30 Day Everything Challenge: The Assessment

6.8_30 day challenge

So now that I’ve done the 30 Day EVERYTHING Challenge and told you about how it felt as it was happening (Days 1 – 15, Days 16 – 30), I’m doing some thinking on what I liked.  On what worked.  On what didn’t work.  On what I can do better.  And on what I want to try next.

This is an important step for me.  My usual style is to keep charging full steam ahead without pause for thought or consideration.  Reflection is not my strong suit.  MORE.  LET’S GO.  DO IT.  This, however, is dumb.  It would be like taking a bunch of practice LSATs and then not bothering to score them.  And anyone who has made themselves take full LSATs knows just how ludicrous that would be.

So let’s reflect.  BTW, here is my full report card:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Get Up Early X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Whole30 X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Plank Challenge X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Abs Challenge X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X / / /
Steps X X X X X X X X X X
8 Glasses of Water X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
5 Minutes Meditation X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
20 Second Hug X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Real Kiss X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Wash Face X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Floss X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Bedtime Alarm X X

Even shiny, new things fade into the background after awhile

You know how you get a new something, like that living room chair you’ve been obsessing over, and you LOVE it and you love how it looks and you sneak little glances at it but then eventually it just becomes part of the room?

That is human nature, I suppose.  We become accustomed to things to the point that we don’t really see them.

Why is she talking about chairs?  Get to the point, already!

My point is that this is the way I felt about this challenge.  I made my spreadsheet document, and in the early days I was SO excited to run to the computer to enter my X.  About mid-way through I would tally my Xs at the end of the day.  On the last days, I had to struggle and recreate Xs for the day before.

My water tracking experience was a little better.  Using my fancy schmancy resources, I devised a sort of water abacus using fridge magnets.  Pour a glass of water; move a magnet to the other side.  It works great until Henry decides he wants a letter.  This was easier to maintain because of the tactile aspects of it.  The act of pouring water signaled to me that it was time to move a magnet.  Also, the fridge magnets were close to where the action took place.  Their prominence on the fridge, right at my eye level, made me take more note as well.

For future endeavors, I need to figure out how to make this proximity + prominence formula work to my advantage.  Printing things instead of having them buried under tabs on my computer would probably be a first step.  Multiple copies in different locations could also assist, but maintaining multiple tallies would be a pain.  Instead of having a master list, the answer might be to have separate lists near the place where the activity took place.  Once upon a time when I was pumping at my old job, I kept a “got milk?” post-it right beside my light switch that I turned off on exiting.  I never forgot the milk.

I like some exercise, but unreasonable expectations make me want to not even try

Exercise is definitely a good addition to my routine.  I like the way my mind sort of zones out when I’m doing it.  I absolutely like the results.  I can do more then 30 leg lifts without stopping now!  When I started, I couldn’t even do 10.  Now that so few of my daily activities result in a feeling of check-the-box accomplishment (maintaining the children is just a continuous, never-ending cycle), completing a set of exercises is surprisingly rewarding.  Also, I do enjoy the new hint of abs.  Just a glimmer.  Recipe for making me like exercise:  one dash of abs.

But I think 15-20 minutes is probably my sweet spot.  Once I knew it would take me more than 30 minutes to get through the whole thing, it made me not even want to start.  This is not good.  Doing something is always better than doing nothing.

For the future, now that I’ve rebuilt my mornings, I do want to add back running.  I hope to update you on this soon.

For the days I stay home, I may put together a grab bag of exercises to try and rotate them around.  One day could be pilates, another day could be barre, etc.   I may try the 30 Day Beach Body Challenge.  It looks like the numbers do increase, but the focus is more on rotating different exercises.

I will apparently only exercise in the morning

One of the reasons I wanted to try the plank challenge is that I thought it would be really easy for me to drop and plank throughout the day.  I spend a large portion of time crawling around on the carpet.  Why not throw some planks in there?

But it just never happened.  I could try much harder to build some planks into my routine, a la always plank before eating.  Although our kitchen floor is usually pretty gross.  Ain’t nobody want to plank on that.

My main takeaway though is that I like exercise and, if I actually want to do it, I should make sure to do it in the morning.  BEFORE even touching the computer to make sure that it actually happens.

Convenience food on the whole30 is really annoying

This wasn’t a shocker, but it was definitely reiterated during the challenge.  It annoys me that all of your easy on-the-go options like a sandwich or a slice of pizza are out.  I know some places have it, but I haven’t seen tons of salads here.  Even if I found a salad, this isn’t good eat in a hurry food.  I like a good sit down meal as much as the next gal, but particularly when sightseeing with the kids, it is nice to have better on the move options.

Everything I can think of to carry with for protein, like boiled eggs or tuna salad needs refrigeration.  Not ideal.  Anyone had more success on this?

Cooking was not as annoying this time because I already feel like I’m doing all the cooking

Our first whole30, we felt like we did ALL the cooking.  Sunday afternoons were usually devoted to roasting batches of sweet potatoes and preparing a breakfast mix of sauteed meat, peppers, and onions.

Now, I already feel like I’m thinking of food constantly so this was less of a change.

This time around I gave up on most advanced prep.  Instead of breakfast variety, we just ate eggs most of the time.  Also, I nuked more sweet potatoes.  Voila, smashed potato in time to serve once I finished the rest of dinner.

It is kind of unreal the number of times I wanted to eat when I wasn’t hungry.  I just wanted to enjoy the sensation of eating

Uh, what?  But it is true.  Particularly in the early days, I just wanted to be eating.  I wasn’t hungry.  I just wanted the sensation of putting food in my mouth.  That’s not really cool, man.  This has gotten better.  Mostly.  I’ll have to watch this in the future.

