Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Tag: Zone

In Which I Figure a Few Things Out

I’m on a never-ending quest to make my life easier, as are we all, I’m sure. Which is why when I have some “A-ha!” moments I feel like I should share them, just in case there’s someone reading this who struggles in the same area(s) I do and who might benefit from my discoveries.

(The rest of y’all probably figured this stuff out a long time ago and are shaking your heads wondering why I’m so slow on the uptake.)

Anyway. These probably could have waited for my next “What I Learned” post but that won’t happen until winter and I want to get these things down while they’re fresh. And mind you, there’s nothing particularly mind-blowing or groundbreaking happening here… but still, it might help someone. So here we go.

1. Smaller, more frequent meals are better for me. Probably.

Writing that recent post on PCOS motivated me to bring myself up to speed on the latest research and re-examine my eating habits in light of the most up-to-date information, and I realized that the way I’ve been eating hasn’t been good at regulating my insulin. I mostly follow the Zone diet, and a properly zoned meal should keep me satiated for five to six hours, but this hasn’t been happening. Instead I’ve been getting hungry after about three hours, and since I can’t stand to be hungry AT ALL, I go ahead and eat a snack, thinking that I need to elevate my blood sugar. I did not realize that probably the reason I’m hungry is because my insulin is too low, which means I’ve not been managing my insulin resistance.

One reason for this is probably that I eat too much bread. I thought I was doing pretty good about eating bread and grains in moderation, but then Aldi stopped carrying their gluten-free bread. Which meant I had to stop buying gluten-free bread, because all the other brands cost more than I’m willing to pay. And not having it made me realize exactly how much I’d been depending on it to make up a meal.

At any rate, I read on a number of nutritionist websites that women with Type 1 PCOS (which includes insulin resistance) sometimes do better eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. So I’m giving that a try. Specifically, I’m eating a meal consisting of two Zone blocks (that means roughly 14 grams of protein, 18 of carbs and 6 to 8 of healthy fat) every three hours, until my last meal of the evening, which is the normal three blocks. I’m just starting this today, so whether this is actually the right thing for me is yet to be determined. But so far I’ve been more satisfied, more energetic and more clear-headed. Also, while planning out a couple of days’ worth of meals (I don’t think I’ll need to meal plan once I get used to eating this way, but right now not knowing what I’ll be eating for all those scheduled meals makes me too anxious not to plan ahead), I realized that this is going to make it a lot easier to avoid bread and grains*, since I won’t need to eat as many carbs at each meal. So this might just solve two problems at once. Win!

*By grains I mainly mean wheat and anything with gluten. I do okay with oats, corn, rice, etc. as long as I have them in moderation.

2. It’s better to focus on one big task per day.

I thought I was doing pretty well with a daily rhythm that allowed a little room to do a little bit each day on several projects. It made me feel like at least each thing on my project plate was getting attention and making a little bit of progress every day. Sounds good, right?

But this week, since I’m still fighting off this cold or whatever it is, I cut myself some slack and only scheduled one big project task per day. This week that means blogging on Monday and Tuesday, pitching articles and freelance work on Wednesday and Thursday, with Friday set aside for working on my novel. And you know, I think this is actually a lot more effective. I’m only a few days in but I’m making major progress and actually finishing things ahead of schedule, leaving me more time for things like researching what I should be doing for my health and loving on my home and family. I think I’m going to keep this up for a while and see how it goes.

One tweak I’m going to make is to try and front load each weak with the projects that energize me and give me life, and save the more draining stuff for the back half of the week. I used to think it was best to get the draining stuff out of the way first, but then I’d be too drained for anything else. So for me this means book writing on Monday, blogging on Tuesday and Wednesday, and article pitching/writing on Thursday and Friday. Which brings me to…

3. I can schedule time for freelance writing and pitching every week.

Y’all, this has been a revelation. I am SO, SO grateful for my freelance writing work, but one of my biggest frustrations is that it’s sporadic and unpredictable, which makes it difficult to plan. Currently I write regularly for three corporate blogs through two different agencies. One of these agencies just posts assignments in batches once or twice a month, and there’s no regularity for when this happens. The other one will have a monthly idea pitching window for each client–again without much regularity–and whether or not you’re assigned work depends on whether any of your ideas are accepted.

Since I’m someone who thrives on steady rhythms and a certain degree of predictability and regularity in my schedule, this unpredictability has been driving me crazy. There are few things that drive me up the wall more than having to drop everything and change my plans at the last minute.

Y’all. I don’t know why this never occurred to me before, but I finally figured out that I can schedule time for pitching and writing articles into every week–AND that I don’t have to wait for a pitch window or writing assignment from my current clients. I can pitch and submit articles to prospective clients, too. This really should be obvious, because this is how most freelance writers make their living, and I’m kind of an idiot.  But now that I’ve remembered this very basic thing about being a freelancer, not only will my schedule be more predictable and sane, but maybe I’ll also make some more of the monies. One can hope.

If you’re wondering how this last thing might apply to your life, since it’s pretty specific to mine, here’s the main point: if there’s an unpredictable thing in your schedule that’s driving you crazy, then schedule time for that thing every week, or every day if that’s what it takes. Maybe when that thing isn’t actually in play, you can spend that time doing something adjacent to that thing to help you be ready when the thing crops up. Or just consider that time free time to use however you want when you’re not having to actively do the thing. Either way, when it comes time to do the actual thing, then it won’t be a big deal because you won’t have to drop everything and adjust your plans around it. There will already be room for it in your week.

