Life Lately, Healthy Living, and My Thoughts on Whole30

It’s a 3 day weekend! Yay! I’m currently enjoying a lazy day. Thus far it has consisted of Netflix, studying, and a 4 mile tempo run (maybe not so lazy on that one). I’m officially in 5k training mode. I feel both unprepared and optimistic for this racing season. I’m getting faster overall on my runs, but I’m not necessarily where I’d want to be on my max effort pushes. Almost all of the speed work I’ve done is speeding up my casual runs and some track workouts consisting of much shorter distances. At one point I did a more regimented track workout training program, but 1000m repeats are disgusting. This week I eased back into it with 5x400m repeats and then 2×200. I neglected speed somewhat over the holidays so this left me sore!

Back to my tempo run. I did 4 miles, with the inner 2 miles at roughly a 8:00 pace. My 5k time clocked in at just over 26:00, which is a good sign because it included my non-tempo portion! But I do the tempo part on a slight downhill. Overall, I felt good though! My next 5k is February 7 and while I may not be gunning for a PR, I’m hoping to place! I won my age group 2 years ago and I missed placing by a few seconds last year (it’s a quite small race).

I have some fun food to share, so I’ll scatter that throughout my thoughts on the aforementioned topic of today’s post—the Whole30.

I actually have fairly strong feelings about the Whole30. This year, it feels like everyone is embarking on the new year with the Whole30. As a disclaimer, I’ve never done the Whole30. I vaguely tried at one point, but lasted 3 days. So if you want to take my contemplations with a grain of salt, feel free to.


One of my favorite ways to eat Mexican food is in salad form. I love the fresh veggies+guacamole!

Disclaimer #2: I could never actually do the Whole30 or Paleo in general with my eating restrictions. I don’t eat red meat, and I’m allergic to nuts and coconut. That severely limits my options, especially for healthy fats!

If I’ve learned anything about health over the past years, it is that health is a journey. Different knowledge and experiences have drastically shaped my view of what is healthy. I think longtime readers will probably see this shift. I think my views have been to the moon and back since I started this blog.

If you read my early posts, it’s clear I was passionate and knowledgable about nutrition, but maybe not in a practical sense. I viewed sugar as the devil and always felt like I was poisoning my body by eating it. I did several no sugar challenges. A year into my blog, I did a real food challenge.


Pizza made on GF bread.

Then last winter I got sick. I no longer viewed food in terms of what was healthy, but rather in terms of what wouldn’t make me ill.

And now, I finally have a diagnosis, which brought even more changes. And guess what? My view of healthy changed again.

Here are my thoughts now. I still think sugar is the devil. I think overconsumption of sugar and processed foods leads to many of the health problems were are dealing with today. I think that eating 100% unprocessed food is probably pretty healthy. But here’s the thing. It’s not necessarily sustainable. When I cut out all processed foods, I felt fantastic. I looked fantastic. I was glowing. But I was also CRAZY. I felt so restricted. I couldn’t eat anything, and therefore I craved everything. I would eat large quantities of healthy food to try and stave off the cravings. And when it was over? OF COURSE I went back to the sweet stuff. So much.


I actually slept in until 8:30 this morning which I considered a victory. I rewarded myself with chocolate chip cranberry orange bread—the last piece. Plus some amazing turkey. I ended up not eating the broccoli—too early for spicy!

While my project wasn’t nearly as restrictive as the Whole30, it still made me crazy. And honestly? I like sweets. I don’t want to deny myself of them forever. And in the society we live in today? Honestly it’s not practical.


I got a 6 month fruit and cheese club for Christmas and this was part of shipment #1! Yay!

In the past couple of years, I started getting a better idea of what moderation is. And overall I was probably at least a little bit healthier. And now with my new style of eating, I really am understanding and practicing it. I honestly feel like I’m a different person now, and I can almost sense myself transforming. Maybe it’s because I was ill for so long and now feel so much healthier. Part of me wonders if gastroparesis is something I’ve always had a little bit before it flared up really badly and now I’m finally dealing with it. This is sort of unrelated to the subject of healthy living in general, but one of the symptoms of gastroparesis is blood sugar issues and I’m wondering if now that I’m eating in a way that seems to keep flare ups at bay, this is going away too. When I’m respecting my stomach, I’m not craving things like I did before, and I WANT to eat more healthy foods.


