Taste the Rainbow Swiss Chard

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I would be TGIFing, if I didn’t have to work tomorrow. Luckily, whenever I work Saturdays, it doesn’t feel like a normal day of the week, so I fly through my day without thinking of it as a work week day but also not identifying with it as a Saturday. Kind of like a half day in school used to feel like. Anyway, I’ve got one more day to work tomorrow and then I am off Sunday and Monday. But then the following week is going to be the real tough one. I’ll be working at least one 12 hour day and at least one 16 hour day! I am already trying to mentally prepare myself for the battle of April 21st-26th. Plus, that will be my last week of Whole45! Note to self: spend your Easter Sunday and following day off work prepping meals for following work week. Blah.

Anyway, we will be leaving for my parents house tomorrow afternoon right after I get off work. Hubs is ecstatic to be spending Easter with them, because my mom will make sure there is a glazed spiral ham and a homemade coconut cake and Easter Bunny-delivered-jelly beans. I was originally going to host the Sunday lunch, but then I got in a car accident and broke my elbow and I happily let go of any plans I made that involved tons of cooking for people. This will be a perfect alternative because I can make a few side dishes for myself that nicely blend into the rest of the entrees. I have a few recipes in my head such as deviled eggs, sweet potato salad, pureed carrots, and I even purchased a lamb rack to roast so that I can have some protein that isn’t sugar-infused.

Anyway, I will stick with the retelling of tonight’s dinner recipe for now. I purchased some very colorful Rainbow Swiss Chard the other day. I have never had it before and it is so beautiful! It is one of those dark green veggies that I’ve been eyeing lately due to their Calcium-richness along with others like collard greens, turnip greens, and mustard greens.

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I took the leafy parts of the chard and threw them in a heated skillet with some coconut oil. At first, I thought I had way too much chard for the skillet; their leafy layers are thick and bountiful. Sure enough though, after a few simmering minutes, the chard shrunk in size and became deeper in color. Their taste and texture reminded me of collards but on a whole other level; thicker! I added some grilled chicken with just a slice of bacon to the mix. While my chicken and chard was cooking, I had a lovely NC-grown purple sweet potato I needed to use. At least I am assuming I needed to use it since mine had started sprouting! Crazy!

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How cool is that!? I peeled and chopped the potato and roasted it in the oven. I read only after I ate them that it was okay to actually eat a sprouted sweet potato. Ha! Apparently, it sprouted because of the humid environment it lives in. Anyway, the purple sweet potato was definitely another colorful addition to my bright dinner template.

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I diced it and then roasted it in the oven.

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I then plopped my rainbow chard chicken on top of my purple sweet potato in a (blue) bowl and ate it all!

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Now I’ll hopefully be glowing bright colors after I turn the lights off to go to sleep ;). Either that or tie-dyed like an Easter egg.

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12.5 Miles

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I just took a 6 hour nap and it isn’t even tomorrow yet! I just meant to take a catch a few Zzz’s before eating dinner…Woops! Hubs woke me up when he got into bed and turned on his lamp to read and he smelled like hot dogs. At first I thought it was sausage, but then my brain realized he isn’t that fancy in the kitchen to cook himself sausage at night. I realized how thirsty I was and couldn’t believe the time. I am glad to be squeezing in this blog post before the day is over. I’ve always hated sleeping through the evening when only expecting to nap for a bit but then waking up the next day. It makes me feel like I’ve missed out on precious time. But then again, I’ve also come to realize how important sleeping is–and I obviously needed it.

My plan for this morning was to wake up around 5:30 and be on the island by 6:45 for the Lo Tide Run. I was volunteering time by help setting up a booth as well as a sponsored water station for our work–as well as getting a team together to run the race! I must have been excited because I woke up at 4 and couldn’t go back to sleep. I made a huge breakfast: bacon, turkey, some leftover green bean with sweet potato, eggs and pistachios to top it off. The pistachios gave me some green St. Patty’s mojo for the race.

