My Whole 30 Experience [Part 3] – The Food

Welcome back to my Whole 30 Experience series! In Part 1, I told you about the program and how it works. In Part 2, I shared my experience and the results. Now I’m sharing the part you’re really curious about – the Whole 30 food! I’ve still got a couple more posts in this series and they will be helpful for you if you’re considering doing a Whole 30 yourself. Do yourself a favor and subscribe to my blog here so you don’t miss those posts when they’re published!

Whole 30 Food

Though I searched for new recipes to use during the 30 days, I wanted to keep things as simple as I could and also repeat recipes that we liked. It was hard enough for me to stick with the plan and the food prep 3 meals a day, so anything I could do to make it a little easier helped. I don’t have a bunch of fancy gourmet Whole 30 dishes to share with you – just good real foods and recipes that even my son enjoyed. Most of the recipes I used were either my own or new ones I found on Pinterest or by searching. And I used some recipes from the Whole 30 book I purchased. So again, having the recipes from the book is nice, but you can totally do a successful Whole 30 just by searching online for what you need.

Whole 30 Food – Breakfast

I did keep it simple most of the time with eggs, sugar-free bacon, and fruit. But I’m not a fan of eggs.for.all.of.the.days. So I needed some egg-free ideas. Here are some additional breakfast recipes for you:

Easy and Delicious Whole 30 Breakfast: This is a type of egg casserole, with sausage and veggies. I really wanted to like it, but did not, mainly because I have issues with texture. My husband did like it and son thought it was okay. But it’s easy and makes a lot, so adjust the recipe and it might be a family fave for you!

whole 30 food - egg casserole

Breakfast Pumpkin Custard: This was really a nice change for breakfast. Now I’m not a big fan of bananas sadly, so I liked this better when I made it with bananas that weren’t super ripe, but if you like bananas then use ripe ones. We all liked this one and it’s surprisingly filling. I always added some extra chopped pecans and a few plain coconut chips to my serving and I preferred to eat it cold.

whole 30 food - pumpkin custard

Paleo Cinnamon Apple Bake: This is not approved as a Whole 30 meal on its own, but enjoy it as a side to some bacon, sausage, and even eggs. It’s so yummy – we consider this one a keeper even when not trying to eat Whole 30 food.

Berry “Muesli”: After looking at some ideas online, I realized I could create my own Whole 30 breakfast and I loved it! You can adjust the ingredients to your liking, but I used: sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, fresh raspberries and blueberries, chopped pecans, and coconut chips, topped with unsweetened almond milk. This was one was so satisfying for somebody who really likes yogurt, granola, and berries for breakfast.

Whole 30 Experience breakfast

Whole 30 Food – Lunch/Dinner

I don’t have a lot of new lunch ideas. I tried to keep it easier by making enough dinner so there would be leftovers available for lunch. So my lunches were mainly leftovers or salads. I recommend keeping some cooked chicken on hand (you can find a couple of brands of precooked chicken chunks with only approved ingredients) and making a variety of salads. One of my fave combinations was lettuce, spinach, red grapes, and pecans with a homemade vinaigrette.

Whole 30 Experience salad

Dinners were easier because meat with no added ingredients and vegetables makes a great dinner. We enjoyed grilled steaks and ribs with a sugar-free rub, in addition to pork loin roast, chicken breasts, and salmon fillets. And the fact that potatoes are allowed is fabulous! Here are some of our fave dinner sides and main dishes:

Colorful Roasted Vegetables

whole 30 food - roasted vegetable

Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

Mexican Chicken Soup

whole 30 food - Mexican Chicken Soup

Crustless Chicken Pot Pie

whole 30 food - crustless chicken pot pie

Pork Loin Roast: This is one of our fave dinners and it’s so very simple! Just mix up the rub, put it on the roast and bake. Just as delicious as the marinated pork loins you can buy, but you have control over the ingredients.

Pork Loin Rub
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Rub on pork loin roast (up to 2 1/2 pounds) and bake for 350 degrees for about 1 hour or follow baking directions included with the roast.

Beef and Veggie Chili: Another one of our faves that came out of a protein diet book many years ago. Adjust ingredient amounts as much or as little as you like.

whole 30 food - Beef & Veggie Chili

Beef and Veggie Chili – Low Carb
1 pound ground beef
Chopped onions
Chopped green pepper
Chopped mushrooms
I can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 1/2+ tablespoons chili powder
Salt to taste

Sauté chopped onions and green pepper. When soft, add chopped mushrooms and continue to sauté until soft. Set aside. Brown ground beef. Drain fat and add to vegetable mixture. Add in tomatoes, spices, and enough water until chili is the consistency you prefer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. I always make a double batch.

