The Whole Life Challenge

Thank God the Whole Life Challenge ended before Thanksgiving…er, Christmas (I’m a little behind). Thursday would have been miserable; me and my pile of turkey eyeing everyone else and their starches and pies. I’m not kidding; not a single item on that table was compliant (besides the avocado deviled eggs I made that nobody else ate). It’s not that I was overly interested in the green bean casserole and mashed potatoes, but I would have been downright hangry if I hadn’t been able to eat anything besides meat.

Now let me back up a few months, I decided to participate in the Whole Life Challenge with my coworkers. I don’t do diets, but I had been wanting to cut out white sugar and this seemed like a good way to keep me accountable. I was also curious — I wanted to gauge my current eating habits against a Paleo-inspired diet. Would it make me feel amazing? Would my skin start glowing, instead of just sparkling (get the vampire reference)? Would I have more energy? Would I lose weight? Cutting out white potatoes, white sugar and cheese seemed doable. Cutting out milk and honey sounded miserable. There’s nothing better than a bowl of banana-peanut butter oatmeal covered in whole milk. And if I couldn’t have honey, how on earth was I going to satisfy my sweet tooth (because you know I have one ugly monster of a sweet tooth)? No dark chocolate, no Stoneyfield After Dark Chocolate frozen yogurt, no PB&Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams… damn you, sugar.

Now all of those things are what I consider “better-for-you” treats. There is a butt load of research on the benefits of dark chocolate. Would I like to protect my skin against the sun? Improve brain function? Lower my risk of cardiovascular disease? Yes, please. I can eat the entire container of Stoneyfeld frozen yogurt for 400 calories. YES, I SAID 400 CALORIES. I don’t, but the point is that I could and I’d still feel better about myself than when I indulge in a Scratch cupcake. And this treat, my friends, tastes like a Fudgesicle from Schwan’s. Mmm…childhood… Anyone out there know what I’m talking about? Lastly, Dark Chocolate Dreams is a-mazing on bananas, toast, a spoon — it could probably even make celery taste good. Because let’s be honest, even with a heaping amount of peanut butter and raisins, it’s still stringy and chewy and pretty much completely unsatisfying.

After my chocolate-white sugar-white potato-soybean-milk-cottage cheese-artificial flavor-preservative abstinence I lost a whopping ZERO pounds. Yes, you read that right, not a single pound was shed in eight weeks (I was suppose to lose 7 lbs and 6% body fat). To be fair, I had my cheat moments, but they were mostly for things like milk and peanut butter banana toast (link to my fave); things I should not have to feel guilty about. So all of this to come back to where I started: Enjoy things in moderation, steer clear from long ingredient lists, fuel your body with what it needs, eat as “whole” as possible and indulge when necessary. Because your weight is just a number and the formulas are not one size fits all.

… and when someone tells you to lose 6% of your body fat, tell them you like the way your jeans fit (if you’re nice).

On a good note, the WLC did motivate me to try some of the 842 recipes I have pinned. Some of them needed some small tweaks — like swapping white sugar for coconut sugar — but most are WLC compliant. To find more recipes that I have tested and approved, visit my Pinterest board.

Peanut Butter Cookies // Swap white sugar for coconut sugar and you’re golden. These were a LIFESAVER.

Guacamole Deviled Eggs (or Grunder family fail) from I Wash You Dry

guacamole-eggs-watermark

Vanilla Poppyseed Cake Doughnuts from the Urban Poser. They look too good to be true, right? They are actually very easy to make — don’t be intimidated!

stacked doughnuts 2

 

Paleo Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes from My Whole Food Life // The first time we made these we were really confused. They are nothing like a cupcake — they’re mushy — so don’t be alarmed when you pull them out of the oven. I never bothered to make the frosting because they were so good mixed in plain greek yogurt with a few slices of banana on top. I also heard they are basically the bomb.com when frozen.

 Sweet Potato Cornbread from Leite Culinaria // Two things: 1) I tried baking the cornbread in muffin tins and they turned out dry. It really does taste better in cast iron skillet. 2) It works best to puree the sweet potato and butter in a small blender before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients.

Sweet and Spicy Sausage Stuffed Peppers from Fast Paleo // This sausage mix is fantastic and can be eaten with over easy eggs in the morning or plain.

Taco Pie from Paleo Newbie

Southwestern Grilled Sweet Potato Salad from Two Peas and Their Pod

Southwestern-Grilled-Sweet-Potato-Salad-6

Pumpkin Quinoa Breakfast Casserole from Cooking Quinoa // It’s weird that you don’t cook the quinoa, but you get over it once you taste it.

 

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Happy Holidays to You and Yours

I meant to send this greeting out before the holidays, but I slipped into a food coma earlier than expected. Seriously, how can anyone avoid over-eating at this time of year? I don’t know about all of you, but I was surrounded by cookies – we made cookies, people gave us cookies, we swapped cookies, I ate cookies. Ugh. If I don’t see another cookie for the next three months it will be just fine by me. That’s a lie. I will probably be over it by next week.

The thing that really irks me about the holidays is that I stuff my face even when I’m not hungry. I walk by a plate of goodies and put one in my mouth because a) they are practically begging to be eaten and b) I know that the likelihood of me seeing treats like this anytime in the next 350 days is slim to none. However, it’s a poor excuse in the sense that I eat plenty of sugar the rest of the year – it’s not like I only indulge in December. (WHO could do that?) Seriously, my sweet tooth is worse than that damn English oven.

Despite my lack of willpower, I refuse to step on the scale. If my jeans fit (and they do… mostly), than I figure I’m doing all right. Everyone is allowed to eat a little more at the holidays – it’s just the way it is – and that’s why you see so many freakin’ people at the gym come January 2. While I applaud any effort, my challenge to those weight loss resolutions is this: Stay strong. Don’t give up after one week (c’mon, you are better than that). Don’t give up after spring break (you still have to wear that two piece in June). And definitely don’t give up next fall when it starts to get cold outside (you have to work all those future Christmas cookies off). Plus, people aren’t lying when they say exercise makes you feel better. I know you know that. There are obvious health reason… and who doesn’t want to be a sexy beast?

That being said, I absolutely love the holidays. I am one of those awful people that started listening to Christmas music in October; I’d probably leave my Christmas tree up until the end of March if Jay would let me (and put it up in the beginning of November); and I really, really, really love cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies. How can you not be filled with holiday cheer after watching one of those? Sigh. Only 320 days until twinkling lights and glittery things appear in the stores again.

PS While I DO NOT miss that oven, there are few things I haven’t quite adjusted to…

I still don’t know where to look for the handle on the toilet. Most places in Europe had the button on top. Now I manage to touch all parts of the toilet before finding the handle, talk about needing to wash your hands…

I can’t remember what light switches do what in our own house. The other day someone asked me where the garbage disposal was at and I pointed her to the overhead light. How sad is that?

I am now the awkward person that doesn’t know which way to dodge when someone is walking towards you. The other day in the kitchen my Dad gave me a funny look when I chose to dodge left. I really need to work on my American-ness.

xo