It’s July, we’re half way through the year! Let’s take a look at how I started 2013, shall we?
- Produce Garden
- Flower Garden for Giving
- No white sugar
- Chickens (shh, don’t tell anyone)
- Proper Clothing Line
January specific Resolutions:
- 30 days of Fitness
January. Now to review, we can start with January. I was almost spot on with a Whole30 AND 30 days of fitness. However, I know I skipped 2 days and then I konked out at 24 days. So really, I completed a Whole 25, give or take, and only 22 days of fitness, but it was an admirable start! If I do say so myself.
1. Now for the year’s resolutions. *Sigh* My produce garden is/was an epic fail. So sad! However, a good farm takes lots of care, planning, work, and attention. I have teamed up with a soil-expert friend of mine, Seppi Garret from Your Garden Solution, and I am confident that I will wrangle this yard yet!
I was able to get a few salads out of my heritage greens before they became too bitter and I do believe I’ll get some more in the ground for the later half of the harvesting season. Nothing like a fresh salad! We also had success with carrots and onions this year, which we eat a ton of. I suppose is wasn’t a complete fail. Seppi and his son, Ben, were kind enough to help add a new bed by bartering a few pieces of wood, some vermiculite, cardboard and sweat for some video work documenting Seppi’s amazing yard built on the designs of permiculture. I love a good barter! We hope to continue to expand throughout the next year. Our yard is large and full of sun. We just need to work on good soil to bring forth a bountiful crop.
2. There is NO flower garden. Over zealous is not a new addition to my list of characteristics.
3. SUGAR! I try, I really do. I go in spurts with it, and it’s usually because of the lack of fresh food when I get home from work at 11pm and just feel hungry and drained. Of course, I realize fresh food will replenish my body, and the most exciting evenings offer me leftovers from my family’s dinner. However, they do not always enjoy something I would consider nutritious and sometimes I eat it anyway. Any kind of pasta is a direct offender. I don’t even like pasta. I vow to try harder.
4. The chickens have been an ongoing topic of discussion and planning. At this rate, I can feel a community of advocates growing stronger where I live. Perhaps we’ll change policy and break in new habits for our neighbors to learn and adopt. I’m also waiting to meet new, over-the-fence neighbors before I surprise them with our (sub)urban petting zoo. But we have a great location place, I know a guy with a coop and my research is hefty!
5. I turned 33 the other day and guess what I got for my birthday? That’s right! A clothing line. My family loves me.
I sense a theme in my posts this week and it’s that I’m not perfect. I think we all knew that, of course, but I want to impress that this is reality. Success and failure are relative and I feel very successful in my choices pertaining to a simpler life, a healthy diet and being fit-enough. Does that mean I’m gung-ho, 100%, on my game all the time? Hell no. But it certainly doesn’t mean I’m not doing a good job. Every new moment presents an opportunity for a better choice. Choose best as often as possible.
Oh, did I mention; I’m back at Crossfit717 as of Monday. Say hi, I’m too nervous to speak!
It’s a statement that resounds with me constantly and one I’ve written about before. Mark Sisson first uttered these words, in my presence, at PaleoFX in Austin, TX two years ago. He also mentioned level of choice in the world of clean eating and fitness. Extremes will result in extremes and moderation in, well, moderate results.
When I first began to cut grain and sugar, I was an extremist. I felt like I might die (DIE!) if I ate a grain of rice or a speck of sugar in my coffee, NO potatoes, not even a yam. That was 3 years ago. Over time, and through lifestyle changes on many fronts, I’ve reached specific health and fitness goals and then backed off, introduced some starch back into my diet and backed off from them, tried new things in moderation and decided whether or not it was a short or long-term addition. No matter what the choice, though, each were conscious and that is what I am most proud of. I have learned so much about food and our bodies from my journey with “Paleo” and clean eating. I have researched for myself, compared notes, kept food journals and understand how my body reacts to certain things more so than others.
In my old age (kidding, I fully intend to live to 100. I’m barely a third of the way through!) I’m able to recognize my strengths and weaknesses. I thoughtfully work towards making, what I find to be a weakness, more of a strength. More often though, I just try to make it less of a reason I don’t achieve the results I desire. Like being a food nazi. Strong word, but I have a feeling that’s how people think I live my life and it’s not.
Just recently, I went to dinner with a few friends. The dinner special was Tilapia stuffed with crab. YUM! When it came, there was a small side of rice and a cucumber salad. Everyone waited to see if I would eat the rice. OF COURSE I ate the rice. I was a little surprised by everyone’s anticipation of my decision. The meal was delicious and I devoured every single grain of it. I very rarely eat out but when I do, I try to choose the best options. I don’t ask the waiter a thousand questions about ingredients or sauces because I do not have a specific food allergy or medical reason to do so. I would rather allow room for others, should they need to inquire, without making it weird. I feel that paranoid about a restaurant’s menu, then I’d rather choose another restaurant. That’s not weird at all, just smart.