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I packed some leftover chicken to eat after the race as well so I wouldn’t be tempted by the sugar-filled muffins that volunteers would be handing out. It was still dark when I arrived. The beach was windy, but I knew it was going to be absolutely beautiful once the sun came out.

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After running around for about an hour making sure everything was good to go, I met back up with our team and we walked over to the starting line. I must have been too busy before, but there were now so many people out that I hadn’t noticed earlier. There was green everywhere, kilts, dogs, babies in strollers, and even bagpipes! If I’d only seen a leprechaun it would have been perfect.

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3.1 miles later, we finished by trekking the last bit of the course on sand. A perfect way to end! It was gorgeous weather, good times, and there were even dolphins to greet us at the finish line. I even got a surprise good luck “dropping”.

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Thank goodness I didn’t lean to my right in the same instance the seagull decided to grant its luck onto my shoulder. It was a perfect day for a 5K–and apparently also for an excursion to bike myself home from the south end of the island. I put my bike in the back of the car because I thought it would be cool to try and bike home from work since I had to drop everything off after the race and I didn’t want to have Hubs take me home. Once the 5K was finished I tried talking myself out of it! I knew I wanted to at least try it out though because I’ve wanted the opportunity to try and ride my bike more, especially on the island. This was it! Plus, the weather was perfect. I grabbed a banana from one of the food tents just in case I’d need it. I dropped off everything back at work and hopped on my bike without thinking too much about it. About 5 miles later I found Hubs at one of the local bars where the after party was at. I stayed for a bit and then pushed through. I had to go over the bridge, which really sucked because they are down to one-lane traffic due to construction. After I crossed the bridge, the terrain was a lot worse. No pavement, all dirt and sand. I finally made it back home: 9.4 miles in a little over an hour. Not bad for a beach cruiser! No wonder I was exhausted at 4pm. We tried watching “Waking Ned Divine” on Netflix, but I crashed somewhere in the early middle of it on the couch. Lady started barking at a car which helped my decision to move to the bedroom. I was done for!

It has been a long time since I have ran a 5K. With that said, I didn’t do as well as I’d hope. I started off doing really well and was able to keep a consistent fast pace for a while. Then about halfway, I started feeling lightheaded and hit a wall. I’m going to have to work on that! Especially since Hubs came out of nowhere in the last mile and passed me. I will just blame it on last week’s strep throat ;).

Day 30!

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I can’t believe today is Day 30! I seriously feel like I’m just beginning; yet I also kind of feel like a bad ass pro at the same time. I woke up super excited that today was my 30th day. Maybe even a bit too excited?

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I especially feel like a bad ass pro after the surprisingly challenging day I had….Ironically enough, my last day of the Whole30 started off its morning with a staff retreat to a cooking class! We knew we were going somewhere, but no one had any idea what we were doing until we pulled up to the location. Ha! The menu items were a crusted quiche, cornmeal fritters with bacon and corn, followed by the ooziest-gooiest cinnamon rolls. Half the time was spent cooking and the other half of the morning was eating at a family style table. Ha! I couldn’t believe the irony. I got my hands dirty and helped roll and slice the cinnamon rolls. After all, I am still a kitchen queen and I do not diet discriminate.

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The other half was a little uncomfortable. I waited for everyone to ask why I wasn’t partaking in the fruits of our labor. It was awkward being the only one not eating but it wasn’t hard at all. In fact, I didn’t once give into thinking of off-roading. I could have easily talked myself into eating with everyone else by ending my Whole30 a few measly hours early, but the thought of how I would feel afterwards trumped any mouth-watering that my have occurred. I knew how sluggish and gross I would feel afterwards. I wouldn’t want to be productive once we returned to work. I wouldn’t have any motivation to exercise because I would be too full. I was having none of that! So, it really wasn’t hard. The experience actually has given me a lot more confidence in officially finishing my 30 days and starting to transition into a more balanced day-to-day life. Perhaps, there will be a moment that arises and it will most definitely be worth it to off-road. But today was not that day. And tomorrow doesn’t have any prospects of looking that way either (unless there may be another work surprise I don’t know about).

