Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Second Week of Whole30 Madness

Day 8 (4/21/14): I made it a whole week! Oh wait. That's only 7 days. Achievement balloon: deflated. Still lots of hungry in my belly, but it's feels more like my body's adjusting and not like I'm starving to death. Before the challenge, when I'd get hungry my sugar would drop to crazy low levels and I would get dizzy, light-headed, and a little foggy/confused. Now when I get hungry, it's just hungry. I'm still clear-headed. That's nice. And that change only occurred within a week!

Day 9 (4/22/14): Starting to ignore hunger... or maybe it's going away? Still thinking about the box of Easter chocolates "hiding" in the kitchen. Yeah. "Hiding." I know exactly where you are, chocolates. You can't fool me. D flew back to the island this morning :(

It's in there. That box on the ground. The candy is located at the bottom of that box.

Day 10 (4/23/14): At a certain point in my monthly hormonal cycle (yeah, I said it) I have one or two days when I just don't really want to eat anything. Today was one of those days. Small breakfast, no lunch, small dinner. BUT ALL PALEO BITCHEZZZZ (sorry, I'm sure you're a lovely person). Roommate came back from South Africa, bearing 20 pounds of chocolate. Told her I didn't even want to look at it. Resist temptation!

Day 11 (4/24/14):Two fried eggs, fried plantains with chipotle seasoning, and banana chia pudding for breakfast. Try not to be totez jelly (Exhibit "A" that I've been in California too long). Today I discovered arrowroot starch, which supposedly helps with making super crispy "fried" (baked) chicken. Chicken stuck so horribly to the pan that half had to be sacrificed to the Trash Can Gods. Top of chicken wasn't even crispy :( Better luck next time? Amiright? Guys? At least the kale chips were crispy. But oversalted. Having a bad cooking evening.

Day 12 (4/25/14): Catered work party. Shit. Shit. Shitshitshitshitshit. Pick up a sandwich, pick all lunch meat, greens, and tomato off, eat. Discard bread and cheese. Co-worker sits down and exclaims that the cookie she's eating is the best cookie she's ever tasted and it's almost like someone put magic into it. I stare at her blankly. She asks why I'm not eating the bread, and I tell her about Whole30. She's intrigued, and feels a little bad about what she said about the cookie. I tell her not to worry about it. Slink back to my desk and eat my stupid lame chicken and salad. Grumble.

Day 13 (4/26/14): Starting to feel normal again. Not stark raving starving mad an hour after breakfast. Good amount of energy. Feeling pretty good. If I keep having days like today, these updates are gonna get pretty boring. Tried making cauliflower "bread sticks." Didn't work at all; all mush. I've heard it can be done, though, and someday I shall try it again. But today is not that day. 

Day 14 (4/27/14): I'm not hungry all the time anymore, and two eggs and two strips of bacon lasts me until almost noon. I'm impressed. But let me tell you, when noon hits, I am the hungriest beast in all the land. And then I put a pork chop and brussels sprouts in my face, and all is right in the world again. For dinner I'm making myself my absolute favorite paleo treat of all time... Bora Bora Fireballs. They are sweet manna from heaven up above (at least that's what my Rhodesian/Zimbabwean roommate calls them). They've turned non-pork-eaters into pork-eaters. People tell us that they won't come to our parties unless I make them. I highly recommend you give them a try. If you don't know what coconut aminos are, or how to get them, just substitute soy sauce. If you're vegetarian, you're in luck! I've made a vegan version of these with beans, TVP, and flaxseed instead of pork and egg. NOMZ FOR EVERYBODY!

DON'T BE TOTEZ JELLY. You can make these too!

Summary: I think I'm starting to feel like a normal human being again. I'm still craving sugar/candy/bagels/bread like crazy, but I'm no longer spending whole minutes staring at the box where I know the candy is hidden with a crazed glint in my eye. Banana chia pudding and fresh pineapple are starting to get too sweet after a few bites. Progress! I've decided that if I'm still craving sugar and candy like crazy at the end of 30 days, I'm going to extend the "no sugar" rule for 30 more days. If all I'm doing is trudging through 30 days and then stuffing my face with month-old Easter candy, that completely defeats the purpose of doing this challenge in the first place. Also, that Easter candy is going to the island with D next week so I don't have to think about it anymore.

Feeling pretty good about this. It's only been two weeks, but my new denim shorts that fit perfectly at the start of the challenge are starting to get a little baggy. Is it all in my head, or...?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lokisaurus Rex and Mango-fruit

This bird is a dinosaur. You know how I know? Just look at him.

