Whole30 check-in: One-third of the way to food freedom

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from my colleague Katey Psencik, who — like my reporter friend Andrea Ball — is embarking on a new way of eating right now. She’ll check in with us in the coming weeks on her progress.

Captain’s Log, Day 10: I am so tired, and I could really use a beer.

Last week, I shared on this blog that I’d be doing a Whole30 in February, meaning 30 days without sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy or certain additives like MSG, among other restrictions. I’m officially 10 days in (one-third of the way through!) but it feels like it’s been way longer than that.

It’s not that it’s been exactly hard, though it hasn’t been easy either. I’ve been keeping a daily log of what I’ve been eating and how I’ve been feeling, so I’ll share some of the highlights from my journal and lessons I’ve learned over the past 10 days.

A typical Whole30 breakfast.

A typical Whole30 breakfast.

Cooking and eating

I thought getting up early and cooking breakfast daily, plus allowing time to prepare a well-rounded lunch to take to work, would be the death of me, but it isn’t! I’m actually waking up at the same time as I was before but spending less of my morning sitting on the couch watching Charlie Rose. As I mentioned last week, I’ve never been much of a breakfast person, but eating a really filling meal first thing in the morning has done wonders for my ability to focus at work, and since I’ve been eating balanced meals, I stay full a lot longer and rarely feel the need to snack. I don’t miss dining out, either, because the food I’ve been making is so delicious!

Here’s what has mostly been on the menu during the first leg of my journey:

  • Eggs, cooked every way imaginable
  • Avocados
  • Turkey or chicken sausage
  • Spinach and kale
  • Chicken and pork (baked and/or slow-cooked)
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Zucchini “noodles”
  • Roasted sweet potatoes and white potatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Cauliflower rice
  • Almond butter
  • Various types of fruit, in moderation

Basically, I’ve just been preparing all of these things once or twice a week and then throwing together various combinations for meals. I’ve been trying to focus my meal around a smaller portion of meat, with some form of fat on the side and then filling the rest of my plate with vegetables.  And I’ve been pretty good about the no-snacking rule, except for when I go directly to the gym after work, when I’ll have a pre-workout apple for a little carb boost.

Also, for those concerned, I found a Whole30-compliant coffee creamer that’s pretty good: Nutpods! No, they aren’t as good as my sweet creamer, but it’ll do for the next 20 days or so. I’ve been using French vanilla flavored Nutpods and adding cinnamon in my coffee every morning so I make sure I get my caffeine fix.

While we’re talking about drinks: Topo Chico, La Croix and unsweet tea with lemon have been my best friends this month. Shoutout to sugar-free beverages that still taste delicious.

🍳 T G I F 🥑 (Where's the La Croix emoji?)

A post shared by katey psencik (@katepsen) on

Saying “no”

Working in a newsroom presents a host of problems to somebody trying to stay on a diet. Y’all, there is food everywhere at the Statesman. Every day, sometimes several times a day, I get an email with the subject line “Tiff’s Treats” or “doughnuts” or “tacos” and then I have to watch everyone around me eating delicious things I can’t have for a few more weeks.

But saying “no” to these treats has been surprisingly easy. If I were doing a normal diet I would totally talk myself into a way to justify having “just one” cookie or doughnut, but something about the Whole30 helps me refrain from that. It feels like a challenge, and I’m very competitive. If I cave in to sweets or tacos before my 30 days are up, I will have failed myself and failed the challenge, and I’m not interested in either.

The Whole30-friendly salad I've been eating most days for lunch.

The Whole30-friendly salad I’ve been eating most days for lunch.

The first night of my Whole30, I went to see Surfer Blood at the Parish with my best friend/fellow music lover Sydnee and was nervous about not being able to drink. My usual tall-boy Lone Star was replaced with a Topo Chico, because having a beverage in my hand made me feel less awkward. And you know what?! The show was still incredibly enjoyable sans Lone Star. And much cheaper, too.

On day four, my boyfriend and I had to drive to my high school friend’s wedding shower in La Grange, where I was surrounded by all kinds of delicious food I couldn’t eat. My friend’s stepdad makes the best barbecue and everyone around me was partaking, not just in the food, but in copious amounts of beer and wine (because, hello, bring a bunch of small-town Bohemians together on a Saturday night … ). I goaded my boyfriend for drinking a Lone Star in front of me, but it wasn’t the beer that tempted me: It was the pinwheels. Yeah, of all the things, PINWHEELS. Tortillas filled with cream cheese, chives and other deliciousness, and there were two whole plates of ‘em spread out on the snack table. But I prevailed.

How I’ve been feeling

This really has been a journey. I’ve had a few headaches from the sugar withdrawals and a few stomachaches from my digestive tract adjusting to the new things I’m putting in my body. More than anything, I’ve spent most of the past week feeling so exhausted, like I can’t get enough rest even though I’ve been sleeping eight to 10 hours a night, which is way more than usual. According to what I’ve read online, this is pretty normal.

I took most of the first week off from the gym, worrying that I would be too tired or achy to work out. But this week, I resumed my regular workouts (I have a membership at The Barre Code on South Lamar) with ease. I’ve found that even though I’m often sleepy, I haven’t gotten tired during a workout as quickly as I used to, and I feel much stronger than before. I’ve also noticed my body hasn’t been as sore after working out, which is probably due to eating better and drinking more water. I’m sleeping better, and I feel healthier overall — and happier, too.

According to the official Whole30 timeline, days 10 and 11 are “the hardest days” when people are most likely to quit the program. Today, on day 10, I sure am feeling that. I spent about 10 minutes looking at this photo of goat cheese tartine from Blue Dahlia Bistro on the Austin360 Instagram page and I think I might have had tears in my eyes. A friend is in town from Dallas, and he invited me out to where he’d be having a beer tonight, even though “I know you can’t drink,” he said in a text. But I would do anything for a Live Oak Hefeweizen right now, so I’m going to drink La Croix out of a wine glass and find something great to watch on TV instead.

Today is the first really hard day, but I’ve had so many small victories that make this journey worth it. This morning, I grabbed my “skinny jeans” — everyone has a pair of these, the ones you have to shimmy into, then lay down on the bed just to get the stupid things buttoned — and put them on with ease. They even feel a little loose around my stomach, actually. And last night, a friend of mine who I haven’t seen in about a month came over to my apartment and the first thing out of his mouth was, “You look GOOD!” But more importantly, I feel good. And I’m ready to keep feeling good for the next 20 days, and hopefully forever.

Unfamiliar with Whole30? Read why I’m participating in the program

As always, I’d love to hear your recommendations for feeling good on the Whole30 or any recipes you may want to share. Shoot me an email at kpsencik@statesman.com or reach out to me on Twitter @psencikk.

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