Monday, February 28, 2011

Day Nine - Paleo Basics from a Novice

Well, since "advertising" my Paleo status yesterday on Facebook, I have had quite a few inquiries as to what the heck Paleo is and what the heck I am doing.  So, I thought I would explain the diet plan as I understand it.  Please note though that I am just a baby at learning how to live this lifestyle!  Heck, I am only on Day 9!  I am sure there are MANY things I am still doing wrong compared to the few things I am doing correctly.  So far, I have read Robb Wolf's book, The Paleo Solution, cover to cover, read some information on various different websites, and just recently downloaded The Primal Blueprint, by Mark Sisson to my Kindle (although I have not started reading it yet).  All I can testify to at this point is that after 9 days of eating Paleo and following other guidelines by Mr. Wolf, I feel great and have lost weight.  I do not feel bloated.  My problems from inflammation (allergies/sinuses, plantar fasciitis, muscle aches and pains) have all but disappeared.  My blood sugar readings are absolute perfect.  And most of all, as a sufferer of chronic anemia for the past 3 years, I finally have energy!

So the idea of all this is to eat the way our ancestors in paleolithic times ate.  Think "pre-agriculture"...think "Hunters and Gatherers".

What to eat?  Mostly plants and animals.  This boils down to a lot of meat, poultry, and fish and a lot of non-starchy vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds.  For fats, think olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, and avocados.  If weight loss is your goal, Mr. Wolf recommends no more than one serving of fruit a day.

What not to eat?  OK - Don't freak out...seriously, once you try it and take the plunge, it's not near as bad as you think it is going to be...for those of you who know me well, seriously, did you think I would EVER be a person advocating this lifestyle?  But, here I am doing it.  So, it must be do-able if I can do it, right?  So, here we go.  No grains (this includes wheat, barley, corn, oats, and rice...yes, pasta is made from wheat), no dairy, no legumes (including most beans and peanuts), and no processed foods.  Think clean and natural.

What to drink?  Coffee, tea, and water.  No creamer, no sugar, no artificial sweeteneres.  I am struggling the most with no Diet Coke and black cofffee.  As I've said before on the blog, giving up the Diet Coke was the hardest.  But believe it or not, I have sort of lost my craving for them already.  As for the coffee, I used to drink it black all the time, but somewhere along the road of life, I discovered Half & Half and then about a year ago, a dear, sweet friend exposed me to the joy of Heavy Cream in my coffee.  I didn't make that a habit, but boy, was it delicious.  Going back to black coffee has been harder than I thought.  I did buy some almond milk yesterday at the store, but haven't tried it yet.  I may do that in the morning and see what that does.

What else?  Mr. Wolf recommends 8-9 hours of sleep each evening in total darkness.  Mr. Wolf has a exercise program based upon the lifestyle that our paleolithic ancestors lived so many years ago.  It doesn't involve long distance endurance training, but shorter more concentrated efforts mixed in with other natural movements (like walking).  To be honest, this is the last step of the program that I am tackling and I am just now starting to do some of the exercises each morning and evening.

I am sure there are many more details that I am leaving out, but if you are interested in the "down and dirty" beginner's primer for what to do, this at least gives you the basic idea.

Now, I do have one thing that some of you may not have.  If I did not have this one thing, I do agree that this might be MUCH, MUCH harder.  That one thing that I have is a very supportive spouse that is doing this program with me.  The day we started, we completely gutted our pantry of anything non-paleo.  We emptied out cereal boxes, pasta, flour, sugar, canned meals and soups, boxed dinners (Hamburger Helper), salad dressings, crackers, cookies, and many other things.  We left these things on the dining room table for a few days to see how it would go and then ended up donating anything that hadn't already been opened to the food pantry at our church last weekend.  From the freezer, we got rid of frozen prepared dinners, bread, frozen pasta, pizzas, and ice cream.  Without these things in our home, it has made this SO much easier.  If I was tackling this on my own and the rest of my family were eating the way we used to eat, I admit that this might be much harder.  I can only say that I have much gratitude to the big guy up above that He blessed me with such a loving and supportive spouse.

And hubby will tell you already that he is totally on board.  At first he was doing this with me to support me, but now it has changed in that he is doing it for himself, simply because he feels so much better than he did a week ago.

Well, hope I have answered some of your questions.  As to the things I am still not doing correctly, I guess I will discover those as I go!  ;-)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Week One - The Results Are In!