Notice the crest, dinosaur feet, and squinty dinosaur eyes.

He also makes dinosaur noises. Now, you may be wondering how I know what dinosaurs sound like. First of all, I'm a scientist. Secondly, if you don't think he sounds like a dinosaur, you need to re-watch Jurassic Park.

Mango, on the other hand, is a fruit. He's totally fruit. Look at him. He is the color of a ripe mango. The only differences I can tell so far between him and a real mango is that real mangoes don't bite or shriek at 90,000 decibels. That's it though. It's a tough ID.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The First Week of Whole30 Weirdness

As promised, here's my daily log of feels during the Whole30 Challenge. It's been a crazy ride.

Day 1 (4/14/14): Yeah, I can do this! So many vegetables I can eat! So many meats to eat! Down with sugar! I'ma eat me a pork chop for dinner. With cauliflower. Hell yeah.

Day 2 (4/15/14): Breakfast: hard-boiled eggs and turkey bacon! YUM!! Oh crap. Turkey bacon has sugar in it. WHAT. Oh well, I'm not wasting it. I'll buy non-sugary bacon tomorrow.  Crazy hike today! Super steep downhill, bouldery, cactusy hike. Two hard-boiled eggs and turkey bacon for breakfast wore off around 9 am. Better ramp up the breakfast. Leftover pork chops wore off about an hour after eating. I'M SO HUNGRY. Long drive home. Now I'm hangry. I should shop at Sprout's to pick up some more paleo things I can't find at the regular grocery store. Crap, shopping hungry is stupid. $65 later...

Day 3 (4/16/14): More hard-boiled eggs and the last of the turkey bacon for breakfast. Banana chia pudding helps take the edge off. Even though it's technically "cheating" (it's a fake dessert food), it's still healthy and keeps me full for a long time. More crazy steep hiking. Tuna with paleo-mayo, tomatoes, and cucumber for lunch is actually sticking with me, this is great! Crap. Mom sent me a box full of Easter candy. The moment I had to hide the box under a stack of other boxes happened when my hands starting shaking and I started thinking crazy thoughts like, "I wonder if I can eat all this chocolate in one sitting? I bet I can. I TOTALLY CAN. I CAN DO A CHOCOLATE CHALLENGE INSTEAD OF WHOLE30 CHALLENGE." More grocery shopping because I'm tearing through vegetables faster than I can buy them and I needed a distraction from the candy box.

Day 4 (4/17/14): Eggs, mushrooms, spinach omelet for breakfast. Delish.  Driving around from site to site today, so lots of snacking on salami, carrot sticks, grape tomatoes, and coconut chia drink. Got chased out of a site by a crowbar-wielding tweaker who was yelling, "I FOUND A CROWBAR! I FOUND A CROWBAR!" Feel oddly energetic (unrelated to the tweaker incident... probably). Co-worker eating chocolate Easter candy in front of to "make me stronger." Nice try, pal. D comes back into town tonight. He's into The Challenge as long as I keep feeding him shrimp stir fry.

Day 5 (4/18/14): MOAR EGGS. This time they're from a co-worker who owns chickens, so they're super fresh with neon orange yolks. NOMZ. Partial office day. 12:30 rolls around and I head home. The entire car ride home I think about In-n-Out Burger and how much I want to put at least 3 burgers into my face. Leftover shrimp, green beans, beets, sweet potato, and mushrooms for lunch instead. Grocery store shopping. Again. This time it sucked. The smell of bread made my mouth water. Non-sugary bacon doesn't exist in stores, apparently. Bought steak and what seemed like 20 pounds of vegetables instead. Maybe it'll last me three days.

Day 6 (4/19/14): Wish I was joking when I say that I dreamed about eating chocolate last night. Felt guilty upon waking, only to remember that I hadn't actually eaten any chocolate. Reminded myself that this is the reason why I'm doing this: I'm addicted to sugar. Egg, bacon, broccoli scramble and banana chia pudding for breakfast. BLT salad for lunch. Freaking delicious. Still feel oddly energetic, but also hungry ALL THE TIME. Hoping incessant hunger will go away when my body realizes that throwing a tantrum will get it neither bread nor Almond Joy. Also hoping I don't accidentally put bread or Almond Joy into my mouth. Chicken cooked in salsa, spicy kale chips, and sweet potato hash for dinner. No chocolate accidents.

