Pseudo-Paleo – Two Months Post Whole30

My husband and I started the Whole30 on January 1st this year. You can read about my experience. Since then, we’ve been sticking with heathy eating, just not as extreme as the Whole30.

I call it pseduo-paleo.

I’m not super happy with this name, because I think Paleo is a dumb name. As a friend pointed out, if we really were eating Paleo, we’d all be skinny because we’d spend our days running away from predators and constantly moving to find food. But Paleo is what the world has adopted for a name and since our plan is similar, it’s just easier to go with it.

We came up with this plan when we were coming off of the Whole30. It works for us, but it might not work for you. The key is to slowly add things back after the Whole30 and see how you feel.

Eat lots of veggies. This is a good idea no matter what. Veggies are filling and packed with nutrients. Try to limit potatoes, especially white potatoes. You don’t need mashed potatoes with every meal, promise. And no, french fries do not count as veggies. Sorry.

Eat protein. Meat, nuts, and eggs. Personally, I skip the processed protein powders because I’d rather get protein from real food. Protein helps satiety and it’s delicious.

Fat is not evil. Fat also helps satiety and it makes everything taste better. Coat cubed sweet potatoes in coconut oil and roast them in the oven at 400F for 30-40 minutes. I dare you to tell me that isn’t the greatest thing ever. Avocados are delicious. I’m not advocating eating a slab of lard, but don’t be afraid of fat.

Drink lots of water. Did you know that a lot of “hunger” pangs are actually your body asking for water? Stay hydrated!

Skip the (added) sugar, both real and artificial. While we’re not as strict as we were on the Whole30, we very rarely add sugar to a dish. Sweetened drinks are right out. This also gets rid of most candy, cake, etc. Fruit is still allowed and encouraged, as long as it isn’t coated in extra sugar. If you’re craving sugar, have a few pieces of dried fruit.

Figure out which grains work for you. We’ve decided to add oatmeal, rice (brown preferred), and corn back into our diet in limited amounts. This is one area we majorly differ from Paleo. A large bowl of steel-cut oatmeal topped with fresh fruit is our breakfast of choice. Wheat remains forbidden, less because of gluten than because most breads, pizzas, etc. are made from wheat flour. We don’t look for gluten-free substitutes, either. That way lay dragons.

Skip the dairy (maybe). Much like grains, this is one you’ll have to decide for yourself. For us, skipping diary isn’t too hard. I’m lactose intolerant, so it was easy to switch to almond or coconut milk, which I still use sparingly (mostly in iced coffee). We occasionally use butter, but cheese, sour cream, etc are all out. If you do skip diary, make sure you’re getting enough calcium either from an alternate source or a multivitamin.

You will have cravings. It’s part of the process. Stay strong. My cravings are the worst when I’m hungry. In fact, I can tell when I’m getting hungry because cake starts sounding like the best thing ever. Do not give in. Drink some water, eat a healthy snack, and keep going.

Choose a cheat day. For us, it’s once a week, generally Saturday, but only if we’re really craving something. Plan to fail on your cheat day and do it guilt-free. BUT and this is important, go right back to your normal plan for the rest of the week. No “it’s only a little bit” arguments with yourself. Cheat on your allowed day and ONLY on your allowed day. It’s okay if you need to move it to accommodate an event, but don’t start eating future cheat days today. That’s how you fall off the wagon.

Now it’s time for some real talk.

If you jump straight into this plan without doing the Whole30 first, expect a rough couple weeks. (You’d have those same rough weeks on the Whole30, too.) You will want to eat everything, most of it sugared or carb-loaded. Hang in there.

Unlike all of the diet books ever written, I’m not going to tell you this plan will definitely work for you. It may not. I have friends who absolutely could not do this plan. They can’t take the limited choices and they will always crave all of the food they “can’t” have. If this is you, there is hope. You need to become a calorie counter. Log everything you eat into a tracking app (MyFitnessPal is the one most people use). Set a calorie goal and stay under it. It’s more work, but it WILL work for you and you can eat whatever you want (lucky you!) in moderation. I recommend the LoseIt subreddit for tons of good info.

I’m also not going to lie–it’s hard. I go to bed hungry most nights, but that’s because I eat dinner early and go to bed late. During the day I’m generally only hungry before meals, as it should be. You have to say no to that piece of pie that looks delicious. People are going to (very politely) try to derail you.