OK, fellow cave dwellers....I wasn't going to weigh myself for the entire 30 day experiment, but I just couldn't resist stepping on the scale this morning.  I have been eating Paleo now for exactly seven days.  I feel better than I have felt in months.  As much as this diet (lifestyle?) might seem to be a short-term fad, I am really seeing the possibility that it could be a life-long change.  The science and research that I have read this week convinces me more and more that wheat products especially are the cause of many of my health issues.   So, after one week of eating Paleo, I have lost 7.4 pounds!  Hubby has lost almost 5.

Neither one of us is really trying to lose weight, we have just changed the foods we are allowing ourselves to eat.  Wow, it has been so easy to eat this way.  Satisfying and delicious, but most of all, I don't have to worry about counting calories, calculating points, journaling my intake, or having guilt when I eat something I shouldn't.  As I have written about already this week, I know I am still in the honeymoon period, but right now, doing this for 30 days seems like a no brainer.

My mother-in-law asked hubby today what happens after 30 days.  Good question.  I guess we decide if we want to continue this lifestyle or not.  I have been doing a lot of reading about people who eat Paleo 6 days a week and have one "cheat" day.  But, then everything I read about that says they always feel like crap for a couple of days, what's the point?  Right now, I really have no desire to cheat.  Today at church, there was a retirement reception for a church staff member.  The obligatory cake, punch, and snacks were provided.  Neither hubby or I were even tempted to want a piece of cake.  In fact, the idea of doing so almost revolted us.  I keep thinking about the science behind this diet and how my digestive system seems to treat gluten like an why go and irritate it when things are going so well?  It just doesn't seem worth it.

Now, of course, this isn't just a eating change, but there are other aspects to this program and my doctor told me that when I read the book, I needed to pay attention to all parts of it.  As you might expect, one part of the Paleo lifestyle involves physical activity...but not like what I have been used to in the past.  Thank Heavens!  Let's just say that miles and miles on a treadmill does not appeal to me in the least!  I will speak more about the physical activity part of this in the next week or so.

The other part of this lifestyle involves rest and the time your body needs daily to recuperate.  We have ordered blackout curtains for our bedroom and they are due to arrive tomorrow.  Mr. Wolf encourages 8-9 houurs of sleep EVERY night in complete darkness.  You will have to read his book or do some web searching to find out the reasons why complete darkness is so crucial to our sleep and rest.  I am anxious to get the curtains and see if this makes a difference in the way we feel each morning when we wake up to start our day.  We live next to a few neighbors who don't seem to care if their floodlights/porchlights/houselights are on all night.  Despite having wood blinds, our bedroom is never really completely dark.  It will be interesting to see what happens.

Tonight is hubby's birthday.  I always make him one of his favorite meals.  Normally, I usually make homemade enchiladas, my famous barracho beans, rice, homemade guacamole, and chips...and then make him his favorite carrot cake with cream cheese frosting that he loves so much.  However, tonight, we are having grilled NY strip steaks with sauteed onions and mushrooms, "mashed potatoes" (ok, mashed cauliflower with garlic and pepper...still delicious!), and roasted asparagus for his birthday dinner.  Instead of a birthday cake, I bought and cut up a fresh pineapple...his favorite fruit in the world.  Should be just as delicious, is totally paleo-friendly, and we can eat as much as we want and enjoy the delicious taste of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables (fresh from the Farmer's Market!).

Loving the paleo life...and 7.4 pounds lighter in just one is good!  ;-)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day Seven - At the Farmer's Market

This morning, hubby and I decided to take the kids down to the local Farmer's Market to shop.  What a treasure trove we found!   Fresh garlic on the bulb.  Gorgeous looking carrots.  Button, Portabello, and Oyster mushrooms.  Spinach.  Bulb Onions.  Fresh herbs. Cabbage.  Lettuces galore.  And to top it off, we found also found different kinds of jerky and fresh-made sausages.  We will be trying buffalo, turkey, and elk jerky this week in addition to the traditional beef jerky.  I was SOOO very tempted by some lamb...but it was so pricey that I didn't take that plunge.  It was a lot of fun exploring the different fresh foods and taking our children in hand as we embarked on this adventure.  There were all kinds of people there.  We saw entire families likes us with kids in tow.  There were elderly couples walking hand in hand, chefs in their chef whites from some of the city's finest restaurants, several people alone, but mainly just a wide variety of people of all shapes and sizes who are interested in getting fresh, locally grown produce.  We will definitely be visiting again.

