Habit Number One

When I made my list of habits to acquire for 2016 I thought I would start with meditation. Not too time consuming, no special equipment needed and I hoped becoming a “Zen master” would help tackle all those other habits.

Instead we decided to do the Whole30. My husband had a lot of co-workers doing it so I said okay. It made sense for me as I had been feeling really bad of late, like my thyroid meds aren’t working very well. I was disappointed to realize that just two weeks (or was it three?) of bad eating had such an extreme impact on my body.

So habit number one is healthy eating.  Whole30 turned out to be more of a Whole15, at least for me.  I am still eating mostly Whole30 meals but I am not strictly following the rules.  Having done the Whole30 before I have already learned many things about what I can and cannot eat.

For February the habit focus will continue to be healthy eating with an extra focus on sugar.  I finally realized I had no idea how much sugar was too much and after some research I am going with a limit of 25 grams a day.  That is ‘added sugar’ so things like the natural sugar in an apple do not count.

I have also had the crazy idea that I can actually eat anything I want as long as I make it myself from scratch.  So if I want a donut or a bagel I can have one as long as I make it myself, from scratch.  I have started buying organic flour and I made bread using just the organic flour, water, salt and yeast.  I only ate a small slice but I didn’t seem to suffer any ill effects so I will continue baking and sampling different items over the coming months and see how they make me feel. I know I need to keep my intake of any baked goods small but I think I will do okay with having a tiny portion of a treat once in awhile.  I would not be okay with never having any baked goods at all.

I am rather excited about eliminating all the chemicals from the food we eat, or at least a reasonable amount.  I am hopeful about staying at a decent weight, desperate to keep my thyroid in check and optimistic that a fairly clean diet will lead to a healthy old age.  Here’s to 30 more days of wholesome nutritious eating leading to a lifetime of good eating habits.

Our harvest of oranges before the predicted hard freeze.

Whole 30 Camping

I wasn’t planning on writing any specific blog posts about the Whole30.  This time of year tons of people are writing about their Whole30 experience.  But over the long MLK weekend while the east coast was bracing for a nor’easter, a hurricane churned away near the Azores, feet of lake effect snow fell and the west coast was pummeled by El Nino rains here in southern Arizona we had decent camping weather (highs in the 60’s, lows in the 30’s).  So we decided to go camping.  While doing the Whole30.  Not impossible, it just takes planning and prep work and a huge fight with yourself about how sitting around a campfire does not require marshmallows, graham crackers or chocolate. Oh my.

I always think of Ma Ingalls when I camp cooking.  I picture myself building a fire to cook over as I light our three burner propane stove.  Ma Ingalls would have loved that stove!

Anyway I thought I would share my camping menu in case anyone needed some inspiration. Our meals were pretty simple with as much cooking done at home as possible.  We have a trailer (23′, the perfect size for three people plus a dog!) and we had electrical hook ups so we had use of the microwave which we used to heat up a few things but everything could also easily be cooked or heated on a camp stove. Our camper has a small refrigerator but somehow everything always fits. I think because we don’t have any drinks in it.  For this trip we just drank water and hot tea.

Meal one: (dinner Friday night)  Chicken vegetable soup and a green salad with tuna, pineapple for dessert.   The soup was homemade from a frozen chicken stock with lots of chicken meat and I threw in some frozen veggies and italian seasoning.

Meal two: (breakfast Saturday)  mashed yams and ground sausage (both cooked ahead of time and just reheated)

Meal three: (lunch Saturday) egg salad with romaine leaves, homemade tomato soup, cantaloup and blueberries

Meal four: (dinner Saturday) beef stew (homemade, pulled from the freezer at home)

Meal five: (breakfast Sunday) bacon, scrambled eggs and fried yams.  We {meaning my husband} cooked the bacon outside on the camp stove so we didn’t stink up the trailer.