Whole 30 Food – More Tips

Notice that there’s no dessert section? Sorry, dessert isn’t allowed on Whole 30! If you MUST have something, we enjoyed some apple slices with almond butter in the beginning days, but eventually tried to stop doing that so we could retrain ourselves to know that we didn’t have to eat something sweet every evening. Here are a few more random food tips to get you through:

Pay very close attention to labels! We could only find 1 brand of sugar-free bacon that we could eat. Not really worth it unless bacon helps you through. It was yummy but you could tell that the flavor was different. So yes, almost all bacon uses sugar in the curing process – news to us!

whole 30 food - sugar free bacon

Watch out for condiments. The difference between ingredients in different brands is amazing. I ended up making my own mayonnaise from the Whole 30 book. It’s best to make your own salad dressing as well, which can be as simple as equal parts oil and vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

Whole 30 Food - Homemade Mayo

You can have fruit juice! 100% fruit juice is allowed on the plan, though not recommended as it’s high in natural sugar content. But you can have some in moderation, so what this means is that sparkling apple juice is allowed (Martinelli’s brand is just pure apple juice)! We enjoyed it a couple of times to make our dinner feel extra special. It also helps a little if you are really missing wine.

Find a new “fast food” to make if plans fall through. I needed something that was quick and easy to make in case I wasn’t feeling up to making the full meal I had planned or didn’t have things ready in time. Come up with this backup plan and stock up. Our favorite was Aidell’s chicken apple sausages (they are so yummy), sliced or not, sauteed in a pan and sliced potatoes (baked a bit first) fried in a pan with a little oil and salt/pepper. Add some fruit for a quick additional side.

Find a favorite snack. In the beginning of the 30 days, you’re going to be desperate for a few snacks and maybe even an emergency “dessert”, which will taper off a bit as you go. But you want to have a good Whole 30-approved snack option. Our very favorite snack was slicing up an apple and dipping the slices in almond butter – yum! And I discovered coconut cream concentrate (coconut butter), so I mixed a little of that with my almond butter for a slightly different flavor. I also used approved Lara Bars sparingly and kept one in my purse for emergencies. My faves were Coconut Cream Pie and Pecan Pie.

Whole 30 Food – Dislikes

There were a few things that I didn’t care for during the Whole 30 food plan. Here are a few:

Black Coffee. You are allowed to drink black coffee on the plan. I do not like black coffee. I only drink sweetened, creamy coffee. I decided to go without coffee rather than attempt it black or with unsweetened milk of some sort. That was crazy of me! But I survived by drinking high-caf tea every morning. I do like my tea unsweetened, thank goodness, and happened across this brand of high-caf tea at Whole Foods. One cup has more caffeine than a standard cup of coffee. One cup in the morning was just enough to keep me from having any caffeine withdrawals, but not so much that I felt over-caffeinated at all. And the rest of the day I used regular tea.

Whole 30 Experience tea

Ghee. So I did use ghee regularly through my 30 days because it is the closest to butter, but I really did not care for the flavor and have not had it since. My feeling is that it’s like they took butter…and then ruined it! But when you can’t have butter, it doesn’t seem quite so bad.

Egg casseroles. I have an issue with textures and eggy casseroles turned out not to be my thing, which is a bummer because they are handy for breakfast and even dinner sometimes. Try some out and see what you think.

Bananas. Oh how I wish I liked bananas. It would make sugar-free life much much easier. I can handle them if they’re not very ripe, but once they’re ripe, they need to be in banana bread or cake for me to eat them! If you do like bananas, you will be able to create yourself some Whole 30 smoothies or combine them with cashews and coconut for breakfast.

Cauliflower. Another veggie that I wish I liked. My husband and son asked me not to bother making anything with cauliflower as well (even though they actually like it – they just didn’t want to have much of it). If you and your family like it, you’ll be able to try new things like mashed cauliflower and cauliflower rice.

Whole 30 approved mocha. I tried a recipe, but modified it according to what I like and don’t like. It was the worst-tasting thing EVER. There was no substitute that was going to work for me, so I decided it was better to go without for a while than try drinking poor substitutes. Don’t be afraid to try a couple of crazy recipes though for your fave foods and drinks that you’re missing – you never know!

Whole 30 Experience - The Food

Whole 30 Food – Resources

I hope you found a few more helpful Whole 30 food ideas in this post! You can find many more recipes and ideas from a few places: either of the Whole 30 books, the Whole 30 website, searching for Whole 30 recipes online (there are forums and groups that share ideas as well), and Pinterest, to name a few. In fact, I do have a Whole 30 Ideas Pinterest board that you can check out. I’ll be continuing to add to it as I run into new ideas.

I’ve tried to include as much info as I could about the food. Have you found a new recipe to try? Are you going to try Whole 30? What other questions do you have about the Whole 30 food? Comment and I’d be happy to answer you!

Don’t forget – there are still a couple more posts to go in this series. Up next will be a post with some helpful tips for those of you attempting a Whole 30! Thanks for following along!


5 Fave Home Life Hacks

I do love handy home life hacks and especially enjoy finding new ones that make my life easier or better in some way. That’s why you’ve got to share the hacks! Today, I’m sharing one of my newer faves along with some of my standby faves. I hope you’ll find a new one that works for you!

Fave Home Life Hacks

Fave Home Life Hacks

#1: Fold t-shirts in a quicker way. A friend shared a video on Facebook about a year or so ago and it forever changed the way I fold all of my husband’s shirts. I practiced it and got the hang of it in no time. It really is faster and easier. Feels like less work, for sure! There are many videos that show it, but here’s one. It just takes a few practice runs to “get it” and then you’ll be super fast!