I like the idea of tying unique food to special circumstances and occasions

You know how some places are just tied to special foods?  Like, why would you go to Italy and not try some pasta?

I don’t want to miss out on special foods.  If you’ll remember, I chafed on the whole30 when we went to Turin and I wanted the special chocolate and at the strawberry festival when I wanted the berries with whipped cream.  Maybe I’ll go back to Turin.  I could if I wanted.  But I probably won’t.  Same for lots of places we adventure to.

I’m hoping to keep eating pretty whole30ish.  I’m not going to let it keep me from travel food.  I don’t ever want to miss out.

I missed booze the most, but we might need to break up

My first whole30 in 2013, I think I missed cheese the most.  Salads just didn’t seem right without it.

This time around I really missed booze.  For me, other than the occasional margarita, booze means wine and beer.

I missed variety.  I really only drink water, wine, and beer with the sometimes coffee.  Things got monotonous.

I also missed the way I’d feel.  I like unwinding with a glass of wine at the end of the day.  I like escaping the heat with a chilly, refreshing drink.

But.  I realized that–and this is hard for me to write–alcohol has become a proxy for “I’m having a good time now.”  How will I know I’m having a nice dinner if I don’t have a glass of wine?  How will I know I’m enjoying adult time if I don’t have a drink in my hand?

And I’m not OK with that.  I’m not saying all booze is bad.  I’m just saying that for me, because I have problems doing things moderately, less is definitely more.  I think alcohol is a very major player on keeping me from springing out of bed in the morning.

So none would be ideal, but I’m not ready for that yet.  I am living in a wine culture these days.  I’m not saying people drink all the time or a lot, but wine is plentiful, reasonably priced, and darn good here.  If you order a glass with lunch, no one would bat an eye.

I remember in college I met a girl who quit soda based on her dermatologist’s recommendation.  She said her skin was now amazing and she didn’t regret it.  I was incredulous.  How could anyone live without soda???

Fast forward a few years to 2007.  I quit caffeine cold turkey, and I haven’t looked back.  I now enjoy the occasional espresso or cappuccino, but soda is very rare for me.  What used to be outside the realm of possibility is now my new normal.

So maybe I’ll feel the same way about alcohol some day.  Who knows?  For now, I’m going to try to employ the same strategy as with food.  Don’t drink something because it is there.  Drink it because it is really good and I want it.

Thank goodness for sparkling water

Ah, sparkling water.  I’ve been a fan for a few years now.  But you were really here for me when I wanted something a little different.  Thanks, pal.

I need to cultivate higher quality adult time

Without a glass of wine in the evening after the kids went to bed, I sometimes felt adrift.  I had trained myself to want a treat at the end of the day.

Without the wine or snack, my post-kids evenings felt a little unfulfilled.  I watched TV some, but not a ton.  I read every night and I really enjoy it, but because I do that all the time, it doesn’t feel special.  Most evenings would be frittered away puttering around on the computer.  Some things I need to do, like email and trip planning.  But these feel like have to dos.  Not relaxing.

I’d like to add a little more purpose to the evenings.  I think this means more socializing.  More quality time with James.  And possibly even doing my reading on the couch.

I LOVE having my mornings back, but I need to use them more mindfully

I was so excited that I was getting up early that I didn’t crack the whip on productivity.  This is prime writing time.  I do NOT need to be dorking around on the internet.

It would help if I eliminated any need to get on the computer until after exercise and meditation.  I didn’t print the ab and plank challenges.  I should have.

It would also help if I cleared distractions on the computer (cough, 78 tabs, cough) and planned what I want to do the night before.  This is a definite area for improvement.

Meditation is my favorite new thing that is most likely to be pushed by the wayside

For my meditation, I sat up straight with my legs crossed and eyes closed for five minutes.  It was surprisingly OK.  I had that pleasant sensation you get on a long run where you think nice thoughts but can’t really remember them later.  I mostly tried to think about nothing.  Clearing my mind and focusing on a point in the center of my blacked out vision worked better for me than doing any kind of mantra.

So I hope to continue this, but it could get pushed out.  See, I can’t see tangible results from meditation.  I can’t look at my abs and see, wow, that meditation is really doing something.  Maybe it is a part of my sleeping better and feeling better, but maybe not.

Having a grownup bedtime routine isn’t so bad . . . and good habits breed more good habits

At first I was all getting ready for bed takes FOREVER now.  But then it wasn’t so bad.  I mean, we’re just talking about flossing and washing my face.  I have perfect marks on this, and I have every intention to continue.

I can also report that doing these things led to doing more things.  90% of the days I also used the toner I dug out of somewhere AND applied moisturizer.  Good habits beget other good habits it seems.

I need to keep working on this sleep situation, but at least I’m addressing the elephant in the room

You guys may have found it tedious that I listed my bedtime almost every night.  I know it seems small, but knowing the time was actually a really big deal for me.

Before, I deliberately chose not to look at my watch.  I didn’t want to know.  I knew it was late and that I should go to bed.  But this was my time, and I didn’t care if morning Melissa had to pay for it.

Now, I’m not hitting the target bedtime, but I am getting closer.  I’m at least making a conscious choice to stay up later.

We’ll see what I decide to do about this.  If I keep getting up on my own at an early time feeling rested, I might not change anything.  I may decide to get the reading material out of the bedroom, as my friend Maggie suggested.  I’m anti-TV in the bedroom because of the distraction factor.  Is my book presenting the same issue?


