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Whole 30 Experiences

How to survive a Whole 30

I am currently attempting my third Whole 30. I say “attempt” because I have actually never completed one. However, I have completed three half Whole 30s as of today. I have been eating Paleo or mostly Paleo for a long time. I struggle giving up honey, maple syrup, and all the other good stuff that is allowed and considered “ok” on the Paleo diet, but not on a Whole 30. Can I complete a Whole 30? I am convinced, this time I can! Because you learn from mistakes. Today, I would like to share what I have learned during my several unsuccessful Whole 30 attempts.

Knowing what you can eat on the Whole 30

Food you can eat on the whole 30You will get hungry, you will get cravings. You are used to snacking and just grabbing convenience food. You will not make it through a whole 30 without knowing what is approved, what is not, and where you will allow yourself to deviate from the rules. Familiarize yourself with the staples, such as canned coconut milk, canned tomatoes, frozen veggies, meat and more meat, tons of nuts, coconut oil, avocados, lots of eggs. Have those items at the house at all times. Never run out. And always have some food prepared in the fridge for those emergency cravings, even if it’s hard boiled eggs.

Grocery shopping on the Whole 30

You cannot do a whole 30 without shopping on a regular basis. We made it through half whole 30s, and gave up in situations where we did not have food at the house. We hate grocery shopping and we don’t have a whole lot of time… thankfully we discovered Walmart Grocery, a pick up service for groceries. This really saved our whole 30 lives! Once a week, I order all the food online, reserve a time slot, and pick it up after work. This service is so great because it allows you to always buy what you need – and only what you need! Walking through isles of delicious smelling bread, tempting ice cream, and yummy yogurts while grabbing a bag of lettuce? Those days are over! I don’t even set foot into a grocery store anymore. Goodbye temptation, thank you Walmart. You can also try instacart, if Walmart Grocery is not available in your area.

Whole 30 Relationships

It is easier to get your family, significant other, or roommates on board. Don’t try and do this on your own if you don’t live on your own. Set rules beforehand. Make sure the other people involved help where they can, help prepping the food, and help cooking. This is going to be so much easier when you share the commitment.

Hanger issues

Hangry on the Whole 30During our last whole 30 attempt, we got really mad at each other. We don’t even remember why, but we know that we were very, very hangry. You have to avoid those situations by making sure you are always well fed. The whole 30 is not a diet in the traditional weight-loss sense, you can eat! Everything that is compliant, everything that is good for you, you can eat as much and as often as you like. So make sure you don’t get hangry in the first place. Having the grocery shopping issue under control (again, make it as convenient for you as you can) helps.

The right whole 30 tools

It is not just about the groceries. Make sure you have all the other tools that will make your daily food preparation and cooking easier. A crockpot is great to start a meal in the morning and have it ready for dinner. A julienne slicer will allow you to create zucchini noodles, which work great with any kind of compliant pasta sauce. An immersion blender is great for vegetable and potato soups. I use a small chopper to chop up nuts and raisins as a healthy topping for apple slices. A good blender is also recommended for the occasional smoothie treat. Good knives make prepping easier, too.

A countdown

Whole 30 CountdownI set up a countdown on my iphone – helps me keep track of the progress and is fun to check! 15 days to go!


Vegas Wedding “In the Ghetto”-Style

We eloped.

Sometime early in April this year, 2016, we decided to buy airline tickets to Las Vegas. Our families don’t know about our secret Vegas wedding, and we only let a handful of our friends in on the secret. (Only so they would watch our dog while we were out of town). On May 6th we flew to Vegas, and on May 7th the King and Queen of Fatcastle got married by another King, Elvis.

Since we were younger, we had both joked about a Vegas wedding, spontaneously, and with a drink in our hands. We finally made it reality.

Preparing for your Vegas Wedding

We flew out on a Friday night and returned only one night later. Friday night, we arrived in Vegas and explored the strip. Saturday morning, we went to the marriage license office of Clark County to get our marriage license. The whole process is incredibly easy: You go online and fill out this pre-application.

We filled out the application about a week before we left for Vegas. On the day of our wedding, May 7th, we stopped by the office, showed our IDs, paid the fee (currently $77), and received our license. Two couples were waiting in front of us, and it took probably about 20 to 30 minutes total. The queen is not a US citizen, but the process barely differs for residents and non-residents. The queen’s driver’s license indicates that it is “temporary” due to her student visa status. However, the clerk accepted it and no one needed to see her passport. Here is the address to pick up your marriage license.

Around the time we booked our tickets to Vegas, we also booked a package with a wedding chapel. We decided on “a Elvis chapel”, thanks to their excellent online ratings. We also listened to our gut feelings. When we called them they indicated that they had a special going on. The “Burning Love” package was about $55 cheaper, which means 10 extra pictures and an additional song performed by Elvis. The chapel also organizes a small bouquet of roses, an Elvis impersonator for the ceremony, limo service to and from the hotel, as well as a copy of Elvis’ and Priscilla’s marriage certificate (yay…).

Vegas Wedding “Elvis Style”

We only had a hotel for one night, so we had some drinks on the strip. We requested to be picked up at one of the casino hotels on the northern part of the strip. At the Circus Circus, the bartender even gave us some free drinks because we told him we were about to get married. The limo came about half an hour later than agreed upon, but the driver was friendly and we were tipsy so we didn’t care that much.

