A Losing Battle: The Perfect Whole30 & The Perfect Life

Perfection.

One word and yet so many different meanings for everyone.

Can it be attained? Can you buy it? Can you make it? Can you work hard enough for it? Can people believe that you are it?

The journey to perfection is a long, rigorous, expensive, never ending, never satisfying road.

We travel to Tegucigalpa, Honduras a couple times per year. If you’ve been there, you know the roads and traffic are a nightmare at best. What you could walk in 15 minutes might just take you 2 hours by car. There are no rules, there is no order, only chaos. Plus, it can be down right scary.

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This is what I would paint if I were trying to portray the road to perfection…chaos. No rules, no order, just everyone out for themselves, doing whatever it takes to get from point A to point B. And anyhow, WHO is to tell you what perfect is? Who sets the bar? Who is the dictator when it comes to your perception of perfection? Celebrities? Instagram? Family? Friends? Athletics? WHAT do you need to obtain in order to reach the goal of perfection and become complete? Is it clear skin? The perfect job? A certain number of followers on Instagram? The perfect diet? The perfect body? Whiter teeth? The perfect marriage? The perfect house, car or vacation home?

Whatever “it” is, you and I are handing over all our power to It, Her, or Him when we let them tell us our value and worth, and we believe them.

What does that mean?

It means that whether we realize it or not, if the world is our gauge, it’s our priority each day to do whatever it takes to make “it” possible, no matter the cost. Friendships, marriage, children, family…they’re all expendable if it means obtaining perfection. Now, you may not leave your kids, friends, or marriage, (or you may) but you’ll sacrifice time and moments with them. Perfection is like a drug. Until we have it we’re not satisfied, we’ll do anything to get it, but when we get it, the high goes away so soon, and we’re back on the prowl again. Something or someone else better will always come along, swoop up your desires, put you on the prowl thinking now you have perfection! Until, it’s not enough…and here we go again! 

What a vicious cycle. To desire and work for something that you’ll never obtain. To long for something that will never satisfy. You long to be full. It even promises to fill you, but it leaves you utterly depleted. How exhausting it is!

“Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.”

Psalm 69: 1,2

Can anyone else relate to this and feeling like you’re not good enough? Thinking, “If only I were/had/looked ⎽⎽⎽⎽⎽⎽, then I’d have what it takes. Then I’d be there.”  Oh, how at times, I can fill that blank with an endless arrangement of nouns and adjectives.

So, if we’re not supposed to look to other people to tell us what our perfect is, to whom should we look?

I’m glad you asked. 

What if this were your reality:

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”

Psalm 40: 2, 3a

For me, the majority of my life, I let the popularities of the moment dictate my actions and they were my everything. I looked like world, talked liked the world, dressed like the world…I blended in. Whatever was going to leave me with the mark of approval, “acceptance,” that’s what I was going to do.

Just fit in. Don’t go against the crowd. Stay quiet and don’t cause a commotion.

Now, it is quite different. We have to look to and follow something or someone to guide us. We’re getting our standards of living from somewhere, it’s just a matter of where. We’re getting our value and self worth from someone. So, who? Instead of letting the Kardashians tell me what to wear, instead of letting Nicki Minaj have reign over my airways, and instead of letting The Real Housewives of Orange County influence how I treat my husband, I look at our Creator for comparison. The beauty of this is:

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

Romans 3:23

Perfection is not something to be obtained while we are here, living on Earth.

Not for anyone, no matter how put together they seem. Thank Goodness. 

God knew and God knows that we are born into this world a sinful people. We simply can not do things right all of the time. And because of this:

“…and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Romans 3:24

What we couldn’t do to earn and keep God’s love, Christ did it for us. What we lack, He gives. What we need, He provides. What we ruin, He repairs. Once and for all.

And look at that fifth word. “Freely.” You don’t earn it. You can’t. You don’t lose it. You can’t. You simply surrender.