 

So.  These are my takeaways.  Some things are working.  Some need tweaking.  Some need more work.  It’s always a work in progress.  Life that is.

Do you have any stellar exercise routines to share?  And has ANYONE found paleo food on the go?  This is my next million dollar idea.  I’m on it.

 

30 Day Everything Challenge: The Process (part 2)

6.8_30 day challenge

OK, picking up where we left off on the 30 day EVERYTHING challenge.

But first, I just want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone.  I’ve been crazy excited to share this with you, and your comments and messages have meant a lot.  <Virtual Chest Bump!>  Ouch, that smarts.  I guess I should add some upper body work to my next challenge.

Ahem, moving right along . . .

Here is my “report card” if you will for the second half of the challenge.  (Check out the first half here.)  As you might expect, my performance was not as stellar for the second half.

16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Get Up Early X X X X X X X X X X
Whole30 X X X X X X X X X X X X
Plank Challenge X X X
Ab Challenge X X X X X X / / /
Steps X X X X X
8 Glasses of Water X X X X X X X X X X
5 Minutes Meditation X X X X X X X X
20 Second Hug X X X X X X X X X X
Real Kiss X X X X X X X X X
Wash Face X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Floss X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Bedtime Alarm X

Psst . . . It is also interesting to see how my 30 days compare to this whole30 what to expect timeline.

So here is how the second half of the challenge shook out.  One day at a time.  In real time.


Day 16:  Henry is screaming about something at 510.  Even though James deals with it, I sleep fitfully until my alarm goes off at 616.  If not for James needing to go to work early today, I might not have gotten up.

Ab challenge rest day!  Technically, yesterday was a “rest” day, but I’m trying to get in the shower earlier so I content myself with planks (120 seconds!).  Meditation does happen post-shower.

I am out of sorts this afternoon.  Tired and just kind of a headache.  I haven’t been snacking at all during this challenge, but I have a boiled egg and a half a clementine.  I’m glad because we go to a cook out for dinner, and I opt to wait until getting back home to eat.  (The thought of a naked burger with an iceberg “salad” just didn’t sound appealing tonight.)

I FINALLY get around to making paleo mayo today.  At first, I thought I had a mayo fail.  But it turns out that in my kids-screaming state, I was only adding ¼ cup oil instead of ¼ + 1 cup like I was supposed to.  When I added the extra oil, it worked out just fine.

Boiled eggs with mayo and truffle salt, roasted sweet potatoes, peaches

Boiled eggs with mayo and truffle salt, roasted sweet potatoes, peaches

Day 17:  I time myself on the Ab challenge this morning.  It takes me 25 minutes to finish the whole thing!  I do the situp/rollups continuously, but they take forever.  On all the other segments, I have to take breaks.

I try Nom Nom Paleo’s slow cooker kalua pig recipe.  I have high hopes for this one.  It is super easy, but mine turns out just pretty good.  It was a little drier than I expected.

Major bedtime fail.  First, we watch two episodes of Veep because I’m so excited that we got the website to work.  (It didn’t the last time we tried.)  Then something happened in my book, and I just couldn’t put it down.  I think lights out is like 2345.

Day 18:  I do not get up.  Exercise does not happen.  You’d think I could just squeeze in some planks, but I have trouble making it happen if I don’t knock it out first thing.  I don’t know if it is the kids, or the whole I’m already dressed thing, or just laziness.  But there it is.

Another bedtime fail.  James and I have a date night.  Ironically, we forget the real kiss and hug today, but at least we have some lovey dovey hand holding across a table at Mamma Mia.  That is until we have to move our hands to make room for the meat!  We have a ginormous steak for two called a Tomahawk.  It is amazing.  James also gets tempura vegetables and homemade chips.  I get a plate of grilled vegetables.

6.10_challenge 2

Yes, that IS served on a salt block

It takes awhile to get the check.  When we get home, our new neighbors just arrived and are having trouble getting in and they lost their bags.  After helping them, doing the bedtime routine, and reading, lights out at like 2330.  Not good, I know.

Day 19:  I get up a little early.  I didn’t set my alarm, but I wake up on my own around 630.

50 situps, but I don’t get a chance to finish.  Plank challenge rest day!  [Can you really count the rest day, if you just aren’t doing it lots of other days?]

We host some other new neighbors for dinner.  It is fun and eating is easy because I get to control the menu.  I am bummed on not sampling the scrumptious looking cherry chocolate chip cookies the neighbors brought.  And I feel kind of tool-y about not eating them either.  Like I’m being rude or something.

2341 bedtime.

Day 20:  I wake up at 616, but I don’t feel like getting up.

My family gets here today!  Visitors on whole30?  I know.  I expect some tough moments.  But I’m also thinking that my new habits will help me pull through with less pain.

Speaking of pain, though, bedtime is late tonight.  This is one of the nights that we have a sitter.  We walk around downtown and end up at an outdoor table by the Pantheon.  I didn’t see a single appetizer I could order so I just sit and watch my family devour some tasty dishes, being thankful that I had a boiled egg snack before we left.  It took the food a looooong time to come out this evening.  Like not eating until 2230.  But when my whole sea bass with grilled vegetables came out and they prepared it tableside, I had no whole30 regrets.  That was a tasty fish, my friends.

After we finally found a taxi that would seat five, chatted with the sitter, got ready for bed and did more reading than we should, bedtime was 0030.

