dear avocado toast, i miss you.

Hi all!

It’s Day 14 of the Whole30 so I thought I’d check in since we are officially half-way through! This is kind of odd because I am essentially interviewing myself, but these are some common questions I get when I am doing a round of Whole30. Enjoy!

Are you loving this round of Whole30?Honestly, not really LOVING it, but tolerating it. It’s the sad truth. This is my fourth round and I’m in the boredom phase of the program. That means there’s a lot less ‘new to me’ things going on and way more ‘I’ve done this before, yeah yeah yeah’ going on.

What do you hope to get out of this round?
Honestly, the main reason I did this round of Whole30 was to do just do a mini reset after the holidays. Many of you know I eat pretty clean-to-me about 80% of the time, so I just wanted to push my comfort zone for a solid 30 days… and for a couple reasons

  1. I needed a break from alcohol. I love me some wine, but I also love to give the liver a rest. So many things revolve around alcohol, work-socializing included, so I wanted to remind myself that you don’t need to have a glass of wine to ‘fit in’. This all goes back to my ‘what is a special occasion’ self-discovery mission.
  2. My carb intake was getting a little high, and I was starting to move into the gluten-zone. Which admittedly won’t kill me, but if I do it enough over a long period of time, I get the puffy face, abdomen, and delayed digestive distress. It’s been good to find some other foods for my carb intake like all forms of potatoes and yams.
  3. I wanted to eat more greens. Whole30 basically forces you to eat greens, which can be quite the shock to the system if you haven’t been doing so for quite some time! I have been upping my kale intake to the point that I’m not sure I can live without it.
  4. Debloating. A combination of eating more veggies, no processed carbs, no alcohol leads to a debloating party. Week 2 is when I usually see the bloating significantly subside. Once you truly debloat, it’s easy to identify what foods cause severe bloating. Plus, bonus is that your clothes fit so much better.

Will you do a ROUND 5?!
Honestly, I am not even thinking about another round right now. The goal is to NOT have to do many more rounds because we don’t want to get into the yo-yo zone. I’m feeling pretty confident that I can move forward with all of the knowledge I have to make a perfect-for-me game plan about my eating habits and meal planning (and yes, this does include a balance of mindfully indulging during special occasions!)

What are you go-to’s in your fridge and pantry?

  1. Potatoes and squash – in both original and spiral form.
  2. Fruits like berries, bananas, apples
  3. Cashew butter
  4. Larabars
  5. Venison and fish – anything that Nate brings home from hunting and fishing really
  6. Kale
  7. Canned tuna
  8. Avocado
  9. Olive oil and coconut oil
  10. Chicken Apple Sausage (to pair with eggs)

 

What do you miss?
I miss my avocado toast and my apple cinnamon oatmeal in the mornings – breakfast is so hard to switch up on Whole30 as everything is so egg-based. You can count on me introducing those two things back into my life immediately after! I also missed having a drink during that INTENSE Minnesota Vikings game tonight. #SKOL

Do you like the Whole30 Day by Day book so far?
Yes – the Day by Day book is certainly motivating and is very helpful (and probably even more helpful for people who haven’t done this before). I have skipped a few days because I forgot, but essentially it reminds you to think about why you’re doing a Whole30. It gives you snippets into how you’re likely feeling and why that is, and it also forces you to reflect on your energy, sleep, meals, and non-scale victories. It does feel a bit like homework but generally, low maintenance.

Are you going to do anything differently in your last 2 weeks?
Yes – I will be switching up my supplements a bit in the morning. I’m adding in a digestive enzymes and some Vitamin D (thanks, winter). It’s important to me to keep my immune system (and therefore digestive system) strong, so I think this will help me get to the next level of feeling good. I’m still experiencing some unexpected digestive discomfort so I’m crossing my fingers this helps.

 

How do I find out more information about this program?
Easy – just go to the Whole30 website. It has everything you need to get started, including support groups and forums. There are a few different cookbooks (plus Day by Day) that will assist you with new recipes too! While eating Whole30 (essentially Paleo) isn’t for everyone; it’s definitely worth a shot if you’re looking to eliminate troublesome (to you) foods from your diet.

