A New Season

After failing to make the final cut during the last round of New Girl training for TXRD, my head got into a weird place. The day after evaluations, I said “I don’t want to touch my skates for a good solid three days”. I was giving myself permission to take a teensy little break. I assumed I’d be right back in them. But then the phone call. And it was painful to look at them, let alone put them on, so I didn’t lace up for quite a while. I can’t even tell you how long–maybe a few weeks, not until the next round of Polly & Lacy’s classes started back up.

I’m not trying to dwell on that whole heartbreak thing again though. I bring it up to illustrate this point: this summer I decided to break all the rules I’d set for myself back in October and then January (skating & eating Primally). I gave myself permission to do whatever I wanted. I could eat what I wanted, I could get chickens, I didn’t have to work out. It was basically a free pass. I was calling it a “Mental Health Summer”. It was like those vacation days you take from work when you’re starting to burn out, except my was kind of never-ending.

It was awesome. I got SO MUCH done–some ceilings de-popcorned, some walls painted, garden planted, rain barrels in place, clothesline up, and a gorgeous chicken coop built. I caught up on a lot of reading, caught up with my friends, and caught up on my hammock time. Being derby-less gave me lots of free time to actually do the things I’d dreamed about doing in my own house.

It was AND it wasn’t the healthiest thing for me. To go from eating a no-grain/no-legume/no sugar diet and exercising a good 6-7 hours a week to sandwiches and a cancelled gym membership definitely took a toll on my body: the extreme, sudden shift really threw my muscles and created a few problems. I could have found a better way to do that part instead of just cold turkey.

BUT.

The mental relief was fantastic. I had been struggling, all throughout New Girl, to find the balance between enjoying and being present in my home-buying experience versus my training-for-derby experience. I could never give 100% to either–I managed about 80%, 80% of the time. But then–not having to make the choice myself, it was quite a relief to suddenly have plenty of free time and energy to devote to my exciting new toy. I reveled in the freedom to just drive home after work. No stopping by the gym. No fighting traffic to the Thunderdome for a league practice. Just….going home, to paint something or sew something or read a book.

There’s a problem, however. Aside from atrophying muscles, I didn’t set an end date. I didn’t give myself a “back-to-school” deadline. The “break” never ended. Sure, at the end of July I said “ok, August is my birthday month so I’ll just start eating primally again now”. And then I didn’t, because it was still hot and I was still taking popcorn off the ceiling and who has time to cook when you’re covered in paint? P. Terry’s it is! (I seriously have had SO MANY CHEESEBURGERS this summer it’s ridiculous).

I started to skate on Saturday mornings, (a bit begrudgingly, I admit ashamedly), but it wasn’t with the same balls-to-the-wall devotion as before. I’ve done just enough to keep my feet familiar with the incline, but then one day it hit me–I could lose all the advantages of being in NG before. So I started trying again. Skating outside of the warehouse, with my derby wife, or doing squat pyramids randomly throughout the day. And then, a day or two ago, I received the “official” tryout email with all the details. A few minutes later, another email came my way with information about the new Wreck League (a recreational league).

Seeing the two emails juxtaposed like that really put a fire underneath me again for New Girl. I want THE league. I want TXRD, and I want it in a bad way. I am willing to work so hard, ready for those exhausting nights driving home smelling like a skunk. I’m so eager for the intense workouts again, ready to push myself and to quit letting my fear hold me back. I’m ready to prove myself again, ready to be as fit and tough as I was before. And this time, I’ve got experience and knowledge behind me, pushing me forward. And if that means denying those intense sugar/chocolate cravings, and forgoing the convenience of a sandwich, and tripling my gas budget, so be it. I want it, and I’m finally remembering that.

It’s time.

Eating Primal: Week 3 Recap

This is a bit of an awkward post. The Primal lifestyle is about more than eating, or not eating, certain foods. It’s about moving differently, sleeping differently, and paying attention. As I’ve adjusted certain behaviors and learned to listen more to my body, I’m finding myself rejoicing in small (or large) victories. I feel rested, energetic, and ready to face what comes my way. I don’t need my morning tea and I don’t dread going into work on Mondays, because I can handle the stress now. I guess I’m making it sound like a wonder drug, and it definitely isn’t–it’s hard work–but it has still helped transform my health, which in turn transforms how I approach the world.

