I did it!
I think every expectant woman gets a little anxious toward the end of her pregnancy, eager to get to the weight loss part of life. Don’t get me wrong — being pregnant is awesome, but Awkward Pregnant Ladies like me can’t help but dream of the days where the scale isn’t so scary. ;) It’s been two months since Cricket was born, and I was ready to start getting back to fighting weight on like Day One. However, I’ve always felt a little lost without some sort of plan to follow, so for the first few weeks I was eating decently and losing a little…and then I hit a plateau. (Ugh.) I’ve been following several Whole30 Instagrammers and was feeling the urge to join in, so starting May 1st, I took the plunge! Now, 30 days later, I’m a believer.
What is Whole30? Basically, it’s a 30-day jump-start program to reset your body’s “healthiness” (technical term, duh). There’s a really popular book that accompanies the program (“It Starts with Food”) that you HAVE to read before you start. It’s very wordy (me, too!) and very science-y at times, but it gives you actual reasons as to why you have to eat the way they lay out, and knowledge to me is empowering. The gist is that you eat meat, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, veggies and fruits — an avoid processed foods, added sugar, dairy, legumes and grains. Everyone I mention Whole30 to says it sounds too restrictive, but it was easier than my Vegan Cleanse last year IMO. I mean, you can eat BACON and EGGS for breakfast! Mmmm. And roasted brussel sprouts by the pound! Double mmm. The idea is to heal your gut and immune system, and this program has shown TONS of success for people suffering from chronic illness. For me, however, I just needed to get control of my eating and lose some of this baby weight. (Which I did.) My unexpected bonus effect? My family’s all been battling colds for the ENTIRE MONTH, while I just chugged along with my bolstered immune system, happy and healthy. I did, unfortunately, finally catch the cold a couple days ago (I think due to lack of sleep while taking care of a feverish toddler for a week straight), but I was pleasantly surprised that I lasted that long!
I love Whole30. I think that the key to success with any sort of cleanse or program that drastically changes your diet is always the mental component, and for me, giving up all the carbs and soda was easier than expected because I had so much other stuff to worry about this month; I feel for the desk-dwellers on Whole30 who have a bit of mind space to daydream about donuts! The hardest part of being Whole30 was eating out, which I did only a handful of times. It’s really obnoxious to explain your restrictions to your waiter, and I’m pretty sure some chefs out there rolled their eyes at me back in the kitchen this month. Oh, well. It’s MY health, and it’s worth it! In fact, I had such great results (weight loss, feeling energized, getting good rest) that although I took today, May 31st off, but am doing another round of it starting tomorrow. (There’s still more baby weight plus some to be lost, folks. Cry with me, will you?) I was so excited to eat junk today, but truthfully, my bagel-pizza-soda Day o’ Food has been a bit of a let down. Dare I say it? My tastebuds have changed, and so now all those addictive, formerly-yummy foods were…well, they were eh. (Does Whole30 work, you ask? Well, there’s your answer! No more Mellow Mushroom cravings for me.)
Even though today was Day 31, we did make a quick trip as a family to our local farmer’s market to grab a few things for Day 1 tomorrow. (It seems like a million years ago that we took a newborn Emma Vance to her very first farmer’s market!) Today was soooo stink in’ hot out, though, that we didn’t last too long. We opted for King of Pops, some veggie basics (like KALE) and even picked up a bottle of organic sunscreen for the girls. (Check this local organic skin care company out, Atlantans! The owner of Bare Belly is super sweet, and I love companies with an actual, real, live person I can trust behind them!)
I mention kale in particular because although Whole30 was easy for me perhaps because I have a basic pallet (and don’t require complex flavors to keep my tastebuds happy), I did venture out and try a few new recipes that were AWESOME. My favorite was a kale + bacon salad I nabbed from Serious Eats via Nom Nom Paleo‘s Facebook page. Holy delicious! The recipe is below, and, seriously, Whole 30/Paleo or not, you’ll love it. Ryan even grilled the kale for me — successfully! (How DO you grill kale? Very carefully.) Making the dressing also did wonders for my venture into seasoning my new cast iron skillet, too. ;) They call this recipe “Grilled Kale Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette,” but it’s so good I just call it “Holy KALE! Salad”
(If you have any questions about my experience with Whole30, please ask! And if you’re in the throws of your own 30 days, then remember, you can do it!)
Grilled Kale Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette (i.e. Holy KALE! Salad)
- 1 large bunch lacinato (a.k.a. Tuscan or dinosaur) kale (about 1 pound) *My store was out, so I used normal ol’ kale, which worked well.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 ounces (about 3 slices) bacon, chopped
- 1 small shallot, peeled and minced (about 3 tablespoons)
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Light 1/2 chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over the coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, preheat a gas grill to high, covered, for at least 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.
Remove stems from kale: carefully cut out thick portion of kale stem from each leaf, leaving leaves intact otherwise. In a large bowl, toss kale with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Using tongs, add kale leaves to grill, cover grill, and cook until bottom sides are lightly charred, about 2 minutes. Flip kale leaves, cover grill, and cook until other side is lightly charred, about 1 minute longer. Remove kale from grill and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add bacon and, when it begins to sizzle, add shallots and cook, stirring, until bacon is crispy, about 4 minutes. Add vinegar and cook briefly, stirring, just until dressing thickens and becomes glossy, about 1 minute.
Roughly chop kale and place in a serving bowl. Toss with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat leaves and serve immediately with any remaining dressing on the side.