#2: Make your own foaming hand soap. I’ve been doing this for a few years now and saving big bucks at the same time! It’s so simple. I do occasionally buy bottles of foaming hand soap to get new containers, but then keep reusing the same containers and refilling them. Use your favorite non-toxic dish soap for this. I shared a post about it on my old blog. Click here for the foaming hand-soap how-to.

#3: Sterilize your sponge and clean the microwave at the same time. Every time I wash dishes with a sponge, I pop the damp sponge it in the microwave for 1 minute on high to sterilize it. Careful when you grab it – it’s very hot! Not only is the sponge sterilized, but it just steamed up your microwave, so give it all a wipe out. Grease and grime wipes off easily after being steamed. My microwave is always sparkling inside (too bad that doesn’t work for the whole kitchen, right?). This does cause the sponge to break down quicker, but I think it’s good to change out sponges regularly anyway.

#4: Use the frozen onions shortcut. Another of my fave home life hacks for years – using frozen chopped onions. No fumes, no tears, no work. I use them in just about everything that calls for onions and only occasionally chop up a fresh one for a recipe. You can find the bags in the frozen vegetable section or sometimes near the hashbrowns. They can be hard to spot, but I have found them in several stores. Caution – don’t dump a bunch of frozen onions in a bunch of hot oil to saute. Water/ice and oil can be a dangerous combo. Just add them in carefully and gradually to hot oil or add other ingredients in first.

#5: Make your own self-rising flour. Every so often I run across a great recipe that calls for self-rising flour and I used to buy a bag just for those few recipes. I shook my head when I discovered how ridiculously simple it is to make your own! Save yourself the extra dollars and take a couple extra steps. Here’s the recipe to make 1 cup – just multiply accordingly for the amount of self-rising flour you need:

To make 1 cup of self-rising flour:

 – 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
Whisk ingredients together. Done.

home life hacks

Those are some of my fave home life hacks, but I’m always on the lookout for new ones. I discovered 4 of the 5 through my wanderings on the internet, so yay internet. And I discovered them all before Pinterest, so you can probably find great new home life hacks even faster now. What are your faves? Share a few hacks in the comments so we can all benefit!

My Whole 30 Experience and Results [Part 2]

In Part 1, I gave you an Intro to my Whole 30 experience and what was involved, but now in Part 2 I’ll tell you more about what I experienced during the 30 days and some of the results at the end. Be sure to subscribe to receive posts by email so you don’t miss the rest of the series:

whole 30 experience and results


My Whole 30 Experience

We did the Whole 30 plan in January, which was a great time to do it – we had just come through the holidays with lots of sugary foods as well as a lot of eating out or eating the wrong things. We were feeling ready for a “cleaner” diet. And January wasn’t filled with birthdays or other celebrations for us, meaning that we wouldn’t be unnecessarily tempted to cheat. I recommend that you plan your 30 days during quieter times if at all possible.

Neither my husband nor I experienced the symptoms that many people do, such as headaches, fatigue, and extreme irritability during the first few days as your system detoxes from some of the foods and ingredients you’ve been having. Not sure why we didn’t experience that because we certainly were eating our share of “bad” foods before the diet, but I think it probably depends on each person. If you are prone to headaches and sensitive to food changes, then you may experience these things. It’s good to read about it and be prepared just in case so that if it happens, you’ll know it’s all perfectly normal and won’t last! That’s the beauty of having all this great info online – you know what to expect!

Day 1 went great for us – no issues and we felt good. By Day 3, we were definitely missing some of our favorite things. By the end of the first week, I was really missing not having eating out to fall back on in case I didn’t have the time and energy for the food prep. Because of that, I tried a few new recipes, but tried to keep things fairly simple so I didn’t get overwhelmed. And my husband and son helped with some of the cooking, which was a big plus! The more family members you can get involved in your Whole 30, the better!

I’ll share a few of my Facebook statuses through the Whole 30 experience, so you get an idea of my thoughts:

  • I’m hungry. And I want a latte real bad. ‪#‎onlyonday2ofwhole30‬
  • It’s the perfect morning for a sweet creamy latte. But I’m having unsweetened tea. ‪#‎whole30‬ ‪#‎day10‬ ‪#‎butitsurewouldbenicetohavealatte‬
  • Day 20 of Whole30. So 11 days til cake. Kidding…sort of. :)
  • Day 21 of Whole30. Drove by Dunkin Donuts and was all (in my mind), “I don’t need YOU, donuts!!” Not that I ever ate many donuts, but now they don’t really seem worth the calories. Cake. Cake is worth it. And chocolate truffles.
  • Last day of Whole 30. Tomorrow is National Day of Lattes for Lisa.

Whole 30 experience no lattes

All of my other statuses were food and recipe-related. So there really wasn’t anything earth-shattering to report or complain about on my end. Obviously I missed lattes! You can have coffee during Whole 30, but I take my coffee with half ‘n half and sugar, or drink a sweetened latte, which aren’t allowed, and I wasn’t willing to drink black coffee. I chose to drink tea instead for the 30 days, since I like it unsweetened. I’m sure that you will find you terribly miss one or two fave foods or drinks. But it’s ONLY 30 days! You can do it!!