It’s worth it.

I’ve lost twenty-seven pounds since I started in January. I’m at the lowest weight I’ve been in ten years. And while it’s hard, it’s not impossible.

Time is going to pass either way. In six months, are you going to regret not starting now?

A Month with the Whole30

The holidays are never the best for eating, but this year was particularly awful. December was a month-long inhalation of carbs and processed food. It was bad. So when I heard my brother and sister-in-law were going to kick off January by starting the Whole30, I jumped on board and dragged Dustin along for the adventure.

The Whole30 is basically an extreme version of paleo: no sweeteners, no grains, no dairy, no legumes, and no alcohol, even for cooking. And any food that contains a banned ingredient, even in small quantities (I’m looking at you, bacon), is out.

So what do you eat? Veggies, meat, and fruit, preferably in that order.

If you go to the Whole30 site, they make the ridiculous promises that all diets make–basically, follow this plan and we’ll cure all your ills. I wasn’t in it for the woo woo. I needed to make a clean break from my previous out-of-control eating, and this seemed like a good way to do it. In the world of moderators vs. abstainers, I’m definitely an abstainer.

Armed with an iron will to succeed and the knowledge that even a tiny slip meant you had to start over, I embarked on thirty days of “clean” eating.

Here are a few things I learned:

  • Sugar or soy are in pretty much everything that comes off of a grocery store shelf, even in the deli section.
  • Grocery shopping is both easier and harder. You get to avoid most of the middle of the store, which speeds things up, but you have to look at every single label. And fresh fruit and veggies don’t keep that long, so plan to go fairly often.
  • There will be dishes. So many dirty dishes. When you are cooking three meals a day, it adds up quickly.
  • Breakfast is a test. I’m not a huge fan of eggs, one of the only “traditional” breakfast foods allowed. So you get used to eating whatever in the morning.
  • Trader Joe’s Salsa Autentica is good on just about everything. We used it on salads, eggs, and lettuce-wrapped tacos.
  • After eating no sugar at all, a couple pieces of dried apricot after dinner taste like heaven.
  • Avocados are delicious and we should all be eating more of them. We ate one almost every day.
  • Eating out is fraught with danger and temptation. We ate out maybe five times all month, and some of those only because we were out of town. It’s just easier to cook.
  • I didn’t have many cravings. I think it’s because December was so bad, but my body happily let go of bread and sugar. If it was in front of me (like the amazing chocolate brownie for a friend’s birthday dinner), I wanted some, but mostly I was fine.

As for all of the woo woo claims, those are harder to quantify.

I did feel better this month, but December’s eating was so bad it’s hardly a fair comparison. I dropped eleven pounds and my blood pressure (which wasn’t high to begin with) dropped some as well. I’m assuming both of those are at least partly due to the decreased amount of sodium intake.

The Whole30 did not, however, magically fix my relationship with food or do any of the other more outrageous claims they make.

But overall, it was easier than I’d expected. In fact, I will probably continue with some form of modified paleo as my normal diet. And that’s a win in itself.

Now on to daily yoga February!

PAX Prime 2014 – Day Three and Day Four

See my previous posts for day one and day two recaps.

Sunday morning my feet were killing me when I woke up. It was not a good way to start the day. However, rest is for the weak, so we bravely endured the Gearbox line. They are the studio behind the previously mentioned Borderlands. Their panel was a little odd, but it included a fantastic card trick by the CEO of Gearbox, Randy Pitchford. They gave out season passes for the Borderlands Pre-sequel, which was really nice of them.

At the Expo, we waited to try the Occulus Rift, the 3D headset. I was a skeptic (and still am, mostly) but I did play a pretty cool bullet dodging game where you could look around the “room” just by moving your head and dodge by leaning one way or another.

Sunday afternoon we attended the Patrick Rothfuss panel. It was awesome because we walked right in and didn’t have to wait in line. Mr. Rothfuss is always entertaining, and it was fun that he read his “not a children’s book” which we’d already read, and so we knew the ending.

We decided to skip the Sunday night concerts in lieu of an earlier night.

