WHAT I LEARNED DURING WHOLE30 (PART I OF III)

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Last month, I took part in the Whole30. Many of you already know this because I posted everything I ate during the Whole30 online. If you didn’t know or have no idea what the Whole30 is here is my short description.

Whole30 = No added sugars in your diet. You eat meat, fish or eggs for protein. A whole bunch of veggies. Also, some fruits for natural sugars. Nuts, oils, ghee and other natural fats. Every meal should consist of these things. (No dairy, legumes, grains or non-gluten grains included).

After thirty days I had lost about fifteen pounds. The problem was once I finished my Whole30 I did one week (instead of two weeks) of reintroducing non-compliant foods: Beans/Legumes, Corn/Non-Gluten Grains, Dairy and Gluten/Grains. After that I went full rage mode and ate all the things I wasn’t able to eat during the Whole30: Pizza (twice), Burgers, Ice Cream, Cake, Cookies, Chips, Cheese, Tacos and everything else. I think I re-gained about five of those fifteen pounds. (It is now two weeks later, and I’ve slowed down on full rage mode. I weighed myself and was back where I was on Day 30).

Now, I’m hoping to find a healthy balance of Whole30-ish eating and my regular diet. The point of Whole30 is to eat using basic ingredients to reset your body, next you reintroduce the “non-compliant” foods to see how they affect you. You are basically turning your body into a walking science experiment (Whole30 made me a scientist!). Once you’re done, you may continue to eat whatever foods make you feel good, but no one is perfect so you also eat the foods that don’t make you feel good from time to time.

So, what did I learn during my Whole30?

[1] I DON’T HAVE A “SUGAR DRAGON” IN ME. I HAVE A SUGAR DEMON!

Melissa Hartwig, creator of Whole30, talks about our “Sugar Dragon” a whole lot in her books and on her website. The “Sugar Dragon” is basically when you eat something sugary, your brain wants more and more sugar until there is nothing left in the house. It’s a whirling dervish of sugary delights.

I was extremely strict and faithful to Whole30, not eating any added sugar during the month of April. All the sugar in my diet came from fruits, and I didn’t have many cravings other than “Sugar Nightmares” (on a few nights I dreamt that I was eating sweet treats and other non-compliant foods. In one of my “Sugar Nightmares” I ate a whole pizza from Papa Johns). However, once April was over and I did finally eat sugar I went back to full-rage mode a few times. But since then I’ve calmed down a bit.

Once I eat one Oreo cookie, the rest of the Oreo cookies aren’t safe. I will eat all the Oreos I can find (or at least one row at a time). And once they are all gone I will move on to the next sugary treat until nothing remains. And that is why my SUGAR DRAGON is actually a SUGAR DEMON.

[2] NO TV BEFORE BED, BUT YES TV WHILE EATING.

Some Whole30 habits you are encouraged to practice aren’t entirely diet related. In her Whole30 books, Melissa says don’t watch TV while eating. She wants you to enjoy each bite of your food. Eat slowly and kind of meditate while you eat. I do yoga and stretching for meditation and there are way too many TV shows on my list to not watch them while I eat. I even watched Ugly Delicious on Netflix (a pizza documentary with David Chang, while eating my Whole30 meals. I watched it three times in April).

Another Whole30 “rule” is no TV before bed. Before Whole30 I would leave my TV on until I fell asleep (That’s why the gods created sleep mode). This made it harder to fall asleep, and harder to wake up in the mornings. In the beginning of Whole30 I would even wake up with a headache, which I’m still not completely sure if that came from having the TV on at night or if it was my SUGAR DEMON telling me it needed sugar. One of Melissa’s tips is to read until you get tired. I started doing this most nights, and now I’m continuing that habit.

Reading before bed is like an even more natural form of Melatonin. I read until my eyes become heavy, then I turn off my lamp and fall asleep almost instantly. With the TV on it would take me much longer to fall asleep.

[3] SLEEP. A LOT.

The main problem I had was not sleeping enough. I always try to do too much before bed, whether it’s writing, drawing, reading, watching shows or trying to beat God of War. I end up getting into bed at eleven or midnight even though I’m trying to wake up at six or six-thirty to write or run. One thing I need to get better at is going to sleep early when I want to wake up early.