Though our cravings for bad foods were gone, which made it so much easier to stay on track as we got toward the end of the 30 days, we did mentally know that the end was coming and started thinking about foods that we wanted. That made the last couple of days tough – I kind of wanted to just stop a couple days early, knowing that it probably wouldn’t hurt. But since we committed to 30 days, we stuck it out for exactly 30 days!

The Results

So we made it through the 30 days and never cheated even once (most of my group cheated slightly sometime before the end). We were determined to give it our all for the entire time. After you are done, it is recommended that you follow a gradual reintroduction of food groups so that you can determine if you have issues with any certain ingredients or types of foods. We didn’t do it as slowly as recommended but didn’t go crazy eating all the things we had eliminated either. Neither of us experienced any issue with food reintroduction. The main thing we noticed is that our tastes had changed. For me, it was mainly sweet tastes. I was able to use far less sugar as everything tastes sweeter and I have realized that now some things I ate before are too sweet/too rich for my system to handle so I even have to be careful about overdoing it. Yay for that! I also enjoy the taste of real food more than before. I was surprised to have such a difference in just 30 days.

whole 30 soup

Another thing we experienced during this time was a change in our mental connection with food. We really tried to follow all the Whole 30 rules, which include trying to get away from eating for psychological reasons or just out of habit. We did our best to move away from unnecessary snacking and evening desserts. That turned out to be difficult as I realized how much those things have become automatic and doing without made me feel like I was really missing out at the beginning. But since we forced ourselves to reduce eating out of habit, it made a bigger difference afterward. I no longer feel that I “must” have something sweet each evening and I don’t snack as much either.

One thing to note is that this plan’s focus is not on losing weight! In fact, they do not want you to weigh yourself during the 30 days because your weight will fluctuate and even increase at one point so they don’t want you to get discouraged. Some of my group did not lose weight, though most did. It can depend on what foods you are choosing and the quantity you are eating as well.

Our weight loss results: My husband lost 15 pounds (wow!) and I lost 11 pounds. That’s a nice loss in 30 days!

My husband was very careful of his food choices during that time and also tracked his calories – he stayed on plan but also within a certain daily calorie range and he believes that’s why he experienced a good amount of weight loss. I did not track calories, but stayed away from having too much of the higher calorie, “sweet” foods like too much fruit, fruit juice, fake desserts, Lara bars, etc. that are technically approved on the plan.

Overall, though it is not an easy plan, it was easier than I anticipated. And the results made it all very worthwhile. My Whole 30 experience resulted in:

  • Feeling good
  • Eating healthier
  • Losing weight
  • Having less of a taste for sugar
  • Experiencing less emotional/psychological eating

Totally worth it, in my opinion! In fact, you should know that my family didn’t even have any Easter candy or desserts. Whaaat? Not that I am opposed to any of it, but I just have less of a need or desire for all of it.

Stay tuned for Part 3 (in about a week). It will be all about the food – what kinds of things we ate, what we didn’t like, and some links to our fave Whole 30 recipes. If you’re thinking about doing a Whole 30, I know you’ll want to hear about the food! Are you almost ready to give it a try for 30 days? Have you done a Whole 30 before? What other questions do you have about what I experienced? Comment and ask – I’d be happy to answer!

[Conversation]: Does Work-Life Balance Exist?

I decided to make this type of post a  “Conversation” because I really want to hear from YOU! I’m not the expert of everything and expert level in very few things if I’m being real, so it doesn’t make sense for me to tell you the right way to think about this subject. In fact, this is one of those topics that it really helps to hear lots of great thoughts, input, and feedback, then digest it all and come up with what makes sense for you. When I look things up online, I don’t just go to one source, I find several and take all the ideas into consideration before coming to my own conclusion.

Let’s do that! The only way this works is if you’re not afraid to speak up and share your thoughts on the subject. If they’re the same as everybody else’s thoughts, that’s valuable because it shows someone else that many people feel the same way. If your thoughts are completely different, that’s valuable because we need all the angles to think through and you might show us another way of thinking about the whole thing. How to speak up? Comment directly on the post, leave comments on the shared post in Facebook or Twitter, and if I can manage to get the conversation going on Facebook Live, you can comment there too.

work-life balance

Work-Life Balance

It’s a term that’s e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. these days. What does it mean? Supposedly there is some sort of perfect balance between devotion to your work life and devotion to your family life that means you will achieve ultimate success in all aspects of life. I’m not saying that some of you might not have achieved something close to it, but I do know that nobody’s perfect so maybe we should stop trying to chase an unrealistic goal for ourselves.

I’ve noticed that the term Work-Life Balance seems to be directed mainly at women. Not that men don’t have balancing to do, but it does seem harder for women who are working and also trying to raise a family.

The definition of Work-Life Balance mentions proper prioritizing between career/ambition and lifestyle. I have a few issues that come to mind when I read that definition.