Day 21:  Knowing we have a busy day ahead and that bedtime was late, I did not set an alarm.  I get up naturally at 700.  I am yawning, but alert.

I do my Ab exercises.  Instead of trying to do ALL the situps and then ALL the crunches, etc. I split them in half and put my meditation in the middle.  Kids are stirring towards the end, but I power through.

We have an epic day planned.  After a record of only eight minutes behind the official unofficial Melissa schedule, we take a bus to Trastevere and check out the Porta Portese flea market.  It was fun, but I would have enjoyed it more if it were a few degrees cooler.  We enjoy a nice lunch on the Piazza di Santa Maria, but I’m struggling on my order.  I can’t do grilled fish without getting a huge ginormous fish and nobody is interested in splitting and I just had fish last night.  In the end, I do a shrimp and arugula salad from the appetizer menu.  I destroy an entire avocado once we get home.

Things are decidedly fishy this weekend.  I prepare fish with mushrooms and more shrimp for dinner.  (The fish dish (cergia) was a hit, but I’m going to have to stop buying shrimp here.  They just don’t taste right to me.)

After a full day, I’m ready to hit the hay.  I’m in bed and reading before my 2106 alarm goes off.  But the best laid plans . . .  Henry is up and screaming around 2230.  He is quickly extricated to avoid waking up his brother.  We let him read in bed with us for a bit.  I am wrapping up my book and read way too late.  I think until 2330.  Henry wakes up again at 230.  Needless to say, it was not the most restful night.

Day 22:  I wake up around 630, but I don’t get up until almost 700.  I make it out to the computer, and I fail to do any exercising or meditating.  Huzzah.

Not sure why, but I have a killer headache this morning.  It is around earlier, but it gets really bad when I am outside.  An Alleve seems to help.

My mom tags along to the market with us this morning.  I can’t get over how good all the produce is here right now, particularly the fruit.  I buy oodles of cherries, peaches, and some fruit that may be a kumquat or an apricot.  [We decided definitely apricot.]

I also make another nongross dinner!  [Low standards, people.]  I make zucchini noodles with tomatoes and a lemon/egg/hot pepper sauce.  It is shockingly good.  This was a relief because I was really not enthused about the crappy dinner when I sat down to it.  Ugh, more whole30 nonsense, oh wait, this is actually really good.

Stay up reading until about 2300.  (OK, it was 2302, if you must know.)

Day 23:  I wake up on my own at 546.  Because this seems way too early, I read for a bit and try to sleep.  But no dice.  I still feel a little tired, but alert and rested.

I doubt this is related to my 30 day adventure, but just in case this is somehow related to ALL THE FACE WASHING or such, I want to mention that my eyes have been super dry.  Like wake up in the morning and sandpapery dry.  Like takes them at least 30 minutes to feel normal kind of dry.  No, I have not tried eye drops yet because I am really bad at them.  That’s right.  Even though I’ve had contacts longer in my life now than not and I can touch my eyeballs, I just can’t with the eye drops.  Occasionally, I can convince James to assist, but it is about as much fun as tracking down our cat to stuff in the carrier to take to the vet used to be.

Today is a holiday, Republic Day, in Italy.  Thinking it will be a good time to get out of dodge, we set off on an adventure and use three forms of public transportation to get to the ruins at Ostia Antica.  Here’s a pro tip:  when trying to avoid people, don’t use the train that heads in the same direction as the beach.  It is crowded, but we managed.

Thankfully, even though the Ostia Antica site is a few kilometers from the coast, there is still a nice breeze.  Otherwise, it would be brutal.  Temps are in the 90s.

The cafeteria there is better than expected.  While most everyone else has pasta al forno, I have chicken cacciatore with carrots and fruit.  It tastes like cafeteria food, but at least I’m not starving.

Coming home is one of the greatest temptations of the challenge.  We had been out ALL day.  We were tired.  And sweaty.  It was a good trip, but long, you know?  We decide to stop for gelato on the walk back.  Because of everything we had done and how hot it was, gelato just felt right.  Or a beer.  But THIS was the time when you really feel like gelato will hit the spot.  But I make it through.  When we get home, I pound a whole bottle of sparkling water.

I do rest for a bit, but my gelato angst is eased after I realize that I don’t feel completely wiped out.  I still have energy to move around and cook dinner.  This is huge because with kids, you can’t just go on a huge adventure and then lazily collapse somewhere.  They still expect to be entertained.  And fed.  Pesky kids.

I do decide to make it an early night though.  When the kids are in the tub, I do my whole bedtime routine.  After we put them down, I crawl into bed with my book.  I end up having to turn my bedtime alarm off because I’m out at like 2130.  Henry wakes up at 2330 for a brief scream, but what are you gonna do.

Day 24:  After that early bedtime, I thought I’d be rocketing out of bed at 500 or some nonsense.  But I must have been very tired because I wake up at 600 something and get up at 636.  Feeling pretty good.

Today I decide that attempting both the plank and ab challenges is no longer working.  I plan to jettison the plank challenge, but it is an ab rest day so I do the planks instead.  But then I chuck the planks.  Like I actually close the tab on my browser.  (Now only 78 tabs to go.)

Speaking of my abs, I’m definitely seeing results.  I’m no bikini model, but I can see definite definition, which I enjoy looking at, particularly first thing in the morning before that pesky food-in-stomach thing hides them a little.

Me:  “You better hide the scissors.”

James:  (confused look)

Me:  “To stop me from cutting all my shirts in half,” while lovingly caressing abs.

James:  (Hides head, either in shame OR because he can no longer look directly at the wonder of my sculpted physique.)

