Stuff I like Sunday

We are throwing it way back for an edition of “Stuff I like Sunday”!  This is not a sponsored post, but may contain affiliate links.

While on vacation I was finally able to read some books for pleasure.  I read and really enjoyed The Lovely Bones.  I’m interested to see the movie now, as it also received fairly good reviews.  Any time that there is a movie based off of a book I like to try reading the book first, we will see how this one lives up to the real story!

Once I finished the Lovely Bones I have just started begun It Starts with Food.  Even though we just finished our first Whole30 (check out our thoughts here) we never actually read the book.  I’m excited to dig into it now and see if I learn anything else new and interesting.

Even though we are done with the Whole30 I am loving keeping up with our Banana, coconut milk and almond butter smoothies.  They taste too good to be that healthy!

There are two apps that we are loving.  The first one is called Meal Planner, and we just have the free version.  It lets me create our meals for the week, breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks.  I can then create shopping lists and share the menu.  During the Whole30 this was especially great because I was able to just email the week of meals to my husband and he had easy access on his phone for what to expect.

The second app I’m loving is a puzzle game called “Six!”.  It’s mindless, challenging, and fun!

Currently we are also loving the TV show “The Night Of” which we stream through HBO Go.  This week is the season finale, I don’t want it to end!  It was the perfect amount of suspense and mystery.  And we already love crime shows, so it was great.

My sister and I also recently gave each other a gift subscription to BirchBox.  I’ve received 2 of my 3 boxes and have enjoyed a few products out of each box.  It’s exciting to receive something in the mail and be surprised by what it contains.  It’s also a great way to try new products before committing to paying full price.

What are you currently loving?

 

Life after the Whole30

If you checked out the last post here, you will have seen that we successfully completed our first Whole30!  I managed to loose 11 pounds, and my husband lost 14.  I personally never stepped foot into a gym, I didn’t alter my routine at all, I just changed what I ate.  Focusing on whole foods, fresh produce, and little to no ingredients clearly made a huge difference.  But it also wasn’t super easy.  Here is a list of some of our Pros, Cons and tips for anything thinking about starting their first Whole30!

NNtwIvOx

Our Personal Pros:

  • Opened our eyes to sneaky ingredients in processed food
  • Reading lables taught us to look for ingredients rather than just number of calories or amount of protein.
  • Better eating habits, including making time to have 3 well rounded meals a day
  • Branching out and trying new foods (and surprisingly liking them!)
  • Cut down on mindless snacking
  • Threw out less “forgotten” food in the refrigerator
  • Almost completely eliminated the expenses we were spending eating out or grabbing take-out.
  • Gained a new appreciation for high quality food and being healthy
  • We felt “healthier”
  • Having a meal plan and sticking to it saved us time and $$.  I didn’t have to worry about whether or not we had the right ingredients.  After a long day at work I didn’t have to wonder what I could possibly throw together for a meal.  It eliminated the need to make multiple trips to the grocery store, again saving us time and $$.
  • Time spent together.  We spent more time shopping and cooking together, and generally had dinner together each night.
  • Weight loss

Our Personal Cons:

  • Expensive Grocery Bill – organic produce, free range and grass fed..$$$
  • Food prep is time consuming!  After a 12 hour work day and an hour commute home thinking about being in the kitchen for another extended period of time was hard.
  • Feeling restricted when visiting family (a family cookout and birthday party were harder and full of temptations)
  • Some meals got boring after a while, you can only have eggs so many days in a row for breakfast!
  • Brian felt the lack of carbs when he would workout and then spend a full day at a very physically demanding job.  Meals were not as filling for him.
  • I was disappointed not to see the most common benefits such as more energy and better sleep at night.
Whole30 Lunch
Our plates were colorful and our meals were delicious!

Our Tips:

If you’re thinking about giving the Whole30 a try, or if you’ve done one before and you’re looking to mix things up we found a lot of these helpful:

  • Check out the website!  There is a really useful shopping list, restaurant guide, substitutions and recipe suggestions.
  • Follow Whole30 on Instagram and/or facebook.  They often have guests posting, who are regular people just like us, who offer great recipe suggestions, motivation and real life stories.  Having a network is especially helpful if you are trying to Whole30 alone!
  • Make a meal plan.  I can’t say this enough.  It saved us so many trips to the grocery store which wastes time and $$
  • Prepare as much ahead of time as possible.  Cook a big batch of something that can be used in multiple meals.  Cut all your veggies so salad assembly is easy.  Pack your lunch the night before.  Seriously, it makes a BIG difference.
  • Keep yourself busy so you’re not always focused on food.  If you have a quiet weekend at home, get up and go for a walk or make plans.  Sitting in the house thinking about snacking can be a huge let down.
  • Have the willpower to be around food you cannot have and still be able to turn it down.  Instead focus on what you CAN have.  It will help you stay on track while being around family and friends without the same restrictions.  If you can’t resist your urges, avoid those situations as much as possible.
  • Get people to join you!  There is a force in numbers, the more support you have, the easier you will find it.  You can swap recipe suggestions and get together for meals knowing that you are not alone.

Whole30 Days 27-30!

