Day 7 – Whole 30

I found a lovely hot drink that nicely takes the place of 47’s and my usual black tea with a (generous) scoop of sweetened condensed milk – every morning. It’s a clove-cinnamon-orange peel kind of thing, maybe like a chai? And almond milk in it is so comforting. The tea itself is sweet because of the cloves and orange peels and such, but it’s not sweetened. And I found an almond milk coffee creamer at the store today. I haven’t used it yet, but tomorrow morning…can’t wait.

Today, it was raining (we need it!), and I got to baptize the most exquisite baby boy into the body of Christ. That has nothing to do with Whole 30, but it’s the finest thing I get to do as a pastor, and this is where I write things…so, I BAPTIZED A BABY TODAY!

The other holy and remarkable thing I get to do each Sunday is to serve Holy Communion. And this does have to do with Whole 30 because it is both alcohol and grains! I know the Whole 30 folks say it’s up to each of us because it is a religious thing, so I had thought about it. Have just the bread? Take the gluten free kind? Have grape juice instead of wine? And when I was serving and being served, I didn’t think about Whole 30 at all. I received my Savior’s body and blood into my own body, nourished to serve my neighbor. Amen.

It really was a busy morning at church, and I was very happy to have my new tea. I had packed a beautiful salad, but I forgot to put the dressing in the little cup! So, I just got some salt from the church kitchen and salted my asparagus and boiled eggs – and I ate everything but the lettuce. I was very satisfied. I brought a Lara Bar in case when the kids were having ice cream sandwiches, I would feel deprived. Didn’t happen. I keep bringing Lara Bars with me for “just in case” moments, and they are not really happening. The two I love the most are: Coconut Cream Pie and Cashew Cookie. Look at the ingredients on the Cashew Cookie one! Feels pretty cool to be eating something satisfyingly sweet with an ingredient list like that.

What I’ve learned today: I’m about to write the sentence people keep saying about eliminating sugar: “I can’t believe that my cravings are all but gone.” People said it, and I just assumed they weren’t quite as far gone as I was with sugar intake. But 48 and I are amazed that we can sip unsweetened clove tea with a splash of unsweetened almond milk – and like it! Now, old habits die hard, and this morning, as I walked around church with my tea in hand, more than once I thought about going to the coffee area to get a packet or two of sugar to add to it. But, it was a thought. It didn’t turn into an action, and it only took telling myself, “You aren’t consuming sugar right now, and you like this drink if you think about it.”

One week down.    Not suffering.   Learning a lot.

Day 6 – Whole 30

I’m a pastor. I’m a pastor who likes to invite people into my home. Not every pastor feels that way, but I love to fill my house with people. So, weeks ago, I had invited my 5 confirmation students and their families over for dinner on April 22nd to share a meal and talk about their Confirmation Day service.

Whole 30 is hard when you are entertaining. Hosting a meal for middle school kids and their families (including younger siblings) meant serving a kid friendly meal. So, we had trays of frozen mac-n-cheese, breaded chicken strips with all kinds of dips, rolls and butter, fruit salad, and a green salad. I knew I was going to need to be able to make a pretty great salad to eat when others got to eat my favorite comfort food of all time: Stouffer’s mac-n-cheese. I had a salad bar that was quite extensive, including hard boiled eggs, olives, asparagus – so it was filling and was fun to put together (the adults were grateful to see the salad bar, too). It worked. It was perfectly fine eating my great salad next to people eating all that non-Whole-30 food. And I found that I wasn’t even bothered when they ate cake and ice cream that someone had brought. I didn’t even reach for a Lara Bar or anything. They ate their cake, and I chatted with them while they did. I was surprised by that.

All day, I chopped veggies and cleaned the house and set the tables for our dinner. That was all fine, but the hard part was the 20 minutes before people came when I was setting out the food. It was amazing how hard it was not to pop a crouton into my mouth when I poured them from the bag to the bowl. I have been doing really well on Whole 30, and I thought for a bit there that I was going to end up cheating completely by accident: lick my finger when I get some cheese sauce on it when I’m pouring it into the serving dish, pop a parmesan crisp into my mouth as I put them in the serving dish, etc. I made lemonade, but I couldn’t taste it to see if it needed more lemonade mix (so I had a kid taste it when he arrived – and he, predictably, told me it needed more lemonade mix ).