Day 25:  I get up a little bit early.  I have time to do 50 rollups, but I never get around to finishing the challenge.  Whoops.  If I don’t get it done in the morning, I just can’t seem to make it happen.

Bedtime is around 2245, but I have a terrible night.  I don’t know if it something me-related or worry about our upcoming trip or just because there is more light bleed in the room because the repair dude says we need to keep the shades open so that our mobile AC has more air.  But I wake up a few times and toss and turn.  Exactly what you need before a big trip!

Day 26:  Today I should get double checkmarks for getting up early!  I get up at 500 to get ready for our big trip to Turin.  But I should get negative checkmarks because I don’t do any exercising or meditating as we are trying to get out the door.

Water consumption suffers, but I definitely get in my steps as we try to cover the city in a day.  [More on our day trip to Turin soon!]

Unlike my previous whole30 faux pas, I decide to eat a deliberately off-plan food.  Turin is the home of gianduja, a chocolate and hazelnut mix that is one of my absolute favorites.  Coming all the way here and not trying it feels like going to the Sistine Chapel but walking around with a blindfold on.  OK, this is an exaggeration, but you know what I mean.  It just feels wrong.  I enjoy the chocolate, which was melting much too rapidly to contemplate taking any home, but I don’t chuck the whole day.  I don’t have any pasta or wine at lunch.  I don’t have the gelato at the airport.  This is how I hope to live life post-whole30.  Generally sticking to whole30-ish rules unless there is a good reason not to.  (Of course, real life happens, and I predict everything will be off the rails before I know it.  But I hope not.)

The offending chocolate

The offending chocolate

After our return flight and getting home and getting the kids settled and eating some protein, bed is at 2300.  I am beat.

Day 27:  After such an epic day, I decide not to set my alarm.  I wake up at 725.  I mean to do more exercise, but I only squeeze in a 60 second plank before I have to deal with some chilluns.

I invite some neighbors and friends over for playground happy hour, and I think it turns out nicely.  I can’t have the bread or cheese, but I enjoy the olives and cherries.  Socializing without wine isn’t so bad either.

This evening, I just can’t seem to shut it off.  Even though I got to see people, I want MORE adult time.  Bed time is at 2310.

Day 28:  I wake up at 5:something, but manage to drift back to sleep.  I actually dream that I sleep until 8:00 and feel a little guilty about “sleeping in,” but I decide to go with it because it is the weekend.  Then I look at my clock and it is actually 6:15.  Guess I still get my “X” today.

I do half the ab exercises.  When I started, I told myself there would be no partial credit, but I’m giving myself half an “X” for this.  200 situps and crunches is nothing to sneeze at, thank you very much.

I try a breakfast bowl with sweet potatoes, peaches, and poached eggs.  I like the idea of it, but it was a little off.

Today we adventure to Nemi for the strawberry festival.  And today, I again relinquish my whole30 “X.”  This time it was for strawberries with homemade whipped cream.  As before, I don’t go crazy for the rest of the day.  I don’t have the bread with my pork sandwich.  I don’t have any of the strawberry liqueur.  Ideally, I would have abstained, but I’m OK with this.

Strawberry arancio, strawberry pastry, and of course, strawberries

Strawberry arancino, strawberry pastry, and of course, strawberries.  (I only ate the strawberries.)

After the busy weekend, I’m in bed by 2200 with lights out at 2230.

Day 29:  I wake up on own at 600.  Other than my eyes being kind of dry, I’m raring to go.

I do half the ab exercises again before my meditation.  Half is good.  Still challenging, but not so much that I don’t even want to start or that it crowds out everything else, like meditation.

I repurpose last night’s leftover fish for dinner into a sort of fish salad with mayo, tomatoes, chives, and smoked paprika.  James, who was not the biggest fan: “I don’t see how you just plowed through that.”  Taste buds, man.  They have definitely shifted.

Bedtime is an epic fail.  I’m doing that thing where I’m being kind of productive on the internet and kind of surfing and I look down and it is 2230.  Oops.  Then I read until 2330.  Double drat.

Day 30:  I wake up at 530.  Uh, say what?  I don’t feel like getting up, but I’m the kind of awake where you know you won’t be going back to sleep.  At least I have plenty of time for my half ab challenge and meditation.

To beat the heat, my playgroup hits the indoor museum, Explora.  Afterwards, we get gelato.  I actually don’t miss it that much.  The boys are pretty cranky though that I expect them to share, instead of Mac sharing with me like usual.  I’m not sure what I expect from a 2.5 year old and a 1 year old, but they are not having it.

I’m kind of tired today, and I opt for a power nap during part of the kids’ naptime.  I don’t know if it is lack of sleep or just being wiped out from the sun.  It’s weird; it is pretty pleasant in the shade but the direct sun has become almost unbearable.

Tonight is date night.  We decide to go check out the summer festival stuff along the river, but it isn’t open yet.  I get my steps in on our nice long walk though.  I lose my whole30 check because I decide to have a sip of James’s beer.  I’d been smelling some of his beverages throughout the challenge, and I just wanted a taste.  I blame some of this on my less-than-satisfying dinner I made this evening.  We had fish with roasted asparagus and tomato.  I should have added sweet potato and side salad though.

AND instead of closing out the challenge on a strong note, I have a truly awful bedtime fail.  After paying the sitter, getting ready for bed, and reading, lights out is actually around 2345.  I guess I know which habit needs more work and likely a different approach.


