my programmer school interview I scarfed the ’emergency food’ Larabar I had stashed in my car, too. I immediately regretted it, because it was rather sweet (mostly dates), but also I wasn’t hungry, so that means I was eating it out of some kind of reward reflex or comforting ritual. I may have changed the ingredients, but I haven’t changed my mind, and it’s been 28 days!

For dinner I puree some curry-broccoli soup and fry up some of the pork to put in just as suggested. It’s really tasty, especially the bites with pork.

Day 29 (Friday, 3/31)

Going to work again (and locking my keys … and my lunch… in the car), same ol’ breakfast, and lunch is some pork, and some of the red cabbage slaw. Also a bunch of almonds and some dried apricots.

I snack on these anyway because unlike Thursday, on this day I do not have an interview, so I am not as worried about the adverse effects of the sugars dried fruit seems to be having. I’m blaming the ingredient-fine but consuming-wise-not-fine Larabar from the day before for making me feel so blah most of this day. I didn’t end up eating the pork, because I wasn’t near a microwave and didn’t want it cold.

More soup for dinner (again with the pork in it.. yum!), and some applesauce for dessert.

Day 30 (Saturday, 4/1)

This is funny. I didn’t realize my day 30 of Whole30 would fall on April Fool’s Day, but it’s totally appropriate, because do you think your Whole30 experience is over?! Time for cheeseburgers, milkshakes, and beer?! HAH! Think again! You still got like 12-15 days of re-entry protocol if you wanna do it right. Last year, I didn’t do this part right. I was so focused on making it to 30, that I paid no attention to what comes after 30. Not so this year! Whole 45! Whole forever! Okay that’s pushing it a bit…

Anyway, breakfast (and lunch, because why not eat the same thing twice in a row) is a return of the sweet potato hash and eggs! So good, and so stabilizing. I’m ready for something I know does me right, after almost a whole day previous of uncomfortable gas.   >.>

Dinner is gonna be leftovers (soup, pork, and red cabbage slaw).

 

It’s time to start looking at reintroduction plans!

Honestly, I will probably stay Whole30 until I have figured out exactly where this gassy feeling is coming from. I’ve blamed the dried fruit, but there is some possibility that it’s the almonds. I don’t want to test and falsely blame one of the reintroduction groups by going in too soon. But, I still want to start planning to buy and make some of this stuff!

Also, I’m really excited about non-gluten grains, because Scott has been toasting these gluten-free waffles that smell great and I really miss the waffles (and the muffins.. because muffins are like cake, but without the icing, and that is my favorite kind of cake).

Maybe I’ll take the slow roll… there are still a lot of compliant recipes I haven’t had a chance to try yet. Plus, planning an eating schedule that places the reintroduction in order and on the scheduled days seems like a lot of work.

 

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Whole30 Week 3

Doing this Whole30 is reminding me of last year, and I’m seeing how different my life is now compared to then. Of course, that one was one year and about a month ago, so it was colder and more February..ish, but there are big differences in my work life, and most of them are positive. Although I’m not enamored of my job (or rather, my compilation of three mini-jobs), and although I have to budget a lot more carefully this year than last, I’m just so much less stressed than I was. I have time to do stuff to unpack my brain, and that makes a huge difference in your quality of life. We did make Whole30 work, then, but that was all we could do on top of managing workload. I could not also be doing any other creative or health projects at the same time.

I’ve started a running.. thing. Well, so far it’s not running really. But I’m trying to stick to a “Couch to 5K” plan. Eight weeks to 2.6 miles seems like about the right pace for me. So far, I don’t love running, but I am finding it less painful. Running, I hear, is good for your brain (as is taking long walks, as is eating lots of fats… yes please?). I’ve also struggled in the last couple of years with poor circulation (typically in winter) and occasional weird feelings in my chest/heart area (not pain, more like a weird flip-floppy feeling like my heart is beating out of whack for just a beat or two). I’ve never had good endurance, so I’ve also never worked on it, leading to a perfect circle of no improvement.

Anyway, on to Whole30, week 3!

