A few weeks ago, we got a babysitter and went to dinner for Nick’s birthday. We ate at St. James Seafood Restaurant and Raw Bar in Durham, one of Matt Kelly’s (of Vin Rouge and Mateo’s bar de tapas fame) newest food sensations. Seriously, I love all of his restaurants and would let him cook for me for the rest of my life. Anyway, we went there for my birthday in December and Nick liked it so much that we went back for his. We had just started the Whole30 diet at the time and we were going to try really hard to stick to it, but as soon as we saw the fried oysters, we threw the diet out the window and didn’t feel the least bit bad about it! It was totally worth it.
Spoiler: It lasted less than a week!
Nick and I have been feeling like we need to make a change in our lives. We’re not at our best and the way we eat is partially to blame. We wanted to try Whole30 because we were attracted to the idea of completely resetting our eating habits, cravings, and mindset around food.
If you aren’t familiar with Whole30, it’s an elimination diet. You take a 30-day challenge to cut out certain foods from your diet in an effort to potentially reduce the negative health impacts some of these foods cause, as well as to examine and reset your way of eating. You CAN eat lean meats and seafood, lots of vegetables and a little bit of fruit, and healthy fats and nuts. You CAN’T eat sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy, legumes, soy, carrageenan, MSG, sulfites or processed junk food.
We were hoping to lose a little weight but, most importantly, we wanted to gain more energy, to improve our eating habits, and to feel better overall. I’ve read stories from people who have cut out sugar – just sugar – from their diet and claim that their energy levels shot up exponentially. Like, they don’t even have to press snooze on their alarm clocks in the morning; they just wake up all bright-eyed and bushy tailed. That’s the level of energy I need in my life, especially when I have to keep up with a toddler all day. So, we did a little research and started our 30-day journey on a Monday. It was over by Thursday evening. The main reason is because we went to dinner for Nick’s birthday where we had made reservations well in advance of starting this diet. It was delicious seafood and neither of us felt like denying ourselves a birthday celebration.
So anyway, here are my thoughts on the whole thing.
Sugar is everywhere and in everything
The biggest eye opener for me was the amount of sugar in foods that shouldn’t even have sugar in them. When you learn all the names for sugar (dextrose, cane sugar, glucose, corn syrup, etc.) and start reading labels, you realize it’s everywhere and in everything. One meal I had planned for the week was a sweet potato hash with ham. Simple enough. But I could NOT find a ham that wasn’t cured with some form of sugar. Mayonnaise has sugar in it. Packaged potatoes have sugar in them. My coffee has sugar in it! Okay, that one is because I put it there, but you see where I’m going. Look, I have a degree in public health so I know that sugar has become a big problem in American diets. But I naively thought that was because folks were drinking Starbucks coffees with sugary syrups, or that they were eating sugary cereals instead of “healthier” options, or eating too much processed foods. What I didn’t realize, as I mentioned, was how sneakily sugar has been added to things that didn’t even need sugar, like potatoes. Holy crap! Really reading and understanding labels has kind of changed my life.
I did as much research as I could and planned our first week of meals. The first day was fairly easy. At lunch, I had a big tuna salad with spinach, tomatoes, onion, carrots, and avocado. I made a simple vinaigrette with olive oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, salt, and vinegar. Pretty delicious. I was feeling really smug with myself until I made Sebastian’s lunch. He had a grilled cheese, and as soon as I saw that gooey, melted cheese on toast, my craving for it went into overdrive. Then he didn’t even want to eat much of it! Normally I would finish what he didn’t eat, so it took every bit of willpower I had not to eat it. Then that evening, after dinner, I really wanted a chocolate chip cookie and a glass of wine. To satiate my sweet tooth, I had some figs and that did the trick.
I’m putting on my public health hat and jumping on my soapbox for a moment: Something that really struck me negatively – and really turned me off to the whole thing, whether out of spite or principle – was what the author and creator of Whole30 said in her book:
“It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black Is. Not. Hard.”
