I am planning a day of complete and utter debauchery.
I finished the Whole Life Challenge this morning. I’m giving myself this day to indulge in an absolute bacchanal of badness nutritionally speaking and then I’m going back on the wagon.
The wagon is:
No grains except brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, buckwheat, and amaranth
No soy except tempeh and miso
No processed food
No sugar except fruit
No fruit juices
I did this for 2 months and I did very well. No cravings or anything. My results were good too. I lost 10 lbs which is actually less than I wanted to lose. I lost 15 last year. But I lost 7.5 inches from my waist and hips.
When I started I could wear most size 14 pants but some were too tight. Now I can wear all size 14s and many size 12s. In shirts I usually wear a L or XL but I’m wearing mediums without them being skin tight.
I redid my intro workout yesterday. I improved by 25%. My running actually got a little worse but my squats, pushups, and situps improved enough to pull the whole thing up to 25%.
The plan for debauchery used to be Mexican food but the husband pooh-poohed it. He pointed out that I eat beans and rice at Mexican restaurants and I’ve been eating beans and rice daily on the challenge. I said that there would be cheese dip and chips at the restaurant but he launched into a tirade about low quality cheese in dips and then I quit listening.
The new plan for lunch is:
Biryani – yes, it is rice but it comes with yogurt sauce
Kashmiri naan – wheat, sugar
Mango lassi – dairy and probably sugar
Dinner will be:
Pizza – wheat and dairy
Cheese dipping sauce – so bad yet so yummy
Root beer because I’m a wild one!
I’m pre-meding with lactaid and immodium because this is going to make me so sick and then I’m heading to the Indian restaurant. Wish me luck!
A question I get a lot recently is “Are you still on your No Fun diet?”
Yes, I’m in the middle of the Whole Life Challenge. Yes, it is restrictive. But, I’m eating great food. I’d hardly call it “No Fun.” So, I decided to list what I ate yesterday as an example of what all I get to eat.
Here’s a quick overview of the rules – no dairy except small amounts of butter, no grains (vegetarians are allowed brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice, and amaranth), no sugar or other sweeteners except for stevia, no corn or potatoes, no fruit juice, no alcohol, no processed food, no soy except miso and tempeh for vegetarians. It is designed to be a Paleo challenge with allowances made for us “poor” vegetarians. The rest of the challenge involves daily workouts and stretching and taking a supplement of our choice. I’m taking B12.
Normally for breakfast I’d make a smoothie. Of course on the day I was going to post I had a craving.
Yeah, I had spaghetti for breakfast. This is a pasta made out of brown rice and water. I figured that was legal for me. I was craving the mouth feel of pasta. The sauce is a bottled sauce with no chemicals or sugar.
At 10:00 I had a Lara Bar.
I made this creamy vegetable soup yesterday morning. It is mostly this 7 Vegetable Soup but I was missing a few of the vegetables. I finished it right before work so the jar was hot when I was carrying it in. By lunch time it still hadn’t totally cooled in the frig so I didn’t need to warm it up. People realized that I had made it before work. “You made homemade soup before work? Who DOES THAT?”
“Um, a person who was up at 5:30 for 6 AM CrossFit class?”
It isn’t that hard especially since I don’t leave for work until 10. Plenty of time to make some food.
I ate about half of the jar of soup and another Lara Bar too.
I had an orange when I got home from work and then went for a walk with the husband and the dog. After that I had a bowl of rice with salsa and pumpkin. Being allowed to have rice on the challenge this year is amazing. Last year I did this and I kept craving something chewy. Now I’m totally satisfied with my rice options.
I’m always surprised that I don’t crave sugar when I do this. I eat a lot of fruit and dates so it isn’t like I’ve cut all sugar out of my life but I’m satisfied. I always wonder when I’m in the midst of this why I don’t continue after the 2 month challenge is over. I guess I get lazy about making food. After last year I kept the no processed food ban in place. This year feels more like a lifestyle change than a diet challenge.