Day 16 (a Sunday, 3/19)

A couple of quick eggs and some fruit is breakfast, and then Scott and I go out for a scramble (for him) and black coffee (for us both) at Red Bicycle.

For lunch I munch on a short stack of mini-okonoms, because dinner is going to be big.

Whole30 can make it hard to go to restaurants, but I actually called around to a few places to see if anyone would be able and willing to accomodate my crazy diet for Scott’s birthday dinner. I settled on Rolf and Daughters, a place we know we like, because the hostess assured me on the phone that they had a chicken dish that I could definitely eat. Honestly, all I was looking for was one thing, so that I could participate (and not sit there with a weirdly empty plate having pre-eaten my dinner at home ahead of time) but Scott could have whatever he wanted.

Our waiter was solicitous and helpful, and it turned out I could eat several things on the menu. We enjoyed the hell out of some butternut squash with salsa macha (cheese on the side) and some beef tartare before going to town, Scott on some mushroom mafalde, me on some “non-dairy” made chicken (normally made with butter, but they cut it for mine).

Their menu changes with regularity because they do seasonal dishes and are always inventing stuff, so here’s a snapshot of what we had on offer:

RAD menu

The chicken liver dish (aka “meat butter” to us) was clearly different than the other times we had been there, but Scott confirms that it was just as awesome. The waiter told me they could do a non-dairy alfredo too, but I declined because.. pasta (although they were also talking about gluten-free stuff.. I tuned it all out because for now at least, grains are grains). Anyway, major props to RAD for making our night out not only compliant but also delicious. You should know that we have never had a bad dish there, and their drinks are also always on point (though I did not experience that this time). It’s in Germantown, 700 Taylor (in case you’re in Nashville and want a kickass meal). Although watching Scott eat his dessert was like a study in mindfulness…. no itch is eternal. Observe your own sensations and desires… acknowledge them and yet do not compulsively indulge them. Whole30 is like meditation! I stared wide-eyed and sipped my decaf black.

The chicken dish is literally half a bird (a small one, but still), so I took some of it home with me.

Day 17 (a Monday, 3/20)

Back to life, work, and reality…  But still, raspberry bradycakes for breakfast! Leftover chicken from the night before is lunch, along with the last of the mini-okonoms. I have curry-powdered some of my homemade mayo, and it’s a good topping for these.

Sweet-tater hash ‘n eggs again for dinner… this has become a solid standby, quick, easy, and all on hand when all else fails or other ingredients have run out. We normally go to the store on Sundays, but not this week. Scott picked up a few things on the way home, but I’m working on a massive list with lots of contingencies (get this, but not if it’s crazy expensive, and if not getting this, then skip this, this, and this because they are supposed to go together…). It’s a project.

Day 18 (a Tuesday, 3/21)

Breakfast was a smoothie with the last of the applesauce, and….

Today I make my own sausage! Because it doesn’t have to be a mystery what’s in the meat (and lots of them have sugar involved, go figure). I picked this recipe because it had the shortest ingredient list. I get that spices are part of what can make a Whole30 not only bearable but actually great, but I’m also wary of spending a lot of money on something I won’t use all that much or am not that familiar with. Basically, I’m skittish of spices despite loving them. So a sausage recipe that calls mostly for stuff I have already is gold.

Later in the day, Scott came back proffering some asparagus and a frozen grouper filet, so I cooked them both in the evening. (Didn’t have a shallot, so just threw in most of a red onion… of course the fish recipe you switch out butter for ghee, and you’re good to go.)

I’m finding that when I eat, I feel really satisfied. Of course it may just be that I’m smug in the knowledge that I’m eating superiorly… or else, it may just be that I’m truly satisfied because the stuff I’m eating is flavorful and nutrient-rich, so my physical response is a genuine satisfaction in it. I don’t even want dessert today.