Melissa talks about “Tiger Blood” a whole lot (It’s something Charlie Sheen said in that interview where everyone thought he was a crazy person. I think his “Tiger Blood” came from cocaine and drugs, but Melissa’s version is when you’re eating super healthy so you feel awesome in your mind, body and soul). I don’t think I ever fully felt the effects of “Tiger Blood” and that’s probably because I didn’t sleep enough.

I did have way more energy throughout the day while eating Whole30. Before this I would eat sandwiches and bread-y things for lunch which would make me want to lay down after work. With Whole30 meals I would get home with enough energy for boxing, yoga, stretching, biking or some other activity.

[4] EVERYTHING HAS SUGAR IN IT.

During April I learned that everything has sugar in it. Every sauce, every frozen meal and most things you would order at a restaurant have some form of sugar or fake sugar in them. That’s why I had to cook about 98% of my meals from scratch, which I don’t really mind, because I enjoy cooking.

Even my Ice Breaker mints (and pretty much every type of mint or gum) were non-compliant with the Whole30, because they have some kind of “science sugar” in them. (A “science sugar” is something that’s made in a lab to sweeten foods without adding calories so people think it’s healthy. Coke Zero is full of science sugars that haven’t yet been discovered, and also probably contain tons of cancer and other diseases which we will find out about in the year 2020).

Thrive Market was a good place to find special Whole30 versions of sauces (Just make sure to cancel your subscription before you get charged the insane monthly fee. Also, they are real annoying about letting anyone cancel their membership. I had to chat with some dude who kept trying to throw in another free month, until I finally told him, JUST CANCEL IT MAN!).

It took me until week two to finally find a bacon with no added sugar. I had to go to Whole Foods in Downtown just to find some bacon. Early on, I found Prosciutto, Jamon Serrano and some other Italian and Spanish deli meats with no sugar or other non-compliant ingredients. The trick is to find deli meats that say, “ingredients: pork, sea salt.”

[5] FRUITS TASTE BETTER WHEN YOUR SUGAR DRAGON/DEMON IS ASLEEP.

In the Whole30 books I read that my taste buds would change from not being overwhelmed by all these sugary and processed foods. This is true and I know this because before the Whole30 I couldn’t eat a whole orange. The flavor was too strong and I could only handle about one slice. But now I love oranges, grapefruits, kiwis and tons of fruits I’ve never even tried before (I had only tried the artificial versions or flavors of most fruits. The fruits in my diet used to come from Starburst and Skittles).

Before Whole30 all of my dessert and sweet choices were all made with chocolate, peanut butter, nutella and milky/sugary goodness. I hope I will try more fruity sweets (or just straight fruits as dessert). Even just cooking some apples and pears in ghee (or clarified butter) with some cinnamon is a delicious (and nutritious) treat.

If you are someone who had Whole30 questions for me, I hope this helped. These are just some of the things I learned during my Whole30. My next post will be my TOP 5 Whole30 DISHES (recipes included) for people who are on the Whole30 or those who would like to test drive some recipes before committing to the program.

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WEIGHT GAIN & RUNNING

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One thing I learned this week was that it’s much, much easier to gain weight than it is to lose weight. Since the end of November, I’ve been running three times a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays). I started a running program that would hopefully get me to run TEN miles (all at once) over this coming weekend.

After making  it to SEVEN whole miles (all in one run), two weeks ago, I decided to take a week off from running. I don’t know exactly what I did, but it felt like I broke my back. After the SEVEN mile run, I had to lay in bed for two hours with a heating pad on my back just to be able to leave my house that night. During the whole week that followed I also used the heating pad at least twice a day, once when I woke up in the morning and once again before going to bed (sometimes somewhere in between those two times).

Each day, for about a week, I woke up with back pain. That’s why I decided to take one week off. I didn’t run or do any exercise for a whole week. I even abandoned my semi-healthy eating diet (Which wasn’t really a diet at all. I just sometimes would tell myself things like, “Hey, maybe I shouldn’t eat a whole calzone for lunch today.”)

