Whole30: how to eat out

I did it. I managed 30 full days of eating completely compliant Whole30 foods. And went on holiday. And continued to have a social life. Hurrah!

I’m not going to pretend that eating out whilst doing Whole30 is easy. In reality, there are very few options and sometimes you feel like a bit of an idiot (like when you’re scraping mayo off a tomato slice or sending back mushrooms that have been cooked in butter despite you saying you couldn’t eat dairy). But it is possible, and enjoyable. I had a couple of really quite good dinners out during the last month. Shocking, I know.

So here are my top tips for eating out, Whole30-style…

Tip one: remember that the courgette fries at Byron come battered!
Tip one: remember that the courgette fries at Byron come battered!

Plan where you are going

If you just decide to go out for dinner, without a clue where you’re going, you’re going to be wandering around for a while. Check out restaurant menus first and check whether there’s something you’ll be able to eat (even if it’s with a few substitutions). Yes, it completely takes any spontaneity of the situation, but unfortunately, it is totally necessary.

Get used to asking for subs

I have never been good at being assertive in restaurants, but if nothing else, Whole30 makes you be. I only ate one meal out in the whole 30 days that didn’t require any amendments, so practice saying ‘no cheese’, ‘no dressing’ and ‘no bread’ like you mean it. Which brings me onto drinks…

Get used to saying ‘NOT CORDIAL’

The drinks part of Whole30 is absolutely the easiest. I mean, you can have tea AND coffee and neither are particularly improved with the presence of milk anyway. And, one of my favourite soft drinks normally is soda and fresh lime, which made it even easier. But the amount of people that think that ‘fresh lime’ means lime cordial… or lemon… or no lime… or just a completely different drink altogether is unbelievable. It’s also one of the drinks with the vastest ranging pricing I found, having been charged anything from absolutely nothing to over £2.

Learn to love steak

I’m pretty sure most people who eat meat already know that steak is bloody brilliant. I did not. But after eating it – albeit very tentatively – on my first dinner out, I now do. And that, along with a naked burger, is pretty much all you’ll be able to eat on most restaurant menus. But I had some very, very good burgers, so it really wasn’t a problem.

Go with people who are supportive

It really won’t be an enjoyable dining experience if you are having to justify and explain yourself throughout your meal. I am lucky that I dined with some very supportive and accommodating friends during my Whole30. And on several occasions I was with Charlie, who did the whole thing with me, which was absolutely invaluable. If you can drag a friend along with you on the journey – do!

Come back on Friday for my guide of where to eat (and not eat!) in London on Whole30.

Keeping it interesting: June and July

It’s been a long time since I wrote a post like this (November, in fact), which just goes to show how little cross training and how much running I’ve done this year.

But as it’s a time where I’m not really in full on training plan mode, plus I’ve got a tight hip niggle that won’t go away, I’m enjoying much more than just running at the moment. Here’s what I’ve been up to…

Cycling

I bought a bike in April last year. I then rode it twice, folded it up under a desk for 8 months, moved house and then kept it in the garage for another 5 months. But last weekend I took the bold move and wheeled it – with pancake flat tyres – over to Evans Cycles at Fenchurch Street and asked for it to be made roadworthy again. Turns out, all that meant was pumping up the tyres and oiling the chain. Embarrassed at my incompetence, I rode off into the rain and off on an adventure.

Down by Regent’s Canal at Mile End Park

That weekend, I rode a few miles around Limehouse and Mile End, 6 miles up to North London, then all the way along the canal the next day from Angel to Wapping.

Since then, I’ve sorted out bike parking at work and rode to work most of last week. It’s ace! It’s less than 25 minutes from my front door to my desk and for where I am in East London, cycling is always the quickest way to get to where I need to go. I am LOVING cycling at the moment.

Limehouse Basin

Bootcamp Pilates

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to try out HIIP (high intensity interval Pilates) by Bootcamp Pilates at their City studio, which is nestled right behind Old Street station, only a 20 minute walk over from my office. It was a really humid evening and the mix of floor based cardio and strength exercises, interspersed with body conditioning sections on the reformer got me really quite sweaty in their basement studio.

I’ve really enjoyed the couple of reformer classes I’ve done in the past, but this class I found that little bit more engaging. We did exercises like squats, burpees, push ups and lunges, as well as some moves using dumbbells, on a mat placed to the side of the reformer. These were typically sets of two exercises done three times, before switching to work on the reformer, which was more stretching focussed, along with moves like planks and bridges.

I liked that we switched between on and off the reformer regularly, it meant I wasn’t hating being worked up into a sweat doing endless burpees, but also wasn’t getting too bored just lying on the reformer for an hour.

As you can see from the photos, I had the pink, shiny face of concentration on throughout the class! It was challenging but moves were adapted up or down based on ability. I know that this kind of workout would do wonders for my running, so I’ll definitely be back.

Classes are £19 off peak, £27 peak – so pricy! But Bootcamp Pilates do an intro offer of 2 for £12 on off peak classes (which only excludes weekday evening classes).