Flourless chocolate cake. Amazing.

I think that was a convoluted way of saying that unprocessed food is fantastic, and should make up most of a healthy diet, but we should also include some fun foods because life without flour less chocolate cake is just not a life I would want to lead. When we allow ourselves to eat “unhealthy” foods, we regain some of our sanity, in my opinion. When no food is off limits, it’s easier to build a healthy relationship. For me, this permission has allowed me to see my diet as a whole, and not just one food in isolation. This has made it easier for me to balance my diet. Am I always perfect with moderation? Definitely not. I’ve never been consistent with it but I honestly feel that with the way my stomach is forcing me to eat, I’m going to be much more successful.

Eating in moderation is one of the most cliche saying out there right now, and it’s more complicated than it sounds. It’s not just a practice. It’s a mindset. On the other hand, eating in moderation doesn’t mean eating lots of junk food in moderation. It means stacking your diet with the good stuff and allowing room for more decadent cuisine. And as I stated early, health is a journey. You will have lots of successes and lots of failures, and it’s messy, and there’s no “perfect diet.”

But right now I’m happy, so I’ll go ahead and call it good enough.


Have you tried the Whole30? What are your thoughts?


Why I Like WIAW

Happy Wednesday! I have to say, my weeks are weird this quarter, but I’m embracing it. They’re very front heavy, which makes the week feel longer. I actually like it. I’m in a good place, and I’m trying to get more out of each day that I get to be here (this is the fear of being an upperclassman and realizing I only have just over a year left here). That being said, I’m still living in the ignorant bliss that is the period of time before any grades have actually been gotten back. Speaking of embracing this school, how about embracing this weather? While it’s supposed to rain this weekend, the weather here has been pretty much perfect lately. I can’t complain about this California sunshine! (Sorry to anyone on the East Coast right now with all those storms…)


Anyways, that was quite a long winded way of saying it’s Wednesday-yay! WIAW! Thanks as always to Jenn for hosting.


You want to know why I’m loving WIAW right now? Because when I’m posting less, or posting about specific things, I don’t get to share what I’ve been eating as much, so I get this accumulation of pictures that somehow seem silly to post if not on a Wednesday. WIAW is an excuse for a foodie photo dump, right?


Pancakes+eggs+mandarin oranges at breakfast. I think I’m officially no longer a syrup on pancakes person. Butter all the way-it may have something to do with the fact that I’m a syrup snob and really don’t like the dining hall corn syrup/maple syrup. Yuck. On another note, I just bought a vat of Grade B maple syrup at Whole Foods. More on that in a minute.


Pumpkin bread. This is from last Wednesday-my Wednesdays are long days so I needed a little pick me up between studying and my last class!


This dinner was 50/50. Tilapia with mango and cucumber was on point, as were the roasted carrots. I wasn’t a fan of the lentil puff pastry though.


More breakfast. I was across campus at the track and decided to stop somewhere different. While it may look very similar to the other breakfast, the pancakes there are far superior. They’re sort of vanilla-y.


Dining hall lunch-balsamic chicken salad, veggie flat bread, and broken rice with scallions. Plus roasted butternut squash.


This was dining hall chicken masala. And I have to say, they nailed it. The chicken was SO tender and flavorful. Well done.


Whole Foods dinner-hihglights were the mushroom polenta and various colors of roasted sweet potatoes.


So…I’m kind of over the whole “eat a specific diet” thing (like Paleo, 100% real food, no sugar). One thing I’ve learned over my 2+ years of blogging about food is that 1. I don’t have time or energy for that and 2. It makes me freaking crazy. That being said, I wanted to shake things up a little and get more creative so I decided to roughly follow a new plan (note the word roughly-it’s very low key)-whole foods + unlimited chocolate. So to start my new healthy eating endeavor I went to Whole Foods and stocked up on mass amounts of quality chocolate. And Grade B maple syrup for homemade chocolate. Spoiler alert-the “plan” is going well. I like chocolate.


