Whole30 – One day left

foodTwenty-nine days in, we have just one day left in our Whole30 program.  Not once have we cheated, either one of us!  I’m really kind of proud of that.  My husband’s addiction to Monster Java Mean Beans is kicked, my craving for carbs has scaled way back.  I really think this is a way that we could continue to eat.

Over the last 29 days, I have dreamed of food more often than ever before, I think in my whole life.  One night, I ate three sandwiches in my dream.  I don’t even remember what was on the sandwich, I just remember slathering it with mayonnaise and two pieces of white bread.  I haven’t eaten plain white bread in years, but that night, that’s what I was eating.  It seemed so real.

Last week, my dream had me having a vodka/sprite…I was half way through it before I remembered I wasn’t supposed to have any alcohol and I went and poured it out.  It is weird to dream like that.  In real life, no sandwiches and no alcohol were consumed.

One of my favorite parts has been the recipes that I have found and fixed.  Pinterest is a God-Send for Whole30.  So many recipes, most need tweaked just a little, but they have been delicious.  I have yet to have a bad meal that I’ve fixed myself.  Some of the restaurant meals have been a challenge, but that’s the choices we’ve made.  Some of the restaurants just don’t get it.

So let’s talk great food…last night it was Herb and Citrus Roasted Chicken from The Comfort of Cooking – so good…I left out the sugar, used mandarin oranges and added sliced zucchini and yellow squash to the dish.  It was great, used the leftover chicken in the eggs this morning.

Last week it was Dairy free Seafood Chowder from Meatified, again, so good.  I added roasted salt pork, fresh clams and shrimp…put everything but the seafood and the coconut milk in the crockpot while we ran off to yoga.  I cooked the clams separately and added the other ingredients to the pot while I finished the clams.  Even my father-in-law, who loves clam chowder loved it.   For more meatiness, add canned clams as well.

My fallback meal is pork tacos.  Pulled pork is super easy, just add a pork roast to a crock pot, a can of green chiles, one of no-salt-added diced tomatoes and sprinkle heavily with cumin.  Done.  To make Whole30 compliant tacos, we dropped the taco shells and used cabbage leaves instead, dropped the cheese and crema.  A little Pico de gallo, green onions, and fresh tomatoes, Delicious!

We still don’t know what or how we are adding back foods, I think it will be subtle, I think it will be meal dependent.  I think it will be based on a restaurant we are in.  The next few days should be interesting…still on the fence about Whole30?  The food is easy, follow my Pinterest page for ideas.

Day 15 Whole 30

Whole30_NOThe last two weeks have been interesting.  They haven’t been hard, we have just had to explain our food choices a number of times.  Like when you meet friends for a beer and order water and coffee instead.  Or when Thanksgiving dinner arrives on the table and you stick to salad and turkey and the hot vegetables, instead of the mashed potatoes and the delicious rolls you helped bake.

Ordering at a restaurant is interesting, I generally start with “if it tastes great, leave it off” – that gets a laugh and then they listen to what you actually want to eat.  I had a chef come out to see what I was really looking for in my butter choice for my lobster.

But then after you’ve ordered, most want to know why.  So we explain that we are on a limited food plan right now, and here is why.  The aches and pains we normally see are gone, getting up in the morning is easier, we are dropping pounds, my skin is perfect, our digestive systems are working like a champ, my blood pressure is getting back to the normal range, in general, we feel good.

There have been moments when I want something simpler.  I want to just make a sandwich or eat a bowl of cereal.  It’s not that I want those foods, necessarily, I just want meal prep to be easy.  But I also know that we are eating clean.  There are no chemicals in foods that need to be chopped.

In the morning I prep breakfast and lunch together.  A fruit bowl first with fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, banana, pineapple, grapes and melons.  Then the mushrooms, onions, spinach that will end up in the eggs.  It’s easy to chop extra for the salad that we will have for lunch and just get that out of the way.  And if you haven’t found Larabars yet…check in to those.  Not all flavors are made without sugar, but those that are, are delicious.

In the afternoon, I Pinterest “Whole30” and my meat choice, you have to actually read the recipes to get those that truly fit, but I have found some good ones.  The Chipotle Chicken Soup and the Savory Sweet Potatoes are two of my favorite.  Minor adjustments made to each to keep the Whole30, but worth it.

So downsides…we talk about poop a lot.  Although, I think we talked about poop a lot before, just in a negative way.  Now we practically high five leaving the bathroom.  If you are an adult male, this probably means more to you than most of my readers, I know it means a lot to my husband.