There isn’t much new to report on the actual eating–I’ve found a good groove, and can actually come up with quite a few meal options, without needing to resort to pastas, tacos, or pizza. (Although I dearly miss our homemade pizza nights. That’s my first planned cheat meal.)  I’m trying new dishes all the time, such as liver and onions over the weekend (YUMMO). I’m really only fighting cravings in the evenings now, or when I’m at home on the weekends. And they aren’t general cravings–they’re very instance-specific or is just an appetite craving, as opposed to a hunger-craving. The difference is being hungry enough to eat anything versus craving on specific thing. For example: Saturday I was hit with a super-intense craving for a Hopdoddy’s burger, fries, and Nutella shake after derby. Last Monday it was an office mate’s birthday, and they had Tiff’s Treats deliver red velvet cake cookies to the office. I also have a bar of orange dark chocolate sitting in my fridge, waiting for a cheat night. These can be supremely difficult moments, moments that test my resolve to be as healthy as possible. In those difficult moments, I remind myself that I want transformation MORE (sometimes barely) than I want that cookie, and I’m able to walk away. And soon enough, the cravings pass. I’m hoping that one day they will stop showing up altogether.

As with any healthy lifestyle change, along with eating properly comes exercising properly. The idea behind the Primal Blueprint is that not only are we designed to eat the way a hunter-gather ate (nuts, seeds, meat & veggies), we are also designed to exercise the way he did–low level cardio, like walking, with short bursts of high-energy cardio, such as when running from a bear. So the ideal for modern man is to walk several hours a week, and then at least once a week work in a session in which you sprint short bursts of 30-40 seconds between two-ish minutes of walking. You only do this for 10-13 minutes, once or twice a week, as well as working in some weights.

I tried interval sprinting for the first time last Monday, and it was very strange to be on the treadmill for only 12 minutes. I had the oddest feeling that I hadn’t done enough–like I should get back on the treadmill. There was a surprising amount of guilt! But, I decided to trust this…”plan”, or “lifestyle” or whatever, to work. I know there are several people who will simply not believe me, who can’t get past “calorie in, calorie out”. That’s fine. But I urge you to at least do some research before dismissing it outright. And since I know I’m not very eloquent when it comes to remembering and expressing the science behind things, here is the link detailing the “Case Against Chronic Cardio“. I found it very helpful, as well as supremely freeing.

But still, all in all, I am an impatient creature. We are all impatient creatures. I have only been seriously doing this since the beginning of January, and yet I am occasionally frustrated that there has been no miracle body make-over. I do believe that in the first six months of doing this I will see incredible results, but there is still some part of me that just wants to stamp her foot when that dress still doesn’t fit the way I want it to after three weeks of self-denial. It’s like there’s this little part of me that wants instant gratification for denying that doughnut or that gelato THAT MOMENT. I have to remind myself that it isn’t going to happen overnight, and that I won’t magically shed a pound every time I pass on sugar in my tea. It’s learning a new pattern to my days, not simply a magic pill.

Having said all that though, I feel great. I feel SO great. I feel strong and clean, I am not achy or tired (unless fresh from derby!), and my skin looks fantastic. I have noticed my tummy slimming down, and my thighs are truly becoming pillars of strength, although I must credit that to the weights and all the skating I’m doing. My chiropractor even said he thinks being gluten-free has contributed to the progress my spine has made since we began treatment, which was very empowering. There is nothing like feeling that all my hard work is paying off. It’s like when you pay off a debt, or finish that painting, or get that new job–you know that all your sacrifices and perseverance and dedication directly contributed to your success. It’s taking control of your destiny in some capacity. And now that I know I can do it, there seems to be no reason not to.

Have you taken control of something? How did it make you feel?

Eating Primal: Week Two

–Ugh. Fighting some SUPER intense cravings this week. I knew it was coming, but I seriously almost grabbed every last chocolate in the office. Thankfully I talked myself down. “This is where discipline comes in. This is the moment where the hard choices are made.” I have yet to cheat with office chocolate.

–Surprisingly, my acid-reflux has started to act up a bit. I thought a more whole foods lifestyle would help to eradicate it, but perhaps I’m eating more fruit than I thought. Someone posted on one of the message boards I check that she had the same issue when she stretched her time too thin between meals, mostly because she wasn’t hungry. Something to think about. My chiropractor also recommended a shot of apple cider vinegar every morning to help, which is something I’ve heard a lot about as well.

–I started out wanting to do Paleo, but the more I read about Primal Blueprint the more into that “lifestyle” I’m getting. Even though they’re practically the same thing, I find myself reading a lot of Mark Sisson’s articles and they all make sense. One of his arguments makes a really great case for dairy as a small part of your diet, as long as it’s pastured, grass-fed, raw milk, which is great, because that’s the only kind I like (and buy) now. Yogurts, kefirs and hard cheeses are so good for your gut flora that I’m thinking I’ll probably add it back in to my diet, with the caveat that I make it myself.

