Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Remember Cheese? AKA The Question Every Whole30 Participant Asks In The First Week

It's the end of day two, and I'm already ready for some Chick-Fil-A.

Or at least like a cookie or something.

A piece of cheese even.

Yeah, I'm doing Whole30 again.

Or more like Whole14.

At least I'm telling myself it's only two weeks. If I can make it two weeks and feel somewhat alive at the end, I'll try one more week. And if I can do one more week, I might as well go one more one more week to make the full 30.

But like I said, it's the end of day two, and I'm already craving all the restricted foods something terrible.

I decided to try Whole30 again after a recent panic attack (you can read more about those fun times here) and I was ready to try pretty much anything.

Well, actually back up. I was ready to try Whole30 again because after three different prescriptions for panic attacks have failed and not only failed but given me awful side effects (think extreme aggression and hostility for no reason, stomach pain, dizziness, and about 28 different other things) I was ready try just about anything.

The human body, ladies and gentleman.

So I've just finished day two of Whole14maybe30. And really, all things considered, it's been a pretty good start.

After a pretty intense Excel session, I figured out literally everything I would put in my body for the next two weeks.

And the results have all been good so far, amazingly enough.

I think one reason I had such a rough start the last time I tried to do Whole30 back in October was that I didn't plan well.

I was a little cocky, and thought I could sort of wing it. And that lead to a breakdown in the middle of a grocery store. 

So yeah, I went into it this time with all the planning and prep work.

Which lead to some pretty colorful shopping cart action.

I've made a pretty gross looking but pretty tasty smoothie.

I learned about a new fruit and how to cut it and fix it.

Yep, that's mango, and yep, I've never actually bought a mango before this week.

But I've already used it in three different recipes and loved each one, so I guess I'm going to be buying more mangos in the not so distant future.

I've done some experimenting in the kitchen and taken a recipe and made it my own with a few interesting tricks. See exhibit A where I made my own take on Mango Salsa.

And, most importantly, I've learned to meal prep the heck out of Whole30.

So it's only day two and I really want some Chick-Fil-A.

Especially after I learned that it was Dress Up Like A Cow And Get Free Food Day.

Chick-Fil-A, cookies, and cheese, I'm coming for you.

In 14 to 30 days.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

I Want You To Know That I Have Panic Attacks

I didn't want to tell anyone about my panic attacks for a long time.

I still remember the embarrassment I felt after I had my first attack. I had it one night while watching The Office with my then-boyfriend-now-husband.

Those are two of my favorite things on this planet. That's how I knew what was happening to me was real.

I didn't have words for what was happening to me the first time it happened.

I remember we were watching an episode where Nellie was a big focus, and she was being extremely awkward borderline unfunny and uncomfortable, as Nellie usually does. I get pretty extreme second-hand embarrassment when I watch tv shows or movies where characters are being dumb, so I thought that was all I was feeling.

But then the scene changed and Nellie was actually being kind of funny and the episode was ending on a high note. But I still felt some kind of strong weird.

I remember hardly being able to focus on the next episode, I was so wrapped up in this feeling. I tried to shrug it off first as the second-hand embarrassment, but when that didn't work, I tried to rationalize it somehow, saying it had been a long day, long week, I had been really stressed at work that day, maybe I was annoyed at Robert for some stupid reason.

I think I went through everything in my life in the span of two minutes trying to put the blame on something for this feeling.

But that just made it worse.

Not being able to identify the feeling just made the feeling explode. I was so wrapped up in identifying what I was feeling that at first I didn't notice that my breathing had started to increase.

I remember Robert pausing the show, I remember his voice, not the words he said, because truly it sounded like he was the teacher from Charlie Brown. I remember trying to find a position where I could regain control of my body, because I realized frantically that I had lost all control of myself.

I remember wondering if I was dying.

That feeling of wondering if I was dying is a feeling I've felt a lot since that night.

Because I couldn't put it to words, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what these "episodes" were. I researched a lot, watched a lot of videos, and talked to Robert about it.

No one else, though. I was far too embarrassed.

After I'd had probably 7 or 8 of these attacks, after hurting myself from falling over during an attack, after having 20 to 30 minute times where I thought over and over that I was dying, I finally mustered the courage to talk to my doctor.