So I hope that helps.

Is there anything you’ve recently figured out that’s made life a little easier or more sane? In the spirit of sharing and helping, tell us about it in the comments!

My Whole30 Journey

doing the whole30

Welp, I made it to Day 30 of Whole30, you guys, and I didn’t die, although it seemed touch-and-go for a little while there around the end of Week 3.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic. But it was hard going there for a while, and it was around Days 20 – 22 that I was most tempted to quit. Here’s how my experience broke down.

Days 1-7 – I felt pretty good, overall. I had some issues with moodiness and irritability, and low energy around Day 4, but that could’ve been chalked up to hormones.

Days 8 – 14 – This week was pretty uneventful. My mood seemed to even out. My energy was okay — not through the roof or anything, but I didn’t feel draggy and my thinking seemed to be getting clearer.

Days 15 – 21 – The week started well, but by mid-week I was irritable again, and I started having issues with lightheadedness and fatigue. I had a really difficult time waking up and dragging myself out of bed in the mornings. I was frustrated because, according to the Timeline, those issues should’ve happened during the first or second week and by this stage I should’ve been feeling “tiger blood” — a general overall feeling of awesomocity — and I most decidedly was not. This is also the point where chocolate cravings and food fatigue really started to get to me and I was most tempted to quit.

Days 21 – 28 – I pressed on, and after Day 22 or so the dizziness and fatigue passed, and so did the chocolate cravings. I was still pretty tired of the lack of variety in my diet, but by that point I had come too far to actually quit. On our next grocery run I added some new veggies into the rotation and that helped some with the food fatigue. Toward the end of the week I was feeling better overall. My energy levels were up, I had more stamina and I started feeling a lot more clear-headed and focused, but still felt like “tiger blood” was eluding me.

Days 29 & 30 – Yesterday and today I’ve felt pretty energetic and didn’t have any trouble waking up in the morning (well, today I did thanks to a bout of insomnia last night, but I woke up more easily than I expected to and I feel pretty good otherwise), so I think maybe I finally achieved “tiger blood” here at the tail end.

Results

Overall, I’m pleased with the results. I weighed myself this morning for the first time since Day 1, and I actually lost five pounds, which I didn’t really expect or hope for, so that’s a nice bonus. But I achieved a number of non-scale victories, which include:

  • The discipline that came with having to follow the rules for 30 days. This spilled over into other areas of my life, too. I also found myself exercising more consistently, and also doing a better job of sticking to a writing schedule.
  • I broke some bad food habits I’d developed, and I stopped feeling like I’m missing out if my husband eats junk food without me (and he stopped feeling like he’s obligated to share it with me).
  • The aforementioned increased energy, stamina and mental clarity. I no longer feel perpetually like I need a nap.
  • Reduction of chronic pain . . . somewhat. My knees and back feel better, and my wrist tendonitis hasn’t flared up in well over a week, even though I’ve been doing a ton of typing and Photoshop, both of which tend to aggravate it. However, the pain I’ve been feeling in my clavicle for the last year or so hasn’t gotten any better, which leads me to suspect maybe it has more to do with my mattress than with chronic inflammation.
  • Just generally feeling more confident, capable and good about life.

Life After Whole30

So will I be doing this again? Maybe, at some point, if my habits get so derailed again that I need a total nutrition reboot to get everything back on track. But I don’t plan to adopt it as a lifestyle. Going forward, my diet will be a mish-mash of Whole30-inspired meals, the Zone diet, and the PCOS diet. I’ll still avoid gluten, dairy and soy, and keep processed foods to a minimum, but don’t plan to concern myself too much with added sugar, legumes (I really miss peanut butter, y’all) or gluten-free grains in moderation.

One big change that I can attribute to my Whole30 experience is that I won’t be reinstituting cheat days, which just set me up for failure. I plan to follow Melissa Hartwig’s Food Freedom philosophy of consciously deciding whether it’s worth it to eat something that’s “off-plan.” I’ve already made up my mind that things like frozen pizza — even the really good kind from Sprout’s — and Little Debbies aren’t worth it. Actual delivery pizza and home baked chocolatey treats, on the other hand — totally worth it, and also don’t occur often enough to worry about, so I will enjoy them when the opportunity presents itself and then move on without guilt.

So would I recommend it? If you struggle with things like low energy, brain fog, high blood sugar, or chronic pain, definitely. And if you feel like you should be eating healthier but just can’t exercise the self-control to make healthier choices, or if you struggle with food issue like emotional eating, boredom eating, guilt over your choices, etc., I believe this would help break those unhealthy psychological patterns and get you on a road to wellness.

If you do it, just keep in mind that you need to commit to the entire 30 days, because it may take that long to see real results (for some people it takes 40, 50 or 60 days. I’m really glad I didn’t turn out to be one of those people), and there WILL be days when it is HARD and you want nothing more than to quit. It’s an excellent exercise in perseverance and patience, on top of everything else.

Have you done Whole30? Do you have any plans to? Share your experience and feel free to ask questions in the comments!