11 June 2014

The day(s) I started to diet.

Look how pretty that salad is. Lots of veggies, healthy cucumber dressing. No preservatives!

Before you get worried, I am not talking about "diet" in the I'm-trying-to-loose-weight sort of way.  I'm talking "diet" in the I-want-to-change-my-eating-habits sort of way.  I'll repeat: I am NOT trying to lose weight! 

I've never really believed in diets.  I feel like they don't work, that you're damaging your body, and that the people who do manage to lose weight just gain it back really quickly.  I've always been a big believer of everything in MODERATION INSTEAD OF STARVATION.

Lately though, "everything in moderation" has looked more like "everything" without the moderation part. Unfortunately.  For example:

Oh, you're going out for dinner Sunday night, we'll go with you!  (Even though we ate out that day for lunch AND breakfast.)

Our "occassional" stop-for-bagels/donuts/kolaches in the morning before church on Sundays has become a weekly habit.

Our "let's just grab a 6 pack of beer to last us the week" has turned into grabbing a 12 pack for most weeks.

Basically, we just needed to have better self control, but it wasn't happening.  It was really hard for us to break our habits.  If it we gave up indulging in one thing (eating out), we would quickly find something else to indulge in (eating frozen pizzas and beer for dinner instead of eating out.)

More than anything, I want us to be really conscous about what we are putting in our bodies in the way of processed foods, added sugars, and preservatives.  We've lived near a Trader Joes and so most of our meets have been free range/wild caught without preservatives, we rarely buy breads, we rarely use our microwave to cook, and we eat a bunch of vegetables.  BUT we've also picked up some bad habits like falling in love with Trader Joe's seemingly-healthy pizzas with veggie toppings, Trader Joe's inexpensive wine and beer selection, and the easy-access baking goods that we can turn into our own breads, cupcakes, and cookies.  Which are all fine, but not ALL the time.

Our friends told us about this "diet" they were doing and I was instantly skeptical.  I didn't know anything about it except that it was a diet, and I don't believe in those.  They did really well on it, felt awesome, and came out of the diet in 1 month (the recommended time frame) with a bunch of "good habits." (things like eating fresh foods, watching out for added sugars in hidden places- think salad dressings, yogurts, low-fat products, and they lost some weight, which they haven't put back on in over 6 months.  I was pretty impressed.

Then, they asked us to do the diet with them for their second round.  They didn't have to do a second round, but they noticed us struggling with some of the same things they had struggled with and offered to give us some support.  We bought the Fat Metabolism Diet book (I can feel you're getting skeptical, just like I was, but keep reading) by Haylie Pomroy.  She splits the diet into 3 phases, and you go through each phase in 1 week.  The diet includes a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables and meat and nuts.  It only cuts out processed foods and dairy.  However, since spinich and almonds show up in a lot of recipes, it allows you to get your full servings of calcium (Which I was worried about initially).

Sounds pretty good, right? 

Only fresh, not-processed foods. 

I could totally get on board with that. 

No fast food.  No junk food.  No soda (even diet soda).  No artificial sweeteners.  But no caffeine.

Which means no coffee.

Which I thought would be the hardest part for me.  And don't get me wrong, it was hard.  To ease the initial no-caffeine shock, I slowly drank less and less caffeine the two weeks prior to the diet.  First a full cup, then 3/4 cup, then 1/2 a cup and so on.  It wasn't too bad.  I wasn't too tired.  Sure, I missed my coffee, but it wasn't the worst thing in the world.  Ryan had to quit his Coke Zero habit.  And he almost instantly lost about 5 lbs.  Crazy.

The diet also includes a strategic workout on 3 days that coincide with each phase.  Phase 1 is high carb/ unprocessed sugars (lots of fruits, steel cut oatmeal, and starchy veggies like squash and mushrooms and zuccini).  You HAVE to do a cardio ecercise during that phase.  I hate cardio, so this was a challenge for me.  But Ryan is the cardio king (having been an avid runner/cyclist for the past year-building up to a triathalon), so it was easy for him.  Phase 2 is high protein day, you are supposed to do weights.  I love my little baby weights and simple body-weight style exercises.  Ryan likes weights but he has been focusing on cardio lately, so this will be a good change-up.  Phase 3 is my favorite.  It has healthy fats like almonds and avocados, which are delicious and a relaxation exercise (yoga, massage, deep breathing) which is some of my favorite things!


Day 1 was rough.  We ate smoothies in the morning.  I use the word "ate" instead of "drank" because it was a ful cup of blended steal cut oats, which were very chewy.  I got up 30 minutes before I usually do and it took me all 30 minutes to eat breakfast.  It was super relaxing though!  Day 2 was essentially the same.  The foods are more bland than I'm used to (we can't use butter or olive oil in this phase) but were still delicious.  The hardest part was saying "no" to the chips and salsa at lunch.  The salsa would have been ok but I wasn't sure it didn't have sugar in it, so I said no anyway.  I have a feeling we will need to make some salsa on this diet soon!

Enough words, lets skip to pictures!