My energy levels seem really good, nice and even. Whole30 has not fixed my natural awkwardness (which is actually exacerbated by my working from home and spending most of my talking time with non-English speakers… also, I have never read any claim of Whole30 amending awkwardness), and I was about to say it hasn’t fixed my crankiness, but actually I think that’s more even-toned (though not gone). That is to say, I’m still in a rut in most of the life stuff, but it’s not existentially threatening. I’m aware that the rut is no fun, but also that I hate change, but also that change is inevitable in life, so I’m kind of screwed either way and also sure to get out of this rut either way. So… there you are.

Day 20 (a Wednesday, 3/22)

Sausage and eggs and banana for breakfast.

I’m getting worse at writing this stuff down, because I’m obsessing about it less. I eat what’s around.. leftovers if there are some (That reminds me! Lunch was leftover fish and asparagus!), and if not, I grab a can of tuna and an avocado, or else a sweet potato and an egg. When I am hungry, I eat something (sometimes small, a banana, sometimes big, a whole can of tuna + two avocads on greens).

I find myself a pretty trustworthy judge of whether or not I’m actually hungry. For the most part, I’m responding less to habit-cravings and more to actual food needs. Though sometimes I do just want to snack on stuff because I want to, because it’s midafternoon and I’m bored, or I want something sweet.

But I don’t miss muffins today. Weird, huh? Not that I won’t be glad to have them back, I’m sure… just doesn’t feel as important right this moment.

Day 21 (a Thursday, 3/23)

Bradycakes again! Raspberry… apparently I don’t get tired of stuff easily. Or, I like routine.

Lunch is tuna avocado on some tore-up greens from the farm stand, yum indeed.

Dinner is the rest of the avocado mess on some more greens plus a fried egg with runny yolk (on top of the avocado mess), and a microwaved sweet potato with pumpkin pie spices (that is, all the spices I bought when I made pumpkin pie from seed — cinnamon, cloves, mace, ginger [not this time], allspice, cardamom — I often use these in oatmeal with dates for a yummy low sugar breakfast [when I could eat oats, remember then?])

Day 22 (a Friday, 3/24)

Bradycakes and sausage for breakfast, and some chicken (roasted by the grocery store) for lunch. Clearly not enough, so I end up eating a Larabar in the afternoon because so hungry!

Today I made beef and onions in a combination kind of similar to larb beef that I order from Thai Esane when we go, in an effort to catch a gustatory glimpse of a dish we had in Luang Prabang, Laos. This is the recipe, although I made it without cabbage (..?) and with shiitakes instead of buttons… also, I still maintain that anything that claims to be a lettuce wrap is just as good if you make it a ‘lettuce plop,’ and throw it on top of shredded greens. This dish was quick and fairly easy, also tasty. Probably better with cabbage.

I still haven’t been to the grocery store myself since I got back from Georgia, so I’m just cooking up whatever Scott brings home when he hits the store after his workout event or roaming the town.

Day 23 (a Saturday, 3/25)

Breakfast as usual, lunch of leftovers. I’m almost bored by this and uninisterested in trying to make anything fancy.

I do head downtown to the finish line of the Ragnar race to see if I can catch my friend who ran in it. I miss her, but I find a stand selling what they are calling “Whole30 approved” smoothies, so I get one, and it’s cocoa-banana and I can tell it’s unsweetened, but it’s kind of amazing.

I polish off the rest of the pseudo-larb for dinner. A sweet potato with spices and ghee rounds out the evening.

Day 24 (a Sunday, 3/26)

Breakfast is a quick egg with shiitakrooms, because it’s grocery store day! I went a little nuts there, but now I can start making cool recipes again.

At lunchtime, we attempt to do egg-in-an-avocado-hole baked in the oven, and we also nom down some leftovers. Later I whip up some butternut squash puree along with some squash cake… batter? for later.

Tonight’s dinner is awesome. I bake up some halibut and toss a side of red cabbage slaw. Re-interested in cooking, I try to figure out what my schedule will be in the week ahead…

 

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Fill Out the Form!

There’s a little piece of a memory that sticks with me, from a high school field trip I took with drama club. Once we arrived onsite, we were allowed to pick workshops, and since I was a senior (I think?) I ended up in one about college and scholarships.