Sunday’s walking distance: 5.8 miles (13,264 steps)


Monday was the final day of PAX and when I decided we really should attempt to collect some of the Pinny Arcade pins that exhibitors were giving away. After watching the Penny Arcade Q&A with Mike and Jerry, we headed to the Expo to go pin hunting and play any games we’d missed previously.

Microsoft has a new game coming out called Age of Empires: Castle Siege. It is (sadly) not iOS compatible, but the demo was really fun. Though it will run on Windows, the rep did say that it will play best on a touchscreen/tablet. Boo! But they were giving away a cute pin, so yay.

Next we played Pillars of Eternity which is an old-school isometric RPG. We started with new characters, so I can’t say much about the gameplay since I wondered around in starting town for a while and only fought a couple of things. Looks fun, but it doesn’t include co-op, so it’s pretty much a no go for us.

At the Xbox booth we played Sunset Overdrive, one of their leading Xbox One titles for the holiday season. It was fun, if a little chaotic, but they made the excellent decision to have one of their employees on each eight-person team to answer questions and explain how to play. They also gave us a nice pin. Win!

All told, I came away with five pins, only one of which I purchased (proceeds went to charity, so I bypassed my “will not buy pins” rule).

And so it begins...
And so it begins…

Monday afternoon was the final round of the Omegathon, the video game elimination that ran all weekend. The players were required to get the highest score in Pacman, which was fun to watch, though quite short and not really worth the slog over to the main theater.

Monday evening is kind of hazy. I remember we went to dinner where I had fish and chips made with salmon. I’d never had fried salmon before. It was pretty good, as far as fish goes (I tolerate it).

Monday’s walking distance: 6.3 miles (15,687 steps)


Tuesday we got up and rode the train back to the airport. Can I take a minute to say how nice it is to be able to ride public transit to and from the airport? It. Is. Awesome. Plus, it only cost $5.50 for the two of us, which is infinitely cheaper than a cab or an airpot shuttle.

Overall, even with the crush of people, we had a really nice time. I was afraid that after going I’d regret buying PAX South tickets, but instead I’m excited for South. Though I will definitely be purchasing some sort of tiny, foldable stool to sit on while waiting in line. My feet will appreciate it.

PAX Prime 2014 – Day Two

See the previous post for a recap of day one.

Time waits for no woman, and so Saturday dawned early, if not particularly bright, complete with achy feet. Saturday was the only day it rained on us, which isn’t bad for a city known for its rain.

Our first stop was a signing with Mike and Jerry, the creators of Penny Arcade. Waiting outside to get in the Paramount wasn’t especially fun, but it wasn’t pouring, so we stayed mostly dry. The signing line was relatively short, and we got to sit down while we waited, so that was awesome.

Signing with Mike and Jerry
Signing with Mike and Jerry

After the signing, we saw that they were streaming the Halo panel from the main theater, so we sat and watched in the Paramount instead of walking all the way to the main theater. The new Master Chief collection looks pretty awesome.

We hit up the Expo for a while before our next panel. We played Gauntlet for a little bit because there wasn’t a line. It was fun because we had a full party (four players). I’m assuming they scale the difficulty based on the number of players, but we didn’t get to test out two-player co-op.

Our next session was Videogames in the Forgotten Realms. The big news was that Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition is coming soon, though they wouldn’t commit to a date. They also promised that the new update to Baulder’s Gate Enhanced Edition has worked out all of the multiplayer bugs. We’ll see if that holds true.

Saturday night we got in the biggest line ever. It was for the live D&D game with Jerry, Mike, and a few of their friends.

The line goes down the block and around the corner for another block
The line goes down the block and around the corner for another block

Benaroya Hall, the main theater, holds 2,500 people. The line was longer than that, though they were letting people know they might not get seats. We weren’t anywhere near the end of the line, yet we were in the middle of the upper, upper balcony.

Nosebleed section
Nosebleed section

For all that we nearly died in line (we were packed in like sardines and unable to sit or move for an hour plus), the D&D game was awesome. Patrick Rothfuss was an unannounced guest star. All of the players were hilarious.

Getting out was almost as bad as getting in, because they were giving away swag, including an awesome Pinny Arcade Tiamat dragon pin. I told myself I wasn’t going to get involved in pin trading, but it was so cool I gave myself some leeway. More on that in Day Four’s post.

Saturday’s walking distance: 5.3 miles (11,510 steps)