Look at all those veggies. We spent a total of 175 on food for one week. Then we spent another 60 at the end of week one so we could buy alternative things like safflour mayo, cacao powder, dates, gluten free flour, walnuts, and more veggies. But we spent ZERO on fast food/alcohol/pre-packaged meals.  And we froze 5 dinners to eat again.

I'll be honest.  Buying food was hard.  Thankfully, the book had a food planning list and recipes we could follow.  We made a few changes to it and then compiled a grocery list.  The grocery list was 2 pages long!  But if I think about all the separate ingrediants you need to make a variety of meals from scratch, that's what it takes.  More on that later.

One of the biggest learning curves was measuring out "two cups" of something.

I kinda just figured 1 squash or zucchini = 1 cup. Pretty sound logic, right?

Nope. It depends on how you chop, and if you go by oz vs "measured cups" but for us one squash was at least 2 cups.

We froze some of the squash we bought (can you do that, does it still taste good?! Clearly I'm not an expert yet) and gave some away. We also almost bought 10 cucumbers. We had to use a lot of cucumbers in recipes. But we only got 6, and we used ALL of them. 

Meats are always in ounces. WAY easier.

Lesson #1 learned: estimate veggie portions better.

We realized we had to do a lot of prep-work beforehand.  That squash we bought for chicken and basil soup?  We had to cut all of it.  I know, that's not rocket science, but you don't fully appreciate that until you make your own soup from scratch.  We're used to making meals, but never with so many "whole food" ingrediants.  We added to the soup: 2 cups of zucchini, 2 cups of yellow squash, and 2 cups of butternut squash. (And some other assorted veggies)

Look at that delicious, homemade soup! ( Chicken and barley vegetable) It made dinner (2 cups each), lunch, and 2 full frozen meals. We loved it.

This was our only "meal fail." The recipe called for half a cup of basil.  Well, fresh basil and dried basil are SO different. 

I'll just let you guess which one we used. 

We both took one bite and couldn't stomach much more. Our mouths were on fire.  I (thankfully!) was able to eat a leftover salad a drug rep brought (all iceberg lettuce though-kinda broke the rules) and Ryan ran to the corner store and had tuna.

Lesson #2 learned: if it feels like too much, trust that instinct. 

I learned the same lesson while making tomatoe sauce for pizza a few weeks back. 1/2 a cup of olive oil WAS too much....

Just eatin a snack and checkin my email :)

One trick we picked up was cooking with the kindle!  We bought the kindle book but had been using the iPad for recipes because most of our new recipes come from Pinterest.  

Well, with the iPad you have to touch the screen every so often or the screen locks (I'm sure there is a setting to prevent this, but figuring that stuff out isn't my strong suit)....which inwvitably results in food strewn all over the screen. 

I'm a messy cook.

The kindle locks way less often. 

Lesson #3: Cook from the Kindle.

Friends.  I don't cook meat.  Ryan does.  He picks it out AND cooks it. 

I know, I have a keeper :)

But I was so proud if myself! I learned how to broil something. Steak for dinner (wrapped in a foil pouch with veggies and juice, which turned into salad dressing) AND steak for lunch the next day! 

Lesson #4: We have a broiler. I now know how to use it!

So, this was breakfast. 

Celery.  Lime.  Sea salt. Turkey bacon.
(Well, it was 4 slices of each. I just ate most of the bacon before I thought I should get a picture because I know this is something I will laugh about later.)

Then, I decided to eat it together! Words can't describe how much better it tasted together!

Mmmmm, pork and steamed broccoli. This one Ryan made in the crock pot.  Remember all the meat is grass fed, free range, with no preservatives. 

Healthy snack (there are those cucumbers again) while I learn more about drug I info (as I turn down Panera bread and cookies....)

I know nothing about dates. I probably got the wrong kind because the recipe didn't specify, it just said 1 cup of pitted dates.  They tasted fine sand that's what really counts, right?

I need to learn this new kind of date.  There are way too many uses for that word.  The food kind, the romantic kind, the calendar kind of date....

(And now all I can think about is Miss Congeniality and describing the perfect kind of date...)

But nuts + dates + cocao powder = awesome snack!

One of the things I didn't realize is that we would have so much fun trying new recipes.  We were forced to do new things because we were following her meal plan.  We did have some of our meal staples (baked wild salmon with a veggie on the side is a dish we do a lot!) but we were trying new veggies and new recipes all the time!

Awesome breakfast! Egg whites, blueberries, and gluten free- cacao pancakes!

We definitely knew we would be spending more money on food and more time on cooking. I never took into account the money we would spend on soap (we've been washing big pots daily and running the dishwasher every other day)! Woah.

And then we got tired of chopping (and realized the limitations of a blender for non-liquids) so we purchased a food processor for all the chopping/slicing. We've had it 1 day and already it has saved us SO much time!

Our family of Kitchen Aid products. Yes, they all had to match. 

And yes, our kitchen is in a constant state of disarray.

 Before: Mess.

After: no mess for the next 3 hours. 

Then mess again.

Because it's time for week 2.  More stories (and photos) to come.

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