My daughter and I were feeling kind of crabby as the macaroni and cheese came out of the oven, bubbling hot and taunting us. I kind of thought the actual dinner was going to be harder than it was – to stay compliant. But, we did just fine.

After everyone left, I made a salad for tomorrow after church when I eat lunch with the youth while they practice all their leadership roles for Youth Sunday next week. Here’s the clever container I have for salads. The greens and tomatoes go in to the bottom part, then the tray on top has lots of room for things I want to add when I eat the salad, so things don’t get mushy. And that blue button in the middle is a removable dressing cup. And on the bottom of that tray is a fork and knife! So, as long as you don’t put something greasy or gooey in the bottom, the knife and fork are clean and ready for the wipe of a napkin just to get the moisture off. This salad container is from the Sistema line. I have lots of sizes/styles of them and really like everything I have.

Today, I learned: I really am not suffering on Whole 30. I do not feel deprived. I just feel intentional about food. That’s the difference in 48 and I as opposed to 47 and I. 47 and I just ate the moment we thought about food. Now, 48 and I are thinking about it more. Intentionality is not deprivation.

For the record, I had a headache last night, but I just tried to eat something and go to bed to sleep it off. It was there in the morning, and I had a very long day of housework ahead of me, so I took two Excedrin. I’m really glad I did because it did the trick.


Day 5 – Whole 30

Yesterday, I said I can eat at Subway…but I didn’t think about what kind of oil they have. So, that’s probably still a no-go unless I bring my own dressing. Not sure I’m interested in doing that. I’ll just eat at home. So, maybe that meal I cheated, and I’m supposed to start again. I checked the website, and it says Olive Oil Blend, so I can’t tell exactly if I cheated or not. Nevertheless, I’m charging forward.

I slept so well last night. This is an important sentence. For years, I have not slept well – or much. Last night, I went to bed after 1:00 a.m. and slept soundly until Eleanor Rigby let me know she needed to go outside at 7:30. I fed the dogs and let them play outside, crawled back in bed AND SLEPT FOR TWO MORE HOURS. I also felt like I could have napped when I got home from work today at 6:00. I laid down to rest, but Eleanor Rigby very much wanted to play tug…so I didn’t get a nap. But, I did have this kind of fun meal:

I have always stayed up late. It’s my body clock. But the last few weeks, I’ve stay awake waiting for my daughter to get home from her first job. Her store closes at 11:00, so by the time they finish cleaning up and locking doors, she doesn’t get home until after 11:30. I like her a lot, and I want to hear how work went…and if she needs a snack, I like to be there doing that with/for her. So, lately nights are later than usual, but I like them. However, for a girl who struggles with sleep, a later bed time is not great.

Physically, Day 5 was fine. I’m not having cravings, I’m drinking lots of water. I have noticed these things (though I’m not positive some of them are not psychosomatic):

  • My skin feels softer. I haven’t changed any of my facial products, so if my skin is better, it’s because of eliminating junk from my diet.
  • Ready for some honesty, here? I assume if you are reading this blog about Whole 30 that you are wondering what it’s like…well, Day 5 was pretty gassy. Glad I was the only one in the office kind of gassy.
  • My arthritic fingers feel more flexible. I’m not sure about this one. The finger that gives me the most trouble is still quite sore, and bending it is not my favorite – but I can bend it into a fist. Actually, I can bend it into an “e” in sign language, and I just couldn’t do that last week. So, the pain is still there, but some flexibility is definitely improved. Keeping my eye on this one.
  • First headache today. Not a debilitating one. Just a headache while working at my desk for hours (go figure).
  • I slept soundly – for many hours in a row.

Tomorrow night, I’m hosting a dinner at my house for my confirmation students and their parents (about 15 people). We are having kid-friendly food, so mac-n-cheese and chicken strips with ketchup and ranch to dip them in, dinner rolls with butter…and a fruit salad and a green salad. And one mom is bringing dessert! So, this will be tricky. I’ll check in here again tomorrow evening to report on it.

Day 4 – Whole 30

48 and I are glad to report that we have had no headache or crabbiness or anything. That’s the first thing to report because I’m feeling so vulnerable to it, like at any time a giant headache will descend and stay for a few days – and I will deserve it because 47 and I filled my body with chemicals and sugar, and this is what happens with you are having withdrawals. But, so far, I’ve been spared from anything like that.

(Let’s be honest. I pee and poop more these days. Getting rid of the junk (we’ll call it junk), I guess.)