I couldn’t even eat their fruit salad because it was glazed with honey! There were a few grapefruit and orange wedges I was able to at least nibble on. I honestly wasn’t even hungry, but I felt like I should be chewing on something along with everyone else.

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So, after I dodged my Day 30 Bomb, the rest of the day fell right into place. Once we returned to work, my co-worker and I worked out right away before I locked myself into to my office to play catch up for the rest of the day. I made a delicious salad for lunch with my own dressing.

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I took the leftover Chile and Lime Chicken I grilled the other night and sliced it with some Bibb lettuce and cherry tomatoes. I used a magic bullet to make the dressing: cilantro, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, a dash of jalapeno pepper, garlic clove, lemon juice, and avocado. It was super easy! While eating my lunch, I was so grateful I pushed throughout the morning. I enjoy the food I eat now so much and am so happy I didn’t settle for the lack of quality in nutrients I put into my body. By the way, how pretty is Bibb lettuce?! It’s so wavy!

The rest of the day flew by while playing catch up. I made myself eat a serving of mixed nuts before I left work to go to my 5:30 gym class. I blew off some steam and lifted some weights and then finally came home. I didn’t feel as good as I thought I would coming home though. I feel a little bit anxious and sad. I have no idea why. Because my Whole30 is over? Because I am scared about what will happen next? Because I felt strong this morning when I thought I wouldn’t? Not to get too deep and philosophical here, but I kind of feel like this morning was a huge stepping stone for me. I have not been able to trust myself in so long. Self-sabotage was weekly, if not daily. Even though today was a success (Hell, these past 30 days were a success),  it has been a long journey to get to where I am now, mentally. I am scared about what will happen next, but today has also made me really realize how strong I am going forward.

Speaking of going forward, I had the best dinner to top off my 30th day. This past weekend I bought some Sunflower Seed Butter on sale at my local coop. I’ve never tried it and have always wanted to. Trader Joe’s sells a product, but it has cane syrup in it. This type just had one ingredient: raw, organic sunflower seeds.

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Hubs put some beef tips in the fridge to defrost this morning. We also had a bag of frozen veggies: carrots, sugar snap peas and water chestnuts. I tossed everything into the cast iron with some diced onion. After my medley cooked a bit, I mixed the sunflower seed butter with coconut aminos, lemon juice, coconut oil, and garlic clove. I dolloped my sunflower sauce on the stir fry and let it all simmer.

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Then I added salt and pepper and topped my bowl with some raw cashews.

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This was probably one of my favorite meals. I am kind of mad it took me so long to make this. Oh, I just remembered that I did just find the sunflower seed butter the other day. Good thing I have a whole jar to keep playing with!

I will post my results sometime this week. Tomorrow is my crazy busy day. Wednesday night is our concert date night. We will also be going out to eat Wednesday night for dinner. I plan on drinking a beer Wednesday night, but that is it. Hopefully I will have successful follow ups to report later this week! Happy Day, Whole30ers.

Whome Stretch

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Get it?! I was going to type out “Whole30 Home Stretch”, but I decided to just combine Whole30 and Home together! Okay, I’ll stop.

Before I started typing anything I wondered what day am I even on?! So I counted and today is Day 26. I can’t believe it! After the halfway mark, everything just becomes so routine and I stopped thinking about what day I was on. Everything is starting to feel very second nature and so easy. I’m starting to become more and more nervous about what will happen if I off-road once I finish this Whole30. But, that is entirely another post for another day. Hopefully the easiness of this 30 day challenge will smoothly transition to a more whole lifestyle. Hence, the name of this blog. Note to self: don’t stop blogging after finishing Whole30.