Day 7 (4/20/14): HOPPY EASTER! Energy levels feeling less odd, but remain high. No dreams about candy last night (phew). Still have an underlying feeling of constant hunger, but not as intense as previous days. This is a good sign. Tri-tip roast with carrots, leeks, sweet potato, and mushrooms for late Easter lunch. Pineapple for dessert. So California. Much paleo. Very health. Wow!

Summary: The first week was hard... challenging (Whole30 has very specific rules about using the word "hard" to describe their program, as in, DON'T). I learned a lot about myself. I am way more addicted to sugary things than I thought I was. I also feel like a total badass when I walk out of the grocery store with nothing but healthy "approved" things to eat (and my soul dies a little every time I walk out without an Almond Joy). Also, bacon has sugar in it.

I will admit, I'm "cheating" here and there; the way that I justify it is that small cheats are ok as long as they're consistent with my main goal of kicking my sugar and grains habit. A small amount of carrageenan in my coconut milk is not something I'm going to stress over. If the only bacon I can find has a small amount of sugar in it, I'm not going to skip buying it. I'm not buying the bacon to gratify my body's Gollum-like sugar-hoarding desires, so it's consistent with my goals. I'm not eating banana chia pudding because I want dessert, I'm eating it because it's the only thing I've found so far that keeps me full for more than two hours.

Also, I need to plan better and not spend $1 billion on groceries every week. 

This will take some tweaking over the weeks, but as long as I stick my goals, I'm happy. Mostly happy. And a little hangry.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


So I'm doing the Whole30 Challenge. It's Paleo, but stricter. No cheat days. No sneaking in ingredients. No making fake "junk food" out of Whole30-approved ingredients. It's intense. I've only been doing The Challenge for 4 days now, but I've already noticed some changes in my body and attitude, so I thought it would be fun to keep a log of daily feels and publish it when I'm finished with The Challenge, or quit in a fit of rage and eat 13 pounds of chocolate in one sitting, whichever happens first.

In the meantime, I encourage you to check out The Challenge.

I don't necessarily agree with the attitude that all grains and legumes are evil monkey demons, but I do think that we eat more carbs from grains than we really need. I also believe that we eat WAY too much sugar (myself included). I decided to do the challenge when I realized I was starting to crave sugary things... something I've never really craved in my life. It was time to stop, collaborate, and listen.

Wish me luck. It's been a weird four days so far.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Are My Feather-kids Boys or Girls?

My grandparents adopted Mango sometime around 1997, perhaps, and Loki maybe a year or two later (we're still going through records to pin down more exact dates).

I don't know anything about Mango's background. I don't know if he's been DNA-sexed, how old he is, or how many homes he's had. He is a mysterious, day-glo bird.

"I am wary. And glow-in-the-dark. One wrong move and I'll burst your eardrums."

Loki's background was also varied as well as vague. The people they adopted him from had dogs and children. Loki sometimes barked like a dog, which was cute. The children beat the cage with sticks whenever Loki screamed for attention, which was decidedly NOT cute. My grandparents were informed that Loki had been in at least three homes prior to the current owners... so we really had no idea if he was male or female, or even how old he was. Although DNA-sexing was an option back then, it was expensive. Since my grandparents didn't intend to breed him, they never thought it was necessary. Loki was called "him" and he was considered to be a boy.

LOOK AT THAT FACE. How could you ever get mad at that.

Fast forward some number of years...

When I first inherited the birds, veterinary care for Loki was a top priority because his nails were so overgrown he could have easily gotten them hooked on a bar of his cage and gotten stuck. In that case, a bird could become dangerously dehydrated, starve, or break the nail and bleed profusely. I decided that since I was taking him to the vet, I might as well get a full work-up including fecal exam, blood work, and... you guessed it, a DNA test!

He was a total champion during the vet visit, considering he probably hadn't been handled in months/years and hadn't been in a pet carrier in more than 10 years. He wanted to be on my shoulder the entire time, so the vet did the physical exam from there. There was one heart-melting moment when Loki was trying to bury himself a la ostrich in my hair, and the vet said, "Aww, you love your mama don't you?" And then I pretty much died from a cute-attack because I realized, "OH MY GOD I AM HIS MAMA NOW." (Sniffle, tear... I died) Loki wasn't as calm for the bloodwork, which the vet took from his neck; backup was summoned to help hold a wiggly bitey bird. Nail trimming also required an extra set of hands, but went very quickly.

I talked with the vet for a bit, then paid my first ever feather-kid vet bill, and got Loki home and back to the safety of his cage. I was "hot lava" (credit to Liz for that term, I plan to use it a lot) for about 24 hours. After some gentle talking, head scritches, and dried papaya, I was forgiven.

