WLC: Final Thoughts

If you have been following me, you know that I completed the Whole Living Challenge at the beginning of this year. As I participated, there were a few questions I continued to ask myself, which served as a sort of reflection. I thought that those who are thinking about doing something similar might find them helpful, so I compiled them below. If you have a question I didn’t answer, feel free to ask it in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer it.

What are the pros of the Whole Living Challenge?

I began this challenge during the last week of January, which was the perfect time. As I’m sure many of you can relate, my eating had gone off-roading during the holidays, and this challenge definitely helped to get me back on track. In turn, it also helped me lose those last 5 pounds of baby weight that wouldn’t seem to budge.

In addition to eating better and losing weight, I was surprised at how much healthier I felt. I mentioned here that there were quite a few illnesses going around and between me working in a school, Jared working in a school, and Bug going to daycare, we usually bring everything home. I don’t know if it was a coincidence or not but I managed to not get sick and would even go as far to say that I felt healthier than I did all winter.

Finally, this challenge inspired me to try new foods, some of which I’ve continued to eat. For example, Yellowtail Ahi Tuna is now a part of our regular meal rotation. By eliminating certain foods for a short time, I also discovered that I may have a slight allergy to dairy and gluten.

What are the cons of the Whole Living Challenge?

The first con of this challenge that stood out to me right away was the cost. Our grocery bill each week was close to double what it is usually. Of course, this can depend on what you choose to eat and I went with many meals off of the Whole Living Challenge Action Plan. Since I had never made these meals before, we didn’t have even the basic ingredients in the house, although eating organic is more expensive in general.

Another con I found was the prep work involved. Dusty advised us before the start of the challenge that “Preparation is key!” and while I completely agree that it is necessary in order to be successful, it is time consuming. This led me to be a little more lenient with what I considered processed food. I also don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I don’t cook. As in, I rarely step foot in the kitchen. Obviously, this was another obstacle for me, and although I did try my hand at a couple of meals, fortunately, my husband Jared was supportive and did most of the cooking.

Will I participate in the Whole Living Challenge again?

This is a question I keep coming back to. While the pros outweigh the cons, I’m honestly not sure. I’ve recently come to realize how important protein, in the form of meat and dairy, is in your diet, and I’m not sure if cutting it out for three weeks is the best choice for me. I also feel that I’ve maintained a fairly healthy level of eating since the challenge and may not need it. We’ll just have to wait and see how I feel when the next Whole Living Challenge rolls around.

Whole Living Challenge: Week 3 Recap

It has been a little over five months since I completed the Whole Living Challenge and I still owe you my Week 3 Recap. I’ve actually had 90% of this post completed and sitting in my drafts all this time, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t bring myself to finish the final 10%. I almost discarded this post altogether, but I figure better late than never, so here it is.

Week 3 was tough. By this point, I was really starting to miss dairy, and meat, and sugar, and coffee, and wine, and pretty much every other food that was considered off-limits. To make matters worse, I broke the first cardinal rule of the Whole Living Challenge, and wasn’t prepared.  We didn’t manage to get to the grocery store until Tuesday afternoon, and the pickings were slim until then.

But, despite those speed bumps, I hung in there. Well, you’ll see I had a little slip up on Day 18, which happened to be Valentine’s Day, but let’s gloss over that. It was Day 19, that I truly fell off the wagon.

I mentioned in this post that I would be ending the challenge a day early due to my 30th birthday party on Saturday. The night before, we met my parents at a spot between our houses, about one and a half hours away, so they could watch Bug over the weekend. By the time the handoff occurred it was getting late so we stopped at at the first restaurant we saw, which happened to be an Uno’s. (Do you see where this is going?) Sure, I could have ordered a water and a salad, but did I? Oh no. Instead, I got a pomegranate margarita and ate two pieces of deep dish pizza.

Yeah. I go big or go home.

And that my friends is how the 2013 Whole Living Challenge came to an end.

You can see what I ate each day below. I still have one more post related to the Whole Living Challenge on the way with my final thoughts.

Day 15:
Breakfast: 2 Eggs Over Medium
Lunch: Mixed Greens with Baby Carrots, Radishes, Yellow Bell Peppers, & Sunflower Seeds
Dinner: Sautéed Vegetables in Olive Oil
Snacks: Banana & 1/2 an Apple with Peanut Butter

Day 16:
Breakfast: Mango-Banana-Coconut Water Smoothie
Lunch: Sautéed Vegetables in Olive Oil
Dinner: Roasted Red Pepper & Kale Frittata
Snacks: Clementine, Mixed Berries, Almonds, 1/2 an Apple with Peanut Butter, & 1/2 Mango-Banana-Coconut Water Smoothie

Day 17:
Breakfast: Antioxidant Smoothie
Lunch: Roasted Red Pepper & Kale Frittata
Dinner: Pan Seared Yellowtail Ahi Tuna with Steamed Cauliflower
Snacks: Clementine

Day 18:
Breakfast: Muesil Cereal
Lunch: Mixed Greens with Green Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, & Tofu
Dinner: Roasted Portobellos with Kale
Snacks: Clementine, Almonds, & 2 Cookies

Day 19:
Breakfast: Mixed Green Smoothie
Lunch: Roasted Portobellos with Edamame
Dinner: Pomegranate Margartia & 2 Slices of Numero Uno Deep Dish Pizza
Snacks: Mixed Berries

WLC: Processed Food

I’m on Week 3 of the Whole Living Challenge in which the following are considered off-limits; processed foods and beverages, added sugar, dairy, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol. I thought I was doing a fairly good job at avoiding these items, but a post on Dusty’s Facebook page made me see that I’m more liberal with what I consider processed food.

I realize that technically anything I do not make myself is in fact processed, but honestly, if I followed that way of thinking, this challenge would not be attainable for me. For that matter, something such as almond milk, which is called for in the challenge approved recipe Cardamom Quinoa Porridge, could also be considered processed.

Instead, I’ve become much more conscious about reading food labels. During this challenge, a majority of what I have purchased have been “whole” foods, but in the instances when I have added “processed” food to my shopping cart, they only contained basic ingredients. No preservatives, no words I can’t pronounce.

For example, in my Week 2 recap you may have noticed I had peanut butter. All legumes were allowed back into my diet and I was excited to have another source of protein. I checked out a few different brands of peanut butter and many contained hydrogenated oils and added sugar. As a result, I avoided those and went with Stop & Shop brand All Natural Creamy Peanut Butter in which the only ingredients were peanut and salt. In my eyes, it is something I could have made myself but another person did the leg work for me.

Peanut Butter

I am curious where my other Whole Living Challengers stand with regards to this topic. What have you considered processed?