In that one week of eating whatever I wanted and not doing any physical activity at all, I gained about ten pounds (It may have been only five pounds, but it felt like ten).It’s crazy that in one week alone I gained five to ten pounds. However, in the eight weeks of running prior, I had probably only lost less than five pounds (I don’t really know. I haven’t been keeping count). Of course, if I was on a strict diet, I may have lost more weight. But just running and eating whatever I want allows me to remain at the same weight (or lose some weight, very slowly).

This week I got back into it. I did some kettlebell exercises on Monday morning. Ran FIVE miles on Tuesday morning, did some yoga and stuff on Wednesday and Thursday I ran THREE miles in the freezing cold Miami weather (It was like 40 degrees out there). Friday is supposed to be a day of rest, but I will most likely try to do some Runner’s Yoga with Adrienne to get ready for Saturday’s EIGHT miler.

EIGHT miles will be the longest I’ve ever run in my entire life (all at once), and if I succeed it’s not over. I will have to attempt TEN miles next weekend, that’s if this EIGHT mile run doesn’t put me in the same position as the SEVEN mile run did (taking me out for an entire week).

All I really wanted to share is how I learned how much easier it is to gain weight than lose weight. If I really tried I’m sure I could easily gain ten or more pounds in one week (But I am not Morgan Spurlock, so I won’t test this theory).

 

What’s the most you’ve ever run (all at once) in your life? Comment below or say it to yourself out loud and maybe someone nearby will hear your answer.

What the Health?

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A few weeks ago, I watched the documentary What the Health on Netflix. I really only watched about 20 minutes of it, but that’s all I needed to form an opinion and write about it here. This documentary was created to inform us that everything we are currently eating is cancer, unless you are a full-Vegan (or plant-based vegan).

What I learned from watching about 20 minutes of this doc is that there are two types of people in this world, (1) those who get cancer, and (2) those who die before they realize they’ve got cancer.

According to the doc the animals we eat are filled with tons of carcinogens inside of their bodies, which is why every week on Facebook there’s a new article posted by some dum dum, that says “[This type of meat] gives you cancer!”

I gave the Plant-based, full-Vegan diet a thought, but then realized that I can’t take meat, fish, dairy and all of the other delicious things out of my life. I love pizza, tacos and Pretzel M&M’s! They did mention in the doc that human’s are the only animals that drink other animal’s milk, which when you say it like that it does sound kind of weird. We drink everyone’s milk: cow’s milk, goat’s milk, almond’s milk, coconut’s milk, soy’s milk and so many others. Most of these don’t even sound like actual milk.

What the Health also mentioned that the Health industry is trying to kill us. They feed us all of the unhealthy food to get us sick and treat us with their expensive drugs. This part I do believe. The drug cartels invented the food pyramid to get us sick and cure our diseases with their expensive drugs!

The health industry is kind of like that book or movie where the mom is feeding all the kids just a little bit of poison, so she can take care of them while their sick, because it makes her feel better. I think that’s a book or movie I’ve seen. If anyone knows the name please let me know in the comments. Maybe it was an episode of Dexter, or just part of the plot of Crimson Peak?

The reasoning behind all the animals having cancer in their bodies is because the animals are breathing in smoke and pollution from nearby factories. Guess what, What The Health, we are breathing in that same air, so we already have the cancer inside of us. If that’s the case, I’m going to continue eating my normal diet, but I may add some Plant-based meals here and there. And if I do it’s because I want to, and not because you told me to!

I don’t think I will ever finish watching the rest of the documentary because I already got what I needed out of it (this 500 word Learning). So thank you, What the Health. Now it’s time to go back to Life in Pieces and GLOW on Netflix.

 

*If you have any Netflix recommendations please comment below, that or if you know the movie or book I was talking about. Was it Misery?

**One more thing, I was going to talk about Joaquin Phoenix and his last documentary (or Mock-umentary, I’m Still Here), where he tricked us all in to believing that he had gone off the rails. Also, I am no scientist, doctor or food specialist, this is all based on my opinions after watching just 20 minutes of this documentary.

TACO BELL IS STILL AWESOME!

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Last night, I ate Taco Bell for the first time in maybe 3-5 years. And let me tell you that Taco Bell is still as awesome as I remember, except it’s better now. Lately, the only fast food I’ve been eating is Burger King. Anytime it’s Thursday and I get out of Improv class at 10PM and I’m starving, but don’t feel like going to Publix to get something I have to cook, I always end up at the Burger King drive-thru. Which was getting to the point that I had to stop myself and say, “No more BK!”