$300 and one week later, I got a phone call...

Loki is a boy! It's what I expected, but it's also a relief to know for sure. I never have to worry about him laying an egg (which is caused by all sorts of hormonal issues that can snowball into larger problems). His blood work came back looking good, all within normal levels, and his poo tested negative for parasites. Hooray for a healthy Loki!

I'm waiting to get Mango DNA-tested for when the feather-kids arrive in San Diego and I can take them to the vet here for Mango's full work-up and micro-chipping for the both of them.

6 weeks and 2 days to go! Not that I'm counting or anything...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Reason Why I Have Feather-kids

A warning: this post is dark. You're gonna see swear words. You're gonna be reading about a difficult time in my life. It is still difficult. If this is the first post you're reading, please know that not all of my posts will read like this one. I've been through the wringer recently.

I've had multiple people give me unsolicited comments and advice regarding their opinion of my owning birds. The main comments I've received are somewhere along the lines of, "You're dumb/irresponsible for getting birds, don't you know they make terrible pets?" or "What were you thinking? Your birds are going to rip your eyes out. I've heard of it happening."

I did not expect to be in this situation. There have been approximately five people in my life who are fully supportive of my decision to bring these two eternal feathered two-year-olds into my life.

I guess what I'm saying is please be nice to each other, be supportive to those that you care about, and think about what you say before knowing the whole story. I'm still learning that lesson, too.


When I called my mom back after seeing her missed call on my cell, I was sitting in the driver's seat of my car, about to go to work. I thought she was going to tell me that my Uncle Horst had passed away; he had been hospitalized for heart problems just several days before.

"Grandpa died in his sleep last night."

I could hear that panic in her voice. I could hear the ringing in my ears. I screamed at her, WHAT? WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU SAYING TO ME? She repeated what she had just told me and then I collapsed onto my steering wheel, sobbing.

Four hours later I was on a flight from San Diego to Baltimore. A child two rows in front of me was pretending that her stuffed toy parrot was flying through the air, and I was struck with a thought:

Shit. What are we going to do with the birds?


My grandparents were the neighborhood bird people. It started when my mother and uncle were teenagers and they got finches as gifts. Then it was cockatiels. Then a Maximilian pionus, a blue-headed pionus, and a white-capped pionus. Then came the rescues. Anytime someone mentioned that they knew someone who knew someone whose cousin's best friend's neighbor had a cockatiel or finch or parrot that was too noisy, too messy, too whatever... my grandparents would be there within the week picking it up and hauling it back to their house. I grew up in a menagerie. I've been tuning out loud, screaming birds since I was born. Severe macaws, cockatiels, lovebirds, monk parakeets, budgies, African greys, cockatoos.... lots and lots and lots of birds.

The birds were Grandma's pride and joy. Grandma lost her eyesight due to macular degeneration, and her driver's license was taken when she was only 54 years old. She spent the next 20 years in her house, only leaving when someone else drove her to her destination. She had Mel Gibson movies and the birds. In 2007, Grandma's health began to decline. She wanted to leave her house less and less. She began getting confused about things, mixing up our names. She started calling all of her kids and grandkids "schatzi" or "schatzele;" it means little treasure in German... she couldn't remember our names any more. She began hallucinating. The birds began to show signs of neglect. They began picking their feathers out. They were put in smaller and smaller cages, to make cleaning them easier. Grandma moved into an assisted living facility for people with dementia.

Grandpa loved the birds, but it just wasn't feasible to take care of them and give them the attention they needed. He gave some of them away.

When I arrived at his empty house on March 14th, there were six birds. Two cockatiels, a sun conure, a blue-crowned conure, a Goffin's cockatoo, and an African grey. I'm not going to go into details, but I immediately found new homes for the cockatiels, the blue-crowned conure, and the African grey.

The Goffin's cockatoo (Timmy, now Loki) and sun conure (Mango... will always be Mango) were coming with me to California. There was never really a question of "if" in my mind, it was just a matter of "when" and "how." They've been in the family for at least 15 years. I've known them since I was a teenager. I couldn't give them away. I always told Grandma and Grandpa that I would take care of those two birds.

Loki comes out onto my arm for the first time in about 10 years.

Mango is a messy eater.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, dozens of e-mails and phone calls, and hundreds of dollars later, I have a plan.

Loki and Mango are being shipped to California on May 31st via Delta Cargo Pet Shipping. I still have to reinforce their carriers with steel mesh and ship those to my mother in Maryland, reserve the flight space for them, and buy some more supplies for them, but the plan is in place.

We're gonna make this work.