A Well Crafted Man: My Whole30 Experiment and Shurky Jurky Review

A Well Crafted Man: My Whole30 Experiment and Shurky Jurky Review
Creative Commons Photo via Stephen Oung's Flikr

Creative Commons Photo via Stephen Oung’s Flikr

Cleaning out the system…

In January I changed my diet. I hadn’t been eating foods that would generally be thought of as unhealthy, so I didn’t think this would be a very disruptive experiment. My wife and I had been directed to the Whole30 idea, which basically boils down to eating:

  • meat, pasture-fed and natural, if possible,
  • veggies, in-season are best,
  • some fruit, the higher percentage of water content the better (watermelon has less fructose than mangoes),
  • and a handful of nuts.

Slightly stricter than the Paleo diet it’s based on, it rules out all:

  • sugar,
  • dairy,
  • grains,
  • and legumes.

You’d be surprised how sneaky soy and sugar infest nearly everything in the grocery store. You may also be shocked at how expensive it is to shop for meat and produce, even cutting out those expensive processed foods, and alcohol.

The Whole30 program works like a detox: eliminating food groups that are the usual suspects for food allergens for 30 days, then reintroducing them one at a time. Some symptoms I looked forward to getting rid of: congestion in the mornings, overall fatigue, and once a month headaches. With some skepticism, we decided the pros outweighed the cons, and started the day after New Year’s Day.

We struggled through the first week without too much complaining. Going without half and half in our coffee was a tiny challenge with a nice boost of pride. “Room for cream?” the barista asks. “None for me, thanks; I like it black,” I would smugly say. Going without a glass of wine at dinner was less satisfying, and cutting out beer made me sad. I think I compensated for my lack of beer by over doing the caffeine. My next detox diet will be to go 30 days without caffeine – crazy, I know.

What was most noticeable during the month was the fact that I was always thinking about my diet – even when I wasn’t hungry. It became a part of my identity. I was someone with dietary restrictions. With no history of known food allergies, I’d never had to really think about what I ate. Now, every bite was first mentally reviewed, and queried with the database of “compliant” foods. When my son left a good spoonful of yogurt uneaten, I had to catch myself from finishing up after him. But I felt good – I had clear sinuses each morning, steady energy levels all day, and I felt confident because of my self-discipline.


Snack, snack, snacking…

When you cut out most carbohydrates – and rice, bread, and potatoes previously made up a large portion of my meals – you’re often left hungry. It takes a while for your body to look to proteins and fat for quick energy, when it’s used to getting its fix from carbs. The Whole30 authors also encourage refraining from over-snacking. Somehow, I was supposed to get by on three filling meals and be done with eating. Maybe someone with a slower metabolism could hack that, but I need to eat!

For snacks, I chose:

  • bananas
  • avocados
  • almonds
  • tuna
  • boiled eggs, until they became part of my very essence (seriously, the return on investment for owning chickens has got to be undeniably high).
  • Yams, which are very easy to cook in the microwave.


Snackable Whole30 Compliant Protein from Shurky Jurky

But it was difficult to find snack-able proteins. I liked the idea of finding a good beef jerky for snacking. However, most beef jerky in grocery stores have sugar, added flavors, preservatives, and on and on. With serendipitous timing, the guys from Shurky Jurky had recently sent us a sample of their Whole30 compliant beef jerky. If you want to be adventurous, there’s also their chocolate covered jerky. I’m highly tempted to order their monthly subscription – monthly meat, delivered to my door. I’m not usually a fan of jerky – I find it too peppery and spicy – but this was different. It was chewable, smoky, and delicious beef. And it filled the gaps between meals.

Back to Reality…

January is over, and I can go back to eating whatever I want. It’s a little scary, to be honest. Even though I had to follow a restrictive regimen, my body felt good, and I didn’t have to guess what was causing annoying symptoms, aches, and fatigue. I weathered the gentlest cold virus ever over the last week. I’m not going to attribute mystical healing powers to the Whole30 (c’mon, you gotta admit diet programs can be a little cult-like). But I do think my immune system was strengthened. I’m looking forward to spring in the Pacific Northwest, and testing my immunity against the evil hay-fever. I think my body adjusted to higher amounts of protein from beef, pork, chicken, fish, vegetables, and nuts, and lower amounts of starchy foods. And I don’t want to ruin all my hard work. I’m in a difficult position of deciding how to proceed.

Do I want to keep certain food groups out of my diet, even though my experiment is over? Who does that make me – Brian, who doesn’t eat grains or drink beer anymore? Now, I get to choose.

A Well Crafted Party received a complimentary package of the Whole30 Compliant Shurky Jurky for purposes of review. All opinions are those of  A Well Crafted Man. The portable protein snack is created from beef, bison, turkey, or pork. It is Paleo, Gluten-Free, Primal, & Whole30 compliant. Check out the Shurky Jurky website for more information and to purchase your own gourmet jerky.