  • Issue #1: “Proper prioritizing” implies that there is a perfect ratio of “work” to “life.” I’ve already said that perfection can’t be achieved, but I also think it’s incorrect to think of this as one simple ratio. Don’t these things blend together? Isn’t working part of living? And vice versa? Maybe this is like thinking of how much oil with how much vinegar to make salad dressing – sure, there’s a recommended ratio but even if you don’t get it perfect it all mixes together and you’re really just concerned with the flavor.
  • Issue #2: Work-Life Balance only applies to people (I’m talking about women here) with careers/ambition. This makes it seem like only women with a career are the ones who “work.” Are you a woman, especially a mother? Then you work, my friend. And work hard! Whether you’re at home, at an office, working online, working in the home, home-schooling, cooking, cleaning, taking care of family, driving kids around, you are working and you also have a need for balancing all those responsibilities with putting the focus on loved ones (and yourself) and truly experiencing and enjoying life! And those things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
  • Issue #3: The definition suggests that achieving balance may look similar for each person. I don’t live your life. You do. What defines balance and proper prioritizing to you will not be the same as what defines balance to me. It’s about finding what works for you and your family in the life that you are living right now. Should you make an effort to find some balance? Yes, it’s worth looking into and making some shifts when necessary, but what you need to do right now is not the same as what your neighbor needs to do and that’s okay. And how you find balance in your life right now will not be the same as how you need to find it 5 years from now. It’s a constant shifting around depending on the circumstances of your life.

But those are just my initial thoughts. I wonder if we really even need this term at all. We always want to find a balance between all of our responsibilities in life, whether it’s work, play, or rest, but maybe finding balance is illusive. Is the term work-life balance just causing stress where it isn’t even needed? Is it truly a term meant only for those working in jobs outside the home and figuring out how to devote proper amounts of time to each priority in life? If we focus on family first, will all the rest of it fall into place?


What do YOU Think?

I don’t have the answer ready for you. I want to hear your thoughts and I think a lot of women are wondering about this, too. And hey, if you’re a guy, we need your feedback, too, and whether you think this term is meant for all or targeted to women. Chime on in with your feedback! Here are some questions to get the conversation started:

  • Do you agree with the basic definition of work-life balance or do you feel it should be expanded to include all types of work, not just careers and ambition?
  • Do you think the term is a good one to help us think about how we prioritize our time or do you think it’s causing us to stress out unnecessarily?
  • As far as balance in life, do you have some thoughts about how everything in our lives should be prioritized?
  • Have you found balance in your life and family and if so, how did you find it? Is it always shifting?
  • If you work outside the home, do you find that it is more difficult to make time for other priorities than it would be if you were at home?
  • Do you think people are working too hard/too many hours in general and that lifestyles and families are suffering because of it?
  • Should there be a different term for the overall balance in life that includes more than work? What would you call it?

Please do share your thoughts and feedback! I really want to hear it all and I know that others will be interested in what you have to say. Thanks for joining in the conversation, friends!

work-life balance


Intro to My Whole 30 Experience

Who would have thought that a diet plan would make me feel inspired to write? Why? Well not only was my Whole 30 experience a good one, but I so appreciated all the blog posts I could find on the subject as I was working my way through the diet that I wanted to add to that collection of helpful posts in the online world. And because I seem to have an issue with being “wordy,” this has turned into a 5-part series (Yes, FIVE – who does that?) instead of the 2 posts I thought I would write originally! P.S. This post is not sponsored in any way by the Whole 30 program.

My Whole 30 Experience Intro |

What is the Whole 30?

If you haven’t heard of Whole 30 before, it’s a diet plan that’s basically an elimination diet with the main purpose of discovering issues with food as well as resetting your tastes and helping you learn to choose better foods for you. It also helps you work on discovering your psychological reasons for eating. So yes, Whole 30 is eating whole foods for 30 days. It’s obvious which of your friends are on the plan – you’ll see #whole30 on Instagram & Facebook with many pictures of food (I did the same!) just to show that you do actually get to eat delicious food while you’re doing it. And when you’re doing it, you want to see everybody else’s pics for more inspiration to keep on going.

I had always thought it sounded like a good plan, but too crazy for me with all the eliminations. I didn’t actually set out to do it in January, but my boss and some coworkers decided to do it and I (and my husband) jumped on board. The best part was that we knew we were all doing it at the same time and set up group Pinterest boards to share ideas as well as a private Facebook group to help encourage or vent or share recipes. And one coworker had done it a couple of times before, so she was able to share a lot of helpful info with us.

In a nutshell, on Whole 30, you have NO…

  • Dairy
  • Sugar
  • Sweeteners of any kind (not even natural other than fruit or pure fruit juice)
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Alcohol
  • Soy
  • Trace amounts of any of these in the list of ingredients!

There are a handful of other ingredients you can’t have as well – the website gives you all the rules to follow. What can you have? Basically meat, veggies, and fruit. Coffee & tea are still OK, but without sweetener or dairy. And water, of course!

Whole 30 Experience tea

Getting Ready for a Whole 30 Experience

Once we decided that we would participate, I knew that I had a lot of planning and prep to do. I did buy The Whole 30 Book, which is nice to have but honestly you can find everything you need online for free in order to successfully make it through the 30 days. I had to figure out what we would eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. I planned out a week at a time and then we shopped and shopped. And then I had to be ready to prep for every meal, which some of you are like, “So what, Lisa? I do that every. day. Everyday.” But I have been working full time and had fallen completely off the wagon of meal planning and prep. So this was system shock for me.