Today marks the end of our first week on this 30 day challenge to eat only Paleo-friendly foods.  I remain amazed that I am happily satisfied with the diet and am not missing my processed carbs.  I continue to have energy and to feel good physically, mentally, and emotionally.

One of the biggest appeals of this "diet" is the total absence of having to count portions, weigh foods, record calories, and calculate "points" for the foods we are eating.  We basically eat what we want, when we want.  I am not worried about measuring anything.  What freedom it is to feel like you are eating healthy and not have all of the "baggage" that usually comes with doing that.  The funny thing though is that my appetite is reduced.  The protein really does seem to satisfy my appetite and keep me satisfied until it is time for the next meal.  I do not have those mid-afternoon snack cravings like I used to have.

So, what about the "diet demons" that I have spoken about before?  So far, they are leaving me alone.  I cannot quite figure out why.  Perhaps this lifestyle (notice I didn't say diet!) truly is for me.  I know I sound doubtful, but I have LOTS of experience with many different kinds of diets and obviously, none of them have given me long-term success.  At some point, on every diet I have ever tried, the "diet demons" pay me a visit with their plans of sabotage.  They work on me emotionally and physically and batter my self-esteem back into oblivion so that I finally give up, admit defeat, and gain the weight back (plus some more usually).  I guess there is a part of me that is just waiting on the inevitable time that the "diet demons" will start beating me up and get me to start cheating and doubting.  Somehow, mentally...I need to get past that and believe that possibly this might be a lifetime choice of how to eat and live.  It could totally change the rest of my life to not have to be constantly concerned with my weight, finding clothes that fit, worrying about health issues, being worried about what others think about "the fat girl" in the room, and my lack of ability to do fun, physical things with my family.  The possibility of that change really happening is frightening and a bit intimidating.

But one thing is for sure.  At this point, I am willing to keep going as I am going and keep trying.  As long as I feel good, have energy, am satisfied and happy with the food I am eating, and feel physically better than I have in months, then I will keep going on living life as a cave mom in my little neck of the world.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day Five - Who Knew Wheat was the Bad Guy?

I can't believe it has been 5 days already!  I thought I would be miserable at this point, missing my easy carbs and dying for anything with a bunch of melted cheese on top.  Not the case!  I am happy and satisfied with the diet we are eating.  I wonder how much of this is still because I am on the "honeymoon" period of the diet, how much of it is just true willpower, and how much of this is actually true.  Perhaps I truly am satisfied and happy on a Paleo diet?

I have continued to read more and more of Robb Wolf's book, as well as doing more and more research on the Internet about eating Paleo.  The research is amazing.  It is so convincing.  There are so many reasons to NOT eat wheat and its by-products.  There is a part of me that is almost angry that this information is not more readily available.  I mean, I've been living by the food pyramid endorsed by our government for years.  But now that I am reading more and more about how our digestive track works with the different types of foods we eat, it is truly scary to think how many people might be helped dramatically by just giving up wheat products.

I am still only 5 days in, so I am not convinced yet that this is something that I can do long-term, nor something that may have a major effect on my physical self.  All I know is that so far, I am impressed with the results.  I have energy.  My blood sugar readings are staying low.  My allergies are better than they have been in weeks.  And the strangest one of all, I have suffered from plantar fasciitis for over a year...miserably...and I realized this morning that my heel and foot haven't hurt now for several days.  If this diet can help cure my plantar fasciitis, then that in and of itself is enough reason to keep going!

It's a learning process as I go....but the more I learn, the more I am convinced that this lifestyle might be something that can dramatically change the quality and quantity of the number of years I have left on this place we call earth.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day Four - "The Real Thing" - Nature's Soft Drink

OK, I admit it.  I have a small addiction to Diet Coke.  Between my husband and I, we were going through about five 12-packs a week.  Yeah, I know...not good for me.

Believe it or not, giving up the Diet Coke was more of a concern to me than thinking about life without wheat products.

I can remember when Diet Coke first came senior year of high school (yes, I'm old.)  As a diabetic, I had never been able to drink soft drinks with my friends.  The only thing that had been available up to that point that I remember was Tab and Fresca, both of which were made with saccharin.  When Diet Coke hit the market in a red and white can, it was like I was issued an invitation to join in a normal life.  I can even remember when they switched from the white and red can to the silver and red the time, I hated it.  Who did they think they were switching anything with my favorite beverage of choice?  Oh yeah, they owned the company...I guess they can do whatever they want.