Downside number two….I’m ready to be skinny, I mean, geez, I have walked 23.86 miles, gone to two yoga classes and eaten appropriately for 14 days.  I should be skinny by now, right? Nevermind that I’ve eaten inappropriately for in excess of 11,000 days, fourteen ought to fix it.  This is why they don’t let you step on the scales during the whole 30.  Makes sense.

Whole30…the beginning

Baja, one of my doing-the-w30-IGfavorite places, Rich and I ran down for a few days.  The trip didn’t go as planned, but that’s ok, as long as we are together it is an adventure and that is good enough for me.  I find my favorite place to be is where he is.

On the way down, we read a book together, or rather, I read it, he listened.  Most places I paraphrased.  It Starts With Food is the book we shared, it is all about eating real.good.food.  If you know us, you know we love good food.  Rich has done a great job of choosing good food, me, not so much.  I don’t hesitate when someone offers me a cookie, or two.

So as we travelled, we made lists of what we could and couldn’t eat if we were following the Whole30 program.  Baja is a challenge, everything has queso, or tortillas, or both.  We love eating in Baja.  We stop at Adriana’s for shrimp tacos and shrimp quesadillas.  We go to George’s for chiliquilles, we find our favorite sandwich shop on the back streets of Ensenada for a Para Mi torta.  Don’t even get me started on the bakery just down from the Santa Isabel hotel, I can fill whole bags with treat after carb-loaded treat.

Toward the end of our trip, we decided it was time to start.  It was a Wednesday, the 19th.  As good a day as any to begin our Whole30 program.  We are doing this together, so it should be easier to stay on track.

First meal was breakfast, we dropped over to an upscale restaurant we have eaten at before.  They delivered cookies the minute we sat down.  We stared at them, but never touched.  Next option was a pork rind soup or cheese quesadilla.  We opted for the soup, it was filled with vegetables and protein, ok, maybe fat, but…most importantly, not dairy, not carbs.  We added an omelette and ignored the tortillas on the table, no hashbrowns, no beans.  We did good.

By the time we rolled around to lunch, we were back in the states.  We stopped at Chipotle and got salads, mine with chicken, his with steak.  Not very satisfying, but we were still on plan.  Then came dinner.  I knew exactly where I wanted to go.  Fish 101 in Encinitas.  We have always had good, fresh food there.  I had Opa, he had Yellow-tail, we both added a salad and the fried Brussel sprouts.  Oh my gosh, so good.  High five for us, we made it through Day One!

Day Two arrived and we found a local place and had another omelette, a fruit plate we shared, some sliced tomatoes.  By the time we got on the road, my head hurt.  This was the hangover they talk about.  I made him stop at Inn-n-Out for an ice tea, I figured all those years of Diet Coke were catching up to me, I had caffeine withdrawals.

We hit another local restaurant for lunch, I had a massive plate of roast beef and a salad.  My head still hurt, but the food was plentiful and tasty, so that was a plus.  We had plenty of roast beef for dinner too, I just needed to figure out how to fix it.  I took a nap when we got back and woke feeling better.  No more headache at least.  Rich had gone to the grocery store, so I could fix dinner.

That’s when I lost it.  They give you a Timeline on the Whole30 program that says about when you will want to kill your mate.  I got there early.  At the grocery store, he had not only gotten veggies for dinner, onions and mushrooms and the like.  He had gotten celery and carrots.  I was pissed.  Celery and Carrots are diet food.  We are NOT on a frickin’ diet!  I hadn’t realized that I had such a hangup about celery and carrots, this would be one of those emotional relationships we have with food that needs to be broken. I stomped around the house, ignored him and just generally stayed PO’d until I had eaten, then I told him what he did wrong.  Maybe I even worded it rather strongly, because he totally got the picture.

Tomorrow is Day 3, it will be fine, we are travelling all day again, but at least I have the prospect of being able to go shop and fix something that we can both enjoy.  I am excited about the change in what we are eating.  I think it will be good for us, with how my body and mind are reacting already, it is obvious I needed a change.  Why not join us for the Whole30?

