Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gone Paleo

What exactly is this new Paleo thing I am doing?
Good question. Let’s focus on the what I AM eating on this plan: lots and lots and oh my is that another vegetables, lots of organic, free range, barn raised, grass eating meat, plenty of avocado, and a little bit of fruit.
And now, let’s consider what I am NOT eating: no grains, no legumes, no dairy,  no alcohol and no sugar.  No processed food. PHEW.

Even I can’t believe I’ve stuck with it for 15 days and am not dreading another 15.

Why Paleo for me?
I have been counting calories and STARVING. I lost a few pounds but I couldn’t stand myself. I went to a BBQ while considering paleo and talked to a guy who has been Paleo for years. In my mind, that was a sign that it could be done and I should try it.  I stalked him like a creeeper chatted him up for a couple of hours and felt more prepared. Plus, I felt as though I could go ahead and prove this lifestyle wrong. Paleo promises a bunch of things I was pretty sure it wouldn’t deliver. What the heck. I’m game.

Ok, before we get to the diet, what do you the Great Justine, think of it so far?

So glad you asked! I am amazed by a few things.  Unlike when I am counting calories, I am not starving all the time. Indeed, my hunger is pretty much in control, unheard of for me. My stomach is quiet. Typically, when I diet my stomach is LOUD. Seriously loud. It growls when it’s empty and I swear it growls after I eat too. So far, my stomach has rumbled a few times but then I go feed myself some turkey wrapped around avocado and cucumber and I’m fine. 

I don’t get shaky. I have always had issues with my blood sugar, especially when I try and restrict calories. This time out my blood sugar has stayed fairly stable. Once or twice I felt shaky, but then I ate some almond butter and celery and felt fine.

Shockingly, I haven’t craved sugar, at all. WOW. When I did that little 3 day sugar challenge I couldn’t wait for day 4. Not so this time. I have completely stayed away from dried fruit because I find that is one food I can happily sub out for any desert with added sugar . I find myself cramming fistfuls of raisins in my mouth and feeling like some kind of drug addict the whole time. Problem? I don’t have a problem. I could quit these raisins any day. Just not today, oh please for the love of all that is holy, not today.So, I’m just saying no to the dried fruit.

This stuff? Love it so much I can't even have it in the house.

Come on. You can’t possibly have given up all that stuff this whole time. Tell us about your fall from the wagon of righteousness.

Caught me. 
Once I had a salad that inadvertently got an edamame on it and I ate it. 

I accidently ate one  peanut. 

This VERY MORNING I tried a sample of freshly made iced coffee at Starbucks and found that, naturally, it was full of sugar. Who does that? Just adds a bunch of sugar to iced coffee and then calls it iced coffee? Starbucks does, that’s who.  My bad. 

Finally, on a special anniversary dinner out I decided before I left to have wine with dinner. Everything else was Paleo. AND I’ve decided to have wine one night on this long vacation weekend we have planned. Gasp In Shock.

Have you lost a ton of weight? Take a before photo?
I don't mean to be bad. I'm just drawn that way.
On this 30 day program I am not allowed to weigh myself, but who are we kidding, of course I have. Once.
I found I had lost 2 pounds, which made me happy. Furthermore, my stomach is not so bloated all the time, something I suspect happens from dairy and not from the salt I used to blame. 

A lot of people out there take a before photo. I considered it. The problem is that in my black lycra work out shorts and a sports bra I look pretty much just fine. Those shorts suck you in like nobody's business. So I tried on a pair of jeans that are neither to big or too small. Muffin. Top. City. No way on God's green earth am I taking a photo of THAT. Heck no. I'm adding heels, a blousy top and BOOM  I'm long and lean again, so please take a snapshot or two. 

I decided I'm just not a before and after kinda person. I'm more of an after and let's pretend there was no before type. So, heck yeah, after I am lean like a long cool glass of water on a hot summer's day, then I'm taking a bunch of after photos. You know, to document my progress and all that.
Why no grains?

The Paleo diet claims that grains and dairy cause inflammation.  Furthermore, grains cause kind of a funky response in our system.  Grains are composed of carbohydrates, and those carbs are turned into glucose (a type of sugar) in our system to be used for energy and various other tasks to help our body function – any glucose that isn’t used as energy is stored as fat.
Grains evoke an inflammatory response in the gut. They spike insulin levels. They have an acidying effect on the body. Ultimately, they are “empty calories.”
Here’s a page that nicely explains each of these points:

What about artery clogging saturated fat?
To know me is know that I am by nature an inquisitive creature. I do no take your word for it. Nor do I blindly believe some half assed, poorly run study funded by a major corporation with a dog in the fight. I did a lot of reading. You can too. Google saturated fat + paleo diet.  Suffice to say that I am no longer at all convinced it’s bad for you.

Is saturated fat healthy?