For the past two months I’ve been participating in the Whole Life Challenge. For me the Challenge was mainly about the food rules. I stuck pretty closely to them except when I didn’t control my food choices (other people cooking for me, traveling and eating out, etc). The key for me was doing a lot of research before it started so I knew how to adapt a paleo diet to a vegetarian life.
Now that the Challenge is over how am I going to live? It is working for me. I lost 14 lbs in 2 months. I don’t want to give that all up but I need to ease up the restrictions a bit to make it fit real life.
No Grains or starches – including wheat, barley, oats, breads, rice (including wild rice), quinoa, pasta, potatoes, etc.
EXCEPTION – Legumes (beans) and sweet potatoes/yam
EXCEPTION — Vegetarians ONLY may consume quinoa, wild rice, amaranth, and buckwheat
This surprised me by being the hardest part for me. I started craving grains like crazy.
That was me.
In the past few weeks I started adding in a few more grains. A tortilla wrapped around grilled vegetables made me so happy that I thought I was going to cry.
No Corn or Soy (including oils)
EXCEPTION – Vegetarians ONLY may consume these fermented soy products – tempeh, miso, natto
I thought no soy was going to be very hard as a vegetarian but it wasn’t that bad.
No Sugar or Sweetener of any kind – including refined sugar, raw sugar, cane juice, evaporated cane juice, honey, agave, maple syrup, Truvia, aspartame, NutraSweet, sucralose, etc.
EXCEPTION – Stevia may be used
This is where I thought I would fall apart. I was shocked that it wasn’t that hard. I learned to drink iced tea straight up with no sweetener. I might have developed a bit of a grape addiction though. Dates made my life much easier too. Skipping dessert was no problem. I wasn’t even tempted by Halloween candy and I LOVE me some candy corn.
No Dairy including milk, cheese, buttermilk, yogurt, kefir, sour cream, etc.
EXCEPTION – Butter
I’ve always been sensitive to dairy but I love cheese. We don’t use cow milk at home but cheese was always around. Again, this wasn’t that hard to cut out. I’ve cheated a few times on this at restaurants. That didn’t end pretty. My mild lactose intolerance is now a major lactose intolerance as my body started to heal from repeated onslaughts of dairy. Sure, I can take a bunch of pills to be able to eat it but that obviously isn’t healthy.
No Alcohol, Soda, or Juice. Values for 1 point are 1 oz. liquor, 16 oz. beer, 4 oz. wine, 1 mixed drink, 12 oz. of soda, and 8 oz. of juice.
EXCEPTION – Lemon and lime juice
The alcohol part wasn’t an issue but I would have liked to be able to flavor things with fresh orange juice or used my juicer for fruit/veg blends.
No Artificial or Processed ingredients or foods. Any non-traditional food chemical is not permitted. This prohibition includes guar gum and agar. No food that required anything other than traditional food preparation methods such as cooking, drying, or curing. Food from jars, cans, or boxes are permitted as long as their ingredients or preparation do not violate the general nutrition rules.
Again this was surprisingly easy. We’re lucky because we have 2 major grocery stores nearby that don’t stock highly processed foods. Even there I read labels and only picked canned items like salsa or spaghetti sauces that were chemical free. The chemical free stuff is usually cheaper too. My favorite example is hummus. The cheapest hummus available in the store was the only one without a huge amount of chemicals in it.
So what stays and what goes?
1. No processed food.
It is easy. Honest. Just don’t buy anything prepared that your great-grandmother couldn’t have canned in her kitchen. That fits in with Michael Pollan’s food rule that you shouldn’t eat anything that your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. Most of the processed food I ate violated some of the other health rules anyway – like macaroni and cheese.
2. When cooking at home keep following the rules at least 90% of the time.
I’m giving myself a bit of an out because I would like to be able to cook with natural sweeteners if I bake. I might also eat store bought veggie burgers since I can’t make good homemade ones to save my life.