Xo Karen

PS: Check out my Instagram for some food posts! Tonight we had mustard pork chops with potatoes, kale, and sliced apple. Super easy and yummy! To be funny but cruel, here’s a picture of a delicious cranberry almond muffin and a dirty chai tea latte. But hey, only 16 more days… 😉

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new year

Happy New Year, friends!

This post is going to be short and sweet; I apologize it’s been awhile since I’ve last posted but I have a pretty sweet lineup of material coming in 2018 so don’t give up on me just yet!

Many people (myself included) use the new year as motivation to ‘start fresh’. We want to ‘start fresh’ but we aren’t sure where to start most of the time, so I thought I’d give you some (hopefully) simple ideas to jump-start your clean slate in 2018:

Decluttering Burst:

  1. Dispose of old bills, receipts, medical/dental/doctor papers, prescription papers, etc.
    1. Recycle it (and shred it!) if…
      1. It’s out of date
      2. You have multiple copies (including electronic copies)
  2. Get rid of expired food in your:
    1. Fridge
    2. Cupboards
    3. Spice Rack
    4. Pantry
  3. Get rid of expired medications (look up how to do this if you’re unsure how to dispose of certain medications)
  4. Get rid of old beauty products (look up how to get rid of certain products to dispose of them correctly):
    1. Makeup
    2. Sunscreens
    3. Lotions
    4. Perfumes
    5. Loofah/razors/pumice stones
    6. Skin Regimens
    7. Lip Balms and Lipsticks

Decluttering and organizing can really lift weight off your shoulders and lead to feelings of accomplishment. Little accomplishments  truly make the biggest differences! Even minor decluttering gives  instantaneous satisfaction, so it doesn’t hurt to start small and make your way up to tackling larger projects… (cough*yourcloset*cough).

Yesterday evening I attended a yoga class and we were instructed to set an intention to release something that was no longer serving us. While I’ve accomplished a lot this year, I found myself being very lackadaisical in the later half of 2017. I’ve decided to commit to myself and my health, and to jump-start that I’m doing the following:

  • Use my Passion Planner to set intentions and goals for each day – and incorporate Melody Beattie’s Journey to the Heart.
  • Run a 15k – I’ve been toying around with this idea for over a YEAR and I’ve finally decided to commit to completing a 15k in February. That means sticking to a strict training schedule for the next 5 weeks — pray for me.
  • Learning to say ‘no’ to activities I do not want to do – how many times have you gone along with someone else’s plans and you end up spending too much time or money on something that didn’t serve you? 

Finally, the January Whole30 is here! Today is Day 1 of Whole30 and my intention is to share each week with reflections, tips and tricks with all of you. This is my fourth round of Whole30 and I am so proud of how far I’ve come with learning new recipes, identifying problematic (to me) foods, and learning to read food labels. Follow me on Instagram to see more frequent posts over the next 30 days (@kdahl.mpls). This morning I’m sitting on the couch with a hot cup of (black) coffee enjoying the first morning of the new year, excited for a year of intention, health, and balance.

What are you letting go of from 2017? What are you welcoming in 2018?

Xo Karen

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post food freedom 30

Hello friends! Happy Sunday. I hope you’ve all had a great (long) Thanksgiving weekend, and enjoyed the many good foods that come along with the traditional holiday. I know I am ready to get back into a healthy eating routine after this past week!

In October I posted about “foodfreedom30”, which was my formal attempt at practicing Food Freedom using my judgement and my knowledge about my relationship with food to drive my nutritional choices. I bought a food journal to document how my meals made me feel, what foods keep me energized, etc. in hopes to expand my understanding of my relationship with food.

I wish I could tell you that my foodfreedom30 went well, because, it really didn’t. It didn’t go as expected because I found out one major detail about myself – I do NOT like food journaling. In fact, I disliked it so much I stopped after the first week. This is quite surprising to me because I’m in love with documenting ideas, creating to-do lists, using pen and paper to write things down, etc., but when it came time to document my meals and snacks at the end of the day, it felt like homework.

