Thursday, November 21, 2013

White Bean Chicken Chili

Inspired by my favorite chili from Mezza Mediterranean Grill

During the Whole Life Challenge I made a LOT of chili, which can be a pretty versatile and filling meal if you're open to changing up the flavor palette. Mezza has this amazing white bean chicken chili that I eat at least once every two weeks for lunch. During the Whole Life Challenge, I had to ask the business for the ingredients list to know if I could eat it or not. Since it has a chicken stock base and uses canned ingredients preserved in citric acid or other WLC non-approved ingredients, I wasn't allowed to eat it. And, since I'm not into making my own chicken stock, I couldn't make it during the challenge either. If you want to be WLC compliant, you can make this with your own stock, use fresh ingredients instead of cans and ditch the corn starch. It's definitely possible. I'm not going to link you to any substitute resources, because I don't care enough. Google it.

Since they gave me the ingredients list, just not the proportions, I got to work as soon as the challenge ended. Believe it or not, I was able to find all the ingredients I needed at Aldi. While it didn't turn out identical to my Mezza favorite, it was a damn good and a recipe I'll likely be playing around a lot with in the future. Here it is:


  • 2 cans of great northern beans, 1 with liquid
  • 4oz can green chiles with juice
  • 2 jalepenos, diced, with as many seeds as you desire for spice level–I used all the seeds and it had a nice kick
  • 12oz jar roasted poblano peppers, drained
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 6c shredded chicken
  • 3.5c chicken stock
  • 2T corn starch
  • 1T black pepper
  • 1t sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1T cumin
  • 1/2T chili powder


  • Combine all ingredients in large crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours

Monday, November 18, 2013

Top 10 Whole Life Challenge Learnings in Photos

Well, I didn't think I would make it, but here is my complete top 10 List. If you've endeavored on the Whole Life Challenge, some of these may be familiar to you. Headlines link out to my posts that explain each learning. Here we go...

10. Business makes you fat

9. Larabars are god's gift to the world

8. Americans eat like shit

7. I'm not actually an alcoholic

6. Sugar is in literally everything

5. Rigid nutrition makes you a beast

4. Nutrition is terrible for relationships

3. Hermitism

2. I'm a huge control freak

1. I'm never, ever, ever doing this again

WLC Learnings #3 & #2

Welp, I guess since the winners of the Whole Life Challenge were just officially announced, I better hustle and get in my blog post with the final three Whole Life Challenge learnings. Numbers 3 and 2 are here, and I'll post #1 with the complete top 10 list.

WLC Learning #3 - Hermitism

It turns out that when you can't drink or really even go out to eat, you relegate yourself to a hermit in the American culture. Sure, sure, there are a finite number of restaurants where you can comply with the WLC without making fast enemies with the wait staff ("Oh, um, soda water actually isn't the same as seltzer water, thanks anyway). However, you friends don't really care to go to those restaurants because you live in Chicago. Deep dish pizza flows like water. Gourmet burgers live on every corner. Specialty donuts, for heaven's sake!

Some friends show their support with unthinkable acts of kindness. Yes, they'll blow off the craft beer and bacon festival to have a WLC compliant brunch with you (Thanks, Reed, Rich and Abby!). But invitations to fun events drop off because people know you can't enjoy them. Or worse, you get Whole Life Ditched when people back out on plans, deciding they can't possibly accommodate for you.

You don't help yourself either because you're also Whole Life Depressed, switching between your three-headed monsters, lacking energy and motivation to reach out to other WLC people.

The end result was that we saved money, lost weight and got healthier. And did it alone.

WLC Learning #2 - I'm a huge control freak

Usually I forget how intense the control freak part of me is because it's channeled into work and working out and whatever freakishness is left I've learned to burry deep within, behind a veil of good old fashioned apathy. If you say you don't care about something enough, you can even convince yourself.

But my control freak came back and punched me in the face when this Whole Life Challenge took away my control. Squabble about whatever control you believe I had all you want. My perception was reality. 

The Whole Life Challenge dictated the most foundational of my human needs. When and how I ate, slept, exercised, etc. Rather than making me feel empowered, it took away my power to control these factors myself in the way that I wanted. Couldn't go shopping with a friend because I had to stay home and cook. Denied a late night comedy show because I was mandated 7 hours of sleep. I felt enslaved. Handcuffed to a lifestyle.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Whole Life Challenge In Review

Sorry guys, sorry. 