Whatever. The details, clearly, did not stick with me, but one thing the speaker said did:

“Half your group isn’t here, and why? Because they didn’t fill out the form!”

This is my personal version of those classroom-wall posters with the basketball players that say “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

If you want something, you’ve gotta fill out the form! So I’ve been filling out forms lately. One was for Nashville Software School.

Back in September, I talked to college hallmate John Q., who also went JET after graduation, and has since moved back to Nashville. I had a habit then (and for the several years leading up to this encounter) of offhandedly and only half-jokingly asking anyone I talked to if they could get me a job. John said he’d done a six-month boot camp at NSS and had gotten a fine job, now lived in the Gulch (sidebar — when we were in college, we used to joke that “The Gulch” was the up and coming neighborhood because it was pretty literally a mudhole where extra train equipment was stored. Now…. well, see the photo evidence here if you like), and you know, had a life and stuff. And I was just like, that sounds kind of nice, maybe I’ll do that too (har meaningful har).

I kept it in the back of my mind, but didn’t make any real moves on it. Then one evening at yoga, I ran into another repatriated JET friend, whom I knew mostly because of Peer Support Group. We had both been trained listeners who linked our house phones to the system once or twice a month to await any JETs in need of an English listening ear. I happened to be in a particularly vulnerable frame of mind that evening for whatever reason, some combination of Winter and Work (or lack of structure in) and Social Problems or what have you, so things almost got tearful on my side as we took a very brief moment to catch up (I didn’t even want to… it was a keep you head down and get out kind of night). But as we did, he mentioned that he too had gone through NSS and now had a job with reasonable hours and decent pay, and that he was quite happy with it.

And I, who love signs, decided I might as well fill out the damn form. It’s a long form, and took some work on my part, but I eventually did it. I get really caught up in the details when I am filling out the forms, especially in essay-form answers, so it takes me a while to be satisfied with my answers. I also decided I needed to spend some time doing free tutorials online, so I’ve done some of that (less this month, though), in order to Not Make The Same Mistake Again (re: teaching, although pretend teaching and being a teacher in this country at this time is not the same either). So my interview is later this month.

 

Another form I’ve filled out is an application for the World Nomad’s Travel Writing Scholarship, which also took forever because there was a strict 2,500 character (that’s letters, not words, and includes spaces) limit on your writing submission, so of course I wrote an extensive 4-page thing that covered all 3 of the possible submission topics. My mom helped me cut it down to a more reasonable size, and I eventually had to cut a lot of the stuff I liked, but we managed to wedge it into the character limit.

I’m not a huge fan of it, because I feel like I have a lot more to say and would rather tell this story with more words and even a few pictures, but if you would like to read my submission, you can find it here: Way of the Day.

Preparing for filling out this form had me going in all sorts of fun directions. On one hand, I was looking back at my Cambodia journal and photos, remembering and trying to convey in word-limit the way everything looked and felt, and the impression that our guide, Yut left (another shameless plug, if you find yourself in Cambodia on vacation, hire him, he is amazing).

balkansnatgeo

Wanna read it? Click here.

I started reading about stuff in the Western Balkans, since part of the form asks which two countries you would want to visit. I figure this is for visa-getting purposes but also to require you to do some research on your own. So I made a list of all the things I read about that I thought were cool and that I would want to visit or experience, then made a tally of which countries these things were in. This was wholly unhelpful and I ended up just picking two, Serbia for raspberry festival and Montenegro because holy shit nature wow, and figured that would be a good balance to report on if I were to go.

I also did some light digging about the World Nomads scholarship mentor, and read some of his stuff. I nabbed The Best American Travel Writing 2015 from the library because he has a piece in there (and have now been reading the other stuff in there too). I read his article about the Peaks of the Balkans which you can see here. This hike was one I’d read a bit about from the rabbit hole of links, and it goes through three countries. I could not do the whole thing, of course, and I don’t know the logistics of doing any of it as a solo tourist, but in principal it appealed to me.