3. When eating out choose the healthier options.
You can’t eat out on this diet plan. You might be able to find vegan food to avoid the dairy but then you won’t be able to avoid the grain or soy. You can’t even have a salad because restaurant salad dressings are either processed or have sugar in them. I like eating out. I like going out at lunch time just to get out of the office and sit down and read a book in peace. The husband and I like to go out to all the great restaurants around here. We were doing that too much though. So it is time for a sub-rule.
Only go out for dinner once a week. Make it a treat, not something you do because you are too lazy to cook.
If you do go out make it worthwhile. No fast food. Again we are lucky because there are so many good restaurants here that we never go to fast food or national chain restaurants like we did where we lived before.
First up I’m using my dinner out to celebrate. Saturday we are going to our local Indian restaurant where I am having biryani (rice) and naan (bread)! They give vast portions so I end up with several meals out of it so I never was tempted to cheat by getting it during the challenge. After that it is back on track. My goal is to lose another 25 lbs.
Since the Whole Life Challenge rules specify no sugar (including honey and artificial sweeteners) and no grains, you’d think that brownie sundaes would be out of bounds. But where there is a will there is a way.
I started out by making brownies based on this recipe.
It has honey in it so I substituted unsweetened applesauce. I also didn’t add the apricots since I didn’t have any. The brownies turned out kind of bitter since there wasn’t enough sugar to balance the cocoa powder. I wasn’t willing to give up on them though since they have coconut cream in them which is about the same price as gold.
I’ve made banana soft serve before but never really loved that either. Then I had an epiphany. Dates!
I took 2 frozen bananas and 2 dates and mixed them in the food processor with some peanut butter. That made something with almost a dough-like consistency so I thinned it with just a touch of almond milk and vanilla until it was soft serve consistency. The dates gave it just enough sweetness to balance the bitterness of the brownies when you ate them together. Win!
But actually it is pretty good. I’ve found out through my research for trying to do a paleo-vegetarian diet for the Whole Life Challenge that cauliflower is the key. It can be made into rice. Now it can be made into pizza.
Take 1 head of cauliflower and dice it in a food processor into rice-sized pieces.
Steam it briefly so it is softened but not mushy.
Take one cup of the cauliflower and mix it with an egg. Some people use cheese now too but that isn’t allowed for me right now
Then season the heck out of it so it doesn’t taste like cauliflower. I used garlic, onion powder, and basil.
Spread in a pizza shape on parchment paper on a cookie sheet
Bake – here’s where it gets tricky. I used 350 degrees for 40 minutes. The center was still a bit wet. I’ve seen other recipes that use 425 degrees and I may try that next to get the whole thing sort of crunchy like a thin crust pizza.
I wrote a whole post about how well I was doing on the challenge so far except for that one time I screwed up by accident. Then I deleted it because I don’ t know how to use the wordpress app on my phone.
It was a good post but I don’t have the heart to redo it all. Here are the highlights.
I’m doing well
I’m not struggling as long as I have meals or major ingredients ready in the freezer.
I got tricked because Panera puts high fructose corn syrup on their dried apples which I didn’t know until after I ate them.
If I’m going to lose a point I’d rather do it for ice cream.
I’ve lost a few pounds.
It is all going to hell in a handbasket this weekend.
I’m heading down South to judge a trail ride. Southerners are very concerned about hosting vegetarians. Vegetarians on bizarre restrictive diets would make them cry. I don’t control my food options this weekend so I know my choices are not going to be challenge compliant. I’m going to try to stay healthy though. For example, when I fly I usually pack Combos to snack on. Today I have pitaschios and dried fruit – no corn syrup.
There is a big potluck Saturday night full of Southern women cooking to impress each other. Tables of desserts. Vegetarian dishes will be pasta and cheese based. I’ll just subtract my three points now and be glad I can’t get negative points.