I'm really sorry. I know I let my daily readers down with no immediate grand end post to the Whole Life Challenge. But, you see, I've been a little busy. Eating my face off. Take a look:

  • Breakfast - Guinness and a big stack of chocolate chip pancakes
  • Lunch - Pequods deep dish pizza w/ sausage and pepperoni
  • Dinner - 3 soft shell tacos
  • Roughly 12 hours of drinking

  • Brunch - Dunkin Donuts double chocolate donut, a large coffee with extra cream & sugar and a sausage wakeup wrap
  • Dinner - 1/2 a large Papa John's pizza
  • Breakfast - Omelet (I needed a break)
  • Lunch - Cocoa Krispies with milk...from a cow, not almonds
  • Dinner - Portillos large cheese fries with extra cheese and a chocolate cake shake
  • Breakfast/Lunch - Fruit and chili (Fearing the unravel of 60 days hard work)
  • Dinner - 2 giant slices of leftover Pequod's (Screw the hard work)

So how did I fair?

I'll post the final 3 WLC learnings over the next couple of days, but it feels most appropriate now to share my final reflection as a whole. Since this whole blog has been subjective I've done my best to quantify my results for the review.

Baseline measures

Weight: Lost 6 lbs

Waist: Lost 1 inch

Hips: Lost 1 inch

Workout: Not. A. Damn. Change. I cannot begin to explain how furious I was. Good thing we had already shattered the mirrors in the gym with barbells long ago, because I may have shattered one with my fist. I of course came down with a helluva cold the night before the retest. Despite knowing that I am in a much better state of physical fitness, it did not come through in my results. 

Points: -14 points total. That's 38 deductions plus 24 blog points.

Sentiment Graphing

Just for you, because I know how invested you are in my Whole Life Journey, I went back and read each blog post to rate my daily sentiment towards the Whole Life Challenge. It's not meant to portray how fit or healthy I felt, but my attitudes and emotions towards the WLC, which literally dictated my mood every single day. In my opinion, it's the most important measure. If I'm not happy, fitness and health don't matter.

WLC Mood

While I'm surprised to see that I was probably trending a little more positive than negative during the second half of the challenge, it's because I allowed myself to cheat more. In any event, my mental and emotional imbalance is clear.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Marriage Is Absolutely For Me

I'm of the age where my almost married, newly married or wish-they-were married twenty- or thirty-something friends will post sentimental articles about marriage. What it should mean and the terrible atrocity that has apparently come to replace it. Typically the articles are religious, and always they make me want to vomit.

Today, about 685 of my Facebook friends shared this blog post: Marriage Isn't For You. The author explains that in his long-term relationship and early into his ensuing marriage, he was selfish. In the coming of age tale, his father aids in his rite of passage by sharing the revelation that, "Marriage isn't for you." It's for the person you love, it's for your future children, it's for your families.

While a touching read that warms your heart almost as much as the pumpkin spice latte you're undoubtedly sipping as you read it, I have to disagree.

Marriage is absolutely for me. 

And I don't mean the bride-centric wedding planning (Although, that's for me, too). I believe that before you can know who you love and how to best love them, you have to take a selfish journey and learn what makes you happy and seek out someone who supports it. Forget the ethereal world of kids you may or may not have, families you may or may not engage in loving relationships with. When shit hits the fan, when all the fluffy, idealistic variables are removed, if your white picket fence happens to burn to the goddamn ground, who do you want standing next to you? Do they know you that you need laughs instead of hugs? Are they onboard with what's important to you not just 10 years from now but 10 minutes from now?

Without knowing what makes you happy, you'll never find someone you're totally compatible with, and you'll never fill that compatibility void with pure, unadulterated love. That's how people wind up in crappy relationships that their religion tells them they're stuck in. It's why dumb women marry equally dumb men and tolerate mistreatment because he'll probably be a good father some day, or marry into a family for security and stability rather than truly focusing on the individual, only to learn the individual wasn't right for them once the veil of family was stripped away. The "Walmart Marriage" the author refers to blames the easy return policy, when really the issue is the inferior product purchased based on impulsive ideals of happiness.

For example, if I wasn't aware that I was prone to psychotic, rage-filled, low-blood sugar episodes, I wouldn't know that I needed a fiancé like Matt who can deal with me, because deal with me he must. If Matt didn't know that he needed a fiancée like me who could roll with his unbridled, outrageous humor, his future marriage would be far less fulfilling, and his closet far less full of fanny packs. And if both of us hadn't learned, quite selfishly, from past relationships what makes each of us happy, we would never have found each other.

You will never be fully happy as a couple if you cannot be happy individually. So my future marriage is for me. Matt's future marriage is for him. And because of that, not in spite of it, our marriage will be for us.