Let me assure you, this was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.

I have established a really good relationship with my doctor. She's patient, amazing at her job, willing to try different things, one of the best listeners, and it helps that she's also a Christian.

But I was still so nervous.

The day I went in, I went under the pretense of a physical. I was shaking a little as I sat in the chair next to her and described what had been happening to me.

I told her about how I couldn't catch my breath during what I started calling An Attack, I sometimes felt like I was literally being crushed under the weight of some unknown force, I would cry uncontrollably, I would lash out at people around me with an anger that scared me, I would lose all control of my body to the point of falling over if I tried to stand or being unable to stop my hands from jerking and writhing.

I took a deep breath, tried to stop the tears from spilling over, and told her I felt like I was going to die every time it happened.

After that visit, after having my doctor confirm that I was experiencing an extreme form of panic or anxiety attack, I went on my first medication.

The first thing I tried was Xanax. And I hated it from the beginning. It did its job, I had less attacks, but that was because I constantly felt apathy. I felt like I was in a fog of emotions, and couldn't maintain a real mood or feeling. I despised it.

The second thing I tried was Diazepam, which is a form of Valium. It worked in that if I took it at the beginning of an attack, it usually kept my attack right under 15 minutes. It was a god-awful 15 minutes, but it was better than 30 minutes. So I still take Diazepam from time to time.

The third thing I tried was no medication. I tried yoga, I tried guided meditation, I tried different diets, I tried breathing exercises, I tried massages, I tried about every relaxation method in the books. All of it would make me feel great for a few hours, but the attacks still came.

The fourth thing I tried was ASMR. For those unfamiliar with this, it's videos that focus on sounds and visual aids for relaxation. Some people report getting what's referred to as Tingles when they hear certain sounds; I really just feel relaxed and safe. The most common sound is tapping, specifically fingertip or fingernail tapping on various objects. Other common ones that I've found work great for me are hand motion sounds, brushing hair sounds, crinkle sounds, and scalp massage sounds. ASMR doesn't stop an attack for me, but it can calm me down if I catch it quick enough, and it can just generally keep me relaxed during the evening / night when I'm most prone to attacks.

The fifth thing I tried was Buspirone, which is what I'm currently taking. Buspirone targets anxiety specifically, and doesn't have all of the mood side effects I felt while on Xanax. It doesn't keep me from having attacks completely, but if I take it regularly (twice a day), along with relaxation techniques and watching my diet and swimming regularly, it definitely helps.

So why am I writing all this down now? A couple of reasons.

I've been having attacks now for over a year and a half. I've had to come to terms with it and learn that it's something that happens to my body and my mind, not something that I've wished on myself. It's something that is scary, absolutely, but nothing to be ashamed about. I don't have to talk about it constantly, I don't have to talk about it at all if I don't want to, but I can't just wish it away. It's real and a part of my life. So I embrace it just like I try to embrace everything else about me.

I've also come to realize that maybe shedding some light on my struggles with this can help other people. I've been through a lot of medications and tips and tricks over the past year and a half, and while I've found what works specifically for me, maybe by talking about it more, I can offer some advice to others who might be at the beginning stages. I had my loving husband, my family (when I finally started talking about it), and my doctor to help, but what really helped me was research; hearing how other people who had attacks dealt with it. While I don't actually know anyone personally who has attacks, or at least not severe attacks like me, I did find solace and comfort in reading about people who did. Maybe I can be that for other people.

Lastly, I've realized over the past few months that while I can take medication to help and while I can be stricter on my diet and do relaxation techniques to keep me calm, I will still now and maybe forever have these attacks, or at least some form of severe anxiety. I need the people I have surrounded myself with to at least know if not understand what is happening to me in case I ever have an attack around them.

Robert is basically used to them by now. He knows a lot of the signs to look for, he knows to force me to take my Diazepam when I'm in the throws of an attack, he's learned how to cope with his wife having these. But so far, none of my friends or other family have been around for an attack.