I did manage to eat on plan at the Charlotte Airport. There was a Mexican place where they had a breakfast burrito bowl with eggs, meat, potatoes, cheese, and salsa. That can be made into just eggs and salsa. I was surprised at how reluctant I was to eat anything off plan. I also have an apples and greens smoothie. It has apple juice in it which isn’t allowed but it seemed a healthier option when I was still hungry than anything else available.
I was worried about what I was going to eat during this nutrition challenge. Basically, for me, everything but fruits and vegetables are out. I did a lot of research ahead of time and that helped. I’ve cooked and frozen food to make it easy to eat when I’m pressed for time.
I was fighting a cold for the first few days and I think that helped me. I wasn’t as hungry as usual. (I was also living on ginger tea. I heard about this during my Chinese medicine classes. They said that at the first sign of a cold you should grate ginger in to a cup, add hot water, let it seep for 20 minutes. Then strain it and add honey and lemon. Everyone in my office was coming down with a horrible plague. When I felt it starting in me I used some ginger tea bags I had and drank it often. I never got the full sickness that everyone else had. Amazing!) I had headaches but I’m not sure if that was sickness or detox.
Meals I’ve had so far:
Baked spaghetti squash
Spaghetti squash can be made ahead of time and frozen. One big squash makes enough for several meals. I cooked one in the oven for an hour on 350 and then divided it up into several serving sized freezer bags. When I wanted to eat it I baked it straight from the freezer with tomato sauce and veggies.
Sweet potato gnocchi
I made this with one baked sweet potato per person being served. Scoop out the flesh and then mix with flour (I’m using chickpea flour to be WLC compliant) until it forms a dough that you can form into gnocchi. This may not stay together if you boil it so I’ve had it sauteed in rosemary butter and baked. I think the sautee was better. Also served with tomato sauce
I’m using No Meat Athlete’s veggie burger formula. I’m not loving the combination I made. They don’t have much taste or a very good texture but smothered in salsa with some veggies on the side, they are fine. Super healthy with all the beans and veggies in them but not something I’m going to be craving.
I also have portions of cooked wild rice in my freezer and frozen bananas to make banana soft serve. I’ve been alternating being egg muffins and smoothies for breakfast. I snack on carrots, cucumbers, and fruit as needed throughout the day. I have a gallon ziploc bag of produce that I carry to work. I haven’t eaten it all yet but it is there as a security blanket in case I get hungry.
The weekly challenge this week is to talk to three restaurants and see what is challenge compliant. I scoffed at this because as a family with a vegetarian and a person with severe food allergies we question everything we get. I did find out some new stuff though. I asked Applebee’s about their tomato basil soup. Turns out it is made with beef broth so there is nothing for me to eat there. Subway’s oil is possibly olive oil mixed with an unknown other oil. That may or may not be ok to use as a dressing on salads since all the rest of the salad dressings are out. Likewise Panera’s salad dressings are out for soy and/or sugar. The vegetarian black bean soup is ok. I got the fuji apple salad with no meat or dressing. Turns out that has cheese so I just picked through it. (I brought some salsa with me to use as a dressing.) I ate the dried apples on top. Bad – someone else found out that they are coated in high fructose corn syrup. Minus 1 diet point for me yesterday. That made me mad. If I’m going to lose points I want to lose it on something super yummy!
Right now I’m making my own tomato basil soup for lunch and roasting eggplant to make a dip for my veggies.
11 box jumps – I was wimpy and did about an 18 inch height. I got no vertical jump.
5 clean and jerks – That is taking the bar from the floor to your shoulders and then over your head. I dd 55 lbs which is very light for me so I was doing this fast. I should have added at least another 10 lbs to make it more of a workout.