Let me tell you, you won’t make it through if you don’t plan ahead and prep. You can’t fall back on fast food, or even most pre-made packaged food from the store. Everything seems to contain a trace of something you can’t have! It’s one of the good/bad parts of the plan.

You have to read EVERY label of every kind of food, and then you discover that sugar has been added to basically everything that exists and if not, then they’ve put in a trace amount of something else you can’t have so you decide if it has a label at all, you probably can’t even eat it.

That’s extremely annoying, but it’s so so good to start knowing what you’ve really been eating so you can make better decisions in the future. Not that you need to give up everything with trace amounts of sugar, but to be aware is to choose less of those items and go for more of the real/whole foods.

Whole 30 Experience salad

It seems like following a plan like this would make you completely miserable in about 2 days, and yes, the first few days are difficult. It’s mostly mental, or at least it was in our case. I gave up my morning lattes, so that was rough. I didn’t necessarily physically crave them, but psychologically I really really wanted one. After you tough out the first few days, I’ll be very honest – it’s just not as hard as you expect it to be (other than the extra food planning & prep and almost NO eating out).

It sounds worse than it really is and if you use the opportunity to make some new and exciting recipes, you’ll find the experience somewhat enjoyable. And oh my – the real taste of food! You start to realize that you’ve been missing it all this time and how is it possible that plain fruit is that sweet? By following the plan properly, your physical cravings for certain foods disappear and you (mostly) won’t be getting those extreme carb cravings or hitting the 3 pm slump.

Whole 30 Experience breakfast

Overall, I know it sounds like a crazy plan, but it’s just for 30 days! I highly recommend it, first as a way to see if you do have any food issues, but mainly as a way to force yourself to really look at your food labels, to get back into cooking and finding new recipes to try, to reduce your taste for sugar/sweetness, and to reset your diet. If there’s weight loss, that’s a bonus.

Is it easy? No. There’s a lot of work and planning and you will mentally really miss some foods and get a little cranky about it, but remind yourself that it’s only 30 days and then you can have that item again. I do think it’s very much worth the effort. Remember that this isn’t some miracle diet that will change your ways forever. You could very easily go back to eating the way you did before and your tastes will go back to what they were and you may gain weight back. This is a chance to start fresh and do better and go cold turkey off the stuff you’ve been trying to do with less of.

Are you intrigued enough to look into trying the Whole 30 Experience? I say go for it! But plan ahead and try to go for a 30 day stretch when there aren’t a bunch of celebrations. Don’t set yourself up like that. Try and make it as easy as possible. Stay tuned for Part 2 (in about a week) and I’ll tell you about my Whole 30 experience throughout the 30 days and what some of the results were. Hint: All good.

From Lisa Marie – What It’s All About

You have no idea how badly I wanted to title this “What It Is” instead of “What It’s All About” but if you saw that without hearing me say it, you would think I messed up the title rather than saying it like “What it IS, yo” [ I’m about 5% Homegirl inside and it gets out from time to time].

all about

How I Got Here

I’m not new to blogging. I started back in 2008. Yes, that’s the equivalent of horse-and-buggy days in blog time. I learned a lot over the years and have been very blessed by my experiences. From Lisa Marie has actually been around since 2014, but I obviously didn’t have much time to devote to it. I originally started it to have a new place to write where I didn’t feel tied down or obligated to post recipes like on my other blog. There was no vision in place other than me writing all about whatever I wanted. It was nice in theory, but a lack of vision and planning can end up meaning that nothing gets accomplished. And finally, an upcoming job change to doing something more left brain apparently opened up some room for creative thought on the right side and after reading a couple of posts about blogging, I was suddenly inspired to restart this blog and with some sort of vision and plan in place.

What It’s All About

Above all, I want my blog to represent me – a down-to-earth, slightly humorous, ordinary, imperfect mom – somebody that I hope you feel connected to. There are subjects that I have knowledge of and that I want to share about and I think I have narrowed those down and found a common thread that connects them. Here are some of the subjects that I plan to share about:

  • [Real] Family Life
    • Not that I am any kind of expert on family life, but I do like the opportunity to start the conversation around issues that come up in marriage or with raising children (my son is a teenager). Or I like to just share the joys that we all get to experience in our families, looking at the bright side together and finding a way to laugh through it all.
  • Health/Fitness Victories and Struggles
    • Over the years, I’ve tried many a plan for health and fitness and enjoy having a group to chat with about what’s working, what isn’t, and sharing new ideas as well as recipes from time to time. For example, my No Exercising At All “plan” doesn’t seem to be making me healthier, so we’ll need to work on that. 😉
  • Occasional Food Posts
    • Well I like food. And it just so happens that I like yummy food. So I anticipate wanting to share some recipes or food ideas with you occasionally. But be warned – I don’t take professional or even well-lit pics, which is why I can never be a food blogger.
  • Digital Marketing Tips
    • After many years of being a mostly stay-at-home mom, I went back into the workforce full time and worked for a digital marketing company. Oh yes, I learned a ton! I’d love to be able to share tips with fellow bloggers and small-business peeps to help you out.
  • Blogging and Writing
    • I have thoughts on writing, but don’t always follow through well. I want to get into blogging consistently and if I can share ideas along the way, I will. I also hope to get going on writing a book soonish, so will be wanting to have discussions about that and share resources.
  • Leadership & Customer Service
    • These are a couple of subjects that I’m passionate about in the working world, but also apply to life in general. I have a lot of years of work experience in my background, including management, and hope to share my thoughts on what makes for good employers, employees, business-owners, and more.

