Archive for the 'Paleo' Category

05
Mar
13

The great evil

It’s been over 2 months since I started the whole paleo adventure. Weight is still down … in fact, it hovers around 200-203, which is what I would hover around when I was eating shabbily and mountain biking or riding Rails-to-Trails several times a week. Also, this is at a time when I’m not actually working out too hard, as I seemed to have injured my rotator cuff. So, I’m still kind of  psyched for the upcoming warm weather when my shoulder is better and I can start riding often.

The other day, I was wondering what I could do better in my eating habits. Technically, February was full of fail — from Valentine’s Day sweets to a Girl Scout cookie binge that left my body crushed by my stomach’s soul happy — and I found myself wondering what I could do to break this plateau I was on and get back on track.

As fate would have it, I ran into another paleo eater, and as we chatted, she posed an interesting question: “Are you pro- or anti-potato?”

To me, this should be a dumb question — potatoes would be a “whole food,” not a grain or dairy. It was already a staple of my “new” diet. But then I did a little research, and was appalled.

Not so much about the potato. About people in general.

Apparently the potato is a great source of discontent. Some say it’s fine, others say they are a starch-filled death, while a third group was like “in moderation.” Some quoted chemists. others quoted archaeologists — and it was maddening. They argued acids, talked about “toxins in the peels,” and for someone who wanted a simple answer, it was all just blah blah blah.

To put things into perspective, this would be like trying to find ways to be a better Christian, and stumbling into a forum of Catholics and Protestants arguing over the word “devout,” with one person quoting the Pope, another quoting Martin Luther, and a third saying, “You have to do what you feel is right in your heart.”

I opted to throw the whole argument out the window and stay off paleo sites, as it’s just another way for people to try and make themselves stand out or feel superior to others. I found thats a level of paleo snobbery I never want to reach — in fact, probably 9o% of these folks would tell me that I’m not eating paleo at all. Whatever. I’m happy about how I feel and am looking.

But just for kicks and giggles, I’ve decided to reduce my potato intake and eventually drop them from my diet for like a month to see what happens. I mean, it’s not like they won’t be around later on, and at the very least, I can satisfy my curiosity.

Just one more step on a long journey, I suppose …

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29
Jan
13

Week 4: The Big Cheat

Because, well, they do.

By this time, I pretty much have myself in a goove when it comes to my eating.

Groove. Maybe rut. Whatever.

Paleo gets along great with my body. I eat a lot. I feel good. I miss bread and cheese, but I know it’s a mental thing, not a physical craving. And I’ve found I like some new things that I’ve never had before … like almond milk. I drink that stuff like crazy.

Now, if there’s one lesson that life has taught me, it’s that shit happens. In the paleo world, that was last weekend. It wasn’t like I had unstoppable cravings, or that I couldn’t make better choices … it was I just really wanted some bad food. I didn’t go the fast-food route (bitch please, I got SOME dignity), but I did have the worst cheat meals that I’ve had since I’ve started this adventure.

EXPECTATIONS: Honestly, I expected to hover in terms of weight. Adding muscle, dropping fat … if I dropped anything, I’d pretty much call it a miracle. So, my goals were to work out hard, eat like the new normal, and let things go from there.

CHEATS: BIG CHEATS this week. Went to Primanti’s cause I was jonesing for a giant fish sandwich. I didn’t eat the bread or cheese, but the fish was breaded, as were the wings I had with it. Next day, breaded wings (again … hey man, it’s hockey season). Late that night, a couple slices of Fiori’s pizza (the big no no — flour and cheese!).

OBSERVATIONS: From what I’ve read from other paleo people, when you cheat, your body should swell up and baby aliens should shoot out of your chest and face … and after you die, your soul goes to paleo hell, in which you are judged by a tribe of cavemen who will put you into a Dorito taco and feed you to raptors for all eternity.

Well, those things didn’t come to pass (yet). But here’s what I did notice:

  1. My sinuses almost immediately jammed up. I didn’t think about this … but I haven’t used my neti pot since I’ve gone paleo. Normally this squirrelly warm-cold-warm-cold weather should have me stuffed up and having sinus headaches galore. I only actually NOTICED getting stuffy after I ate the breading.
  2. The pizza produced the same sinus bomb, and in addition, I got a tightening in my gut that felt like a ball was there. It wasn’t agonizing or anything … just noticeable … and that feeling was gone by morning.  

Everything went back to normal as soon as I ate paleo again — but yeah, now I know why I felt so shitty for so long — keep eating all the bad stuff day in and day out, and you never get a chance to “feel right.”

RESULTS: 205.4. Dropping like a pound a week would be cool in my book. That would put me around 200 for the start of my mountain biking season, which means by mid summer, I’d probably end up in the low 190s. I honestly can’t remember the last time I would was that weight … maybe like 10 years ago, when I was hardcore riding daily.