So there you have it.  Curious what I did on Day 31?  I got up on my own at 630, did some ab exercises and meditation, and made eggs for breakfast.  Then I had a big old salad for lunch.  (I also attacked James with the tape measure in an eagerness to see how much things changed.  I’m sure you are not surprised by this.)

Definitely not a perfect record, but I think I jumpstarted some healthy habits.  I’m glad I did it.

Stick around!  Later this week, I’ll be assessing how everything worked and sharing, dum dum dum, results.

30 Day Everything Challenge: The Process (part 1)

6.8_30 day challenge

So when we left off, I announced my 12 point 30 day challenge.   You guys want to know how it turned out?  Patience, Grasshopper.  Let’s enjoy the journey on the way to our destination.

Here is my “report card” if you will for the first half of the challenge.

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7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Get Up Early X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Whole30 X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Plank Challenge X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Abs Challenge X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Steps X X X X X
8 Glasses of Water X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
5 Minutes Meditation X X X X X X X X X X X X X
20 Second Hug X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Real Kiss X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Wash Face X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Floss X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Bedtime Alarm X

To keep myself from completely blanking when I tried to tell you guys about it later (“uh, it sucked and then it got better?” is not very helpful), I kept a daily journal on my ups and downs and mishaps.  It has been informative for me even to review as I go back to edit.  (Speaking of editing, please forgive me if verb tenses are all over the place.  I tried to write in present tense, but I kept correcting myself and I’m sure I missed some.)  Brackets indicate my commentary from the fuuuut-ah, she says spookily.

Psst . . . It is also interesting to see how my 30 days compare to this whole30 what to expect timeline.

Without further adieu, here is how the challenge shook out.  One day at a time.  In real time.


Day 1:  Why didn’t I set some of this stuff up earlier so I could hit the ground running??  I wake up early and spend many precious morning minutes deciding on which challenges to tackle and making a spreadsheet.  Oh, well, at least it got done.  When I tell James about it, he’s all, “uh, this is way more than you talked about before” and I’m all “I know, right??”  But go big or go home, I always say.  Why pull the bandaid off slowly when you can AMPUTATE?  (Note to self:  I may need to work on my metaphors.)

Who can do sit ups like this???  I cannot do them without having my feet come off the floor and making a jerky motion to get my torso off the ground.  Such poor form cannot be good.  After struggling, I switch to a pilates-style roll up and over [which I maintain for the remainder of the challenge].

I find my Jawbone Up, but it needs to be charged.  Not shocking after sitting in a drawer for a year.

Day 2:  The heat is helping on not eating.  Luckily, after walking around in the hot sun, the last thing I want to do is carbify.  Unfortunately, it is making not drinking hard.  This is the time for crisp white wine and icy pilsners, darnit!  I fail on bedtime alarm because of date night.  Since I’m not really eating or drinking, we decide to go on a long walk so I’m sure I got my steps in though.  Bonus!  But at the end of our walk, it would have been perfect to sit outside and sip something.  Sigh.

I am impressed on how much I’m enjoying meditation.  Meditation always sounded a little hippy dippy new age to me.  But after a few seconds of my mind racing, I’m impressed by how much everything actually calms down.  And how quickly  it goes!  I swear, it feels like 30 seconds have gone by and my alarm goes off.

The Up is charged, but it doesn’t seem to be working.  Oh, well.  Most of my walking is pushing the stroller; my count would be off anyway.  I decide to only give myself an “X” if I’m sure I made all the steps.  [I’m pretty stingy on this.  I did do a lot of walking, but you wouldn’t know it based on my report card.]

Day 3:  I almost don’t get up early.  After date night later arrival and reading for a few minutes, I’m probably not asleep until 2300.  I tell myself this would be justified.  I could sleep in.  But I want to brag to the internet that I did a secret 30 day challenge and rocked it so I make it happen.  To aid on the water front, I remember to get a glass first thing.

Blargh, after I get us out the door, I realize that I am dragging.  It could be the slightly less sleep.  It is probably the carb flu.  I have a sort of constant low grade headache and I’m just exhausted.  I’m not heartened by knowing it will probably get worse before it gets better.  But then it WILL get better and I will be a ripped, fat-burning machine.

I fail on bedtime again.  I’m watching a friend’s kid so they can go out to dinner (we do a sitting exchange), and I don’t make it home till 2140.  I immediately walk in the door, talk to James for a few minutes (and 20 second hug) and start to get ready for bed, but when my reading alarm goes off, I’m just not ready.  I read until 2240ish.

Day 4:  Getting up again is a challenge.  I was having some kind of dream that involved Giada de Laurentiis and Oprah Winfrey in a fashion/talent show.  They were just interviewing one of Oprah’s backup dancers about her makeup when the alarm went off.  I really want to see how this plays out so I try to get it back for a few minutes before I give up and roll out of bed.  Thankfully, the ab challenge is on a rest day!  Although then I realize that I should have been up to 30 seconds for plank challenge yesterday, and I think I only did 20.  Oops.

I don’t dig meditation as much today.  My mind keeps spinning, and I just keep thinking of things I wanted to do before the baby wakes up.  (Well, “baby.”)

But on the plus side, I feel much less crappy today.  I might still be a little tired, but none of the headache of yesterday.  At the end of our trip to the market, I bought the kids some pizza bianca to munch on.  It took some serious willpower not to cram a piece right in my mouth.

Another bedtime fail.  Curse you, Outlander books!  I even went to bed at like 2045 so that I would have plenty of time to read, but I still blew through my bedtime alarm and read until 2315.  I’m not sure what the solution is.  Read less interesting books?  Tire myself out more before bed?  Exercise actual self-control?  I can’t stop watching TV because I just realize that we haven’t watched anything at all this week.