Lifting

My brilliantly fit and constantly active friend Charlie makes a great gym buddy. Over the last few weeks, we have managed to fit in four trips to my gym (Virgin Active Barbican) together. I really hate running before work, but I love going to the gym. She comes up with the workouts, shouts at me when my weights aren’t heavy enough and I just go along with it and feel great afterwards.

I only have the rest of July left on my membership, but then I am probably just going to pay as I go at other gyms and take advantage of the fact you can train for free on Fridays at Fitness First if you’re running Royal Parks (which I think is a fantastic link up!)

This week, it was an upper body session for me, and a legs session for Charlie. One day I will feel confident enough to step up to the squat rack alone…

Race report: British 10k 2014

There are few races I’ve enjoyed less than the British 10k 2013. I was lucky to have my place paid for by my employer at the time, and I ran for my industry charity, GroceryAid. However, the race itself was pretty terrible – it started off badly by taking over 45 minutes to get across the start line on one of the hottest days of last summer, and didn’t get much better from there.

I then went onto run the Color Run in the same afternoon, which is probably the only race I’ve ever enjoyed less than the British 10k. Now that really was AWFUL. So hot, so much waiting around, so boring, so crappy to run around Wembley. I haven’t been back to North West London since. Just eurgh.

So after all of that, you’d probably wonder why on earth I would even bother showing up to this year’s British 10k? Well firstly, I was lucky (again) to win a place with Tiger Balm to run as part of their #BorntoRun team. I’ll get the race fee thing out of the way straight away. No 10k should cost £50. It’s just ludicrous. I would not have run this race either last year or this if I had to pay for it.

And despite getting the race place for free, I still found myself no more impressed with the race this year than I did in 2013.

Tiger Balm were excellent. I got the place only a few days prior to race day, their communication was spot on and the pre race meet up – despite being early – was friendly, organised and really good fun. They asked us to wear onesies for the photocall, with the option of wearing them for the race. We were given a tshirt too, but I thought it would be fun to go with the onesie.

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This obviously made me really, really hot. But this wasn’t what I disliked about this race – I still wasn’t as hot as I was running it last year. I disliked the long walk to the start from the bag drop, the long wait before we got started (although admittedly not anywhere near as long as last year) and the fact that there wasn’t start pens by finishing time – which meant a painful mixture of weaving around walkers and being elbowed by faster runners. That was the worst. I’ve never felt so jostled, nudged and just generally harassed as I have in this race. It really started to stress me out by the second half and I ran the final 3k with panic rising in my chest.

The long walk to the start…

After the horrible bit right near the end where you reach Parliament Square, but then get shot off towards Victoria for an out and back loop along Victoria Street (my least favourite part of the whole route – and you run through the Blackfriars underpass – twice), I was really glad to have finished.

The we all got held from entering Whitehall Place, the location of the bag drop. The crowds mounted up quickly as more and more people crossed the finish line. It all got a bit ridiculous.

It then transpired that everyone was queing for the Help for Heroes tent, regardless of whether they had run for them or not and it was blocking the whole road. It took almost half an hour for someone to come and sort this out. By the time I made it to my bag and to Charlie, Harry, Jonny and Seb, I was so on the edge of panic from being hot, tired and packed in a crowd for the past hour and a half, that I did a little cry. I thought I was past the point of crying at 10k’s… so thanks for that British 10k. Oh, and one more thing – I still have no idea what my time was because when I put my race number into the website, someone else’s result comes up. Not that it matters, but you’re supposed to be able to find it out.

Thankfully, my day drastically improved post race thanks to my awesome ambush of tigers, as the five of us headed to Le Pain at the Southbank Centre for fizz, granola, coffee and a whole load of bread. Love Le Pain.

Then me and Charlie shared a peanut buttery cake of amazingness from Outsider Tart‘s stall at the food market, accompanied by a coffee whilst soaking up the sun.

I gave the British 10k a second chance, but I don’t think I’ll be giving it a third…

 

Whole30: the results are in…

I said from the very beginning that doing the Whole30 was not about weight loss for me. So I am very happy that after my post-Whole30 weigh in on the super snazzy body scanning scales at my gym, I have discovered I am exactly the same weight as I was the last time I took the reading exactly six weeks ago.

There have been some changes over the last six (or I rather, I would assume, four and a bit) weeks though, which again I’m pretty happy about:

Stats from 29th May:

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Stats from 10th July:

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• My BMI is stable (18.5 vs 18.6)

• My weight is exactly the same (well 300g difference, so we’ll say exactly the same)

• My muscle mass has increased by 1kg

• My body fat mass has decreased by 1.6kg

• My body fat % has decreased by 2.8%

I would say that the first two weeks of the thirty days were pretty light on the exercise front too, because I was so GOSH DARN TIRED. I’ve only got back into the swing of 3 runs plus 2-3 cross training sessions a week in the last week or so, so I’d be really interested to see what might happen if I actually focused on exercise as well as what I’m eating and drinking.