Meal six: (lunch Sunday)  We roasted (heated)  fully cooked chicken apple sausages over a fire and had homemade coleslaw and veggie chips.  (Yes, the veggie chips are technically compliant and yet frowned upon. So frown away and skip the chips if you wish.)

Meal seven: (dinner Sunday) We grilled burgers, topped them with salsa and avocado, and finished off the salad and coleslaw and had carrots and cucumber slices.

Meal eight:  (breakfast Monday)  More yams (I had precooked three large yams total for the trip) and the last of the sausage and hard boiled eggs.

For snacks throughout the weekend we had bananas with cashew butter, raisins, pecans, carrots, oranges and grapes.

Hopefully this helps anyone uncertain about camping while doing the Whole30.


True Confession Time

Today is my last day on the Whole 30. I wasn’t planning on doing one but my husband decided to join some of his co-workers and since I had to cook for him anyway I decided I might as well do my third Whole 30 attempt. I was already trying to avoid grains and I needed to do something about my snacking and sugar intake anyway.

So how did I do?

Here are my transgressions:

  1.  I ate butter, real butter.  Not much, but frankly I am not a big fan of ghee.
  2. I used store bought mayo.  I bought the healthiest olive oil kind I could find.  While I can make homemade mayo I find it tiresome and in the heat I was a little afraid of giving myself food poisoning. I did find some canola oil only mayo at Trader Joe’s so I will try that next.
  3. I ate peanut butter.  Trader Joe’s peanuts only peanut butter through day 12.  Then I did some research on legumes and switched to almond butter for the remaining 18 days.
  4. I ate some Mickey Mousse on my birthday (about half).  While at Disneyland I ate salads, a burger with no bun and grilled chicken breast but didn’t check to see if they were truly Whole 30 compliant.  I skipped the dressing but I did eat some cheese.  I also had a raspberry smoothie at Ghirardelli’s, split three ways so I didn’t really have much.


Birthday “Mickey Mousse”


And technically compliant yet frowned upon:

A couple of homemade smoothies: spinach and fruit, chia seeds.  I ate them for lunch because I wasn’t that hungry and it was terrifically hot out and I needed something cold.

Olive oil potato chips.  They were part of a picnic lunch, again it was hot out, and I was sweating like crazy and craved the salt.

So I admit I didn’t really do a Whole 30.  I like to think I did a “Tracey 30”.  My goals were to avoid grains and sugar and I succeeded.  I stopped mindlessly eating candy throughout the day, reduced my joint pain, improved my mood and lost five pounds.

Going forward I am planning on starting another “Tracey 30” next week.  I want to continue to avoid/seriously limit wheat and see if corn, rice  and oats are okay or if I need to avoid them too. I know I am still battling the sugar demon and need to avoid candy and baked goods for a while longer.  I want to try some grain free baked goods made with coconut or almond flour for the holidays but I think I will wait another month.  I need to stay off sugar longer to really get control of my sweet tooth.

From previous Whole 30s I know I am okay with cheese and yogurt and they are going back in my diet.  I am also going back to peanut butter.  I like it way better than other butters and have not noticed any issues with it.  It’s not like I eat tons of it anyway but I do like a little with an apple or banana for breakfast or a tasty snack.  Much better than eating a brownie smothered in ice cream and chocolate syrup I’m sure.

I consider this last not quite a Whole 30 a success. I am eating healthier, comfortably in my five pound weight window and feeling better.  I know my next goals: I will test different grains and will continue to address my sugar/snacking issues.

I am giving myself a few days off from thinking about food so much and to get through our flooring install (since I don’t have much access to the kitchen anyway.)  My husband brought home Chipolte last night and he is bringing home dinner again tonight.  Hopefully it will be a fairly healthy choice and I will continue to skip the buns and bread.

Such is Life

So there I am cruising along enjoying life just fine. I am on day 18 of the Whole 30 and when I went into Safeway two days ago to pick up a few items I didn’t even think about dark chocolate covered almonds.   I always buy dark chocolate covered almonds when I am there.   My favorite yummy,  yet I can pretend it is healthy snack. I didn’t even realize it until the next day. Now that is a success story!