This is one of my favorite soups-and it’s really good cold the next day too (or maybe I’m just used to eating cold food out of tupperware at this point in my life). The best part is it has chunks of sweet potato!


On Superbowl Sunday, my eating schedule was bizarre. Lunch at 10:30, pizza at 3:30 (what meal is that even? Dinner?). I was a little hungry towards the end of the game so I went to the dining hall for a chicken fajita salad. This was quality guac.


Dining hall dinner-salad, stir fry tofu, sweet potato fries. Plus a mini corn and potato casserole. The reason for no picture? It slid off my plate and exploded on the floor. It took my a little time to gain the courage to grab another one!


And finally-one last breakfast! I brought back the berry compote! This is just cherries+blueberries boiled down. Full fat yogurt+berries+sunbutter. I missed this!

Wow guys, that was quite the roundup. I should get on here a little more often, shouldn’t I? I feel like this has been an eventful week in terms of life stuff, so I really should do more updates! Also I’m realizing as I grow up (…and that makes me sound young again) I’m gotten so much more introspective so maybe we’ll have some more reflective posts. That being said, everything is going well over here right now!

What is your favorite kind of chocolate (and where can I buy it??)?


The Project Review (FINALLY!)

Hey guys! I’ve been putting this off for far, far too long. As many of you know, I spent a month or so blogging about my big project. The thought was that by cutting out processed foods, I could totally transform my health. 

And you know what? It worked. In just two weeks (AKA the two weeks I actually really stayed with it), I lost 7 pounds and my fasting blood sugar dropped from a bit on the high side of 93 to 75. (The 93 reading was actually taking a week in). That’s some pretty substantial change, it just two weeks!

But as you all know, I didn’t make it four weeks. And there were some serious hiccups along the way. 

Week 1

I was doing great! I had all my food waiting for my in the fridge. (This was key!) I was motivated, and already starting to see results. If you want to see the totally sleep-deprived delirious post about how great it was, check this out. That Sunday, I was feeling great, lean, and fast after a tempo run. But for some reason out of nowhere, I fell off the wagon and had a few sweets at the dining hall. I felt awful. But the worst part was the next day. The next day, I was completely on edge, and incredibly anxious. I think it had something to do with leftover sugar shock after a week without. The feeling lasted a while, and a hard treadmill run the Tuesday after was the only thing that was really able to make it go away. 


Week 2

Things were a little rough during this week. I started out feeling off given the above, plus I had eaten through pretty much all my prepared food and didn’t get a chance to prepare more. I was saved by a magic food delivery from my parents, but it was still kind of rough. Road block #2 came later in the week when I was plagued by awful, unexplainable stomachaches. Every time I ate, I would get the worst stomach pains and feel sick. There were a few times I had to force myself to eat because I knew I needed it. Plus, since I couldn’t eat much, I had the worst hunger pains, but at the same time I couldn’t exactly eat because I knew it would make it worse. I thought it might just be my body adjusting to completely unprocessed, high fiber foods. Luckily it went away after a few days, but I was very concerned since this was just days away from my 5k. Nevertheless, once the stomachache was gone, I felt good and ran a good race depute the weather. 


Week 3

I don’t think I technically cheated over the weekend, but I definitely started to abuse the loopholes, including lots of homemade chocolate. Since the previous week after overeating sweets over the weekend and the anxiety hit late Monday night, I decided to be proactive and do a little spin workout at about 10pm, and it was fine. Overall, I felt pretty good! I had avoided SO many sweets. I never realized how many free cookies exist in life! That was a big eye opener for me. However, the major struggle this week was once again lots of homemade chocolate. We didn’t have the greatest food selection, and we ended up eating lots of nut butters (or sun butter in my case), and seedy crackers, and just overdoing things in general that weren’t the best en masse. We were starting to feel like the restrictions were leading us to make worse food choices. Plus, we were less strict than the beginning. I definitely ate some dining hall foods that probably had small amounts of the forbidden items. As a result of all this, I didn’t feel quite as good. Another issue I had at this point was the restriction. I felt like it was starting to make me obsessive. 