This work week has flown by. I feel like I have been saying that a lot lately, but it has! I’m sure it is the time of year, so everything has been a little more chaotic while gearing up for Spring. I’m excited tomorrow is Friday! I left for work early this morning for a 7:30 AM meeting. Because of this, I was in the kitchen until 8:30 PM prepping everything for today. I cooked a chicken breast and made a salad for today’s lunch. I took last night’s leftover pork chops and green beans and made an omelet with some bacon for today’s breakfast. I even grinned up some coffee beans and filled the coffee pot with water so everything was ready to go this morning when I woke up. I am really glad that I prepped the coffee pot the night before! It was like magic just pushing the button with no extra work. I think I can even set it up so that it starts brewing the coffee at a certain time. I need to look into that! Anyway, with all of that said, I have not yet prepped anything for tomorrow! However, when I wake up tomorrow morning it will be Friday, so I don’t really care.

Our little lunchtime workout group stepped it up this week. We started the second phase of Focus T25: the Beta workouts. So far, I’m liking them more than the Alpha phase, but it’s most likely because it feels novel. Still, I love mixing it up. Today I was feeling a bit overworked because my body felt so sore. I was able to leave work a bit earlier today because of our morning meeting, so I decided to attend a 4:30 class at my gym called “Yoga Ball.” I had no idea what to expect, but it was just what I needed for my muscles. It was basically an hour of stretching with a stability ball but it felt great, especially for my legs.

The weather has been so beautiful lately. Hubs had the day off so I assigned him to cleaning the grill outside.We haven’t used it in months and it was in desperate need of a scrub. Tonight’s dinner was so good and so easy. I salted and peppered some pork steaks and threw them on the grill. That was it! I paired it with some oven-roasted asparagus. All I did was add some lemon juice with salt and pepper to the asparagus. After roasting it, I drizzled some Tessemae’s Lemonette over it and then I squirted some mustard on mine (I love mustard!!). It was so effing good. I forgot how easy grilling is. I hope this weather keeps up!

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Now I just need to figure out how to get my husband to remake the bed after he naps in it…

Running Scenes

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Today is my long day. I get up at 6:30 to make my lunch, breakfast, coffee and then get ready for work to arrive at 8 AM. I leave work at 5 and then I get home, change, scarf some dinner down and meet my carpool buddy in town by 5:50. Then we drive to community band rehearsal and practice from 7-9. Then we drive back to her place and I get home around 10:15 PM. It’s a long day. I am so thankful for such a beautiful run outside in today’s gorgeous sun. The temperature was about 62 degrees and sunny. Here are some pictures I took while running. I didn’t want to stop but I didn’t NOT want to capture the beautiful scenes.

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On the road towards the basin.

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The basin.

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One of the ramp docks.

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Signs welcoming the ferry-goers.

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A shaded part of a bike path.

It wasn’t a long run. Just 2.21 miles. But, I knew it was going to be a long day for me and I wanted to move while I could. I also was quite surprised that my legs felt so good. Last night’s gym class was dedicated solely to legs and abs and our instructor was advising us to make sure when we woke up the next morning to stretch our legs and move them around to get the lactic acid going. I was kind of scared how I would feel, but I woke up feeling fine. My legs were stiff but not sore. Before starting on the run I thought surely they wouldn’t be able to carry me too far, or if they did I was going to feel like crap. But they did and I felt great on my little 2 miler! Plus, I have been shaving time off my pace every day I run. Lets hope it keeps up!

Time for bed. It was a long day after all.

Happy Friday

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Happy Friday, indeed! This has been one crazy week. I am glad it is over but I am also glad everything happened in it the way it did. I only worked a 4 hour day today but today still felt like a full day for some reason. I slept so good throughout the night last night but definitely could have slept in some more this morning. Right when I came home I vegged out on the couch for a few minutes and caught up with my Hubs. I feel like we hadn’t really touched base with one another all week because it was so busy. We had family time on the couch with our Lady for a good 20 minutes before I drove to the gym to do a very low intense workout (I just wanted to make sure I got some movement in for today, nothing crazy) and then drove to the grocery store to pick up a few things before officially retiring for the day at home.