OVERALL: I’m just in a “plugging away” kind of mode. Learned the valuable lesson that a treat here and there won’t kill you, but does have effects. But yeah, still planning on plugging away through March and into summer. It’s just too easy to eat like this, and I can’t argue with the benefits — but posts about it will likely be bi-weekly or monthly or when I hit what I feel is a milestone of sorts, like “Hey! I’m under 200!” or “Hey, I can fit into a smaller pants size!”

22
Jan
13

Week 3: When the going gets tough

Week 3 has basically come and gone. I normally start one of these posts early on and add/edit as I go. This week, no such luck.

But I did start going to the gym this week. I did everything light, mainly to avoid straining tendons and injuring myself. I only got 1 class of yoga in, and opted to start spinning this upcoming week. With Week 4, I start going heavier with the weights.

Since I’m short on time, let’s just get to it, shall we?

Week 3. Here’s my thoughts going into it:

EXPECTATIONS: I know there was no way I was gonna drop another 5 lbs. At some point the body adapts and dramatic drops go away. I figured I’d end up around 206ish.

Also, I realize that this is where my body will start to hit more of the visceral fat, and the only way that goes is with proper diet and exercise. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I certainly didn’t become fat overnight. This will take time. When it comes to making a big change, patience is indeed a virtue.

CHEATS: Oh, there was a lot of cheating this time … mainly, some Christmas candy that I found as I was putting away my Christmas decorations. Also some other assorted stuff … but no bread or rice or dairy … just some sugar and some wheat flour. Eh, I could accept it.

The thing I find I have a problem with is “the old food” that is still lingering in the house. In the paleo book, the author is all “Just throw it out!” Well, I can’t. I can give the boxed/packaged stuff to a food bank, but that opened container of breaded chicken fingers? The opened bag of ravioli? Can’t do it — it’s against my nature. So, I will have cheats until they are used up or on pawn them off on to someone else. I accept it.

OBSERVATIONS: Still feeling really good. I can see a noticeable difference in my gut, as in I’m definitely becoming leaner. I bought a new pair of jeans a size smaller than I have been wearing when I started this, and I was able to fit in them without sucking in my gut. In fact, when I started this adventure, I couldn’t even button the same size pants that I had in the closet. So to be able to wear the smaller size comfortably … I’ll call that a win.

I sleep like a rock now. I have a fairly obnoxious ringtone when I get mail … and if I forget to turn my phone on “silent” and I get mail … guaranteed it would wake me up. It went off last night. I didn’t hear a thing.

RESULTS: 206.2. This is probably a trend that will continue … 1 or 2 lbs a week, or even a gain here and there, followed by a drop. Not concerned.

OVERALL: “When the going gets tough, the the tough get going.” That’s where I’m at right now. It’s really easy to get discouraged when the scale doesn’t go like you’d expect it to. However, with my pants size going down, I am still just as eager to continue the paleo lifestyle as I was in the beginning.

In fact, I’m fairly certain I’m going to extend this through February, just to see where it all goes.

15
Jan
13

Week 2: Gaining my feet

With the first week of eating paleo down, I decided it was time to get back to the gym.

At first, I thought I’d stick to my normal weight-training regime … I’d start off with a week of light weights to see how everything felt, and then I’d gradually move on to heavier stuff in the upcoming weeks. On Tuesday, out of curiosity, I asked one of the gym attendants if the spinning and yoga classes had been filled up by resolutioners. She said, oddly enough, that the classes in the afternoon had been smaller than normal as of late. This gave me an idea.

This has nothing to do with this post. I just thought it was funny.

I decided I would try lifting MWF, do spinning and yoga on T-Th, take Saturday as a rest day, and possibly take a kettle ball class on Sunday. This way, I could get a lot of variety and cardio training in while waiting for mountain biking season to start. However, I am a little worried that I will overtrain. So, we’ll see how it goes.

Tuesday was also the day were I strained a tendon in the back of my neck, so I opted to hold off on all of these grand plans until next week.

The other thing I’m doing differently? I started drinking coffee. I know it sounds weird, especially since I’ve been working nights for almost 20 years — but I had a hankering for it. So, I now have coffee before working out.

Week 2. Here’s my thoughts going into it:

EXPECTATIONS: With last week’s 5 lbs drop, I don’t know what to expect. Weight wise, it’s dropping much faster than anticipated. On one hand, I am still thinking a 2-3 lb drop will be the norm — but on the other, I’m in uncharted territory. Exercise will certainly help drop weight, but I’ll be starting to put on muscle mass again, which will drive my weight up.

If I have to guess, I’ll say I’ll end up at a solid 206 by the next weigh in.