BUT HERE’S THE THING: Eating healthy foods is often VERY hard and it’s okay to feel like it’s a difficult task. And that’s not just because you don’t like the taste of broccoli. Research has shown that sugar activates the same pleasure centers as cocaine. COCAINE is a drug. Drug addiction is, by the author’s own admission, very hard to overcome. Why would food addiction – which is essentially what our nation’s use of sugar has become – be any less hard? Many people in the U.S. live in food deserts, usually impoverished areas void of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthy foods due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers. This includes many rural areas. So, in this case, eating healthy is hard. Eating healthy in the U.S., and being able to partake in diets like Whole30, often require a lot of privilege and money. If it were easy, there would be many more cheap and available options for purchasing fresh foods, but there simply isn’t always an easy way. So, yes, it is hard. And I have a degree in public health. Fight me.
BUT as for the diet itself and my go at it: I lacked the discipline to eat this way for 30 days, partially because I’m anemic and needed iron sources other than red meat and spinach (so I went back to eating beans and other legumes) and partially because I don’t have a problem with eating milk and bread. Yes, I lost about 4 pounds in the 4 days I was doing Whole30, but I’m not entirely sure that’s healthy given my small stature and the fact that I’m still breastfeeding. I’m a little disappointed in myself that I couldn’t see it through, but I’m also not that worried about it. I have a good relationship with food and I’m healthy. That’s ultimately my end goal.
Have you ever tried the Whole30 diet? How did you do?
Since I’ve started staying home with Sebastian, it’s become really easy easy for me to “forget” to change out of my pajamas and wear them all day long. Other things I sometimes forgot to do: brush my hair, shower, and brush my teeth. The first two weeks weren’t pretty, people! But, at least my messy bun was on point!
It’s not that I forgot to do these things, really, but I was preoccupied with figuring out this whole stay-at-home mom thing. What am I supposed to be doing? What is Sebastian supposed to be doing? It wasn’t as easy as I had imagined. Luckily, it didn’t take us long to settle in and create a routine. We’ve established regular nap, meal, and play times so our day is pretty predictable. We also went through a major overhaul in January and cleaned out a lot of drawers, closets, and rooms in our attempt to minimize the clutter in our lives, so now my house stays cleaner longer. Although, it’s almost time to do this again. Most importantly, I don’t feel like I have to use the few precious hours of nap time for cleaning; I can use it showering, getting dressed, and blogging (it does feel good to be back!).
All that to say I’m back to putting together cute outfits to share with you, dear friends. Here’s a compilation of outfits I’ve been wearing lately.
These first two outfits were worn to meet Nick for lunch and then run errands. I’m so glad it’s finally Spring and I can wear cute outfits again!
Chambray top: Old Navy | Pixie Pants: Old Navy | Sandals: via Payless
Jacket: Gap | Tee & Pants: Old Navy | Shoes: via Rack Room
This next outfit was simply worn around my house, playing with Sebastian. It’s pretty comfy, especially barefoot.
Tee: Target | Necklace: Old Navy | Jeans: Banana Republic | Flats: Ross
I wore this one out with friends for drinks. It was a beautiful evening so we met up at Bull City Cider works with our kids (they have a son the same age as Sebastian) and enjoyed the warm sun and cold hard cider. It was a great day.
Blouse & Necklace: Old Navy | Jeans: Banana Republic | Flats: Ross
How long is it supposed to take to find one’s purpose?
I worry that it will take me a lifetime to figure out who I am and what I want to do with it, and by then, it’ll be too late. I’ve always been envious of folks who seem to have it all figured out. Those who have somehow always possessed a sense of who they wanted to be and what path they had to take to be it. Disciplined, ambitious, eager. You must embody those principles to achieve your goals. This is how I would like to describe myself but my mid-twenties seemed to knock those words right out of my vocabulary. I find that life just keeps throwing curve balls and when that happens, you have to widen your stance, maybe choke up on the bat, and stay focused. This is where I am now, trying to stay focused on what my life is and how to drive it to where I want to be.