I switched from food journaling to using MyFitnessPal on a semi-regular basis, which was much easier for me to pop into my phone or computer during the day and document my meals right after I prepared them. It actually helped me plan my meals since I was trying to be cognizant of decreasing my carbohydrate and sugar intake (these can be my “foods without brakes”). Once I had an understanding of the general macros of the regular foods I eat, I stopped tracking my meals on a regular basis. I will still look up some foods here and there to understand macros, but overall food tracking is not very sustainable for my lifestyle.

At the end of the day, I’m just realizing that I don’t want to feel like I’m putting in excess effort to track my meals. It’s not for me, and the minute my Food Freedom feels like homework rather than a journey of self awareness is the moment I need to take a step back to re-evaluate my approach to leading a happy and healthy life.

With that said, I indulged over the holiday (and even had gluten – trust me, I am definitely paying for it, but the special occasion was worth it). I ran a five mile Turkey Trot and got a free personal pumpkin pie, which I did not hesitate to eat during Thanksgiving weekend! Part of Food Freedom is recognizing when the holidays are over, and bouncing back to your normal routines.

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A couple ways I like to bounce back from a fun week or weekend (holidays, vacations, parties, etc.) are:

  1. Drink lots of water! One can never go wrong with good ole H2O. I recently bought myself a 32oz water bottle and have been motivated to drink at least 2 per day to keep hydrated. If you’re feeling lethargic or your digestion is feeling off, try upping your water intake to help your body recover from foods and drinks you’ve consumed over the holidays.
  2. Make yourself a Turmeric drink (or buy one)! I have toyed around with making “Golden Milk” or “Turmeric Lattes”. They are definitely an acquired taste if you’re not used to drinking or eating a lot of Turmeric, but the drink has excellent anti-inflammatory qualities. If you’re lazy (like I am 90% of the time), try KeVita’s Turmeric Ginger Tonic probiotic drink. It’s fizzy, tasty, and all around a great way to help your body work through some of the junk you’ve eaten over the past few days.
  3. Sweat it out! Up your workouts over the next couple weeks. It will help you get back into your workout routine and will also allow your body to sweat. Sweating is a great way to open up the pores and let your body burn through what was consumed over the holiday. Drink a lot of water and head to the sauna as a bonus!

Food Freedom means something different to each individual person. I don’t think I’ve fully achieved Food Freedom but I am certainly proud of how far I’ve come in identifying trigger foods and foods that upset my stomach or give me migraines. I’m learning to be kind to myself and allow myself time to figure out what the best routines are for optimum health. I’m also trying not to obsess over the fact that I’m not exactly where I want to be. Sometimes, you just have to be happy with your small gains and be present in this moment. With that said, I have decided to commit to a Winter Whole30, and am happy to try another round now that I know that the best way for me to actually practice Food Freedom is to not to track or journal my meals, but rather finding recipes with whole ingredients that I know will give me overall energy and satisfaction. The only difference with my next Whole30 is, I’m going to tweak my rules and allow myself to cook Paleo – which would inspire a lifestyle change focus rather than a food reset focus. Again, my goal is to develop great habits for the long-term, so going a Paleo-inspired route for 30 days will give me that flexibility of using whole ingredients but learning how to also make “fun” foods as healthier alternatives. Hopefully by day 30 the good habits will set in and I’ll have some new favorite recipes to share!

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As you’re probably noticing, I really don’t have it all figured out. I think the major takeaway from practicing Food Freedom is this: every day is a learning experience. You are not suddenly prepared for the rest of your life because you dedicated a month or two to journaling, food tracking, a Whole30 etc. Just like altering your diet, understanding your health is a lifestyle commitment. I love trying new ideas to optimize my health, and if something isn’t working for me physically, physiologically, or mentally, I’m going to stop and change my approaches. Do not feel pressure to stick to something that isn’t working for you, but DO push yourself to recognize what’s hard in a good way vs. hard in a bad way. There’s a lot of emotion that goes into lifestyle changes, food and fitness in particular. Always have a support system to help you through your journey – sometimes you’ll need a little extra push or cheer to get yourself to the next level of self-awareness.

Have a wonderful week all! Mondays after long weekends can be tough, but stick to your routines and you’ll be just fine!

Xo Karen

the minute my Food Freedom feels like homework rather than a journey of self awareness is the moment I need to take a step back to re-evaluate my approach to leading a happy and healthy life.

foodfreedom30

Hey all! What a crazy fall it’s been so far! I don’t know about you but my brain has been going a million miles a minute trying to tackle all of my to-do’s across work and, well, life in general.

