Category Archives: Meta-dieting
WordPress tells me that my last post was on July 27th. So that tells me it’s been about a month since I posted here. I didn’t really intend on taking this long of a hiatus, but I was expecting to be gone for a while. Lots of very exciting things happened, but I will focus a bit on the challenges I faced towards the end of the summer, and why I took a step back from meticulous recordings of my progress.
Towards the end of my internship, something bad began to happen. I began weighing myself every morning, sometimes more than once. Every morning the scale read 150, and every morning I started out upset. Not visibly so, but in the back of my mind that number sat. Because of this, one of two things would happen. I would either cheat on paleo (less often), or I would start to feel guilty about eating (more often). No matter what I ate, or how I ate it, I was feeling bad. I ate too much not enough, the wrong kind of meat, not enough veggies, etc. No matter what I did, I felt bad for eating.
Needless to say, this wasn’t exactly healthy. I talked with Anthony (fiance) about it the first couple of days of August, and we decided a good way to cut off this cycle was to stop weighing myself. Completely. We set an arbitrary date at which I would be allowed to weigh myself again — after my belt test on September 10th.
I pretty much immediately started to feel better. Much in the same way that weighing myself a day before my weigh-in during the first part of my journey would get me down that day, I didn’t really realize how much weighing myself in the mornings was putting a dampener on my moods and self-esteem for that day. I stuck with paleo more easily, and it just became a lifestyle instead of something that was a chore.
I also stopped working out, though that had happened a couple of weeks before Anthony and I decided it would be a good idea to stop weighing myself. Much in the same way that weighing myself every day was bringing down my self-esteem, so was attempting to do TKD by myself. I find it is very similar to when I would work out, or run. If I was doing it out of obligation and there was no fun in it, then it was just a chore. Not only was it a chore but it was one that magnified my faults. Everything I was doing wrong seemed magnified and frustrated me more than it might have normally. It ate at my confidence, and brought me down further.
I really needed to take care of myself mentally, especially since the stress of going from Chicago to DC for a seminar and then back to Atlanta was mounting. Not to mention that I had two great friends, both of which are paleo, were coming to see me. I wanted to relax and do what felt natural (which paleo does, much of the time), and enjoy my time with them.
Finally, I gave Intermittent Fasting a try. I can’t remember precisely when I started, but for a few weeks I didn’t eat on Sundays or Thursdays (well, skipping breakfast and lunch). It was an interesting experience, but I have discontinued it for now. I would probably do IF during the periods in which I can’t exercise, if I was still trying to lose weight the next time I had such a period. It’s up for grabs, but it is something that I tried.
With those adjustments made during my last weeks of my internship, I packed up my stuff and said a very sad goodbye to Chicago.
Living a paleo and primal lifestyle is amazing. Though I don’t believe that it cures everything from acne to cancer, I do believe that it is a comprehensive and rewarding lifestyle change. I believe that for me, and for most people, it’s a solution to weight management, diabetes, and other “diseases of civilization.” Despite the power of paleo and primal living, however, there is one thing that such a lifestyle change cannot, and will not do for you.
Paleo won’t make you feel good about your body. It can’t restore lost self-esteem. It can’t make you love yourself. You can build a body that makes people jealous every time they look at you. You can lift more weight than Grok would have. But if you come from a place of hating your body, you will never feel satisfied with these accomplishments. Losing weight, getting in shape, eating better won’t solve the problem you’re facing. Because even if you’re overweight or obese, the problem isn’t your body. It’s you’re head.
I know what you’re thinking. Easy for me to say, right? I’m the woman who dropped 42 pounds in 4 months and is on her way to losing another 15. What do I know about looking in the mirror and seeing rolls of fat, bulging hips, pasty skin? What do I know about not being able to walk up a hill — or even down a block — without getting winded? I know a lot about that, actually. And I know what it’s like to feel like you’re losing a war with your body.
Hell, I still feel that way sometimes. When I struggle with stressed/emotional/bored eating, I feel so frustrated. I feel like I’m trying to fight a battle I can’t win. I feel like I’m entering a fray that will last me for the rest of my life. I am always going to struggle with stress eating; it’s in my genes. No amount of primal eating, walking, lifting, or sprinting will fix that. What will fix it is changing the way I think about my body.
Instead of seeing myself as warring with your body, envision yourself as in a relationship. You and your body are partners. It’s a partnership more intimate than marriage, more trying than parenting, and more rewarding than friendship. It’s also the hardest relationship to make healthy, because when it comes down to it, you are battling yourself.
But the key to a healthy relationship with your body begins by recognizing the amazing things it does for you. Just like the beginning of a healthy marriage is recognizing your partner’s contributions to your relationship.