However, a few months ago, I had an attack at the wedding of two dear friends. Sometimes there is no reason or rhyme to when and why I have an attack, I just do. And it took me having an attack in public like this to learn both how to deal with having an attack in public, and that I should probably let those closest to me know what is up.

Side note, I have now had three or four attacks in public, so I've learned to just break away when I feel an attack coming on. I don't think anyone at the wedding even knew I had an attack, thank goodness. I've had an attack in church and two at work, and always am able to get away before I cause a scene. So my saying I want people in my life to know doesn't mean I expect them to be an expert or even be present during my attack; I mostly just want people to know so if I start acting weird around you all of the sudden and excuse myself for about 15-20 minutes, you know why.

I don't want to downplay or dramaticize in any way what I'm doing through. It's scary, it's real, and it does still make me wonder if I'm going to die during an attack. But it's not my whole life or being, and it's not something I need to talk about all the time. The same goes for anyone who struggles with anxiety, attacks, or anything similar.

It's just a part of me that I want you to know about.

So now you know.

Friday, May 11, 2018

An Evening With Scout Finch

Two weeks ago, I got to meet one of my heroes. 

I spent an evening with Mary Badham. 

She's probably not every little girl's hero like she was mine. But I so vividly remember seeing her on screen being Scout Finch and just knowing that I wanted to be her best friend. 

It took a few years, but eventually I realized I wanted to be both Mary and Scout's best friend. 

To Kill A Mockingbird is probably a strange favorite movie for a 12 year old, but I was a pretty strange 12 year old, so I guess it kind of made sense. It was my favorite movie for a lot of reasons, but one big reason is because To Kill A Mockingbird was also my favorite book, and the movie was the first book adaptation I'd ever seen that so perfectly embodied the book. 

To Kill A Mockingbird did a lot of things for 12 year old Meagan, and I could write an entire blog just about all the lessons and all the ways I grew up from reading and watching it. 

But let me tell you now about a dream I had fulfilled that I never even knew was an option. 

I was sitting in Chili's when I first got the email from my sister about Mary Badham coming to town. 

I about lost my mind when I read the email. 

I was immediately transported back to my 12 year old self, sitting in the living room of our Fayetteville house, watching Mary be Scout for the hundredth time. It's always been a desire to meet her, but I never lingered on that desire long, because how would I ever get the chance to meet her? That always just seemed so impossible. 

But here it was, she was coming to my town, of all places. 

The day of the event, I could barely concentrate on my work. I was overcome with both excitement and nerves. Scout was so close to me, so important in my life, I was terrified to meet the woman who brought her to life. I was terrified that Mary would be so vastly different from Scout that this Scout idea that had meant so much to be growing up would somehow be shattered. 

I was stupid to worry about this. 

Mary Badham is and always will be Scout. She is Scout. She just is. 

For an hour and a half, we sat in very uncomfortable bleachers in a high school gym and listened to this wonderful lady talk about life. 

She talked for about 30 minutes about being Scout and about her life, and then opened the floor for questions. The questions lead to all kinds of fun and intriguing stories about filming, but also just about life - Mrs Bedham's life, her passions, her thoughts, her hopes for a better world. 

She told a hilarious story about Jem and the director pranking each other with water, ranging from water guns to full on buckets being poured on each other. She talked about how the rabid dog scene was filmed - with peanut butter and shaving cream to make the dog act nuts and then some kind of special horse shoe thing that made him fall over - and how she as a kid was so afraid they had really shot the dog. 

She talked considerably about race, about how she had to leave Birmingham when she was 14 because her parents told her she couldn't befriend the black grocery boy and how she saw just how broken her town and her family were through that, about how she moved to Arizona to a boarding school. 

She talked about adopting a child from India with her husband and how that has been extremely hard at times because of the racism directed at them because of it. 

She talked about how her favorite scene in the movie is Scout reading to Atticus because she always wanted her father to read to her, but he never did. But how her husband would read to her belly when she was pregnant and how their daughter came out of the womb knowing his voice. 

She talked about her friendship with Gregory Peck and Tom Robinson, about going to their houses and sitting on the floor as a 10 year old and just listening to the parties and marveling at all the musicians and famous guests who were there. 

She talked about her faith, about her passion for education, about her desire for all students to get to travel and see that there are other cultures and how other people live. 