In my last post, I talked about planning to do a Whole30 in October. At first, I was psyched about this – my 4th Whole30! What an accomplishment! But then…

I started planning for the Whole30: I was picking out recipes in my Whole30 Cookbook, buying compliant dressings, creating a food prep log so I could prep and track my meals diligently. And then it hit me: I don’t actually want to do this.

As I was preparing, something in my gut was telling me, “You’ve done enough rounds of Whole30”; “You really need to focus on your Food Freedom”; “Why don’t you make your own rules for once instead of following the program?”..okay, okay.

Now, Melissa Hartwig, do not take this the wrong way – Whole30 is an awesome program. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a guide to mend their relationships with food, to break bad habits, and identify any problematic food groups. But I’m totally ready to graduate Whole30 University and put my skills to good use in the real world. 

At first I brushed off my reservations of doing another round and contributed it to FOMO and laziness. However, it’s dawned on me that I need something more, something different. I’ve had SO much success with my three rounds of Whole30. I’ve identified gluten as a sensitivity. I’ve identified baked goods and sugar as problems. I’ve used my food sensitivity test results as a guide to take my elimination diet. I have done my studying and my research. I’m ready to spread my food freedom wings and leave the Whole30 coop.

That is exactly what I need to focus on. How can I apply what I’ve learned and make my own rules?

So, I’m sorry for those who were looking forward to me documenting a standard round of Whole30 – but to me, this is much more exciting! I’m going to post about my Food Freedom. I’m going to share how the program has allowed me to make my own rules and live a life of health, intention, and balance. I’m going to do my FoodFreedom30 (that’s not a real thing to my knowledge but I feel that it completely defines what I’m trying to accomplish) and use what I learn to define my own life and health goals.

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Food Freedom Plan (30 days):

  1. Log my meals and snacks in a food journal. MyFitnessPal is a great app to do this, however, I’m not looking to count calories or track macros. I’m talking about mindfully tracking what I eat with pen and paper (I’m using Eat Pretty’s food journal). Is there a reason I ate that candy bar? Did I really need two servings of that mac and cheese? At the end of the day, how do I feel? Did I practice mindfulness and self-control?
  2. Learn how to portion my food. Portion sizes are a huge problem for me, and well, I know I’m not alone on this. We are tempted with massive portions wherever we go. America is all about being bigger and better and well, our portions are certainly bigger but that does not equate to better. I’ll be using Whole30’s Meal Planning Template to help me with this.
  3. Allow myself one “takeout” lunch per week. Okay, so I usually eat some variation of salad or grain bowl for lunch if I am eating out, however, my goal in this rule is to be diligent about meal prepping. Why do I buy lunch? Well, usually it’s because I did not take the time to prep my meals. Plus, my bank account will certainly thank me.
  4. Define special occasions. A special occasion is NOT a random Tuesday happy hour after work. A special occasion is an outlier in your normal routine that calls for celebration, and gathering with loved ones. Only I can define what special occasions mean to me. Here are a few special occasions that I can think of off the top of my head:
    1. Family visiting/seeing family
    2. Seeing a show or a concert
    3. Vacation/traveling
    4. Attending a sporting event
    5. Celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
    6. Holiday gatherings

I can tell you, special occasions don’t happen often. Hence the word special. Nailing down what this truly means to me and following my own blueprint is still a work in progress, but I am determined to tackle this head on. Challenge Accepted. Follow my FoodFreedom30 on Instagram for some inspiring meal prep ideas. A special thanks to Melissa Hartwig for writing Food Freedom Forever ; a book that has inspired to take on this next chapter of my health journey.

Xo Karen

 

**Again, none of my posts are sponsored advertisements for products or programs. These are my own experiences and my intent is to share what’s worked for me, and inspire you all to do find what works for your health and wellness journies**

fall refresh

 Hey all!