In spite of the craziness this week, the food has been amazing and Whole30 has kept rolling on by. This week I’ve also started taking my breakfast to go to work with me in the morning which I have never ever done before. I always make my lunch the night before and wake up to make my breakfast but oftentimes find that I’m not quite hungry yet. Whole30 suggests that you eat right when you wake up, but I actually enjoy eating a little bit later when I start to feel hungry. Plus it fits in nicely to my daily work schedule. There is a little group of us at work that do workout DVDs (currently the T25 workouts) at lunchtime. Usually I am starving before noon and have to try and keep myself not from eating too much before a workout. It’s either that or I end up eating my lunch which leaves me with nothing to eat after the workout! By eating my breakfast a little bit later I am completely content right up until the workout.

Anyway, I am looking forward to crossing the halfway mark on Sunday and diving straight into the third week. I’ve got a lot of fun recipes I am excited to try out. Hopefully next week won’t be so chaotic and I can spend a bit more time in the kitchen cooking dinner instead of just throwing whatever veggie, protein, and fat I can find into the iron skillet. Not that I have not been pleasantly surprised with the taste of my meals this past week–but I would like to spend more time enjoying the process instead of running around like a chicken without its head :). Speaking of meals, here are some of my favorite meals from this past week. I warned you in yesterday’s post to get ready for some close up foodies!

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Southwestern Beef Scramble

I apologize for the not capturing the guacamole’s “good” side in this close up. It tasted way better than it looks. I used leftover ground beef, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers and seasoned it with Whole30 taco seasoning, scrambled up some eggs, and dolloped a yummy glob of guacamole on it (as you can see).

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Chicken-Grapefruit-Cilantro-Avocado Salad

I used Tessemae’s Lemonette salad dressing and it was the perfect touch to the salad’s combining flavors. I also made this same recipe for lunch the next day with tuna instead of chicken. Just as good!

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“Snack-Dinner”

This really isn’t all that pretty, but it sufficed for Tuesday’s hectic schedule. I ate it on the ferry ride over to my first band rehearsal and it lasted me until 10 PM when I was home and able to eat some leftover wild wings and some almond butter with carrots.

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Shredded Carrots and Almond Butter

Not baby carrots though! No, I ate all of those earlier in the week and Hubs hadn’t restocked them yet. Damnit! I love baby carrots, they are the perfect size and shape for dipping into almond butter. I buy shredded carrots to put in my salads but this time I dumped the rest of my bag into the bowl with the nut butter and ate it with a spork.

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Mahi-mahi, roasted asparagus with olive oil and crushed pecans.

This was one of my favorites this week. I’ve never bought mahi-mahi before. I’ve had it in restaurants, but when I was at the store I thought it would be fun to try something different. I usually always buy salmon or shredded tuna and that is really it for seafood. I also had to use some asparagus I bought a while ago. The best part of this meal was the crushed pecans I put on top of it. It gave it so much flavor and texture!

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Not a meal, but very pretty.

This was not a meal. But it was a part of my week that made me smile and be grateful.

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Grass-fed burger, mushrooms sauteed in ghee and 2 fried eggs on a bed of spinach.

This was today’s breakfast. So good-looking, even in Tupperware! I also added a few cherry tomatoes in there too.

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Post-Workout Meal

This one is pretty self-explanatory; cauliflower, sliced cucumber, and diced turkey. I went to Whole Foods right after the gym to get a few things real quick before going back home. I didn’t think I’d work up an appetite because I just did some slow-paced cardio (the stationary bike and walking on the treadmill) but I got pretty hungry pretty fast while shopping. This tided me over until this evening’s dinner.

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Sauteed kale, chicken, and paleo bacon.

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Cajun Sweet Potato Wedges (WHAT?!?)