So, today I ate at Subway with some friends – it was fine. I googled “Whole 30 at Subway” and up popped a thing that said, “no Subway meats are Whole 30 approved,” but I had a giant veggie salad with oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. It was not what I wanted at Subway. I wanted a giant sandwich with lots of mayo and cheese and non-Whole-30 meat on the asiago cheese bread. But, the salad was easy to order, and it was plenty tasty. I had a serving of cashews with me, so I ate those, too.

Visited a woman in the hospital and another in her home as she recovers from surgery. It kept me busy and distracted, so I didn’t feel any of the feelings I was expecting to have by now, namely: deprived and crabby.

On Whole 30, we consume an awful lot of meat. I’m not crazy about that. Wait. I’m crazy about meat. I love to eat meat. BUT, I’m becoming increasingly aware of the moral and ecological issues regarding meat production in our country. So, it’s just weird right now to be eating meat/eggs at pretty much every meal (no bowls of cereal for breakfast anymore). I’m sure one can complete a Whole 30 as a vegetarian, but that’s some kind of superhero – and not our kind. We are superheroes in different ways.

Speaking of meat, this ribeye was on sale (like sell it today, so mark it down!), so I snagged it and did the thing I’ve been seeing where you sear it on the stove, then put it in the oven for the rest of the cooking. It was fantastic, by the way. Eleanor Rigby wanted to lie down right by the steak searing station. This is the look she gave me when I told her she needed to move, that it wasn’t safe for either of us to have here right there.

I also made some egg cups with some veggies in them, to see if we like them heated up to make mornings easier. They look wonky because their bottoms absolutely stuck to the bottom of the muffin tins. I had to pry those babies outta that pan. (Yay! A more difficult pan to clean! Did I mention the mountains of dishes when you are cooking everything from scratch? Pizza never does that to me.)

And I bought some Hint water, to see if the zany love of this stuff is deserved. I opened the Pear flavored one. It tasted like water when I was drinking it…but when I swallowed it, it was a LOT like the sour apple hookah I smoked long, long ago. I couldn’t taste it with my taste buds, but I could taste it when I breathed or burped…for a couple days. (Okay, in case that just blew your mind that I casually mentioned smoked hookah, let’s be clear that hookah is regular old tobacco that they flavor. 20 years ago, a friend of mine and I were walking in downtown San Diego, and she suggested we go into the hookah bar we were walking by. My guess is it was way more expensive than the Jolly Rancher I could have eaten and had the same effect.)

So, Hint water: tastes fine, but the flavor is probably in my mind!? But, not being a coffee drinker, I’m down to tea and water in the non-sugar, non-dairy world…so even if I’m just imagining the pear flavor (it says right on it: contains no juice), I’ll take it. They did, after all, name it Hint, not Abundance!

I learned: For the next 26 days, I will not be afraid of Subway. Also, I’m kind of afraid to say this, as it is likely too soon, but my arthritic fingers that couldn’t make a fist on Sunday, can do so now.  They still hurt a lot, but they seem more flexible.  We’ll see if it lasts.

Learning About Blogging

Are blogs too long?

I’m learning a bit about format in these past three days of writing and posting things to this blog. I write the blog in Microsoft Word, so when I’m typing it up, it just looks like a word document. When I’m typing away, I’m aware that I shouldn’t write too much, that when people write too much, I tend to scroll and skim a while. If it’s too long, I’ll just exit out of it. This has to do with my ever-shortening attention span, but it I think it also has to do with the device we are using. A 700 word document, like my Day 3 – Whole 30 blog, doesn’t look long on a laptop screen, but on a phone? Scrolling and scrolling.

It’s an interesting thing to learn. If I pick up a book about grace, I’m expecting to settle in and play the long game of learning what the author has to say. But, if I click on a friend’s blog entry about grace, my brain is not ready to sit around and deeply process it…not if I’m on my phone, that is.

So, where is the balance? If one has a crush on words, one may tend to spill too many on any given page. But, then, this is not Twitter. No one expects a blogger to truncate every thought and avoid metaphors because they take up unnecessary space. I think I’ll try some different lengths in the coming days. It may be very hard to keep it short – but it will be good practice.

Day 3 – Whole 30

I am completely astonished at how little I am struggling at this point. I had expected headaches and crankiness, but I feel fine. I am also completely aware that could change tomorrow. But, I’m grateful for the ease of the first three days.

Today, I tried some new things in the kitchen.