I'm sure she talked about so much more, but those were the highlights for me. 

It was fascinating listening to her talk, how she told stories and communicated her feelings and ideas with such ease. She talked like there were 5 of us just sitting in her living room drinking iced tea. 

She was Scout, grown up. I think Harper Lee would agree. 

Listening to her talk about life, about how we as a community of a country ought to live, was inspiring. She didn't talk with rousing speeches or high-pitched zeal, she just shared her heart in an intimate, honest, pure way. 

She left me inspired and brimming with hope. 

After the event, we were all set to leave, but Robert told me I would always regret it if I didn't go meet her. So we got in line to see her. 

When it was my turn, I put out my shaky hand and said, "I really just wanted to shake your hand, Mrs Badham. It was a true honor being here with you tonight." 

She kept eye contact with me the whole time and didn't let my hand go, just sweetly held onto it the whole time. Then she said, "You are so sweet. Thank you so much for coming tonight." And she said it like she really truly meant it, not like it was just robotic to say it. 

I asked her if Robert could take our picture, so she stood up and came around the table to me. I stood awkwardly next to her, so she got closer and put her arm around me and whispered, "Is this okay?" I think she knew I was nervous, so I laughed a little and said, "It's great!" Before the picture was taken, she rubbed my back a little, I think to let me know I didn't need to be nervous. 

After the picture, she rubbed my back once more and said, "Thank you again, dear, for being here." 

I told her how wonderful it was to meet her, and we left. 

A short interaction, probably less than 2 minutes total, but such a sweet 2 minutes that I'll never forget. 

Her humanness is what I'll always remember the most. She talked about love, about being kind to everyone, about connecting with people. She was so sincere and so genuine, both in our short interaction and on stage, you couldn't help but fall in love with her instantly. She has a fire and a feisty side, and she doesn't seem afraid of anything. 

I want to be Mary Badham when I grow up. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Patience, Little One

For years, I have ached for something that seemed unattainable.

I have cried and yelled and whined and conversed with God for this thing, sometimes feeling hopeful, sometimes feeling utterly hopeless.

I wanted to have a ministry job.

I had a feeling senior year of college that the newspaper world, the corporate world, and the world of "normal" work was not for me. I was studying to be a journalist, but it just never felt right. Sure I loved the communication study and I loved writing, but journalism and I just never really clicked like I saw my peers clicking with it.

I wanted to have a ministry job.

Okay, I told myself, you spent 4 years studying journalism. And besides, what would you even do in ministry? That's okay. There are lots of journalism jobs you could have. Get one of those.

So post-college, I took a job at a newspaper doing copy editing and design.

I spent most of my days hoping it would somehow sort itself out in my head and be what I wanted.

I would learn contentment in this, I told myself.

Spoiler alert, I never did.

Okay, I told myself, newspaper life isn't your thing. That's okay. There are lots of corporate jobs you could have. Get one of those.

So I found one.

I started low on the totem pole as a temp at an organization in town and eventually got hired on full-time doing customer service, then eventually worked my way up to actually using my communication degree and doing recruitment and member campaigns at the organization.

I told myself to give it time, that I would learn to love climbing the ladder like this, that I was making good money, using my degree to some extent, working your typical 9 to 5 job that you settle into in your mid-to-late 20's.

I would learn contentment in this, I told myself.

Spoiler alert, I never did.

Okay, I told myself, maybe a typical 9 to 5 corporate kind of job isn't your thing. That's okay. There are lots of quirky, non-typical jobs you could have. Get one of those.

So I found one.

I got a job at a bookstore, working a schedule that changed every single week, converting my brain to think about shifts instead of 9-5, fluctuating throughout just about every position in the store, feeling all footloose and fancy free.

I told myself to give it time, that I would learn to love having such a varied worklife, living week to week, never knowing what each week's schedule or day would look like, having a quirky, nerdy job like the quirky, nerdy girl I am.

I would learn contentment in this, I told myself.

Spoiler alert, I never did.

So what now? I asked.

There have been times where I have felt and heard things from God so strongly that there is absolutely no way for me to deny that they are from God. But there are also times where it feels like God is incredibly, annoyingly silent.