The last horrah!  We made it to the end…more on that later.  I again only took pictures of new or interesting meals, but take a look at what our last 4 days consisted of:

Day 27:

7.31 Whole30 breakfast
Fruit Salad and scrambled eggs with Pesto. Got the green eggs…just missing the ham!
7.31 Whole30 Dinner
Salisbury Steak, Green Beans with Balsamic Vinegar and Mashed Potatoes with Ghee

Day 28:

8.1 Whole30 Snack
First day of August and my office A/C is so frigid that I broke down and needed a mid-day hot coffee. Still struggling to drink it black, but I’m getting used to the taste.
8.1 Whole30 Dinner
Homemade taco seasoning simmered with beef, topped with salsa and guacamole inside a lettuce wrap

Day 29:

8.2 Breakfast
Breakfast on the go…banana, cashew larabar and ice water.
8.2 Whole30 Dinner2
Perusing the natural aisle we found a new brand to try, frozen spinach cakes. Brian loved them, I thought they were only ok.
8.2 Whole30 Dinner
Spinach cakes, compliant bacon, turkey meat sautéed with green peppers and sweet onions.

Day 30:

8.3 Whole30 Breakfast
Almond Butter, Banana and coconut milk smoothie with a side of fresh strawberries
8.3 Whole 30 Dinner
Stir fry with peppers, onion, broccoli, beef with a Tahini sauce dressing. Organic sweets and beats on the side.

We did it!  We made it!  We survived!  30 days was hard work…but it paid off.  First thing I splurged on was an iced coffee with cream and sugar…boy did I miss that!

Overall I lost 11 pounds and my husband lost 14.  I never once stepped foot into a gym…I didn’t do anything differently other than change my diet.  I think that is pretty impressive!  

Come back later this week for our overall impression and tips.  And if you’re participating we would love to hear your best practices as well!

Whole30 Days 20-26

As we rounded the home stretch to our first Whole30 I made my biggest mistake.  No weekly meal plan.  It resulted in last minute trips to various grocery stores, repeat meals and panicking at the last minute trying to throw something compliant together for a meal.  I learned my lesson!  In order to really follow the Whole30 you have to have a plan in place, it saves so much time, so much money, and really helps mentally prepare yourself for the coming week.

Here are some of our meals:

7.22 Whole30 Breakfast
Breakfast of fried eggs, fresh fruit and a tall glass of water

My newest favorite kitchen gadget is the mandolin I received for my birthday.  It makes perfect french fries, my most favorite food ever!  I could have eaten just a plate of french fries alone for a meal!

Whole30 French Fries
The mandolin makes the perfect french fries, we baked them in the oven to make them Whole30 compliant!
Whole30 French Fries
Potatoes sliced by the mandolin and tossed in light olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, basil, salt, pepper and a little bit of paprika. Baked to perfection in the oven
Whole30 Brunch
We re-fried left over potato medley and topped them with 2 poached eggs and complaint “faux” hollandaise sauce. A side of compliant bacon made the perfect Brunch.
Whole30 DInner
Turkey burgers topped with pineapple, mango salsa, avocado oil chips and broccoli
Whole30 Breakfast
Smoked Salmon was the perfect breakfast addition when I needed a break from eggs. I had this with a side of fresh fruit and was good to go!
Whole30 Dinner
Back to the oven baked French Fries, because they were that good! More broccoli and a perfectly grilled steak.
Whole30 Restaurant Dinner
One of the rare times we’ve braved going to a restaurant…ice burg lettuce, grilled chicken, apples and dried cranberries. Dressing on the side.
Whole30 Dinner zoodles
Back to the zoodles! We have had so so so much zucchini on this diet
Whole30 lunch
Quick stop at Whole Foods, well balanced salad with avocado dressing and a cold pressed grapefruit juice. Perfection.

Stay tuned for our last 4 days, and what our final results end up being!

Our Debt Snowball – July

7 months = $14,557.22 in debt paid off

We began this debt snowball in January, so it has just been 7 months.  Basically it has evened out to us paying off just about $2,000 a month. Some months we have had extra to contribute, other months we are barely able to set aside anything extra.  But we have kept up a fairly steady pace, and it is so nice to see that snowball just grow and grow.

July was not the most fruitful month for our debt snowball, but we still made a little dent.  We are continuing to pay down the unexpected $1200 dentist bill and dog training from last month, so that has set us back a bit.  But, ever little bit of extra cash we have goes towards the debt.

If you have seen my most recent posts you will see that we are also completing the Whole30 program.  You can read about week 1, week 2, and week 3.  With this program came a couple of different financial situations. The first week we spent much more than usual at the grocery store since we needed to stock up on Whole30 approved basics.  Each week our grocery bill has continued to be higher than usual since we are having to buy all kinds of organic fruits and vegetables, grass fed and cage free meats, and many additional organic or natural products.  However, we have basically completely cut down on going out to eat, and I don’t ever stop for coffee (oh how I miss my cream and sugar!).  Even though a cup of coffee is only a few bucks, it starts to add up pretty quickly!  So, we have felt like even though our grocery bill has increased, we are spending less on the take out, restaurants, and small wasted money here an there.  I suppose it has pretty much evened out.

Overall, this month we were able to contribute $877.06 to our debt snowball.  This month I also took a little extra money and put it into our house savings account.  Even though that has stayed pretty steady I don’t want to entirely forget about it.  Paying down our existing debt is our priority, but seeing our savings increase, even by a little, is a good morale boost!

To date, we have paid off just over $14,500 in debt!  I don’t know why but I think seeing it rise to $15,000 will feel like a big accomplishment…I’m determined to make that happen next month!