CHEATS: Nothing drastic … some cucumber sauce with my gyro (didn’t eat the pita), some kung pao chicken (probably corn starch in the sauce).

OBSERVATIONS: The coffee definitely put a much needed zip into my workouts.

Wednesday was a weirdly rough day — if I had to classify it as anything, it would be “withdrawal.” I wanted a Big Mac and some Little Debbie Oatmeal Snack Cakes in the worst way. It could have also been the plague or just simple fatigue … but whatever it was, it went away after I chugged down some vege juice and slept in. Thursday, I was right as rain.

Also, I noticed that my body seems to stay a same weight for a few days, and then drops.

RESULTS: 207.8. That’s almost 10 lbs in 2 weeks, without a lot of exercise (M, T, walking a lot on Friday, and back to the gym on Monday). Pretty pleased so far. When I was essentially counting calories before, it took almost 4 weeks to hit this point.

OVERALL: My energy has leveled out a bit this week. I sleep a lot better. I keep feeling better, too.

Very curious as to Week 3, because this is where things should slow dramatically. Initial drops are always fast.

Last year when I rode my bike a lot and watched my calories, I was down to 203, and could never seem to drop lower than that. We’ll see what happens in the next week or two.

08
Jan
13

Week 1: Crawling

When the New Year arrived, I pretty much felt like I was ready to do this thing.

I had done a bit of reading on paleo, and it seemed that the first week of a change in diet was always the easiest and hardest for folks. Easiest, because they were motivated, their will power was generally high, and they were prepared. Hardest, because they were breaking old habits and fighting cravings.

Stage 1: Gotta start somewhere!

In giving this paleo thing a try, I was fortunate. I don’t have a sweet tooth, so giving up sugar was easy. My biggest vice was soda, and that was easy enough to give up — instead of a Coke, I grab water or an unsweetened tea.

Dairy? I’m not a big cheese/milk kind of guy. Giving this up wasn’t especially difficult, mainly because I really didn’t have it a lot in the first place.

The other stuff, well, that’s a different story. I love me some bread. And pasta. And rice. And corn. And black beans. And burritos with rice and black bean and corn salsa. You get the idea. But, even though paleo is a basically a lifestyle (not a quickie diet), I am only committing myself to a 30-day trial run. If I hate it, I can go back to the drawing board and try something else.

So, here’s what I was thinking as I went into this:

EXPECTATIONS: None. And when I say this, it’s because some people go into a change like this and expect immediate and drastic results. I am not. I figure I will drop a few pounds (like 2, maybe 3) in the first week, and that will be it. But if it’s more or less, I really don’t care. The road to better health is a marathon, not a sprint.

Also, I have to factor in a learning curve. I’m going to make bad decisions, but I’m cool with that. I’m looking for a solid start — that’s it.

GOALS: Honestly, in this first week, my only goal is to get through it.

You gotta walk before you can run, and you gotta crawl before you can walk. I’m in the crawl stage. But in long-range terms, yeah, I have goals (and they are with or without paleo). Among them: I want to be as light yet as strong as possible going into mountain biking season, which usually starts some time in late March for me. Longer-term goals, I want my 34″ waist jeans to fit a little loosely by September.

I don’t have a specific weight goal, because weight is arbitrary. Two people can be the same height and the same weight, and have drastically different bodies. I go by how my clothes are fitting, and how I’m feeling.

EXERCISE: None this week … mainly because the gym is still packed with college, high school and resolutioner folks. I’ll wait a week for the herd to thin before I go.

CHEATS: I did have a few cheats this week, but nothing huge. Breading on chicken is a big one. Had some General Tso’s … gonna have to try and order it “naked” next time (even though, technically, there’s corn starch in the sauce). Had meals at Eat n Park and Chili’s, and chicken was breaded there, too. Plus, that stuff is processed all to hell — but that’s the price you pay for eating out at chain restaurants.

OBSERVATIONS: Honestly, this first week wasn’t bad at all. I wanted bread — because sometimes it feels weird eating a burger or some sausage without it. But that’s just breaking the cycle of what I am used to … no big deal.

The main thing that was weird for me was the feeling after I eat. I’m full, but I feel like something is missing … like there’s an empty spot still in my stomach. I figure it’s because I’m used to my body bloating out when I eat grains — especially rice — so it’s weird NOT feeling it. That feeling is taking some getting used to, because I want more food, yet I don’t want food. It’s kinda confusing.

The unexpected? Well, four things:

  1. I no longer want to nap/feel tired after I eat. That is different. I’m done eating, and I’m ready to get back to my day. I have no desire to lay down and let things digest.
  2. My energy levels are a lot higher … and by a lot, I mean A LOT. I no longer need to nap before work, which makes me more productive.
  3. That nagging, leftover pain from my mountain bike crash disappeared on the third day of eating paleo. I found this odd, because I always figured something in my back was still out of whack, which was causing the pain. At my last chiro visit, the doc didn’t really do a lot, even though the specific reason I was there was due to that nagging pain. I said to him, “I guess this pain is something I’m just gonna have to live with…” He simply said, “Well, possibly.”
  4. The “mind fog” that was mentioned in the book lifted around the 5th day for me. I feel more alert, and overall just more “with it.”