I was a die-hard loyalist to the Coca-Cola brand.  Their marketing people would have loved me.  If hubby and I went out to eat and ordered a Diet Coke and the waitress piped up with, "We don't have Diet Coke, is Diet Pepsi ok?", we would turn up our noses and scoff at the thought that someone would even think Diet Pepsi was even comparable to the greatest soft drink ever invented.

It's not that I didn't like water.  I did.  I just would ALWAYS prefer a Diet Coke whenever I wanted something to drink.  My children will tell you that I always have a can of Diet Coke next to me wherever I am.  As a teacher, I have had students give me cases of Diet Coke for Christmas instead of the obligatory ABC ornament or Starbucks card.  I have had neighbors call me at 11pm at night looking for a Diet Coke because they were "needing a fix" and they knew I would have one cold and chilled and ready for the top to be popped.  When playing a "wish game" one Christmas with a crowd of friends, my wish was to have a Diet Coke tap installed at my house.

Life without Diet Coke seemed impossible to me a week ago.

Then, the Paleo Solution walked into my life.  Darn that Robb Wolf and his logic!

On Day One, I had one Diet Coke.  Then, I switched to unsweetened iced tea for the rest of the day.  On Day Two, I began to explore the mysteries of this thing called water, but still succumbed to one Diet Coke that morning.  On Day Three...I discovered that water was actually quenching my first and I was enjoying it!  Yikes!  All of the sudden, I wasn't even thinking about Diet Coke.  Today, I have realized that perhaps I really don't need Diet Coke to survive!  Who would have thought?

Water is clear, natural, quenching goodness in a glass.  It's been there all along.  God invented it millions of years ago and intended it for our bodies, but for some reason, society and culture had convinced me and my taste buds that I didn't really need it as long as I could pop a Diet Coke every couple of hours.

I am happy to say that I have rediscovered Nature's Very First Soft Drink...Water...and it is delicious and perfect.

Things are still looking good in my cave world!  Life is good.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day Three - The STRESS Factor!

Until this morning, I have been coasting along, living my new cave mom life without a care in the world, no problems, no worries...just happy to be alive.

And then the "diet demons" (you know who they are!) decided that I was coasting along WAY too easily and decided to wreak some minor havoc in my life.  Nothing horrible by any means, just enough little annoyances to make me normally want to turn to chips, burritos, cookies, or crackers and a nice cold beer or glass of wine.

What happened?

  1. Day started off with not being able to find my six year-olds I was running 10 minutes late for work by the time we left.
  2. Ummmm...TRAFFIC...which is never bad where my cave is located.
  3. I'm a teacher and "THE STATE ACCOUNTABILITY TEST" (notice the importance I gave it with all caps!) is only 4 more teaching days away and everyone is in crisis mode at this point trying to get our students ready.
  4. I had a student throw up all over her desk, the floor, her chair, etc, etc, the middle of my writing lesson today.
  5. Since my classroom smelled like "you-know-what" after that, I got a horrible headache that did not want to go away, even with my good friend Mr. Advil helping out.
  6. I've been looking for a house for my parents so they can re-locate and found out today that the one we had picked out for them is no longer I am back to the drawing board and searching again.
  7. Two arguing, recalcitrant six-year-olds in my back seat of the minivan...nuff said.
All of this was nothing horrible...just little bitty things.  So, the question of the day would be....what did I do?  Did I go for the carbs/sweets/empty calories???  

No way!  And here is the strangest thing...I wasn't even tempted!  What's up with that?  Seriously, I am always tempted by cheap carbs and I had no desire at all to eat any!  The "diet demons" must be REALLY mad at me now because I am foiling their attempts to sabatoge me with their petty little life annoyances.  Ha!  Take that you pesky little boogers!

Instead, I came home from work, grabbed a piece of deli turkey and a few almonds to tide me over.  Then, I chopped up some onion and garlic and tomatoes to make a sauce for a spaghetti squash and roasted some chicken breasts for dinner!  Gonna be yummy!

I am rocking dear friends!  Life in my cave world is going well on Day 3.

(Now, let's just hope the "diet demons" don't think of something else for their next attack!)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Day Two - Aren't Honeymoons Lovely?

Well the honeymoon period is full upon me and I feel great!  (I am NOT thinking yet about the end of the honeymoon!).  I have been eating Paleo now for almost two full days and so far I am not hungry or craving anything.  As a matter of fact, I feel terrific.