My husband and I debate getting a second refrigerator every year about this time. Right now our fridge is stuffed with apples and pears we picked at Apple Annie’s and the freezer has 2 peach crisps and an apple pie hogging up space. Our fridge is 24 cu ft, so not huge but it seems like it should be adequate for three people.   Getting a second refrigerator seems such an extravagance I put it off every year. But not this year! With all this healthy eating of fresh fruits and veggies and wanting to freeze some of the bounty I decided this was the year.  We got an 18 cu ft one for the garage and last night cleared out the space for it.  They are delivering it today.  Hooray!

And then along came a spider.  Literally.  Monday night I was in bed and I see a few spider legs at the top of my closet door.  I try and figure out a way to trap the spider in a glass jar but it is between the top of the door and the track.  I try nudging it out with a magazine but that didn’t go well.  I didn’t want to knock it to the floor and have it scurry off (or up my leg!).  Plus I was really tired.  So I went to bed and decided to deal with it in the morning.

Only of course I couldn’t find it the next morning.  I warn everyone in the house we have a visitor and to check their shoes before putting them on.  I tell the dog to find the spider. All day I poke around at random times looking for this spider and go to bed with still no joy.  I thought I knew what was going to happen.  I was going to forget all about the spider and 3 months from now find it in a sweater or something.  That’s not what happened.

Instead, on Wednesday morning my son gives a big scream and then yells spider and comes racing down the stairs with his toothbrush in his hand.  Nothing like a kid’s scream to get the blood moving in the morning!

The spider was in the bathroom sink drain and when E turned on the water he scurried out.  The tarantula  couldn’t quite make it up the side of the sink so I quickly trapped him under a cup.  Then I released him back into the wilds of the wash next to our house.

Our fancy catch and release trap.


Our visitor.  I am pretty sure it is a tarantula.

And that is what life is like in the desert southwest right now.



After the quiet month of August spent settling into new routines for school,  September has felt crazy busy. I have three,  once a month outings and I failed to realize they all take place the first week of the month. Add to that the one Thursday night game of the Arizona Wildcats and being in the feeling exhausted phase of the Whole 30 and it was a rough start to the month.

Things are settling down a bit,  though it is another busy week. Really hoping the “tiger’s blood” kicks in soon. One task on the list for this week is prepping for our new flooring install at the end of the month. Since we are doing the entire first floor we had to figure out what to do with all the furniture. Smaller items will be stored in the garage and the installers will move the bigger pieces around as needed. But in order to do that most of the items on the bigger pieces need to be removed. That is what I will be doing this week.

After reading “the life changing magic of tidying up” I counted how many books I have. Three hundred and thirty-eight. Is that a lot? I can’t decide but since I am keeping them all I guess that number is just right for me. However since about half of them are downstairs and I will now have to move them, I may change my mind.

I have been thinking about the best way to move and store all the books and knickknacks.  My first thought was to box them all up but we don’t have any boxes.  I do have a few empty totes and bins but not enough for everything.  Today I decided to use an empty tote to move the books upstairs.  I will line them up along the wall in the hallway.  I am going to do two or three bin fulls a day and we will see where we are at the end of the week.  After all the books are moved I am hoping all the knickknacks will fit in the bins.  I will put away my summer beach theme decorations and wait until the flooring is done to put out autumn.


This is  5 loads of books.


Still have a little wall space to use.

I took a long time deciding what flooring to get.  Homes in our area typically have some sort of tile or carpet.  A few have hardwood.  I went with the unconventional choice of linoleum.  Yup, linoleum.  I am not a fan of tile for many reasons:  cold, hard, slippery when wet and the whole grout thing.  Carpet is hard to keep really clean here, so much dust in the air.  Plus we have an open floor plan which means high traffic areas.   I considered hardwood flooring of some type but it seems an odd choice for such a dry climate and I didn’t think wood was the best option for coming in from the pool.   I also wasn’t sure how quick hardwoods would get scratched up with a small boy and a dog.