At first, these subjects seem a bit disconnected. But there are a couple of common threads. One is that they all represent parts of me and my experiences. C’mon, isn’t that enough? Okay, well there is another common thread. Each of these parts of our “real” offline world can be enhanced by how we participate in and make use of what we find in our online world. I can go through that list and tell you how something online helped or blessed me to make things better in “real” life. [Hello…Pinterest?] There’s a danger of becoming overwhelmed or obsessed with online life, but by navigating through it well, we can use the best ideas in the most efficient way and put the focus back on living an awesome offline life.

As you can tell by the list of subjects, post topics will vary widely. I hope you can all find topics that interest you and that you can connect with. Please do share any thoughts or feedback. I’m here and listening! Here are some of the upcoming blog post topics for the near future:

  • My Whole 30 diet experience
  • A series on LinkedIn – how to use it & why you need to, best practices & tips
  • Allowance for kids – different thoughts and practices
  • Work Life Balance
  • You Really are a Writer
  • Leading by example
  • Favorite salad recipe links

I hope this has given you a sense of where I’m headed with this blog and my “restart” of it. You should know that it can always evolve because I am constantly changing and my blog reflects me. Also, I haven’t had much time in the past couple of years to read other blogs, but want to get back into that, too. If you have a blog, feel free to comment here and give the name and what it’s all about so we can have a visit!

Thanks for being here. I’m so looking forward to sharing more with you!

A Blog Post From Lisa Marie – Yes, I’m Back!

blog post from Lisa MarieHello, friends! I really can’t believe it’s been so very long since I wrote a blog post here. I meant for this blog to be my fresh start and a place to be inspired to write more often. Well. Turns out working full time sucked all my brain power away each day and I didn’t have the mental energy left to write. But a couple of things inspired me to start up again – one of them being trying the Whole 30 eating plan which inspired me to write about how that experience was (look for that post coming soon). The other inspiration came from a marketing post and I realized that I could indeed decide what I wanted to accomplish here, make a plan, and return to blogging regularly. I also had a job change which did free up some of my brain power (not enough to do Precalc or anything – ha!) and all of a sudden plans and ideas flowed.

I’ll be posting about what my renewed vision for this blog is and what will be coming up. Yes, that means I actually decided what I wanted to write about ahead of time and wrote several posts before relaunching. Whaaat? Can this be the same Lisa Marie that posted so sporadically before? No, I’m not the same. I’ve been living life and learning new things. And that just means that I have more to share. I hope you’ll stick around and see what sorts of subjects come up. I’d love to hear your feedback on the direction of this blog as we go along.

In case it’s been too long since I last published a bog post and you really don’t remember much about me, you should know that I write in a more casual conversational style – not trying to win awards for big words here. :) <— I also like smiley faces and exclamation points (!) a little too much, but my professional side sometimes wins out and cuts back on those. I try to balance my professional side with a good dose of humor. Overall, I’m just regular old Lisa Marie: Christian, wife for over 20 years, mom of a teen boy, workin’ gal – nothing too over-the-top. I do hope you’ll find that we have some things in common and that some of the posts I share here end up being helpful for you in some way.

Thanks for reading & stay tuned for more (you can subscribe to my blog posts at the top right if you want to make sure you don’t miss out on any new content and come find me on social media)!

An Open Letter to the Uncool Suburban Moms

I took a look at my blog after many months and discovered this post in draft, written last May. I remember now why I didn’t post it and it’s really not great writing. But since it’s somewhat amusing, I’m gonna go ahead and post it, with a disclaimer at the beginning, in case you don’t know me or my sense of humor very well.

Disclaimer: In my world, uncool does not equal unawesome, OK? All moms rock, whether downtown or in a suburb, colored streaks in hair or going grey, minivan owner or bicycling to work, 1 kid or 10 – you all are truly awesome! I have decided that I’m “uncool” but I’m fine with that and am just trying to make fun of myself a bit here. So there you go; just take the post for what it is – a laugh at my life. Ugh – disclaimers are soooo uncool.

Well, I don’t even really know what an open letter is, but I know it’s the new cool title to use. I thought it might help.

You see, I’m not actually cool. Oh I used to be. But now I’m a run-of-the-mill suburban mom and that automatically cancels out the cool factor these days. I know there are other uncool suburban moms out there and I think know you all rock, but somewhere along the line we’ve been put in the same category as “mom jeans.”

uncool suburban mom

I had subtle clues that I was becoming uncool over the years. But it really hit home when I went back into the work force. All of a sudden I was keenly aware that showing up for an interview at a startup company in my conservative, suburban mom church clothes, wasn’t perhaps quite cool. Shockingly I was hired in spite of my faux pas [Coolness Tip: Work foreign phrases into your speech]. The more I looked around outside of my little circle and connected with new circles, the more I realized that I was no longer cool. And I do work at a cool company with cool coworkers, so hopefully a bit of that will eventually rub off on me.