What about that longing constantly in your heart, the one that keeps you searching for the next best thing, or more followers on social media to make you feel loved and important…yea, God put that there too:

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Romans 1:20

When you wake up and have breath…that’s from Him. When you’re able to move your legs to walk and get your morning coffee…He allows you that too. When you walk outside and can see the trees and sky because of the sun’s radiance…He put that there. When a human is formed in your womb…that miracle is His gift as well. When you mess up, make a mistake, do something you know was wrong…He will forgive and remember that sin no more. He won’t allow your mistakes to define you, because He defines you.

Hence, “his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen…”

What about when you get so overwhelmed with the Goodness and Holiness of God that you allow guilt to creep in? I mean, in comparison to God’s perfection, how could someone so Holy love me?

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”

Romans 8:1

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”

2 Timothy 1:7

That’s just it. It’s no longer about you and what you’ve done, It’s about Him and what He’s done. You can’t make Him love you any more or less. That would make him fickle, and God is not fickle. He is a mighty God with an unrelenting love that is un-changing.

If I’m no longer a part of the world, then to whom or what will I belong?

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

Romans 8:15

This faith is a beautiful thing. It’s beautiful because it takes the focus off me, off you, away from the “I” centered mentality, and puts it on Him.

This faith is a freeing thing. I no longer have to worry about what others think of me!

“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him…”

Romans 6:8

If I have “died” then can I become offended? Or be concerned with others perception of me? Well, I haven’t seen any deceased people becoming offended as of late, have you? He is saying die to your ways, die to trying to achieve everything on your own, die to needing the approval of others. Do this so that you may live. Find life in me. Everyone and everything in this world is changing and evolving. He is constant.

“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”

Romans 23:19

He can be trusted. He is good. He is faithful. In Him you will be free. In Him you will be bold. In Him you will have courage. In Him you will be loved. And because of His sacrifice, You can be accepted, unblemished, and welcomed into His presence.



Now, how does this relate to my Whole30?

That “perfection” we talked about earlier…yea, that can still creep in, even in the Whole30. I found myself thinking I have to only prepare the best meals with the freshest ingredients and make it look perfect. That’s a great equation to equal stress and who needs more stress?

Well, last week, thank you Lord, a lightbulb finally went off! I do believe it’s a necessity to adhere to the rules of something like Whole30, but even they aren’t asking me to become a five star chef within a month. I am! 

No one is asking me to use only the highest quality, most time consuming ingredients possible. I am!

We can be our worst enemy and our toughest critic. 

A lot of times, people don’t have to put us down or try to make our life difficult, because we do it for them. And maybe we do it ourselves so that other people can’t. You know, punch ourselves to beat others to the punch…

Back to Whole30! Focus, Mallory.

I knew this week wouldn’t allow for lots of food prep and spending much time in the kitchen, so I kept it super simple and made it achievable. It’s not fancy, but even the husband was super satisfied with all the eats.

Lesson:

Don’t make things harder than they have to be. Work smarter not harder!

Proteins

Prior to leaving for Minnesota last Thursday, I picked up some extra meats to freeze for our return:

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(Just in case you’re wondering, all of this frozen seafood from Publix is wild-caught)

With the exception of eggs, shrimp, and chicken sausage, I bought everything before leaving on the trip. And no, I did not eat the cocktail sauce pictured with the shrimp. I repeat, I did not eat the cocktail sauce. If you do, you will be starting over on day uno! No bueno.

The Veggies

 I might as well have tasted gold after cooking the frozen stir fry from Aldi after Labor Day. Remember that one?? The one with the corn lurking around and hiding like a high schooler smoking a cigarette during a “bathroom break??”

I know fresh produce is queen, however, life happens, and sometimes THIS queen doesn’t have time to peel, cut, chop, and dice fresh veggies. Or feel like it. Just being real.

It’s like frozen produce had never crossed my mind before! I was blinded by trying to have the “perfect Whole30.” Well, I once was blind but now I see! And since I could see, I drove myself to Walmart (I know, I know, but I needed some tech-y stuff and was crunched for time…and desperate), and strolled my cart (broken wheel and all) straight to the frozen veggie section.

(I will say this and then I’ll hop down from my soap box and move right along. The customer service at stores such as Publix, Aldi, Whole Paycheck Foods, and Sprouts has spoiled me. I didn’t exactly realize this until my wonderful Walmart experience.)