I wanted something very durable, easy to clean and comfortable.  Linoleum is all this plus environmentally friendly.  I chose to go with Marmoleum and found a reputable installer.  I am using one main color (Shitake)  and second lighter color (Caribbean) for the 1/2 bath and as a border in the kitchen.

I am a little nervous.  It is a lot of money and I hope I love it as much as I think I will.  It is the second major decorating choice for the house.  The first was paint colors and I am still loving my choices there.

It is going to be a lot of work and upheaval but it will be worth it.  I have been wanting to get rid of the yucky cheap carpet for two years now.  I think about how nice everything will look at Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and for years to come.  I am excited to be moving into the more visible, fun part of updating our home, even if it does involve carrying books up and down the stairs.

Happy Days are Here Again!

I am feeling much better these days. It is a huge relief to not feel crabby for no apparent reason all the time. There are various reasons I could be feeling better:

1. My husband is doing the Whole 30 with some co-workers and I decided to do it too since I was going to have to do all the food prep for him anyway. (My husband can grill but completely inept in the kitchen which I think he does on purpose.) I am on day 10 and I believe purging the grains and sugar from my diet are making a difference.

2.  I am getting outdoors a bit more despite the heat and humidity.  It is still unpleasant out but cloud cover makes it more bearable.  On Saturday afternoon we went for a short hike at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.  It had been raining all day but we just had a few sprinkles on our hike and on the way home the sun came out making it yucky hot.  On Labor Day we went to Apple Annie’s  and picked a ton of fruit  and veggies.  Despite being “only” 85 degrees,  with the humidity and sun it was sweltering.  But I love picking fruit and we enjoyed ourselves despite the weather.  It plain feels good to be outdoors more.

Good to see water flowing over the dam at Sabino Canyon.


Sabino Creek


A few sprinkles of rain during our hike felt good.


Really wish those clouds had been over the sun at Apple Annie’s.


A little taste of pre-autumn color in Willcox, AZ.

3.  It is September which means there must be an end in sight to the heat.  Okay, it will be anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks before we feel it but there is still a feeling of having survived another desert summer. (Well almost survived, only two more weeks of summer to go.)

4.  Lots to look forward to.  We are now in my “most wonderful time of the year”.  My husband and I sat down with the calendar and planned out our camping trips for the next few months.  The anticipation of true autumn weather (at higher elevations), wearing long sleeves, and gathering leaves makes me smile.

5.  It is football season!  This year we bought season tickets to University of Arizona Wildcat football games.  Nothing beats the atmosphere of college football.  Football and a marching band, what could be better in (almost) autumn?  Our first game was last Thursday and it started raining a  few hours before kickoff.  But the rain ended just as we were going to our seats.  We had remembered a towel to dry our seats off and it was a lovely, cool evening.  It was so perfect I thought I was going to cry.  Arizona won and as usual it was an entertaining game.

The Pride of Arizona marching band. (Wildcats, Pride, get it?)


Wonderful football weather.

Sunday I have my Denver Bronco’s to look forward to.  If only Peyton Manning can stay healthy and the O-line keep him protected!

6.  I was on-call for jury duty this week and did not have to report to the courthouse.  This means I have the whole week free to do whatever I want.  (I wish.)

I hope everyone is having a happy day.  🙂

The first weekend of healthy eating

Saturday, Day 4: Homesick for winter, which is easy when it is warm and sunny where you are. A little depressed and crabby, lethargic. But I decided to quit torturing myself and turned off the Weather Channel and took the dog for a long walk. Then I treated myself to a dinner of tuna with a little homemade mayo, half an avocado and a sliced tomato. I couldn’t face the Indian Curry for a 4th straight day. Thought about making some popcorn (popped in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt) but I honestly wasn’t hungry.  I watched “Gone Girl” which really held my attention and didn’t feel the need to nosh on anything during the movie.  I surprised myself by not snacking at all for a full day.  Yeah me!