It’s finally feeling like Fall! I live for this chilly weather and all of the beauty Fall brings to the trees this time of year. But speaking of chilly weather…

Remember wayyyy back in January 2017 when you may or may not have made some New Year’s resolutions? Maybe some resolutions were made to improve your health, like increasing your trips to the gym, eating less sugar, drinking less alcohol. Maybe some of you have lost sight of your initial goals for 2017 – but good news! The year is not over yet. You still have one more season to give it all you’ve got to work toward your goals.

Sometimes we lose sight of our goals and perhaps lack some discipline during the summer months. I’m here to tell you,  it’s OKAY! Humans are not robots. As much as I love routines, food prep, and schedules, they aren’t always prioritized when we’ve got so many fun activities to do and events to attend during the summer months.

Whether or not you’ve made New Year’s resolutions – ask yourself if you could use a little end-of-summer reset. For me, I’m always feeling a little sluggish and bloated at the end of summer because Minneapolis has too many fun patios and rooftops to frequent during the warmer months.

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My 2017 resolution is to attend 100 group fitness classes. I am almost to 80 classes with only a few months left of the year to finish strong!

If you’ve been nodding your head in agreement to the first part of this blog post, check out these ideas for a Fall refresh*:

  1. Whole30**: The Whole30 program has really changed my life and helped me understand my relationship with food. I’ve done three Whole30s and am about to start another in October (if you want to do this with me, let me know!). For those who aren’t aware of what Whole30 is – it’s a dietary reset and elimination diet that helps you understand which food groups are causing inflammation in your body (resulting in weight gain, brain fog, headaches, digestive distress, skin issues, poor immune system, etc.). It also helps you identify foods that you’re literally addicted to and helps you kick those addictions to the curb. The free program requires you to only eat whole foods (meat, fish, poultry, veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, and good fats) for 30 days, which allows your body to reset from processed foods and added sugar. Take a look at the www.Whole30.com for more information about the framework and how to get started. The Whole30 online platform is booming with resources, shopping lists, forums, blog posts, etc. to guide you through your Food Freedom journey.
  2. Cut out the alcohol: Alcohol is a staple in the Standard American Diet. There are countless happy hours, holidays, birthday parties, and weddings that all have some sort of boozy fun involved (a glass of wine here, a pint of beer there). Now that summer is winding down, try eliminating alcohol for a couple of weeks just to see what happens. Does your skin clear up? Does your complexion get brighter? Do your pants fit looser? Is your digestion calmer? Are you sleeping more soundly? Is your bank account happier?
  3. Add in one more day of fitness to your weekly schedule: Is there an area of the body or muscle group you haven’t given much attention to lately, or a type of exercise you haven’t done in a while? Try mixing in some variety to your exercises and perhaps adding in another day of fitness to your weekly schedule. Start a new routine or a class you’ve been meaning to try. Groupon** has great class package deals if you’re looking to experiment with group fitness at local studios.
  4. Get one more hour of sleep per night: Now, this can be difficult for some people but if you can (and I really think you should consider trying), try to get an extra hour of sleep per night. One extra hour of sleep can be the cure for needing that second cup of coffee in the morning. Not to mention, cold and flu season and is right around the corner. Boost your immune system with more rest to keep your body and mind strong during the winter months. Take away the screen time before bed and you may find you have a few extra minutes to dedicate to your pillow.
  5. Colon cleansing: I’m new to colon cleansing, but I did one colon cleanse through Blessed Herbs** in August. I was intimidated by all of the colon cleansing kit options available for purchase, so I chose the “Revive-5 Day Cleanse Kit” since it’s labeled as a “starter cleanse”. This cleanse does not require any fasting and was extremely manageable for me. The cleanse helped me get rid of built up waste and toxins in the body, which in turn helped me de-bloat and feel more energized throughout the day. If you’re interested in trying a colon cleanse, do your research and CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR OR NUTRITIONIST. Colon cleanses are not for everybody.

I hope I’ve got you thinking about ways you can end 2017 strong. The beauty about health and wellness is that everyone is different; there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to health. Take this time to discover what works for you, and how to finish out 2017 stronger than ever.

 

*Each person has different goals and needs. If you’re interested in changing your diet/nutritional habits, or beginning a new fitness/health journey, make sure you’re working with a professional to guide you through the process.

**This blog post is not sponsored. All products, companies, and programs mentioned above are recommendations based on my own experiences.