I did pork ribs in the crockpot. Like that’s pretty much the whole instruction. I sprinkled on a BBQ rub I have from Penzy’s spices (kind of my favorite company right now) that doesn’t have sugar in it. (There’s an assignment for you – go find a mix of spices intended as a rub for pork anything that doesn’t include sugar. Just kidding. You don’t have to go do that. It’s not a real assignment, but if it were…you’d struggle and gnash your teeth, I tell you!)

So, I sprinkled on a spice mix from a jar, then put the ribs in the crock pot and turned the knob to low. 8 hours later, I came back to fall-off-the-bone delicious ribs. Fancy people would put them under the broiler with a bunch of (sugary) sauce, but since I didn’t add any water, they had a nice crust on them right out of the crock pot! What?! So easy.

Also, I made ketchup. Yep. I made my own. Heinz ketchup (catsup?) and the like are off limits this month because they contain sugar or corn syrup. There is a recipe in the Whole 30 cookbook for ketchup that looks more like a Heinz 57 steak sauce kind of thing. It’s probably good, but it’s not for my hash browns in the morning. So, I found a recipe online that includes some dates for sweetness. Purebred Whole 30-ers would balk at that, but I’m no purebred anything, so I boiled and blended and made a terrific ketchup! Whole 30 or not, it was kind of cool to make a new thing.

I also made date paste, which sounds delicious, doesn’t it? If you come over, I’ll serve you some date paste – but not on a cracker; I can’t have crackers. So, just probably on a celery stalk or something awesome like that. Okay, so it is just equal parts hot water and chopped dates blended til super smooth. It’s like a super smooth apple butter, I’d say. This is also not a purebred deal, but I’ll tell you what it does for me: if I mix 6 tablespoons almond butter to 1 tablespoon date paste, I have an incredibly satisfying bowl of dreams to spread on celery. It’s so dessert-y!

Now, here’s how I feel about not being a purebred Whole 30-er. I know it’s only day 3 and I’m making date paste and ketchup, and yesterday I confessed that I am purposefully including extra fruit in my diet these first few days. 3 days ago, I was drinking embarrassing amounts of Pepsi, eating crackers for breakfast in the car, and scooping up bowls of chocolate ice cream with my daughter in the evening. If I can successfully eat whole foods, cook (and clean up!) all my meals every day, avoid dairy, grains, legumes, additives, refined sugar and all its hidden buddies, and drink only tea or water – my body wins. And if it takes some ground up dates to make it through, to make me say things like “date paste is so dessert-y,” then dates will remain on my shopping list. And my assignment is to buy them without dripping with guilt. Eating dates is one of the ways I’m being gentle with myself this month. (This would tickle my Gram, who always had bags and bags of dates in the bottom drawer of her refrigerator. She would love that I am eating dates, but mostly she would love that I’m being gentle with myself.)

Wild Berry Zinger tea is going to get me through this. Date paste is helpful, but Wild Berry Zinger tea is likely going to be the MVP of this whole game (or maybe it’s a season or a tournament – my sports analogies always sparkle with great accuracy). I’m brewing 2 quarts of this stuff a day, and today I put frozen berries in it…and a straw for some snazziness. No lie, I would LOVE to dump some sugar in the next batch, but I won’t.

Day 2 – Whole 30

Woke up this morning feeling fine. No headache or fogginess from a day without sugar or chemicals. Now, I just need to do that 29 more times.

I really am feeling so wary of failing at this. The voice in my heart-head keeps reminding me of all the schemes and plans and schedules I have implemented only to quickly cast them aside by forgetting or not caring enough. Maybe this is why I have started this blog, and maybe this is why I named it what I did. I am very good at reminding others to be gentle with themselves, but it seems like I can’t hear my own voice when I say it. So, I’m going to try to be gentle with me as I do this hard thing. No, this is not hard like chemo or divorce or whatever, but changing long-held habits while my body is physically craving my old habits…it’s hard. So, maybe a little verbal pat on the back is in order: Jennifer, you and 48 have planned and prepared loads of nutritious meals for you and your daughter. Good for you for investing time, money, and intention in this food experiment.

Thanks, Jennifer!

Today, I learned: I went to lunch with Daniel, as I do nearly every Tuesday. I honestly almost canceled it because I keep reading that it’s kind of too hard to eat in restaurants during Whole 30, but I knew Daniel would just giggle while I ordered an odd meal after asking one million questions, so I decided to go.