On Sunday I washed and waxed my car, ate well and had a greek yogurt for an afternoon snack, but that was the only snack I had. And I finally finished the Indian Curry.

Also on Sunday my husband announced he too was going to be eating healthy.  This is not a good thing, at least for me.  I had very deliberately not told him about my doing a “Whole 30” -ish 30 days.  When my husband did the “Whole 30” the last 2 times with me he ate 2 to 3 times his normal amount of protein and sweet potatoes and yams.  He ate a token bite or two of other vegetables and filled in his diet with copious amounts of fruit, nuts, raisins and Luna Bars.  I would come down in the morning to find all the yams or sweet potatoes and meat gone leaving me with brussel sprouts and cauliflower for breakfast.  I found myself eating a lot of sauteed spinach and eggs which got old after a week.

This round of healthy eating is going so much better than tries in the past and I don’t want the hubby wrecking it.  Cooking more of something isn’t a good option, he’ll just eat more if it is something he really likes.  He won’t cook for himself.  I suppose I will just have to tell him what things he can’t eat, that I have them earmarked for my meals.  (This may or may not work as he can conveniently forget  when he makes his lunch.  He has to be at work really early and leaves the house before I get up.)

In summary:  today is Day 7.  I have stopped the mindless snacking and eating when not hungry.  My sugar intake is waaaay down.  I decided to use the greek yogurt for a snack or dessert instead of breakfast and I have only eaten one.  I am feeling much more positive this go around as I am doing a lot less cooking and hence a lot fewer dishes and spending less time in the kitchen where all the food is!  For example (besides the Indian Curry day after day) on Monday I fried up some all natural breakfast sausage, nuked a yam and mixed together.  I had enough for lunch yesterday and breakfast today and tomorrow.  I added some roasted brussel sprouts left over from dinner too. I can make one dish and it will last for 3 or 4 meals making healthy eating much easier.  On the negative side I have not been sleeping well and I am very tired. In the “Whole 30” fatigue is expected around day 6 or 7  possibly exaggerating my tiredness,  so hopefully this phase will pass soon.

Tomorrow is food prep day for a long weekend camping trip.  I have once again been having problems figuring out what to do about breakfast.  It will have to be something I can reheat or cook on the stovetop so I am kicking a few ideas around.  As for the hubby, I will cook some extra yams and sweet potatoes and split them up evenly.  This way he can eat all his in one sitting and I can divvy mine up and not have to worry that they will still be there when I am ready to eat them. Same with turkey tenderloins.  There are two in the package, I will roast them both and we each get our own.  It seems silly to have to do things this way but I have learned from the past.  If I am to be successful in my healthy eating endeavour I need to ensure I have control over my food.  And I don’t think my husband is really trying too hard to be healthier anyway, yesterday he finished off a large chocolate bar his Dad sent him for Valentine’s day.


Day 1 – Day 2 1/2

Luckily I decided to do the 30 days of healthy eating right before I went to the grocery store so I was able to do some thoughtful meal planning. I just forgot about breakfast on day 1. I improvised with the last hard boiled egg, a packet of tuna in olive oil w/jalapenos and some celery.
I  had a few rough moments. For Valentine’s Day I had gotten a box of Dove dark chocolate truffles and there were a few left. I put them in a plastic bag and placed them with the rest of my chocolate stash (dark chocolate covered almonds). Out of sight, out of mind. Seriously. I had forgotten about the almonds. I keep a little chocolate hidden for PMS days and I can go weeks without touching it. If I didn’t hide it my husband and son would eat it and I would have nothing for the bad days.