Random Thoughts on Travel in Japan

  • The people are incredibly polite and gracious and welcoming.
  • In order for me to dress like Japanese women, I would have needed to raid my mother’s closet in the late 50’s and early 60’s. I have never been that fashionable in all of my life.  The tailored dresses and heels and sweaters are beautiful, and expected on all.
  • Open toed shoes and bare legs are not the norm.
  • The weight loss industry that is so large in the US would fail in Japan.
  • If you ask someone for something, they will go out of their way to make it happen.  Please be careful what you ask for.
  • There is not a single word of Japanese you need to know in order to travel in Japan. A smile and open attitude will take you everywhere you need to go.
  • Travel is the most expensive part of being there; hotels and highways cost the most.
  • You MUST have cash to travel easily in Japan, credit/debit cards are not often used outside of the cities.
  • Use your resources, if you know someone who lives there, they have access to far more than you ever will as a tourist.
  • Visiting temples in Japan is a lot like visiting castles in Europe, once you have seen a couple, they all start to look alike.
  • Appreciate the ancientness of the country, in the US if something is 100 years old we start looking to replace it, recognize that some buildings are 700 to 1000 years old
  • Respect the roads, they are narrow and twisty outside of the cities and filled with people.
  • The food is odd, there will be flavors that your palate may never have tasted before, that’s ok, appreciate it in the spirit that it is offered, and eat ALL of it.
  • Personal space is mandatory in Japan, give it room.
  • Rock, paper, scissors is a national pastime and resolves all conflicts.
  • Anything can be purchased in a vending machine.
  • Above all, show respect. Loud and obnoxious behavior is not ok, arguing is not ok, being right all the time is not necessary, most Americans need to check that attitude at the door.
  • I want to go back!


Special Insert – Japan Travel Day 8

We interrupt this fabulous trip with a touch of the flu!  This is me sitting in a hotel room, not far from my Western (thank God) style toilet.  It sucks to be that girl, but thankful we didn’t have anything truly planned until the weekend.

I don’t normally dwell on the negatives, but with all the Ebola scare in the news, it made me start to think about how easily an epidemic can spread.  Let’s take my life for example.

On September 27, I was in Bridgeport, Texas (just outside of Dallas) with over 1000 people from 13 surrounding states.  While I didn’t have direct contact with all of them, I did personally handle items that were touched by at least 200 people, probably more.

From there, we went to Offroad Expo in Pomona, California.  62,000 people attended the expo.  Again, I didn’t have direct contact with all of them, but at least another 200 from several surrounding states.

Next stop, Seoul, Korea aboard an Asiana Air flight that held 400+ people.  From there to Osaka, Japan.  Within the next few days, we travelled by train within Osaka, by Shinkansen to Toyko, by train within Toyko.  Very crowded trains. In fact, we passed through the Shinjuku station no less than four times, Shinjuku has two Million travelers a day.  I realize that I am atypical of the general public, but what if there is an airborne disease that starts spreading before there are symptoms.  Can you imagine how many people could be infected?

I’m not a statistician, but if you took those numbers and extrapolated how many people could be affected over a three week period, it is astronomical.  No, I don’t have a life threatening disease, but just imagine if one of those who did was in my shoes right now.  Makes you think.

it’s a great big world


Travelling fulltime as we do makes us more appreciative and aware of how different the world is. Stereotypes are for uninformed, the more we get to know one another and get off the beaten path, the better off we all will be. We love being in the neighborhoods, no matter if we are in the US or in a foreign country, it’s where life happens.

Originally posted on the other fork in the road:


Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

Okay, okay, I get it. We’re all fat, we put cheese on everything, or we fry it, or both (mmm, cheese curds). Our food tastes like shit, our bread tastes like sugar, and seriously, what is with those giant portions? We’re uncultured, ignorant, have stampless passports, that is, if we even have a passport (I can actually hear some of you nodding). I used to take personal responsibility for these opinions, embarrassed for being labeled in this way, shouldering the weight of the American Idiot.

And then I started traveling.

I would listen politely as people were eager to share their thoughts on America, before learning they’d only been to Los Angeles or New York, or, “Oh, well, I haven’t been there myself. I’ve just heard.” And since so few Americans travel (that’s the word on the international street, though not all that…

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Special Insert – Japan Travel Day 7

No way we’ve been here a week already, on the one hand, I’m exhausted, on the other, there is so much I still want to see.  Today we went to the Imperial Palace, it is downtown Toyko.  It is also a National Holiday today, just like in the states.  They are celebrating National Sports Day here, fifty years ago the Toyko Olympics began, in 1964.  In the US, we celebrate Columbus Day, what a different type of holiday.  Anyway, downtown, we are there early, we enter the East Imperial Gardens and begin our next walkabout.  A trip up to the Shogun residence that has since been reduced to rubble, we walked through bamboo gardens, around Samurai barracks, the place the 47 Ronan fought, all over the grounds.  Finally we made it to the double bridge for an incredible view.DSC_0018

From there we continued to walk the perimeter of the garden.  Like Big said yesterday, it seemed like ten miles or more.