 

As you can see, filling out forms is a thing I take pretty seriously, and it takes a lot of time and research for me to feel like I’m doing it to the best of my ability. So, if you have been wondering what else I have been up to when I’m not working… mostly those things. I have a few other ‘forms’ I am interested in filling out, one of them three times as massive as this scholarship one has been, so that will take some doing.

I’m aware that any one of these forms getting a hit could change my life, even rather drastically. Or, it could be a total miss. I sometimes hesitate to fill out the forms because I’m not sure I’m ready to go into whatever the thing is I’d get if the form ends up a hit. In other words, I’m scared of success, especially success that brings change. This may seem counter-intuitive or even anti-American(!), but I think it’s also kinda natural.

…I do at some point intend to get back to my novel and give it the attention it deserves, but I keep saying I’ll do that once my ‘work schedule’ is ‘under control,’ which is like saying ‘never.’ My work schedule requires me to build it and continuously adjust it every single week, almost every day even, and that makes it pretty difficult to build a routine. As long as ‘lack of routine’ is my excuse, I’ll have it readily to hand. So, I’m going to have to build some more life systems to make it happen, and that just hasn’t happened yet.

 

 

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Whole30 Week 2

But first, some fake Q n’ A!

Q: So, is this just gonna be like a food journal?

A: Yeah kinda. With commentary. I’m doing it because I found myself wondering what I ate last time I did this, and where to find the recipes I liked best, and wished I had made a post with links. Also, it’s good to keep a journal of how the process affects you! But yeah. Mostly a link-list with notes.

Q: So are you gonna share all of how it affects you?

A: I haven’t decided how much about my personal poo experiences I want to put on the internet. So…. not sure.

The Week1 recap: Week one took a week and a half. You gotta be all in.. there’s no “I guess I’ll do this.”
Getting a bit tired of spending so much time in the kitchen. Wait, let me be clear – I kind of enjoy most of that time while doing it, but it’s the realizing three hours later that you have two hours less time than you thought you would have to do the rest of the crap on your to do list not related to food that is the kicker. Seriously.
I’m also not super happy about the social effects already. I had to skip Teacher Appreciation Lunch on Friday because.. I thought about going to it and just picking at what I could eat… then just said screw it, and holed up with my leftovers. I also wish I could go hang out at bars better, but I just can’t really. It’s boring if you can’t eat or drink anything, and you start to think, why even waste the time? So you just stay home. A LOT. This will, I predict, get harder to bear as the month goes on.

Looking ahead: This coming week, I’ll be taking a spring break to Georgia to visit my family. “How you gonna do Whole30 on spring break?” Scott asked. At first, I was afraid. It can feel like there is nothing you can eat out in the world, when you get into this thing and are cooking everything you eat so you can keep an eye on the ingredients, but with some meal planning and some willingness to remember that you can snack on any handy fruit or vegetable, and even most gas stations at least have bananas – you are not going to face starvation by leaving the house for more than a few hours at a time.

My mom texts me “How many eggs do you think we’ll need?” I respond “How many can you get?” she has a farm egg hookup. I’m hoping for two or three dozen. She manages to stock five and a half. Yesssss. (Although I apparently forgot that week 1 is the Week of All the Eggs and the following weeks are less extreme in that regard…)

Day 8 (3/11) –

Breakfast is that hash n eggs again, because it’s killing it in all the ways.

Lunch, finally time to whip up some of that avocado egg salad and toss it on some greens. I accidentally oversalt and try to compensate with a bit of lime juice. *shrug*

At dinner I scrounge up what’s left of the asparagus bacon and put an egg on it. Later, when I’m watching people eat pizza onscreen, I get stupidly jealous and decide to eat “a few spoonfuls” of what’s left of the avocado egg salad. It is quickly completely gone.

Day 9 (3/12) –

Nothing fancy today, breakfast is just a couple of eggs and a piece of fruit, and lunch ends up being more breakfast.

I make some tuna salad mixup for the following day while I stir up some dinner also.

Day 10 (3/13) –

This is my travel day, so I do a good solid helping of sweet potato hash eggs for breakfast, and have premade the tuna avocado mix for lunch, along with some “trail mix” of dried apricots, banana chips, and almonds. I end up tearing up some kale to shove in with the tuna as “greens” to sort of make it less of a pile and more of a salad.