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Cajun Sweet Potato Wedges on a bed of sauteed kale, chicken, and bacon. 

Oh sheet…this was one of the best dins yet! I didn’t really want to cook dinner tonight and went to Whole Foods to grab one of their rotisserie chickens. They didn’t have any without added sugar though. They usually always have a “naked” one or a “salt and pepper” one. I was bummed so I went to look over at their already made fresh foods and found the sweet potato wedges. I was instantly in. I bought a pound and ate half tonight and saved half for tomorrow. I know that Whole Foods has a certain reputation, and I can’t help but laugh at the “Surviving Whole Foods” post that went viral last year-but it has really made finding compliant foods so much easier while doing the Whole30. Whole Foods just recently opened up in our location two summers ago and I’m really glad it did. Plus, I feel like I have acquired a niche for finding savings there. More posts to come on that later. I feel like I could right my own chapter on “Whole30 on a Budget” and “Whole Foods: Friend or Foe?” Wow, I like that. Maybe I will save those for later….Anyway, I am super excited to do my second week recap on Sunday. I have experienced some more changes this week, bad and good!

Is it Friday yet?

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I am so exhausted. Please forgive me if this post is a ramble-fest or incoherent. I just worked a 12 hour day and am now vegging out on my couch. I didn’t want to skip another day of not blogging even if it is a post that just turns into a digression about my busy day. I feel like the more I blog, the more accountable I stay. This whole week has been crazy! In a good way! I remember now that on Monday I wrote about how “manic” it was; that seems like so long ago! I’ve been really challenging myself to be more productive and to take advantage of more opportunities-at work but also with my personal life.

On Tuesday evening, I finally did something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I attended a community concert band’s rehearsal. I played flute for years and years and almost majored in music. Due to life, I lost interest and have just recently rekindled my love and passion for playing. It has been so hard finding a community ensemble to play with that doesn’t charge you a stipend or a fee. I wouldn’t mind paying a fee, but the one in my county charged $120 per semester. I seriously considered it but then I found a community band that is free to players who just want to play! Yay! The only catch is that the rehearsals are the next county over. That’s not that big of a deal, but the next county over is across the Cape Fear River and requires a $5.00 ferry ride over or a 45 minute drive around the river and over the bridge. I took the ferry over on the first day and drove back. I met another player who also lives in Wilmington so we are going to plan on carpooling together (score!). We also discovered we are both UNC alumni (double score!). We are also two players of a select few in the band that are on the lighter said of the age demographic. Monday night was full of food prep for Tuesday’s lunch and dinner.

Today was full of rewarding work! I got in right around 7 AM. I had to make myself scarf down my breakfast before I left the house because I knew my busy morning wouldn’t allow me to eat it later. We had our first ever live distance learning program with a 4th grade class located outside of Raleigh. It was a great first run and has inspired me so much to keep the momentum going! Tonight was a big after hours event so I ended up working until 8 and arrived home after 9. Yesterday night was also full of food prep for today’s lunch and dinner. I am definitely happy that I don’t need to prep my dinner for tomorrow. I am also so happy that tomorrow is Friday. And so happy I get to work a half day.

I have yet to mention Whole30 in this post (I guess I just did) but I seriously feel like the boost of energy I’ve received from my eating is in someway connected to the motivation I have to be so productive. Even when I walked in the door tonight when I got home all I wanted to do was fall on the couch and watch crappy TV, but once I sat down I felt the need to get some writing done. Maybe it’s because this week has gone by so fast, but I honestly don’t even think about which day I’m on anymore. I do know that Sunday is Day 15 and that is halfway!  That in itself seems to have happened really fast.

I don’t have any obligatory food photos to post. Actually, I do. I have lots. But I am too tired to post them. Don’t get too excited though, I will definitely be posting all my good ones from this past week in their own special time. Sorry in advance if you cringe when looking at too close-up images of meals. I like posting them and won’t stop because I can’t show them to anybody else!