Rant Over. See, that wasn’t so bad, was it?

Back to the frozen featured item…veggies!

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Inexpensive + Compliant = Veggie Victory! Yes, that’s a thing, or atleast it is now.

I know that most times you pay for what you get, but there was nothing lurking in these ingredients besides the approved vegetables themselves. I’m confident if I look closely to each package’s fine print, it boasts about all the time you’re going to save and this should TOTALLY be their marketing scheme.

I had made my way to Aldi and picked up

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Before you go buy the stir fry, look closely at it (because on the Whole30, you’re always looking closely at ingredients), have a panic attack, and take me out for stoning…remember that I do not use the sauce and I do not eat the corn. All five pieces of corn I remove.

I repeat: Do. Not. Eat. The. Corn. You will START OVER on Day 1…all by yourself. Again, no bueno.

That is what you call using the fear tactic.

Moving right along, once back home a couple of days, I made it to Costco and Aldi and stocked up on various veggies

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The Menu

Monday: This is the night we flew back home and I thawed tuna 3/4 of the way to attempt this recipe. Had I done it correctly, I’m confident it would have been wonderful. I poured the Great Value brand Sugar Snap Pea Stir Fry in a pan with some coconut aminos for a quick side dish.

Tuesday: I guess in attempt to make up for Monday, I brought my A-game with this  pork tenderloin recipe. I got bonus points for planning ahead and mixing up the spices in a ziploc before leaving town, so prep was SUPER easy. I also left off the walnuts, because, well, I didn’t have any. This balsamic glaze poured over the finished tenderloin was amazing. We’re talking finger lickin’ good. (This is coming from a non-finger-licker, you know, because hands are super germy, but for this?  I’ll make an exception).

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For the side, whole sweet potatoes were covered in coconut oil, salt, pepper, and cinammon, placed on a separate baking sheet, and cooked with the pork. We did turn up the heat to 425 degrees and cook 10 minutes more after pork was done.

Wednesday: Why mess with a good thing? We had leftover pork tenderloin and I cooked collard greens that were part of the Veggie Victory, as well as handful of cherry tomatoes each.

 During the day, I thawed chicken breasts and swordfish steak. For the chicken, I drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and paprika. It cooked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, I flipped them, and finished cooking for 15 minutes.  For the swordfish, after pre-heating a pan to medium/high heat, I drizzled the fish with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Once the pan was warm, less than a Tbsp of olive was placed in pan, and swordfish was cooked on one side for three minutes, no flipping.

While cooking, I mixed together in a blender some coconut milk, garlic, basil, olive oil, tomato paste, and crushed red pepper to a smooth consistency. (I’m not sure about measurements, because I didn’t really think it’d turn out well…I was wrong, sorry!)

After three minutes of the fish cooking, I turned heat to medium, flipped the fish, poured sauce in pan, and cooked a few minutes longer.

Thursday: We were both hangry by the time we got home, so we did a head first dive into the prepared swordfish placed over a bed of greens, and served with a side of microwaved steamed stir fry veggies from Bird’s eye. (That five minutes of microwave time might as well have been five hours. I was so impatient! I pressed my face against the microwave door, so I’m sure I have radiation poisoning.)

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Friday: We will be eating the prepared chicken breasts as protein. For sides, I’ll bake some butternut squash as well as cooking some of the Veggie Victory Kale from Walmart.

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That my friends is what an easy week of cooking looks like for us. Our lunches consisted of leftovers and I did get a few lunches out of the Costco shrimp, which I did absolutely nothing to enhance, I just put it over some salads and called it a day lunch.

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Since compliant, store-bought almond butter is EXPENSIVE, I buy bags of nuts from costco, and make my own, playing around with different recipes,

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as well as making spiced mixes for Lance.

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This is not rocket science. It does not have to be “perfect.” It does not have to consume all of your time. Life is way too short to spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the kitchen. Get out there, make healthy choices, do your best, be joyful, be free, be Whole.

Until next time…

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