I’m taking these stats with a relative pinch of salt as it is over such a short time period, but I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that what you fuel your body with has a massive impact on it and its performance. So here’s to continuing to fuel it in such a friendly way…

Whole30: day 31!

It’s now day 31 of my first Whole30. Which means I did it! I survived for 30 whole days eating nothing but real food – just meat, fish, fruit, vegs, nuts and natural oils. I survived for 30 whole days without bread, cheese, chocolate, cake, biscuits and pasta. I survived for 30 whole days not drinking juice, squash, wine, beer or gin.

How do I feel?

To be honest, right now I feel AWESOME.

I haven’t once felt hungry. I haven’t once eaten something I didn’t want to. I haven’t once eaten something I thought was horrible – the closest I came was two mouthfuls of a Chia Pod for breakfast on an early train to Cardiff last week. That quickly went in the bin and I ate my delicious lunch of chicken, roast veg and avocado instead.

I feel awake, lean and full of energy. Admittedly, it took a long time to happen – it probably wasn’t until my final week. But after feeling (genuinely) the tiredest I have ever, ever felt during week one especially and even into week two, I finally feel really good, just in general. Running feels good, cycling feels good, eating feels good.

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Several awesome things have come out of this experience…

I have fallen in love with cooking (again)
I’ve always liked being in the kitchen, but only when I’ve been ‘in the right mood’. But for the last month I have cooked (almost) every single breakfast, lunch and dinner from scratch and honestly I have loved it. I’ve enjoyed thinking of meal combinations, trying new things and the thorough meal planning for each week. It really has played to my super organised side. I’ve really enjoyed Sunday evening cook ups, spending several hours in the kitchen prepping and planning for the week ahead.

I have eaten new things
At least 95% of the meals I have cooked have been something that I would not have cooked before. I’ve discovered new foods, new ways of cooking things and new flavour combinations. I’ve used coconut oil to cook with and a julienne peeler to make courgetthi for the first time. I’ve discovered almond butter, cooking chorizo, raisins, kiwifruit and turkey. I thought nuts were a boring snack before, and now I love them. I was adamant I didn’t like beef, but in thirty days I’ve had more mince, burgers and steak than I had in the last five years. STEAK IS AMAZING!

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I have eaten more healthily
I will admit that (especially towards the end) I didn’t stick completely to the ‘spirit’ of Whole30 in that I snacked quite a lot and had a very high fruit intake. HOWEVER, I didn’t eat a single non-compliant food (apart from an accidental bite of corn on the cob on holiday… it’s easy to forget sweetcorn is off limits!) the whole way through. So, you know what, if I’ve snacked in between meals and it’s been on cashew nut and raisins, or apple and almond butter, or strawberries and grapes, instead of half a packet of Maryland cookies, then that is a massive win. I ate virtually no protein before, now I’m getting a good sized portion with every meal. I struggled to hit five a day before, now I’m easily doubling it. Every single day.

What have I learnt?

One of the main things I wanted to get out of this was to stop snacking so much, especially at work.

That hasn’t happened.

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I have come to the conclusion that I am just not a only three meals a day kind of person. It’s not that I’m not eating enough for my meals – I have followed the meal planning guide throughout and I never felt hungry. I would say that three eggs, a whole avocado, some salmon or chorizo plus tomatoes and/or cucumber and/or mushrooms is a pretty hefty breakfast, but I still liked eating fruit and nuts throughout the day. But as I said, if it’s fruit and nuts, it’s not exactly the end of the world by any means.

But I also haven’t missed a lot of things I thought I would. The drinks part is easy. I didn’t miss alcohol at all, in fact I feel great for not having drunk for a few weeks. It’s made me realise most social situations do not require alcohol in the slightest – it’s just the norm to drink at every flipping opportunity in this country. I haven’t missed cheese (really surprising) or pasta that much (I ate it a lot!) either.

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What will I do now?

Firstly, I will probably drink a glass of Prosecco and have a slice of cake. Cake (specifically sponge cake) has been my biggest craving throughout.

But then, I’ll probably carry on.

For the most part anyway. I’m looking forward to eating out and not feeling like the biggest pain in the ass for all involved, but I’m going to keep my house as Whole30 compliant as possible. I’ll keep making lunches the same way I have been because they’re awesome. Dinners have been my absolute favourite – it’s been a bit of a revelation that with a bit of prep and by having some basics always ‘in stock’, I can have a meal that’s not pasta and sauce, that’s well rounded and delicious in less than 15 minutes. Breakfast I’m undecided on – getting up to make eggs every morning was the biggest shift required in my overall routine, so I think time will tell.

Overall, I’m glad I did it. I’m in a much happier place with the way I am eating now than I was thirty days ago, and that was the aim. I’m in control again, I’ve picking up some new tools, I’m eating some great foods. Definite success in my book.

 

The photosets of everything I ate during my Whole30 are over on my Tumblr:

Days one to ten

Days eleven to twenty

Days twenty one to thirty

I’ve also developed quite a penchant for posting photos of food over on my Instagram.

Look out for some more Whole30 inspired posts coming soon!