Week 4

I didn’t make it this far. We officially called it on the Saturday of week 3, thanks to the amazing ice cream sandwiches brought to an even tee went to.


Plus, the next day we went out to dinner for my sister’s birthday, and the Ethiopian foods didn’t exactly fit my “no-processed grain” requirement. And neither did the cake…I wanted to get as much as possible going after the weekend, but it just didn’t happen. Valentine’s Day cookies and candies basically sealed the deal and launched me back into the sugar eating realm. 

During the project (especially the first week), I did like some of the ease that came from making decisions. Of course I couldn’t take the cookie-it wasn’t even a choice! I was concerned what would happen afterwards, when it was a choice. I have a very hard time saying no to sweets! 

I guess a lot of the above was explaining the difficulties and why I didn’t make it 4 weeks (plus, it was really hard!). But despite all that, I really did feel awesome most of the time! And the changes were definite. Most amazing to me was the improvement in the pain in my foot when I run! I really do believe that cutting out processed food is the way to health. But it’s also really hard. I think if I was living at home and was cooking all my own food, I would have definitely been able to continue. Being in a college environment made it that much more difficult!

So…where am I now? I’m struggling to eat well again! I can’t seem to find the restraint to pass up the giant cookies. 


I’ve always had odd reactions to sugar, and I’ve always had trouble stopping once I’ve started. If I have a little, it ignites a drive in my mind for me. So, at this point, the physical changes from the project have vanished. I have been eating a lot of sugar lately, and what’s scary is that it’s really making my heart race. Another issue? I’ve bought Quest bars a few times now, and actually have developed a taste for them in an attempt to curb my sugar cravings. But they have nuts. I don’t think it’s a lot, but my skin is definitely rebelling so that’s something I need to reduce! 

So what’s next? My current plan is the project 2.0. Which is eating, real, wholesome food and avoiding the sweet stuff so I don’t give myself a heart attack. I think for this week what I’m going to try is to build a bit of sugar in my day so I don’t feel deprived. I picked up a few granola bars over the weekend, and I’m hoping that will help my mid-afternoon sugar cravings. 

Overall, I really did like the project. I wish I could go back to eating that way, but at this point I can’t bring myself to do it. Like I said in my delirious post, you have to be ready. I’m ready to improve my health back to where it was, but I’m not ready for the restriction and discipline required. I guess I’m not really sure where that leaves me!




Bay Area Childhood Obesity Conference Recap

I hope everyone’s weekend is going fabulously! Today I went to the Bay Area Childhood Obesity conference and It. Was. Awesome. I think that healthy living blogging in general is a lot about making the healthy healthier. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I mean that is the audience! But people rarely talk about obesity and the public health issue we have today. I took plenty of notes today, and was definitely well fed! So I’m going to share some interesting things from today and try to only minimally rant.

First-the food. Breakfast was plain yogurt, fruit, granola (mine was gingersnap!) and coffee. The granola wasn’t crazy sweet either!


Lunch was an amazing salad-some type of green and creamy dressing, chicken, giant white beans, carrots, and lentils. What was really great about this was that the veggies were all actually seasoned!

There were also plenty of snacks. This bar was a favorite of mine:


Plus some other little things.


As a college student, you know there’s no way I’m saying no to free food-especially good food!

There were also some people doing a blender-bike demo outside!



So let’s get into it, shall we?

The first speak was Dr. Robert Lustig. He’s the guy fighting against sugar as the cause of obesity, and his book is was my whole project was based on. So I was super excited to see him speak!


He didn’t go super into the Biochem, but he did talk about one specific chemical reaction that I thought was super cool, and I’m so glad I learned about sugars in OChem this week because it made so much sense! I was actually going to nerd out and use my chemical structure drawing software to show you guys the reaction but I’ll spare you that. The gist is that the browning reaction that happens when you cook meat? That happens in your body as you age. And sugar makes it happen faster. If anyone loves Organic Chemistry or Biochemistry and wants me to go into more details, let me know!