The past two months have been one of those times.

Back in December, I heard about a ministry position opening up that I knew right away would be perfect for me. I knew right away that it would just click so perfectly and that it would fill the ache beyond my wildest hopes.

I talked to some people about it, I applied, I felt great about it. I did the thing where I said to God, "Not my will but Thine. But You're ridiculous if You don't give me this job. Just, just give me the job."

Then, at the very beginning of January, in the quiet, I heard a faint whisper one morning.

"Patience, little one."

That was it.

One tiny whisper, so quiet I almost wasn't sure I really heard it, couldn't even be sure it was God's voice.

Come again? I asked. Say that once more?


For a month and a half, I didn't hear a peep. I begged and pleaded for an answer, I whined and complained about not knowing, I yelled and cried and stomped my foot a lot.

But all I got back was complete and total silence.

It wasn't until about a week ago that I understood the silence.

A week ago, I was offered and accepted a position at Fellowship Church as Worship Administrator.

And almost immediately after I was offered the position, this position that I had wanted since December, this position that I had wanted really for six years but didn't know it, the silence left and was replaced by beautiful words.

"See," They said. "I wanted you to be patience, little one. I wanted you to know I would take care of you. I wanted you to trust that I have felt your ache these long years just as much as you. I wanted you to believe that I had a way to fill your ache, but you needed to be patient for My perfect timing. Patience, little one. I love you enough to ask you for patience."

I can look back on the last 6 years of confusion and desire and hoping and every other emotion under the sun and say, "That was all worth it. Because I needed it. Because I needed the patience."

I am beyond excited and humbled and grateful for this new journey as a Worship Administrator at Fellowship Church.

The ache has left, and I am dizzy with relief.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Day One... Again

As I write, I'm drinking a very successful, Whole30 compliant smoothie.

Yup, that's right.

I'm back on the Whole30 train. Kind of.

The past month not being on the strict Whole30 has been pretty eye-opening for me. Mostly eye-opening in that left to my own desires, I will literally eat like a garbage person every single meal, regardless of how it makes my body feel.

I came out of my 19-day Whole30 stretch feeling invigorated, excited to keep mostly to a Whole30 diet, but allowing myself cheat days, cheat meals, little slides here and there.

And for the first week or two, I actually did pretty well.

And then my husband and I bought a house.

I don't know about you, but moving is probably the most annoying thing in my First-World-Problems life.

Mainly because I start out packing strong, then by like day 3 of packing, I just start throwing things in boxes with no regard to organization.

Oh, and I don't want to grocery shop with the moving mentality.

My husband wasn't keen on grocery shopping when we're packing and living in a crazy apartment for a week and a half either, so we just didn't.

We just didn't buy groceries.

Which means that for literally every meal for almost two weeks, we ate out.

And I had just come off of the strictest diet I have ever done in my life.

And we just spent hella lot of money on a house.

So it's fair to say that we didn't choose well during those two weeks of eating out.

There was a lot of Papa John's delivery, Burger King, Arby's, and whatever else we had a coupon for ie lots of fast food places.

There were some meals where I tried to be "good". We went to Whole Foods a few times and I got a salad... and a slice of pizza.

Moving and doing an adult thing like buying a house are just really stressful things for my brain. And when I get stressed, I just want to eat junk.

So a lot of junk has been consumed over the past two weeks.

Which is why I am back on the Whole30 train.

I'm trying to be smarter about it this time than I was at the beginning of last time.

I planned out realistic menu options that I can make whilst unpacking.

I went easy on myself and picked recipes with easy ingredients that I can get at Kroger so I don't have to have another meltdown at the store (if you need a refresher on my grocery store meltdown...)

Like these Egg "Muffins" with egg, sausage, green pepper, mushroom, and seasonings that actually turned out pretty great.

I acknowledged to myself right off the bat that some small cheats might happen, and that's okay. I don't need to beat myself up for putting low-sugar low-salt spaghetti sauce on my veggies and beef when I can't find a better solution that's under $30.

So today is actually day two, and so far, well, yeah, I've cheated twice.