Our next stop was the Modern Museum of Art.  They had a showing there of work by Hishida Shunso, exquisite painting on silk and paper from the early 1900’s.  This exhibit alone was worth the price of admission, beautiful works.  The rest of the museum was interesting, it was a reminder that art is a personal privilege, we all view it differently.

Big scaling the castle wall

Big scaling the castle wall

Dinner tonight was a true sushi restaurant, the boys ate here the other night, they were the first Americans to ever set foot inside.  Tonight we went back.  The sushi chef speaks English well, he spent twenty years in Thousand Oaks, for the last five years he has been back in Japan.  As we talked, he said he hasn’t had a need to speak English since he came back, he appreciated us coming in so that he could practice again.  Not many English speakers make it out to Ichikawa.  That has been obvious from the looks we’ve gotten.

My daughter reminded me tonight that this is our typical MO, go out in to the neighborhoods to see the sights.  This is how we travel in Mexico always, away from the tourist spots and out to where they don’t speak our language.  We do the same in the states, we travel away from the chains and look for restaurants that are mom and pop stores.  It is a fun way to live and always an adventure!

Special Insert – Japan Travel Day 6

Now that we’ve got the train figured out, getting around is pretty easy.  Of course, Rich prepped for today’s adventures, he has all the stations mapped out and a plan.  We are sightseeing on our own today, there are several spots on the list to see.

First up, Toyko Skytree.  It opened in 2012 as the tallest structure in the world, it was surpassed almost immediately by the Dubai building, but at 634 meters, it is pretty impressive.  Not only that, it is a huge attraction, there are busloads of people here.  We got off at the train station and walked through the neighborhoods about a mile to get to the Skytree.  We opted not to take the ride to the top, that looked like the wait would be hours, but we did a walk around the base, Josh got out his wide angle camera to get a photo of me with the tower behind me.  Not sure how I feel about needing wide angle, but it turned out well.DWC_0876

Next stop was the Senso-ji Temple, a Buddhist temple that was originally founded in the 600’s.  That’s 1400 years ago!!! Being from the US, that is an incredibly long time ago, we are such a young country. The structures are mostly new, having lost most of them during the world wars, but the grounds are old and sacred.  You wouldn’t know itvisiting there though, the mass of humanity that crowds the streets is incredible.  No way to stop and look at anything, the crowd just surges forward at  a slow pace.  We stayed in the center and took in the crowds and shops.  We weren’t looking to shop anyway, so that wasn’t really a problem.DWC_0867

It was good to get out on our own, we got plenty of smiles and laughs, plenty of stares, some people even patted Big’s tummy.  The rickshaw drivers that were lined up near the temple joked with us, but none offered us a ride, one asked if Big wanted to drive!  #lovemylife

Special Insert – Japan Travel Day 5

Valuable lesson learned today, “if you are going to read at all, read it all” Ichigaya and Ichikawa are not the same words.  We are changing hotels today, the first two nights were downtown in Shinjuku, the next few are in Ichikawa.  I know exactly where that is…NOT!  I knew where Ichigaya was, just three stops down from the Shinjuku station.

We wandered around the Shinjuku area for a bit, went to see the government building, wanted to go to the park, but that was not to be.  As we got to the park entrance, there were barricades proclaiming that someone in the park had dengue fever and the place was quarantined.  Wear long pants, long shirts, no bare feet.  I looked at what I was wearing, shorts, no sleeves and sandals, yay…that’s a no go for me.  So we skirted the park and walked through the mall area, took some pictures and finally boarded the train.  We were carrying all of our stuff, so not too excited to do marathons around the city. DWC_0816

We got off at Ichigaya station, found a Starbucks, we had a little time to kill before we could check in to our hotel.  Finally decided to make our way there, nothing looked familiar to the little map we were carrying, so we finally asked a guy.  He said, “Ichikawa?”  It sounded the same to me, after a little more pantomime and broken English, we realized we were in the wrong place, he walked us back to the train station and helped us find the line we needed and pick out the station – all in Kanji of course, so we couldn’t read it.  We bought our tickets and got on the train.  I had it figured out, it was 11 stops from where we were.