One interesting point he made about scientific studies is that you really need to look at the funding source to get a sense of the study. A lot of studies are funded by the food industry, and the results are often different. Out of some of the studies he discussed of sugar on weight gain, only 1 of 6 studies funded by the food industry reported that sugar had an impact on weight gain. On the studies NOT funded by the food industry, 10 of 12 reported that sugar had an impact on weight gain. So much of our food policy and governmental nutrition recommendations are tied up with the food industry. One interesting thing is that if you look at the currents nutritional guidelines, when referring to what you SHOULD eat, the guidelines discuss specific foods such as fruits and vegetables. But the foods you shouldn’t eat are listed as general food groups, such as “bad fats.” Because the meat industry would have gone crazy if the government had recommended eating less animal fat!

Here’s something else that is scary and relevant about the national health problem we currently have. 30% of our population is obese. However, obesity does not equal disease-metabolic dysfunction equals disease. Metabolic dysfunction (such as insulin resistance) leads to things like type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, heart disease, and cancer. Of these obese people, 80% are metabolically ill. Fair enough. But get this: of the normal weight people, 40% are metabolically ill. Which means they have the same high risks of disease as those 80% of the obese! A general indication of metabolic disease is liver fat, and lots of sugar (or alcohol like the more traditional fatty liver disease) directly leads to liver fat. 

I’m sure we all know I like to rant about sugar, and while it’s definitely not THE ONLY problem leading to obesity and metabolic disease, it’s a BIG one! What compounds this problem is besides just the metabolic dysfunction, we have sugar “addiction.” I use that in quotes because whether it’s technically an addiction is debated, but I’m sure everyone here can think of a time when they just could not stop shoving sugar down their throats. And it becomes an even bigger problem when sugar is the norm. Heck, I couldn’t even stick to the project for a month! But the changes in my body after JUST TWO WEEKS without sugar and processed food where dramatic. My fasting blood sugar dropped almost 20 points! It was at the upper range of healthy, and after just 2 weeks, it was lower than it’s ever been as far as my records. I also lost 7 pounds, and looked noticeably different (although it should be noted that carbohydrate holds onto a lot of water). And that’s just 2 weeks! And I’m reasonably healthy! It’s crazy. 


I had the chance to quickly talk with Dr. Lustig between speakers, and I asked him for resources about the mechanisms of the metabolism of sugar metabolism, since again, as we all know, I’m kind of in love with it and think it’s the coolest thing ever. There is NOTHING out there! He suggested a book that is coming out sometime within the year, but other than that, there is nothing! This got me thinking-if there are facts out there that could guide public health policy, as well as nutritional studies, we need to be using them! And I guarantee that when the people in charge of public health make decisions and statements, they don’t look at the Biochemistry. I’m totally biased since I’m a scientist, but if we can explain a process, why not use that information to guide us? To find a solution, to predict an outcome? Ok, rant over. Moving on!

The next speaker discussed intervention in schools in terms of food and health education and school meals. Kids today eat 35% of their calories at school, and many schools even serve up to 5 meals a day! She also discussed how in low income areas, the life expectancy is significantly lower. But what I think is really powerful to take away from her talk is this quote: “Facilitate change, but give up the illusion that you can direct change.” As my generation starts trying to change the world, I think this is important to keep in mind. People don’t always want to change, and you can’t just order someone to do something. However, you can guide them in the correct direction. 

One of the last things I want to discuss is the speaker who discussed child psychology in relation to the obesity epidemic. I think this applies to far more people than just children, and I think a lot of you guys will be able to relate to this. First-happiness and joy are not the same. All joyful moments are happy, but not all happy moments are joyful. Joy is that sense you get when you think of those you love the most-it’s the sensation that runs through your body when it’s a beautiful day and you’re off to see a loved one. Joy is created through love and deep connections with others. And when we don’t get joy, we turn to artificial, short term rewards such as screen time or ice cream. She described 5 brain states: 1 is joy, and 5 is the most absolutely stressed. In states 1-3,  which she termed the “homeostatic circuit,” we are capable of reasoning with ourselves are making rational decisions. But when we hit states 4 and 5, we are stuck in the “allostatic circuit,” or the “survival” circuit. AKA the fight or flight response. In the allostatic circuit, we are stuck in unstoppable drives with no shut off switch-it’s just how our brain is wired. Once this gets triggered, there’s no stopping your behavior, whatever it may be-such as binging. The cool thing is that you can change the wiring of your brain by having a different result come from times of stress-such as a loving connection, which while make you stop going to food for that artificial comfort. Her overall point behind all of this is that these behaviors happen because the way our brain in wired, and often times we replace love with food. Which is especially relevant for children growing up in a stressful environment. 