Our Vegas Wedding
Our Vegas Wedding

When we got to the chapel, a lady rushed us into the bathrooms to change and it all happened very fast. The chapel organizes for a real minister to be there, so you actually get married before the Elvis ceremony. The Elvis wedding is just for the show and the pictures – Elvis is not a minister (shocking). One of the chapel employees serves as the witness. After the “real” wedding, Elvis walked the bride down the isle while singing “in the Ghetto”. This song was not on their original song list, but they happily accept special requests. You get to choose three songs for Elvis to sing. Unfortunately, he only sings about 30 seconds of each song, and the whole ceremony takes a mere 10 minutes.

So you pay $300 plus tax plus about $180 in tips (for the minister, the photographer, the “Elvis”, and the limo driver) for a 10-minute experience. Well worth it if this has been your lifelong dream.

We got 30 pictures included in our deal, as well as a tacky 10-minute video to share with friends and family at our real upcoming wedding. The photographer told us that the full set of pictures (80 in our case) cost 200 dollars extra. It is important to know that they upload the pictures to a website called several days after the ceremony. You can download the pictures from the website and order some fun merchandise like coffee mugs. A lot of the 80 pictures were doubles or bad shots (eyes closed etc.) so we decided against paying the extra $200.

Vegas Wedding Outfits

The queen had even ordered a wedding dress for the occasion. She used a website called and ended up paying only about $100 plus shipping from China for a custom tailored dress. Even though these websites with dresses from China have a terrible reputation, the dress fit perfectly and she might even use it for our real wedding, which is coming up later this year (because, why only get married once?). The little flower hair pin is from Claire’s. The king rented his tuxedo from men’s warehouse and ended up spending more on his outfit than the queen. Crazy world.

After the Wedding

While we really liked the ceremony, which was just as you can imagine (tacky), the photographer was a little disappointing. Elvis was great and we could tell that he has been doing this for a long time – he stayed in character for the whole time we were there. After the ceremony, the limo driver took us to Freemont Street so that we could gamble and drink some more. We flew home that same night.

About ten days after your Vegas wedding, you can go online and request your official marriage certificate. But beware: probably before the seven to ten days are over, you might receive solicited calls from service providers offering to send you expedited marriage certificates for a higher price. If you see someone from Nevada calling a few days after your marriage ceremony, don’t answer the phone and research the number to make sure you are not being scammed. It happened to us, and we are usually pretty careful. Make sure you use the official website.

The Verdict

So what did the whole Vegas wedding cost us? $800 in airline tickets from Florida, about $300 for outfits, almost $500 for the ceremony, $80 for one night hotel, probably about $100 in uber rides around Vegas, and then drinks, food, and a lot of sleep, more money for game of thrones slot machines… but who is counting? A Vegas wedding is a special experience and in the end, you only get married once (or twice, like us.)




Cheap and Healthy DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte

I am a caffeine addict. I spend way too much money at Starbucks.

This is why a couple of months ago I decided to finally invest in a nice coffee maker and I bought a used Nespresso Originaline Inissia. Those of you who know the Swiss espresso brand will know that – while this is also a single serve brewing system using pods – it is nothing to compare with Keurig or the like. It is sooo much better. And since Nespresso’s patent on the Originaline pods ran out, there are pretty decent generics available that will not break the bank.

I still enjoy a nice Latte at Starbucks every now and then, but most of the time I will prepare a coffee at my house before heading to work, for less than a buck. Until now. Holiday season came and with it the famous Pumpkin Spice Latte … my Gold Card from Starbucks was my best friend again. I mostly drink my Starbucks Lattes with Coconut milk and without whipped cream, but still, a Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte can easily add up to 300 calories. With 2% milk and whipped cream, you are consuming 380 calories with your Grande PSL! This is why I tried re-creating a PSL at my house.

So here is a recipe for a homemade, DIY pumpkin spice latte, that requires little effort, tastes great, and will cost you about $1 and only about 120 calories.


Getting a PhD? Make sure you read!

Poor. Hopeless. Drained. What to consider when applying for a PhD program.

“Hey, I think it’s a really good idea to get a PhD! That way people have to call me Doctor!”

Thinking about getting a PhD? I have a feeling lots of PhD students do not even really know what they’re getting into. After the first weeks into my program, I felt like a bus had hit me. I got up in the mornings and wanted to quit. I certainly was not well prepared. ‘A’ journals? Conferences? Writing papers? Statistics? Research? A PhD student is at least a four-(probably five-) year commitment. Believe me, you don’t want to make this decision over a glass of wine at night. Here are a few things to consider before applying to a PhD in business. This possibly is the same (or worse) for other disciplines. (more…)

zucchini noodles or "zoodles"

Quick paleo lunches that are NOT salads

I have been on and off the paleo diet for about two years now and while I love experimenting with recipes and new ingredients, there is one thing that is still difficult: Finding the best paleo to eat “on the go”.

If you have a 9 to 5 office job and you’re trying to live by the paleo “rules”, you probably take a lot of salads to work. Which is great if you love salads, and I honestly do! I take mine in a freezable salad lunch box like this one and I don’t mind eating a salad every day. Avocado on my salad makes all the difference. However, my boyfriend is not a huge salad fan (unless it’s drowned in ranch dressing or loaded with sweet corn). Because he’s determined to try eating paleo with me (you can find his post on eating paleo here), I have been looking for quick paleo lunches and snack options that are NOT salads.