RESULTS: Weigh in came in at 211.5. Lost 5 lbs in 7 days … not too shabby!

Now, technically, I’ve been weighing myself daily, just for curiosity’s sake. On Sunday, I hit 209.2, then on Monday, 212.6 (after 2 cheat meals: Eat n Park for lunch AND having General Tso’s that night). So, I’m not putting a lot of faith in the scale, per se.

I’m figuring 2 things happened with that bounceback:

  1. I shed that holiday weight that came from eating a lot of sugar (I was a total cookie monster). Easy come, easy go.
  2. That “gain” came because my body thinks I’m shedding weight too quickly. It happens. It’s normal. I’m not concerned. Gonna just stay the course.

I think the next 2 weeks will be more telling, as the holiday weight is now off, and I started back to the gym on Monday. It’s almost like I should consider 212 lbs as my starting point, weight-wise.

OVERALL:  I like having more energy and more focus. I like feeling leaner. Not having that nagging pain in my hip and back is a godsend. That alone is worth me eating paleo for the rest of my life.

I’m pretty certain I can stick to this. It’s easy. It just requires planning and time management in order to make the meals. Cost wise, it’s about the same as I was spending on eating out — and if I did an analysis, it’s probably a little less. Bear in mind, I’m NOT doing all the grass-fed meats as the only place I could get that stuff is 20+ miles away. I do have a local market that I’ve been raiding for fresh veges, which is great. Maybe in the future I’ll start raiding Trader Joe’s — but for now, no.

07
Jan
13

And why not?

How I feel about “resolution” posts.

It’s a new year, and with the new year comes the urge to try new things.

This year starts off with the normal resolutions for myself: My annual “Ramadan” (where I give up booze until mid-March); my promise to myself to get more organized; my promise to myself to get healthier. Again, there is nothing new here, and I normally wouldn’t even blog about this — but the “healthier me” sparked some interest when I mentioned it on Twitter.

Let me explain.

The first is always the easiest — many think it would be the hardest, but I’m one of those folks who can have 1 beer, 12 beers or none, depending upon how I feel. Giving it up until mid-March, no big deal. The second is more challenging, but really, most folks don’t want to read about how I bought such-and-such a product which enabled me to get some shit better organized.

The third is a little trickier. After my mountain biking crash last year, I’ve been trying to push myself to be healthier, but really, to no avail. I mean, when I watched my diet and exercised appropriately, I was down to 203 lbs … but could never drop below it. After awhile, the weight crept back on. I hoped to stick to about 208 through winter, but once the holidays hit and I got inundated with a million Christmas cookies, I was done.

I’ll be flat-out honest here: My Jan. 1 weigh-in was 216.5 (not my heaviest, but up there). I had the remnants of my cycling-crash and subsequent chiro-visit pain lingering in my back and left hip. I tend to sleep 5 hours or 12 hours — never really getting a good night’s sleep because the pain in my hip or back would constantly wake me up and force me to switch positions. That same pain makes sitting for a long time difficult. I took my blood pressure on one of those drug store machines … if I would have had it taken by a doc, I would have been given meds. I hate the idea of meds — I’d rather alter my lifestyle than get on the endless cycle of meds, side effects and meds for the side effects. My diet was rather shittastic and I haven’t exercised in weeks due to a pec injury and the holidays.

Needless to say, health-wise, I’m worse off than I anticipated.

So, this year, I decided to try something different. A friend on Facebook posted a link to her friend who basically was in the same situation as I was. The post also showed his results from doing the paleo diet and exercise. Knowing that I suck at doing the ole counting calories trick (I did it over the summer … it stunk), I read the book and figured “What the heck? I’ll give it a shot for 30 days.”

If you’ve never heard of it, paleo basically has you eating like our ancestors did as they evolved … eating lean meat, fruits and veges … you know, things they could easily scavenge or forage for. No dairy, no grains, no beans. And, as it should go without saying, no heavily processed foods.

Normally, I wouldn’t be writing about this as there’s a billion and one blogs out there about this topic. But when I mentioned on Twitter that I was doing this, a few people asked if I would write about my experience on it … so meh, why not?

I think my posts will be Tuesdays, which will mark each full week that I am doing this. I will throw out totals on the weight drop, and basically how I’m dealing with making meals and/or eating out on my stupidly busy schedule.

Who knows, maybe I’ll be that next “friend of a friend” that inspires someone to give it a shot …




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