Although I still do not condone replacing all your junk food with gluten-free junk just because it’s ‘gluten free’, I have loosened my thought process for my own children and will buy them gluten and gmo free cereals as an easy morning breakfast. Also, just because they enjoy a bowl of cereal every now and again. Processed food is still processed, after all. Fresh is always better. But again, I’m not trying to be weird or make my kids feel weird, so they also enjoy a gluten, gmo and wheat free waffle or pancake from time to time. Still seem weird to you? Baby steps. Besides, they’re just called waffles in our house. My girls understand they are a better choice of waffles because of the brands we choose to spend our money on.
So, while my stomach is not as flat as it was 2 years ago and my thighs have more fat then they did last summer, I am still healthy and happy with my decisions. I am satisfied with my eating lifestyle at this moment and make conscious decisions to keep my body in a good enough state, while allowing room for ease due to a more hectic lifestyle then I was leading in the past. I’ve dropped from extreme to moderate…with leanings towards extreme. Give me some room here, folks.
I still consider myself 80% Paleo but would rather promote clean eating to others and slowing ease them into a grain-free lifestyle. I realize not everyone is a born extremist and many would rather begin making one better choice at a time. Robb Wolf recently posted the 7 Shades of Paleo, which reminded me that I’m still on track even though I eat sweet potatoes and don’t interrogate the waiter about ingredients. I’m still making great decisions, despite my lack of extremes. Thank you Mark and thank you Robb, you had me at hello.
I LOVE when folks are interested in eating Paleo. I only wish more of them would stick with it as it gets lonely rejecting offers of sweets and treats all the time. Imagine my excitement when a student joined my class who only eats: PROTEIN and PLANT-based carbs! He didn’t know it was ‘Paleo’, he just knew it was best for his body.
So, in keeping with retaining as many protein & plant loving friends as possible, I would like to share a few go-to Paleo mantras for making this journey work for you in modern American culture. One of my faves is:
Pig Out Paleo. I mean, if you’re going to hunt through the house for something you may as well make it Paleo. Right?! See below for health(ier) pig out options.
Set yourself up for success. Google the shit out of “paleo” advice/foods/recipes. Research why & find your own answers – the more you want it, the more you’ll find. Prep, prep and more prep so you always have food on hand. Pinterest has become an amazing little friend of mine. I’m a visual person and love a simple ‘pin’ to refer to at any time. I have a “Things Worth Eating” board that could help you get started. Then just search “paleo” snacks, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, appetizers, and more!
As Paleo As Possible. Listen, no one is perfect in anything they do. If you want something that isn’t exactly or completely on the clean eating list, make your own decision and move forward with it. Don’t wallow in less then 100%. Actually, a huge part of the Paleo community promotes an 80/20 lifestyle. It leaves room for real living in this busy world of ours. Just don’t get carried away *wink*.
Make good choices, as often as possible. These are real answers and they work if you incorporate them into your daily thinking. One blunder towards something that is inherently non Paleo, does not a failure make. Keep going, keep choosing, keep searching for your groove in a life style based in plants and animals AND simplicity. Your life will change once you take on a clean living lifestyle, for the better.
So you’re hungry and its 11 o’clock at night? EAT. Are you just looking to shove something in your mouth? Snack mindlessly? You’ll get over that eventually, in the meantime, I say: EAT. Life is for living, not punishing. Setting yourself up for success includes gradually finding a peace with sweets, emotional eating and other negative food behaviors. YOU’LL GET THERE. Don’t be so restrictive when starting that you set yourself up to fail. PIG OUT PALEO.
Late night ideas (have as little or lot as you’d like, you’ll get better at making good choices, promise):
- Nuts – straight up, mixed; chopped or blended. Do them your way.
- Dark chocolate – the higher the cacao the better.
- Fruit – dried, baked, sliced or whole, it will satisfy a sweet tooth.
- ANY COMBINATION OF THE 1st 3: Get creative.
- Olives – good fat, salty and the little ones satisfy my ‘munchie’ needs. I’m enjoying them now, straight out of the jar with a tiny spoon. CHEERS!
- Apple sauce – I’m a simple girl, it doesn’t take much. Note: your apple sauce need not include sugar/syrup of any kind. If you didn’t make it yourself, read the label. My store brand is good enough: apples, water and that acid that keeps it from discoloring.
- Hard boiled egg – a little salt, maybe some pepper, it fills you up.
- Veggies and guac – fatty and filling plus you get that crunchy snack vibe going.
- Soup/stew – leftovers rock.
Here are 75 more ideas. Google is your professor: ‘paleo_____ recipe”
What are your go-to snacks?