I’ve been dying to go to Taco Bell since they released that Naked Chicken Taco, but the bad news is that it’s already gone. Every time I drove by a TB, I would think of stopping, but then I would think to myself, Wait, will this meal even make it back to Key Biscayne without getting all sogged up and ruined? Because I usually don’t like to eat food in the car, I would rather eat it once I get home watching my recorded TV programs.

Last night I wasn’t even that hungry. I just had a weird day and felt that it was time for some TB. I arrived to an empty drive thru, with no cars in front of me and no time to read over the new, super massive menu. The voice in the box instantly asked, “What would you like,” and I replied with a long, “Uhhhhhhhhhh…,” as I quickly sifted through all the new additions to the menu.

I remember when the menu was so simple, there were some tacos, burritos, quesadillas, chalupas and a few other things. Since my last visit they’ve added a bunch of hybrid items like “quesa-ritos,” “double-dillas” and so much more.

When I was younger my order was very simple, “Three taco meal, soft, only beef and cheese and a chicken quesadilla.” Today, that would be too plain and boring, I needed to try something new, especially after 3-5 years of not visiting TB.

I decided I’d ask for three things and three things only, but what would those three things be? I first decided on a Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco, only beef and cheese. Cool Ranch Doritos have forever and always been my favorite Doritos, the purple Spicy Chili comes in a close second now, but never Nacho Cheese. The taco shell wasn’t overly Cool Ranch-y, but it still had enough of that flavor that I was happy with it.

For my second item I asked for a Quesarito, not knowing exactly what it was. I went with the spicy beef. I’m pretty sure there was cheese, beef, rice, sour cream and maybe some other stuff in there. It was mighty good. I guess it was a burrito with extra cheese that was put on the plancha like a quesadilla. Whatever it was I was satisfied with it.

My third and final item was the Cheesy Stuffed Gordita (or Cheesy Stuffed Gordita Supreme), with beef and no lettuce. I’m not sure which one I got, because I first asked for the Supreme and the guy said it didn’t exist, although I did read it somewhere on that giant menu. This was also delicious, although I waited too long to eat it and the crunchiness of the taco inside the Gordita was not as crunchy as I would have liked.

Why did I choose these three items? The Doritos Locos was always on my mind from the moment I first arrived and saw they had a Cool Ranch version (I thought that was an LTO, limited time offer, #FastFoodTalk). The other two were crunch time decisions. I was panicked by the voice in the box and felt I was put on the spot and had to order before an imaginary shot clock ran out. So, I quickly looked through the menu and said whatever items caught my attention. I also didn’t want to start asking questions about each item, “Now the quesarito, what is that all about?” And have to listen to this guy’s explanations of each item.

Knowing what I know now, about the super massive menu at Taco Bell I will definitely do my research before going back. I may study the menu to be prepared for my next visit. Maybe I’ll print it out and highlight some items that I am curious about. Either way, I will definitely be visiting TB some time in the near future (I’m not waiting another 3-5 years), and when I do visit I will be prepared.

 

What are some of your favorite Taco Bell items? (tell me by commenting below, and if you think you’re too good for Taco Bell, keep that sh*t to yourself…)

OLYMPIC SPONSORS (More Sports!)

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Last week, someone posted this article on the Facebook:

“TEAM USA is Sponsored by Junk Food: The Garbage Olympians Wouldn’t Eat”

You can read the article here, if you want. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

If you didn’t read the article, I will tell you what it’s about. It basically states how the TEAM USA Olympic sponsors are brands like Coke, McDonald’s and all these garbage salespeople who make the delicious poison we put in our bodies every day.

I’ve been saying this for a while, but not about the Olympics. Think of any sporting event you have ever been to here in the States (that’s what non-US people call it, “The States”). What did you eat or drink at these sporting events? Probably burgers, chicken fingers, pizza, all the delicious and fried things. You probably washed it all down with an ice cold Coke and a smile, or a Pepsi or some other liquid garbage.