I’m not going to tell you how your body is amazing — you have to find it for yourself. Think of ten things, right now, that your body does for you. Write them down on a piece of paper and stick them somewhere. Tell your body thank you, because it’s awesome. The best way to show appreciation for your partner is to treat it right. Eat healthy, get exercise, learn to move and live together in harmony because you’re both appreciating each other.
It’s hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve done in my life, especially because I’ve got genetics and conditioning working against me. But any relationship worth keeping up with is going to be challenging.
Most of us recognize that relationships are doomed to fail if the partners are trying to “fix” each other. The same holds true for you and your body. If you are motivated by a need to “fix” your body, you will fail. It doesn’t matter how much weight you lose or how much muscle you gain. You haven’t fixed your body, because you haven’t fixed yourself first.
I don’t care if you’re severely underweight or morbidly obese. Don’t try and “fix” your body. It’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to do. You’ve GOT to get your head on straight first, and then you’ll realizing that you were the one who needed to change all along.
Let’s face it. When the zombie apocalypse comes, most of us are going to die. Some of us will die from rotten luck (our partner is patient 0), some of us will die because another human will kill us (because people are asses like that), and most people will die because their bodies aren’t suited to the kind of living necessary in the inevitable zombie apocalypse.
Yes, I am talking about some overweight/obese people. But I am also talking about thin people who never exercise. I’m talking about people who have not yet gone primal.
That’s right, I’m calling it. Those who survive the zombie apocalypse will be those who have moved to a paleo/primal lifestyle or are taken care of by someone who did. Why? Because everything you do in primal living is perfectly suited for survival. Duh, that’s what it’s based on! The survival techniques of our ancestors. Let’s break it down. I’m using Mark’s Daily Apple’s metrics for what constitutes a paleo/primal life.
Long distance walking and hiking
Despite what the movies tell you, the chances of getting a car when the world ends is pretty unlikely. Even if you can get a car, fuel is going to be drained in most places. Despite what people may think, the world is going to shut down long before it fully ends.
So get ready to walk. Long, long miles. The cities aren’t safe anymore, so you’re going to have to get out into the country, and if you’re like any other American, you’re going to have to travel a long way to get there.
Hiking is a part of the primal lifestyle, and an essential one. If you have never walked a long distance (shame on you!) or gone for a hike (shame on you!), you can never appreciate how taxing walking can be. It is incredibly good for your muscles, but if you’re not ready for it by the time the apocalypse comes, you’re going to be dragging your escape party down. You’re not going to make it out of the concrete jungle, much less up that mountain.
Start your apocalypse training now: begin with walks around your neighborhood, then maybe walks to work or to take your children to school. Climb hills. Traverse terrain. When you feel up to it, start doing day hikes. Slowly work your way up till you can go on extended hiking trips. You’ve completed this part of your training.
Personally, I have always found the slow, arms-out zombies to be unrealistic. If these things are made from human beings, you bet they can run and come after you. Even if they can’t, other things (like live people and animals that broke out of the zoo) can. If you can’t haul ass, you’re going to get brain eaten.
So you’re going to be running — a lot. And I don’t mean beach-bunny, hair flipping, make all the out of shape people jealous marathon running. I mean running for your life. And if you’re running for your life, are you bopping around, listening to your iPod? NO! YOU ARE RUNNING FOR YOUR LIFE!
Our primal ancestors didn’t don Nikes and spend an hour or two cruising around the block. They walked — a LOT — and then when someone or something tried to eat them, they sprinted. This makes human beings in their natural state perfectly suited to survive the zombie apocalypse. After all, it doesn’t matter what body part the predator wants to eat. It just wants to eat you.
Start your training now: Most people can sprint, even if they are overweight. The only people I would recommend NOT sprint are morbidly obese people. Sprinting before you’ve dropped some weight can do some serious damage to your knees. Do some walking first. For the rest of us, get your sprint on! The idea is not to be able to win the 100-yard dash, but to simply get your butt moving as fast as you can for as long as you can. The more you sprint, the longer you’ll be able to go. I would also throw in some zigging and zagging if you’re good at it. Zombies have inner ear problems.
Imagine this: you’re sprinting down an abandoned street from a hundred zombies when suddenly the helicopter your friends found (unlikely) comes to rescue you. They can’t land, but they can get just close enough for you to jump and catch the feet. What do you do? You freaking jump, of course! But then… you can’t lift yourself up. Well, shit.