Choosing Our Family Photo Attire

Choosing Our Family Photo Attire

I will never claim to be the most fashionable person, or to have the latest in fashionable items. But, I do love clothes. And, I love styling my little family. Yesterday I shared some of our family photos taken by Motormouth Studios one very cold day this last November. It was FREEZING outside, so I asked everyone to dress warmly and to coordinate with a color scheme of brown and blue. I didn’t want everyone to be wearing the same thing or even close to the same thing– I didn’t give much more for family members to go on for their outfit styling. I’m really glad I didn’t dictate that everyone wear a certain type of outfit or only certain colors. I was really happy with how everyone looked together!

Family Photo Attire

Photo by Motormouth Studios

My husband placates my desire for us all to coordinate (never match) and usually allows me to pick choices of clothing for him to wear. He always gets the final say and typically it surrounds whether or not he can also wear a hat he likes or comfortable shoes. My son, given the choice, will always choose anything with Lighting McQueen or Elmo on it. So, I’m thankful that he is pretty great at letting me pick out his attire for now. He enjoys getting dressed up and making sure his hair looks good in the mirror. When I purchased the sweaters for the little guy and his dad I didn’t realize how similar they’d look. It *almost* looks as if they are matchy matchy… but, little one’s cute polka dot undershirt helped them differ just enough in my book.

Outfit Details:

(some of the below links are affiliate links… purchases made through these links will benefit this blogger)

The Lady: Dark wash jeans, Lucky Brand Plus Size Ginger Skinny Jean// Shoes, Payless tan suede (ish) booties from three years ago (similar tan booties) // Light Denim Chambray Shirt, Lucky Brand Western Chambray Shirt// V-Neck Sweater,Liz Claiborne Brown Sweater(similar sweater)// Chunky Necklace, H&M (similar chunky necklace)

The Man: Dark wash jeans, Old Navy// Chambray Shirt, H&M (Similar) // Brown dress slip on shoes, (similar) // Chunky white sweater, H&M (Similar Men’s Knit Sweater)

The Kid: Chunky White Knit Sweater, H&M (Similar Sweater) // 7 For All Mankind 2T Slimmy Jeans // Navy and White Polka Dot Button Up Shirt, H&M (Similar)


What do you think? Did our outfits work together or did we completely miss the mark? What do you like to wear for family photos? Comment with your tips below!

Urban Gardening: Prepping Your Soil (What Not To Do)

Urban Gardening: Prepping Your Soil (What Not To Do)

To grow a plant, all you need is a seed or start, soil, sunlight, and salt-free water (I had to force an s in there somehow). Water is easy; it comes out of the faucet, and I point it at the garden plot until it’s soaked, twice a day. Sunlight’s easy, though I should have planned my plot for a sunnier patch of the yard. I’ll talk about seeds in another post, since first I want to tell you about our soil.

Soil Tips from a Newbie Gardener

Note: Toddler labor is not the most effective way to prep your garden’s soil.

What I should have done

I should have tested the soil to check its pH balance, then correct it to a veggie conducive growing chemistry. I read (flipped through) the chapter in the veggie garden bible, Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, by Steve Solomon, but I didn’t retain much. I remember something about loamy and silty soil being good, I think…but I never found out what category mine fell under. When digging our plot, my brother and I removed all the large rocks, anything bigger than a potato, and that alone filled a bucket. If we tried to get all the rocks smaller than that out, it would have taken days of back-breaking effort. Besides, my mom said a few small rocks help keep the soil wet, or something like that.

I also should have supplemented our poor dirt with some quality soil and compost. I started a compost pile last year, but didn’t really keep up with it (noticing a pattern yet?), so dumping non-decomposed – is it just called composed? – eggshells and coffee grounds wouldn’t do much to engender growth in my veggies. Maybe the pile will be decomposed by next spring’s garden.

What I actually did

Squat. I’m the lazy gardener. Sometimes I put in the minimal amount of effort to get the payoff that minimally satisfies. I am proud of the veggies we’ve eaten so far: a few handfuls of green beans, 3 cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, and basil. They were surprisingly tasty. To supplement the soil, I did buy two bags of organic soil and mixed that into the plot. For a garden the size of mine, I should have used six bags. We’ve gotten some edible veggies so far, but my neighbor’s garden makes me jealous. I guess the saying is true: you reap what you sow. And I’m a shoddy sower.

Luckily, I have amazing neighbors. Four out of the five houses around ours have gardens, and besides sharing their veggies, they’re sharing their tools and expertise. Check out this sharp-bladed contraption:


This machine was AWESOME.

With just a few minutes of arm-jarring steering of the bucking rototiller, our plot was plowed. You can rent them cheaply from your local hardware store if you lack generous neighbors. Using the machine got what would have been 2 hours of effort done in 15 minutes. And remember my last post, where I said gardening should mostly be done by hand? Ha! I recommend using at least a gas rototiller to other lazy gardeners out there.

We still use toddler labor when needed.

We still use toddler labor when needed.

What other tools have you used to spruce up your soil? Or if you went the hands-only route, how did you prep your soil?

Free Printable Blog Planner

Check This Awesomeness Out
Past Posts
Follow Along

Follow on Bloglovin

Want the News?

Fill out this short little form to sign up for our newsletter. We promise not to overload your inbox and to send fresh new printables with each newsletter!

Super Sponsors