So, anywhere, here’s an update on my life lately.
Work work work work work
It’s been four months since I quit my job. I’ve started casually looking for work again since I do have student loans that need to be paid, but if I’m completely honest, I’m not ready to go back. I love staying home with Sebastian and having the freedom to run errands whenever I want to. But I’m taking comfort in the fact that I’m trying to find something more fulfilling, making the transition a little easier.
Sebastian turned one!
Sebastian turned one earlier this month. This little dude definitely keeps me busy and I’m loving every minute of it – although I do wish I were better at time management so I could blog a little more. The year has definitely flown by but we’ve had a lot of fun (and stresses) during it.
My heart is doing well
I’m almost a year out from my heart attack (May 27) and I’m feeling pretty good – better than I thought I would be at this point. While I still have some anxiety every now and then, I’ve learned my triggers and how to manage them, and my responses to them. My anxiety mostly manifests itself physically in the form of the heart attack symptoms I experienced last year (basically a mild form of PTSD) and it’s exacerbated when I don’t sleep well for several days and I try to make up for being tired with drinking too much coffee. So I do my best to get enough sleep and reduce my caffeine intake, and that usually works pretty well.
Spring is finally here.
The beautiful sunshine and warmer breezes have inspired me to take more outfit photos. Getting to wear my cute spring clothes definitely helps, too! See what I mean:
I’m planning to get back to regularly posting outfit photos to don’t forget to follow along. Stick around to find out what else happens in this life of mine.
I know, I know.
I can’t believe I just said (typed) those words either, but friends, I think it might be true: I’m might be falling out of love with Target. At least their women’s clothing & shoes options.
It actually started a while back when they completely stopped carrying my shoe size (5.5). I used to be able to find so many shoes and would spend longer than necessary trying to decide which pair to buy, but now I don’t even look because I know they won’t have anything. I suppose they’re doing me favor considering my knees and ankles have been telling me for a while now that I need to invest in some better quality shoes with good support, and Target’s shoes are not that. It seemed to slowly go downhill from there.
These days, I don’t have much time (or money) to shop but the few times I have tried stuff on, it just didn’t work for me. Dresses fit weird, pants and shirts are too long, and the shoulders seams don’t line up with my actual shoulders. But, to be fair, I’m short and petite so garments tend to fit weird everywhere I go, unless they’re specific to smaller gals. Tailoring gets expensive so most of the time, I don’t even bother.
Naturally, I’m pretty sad about these latest developments. I was very much looking forward to their new lines and had already purchased a few things that made me feel pretty awesome. It hasn’t all been rainbows, though. There was a cardigan I purchased that was less than stellar because once I wore it, I discovered that the cuff of the sleeves stretch out A LOT if I pull them up at all, so I would pull them up around my elbow and they would fall back down immediately. All that pulling and tugging got pretty uncomfortable so I just don’t even wear the cardigan anymore. Sad.
When I do find myself in Target (which is most weekends, actually) I’m drawn to the children’s clothing. I do love all of the cute little pants, tops, and jackets for Sebastian! It’s kind of funny how I’ve gone from wanting all the clothes for me to wanting all the clothes for him. He barely even leaves the house most days but I want him to look super dapper at all times. At least I can still count on Target for that.
I haven’t given up hope. I’d like to try on a few more things and see what their spring and summer lines have to offer. Maybe we can salvage our relationship but, at the very least, there’s still all of the other departments I can look forward to (I’m looking at you, home and bath!).
What are your thoughts on all the new changes Target has been implementing recently?
Hi, I’m Nikki. This is where I blog about my life and personal style. I’m a wife and mom, sushi lover, wine drinker, and coffee enthusiast. Welcome to my little corner of the world where I try to lead by example!