*Side Note:
Lately, I like to stick to Sprite, 7-UP and Sierra Mist because they’re clear. Sometimes I add some grenadine to make a Shirley Temple. It seems like there are less toxins in a clear soda, or maybe they’re just better at hiding it. Maybe it’s all in those tiny bubbles?

*Back to the other thing:
If you’re over 21 you probably drink a bunch of beer at sporting events and before going inside during what we call “Tailgating.” Everyone likes to get wasted on beer and scream at their team. Some like to scream at the other team or their fans. That’s how fights happen and people get kicked out, or banned for life.

Sometimes you don’t get to go to the game, instead you’re watching from home on your TV. What do you see? A bunch of commercials from sponsors, 90% of which are all junk food and beer. Maybe sports should be sponsored by the stuff the athletes eat and drink. Not only are you watching other people exercise while you sit on your lazy butt, you’re also consuming an endless amount of calories while they are trying to burn almost half of that amount.

That’s just my opinion on sports and sponsorships, now here’s what I thought after reading this article. I know what food I should be eating, I know what’s really good for me, but I choose to eat the bad stuff instead. It’s a choice I have to live with each and every day. Maybe I should have eaten a salad for lunch the other day, but Jimmy Jamz sounded way better.

Some days, or just some meals I decide to eat a little better and that’s great. But what is “better” to me, still isn’t good to an Olympian. This guy named many things saying, “Why would I ever put this in my body?” I try not to put things like McDonald’s and Taco Bell in my body. My thirty year old body can’t handle it like my 16 year old body could.

Then there’s other things he talks about that I think of as an “OK” option. Like Greek yogurt, which he says is horrible, unless you eat plain ass Greek yogurt. Have you tried plain Greek yogurt? That stuff is gross! You need the vanilla and granola. (A few weeks ago I discovered the magic that is, Yogurt and Granola. Of course, I’ve been using vanilla yogurt and granola with chocolate chips in it — Not so healthy choice, but it is tasty.)

What I learned from this article is that I could never be an Olympic athlete. Not even for a week. I don’t even think I could eat that clean for 24 hours. Next week, I’ll choose one day to try to eat like an Olympian for 24 hours, let’s see how long it takes for me to buy some E.L. Fudge cookies and eat the whole package (I ate a whole package from Sunday night – Monday afternoon this week, but they were my favorite ones).

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Next week I’ll update you with my “Eat Like an Olympian Challenge” and how far it goes… I’m aiming to start on Monday, but most diets usually start on Monday and end by Wednesday at the latest.

Culinary Critics

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There are some rumors going around insinuating that chefs are crazy. If you watch Kitchen Nightmares or Hell’s Kitchen or any Gordon Ramsay show, you may agree (I do not watch those shows, so I hope he’s on at least one of them). You might believe in a world where all chefs have exploding personalities and you should just leave them alone. I don’t think this is true and I’ll tell you why.

Last week, I began watching Chef’s Table on Netflix and I’m now on the 6th or 7th episode. If you aren’t watching this show yet, you need to start now. Take a break from OITNB and watch some Chef’s Table, then get back to OITNB if you really need to. I like that each episode of Chef’s Table keeps you jumping around the world following one master chef at a time (not to be confused with the Master Chief). Also, each episode is completely different from the last because each chef has a different story, personality and culinary style.

If you want to know who the real crazies are, it’s definitely not the chefs. Of the 6 or 7 chefs I’ve seen so far, only one was a little crazy. He wasn’t exactly crazy though, he was just an Argentinian hippie. Another one was a bit angry, but he did say he needed to work on that. So, at least he acknowledged his faults.

The real crazy people are the food critics who make a living talking about these chefs. Who are these hipster food scientists, dissecting each meal to write a column about it? And what gives them the authority to say what food is better than the rest?

I’m asking because I would like to have this job. Just eat food and talk about it, all day. I’d also get to create my own strange wardrobe by taking stuff from Urban Outfitters and thrift stores into a secret lair, then sewing them together and create a hybrid clothing line specifically for myself. According to the food critics I’ve seen so far, If you’re all about writing about food, you also have to be all about fashion, but not other people’s fashion. You must create your own weird costumes, that only you can pull off.