My gym had a big party for the start of the Whole Life Challenge on Saturday. I work on Saturdays so I did my baseline workout on Sunday. It is one of those workout that when you first read it you are like, “I can do that” and then in the next 10 seconds you realize that it is totally going to suck. Add in that we were doing this outside because we have a super small gym and we needed the room to run. That means burpees on the asphalt.
The workout is 9 minutes of as many reps as possible of:
7 kettle bell swings – Hold it in both hands in front of you. Use your hips to help swing it up above your head. I used 25 lbs.
7 burpees – pushup, standup, jump with hands over your head
50 meter run – After the first run, which was more like a light jog, this looked more like zombies on the move.
I did 6 full rounds, another set of kettle bell swings, and one burpee. That seemed to be around the average for my gym. Sure, some crazy people got 11 rounds in but that’s just showing off!
The workout was 3 rounds of:
15 pull ups
15 sumo high dead pulls – take the bar from the ground in a squat, stand and pull it to shoulder height. I did 55 lbs. You use your hips to get a lot of momentum on the bar.
I did it in 10:54.
The Whole Life Challenge is going well so far. I’ve been posting recipes that I find that are good as I go. This week’s challenge is to ask at three restaurants if there is anything we can eat. Pretty much the answer is no. I think I can eat the black bean soup at Panera. I’m going to ask today. I found out yesterday that the tomato basil soup at Applebee’s is beef based. Icky.
This recipe uses almonds, dates, macadamia nuts, and dried apples pulsed in a food processor and then mixed with melted coconut oil and spices. Form into bars and refrigerate.
My grocery store didn’t have macadamias so I used extra almonds. The dates are good but it uses 2 cups and that can get expensive. I’m thinking that you may be able to do this with raisins. They would give the same sweetness and stickiness.
You could really use any dried unsweetened fruit. I’m going to try pineapple and coconut.
I’m not big fan of eggs. I don’t like the texture no matter how they are made. I have to disguise the taste with some form of tomato – ketchup or salsa. The only egg product I really tolerate is the egg on McDonald’s bacon, egg and cheese bagel (without the meat) but with their creamy yummy sauce. Yeah, bad, I know. It reminds me of when I was almost vegetarian but still ate Big Macs and Taco Bell meat.
The diet for the Whole Life Challenge is based on paleo diets. Those are whole food diets that rely fairly heavily on meat. As a vegetarian this is totally not going to work for me. I am also lazy when it comes to eating. I want to eat immediately when I am hungry. I don’t want to cook then. But, I like to cook and I like variety so I decided to try to cook meals and freeze them ahead of time.
I went on a big food shopping trip today. I started making up a bunch of stuff. There would be more if I hadn’t smashed the food processor into bits. That stopped progress on several meals. Oh well, I had been thinking about the fact that I really should just go buy a new one because that one was damaged in several ways that made it very difficult to use. I guess the universe agreed with me!
I’ll be posting things I make as I try them so I can report back on whether they are any good or not.
This recipe as it stands isn’t Whole Life approved because it uses yogurt so I modified it.
Take one whole ripe banana and mash it with a fork.
Stir in an equal amount of nut butter
Mix in a bit of cocoa powder (If anyone comes on here and tells me that it is processed so it is cheating, I’ll be very pouty. I wasn’t sure if it was legal but it said just “pure natural cocoa”. Shut up.)
Add a small amount of almond milk until it is the consistency of pudding.
Make bite sized sandwiches with the filling between two slices of banana.
Put on a cookie sheet and dust with cinnamon.
Freeze. When solid transfer to a container.
These are good. I like them bite sized because when you pull them out of the freezer and pop them in your mouth they take a minute to thaw. That way they last longer!
I also peeled and froze a few extra bananas in order to make banana “ice cream.”
Take a peeled frozen banana and mix it in a food processor until it is the consistency of ice cream. Be patient. It will get there. Promise.
Mix in any other flavoring (fruit, vanilla, cocoa, peanut butter, etc) you like.