–Had a strange…”episode”…on Wednesday night/Thursday. I left work feeling dizzy, light-headed, and head-nauseated. I was so dizzy I couldn’t skate very long, and ended up going to bed early that night. I called in to work the next day, but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Finally I figured out that I hadn’t eaten enough calories the day before! Believe me friends, that has NEVER happened! I remember being voraciously hungry even after my lunch of leftover shepherd’s pie, but I just chalked it up to my appetite. NOPE. So Thursday I spent most of the day eating and watching movies from my couch. I still felt crummy, but at least I didn’t feel ready to pass out. Lesson learned–if i’m not going to eat easy sugars for my brain, I need to make sure I’m putting enough vegetables and meat in my body to compensate. For the first time in my life, I needed to eat more 🙂

–So, I cheated. Just a little bit, and just because I was desperate. NO it was not a raspberry-filled sugar doughnut at work (although that was a tough one). It’s the little things that get me–my favorite salad dressings (Brianna’s Poppyseed) has sugar. My homemade ranch uses vegannaise (soy=no no). And I broke down and had a touch of ketchup (sugar!). While I’m proud that I haven’t really gone beyond the self-set limitations, I’m irritated that I can’t, or won’t bother, to find alternatives.  And while I understand I need to have a healthy balance of body healthy vs mental healthy, I wanted to do this first month 100%. I’m still debating whether or not to allow myself cheat days. I’m torn because I really wanted January to be the month I quit those things before adding them back in. I know my lifestyle will be 80/20, but I wanted to go 100 for at least a month. But just in case, I bought a bar of orange dark chocolate. To be consumed slowly, and only occasionally.

–Ugh. It happened. It was my father’s birthday, which meant that my mother baked a delicious chocolate cake. I told her “no thank you”, but you know how mothers can be. So I ended up breaking my month-long 100% rule, and had a tiny sliver of cake. TINY. Shouldn’t really be considered a “piece” of cake. >.> ok, ok.

–This weekend I experimented a little and made a “rogan josh” lamb stew that is out of this world! I made a Rogan Josh spice (and there are a LOT of ingredients) and made this stew Sunday night. I’ll be hard-pressed to make it last a few lunches–it’ll probably be gone in a day or two! Seriously, super delicious, and I didn’t feel guilty at all about eating two bowlfuls–all vegetables and good animal fats. Proudest moment this week for trying something I normally would consider too difficult to try.

–I also broiled a piece of Chilean sea bass in an effort to eat more fish, and I roasted beets with balsamic vinegar and some other vegetables, and the meal turned out amazing! I had a hard time believing that some of those delicious smells were coming from my oven.

I took those “first week” pictures I mentioned last week, but upon further reflection, have decided not to post weekly photos. To preserve whatever sense of mystery I may still have in this imaginary universe. (ok let’s be honest–I’m embarrassed beyond belief!) I’ll post before & afters…when there’s an “after” i can still be proud of. Go ahead, call me out on it. I know I’m not quite being accountable & transparent, but we all have our issues.

My goal for this next week is to not let the little things get to me–going without homemade ranch, not needing ketchup for roasted sweet potatoes, etc. And especially after having such success with the  lamb stew, shepherd’s pie, fried trout, and sea bass, I’m really geared up and ready try more new things that aren’t in my normal repertoire, such as a chicken curry. But we’ll see–I don’t want to box myself in. I like going to the market and coming home with an adventure.

p.s: this week’s menu (I still can’t figure out how to get a decent-sized jpg inserted!) is trapped within my computer. which i know you care about so much. let’s just say there was a lot of salad, avocado, and shepherd’s pie eaten (THREE TIMES!)

That is all.

Eating Paleo/Primal: Week One Recap

Thoughts throughout the week:

This is overwhelming. There is SO MUCH information out there. Some websites like to support the reasons for eating this way with a ton of science and proof, etc. Which is fine, I’m all for it being legit. I just have never been good at science.

I thought there were simple rules: no gluten/flour. No processed, refined sugar. No dairy. So why is Gouda suddenly on the list of things to eat?

I discovered another way to eat eggs for breaky. Twenty-six years and I finally made my first hard-boiled egg. It was DELICIOUS (add avocado & ham)

I’m KIND OF afraid that I won’t be able to eat all the fruit before it goes bad. (update: It hasn’t gone bad yet, but I’ve read that for optimum weight loss, I should try to restrict my fruit intake to around 1 piece/serving a day. Awesome.)

I felt like a kid in a candy shop when I found out bacon was not only allowed, but encouraged. HELL YES I will take bacon and avocado in my omelets, salads, and vegetables. It makes ANYTHING taste decadent.

As I was making dinner this week, I thought, ‘I just need a Paleo coach. Maybe someone who can just come show me how to do this.’ And then I remembered the internets. And that I am already an awesome cook.’ Oh internets how you have come through for me time and time again! 🙂

Ok, I know it’s just under a week in and it shouldn’t be this hard already! Does it get easier? Because I keep fantasizing about Nutella-smothered waffles. Not day-dreaming. FANTASIZING. I keep saying, “when this is over” when really, I’m not looking for it to be over. I’m thinking long-term, but these waffle-ly dreams are getting obnoxious. I’ve decided it will be my first cheat meal….in three weeks.