Day 5:  Because of my bedtime fail, I set my alarm for 616 instead of 606.  Again, I don’t want to get up, but I do and knock out my plank and ab challenges.  The plank challenge is up to 40 seconds.  I actually set a timer instead of doing an inaccurate count in my head.

On the plus side, I think my stomach is looking a little less poochy.  This could be wishful thinking, and I only really feel this way first thing in the morning, but I think I see a difference.  James, probably wisely on his part, declines to comment.  He also declines to take a waist measurement, not to tell me the number, but just to confirm that it is working.  James: “We are not going down this road.”  FINE.  [James took initial and halfway measurements, but I didn’t look.]

Also on the plus side, I think my taste buds are adjusting.  We make paleo pancakes this morning and they taste crazy sweet.  My lunch salad is also packed with flavor.  BTW, I am KILLING it on the salad front this week.  I have made sure to have cooked protein and greens on hand, which makes it easy to just add in other things and douse it with olive oil.  This is a nice perk of being at home.  Commuting with salads is a huge PITA.  I’m having things like oven roasted turkey with spinach, dried cranberries, cashews, and broccoli.  Or spice rubbed chicken on greens with cucumber, carrot, and tomato.  I am a little worried about this weekend if we are trying to eat on the go.  Note to self:  boil some eggs.

6.9_challenge 2

Another bedtime fail.  This time, I think it is 2245.

Day 6:  I feel like sleep is not restful, lots of tossing and turning, but I actually wake up before the 646 weekend alarm I set.  I enjoy a little me time with my plank challenge (ab challenge rest day, w00t!), meditation, and water, before we get ready for a day trip to Comune di Sermoneta.   I drink 3 glasses of water in the morning to be ready, but then regret this a bit in the car.

We stop for lunch upon arrival, in part because I need a bathroom.  Here, I have a bit of a whole30 fail.  Not a deliberate–screw it, I’m going to eat pasta–kind of fail.  Our antipasto starts out great, and I eat grilled vegetables and olives.  For the main, though, there is menu confusion and my chicken comes with a sauce that I’m pretty sure has cheese and flour in it.  Face palm.  I try to scrape as much off as I can, which is hard both physically because of chicken nooks and crannies and mentally because cheese/flour sauce is delicious.  Sigh, such is the challenge of eating in restaurants on whole30.

Sermoneta is hilly.  We do a lot of steps, but I doubt I hit a walking count for the day.  I am exhausted at the end of the day though.  After some turkey hash and putting the kids to bed and slamming some water to makeup for a lack in the middle of the day, I get ready for bed myself.  And then read until 2300 . . .

6.9_challenge 1

Day 7:  I decide to enjoy one “sleep in” day and don’t set an alarm.  Even after an uneven night (Mac woke up around midnight), I wake up on my own at 600.  Intriguing.

Man, the numbers on these ab and plank challenges are starting to get high.  My modified sit ups aren’t too hard, but I start to lose track on the way to 40.  [Hahahaha, just wait until you SEE how high the numbers get.]  I am really struggling on the leg lifts, and I have to take two breaks to get them all in.  I have been doing the plank challenge and ab challenge back-to-back, but that is starting to be too much planking.  I may need to modify the routine to plank at a different time.

Dinner is hard.  After a jaunt about town to check out a dinosaur exhibit, we pick up a pizza.  I get to sit and watch everyone with cheesy deliciousness while I eat reheated frittata.  Yes, yes, I know we could have just not picked up a pizza, but I didn’t really have anything else for dinner.  Stay the course.  I have been putting a lot of hot sauce on things though.

Read until 2237.  I’m sure you guys are wondering why I still consider this a part of the challenge because I am getting a great big “F” on bedtime alarm.

Day 8:  Despite not making it to bed “on time,”  I wake up before my alarm.  Part of this may be that the shutters are cracked, and I’m getting some natural light.  (I shut them immediately.)  I do feel fairly rested though.

I don’t feel bad today, but I am a little tired.  This could be from the fact that it was over 90 degrees here today.  Yikes!

After lunch today, the frittata is thankfully all gone.  It was good at initial consumption, but I really missed cheese on the reheats.  Also, the leftover roasted broccoli I added made things taste a little strange later.  Note to self:  broccoli off the frittata list.

I think reading was until around 2300.  I know, I know.

Day 9:  Mac wakes up at 600 and ends up in our bed.  I creep out shortly after.  I do not feel very motivated this morning.  Instead of knuckling down on the computer, I waste time screwing around on the internets.  I do ab, plank, meditation, but I’m not enthused.

Today is brutally hot.  We do a play date meetup at Borghese, and I am flagging by the time we get back.  During the outing, I push water on the kids, but I do not do a good job for myself.  I pound water in earnest when we return home.  I am also lackluster on food.  I throw together chicken, spinach, olives, and carrots for lunch, but I almost feel like I’m eating medicinally.  Keep chewing these bites so you don’t feel hungry later mentality.  Guess I need to dust off some new recipes.

After not TV-ing for awhile, we go on a bender this evening.  One episode of Elementary and two of Brooklyn 99 (a show you should definitely be watching).  After reading, bedtime is 2310.

Day 10:  My eyes pop open at 600 on the dot, but I don’t spring out of bed.  I just sort of let my mind wander until the alarm goes off at 616.