So far I have been doing very well.  I fought snacking on day one with some raisins, cashews and olives.  I stood firm against eating a  roll with my yummy soup for dinner.  (The soup was a homemade chicken vegetable with ‘zoodles’).  Day 2 I dealt with a headache and feeling a tad depressed by watching the two episodes of “Downton Abbey” I had on the DVR and thoroughly enjoyed them both.  I also treated myself to Chipotle  for lunch after picking up a few items at Trader Joe’s which is right next to Chipotle’s.  This morning I improved on the Indian Curry Mix I made for lunch on Day 1.  It is ground beef with chopped up cauliflower, grated carrot, curry powder and a little coconut milk.  It tasted okay for one meal but I (as planned) had a lot left.  I ate some for breakfast yesterday and it was still just okay.  This morning I doctored it up with a little more coconut milk and added a few raisins and unsweetened coconut chips.  Better but still  not my favorite.  I will be glad when it is gone.

Not sure about lunch today.  Either tuna in olive oil with a little homemade mayo and fresh tomato or sauteed spinach with fried eggs.  We’ll see what I am in the mood for. Dinner is salmon and roasted yams and asparagus.

My shoulder is quite sore today, maybe from the humidity?  Still asleep by 9:00p each night. I think I had such a tough time with day 1 because I woke up thinking I should already feel better.  I seemed to have forgotten it is going to take a few weeks to detox the body.  Silly me!

I am still feeling strong that I can do this.  I am reading the Whole 30 website each day.  Even though I am only doing a pseudo-  Whole 30 the timeline is still applicable and it gives me an idea of what to expect on how to feel.  I also use the recipe ideas and gain inspiration from other people’s stories.  I need to keep plugging away, one day, one meal at a time.



Me and my $@#! thyroid

Shortly after moving to Tucson I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.  It sucks.  I am just now starting to try and learn more about it.  I am on medication and the dosage increases every year.  Before Christmas I was feeling pretty well.  I had reduced the amount of wheat I was eating and had my snacking under control.  And then we went to Flagstaff and ate out for 4 straight days, then I got sick and then it was Christmas.  My exercise/yoga routine was on hold for a few weeks and my eating habits imploded.  I am having lots of joint pain (hands and shoulders), am ready for bed by 7:00p and scary crabby.  It is time to retake control and see if I can help myself feel better.

I have somewhat impulsively decided to eat uber healthy for 30 days.  I made the decision on Monday to start today,  Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  My 30 days will end the first day of Spring.  It seems like a nice window for self-improvement.

I will sort of be following the Whole 30  rules, but not entirely, hence I am NOT doing the Whole 30.  I have tried it twice and never could complete it.   Three  no-no’s from the whole 30 I am going to break are: 1.  I am going to eat real butter (instead of ghee)  2.  I am going to eat Greek yogurt (at least until the ones on hand are gone) 3.  I am going to eat peanuts (and Trader Joe’s peanuts only peanut butter).

What I will be doing:  eating lots of fresh veggies, some fruits and lean proteins.  Only planned snacks, no random binge eating.  Mid-morning an apple or banana with PB and late afternoon nuts or celery, carrots and/or cucumber.  I will not let myself get too hungry.  I will drink lots of water.  Avoid sugar, soy, grains and dairy (except for the above mentioned items) and anything artificial.  I will be doing lots of cooking and lots of dishes.

This blog will be my accountability watch dog.  I won’t post every day but I will keep track of how things are going.  I don’t know if I will write down every morsel of food but I will admit any slip ups or full scale crashes.  I will also be on the look out for physical and mental changes.

I was going to write “send me luck” but there is no luck involved. What I need is willpower, perseverance and the ability to keep my goals in sight.  My goals are to sleep better (no insomnia and sounder sleep), stop the mood swings and reduce or eliminate my joint pain.  My starting weight is 142.0.  I would love to lose 5 or 6 pounds but that is a secondary goal. For now my scale is out of sight in the cupboard.

I have a good feeling about my success for the next 30 days.  I have very specific aims I am trying to achieve and I am using a plan I have devised myself that should meet those goals.  And if  not?  I will worry about that in 30 days!