I also pack a banana and apple for the car, along with plenty of coffee.

By the time I get to Georgia, I am not very hungry, but dinner should still happen, so my willing-to-play-along friend Kyle and I go to the store and get what we need to make big o burgers which turn out freaking amazing (WHY put bacon on top of a burger when you can just put it INSIDE the burger?), and also a redux of bacon-wrapped asparagus as a side (no egg on it). Kyle says he appreciates any diet where bacon is part of both the main dish and the side. We aren’t done cleaning up til like 10:30, though, after all the grocery and cooking and eating, because the convenience that you gave up with packaged foods is still gone, so everything takes forever because it’s from scratch and dirties about 250% more dishes to boot.

I’m feelin’ pretty good, though…

Day 11 (3/14) –

Sweet potato hash and eggs. My mom grates the the sweet potato by hand while I fret that she will grate her hands off. Leftovers for lunch (burgers, etc.). Pork chops for dinner.

The pork chops are quite good, and I will have to do them again.

Day 12 (3/15) –

Bradycakes with blackberries and blue. Lunch at Marlow’s where my aunts graciously identify a dish I can eat! I have to make a few modifications, and send it back once (u.u), but I’m pleased I can eat at a restaurant without too much trouble. I do stop eating the salad after a few bites because I am not sure if there is sugar in the dressing. There might be. I don’t want to send it back again. Everyone else’s food contains bread and looks and smells amazing. Because it’s a birthday lunch, there is also free dessert. It’s bread pudding beignets. I have some black coffee with a shot of willpower. I will have a staredown a few hours later with a dozen-box of donuts when we stop to get some for the people at my grandmother’s cabin home. I consider throwing it all away, but don’t because it’s kinda hard to get the donut box open before my mom gets back from the restroom. Oh and willpower too I guess.

Dinner is an attempt at kalua pig, but it’s done with a very large tenderloin in the slow-low oven instead of a slow cooker. It turns out a’ight.. a bit dry because we cooked it too long, but it still goes well with the cabbage and other veg we put alongside it.

I’m starting to notice my energy levels and clarity on the rise, with a solid sleep habit that runs an easy 8-hour night. The groove is being got into.

Day 13 (3/16) –

Bradycakes with blackberries and blue, avocado egg salad for lunch (although the eggs give me hell to peel once boiled… maybe they are too damn fresh), and nutpaste salmon with brussel sprout slaw for dinner. The salmon is still as good as the first time, and the slaw is great too. I love it when healthy tastes good and is fairly easy.

Day 14 (3/17) –

Bradycakes for breakfast again, tuna-avocado for lunch (with a helping of leftover salmon and brussels for a snack gone overboard), and for dinner…. cracklin’ chicken (! although I got thighs with no bones or skin, they worked out fine… did splatter oil and grease all over the stove and stove area, though… she ain’ lying ’bout the splatter guard being a thing) and a side salad of multigreen proportions (there’s a farmer up near where my mom works who sells bags of greens from an honor-system roadside stand. He puts a mix of all kinds of stuff in there – collard, radish, kale, lettuces… I can’t even identify them all, but they’re all very green. He also throws in some radishes or other roots to go withsies). I slam together my own dressing from some leftover lime which I juice, some olive oil, and some thyme leaves… delicious.

At night I put myself in temptation’s way again by going to a drinking party where I drink…. water. With ice cubes! My Whole30 sleep schedule is real, so I don’t stay all that late.

Day 15 (3/18) –

Another travel day, so after breakfast of bradycakes, we cook up some mini-okonoms with some of the leftover pork. They’ll take me on the road along with a couple fruit pieces.

Dinner is just a repeat of sweet potato hash eggs, because it’s there and I have a machine to grate them (so I don’t have to risk maiming myself), and I got 2 dozen “Amanda eggs” fresh from the farm that I toted back with me. Gonna have to do another week-plan and grocery trip, but not today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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