It seems strange to me that the Ab Challenge does not have plateau days.  The Plank Challenge gives you a few days of the same before bumping you up.  The Ab Challenge just keeps going up and up and up.  I guess the argument is for incremental change.  I’m just glad the leg raises have leveled off a little.  Those are still killing me.  But whether the Abs, Planks, or Whole30, I am definitely seeing stomach results.  I keep sneaking peeks in the mirror when I walk by.  It is almost making me sad that I didn’t have the guts to take before pics.  Today is the first day I start detecting a little arm definition as well.

Of course, after I type that in the morning, I feel sort of bloaty the rest of the day.  Good times.  No clue on the cause.

I do fail on bedtime alarm, but it is MUCH closer.  I think lights out at 1020.

Day 11:  I went to bed early.  No kid interruptions.  I sleep until my 616 alarm.  Why do I feel so tired???  Getting up is a struggle.  I hate when it feels like I’m doing everything right and still can’t win.

I have rug burn on my elbow from sliding into plank position.  Awesome.

Rug burn aside, I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up with the Plank and Ab challenges.  I can still do my roll-ups without pause, but I have to pause on the crunches now as well as the leg lifts.  I get that it is supposed to get harder, but I know my form goes WAY downhill towards the end.  I’ll keep doing something.  I just don’t know if it will be the full numbers.

I feel bloaty again today.  This is a bummer because I have some really good food today.  Breakfast is leftover pork loin with cinnamon apples.  Lunch is a spinach salad with pork, avocado, caramelized onions, and fresh strawberries straight from the market.  Dinner is a Mexican-inspired salad with a tangy lime salsa dressing.  I still feel gross.

Bedtime is around 2250.  I’ve been doing more TV, and then reading on top of it.  Not that TV is the worst, but I think I’m using it as my end-of-the-day reward.  I can’t have a glass of wine?  How about a new episode of Brooklyn 99 instead.  Although we finished that last night.  After I catch up on Mindy Project and Elementary, I’ll be on the hunt for new programming.  At least until Bojack Horseman returns for season two on July 17.

I wake up at 245, and I have some trouble getting back to sleep.  I am not enthused, but this does make me realize, that other than kid-related wake ups, I’ve been sleeping more like a rock.

I also have a dream that I cheated on the whole30 with accidental consumption of corn chips.  Say what???  If I’m going to cheat, let’s make it something sexier than corn chips.  But in the dream, I was all super bummed about not getting my check mark on whole30.  Because of corn chips.

Day 12:  I’m in bed until the alarm, and I do NOT bound out of bed.  At least Ab Challenge rest day!

Unfortunately, the Plank Challenge jumped up by 30 seconds.  For the first time on the challenge, I have to break up the time.  I go back to read the instructions.  It looks like doing the full time matters more than doing it all at once, but it seems all at once is what they are really going for.  Oh, well.

After confirming that cocoa is OK on the whole30, I make this chocolate chili.  Ya’ll.  I may never make another chili again.  This stuff is stupid good.  It doesn’t taste chocolate-y or even mole-y.  It just has this depth of flavor that far surpasses my usual flavoring attempts with cumin, chili powder, and garlic.  I know this isn’t chili weather, but I promise you will not be sorry if you whip up a batch.

Bed at 2255.

Day 13:  I wake up at 552.  I do not bound out of bed, but I am fully awake and feel completely rested.  This is interesting.  I thought that I was somewhere in the south of needs-eight-hours camp, but I didn’t think it would be all the way down to seven.  I guess it is seven if-no-wine camp.

Leg lifts are actually easier today!  The number is up to 40.  I thought I would have to do four sets, but I make it through in two.

While the boys nibbled toast, I whipped up some scrambled eggs with chives and mashed sweet potato with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ghee.  (Don’t worry; I shared.)  I’m usually too lazy for scrambled eggs (a whole other bowl to clean!), but these were really good.  I may have to change my tune.  Either way, it wasn’t pancakes, but I did feel like I had a special weekend breakfast.

The rainy weather quashed our day trip plans, but we did manage a morning walkabout, and I even had a compliant meal in a restaurant.  I enjoyed an all-beef patty with lettuce, tomato, onions, and cucumbers.  Ham Holy Burger also has salad options, but it was nice to have something other than salad for once.

Bed at 2300.

Day 14:  I’m awake around 600.  Instead of getting up, I read for a bit.  Until Henry is yelling about something.  Then I get up.

Today we did all the socializing.  I was that weird girl who brought her own food to the party.  I don’t mind not drinking that much.  Sitting at a table with a plate of delectable cookies right in front of me is much harder.

Bed at 2355.

Day 15:  My alarm goes off, but I can’t make myself get up.  Probably a little something to do with that later bedtime.  Even though I’m tired, I still feel pretty good though.  Bonus on not drinking:  no alcohol-related after effects.

I do not do my morning exercises or meditation, which does not bode well for getting them done at all.

For the millionth time, I get annoyed that convenience food just doesn’t exist on whole30.  It isn’t just an Italy thing.  It’s a whole30 thing.  After grabbing Henry from school, we pick up some pizza for the boys and have a playground picnic.  I try not to directly inhale the pizza fumes and pound a salad with a full avocado once we get back upstairs.

I get sidetracked on the bed routine because we are dealing with rebooking a flight.  Even though I don’t stop reading at 2206, I make myself stop at 2235.  Willpower.  I haz it.


So no sexy cliffhanger, but that’s the first half.  (Does our heroine keep doing it and slay the sugar dragon???)  Feeling a little better.  Annoyed with restaurant food on the whole30.  Failing miserably on bedtime.

Tune in for part two tomorrow!