My Jon has been amazingly supportive of this, considering he doesn’t eat meat and adores carbs. He’s been a real hero about two different dinners/meals, and all weekend at his mother’s house, kept telling me I couldn’t have something because a caveman didn’t. i wanted to punch him.

My chiropractor says the inflammation in my back has really gone down! Because even though I’ve only been doing this “for reals” a week, I’ve been avoiding gluten for the last three. So it’s nice to feel there’s some success there. It reminded me that I’m doing this as more than a weight loss gimmick.

I JUST WANT A COOKIE. I would settle for a piece of chocolate!

pssst. also. i made this incredibly beautiful, very helpful Paleo Tracker Menu in case you were wondering what Paleo looks like meal to meal. Alas, I absolutely could NOT figure out a way to get it into the post, whole and intact. So if you’re just dying of curiosity, there it is.) 

My boss asked me, point-blank, why I was doing this. What would tempt me to leave behind all I hold dear (I’m looking at you, nutella) and go primal? I had to think about it, because Greg is not someone to whom I can give a flippant answer. This is what I decided: I got tired of feeling like I’d lost control with my eating–halloween to christmas was a binge-fest. I was feeling bloated and that any healthy decisions were impossible. I knew that if I didn’t change something and quick, I would be headed down a path of no-return. I knew several people who had success with a Paleo lifestyle, and what they were saying made sense, even if it did mean giving up quite a few of my favorite things. But those were the things that got me into trouble in the first place. In short, I was ready to be in charge of my own destiny again. I’m skating my body, my body’s not skating me.I’m looking forward to feeling the changes in my body as the weeks progress. I’m excited for my chiropractor to tell an even greater difference, and I’m REALLY looking forward to looser pants. I’m planning my first cheat meal, even though I know it’s weeks away–it keeps me motivated to eat well NOW. I’d like to become a little more proficient in meal prep–I’ve had salad for at least one meal a day this last week, and I think I should be incorporating more roots & nuts into my diet.  I’m learning to listen to my body cues and only eat when I’m hungry, but habit and appetite (not hunger) have still been dictating when I eat.

So. Paleo/Primal–not impossible. Also, not fun for the first week. I’m ready for this next week, and eager to see/feel more changes in my body.

p.s. also I wanted to insert a weekly photo to compare and see if there were any noticeable changes. I came up with this idea whilst at work on Monday (while i want Sunday shots), and so will NOT be taking a weekly photo in front of my mirror today. i will update this tomorrow.

in which our heroine alternately hates, then loves, the internets

as i grow older, i’m learning that the hardest part about starting anything new is the learning curve. being brand new is so overwhelming. with the advent of the internet and our perpetual connection to the ‘world’, not only are there so many facets to ANY single program/theory/discipline/religion, but there is so much information available and so many millions of contributors that have their endless opinions and details and finer points to be debated. there seems to be no easing into anything. i feel a bit like i’ve jumped off the dock, in over my head.

this seems to be especially true in my newest adventure, a Paleo/Primal eating and exercise lifestyle change. at first i thought this would be easy–give up grains, legumes, sugars, processed foods, dairy. except that now i’m reading some dairy is ok? but only certain ones. and some wine and tequila are alright? but only 100% agave. it seems that i can’t just adjust to what NOT to eat, but i must also include an entire new subset of foods–seaweed, roots, nuts I’ve never heard of. Which is all fine and good and I don’t doubt for a minute how healthy these things are, but c’mon! i’m just giving up my soft french boules, my raw milk & turbinado sugar morning tea, my soft bries, jams, jellies, and spreadable cheeses! it’s going to take a few minutes to adjust here! (YES yes I know–it’s only day 4!)

but i can’t go back. that’s the kicker. based on solid science and research that unequivocally backs up the assertions that mark sission of the Primal Blueprint makes, there is no way i can go back to a  lifestyle filled with delicious grains, waffles, nutella, sandwiches, not without knowing that i am intentionally sabotaging my plans to be the healthiest woman i can be. without understanding that the trade-off for a life of buzzing tastebuds and spiked blood sugar is a life of too-tight jeans and avoiding mirrors.

my solution to all this? at first it was to be overwhelmed, throw my hands up in the air, and eat a sandwich. but then i thought–well there’s no harm in ONLY eating what i know is ok. it won’t hurt to give up those things. i don’t have to do the whole thing all at once. and then, then i stumbled onto something from marksdailyapple.com.  i’ve never been one for programs–i hate gimmicks, and i HATE salesmen–but i think i may, for once, try mark’s 21-day guide. because 21 days of “sacrifice” is easier than a lifetime of regret….right?