That’s all I have from the conference! I really, really enjoyed it and I definitely feel inspired and even more sure this is the area I want to work in. I would definitely attend this again next year! I hope you guys were able to get something out of the reviews, or at least not fall asleep! So let’s look at more food, shall we?


One of the speakers today discussed food marketing. He works for Bolthouse Farms, and they are trying to sell carrots as “the next junk food.” They came out with this cool idea of seasoning carrots, just like chips! These were ranch, and they were really good!


And after a day of eating VERY well, I was inspired to eat some veggies at the dining hall! It’s parent’s weekend, so they definitely stepped it up! I had a salad with olive oil and vinegar, plus HUMMUS. We never have hummus! And I discovered I like beets much better in salad form…Plus some herbed spaghetti squash-something else we never have!

And then at the end of the day my parents wanted to see me, so we went to my favorite ice cream place and I actually got something different-but equally delicious. Salted butterscotch with chocolate fudge. 


And yes, I realize this is after I totally ranted about sugar. But it was delicious!


Hey guys! I’m just going to pop in briefly to say at this point, I’m not really sure where I’m going to go with the project moving forward. I’ve gotten to the point where the restrictions are causing me to actually eat more unhealthily because I can’t have what I really want! And I’ve been living in the loopholes so much lately that I’m not sure how much of the integrity of the project is holding up. Plus living outside the loopholes this weekend…I’m also not sure I like having to put THIS much thought into food-it’s starting to mess with my head a little bit! So not sure what’s going to happen in the future, but I’m going to play it by ear and how I feel-which right now is not so hot thanks to some most definitely processed food…so here’s a bit of a photo dump of this weekend, and I’ll do a more detailed project post a little bit later in the week!


Sushi bowl-again. But sadly without avocado.


My attempt at coconut truffles. Which didn’t really work out-the inside was just mashed banana and coconut, and it just tasted like not that ripe banana…but the chocolate was amazing!


Sloppy yogurt bowl with applesauce that still needed a few hours in the slow cooker.


Saturday I was going to go to the gym, but then brunch sounded really good so this happened.


Also in place of gym-we may or may not have swiped a carton of heavy whipping cream from the dining hall. Homemade chocolate with this? AMAZING. It tasted like the center of a lava cake.


Cinnamon tea made by a girl in my sorority-she boiled cinnamon sticks!


Highlight of the weekend-sorority retreat and getting to see a real, live cat.


Retreat food.

And the actual nail in the project’s coffin (for now-will definitely be discussed): fresh ice cream sandwich.


What am I wearing? On a side note, now I really want a tutu of my own. 


Applesauce 2.0-much better! Plus sun butter.


My innovative wrapping skills-tomorrow is my sister’s birthday so we went out to dinner! And wrapping paper was nowhere to be found…


And cake.


As for this week? I’m going to eat as well as possible with as little effort as possible. I went to Trader Joe’s and stock dup today. I have to say though, since doing this project, reading all the nutrition labels/ingredients was really frustrating because EVERYTHING had extra little ingredients, even at a place like Trader Joe’s! 

Another observation-as my eating habits deteriorated, so did the positive effects. My foot issues are starting to come back a little bit for one thing-so when I’m not so full of delicious food I’ll figure out a plan going forward. I will say this about the project now though-the biggest problem was being underprepared in the second and third week, and eating in a dining hall made things harder because the food was definitely lower quality. If I wan’t living at college and if I was cooking completely for myself, this would have been much easier. So expect a follow up post soon!