You know when I walk a mile in someone’s shoes, I am always humbled. Today, it was my turn to be the one at the table who was scanning the menu for something I could easily order, not look too crazy with my questions, and actually enjoy eating. A salad was the easy answer…but dressings so often contain sugar or other additives, so I asked about the vinaigrette, and she said she would ask in the kitchen for me. But, it was a really nice burger joint, and I’m having lots of salads at home, so I asked if the burger had a lot of seasonings in it, and in that seasoning mix, might there be sugar (like I found in my Penzy’s Steak Seasoning at home)? She assured me that the seasonings were not mixed into the meat, but added when cooking, so I could have a fabulous hamburger patty with my own shakes of salt. “Oh, and also…do you have a steamed veggie for on the side? One with no sauce or anything on it, not cooked in butter or anything?” She was so patient, and I found my brows furrowing more as I asked each question, shaking my head side to side with apologies dripping from my lips all over the table where my water (not Pepsi) was sitting and sweating – like me.

Dear Friends Who Have to Ask Lots of Questions Just to Keep Yourself Healthy,

I get it now, and I won’t giggle (unless you are). I will not roll my eyes, and I will recognize that even having the eye-roll reaction means I have not walked enough “meals” in your shoes. It means I’m not loving you well. But, I’m learning this month. I promise I’m tucking these lessons in my pocket for days when I need them.

Love, Jennifer (and 48)

Day 1 – Whole 30

So, I turned 48 last week, and 48 and I have been doing some honest talk. We decided it was time to look into some health issues we’ve been tolerating for …well, I don’t know how long because these things kind of sneak up on you. But, I haven’t slept through the night in years unless I’ve taken a sleeping pill – which I don’t like to do because I’m a pastor, and if someone calls me at 3:00 to say there’s been an accident and people are scared and sad and need their pastor, I do not want to miss that call. Also, I’m getting some pretty solid arthritis pain, and 48 and I are pretty sure we’re a bit young for that. So, we decided to try Whole 30 (Google it or see the “Health” tab on this site.)

I have never blogged. I’m trying it now. I’ll just chronicle my Whole 30 days, and see if I like blogging.  Here we go: Day 1

I woke up nervous because today is the first day of thirty-days-in-a-row that I am expecting myself to have will power. I know myself pretty well, so I’m pretty sure this is not going to go as planned. Mostly because I’m not good at planning, so…

The first thing I did was go get my bloodwork done, so I can have some data to look at in the end. I also weighed myself and took some “before” pictures. This is not a diet, no counting calories, no significant portion control. Whole foods that are not known to cause inflammation for one month. That’s what Sage and 48 and I are doing. So, some of my before pictures have nothing to do with my size or shape. I took a picture of my tongue (it’s bumpy and sensitive), my face close up, (so I can note any changes to my middle-aged-teenager-acne), how far my arthritic fingers can currently bend, and things like that. I made some notes about sleep patterns and headaches and such.

I ate a lot today. Seriously, I ate and ate: eggs, an apple, an orange, great-big-salad-with-chicken-and-kind-of-a-ranchy-dressing, chicken soup, celery and almond butter, applesauce, almond milk, and about a gallon of tea.

Now, we are supposed to be limiting fruit because it has a lot of natural sugar, but I’ve made an executive decision that my previous (practically-intravenous) use of Pepsi means my body will need some extra sugar these first few days in order to adjust.


Every single meal uses lots of tools and pans…way more than a frozen pizza takes, anyway.  (and yes, that is a pile of bacon on the cutting board)

I learned: Shopping, chopping, cooking, storing, and cleaning up takes oceans of time. I felt a little frustrated that my whole day off was spent in the kitchen (though I enjoy cooking), and there was so much clean up.

But, it made me think of my grandmothers…in their kitchens, in their gardens, at their markets. It’s only day one, and this experiment has brought me to the farmhouses in Maddock, ND and Gary, MN where my strong, industrious grandmothers grew, cooked, and served whole foods to their families. This is a very tender beginning to 30 days of learning (and perhaps, remembering) who 48 and I am.

Be Gentle With You

My mind is pretty jumbly. It sometimes helps if I write things down. I could do that in a paper journal — but then I’ve done that eleventy times before. If you need a journal that is nearly empty but for the first 7 or 8 pages, I’m your girl.  So, maybe this kind of journaling will be better for me, OR maybe I’ll forget how to log in and leave this journal in the same pattern of the others…