We got on the train and rode, one, two, three….nine, ten, eleven, this was not Ichikawa, we kept riding.  The train finally made it to the terminal, we got off.  We were obviously in the wrong place.  After consulting various maps, an app or two, Google and everything else we could find, we discovered we had ridden the train west.  We needed to go east, in fact, not far from where we were yesterday.  We got back on the train, passed the Shinjuku station (for the third time today), passed the Ichigaya station, and eleven stops and 63 minutes later, we were in Ichikawa.  A short sprint to our hotel and we were checking in to a full on Japanese hotel.  No English spoken here, Naozumi had found us a place to stay that no gaijin are at, it’s perfect.DWC_0819

We got lunch from a vending machine, well, not really, you order through the vending machine, but they bring you your meal from the kitchen.  Walked the streets to take in the local sites.  This is what Japan is about, I’m loving this!

Special Insert – Japan Travel Day 4

I am so nervous.  Every ten minutes or so, my eyes tear up.  I am trying so hard not to let the anxiety take over, but today is a big day for me.  We are meeting my daughter’s Japanese family today and it feels like a first date.

Last year, Haley spent six months in Japan, the first four were on tour with the Young Americans, the last two she lived with the Watanabe family on the outskirts of Toyko.  They loved her, and because I do too, I had to meet them.

At ten this morning, they sent Keith to retrieve us from our hotel.  Keith is an American who lives with his Japanese wife here in Toyko, he works at the school Ayako owns and is the best English translator they have. He came in to Shinjuku station, and walked to our hotel.  Turns out he was nervous too.  Keith led us back to the station and helped us find the line to take us to Mizue Station.  This was within walking distance to their school.  Ayako (mama) met us on the streets and introduced us around the school, we saw the class rooms for the youngest – age 0-1; then the 2-3 year olds.  They all waved and smiled.  We then joined Yukiko (mama sensei) in her office on the third floor of a local office building for some tea.DSC_0752

Next stop was the 4-5 year olds.  As we passed by them, one of them pointed and yelled “Haley sensei”  I smiled and said, “no, Haley sensei mama”  They weren’t convinced, everyone said how much we look alike.  I asked if I could meet Mutzki – he was Haley’s favorite.  When I went over to him and asked if I could take a picture with him, he pouted.  One of the Japanese teachers went to talk to him, turns out, he misses Haley and wanted her there, not me, I made him sad.

Mama and Mama Sensei piled us in to their van and drove us to Katsushika City.  We visited an old Shinto Temple there, we got our fortunes from the mechanical dragons, cleansed our hands in the fountain, lit incense and threw coins in to the box to pray for good luck.  Then we were able to enter the temple itself.  Filled with mystique, beautiful carvings, a Tori gate and monks chanting, it was very Eastern, not too many believers there, but an ancient feeling with all the dragons watching over us.

Lunch was next on the agenda after a quick stop in the restroom.  It was a traditional toilet cut in the floor like a trough, you straddle it and try not to get your clothes wet while you pee.  Fortunately, this wasn’t a new experience for me…1) I’ve been to Africa and 2) we often are offroad, I can squat.

We had lunch at Kawachiya, a freshwater fish restaurant that served eel and carp, among other things.  We had eel, eel heart, koi, octopus, and some very interesting other things.  I couldn’t describe it all if I tried.  Not all of the items are things I would eat again, others were delicious.  The meal went on for hours and then we walked down the longstanding souvenir shops.  The narrow walkway was lined with vendors, mostly food sellers, there were huge glass jars filled with cookies, dark green rice balls with red bean paste, mushed rice pods on a stick with a sticky sweet sauce, green tea ice cream.  I have discovered that my taste and that of the Japanese are not the same when it comes to desserts, give me a good old chocolate bar anytime.  But…we tried it all and ate with a smile.DSC_0771

Our return trip included a stop at the 100 Yen store, and then the long train ride back to Shinjuku station.  Shinjuku Station is home to 2 million passengers a day; Haley asked me yesterday…”didn’t I tell you to stay away from Shinjuku?”  “You did? Why?”  I could see her shaking her head thinking I never listen to her, she is probably right, what I would have heard was blah, blah, blah, Shinjuku…so when I was looking for a hotel, I thought, Oh!  Shinjuku, I’ve heard of that before!

I can’t begin to describe what it is like to discover you have a family in an alternate universe.  I am so appreciative of Ayako and Yukiko for making us feel so welcome, that anxiety I was feeling, it went away as soon as I met them.

Great day, great to meet family, so glad we took the time, truly a highlight of the trip!