I am a perfectionist at heart so I keep finding myself questioning so many things about the eating plan.  Can I eat more than one serving of fruit a day if I have weight loss as my primary goal?  Can I put non-dairy creamer in my coffee?  Do I REALLY have to give up my Diet Coke?  I mean really...I LOVE my Diet Coke.  Giving it up is harder than giving up pasta and bread!  I think I must be addicted to my Diet Coke like a crack addict is addicted to her rock.  Sad, isn't it?  Is it okay to choose regular bacon over turkey bacon?  What about salt?  Can I eat roasted, salted almonds or should they be raw?  What about weighing in?  Should I sneak a peak at the scale or wait the full 30 days?  So many questions....

For most of these things, I just remind myself to "think clean" and do the thing that seems to make the most sense.  I may be making small mistakes, but I hope I am getting the major things right.

This morning, after my first day being wheat/dairy free...I woke up with NO nasal congestion!  Coincidence?  Perhaps.  But, I have notorious allergies and this time of the year, I am used to the whole family going around coughing all day long.  Not one cough today!  No need to blow my nose.  What's up with that?  Am I reading too much into this or are my chronic nasal issues perhaps related to a response my body has had to wheat or dairy for all these years???  Only time will tell I guess on this one.

My children though are not on board.  I have 4 of them.  2 in college (18 and 20 y/o) and 2 in Kindergarten (6 y/o's).  Long story that I might share someday...but to answer the common questions:

  1. Yes, they are all with the same husband.  We just took a break for a long time between the older kids and the younger kids.
  2. No, the six y/o's are not twins.  I discovered I was pregnant in the middle of an adoption process.  Our daughter is from China.
  3. Yes, they already have some of the health issues that I have unfortunately passed on to them, including diabetes, HORRIBLE eating habits, and a diet of processed, convenience foods.
But, back to my story...they are definitely NOT on board.  My older college sons think that their dad and I have gone whack-a-doodle and are "drinking the Kool-Aid" and ready for the looney bin.  The younger two turned their noses up at a veggie dinner last night and I gave in and got them McD's Happy Meals on the way home from work.  Granted, not the most auspicious start...but I don't think the "cold turkey" approach is going to work for them.  We will ease the younger two into a healthier diet and hopefully the older two will come home for Spring Break and see healthier, thinner parents and perhaps be motivated to investigate eating Paleo further.  But, let's face it...when you are young, you think you are invincible and that a diet of nothing but pizza, corn dogs, burritoes, and of course, the free ice cream bar at the dorm cafeteria is what everyone should eat.  I just hope to perhaps change their thinking by my own example.

Lofty thoughts for someone who is only on Day Two...still on her honeymoon, huh?

Ah, a girl (mom) can wish can't she?

I am off to eat tonight.  After a day and half of fish, we are going with good ol' American red meat tonight.  Lean ground beef browned with onion and garlic and then cooked with some fresh tomatoes and basil to make a nice sauce to pour over some steamed zucchini...sounds yummy right?  Who needs garlic bread and Parmesan cheese on the top?  Not I, says this cave mom!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day One - What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

About a month ago, my diabetes doctor mentioned Robb Wolf's book, The Paleo Solution, to me.  I have tried a million diets before and have never been successful.  When my doctor said that he was on this diet and had patients that were having great success, I filed this information away in my "maybe someday I'll think about it" portion of my brain and forgot about it.

Then last Sunday, I had dinner with my brother (who is also a diabetic and goes to the same doctor) and found out that he and his wife had been following the diet for a couple of weeks and felt terrific.  While I drank my beer, munched my fries, and devoured my bacon-cheeseburger...they were happily munching away on a grilled chicken salad.  I didn't think much about it at that time, but boy, did they catch my hubby's attention!

Fast forward 5 days later - Hubby has bought and read the book and is Gung Ho to start!  He tells me that basically, we have been eating poison for years and years!  What?  I like my nachos and cookies and bread and butter and pasta, etc, etc, etc.  PLEASE don't tell me it's poison.

He convinces me to read two chapters out of the book and milks a commitment of 30 days from me.  While I go to the local grocery and stock up on fresh veggies, meat, fish, and tea bags...he gets busy cleaning out the delicious-ness from the pantry!

I have a LONG laundry list of ailments.  I will go into those in future posts.  I will tell you more about me in future posts.  I plan to keep a 30 day record of what happens.

Mr. Wolf, in his book, repeats over and over and over...just try it for 30 days.

Well Mr. Wolf...challenge accepted!