Once with the above-mentioned spaghetti sauce, and once when I truly forgot that I was doing Whole30 and grabbed a handful of chocolate chips and stuffed them into my face. #movingbrain

But even though my "spaghetti" had a little cheat with it, it's a far better dinner than the countless burgers and fries I consumed the past two weeks...

My "spaghetti" was zucchini, red peppers, and mushrooms topped with ground chuck with the spaghetti sauce.

I'm excited to do this right and to not feel like such a garbage person. Smoothie away!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Day Somethingrather: A New Way Of Thinking

Here's what you need to know first: I am still doing Whole30.

Sort of.

My pal Delaney and I are doing a Whole30-inspired diet through the end of the year.

Emphasis on the word inspired.

I made it 17 days on a strict Whole30. I only cheated 4 times.

I know 4 sounds like a lot, especially when we're only talking about 17 days, but truly I was proud of myself by the end of those 17 days.

I lost 9 pounds.

I learned what I can endure food-wise, I learned what steps I need to take and continue to take to get where I need to be, and I learned to better deal with a food addiction.

1. What I Can Endure Food-Wise

Whole30 is not easy. Especially when you're used to eating out 3+ times a week like I was. I think I was prepared for the physical food cravings, but I'm not sure I was prepared for the mental and emotional cravings.

I cried over cheese.

Not a sentence I thought I would ever say, but whatever. It happened. The lack of not having cheese got to me, and around day 13, I found myself tearing up over not being able to eat cheese.

I craved EVERYTHING. I felt like a pregnant woman because I wanted bread covered in oreos, cheese, and spaghetti sauce.

I discovered some things I was okay with not eating, and honestly didn't even miss. I was pretty okay without pasta, most desserts, and dairy (minus the cheese).

I realized that I didn't need a big dessert, but I did want just a bite of something sweet after dinner. I had a small cheat where one night after dinner I had 2 Starbursts, and amazingly, that was all I needed.

One of the ways Delaney and I are now doing the Whole30 inspired diet is we get to pick a cheat food or two we can have during the week. Mine this week was a low-carb tortilla wrap and yes, cheese.

But even as much as I missed cheese, I discovered this week that the craving is satisfied with us half a piece of cheese on my lunch wrap.

So I'm learning the cheat things that my body really craves, and how to not give in fully to the craving, but how to eat cheat things in moderation.

2. Steps

In keeping that moderation in mind, I learned over Whole30 that cheats are okay sometimes.

I think because I've had a negative relationship with food for so many years, I sometimes go through an emotional rollercoaster with food. In the past, when I would get way too much at a fast food place, I would beat myself up internally and feel enormous amounts of guilt. Which would only make me want to eat more, because food is such a comfort. So I was often caught in a catch-22 with eating poorly.

When Delaney and I first set the ground rules for our new diet, we decided that on the weekends, we can eat how we want, in moderation of course. So the first day on the new diet, my husband and I went to Sonic. And because I hadn't had that kind of food in 18 days, I went crazy.

And I felt horrible for two days.

Eating like I did at Sonic made me grumpy, moody in general, feel physically ill afterwards, and just a huge bundle of emotions for two days.

3. How To Deal With A Food Addiction

I'm glad now that we did that though because it showed me how negatively eating like that affects every part of my body and mind, not just the scale.

So while I can eat diet-free on the weekends, I can keep those two days in the front of my mind to remind me how to eat, even when splurging or cheating.

I'm not going to be perfect with my diet and food, but I'm learning to accept that.

I'm also learning to accept that I'm not 17 anymore and I can't treat my body like garbage with no repercussions.

I'm learning that homemade smoothies are a great snack that not only my tastebuds but also my stomach likes.

I'm learning that yes you can eat out and find healthy things on most menus, and I'm learning to order those instead of the loaded fries and burger that I really want.

Here's to learning.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Day Nine: I Got This. But I'd Still Like An Oreo.

So the blogging every 3 days thing hasn't quite worked out like I thought.

I just finished day nine, so I've got a lot of catching up to do.

Lesson #8: It's okay to start small and easy, and work up to the more complicated meals.

My very first day, I decided for my second Whole30 meal that I would make this somewhat complicated salad, which not only involved cooking meat a specific way with specific ingredients, but it also meant making my own salad dressing.

