Your time is up…now what?

July 17, 2012

At the beginning of June, on the date of my 12-year wedding anniversary actually, my clean eating experiment with the Whole30 began. As most practitioners of the paleo diet will advise you it was a “try it for 30 days and see how it makes you feel” sort of program. Sure, there is science behind it, but since there are so many different opinions weighing in on the low-fat/high carb vs. low carb/high-fat debate, the best evidence is the kind you give yourself. At the end of 30 days, Whole30 actually encourages experimenting with your off-limits foods in a formulaic way AFTER the challenge is over, so you can decide for yourself how they affect you and make you feel.

Being that it’s July 17, I’ve obviously well beyond the 30-day window (which was awesome and I highly recommend for those who have an emotional connection with food as I had been plagued with). So friends & family are curious to hear how I’m doing now that the ‘official’ 30 days is over. Well, it’s going just the same as the 30 days of June did; I haven’t changed a single thing. Why?

For one, I feel great. My body has leaned out significantly in six weeks and have more consistent energy throughout the day. I don’t get hunger pangs like I did when my blood sugar fell after consuming grains or sugars, and I have successfully converted my body into a fat-burning machine (instead of its former carbohydrate-burning mode). I sleep like a ROCK at night, and although I didn’t have sleep issues before, now it is just lights out, thoroughly satisfying, refreshing sleep. (I almost think the sleep aspect in and of itself is motivation enough to stay clean, it really is soooo wonderful.)

For two, I am not at all craving foods of the grain, legume, dairy or sugar variety. So, why would I eat something I don’t even want to? It would be silly. I am thoroughly satisfied with the vegetables, animal protein, nuts & veggies I’m taking in, and have found much healthier foods to “crave” (like brussel sprouts!).

Such *amazing* produce to be found at the local Farmer’s Market.

In general, the 30-day experiment that the Hartwigs of Whole30 and “It Starts With Food” and Robb Wolf of “The Paleo Solution” suggest is a essentially making your own body a testing ground. You are trying to determine whether you can feel and perform better by changing what you fuel your body with. In the end, it’s up to you to decide after giving it a fair shot for at least 30 days.

I learned, in no uncertain terms, that yes, I can make significant physical changes based on my dietary choices. Which is why it isn’t a “diet” that will at some point end. Will I occasionally eat foods that don’t fall under the paleo-eating plan? Sure. But, not just “because” – I now make conscious food decisions, not of the type propelled by impulse or craving. So until I think I’m going to die unless I have that piece of bread, I am not going to put grains back in my system, and that’s that.

It’s funny looking back, because the boy and I often talked about why it was such a struggle for me to lose weight, even while working out 2x/day and having – what we thought at the time – was a “pretty good” diet. I’ve since learned that my body is much happier without certain food groups, which also gives me the added benefit of reduced systemic inflammation as well. To be honest, I couldn’t be happier I finally gave up my fear of never eating bread or cheese again (which again, doesn’t mean I’m never having bread or cheese again!).

So all this to say, I really like eating this way; I feel great and have come a LONG way in cutting my emotional connection to food, which felt like an achievement in and of itself. I love that I “crave” simple vegetables for when I get peckish, and that I have no trouble saying “no, thank you” to the kinds of unhealthy treats I would “treat” myself with on a far-too-often basis.

What have I been cooking? Since the boy is out of town I’ve not had to do nearly as much cooking, as I am still cooking in quantities for two (or four, or six or eight!) which means I have leftovers for days – and that isn’t a bad thing.

But, let me share this “Chicken Satay” recipe with Thai “No Peanut Sauce” that is AMAZING and I’ve made a few times now. For the chicken satay pick up 2.5 lbs. of chicken tenders. You are going to marinate these in a mixture of 1 cup coconut milk, 3 cloves garlic (I use my garlic press), 2 tsp. fresh grated ginger, 1 tbsp. curry powder (I use WAY more than than, and my favorite is hot madras curry powder), a sprinkle of cayenne for those who like it really hot, like me, and a tsp. of salt. Put the chicken in this wonderful mixture – you should let the marinade sit for at least 2-4 hours before you put ’em on skewers and cook them on the grill over medium-high heat (8-12 minutes unless you suck at grilling like I do with our “new” charcoal grill).