When the zombies come, you’re going to have to lift things. Yourself, your romantic interest who always finds him/herself in trouble, your pack when you get out of the city. Perhaps you might find yourself pushing zombies away from loved ones. What do all of these things require? Strength, and a good bit of it. Our ancestors had the same needs. Hauling back a deer carcass from the hunt isn’t all that different from carrying a fallen comrade away from a mass of man-eaters back from the dead.
Start your training now: Remember the helicopter example: start doing pull-ups. Lift heavy things, and often. Try out crossfit, if you have the money for it. The bare minimum you should be able to lift is yourself. When you’re struggling, imagine your mother, your brother, your partner needing your help. Ladies, don’t count yourself out of this one. You bear just as much responsibility for your own safety as you do of others. And no, you will not get all muscley and masculine.
Cut the grains and sugars!
Finally, we come to the crux of the primal lifestyle. Cut the grains and the sugars!! Do you remember the scene from 28 days later when
Scarecrow Cillian Murphy and Tia Dalma Naomi Harris are climbing the stairs and Murphy needs to sit and rest. Why was he such a wimp? Because he was crashing. Crashing is the single worst thing that can happen to you in the apocalypse. Why? Because if you’re crashing, you can’t sprint, hike, or lift yourself up. You’re dead in the water, and soon to be ripped apart.
What causes you to crash? Sugars. What immediately converts into sugars in your body? Grains. Essentially what happens is that when you consume sugars or grains, your insulin spikes and either helps break down the sugar to give you short-term energy or it stores it into fat. Once your insulin spikes and all that sugar is “put away,” your energy levels drop dramatically. Have you ever been so hungry that you started to feel weak, your hands shook, and you didn’t feel like you could do anything? That’s you, crashing. This is not ideal when something is about ready to eat your brains.
Our primal ancestors had no access to grains that they could eat. Why? Because you can’t eat them raw, else they were poisoned. Our bodies are best designed to digest and use fats, and carbs from veggies and fruits. So too will you best be served by these dishes when you are living in the post-zombie world.
Start your training now: Cut out the grains and the sugars. If you’re one of those “small steps” people, start small. But I can tell you from experience that the only way to get the bad out of your food is to, well, get the bad out of your food. Go on a purge of your house and get everything with a grain in it out. Donate it to a food shelter. Give it to someone you don’t like. Just get it out. Replace it with lots of meat, fruits, veggies, and nuts. These are the kinds of things you’re going to be able to get ahold of once you get out into the safer countryside anyway.
When the zombies take over, it is the primal people who will eventually win the earth. They will be better suited to get out of the cities via sprinting and long hikes. They will be able to help themselves and their loved ones with their lifting muscles of wonder, and they will be able to sustain their lives by not ingesting things that will make them weak.
If the zombie apocalypse is a genuine concern for you (it is for me!), then you might want to consider the primal lifestyle as a way to get ready.
Cause they’re coming.
What are some other ways primal living can help us prepare for intense situations? Did you ever survive something because of primal training?
I love almonds. To those of you faithful enough to read my food counts for the past few weeks know this. Almonds are an amazing paleo snack. They are filling, versatile, and are an excellent source of various nutritious goodies (check out their glycemic index!).
If you’re not allergic to them, you should be eating almonds. Here’s some ways to do so.
Eat ’em raw
The first way, naturally, to eat almonds is raw.
You can eat almonds raw, with skins or without, salted, roasted, flavored, fried… well, I haven’t tried the last one, but that’d be interesting…
Whole almonds are a GREAT snack food for those of us with the munchies. They have a light potato-esque flavor that has made them an excellent substitute for potato chips in my diet. They are crunchy, salty if you like, and wonderful. They are more substantial and will fill you up quickly.
You can get whole almonds at almost any store that sells snacks or food. I’ve found that they are a bit more expensive (especially when potato chips are $3/bag!), but they are totally worth it.
Eat em as butter
One of my favorite almond forms is almond butter.
If you follow the food log parts of this blog, you’ll see that I eat this delicious tidbit — apples and almond butter — almost every day. Sometimes twice.
Almond butter is made the same way that peanut butter is — you take the nut and grind it up! Unlike peanut butter, though, you don’t have to add a lot of oil and flavoring to get something that tastes satisfying. The almond butter you see here is part of what you can grind by hand at Whole Foods. Nothing is added in — just pure, crushed nut deliciousness.
On the Big Map of Tastes, I’d have to say that almond butter is definitely on the sweet side, like peanut butter, but more wholesome. The sweetness goes deep and it’s a subtle flavor that sticks pretty strongly on your tongue. You can grind your almond butter as fine or as crunchy as you want. Spread it on some almond bread and send your kids off to school!
I would recommend almond butter on granny smith apples and on dark chocolate. It is my goal sometime in the next year to make dark chocolate, almond-butter Reeses. Wish me luck!