That meal ended up in the garbage because it was so disgusting.

I stood in my kitchen after throwing what was probably $14 of food into the garbage and considered having another meltdown like the one in Kroger a few days before. (If you've forgotten about that, you can read about it here.)

Instead, I sniffed and pushed back the tears, and prepped a much easier lunch:

Granted this lunch wasn't elaborate (it contained grapes, a banana, a tomato with pepper, walnuts, and proscuitto), but it was tasty enough to hold me over till dinner.

I have since tried more complicated recipes with some success (and some not so great meals that I plugged my nose and ate because I already threw $14 into the trash and I ain't about that life), but in my 8 days of Whole30, I have learned to enjoy the simplistic meals like the one on the left. I've learned that meals like this one give me some of the food groups and vitamins that I need, and leaves me feeling satisfied. And some days, that's just plenty.

But, to prove that I have tried some more complicated recipes with success, here are a few other things I've made, 100% Whole30 compliant:

 (Left: Spaghetti Squash with Buffalo Chicken and Green Onion, drizzled in Homemade Ranch Dressing)

(Right: Italian Sausage and Shrimp with Zucchini, Squash, Red Pepper, Dairy-Free Cheese, and Cajun Spices)

(Left: My version of pizza: Potato with Pepperoni and Dairy-Free cheese with a side of Organic Chips and Salsa)

(Right: Grilled Italian Spice-filled Sausage, Apples with Cinnamon, and Baked Sweet Potato Rounds)

Lesson #9: It's okay to cheat just a little.

On day 4, my husband and I went back to Trader Joe's to do a second round of shopping (and a day later, I went to EarthFare to finish my grocery list). He was once again extremely patient as I spent a good hour in Trader Joe's, trying to read the ingredients listed on back of products I wanted.

While this list proved to be a life saver, I still wanted to look at a few other products not listed on that list.

What I found is that a lot of things seem totally Whole30 compliant until you get to the "Contains less than 2% of the following" list. I was getting frustrated because so many things I needed had things in that less than 2% list that were against Whole30. I finally just gave up and put a few of these things in my cart, telling my husband that if it was in a list that comprised less than 2% of the makeup of the product, I was still going to get it.

This rule has proved to be an extremely crafty one, even if it means I'm technically not following the Whole30 approved diet 100% of the time.

I think what I've learned in the last 8 days is that you have to pick your battles in everything in life, including your food.

But it's also important to do everything in moderation, including your cheats. Besides this 2% deal, I have cheated a few other times when I've taken a bite of my husband's ridiculously good-looking pizza, had a small handful of Goldfish on my way out the door, and, probably the most radical, allowed myself to put croutons in my salad tonight because I was dying for something crunchy and bad.

But you know what? If having a few croutons in my salad is the definition of being bad right now, I'll take it. It's better than my old $15 of Taco Bell trips.

Lesson #10: Listening to your body is kind of wonderful.

I'll be honest, I don't remember the last time I listened to my body before Whole30.

One of my husband and I's favorite pastimes is going to Cook Out and each getting the Trays (which comes with a hamburger and two sides) and splitting a milkshake. We even have an Official Eating Cook Out Parking Spot in a parking lot across the street from the Cook Out.

Clearly from this story, you can see that I don't listen to my body very well when it comes to eating.

But for the past 8 days, I have been listening to my body.

A prime example of this is today at lunch. For lunch, I packed a potato with dairy-free cheese and salsa, two boiled eggs, and an afternoon snack of some organic sweet potato chips. At lunch, I ate the potato with the not-cheese and salsa, and as I was reaching for the eggs, I thought, "Wait. Why am I reaching for these eggs? Am I about to eat them because I am still hungry? Or am I eating them because they are here?" I sat listening to my body for a few seconds and realized I was actually pretty satisfied and didn't need the eggs. During my afternoon break at work, I grabbed the chips and did the same thing, which resulted in me only eating half of the packed chips.

I think that's what they call Portion Control.

Whole30, you're not half bad.

But I'd still really like an Oreo now, please. With a side of greasy fries. And a burrito or six.