If you don’t want to click and read here’s an excerpt from Mark’s Daily Apple:

“As you can see, there is a faint, weak correlation between fat intake and heart disease, but it’s just that: a correlation. It shouldn’t confirm anything except the need to run controlled experiments to directly measure the effects of dietary fat. Unfortunately, that correlation was enough to get Keys the front cover of Time and widespread acclaim as the father of dietary science. His hypothesis gained traction in the scientific community and mainstream CW, a position it has never really relinquished. Subsequent controlled experiments to measure the effects of saturated fat have been either inconclusive, poorly designed, or completely unsupportive of the saturated fat-is-evil hypothesis, but because the starting point assumes it to be true, those inconclusive or unsupportive results become aberrations while the poorly designed studies become canon.”

So that's what up for me during this 30 days.

So far?


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Momentum is Your Friend

Turns out once I miss my own deadline of a blog post at least every two weeks, well, it’s hard to begin again. The whole thing seems too daunting. Too many topics, not enough topics. And what about the photos??? I love the photos. Anyhoo. Time to climb back up on the blog horse, so speak. 

Transitions are hard (ok, I may be lacking a little wit and introspection with that but stay with me). A couple of times I started to write but the only thing that came to me were all the things I miss about running: the camaraderie, the people, the hot sweat on a cold morning followed by cold sweat and hot coffee. Who wants to read such melancholy drivel? I didn’t even want to write about it. When things are hard I tend to slap a smile on face, put my head down, and keep moving forward. Which is how I started considering what would fill my running void at least a little bit.

And that is how I started my yoga practice in earnest. I found a power yoga studio where the instructors have a sense of humor and don’t take themselves too seriously. I was in love when one instructor said “come down out of the pose gracefully (THUNK as several of us fell out) or awkwardly…if that’s what your body has today then go with it.” Clearly, this was a yoga teacher made for me. Cementing my love is that this studio focuses on astanga yoga, which means it kicks my ass strength wise and cardio wise.When you're done, you feel like you got a workout, not like you just had a nice long stretch. It's not the same as a good long trail run, but nothing is.

The yoga has been great to help strengthen my weak right leg and increase my ankle flexibility.  In fact, it is slowly increasing all my joint mobility inefficiencies and my body is feeling better, more balanced and stronger.

Whether I am running or yoga-ing I need more. More of whatever I'm doing (why hello marathoning/ultra/100 miles bike ride/half ironman tri, you sure look sexy today; come sit down and let me get to know you bettah). So, I couldn't naturally just go to yoga a few times a week. Oh no. Instead, I started my own 30 day challenge. Yoga people often comment with great reverence that 30 consecutive days of yoga practice will change your life. To which I reply, good thing my life doesn’t need changing (but it does need a challenge). I made it 27 days in a row before we went waterskiing and had a weekend of too much drinking and too much sun vs too much yoga.

This was me coming OUT of the water after floating for hours. Never let it be said I don't take sun protection seriously.

This is where the other beer drunks and I floated. All. Day. With a floating cooler, to make it all possible.

I floated so there would be more room on the kids who wanted to do this all day.

While I was getting drunk floating, the kids got tattoos.

Back to my 27 days of downward dog. It may not have been a round thirty, but it was long enough for me to notice two things:

First, it may change your life if you have never trained for a marathon or other endurance event. If you have, you are accustomed to doing everything in your power to stay on track. During my 27 consecutive days of yoga , I went to early classes and late, I tried new studios, I went when I was sore, tired, hungry and/or just didn’t want to, I went when I felt desperate for a day with no yoga, no matter how I felt,  I went. I even went on Father's Day. Had I never had this type of dedication before it would have changed my life, but because I had, it just made me happy in that same way that an early run in the cold and the rain makes me happy.I know plenty of people who have never dedicated a month to doing something every day and they should try it. It's good for the soul to realize just what you can do, even when you don't want to.

The second thing I noticed while reading the newspaper. I had one hand on my chin, one near my bent arm, when I leaned over and…..felt something….there on my arm…was that? Could that possibly be…oh yes ohmy it was, a …wait for it….TRICEP.Yahoo. I haven’t felt one of those in years (probably since I stopped training for tris and started training for an ultra). Indeed, I’d begun referring to my triceps as my bat wings, being that they kinda hung down and waggled like, well, bat wings. To say I was ecstatic is downplaying my reaction. Nowadays I go ahead and stroke my triceps while murmuring sweet nothings to them. Love yourself and all that.

I am ready to get back into running, but it turns out that I only want to run when it’s cool. Charrisa and I had a run planned and then the weather turned a diabolical 90 degrees. I opted out. I asked her, what’s gonna happen if I don’t go run that measly 2.5 miles? I have no running fitness to lose. I’m not slipping on my training build, because I don’t have one of those either. Bleh to running in the heat.  The weather will eventually cool and I’ll start lacing up my Nikes on a regular basis but until then I have yoga.

And crossfit.

And  30 days of paleo (day two of the whole 9. So far I’m going strong).

Yep, I figured I end this post with a few ideas for my next, just to help my own momentum.