Here are a few more signs that clued me in to the fact that I am an Uncool Suburban Mom:

  • I don’t own an electric car, and don’t even know which brands are hybrids
  • My suburb has a name that ends in “-ville” – not Downtown or Midtown or Uptown
  • I go through fast food drive-throughs more often than I care to admit [Coolness Tip: NEVER admit going to McDonalds]
  • I get Starbucks drinks regularly, which is tolerated, but it would be best if I went to an independent coffee house
  • I don’t shop daily at a Farmer’s Market for dinner ingredients [Coolness Tip: Use a vegetable that most people haven’t heard of in a new recipe]
  • I drive my kid to school – we don’t ride our bikes there together and it’s too far to walk
  • I buy my mass-produced clothes at suburban department stores rather than individual boutiques
  • Sometimes I get my groceries in plastic bags at the store because I already have too many paper bags at home
  • I don’t frequent all the micro-breweries in the area [Coolness Tip: Order an unusual beer at a restaurant and post it on Instagram]

coolness tip for uncool suburban moms - cool beer

And if you’ve been following along and memorizing the Coolness Tips, I hate to inform you that you, my friend, are definitely not cool. If you were, you would have realized that the phrase “Coolness Tips” isn’t cool at all and should actually be called “Hipster Tips” except that hipsters don’t need tips. So we are in the same boat – glad to have you on board.

Awkward feminine high five coming your way, friend.

Spring Into Hope

I’m a little sad that the most recent post on my blog is about the new year and it’s already Spring. But Spring is a great time for new vision and maybe that will mean that I’ll write here a bit more often.

Spring flowers

Winter is my least favorite season, so I am thankful when the signs of Spring begin to appear – leaves and blooms and greens and birds. The appearance of Spring feels like God is starting to paint the world with watercolors. The new life and colors of Spring bring the hope of fresh starts and new possibilities.

I feel inspired to write at the times of year we associate with renewal of some sort or new beginnings, and Spring is one of those. For me, there are a few: The New Year, Start of Spring, Start of Summer, Start of School Year, and sometimes Thanksgiving. Frankly, I’m glad there are a few or I might feel like there’s no chance to start fresh during the year! But why do I feel that need for so many times of renewal?

Throughout each year, there is the nagging feeling of failure – falling short in different areas of life. Household disorganization, workplace deficiency, family disconnectedness, friendship neglect, and personal imperfection can lead to discouragement , discontent, and depression. But hope is always there and the reminders of it are just around the corner – the beginning of Spring, the start of a new week or month or day, a celebration, an inspirational story, a birth, the colors of nature, and so much more. These times of renewal help us to take a deep cleansing breath, shrug off the feelings of failure, and dream. We can dream and plan and find our way back to encouragement, contentedness and joy.

It’s Spring. I feel hopeful and I’m ready for yet another fresh start. Want to be hopeful with me? What ways do you want to experience renewal this Spring? What are you daring to dream about?

With love,
Lisa Marie

P.S. I had to edit to add this quote I just saw – goes with this post so nicely!

“Spring drew on… and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

New Year Pep Talk

New Year

Happy New Year! I can’t believe 2014 is over and 2015 is already begun. It goes by so fast – sometimes I feel like it’s a carousel that keeps going around and I’m always running right beside trying to hop on.

I’m not writing you a post on how to come up with great resolutions or your new one word for the year or what your focus should be. Hello – I just finished the holidays, people. I’m just now awake enough to start considering what I want to work on in 2015! I will be giving it all some serious thought and I’m sure I’ll share with you soon – and I would love to hear your new year goals and dreams, too.

But oh, I do love the start of a new year. Somehow all my shortcomings from the previous year fade because I know I get a fresh start. Shortcomings like only posting on this blog 11 times last year, but hey, I had a good excuse (new job). Yes, you truly can get a fresh start anytime you want, but there’s just something about the beginning of the calendar year, isn’t there? The dawn of January 1st feels like it’s almost bursting with new ideas, new possibilities, and new ways to be awesome.

This is the time to look back over the past year and see what worked and what didn’t. It’s the time to pat yourself on the back for the challenges you faced and the tough times you survived, but it’s also the time to stand up straighter, pump yourself up, listen to a new year pep talk, and renew the commitment to be bold and face new challenges and tough times. Please allow me to give your shoulders a small shake, look you in the eyes, and tell you that I believe in you! You can take this new year on! Don’t be afraid – what are some new things you feel brave enough to try this year? What are some ways that you handled things last year that you resolve to handle better this year?

You might be tired, drained, and overwhelmed. But it’s a new year. This year probably won’t be easy, but some of it will be good – small blessings and small victories all add up. I think you were more awesome than you realized in 2014 so I know you can be awesome again in 2015 – maybe in new and unexpected ways. Lift your head up, square those shoulders, take a deep breath, put on that smile (even if it’s fake), and bring on the awesome!

Another new year? Bring it.

With Love,
from Lisa Marie