Eat ’em in cookies (or bread, or cakes…)
An incredibly useful paleo use for almonds is that of almond flour
Seriously. Almond flour is the paleo baker’s best friend.
I have not personally used almond flour myself, so I cannot attest to its full win. However, I know a few paleo bakers, and they swear by the stuff.
You can make almond flour, but it’s tricky. The process to making almond flour is similar to that of almond butter — you blend it! But the tricky part is that almond flour is a stop between raw, whole almonds and almond butter, and it can be tricky to find where that stop is. But if you’re brave, stick ’em in a blender and see what you can come up with.
Almond flour doesn’t get quite as fine as conventional wheat flour, so be wary of that when you start baking. It’s a lot more dense (it’s made out of nuts!), so I imagine that will change things a bit. But who ever complained about a denser cake? Not I.
Almond flour and almond meal are often used interchangeably. The difference? Not much. Almond meal is almonds ground up with the skins on. Flour is without.
Almonds rock. They are a paleo-eaters best friend, in my opinion. I am sad that I found them so late in my paleo adventures (just discovered them a few weeks ago when I decided to try some salted almonds on a whim). They are an excellent snack food, can help you get your baked foods back, and serve as an excellent accent to fruit or veggies.
Remember, if you’re dieting, you might want to take it easy on the almonds. They are incredibly calorie dense — four ounces of raw almonds or butter is about 500-some odd calories. Though it’s hard to eat that many raw almonds at once, it’s much easier to do with almond butter — so be careful! Now, counting calories aren’t the most important thing in the world, but consuming that many from one source if you over-do it can slow your weight loss, if that’s your goal. If you’re not trying to lose weight, go hog wild!
Did I miss something? What are some of your favorite ways to eat almonds? Got any recipes to share?
Writing for First Fifteen Pounds today is the much-referenced Suzie from Waste and Taste. Suzie is a great friend of mine who started her paleo journey through the 4-hour Body this past January. She’s an incredibly talented freelance graphic designer and writer. Her exercise of choice is rock-climbing. She has some amazing insights on alternative healing and holistic health that she is sharing with us today. Enjoy!
Paleo is the acupuncture of the dieting world. It has been around for a long time, has some studies to prove that the lifestyle is beneficial, yet the lifestyle is not mainstream at all.
Alternative medicine, or any of a range of medical therapies that are not regarded as orthodox by western medicine, such as herbalism, energy work, and chiropractic, has grown rapidly; in 1990, one third of the U.S. population used some form of alternative approach to health care, and by the year 2010 two thirds do. Many of these practitioners recommend the Paleo diet, and as a fellow Paleo dieter, I believe it’s time for the Paleo community to start looking closer at alternative medicine for more traditional healing methods. It’s certainly better than taking a cure-all pill.
Why Holistic Health?
Western medicine tends to quarantine the body into separate sections, and then treat symptoms localized to that part of the body. For example, if someone has a toothache, they go see a dentist. If someone has an ingrown toenail, they see a podiatrists. If someone has a rash, they see a dermatologist. Most alternative health practices do not function in this way–the practices tend to have a cure-all treatment, and focus on the mind-body connection.
For those of you who have read The Primal Blueprint or take Paleo beyond just a diet, this should make a lot of sense. The body is meant to operate in a certain way, and when it doesn’t, it underperforms. I do not know many western doctors who would recommend running around without shoes, using diet as a way to address autoimmune disease, or partake in bloodletting. Chances are, if you are already Paleo, you already buy into a lot of alternative medicine dogma: do what is right for your body by addressing its base needs.
For someone who has been raised on western medicine, the transition to alternative therapy was difficult. A lot of the treatments seemed like a bunch of voodoo; energy work, herbal remedies, back adjustments, and gently pricking needles don’t exactly line up with prescription pills, invasive surgery, and symptom-based care. There is a huge list of how Eastern and Western medicine differ here–I recommend checking it out.
Personally, I had a fantastic experience with an acupuncturist, who cured my severe sleepwalking problem. I have been trained in Reiki and I am currently undergoing NAET treatments for my severe allergies. As someone who does Paleo/Primal (an alternative lifestyle, mind you), I rarely get sick. When I do, I see a chiropractor, make sure to drink my tea, and get lots of rest.
Nevertheless, I’m not stupid about my health; I recognize that western medicine has its place. I still have an annual physical and I do believe that holistic medicine has its limitations. Sometimes, alternative therapy should act as a complement to western medicine, especially when surgery is involved. Ultimately, the balance of alternative and mainstream medicine is up to you.
What are your experiences and opinions on alternative healthcare?