The “No Peanut” Sauce is adapted from Everyday Paleo, which of course I adapt to my own taste (I don’t care for RAW garlic in a sauce). But, I take 1/2 cup of almond butter and mix it with 1/2 cup of applesauce and 1/2 cup of coconut milk along with the juice of 1/2 a lime. I then add my own seasoning such as garlic powder, cayenne pepper (lots), salt, some raw ginger if I still have some left after making the marinade, and just generally whatever else seems to float my boat that day – it always comes out different!

In other news, I am thoroughly looking forward to getting my shipment of the Whole30-approved Horsetooth Hot Sauce, which I bought four different flavors of! I will report back on those in the near future. Did I mention I love spicy food?

Have you had any paleo recipe wins lately? I love to try new stuff!



  1. So interesting! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I just remembered how you told me when we were cadets that you didn’t feel the mess hall served enough cheese! LOL!

    • Ha, I believe it! I’m a huge cheese lover, well dairy lover being from the Midwest and all. Those were the strongest cravings I had – for some good sharp cheddar cheese – during the first two weeks of the 30-day challenge. Cheese will definitely be a treat to indulge in!

  3. Maija, when do you think is a good time to go paleo? I’m in Grad school and starting a new teaching job August 2nd. Plus I just got 20 chickens, well 19 now, that I am building new stuff for as they grow. What if my work out schedule is regular for a week and then off for two weeks? Plus, I’m soooooo fat now! For real. I’ve been so lucky to have our CrossFit gym there so I can just “go” to a class. Additionally, money is super tight, and I won’t be able to go super duper organic, but I do have access to a couple of organic meat sources (deer and chicken).

    I have to say I miss you in the gym. I miss the weights. I miss the competition. I hope you are still putting food out for the parking lot cats. I really miss the gym. I don’t think it would take my body long to reel itself back in, but I am no happy with the way it is going now. I do have rings, a pullup bar, concept rower, and a lot of dirt roads to run.

    Oh, did you stop all alcohol consumption?

    I trust what you say about all of this, so thanks for putting it out there.


    • Hey Chela, I’ve been seeing your photos of the new chicken coop! Sorry that little one didn’t make it. Since I hadn’t made any plans to start this paleo thing until the day before the challenge started, I’d have to say it would probably be good to give yourself a week to do the research into what foods to stock your fridge and pantry with, and to give you time to get all the other temptations that don’t fall into the plan out of the way. Actually, summer is a really good time because there is SO much local produce available, you’ll be able to experiment with lots of inexpensive vegetables and fruits in your cooking! I go to the farmer’s market and just buy what’s local, fresh & available and then search out recipes from there. A good way to mix it up, if nothing else.

      And don’t worry about going super organic. Your chickens/eggs and deer meat will go a long way. Eating non-organic beef isn’t going to be that bad for you, in the literature I read it’s a better option, but when cost is a factor you have to go with what you can afford. Honestly, I wouldn’t really let that deter you from starting at all.

      Chela, we miss you at the gym so much! We used to have so much fun together. I still laugh when I remember how once you and I were doing an AMRAP and you got through the first round and just stopped. And then said “what’s an AMRAP?” Hahahaha and Austin was our coach – it was just the two of us that day – and he still smelled like liquor! Oh, those were the days. Speaking of liquor, I did give up all alcohol consumption which was hard at first, especially because I love to cook with a glass of wine at night. But, Ryan and I both decided we probably needed to cut back anyways. When he gets home I’m sure we’ll have some drinks.

      I think just changing your diet alone will help you not feel as “fat” – both my mom and sister (who don’t do CrossFit) have started and after just a week my sister noticed that he mid-section had already shrunk quite significantly. I noticed the same thing, I flushed off 10 lbs. REALLY fast.

      Oh, and yes I still am feeding the cats in the parking lot. This cute little boy who I’ve been feeding since he was a kitten (named him Penguin) totally lets me pet him! Let me know if you have any other questions!!! So psyched to see all your life changes are working out as you planned!!!!

  4. Mmmm…cheese.

    • I know. I still love cheese.

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