Maybe the food critics create these outrageous outfits in order to stand out when they come into restaurants. They want the chef to know who they are. I’m a critic, give me the good food! These aren’t this new breed of yelp reviewers, Chef’s Table doesn’t believe in yelp (and neither do I!). These critics probably attended culinary school, but not to learn how to make wild dishes. They wanted to be able to write about other people’s wild dishes.

Of all the food critics I’ve seen in 6 or 7 episodes, I think only one of them looked like an everyday human. The rest look like they belong at Mos Eisley’s Cantina. They aren’t weird-shaped or goofy-faced, it’s mostly just their clothes that makes them seem different. “And people always scared of what’s different,” someone said that in Remember the Titans (and probably some other movies too).

Since I’ve only seen 6 or 7 episodes, that’s all I’ve learned so far. Also, just from watching Chef’s Table my culinary skills may be improving. Last week I bought some sashimi tuna at the Fresh Market and I made a super gourmet, culinary chef experience out of it. I even had a beautiful presentation worthy of a Kaiseki dining experience. (Episode 4: Niki Nakayama – n/naka)
Watch Chef’s Table and learn some stuff…

Cuban Food: It’s Out of this World!

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Being raised by and living with two real Cubans (my parents) for about 80% of my life, I’ve learned that most Cubans aren’t really into trying new food. They most definitely are not fans of anything spicy. And whenever it’s time for a birthday, graduation or a wake it’s always, “Let’s go to Versailles, La Carreta, Sergio’s, Havana Harry’s or any other Cuban restaurant.” Cuban food is magical and was invented to help us all deal with happiness, success and pain.

Another thing I’ve noticed, especially about my dad, is that anytime I do make him try a new place he always gives it the same review, “No es nada del otro mundo” (it’s nothing out of this world or nothing from another planet). I’ve heard this same review from plenty of other old Cubans in my family and some not in my family.

If you’re holding every new meal to that standard, then you’re never going to find something you like. I don’t know what they’re searching for, but whatever it is they probably won’t find it here on Earth. Where do Old Cubans think Cuban food comes from? A secret space station? The Millennium Falcon? Pandora?

Everything we have ever eaten so far has been “from this world.” None of the Old Cubans I know were ever astronauts, so I don’t know what kind of space cakes and moon pies they think they’ll find. I’m sure if we did try the cuisine from Mars or Venus it wouldn’t be very tasty. Did you see how much trouble Matt Damon went through just to grow plants on Mars (in The Martian)? An extraordinary amount of trouble.

I love Cuban food, especially croquetas and vaca frita and tres leches and flan and the bread is simply amazing (with and without butter, toasted and untoasted, it’s always great).

As a young whippersnapper I only ate hot dogs, chicken nuggets and pizza. It wasn’t until I watched Good Burger in the theater that I thought, Hey, I should give hamburgers another try! We went straight to Burger King, where I learned what burgers should taste like (or that’s what I thought at the time). Now, I enjoy trying all types of new cuisine from all over the world. (I’m no Andrew Zimmern or Anthony Bourdain, but I’ll try some stuff at Epcot Food & ‘Lines’ Festival).

Attempting to take my parents to a new place is tough, they just want something familiar. Anything not Cuban “sounds weird” to them. They like sticking to old Cuban restaurants or famous chains that they already trust. I feel this may be common in most Cubans who were born on that island.

Maybe someone (aka the government) was trying to poison everyone on the island, so they only ate at places they already trusted. Now, since coming to Miami, they’ve found their few safe restaurants and will continue dining at those and only those few spots.

Another thing with this older generation is that they were brought up on the crappy food pyramid and they have no idea what’s healthy and what isn’t. You try to explain what’s bad and why it’s bad, but they listen to idiots like Dr. Oz, Wolf Blitzer and GMA instead.

I know what’s healthy and what I should be eating. However, I choose to eat what’s not healthy because I am still kind of young and the healthy food isn’t as delicious. In fact, the healthy food usually tastes like butt and life is too short to waste it eating gross, healthy food (like quinoa and kale). But by eating that healthy, crap food you may have a longer life. But it won’t be much longer, so eat what you want. Just make sure to try new things along the way.


If you liked this Learning you should “Like,” “Comment” and/or “Share” it. That way other people will get to enjoy it too… Like DMX said, “Stop being greedy.”