Mr. Paleolithic-Man is moving camp with a few friends, either for lack of food or water, climate change or because they have become the hunted. He gathers his tools and animal skins, a few nuts or sun-dried meat from camp in a satchel and they set off on a journey which could be miles or days away. As he and his friends travel to their next destination, they hunt when and what they can, as needed. Some days are better than others. They hope the few morsels they carry tide will them over till their next big find. Their strong, defined bodies continue on until they reach their destination. They set up camp and Mr. Paleolithic-Man sets off on a hunt while friends gather local plants to refuel themselves after hours/days of hard work.
You and your family decide to spend the day at the local amusement park, pool, carnival, block party or boardwalk. You drive your car to the destination then walk and play and enjoy yourselves until hungry or tired. You eat whatever you find tantalizing in the moment, enticed by colorful signs and bright lights, gooey concoctions and fried foods. Packaged snacks are so easy to pass out, so you do. You eat until your stomachs are heavy then you move onto the car for the drive home. You enter your house where all bodies flop onto the couch and recover. It’s not the long day you’re recovering from, mind you, it’s your body trying to salvage enough energy out of the grains and sugar you chose to fuel it with to get up and prepare dinner, tidy the house or get the kids ready for bed.
If you’re on a path of health the standard fast food options are the last thing you choose to eat. You point out the funky neon signs and the funny characters of the vendors at the park to your friends and family as you pass but you wait to eat until you find a reasonable option, or you go into your satchel (ie: purse, baby bag, backpack, etc) and pull out a banana or homemade jerky, perhaps you were better prepared with an insulated bag and share fruit and chicken and vegetables with your mates. OR *gasp* you just wait. It could be less than an hour till you’re at home where you have a refrigerator that has fresh, nutritious food waiting inside. Perhaps it will be 4 hours or 12 hours until you have access to reasonable, fresh, clean food. I promise, you will not die.
When people hear the word “Fast” they often think of religious sacrifice or fad-dieting. Fasting is a word I’m using for a less intense experiences and is something our bodies were designed to endure. I’m also not referring to Intermittent fasting, although an amazing option for building muscle and strength, which I’ve had my own positive experience with. Whether it’s 20 minutes after your stomach growling or a day, you can wait to eat. If you’ve been fueling your body with real food, it will find energy within. You will lean out over time and change eating patterns. Your insulin levels will steady out, your health will refresh and you won’t feel like you’re going to rip someone’s arm off their body and devour it after a little practice and patience.
Now, your child, on the other hand, may act as if they have completely lost their minds when they become hungry. This is our fault, not theirs. We have programmed them (and ourselves) to eat 3 times a day and pop a snack whenever they feel like it, half the time we’re only eating because we’re bored. Always grab an apple or a banana when you leave the house to help little ones through times of fasting until they are no longer ‘scheduled’ to eat. As adults, we have logic on our side. We also have decades of routine, so it is a hard choice to opt for fresh food until you’ve had a lot of practice. I’m working with 18 months of experience in clean (and mostly paleo) eating, it gets better, but you have to change your thinking. Your body and your health will thank you for it.
Setting yourself up for success is the best option. Eat before you head out, fueling your body with a hearty portion of protein befor a long day. Know where you’re going and plan ahead with snacks or a mental map of the day so your brain knows your body will be fed at some point. It’s more of a mental game then anything else. Drink water and stay hydrated, it’ll keep those pesky headaches away, too. Most importantly, however, enjoy yourself! Life is for living. Eating clean is easy, stop over-thinking, stop over-complicating and relax in the simple decision of plants & protein.
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If you were in attendance at PaleoFX, you may quote the mythical Mark Sisson with “Life is an experiment” for me, however, it was a resounding message heard first and often from my father, a behavioral psychologist, one G. David Smith. Both men are fairly laid back, read a lot and take an active approach towards life. Sisson, however (sorry dad), brought it home for me in a new way and solidified the ideals my father has instilled in me and that I often share with others.
Before I get into that I must comment on my use of the term ‘mythical’ in reference to Sisson. To witness him with my own eyes and hear him speak on lifestyle choice and his approach is, I said it, legendary. As I awaited Jack Kruse to take the podium and present his keynote on the eve of PaleoFX, I turned my head to the left and spotted what I thought was surely a hologram walking among us. It was bronzed, blond and wearing a signature blue shirt. I literally just stared at it until it turned toward me. I quickly looked down, turned around and tried to catch my breath as I realized ‘it’ was Mark Sisson! I wasn’t even a ‘huge’ fan (really big fan? yes) coming into the conference, so I was doubly shocked by my inability to approach or communicate with Sisson directly. I never did speak with him, although I’m certain he would have been welcoming and helpful as he interacted in a genuine and casual manner with guests. I just didn’t have a reason other than the fact that I’m still not sure he’s real. His individual lecture and Q/A the following day sealed the deal on the fact that he is super human, at least in my mind, I’m sure he and his family may disagree but I’m going to go with it. He displayed everything I strive towards; health, strength, and most importantly for me, calm.
Mark Sisson’s individual talk centered on, you guessed it, lifestyle CHOICE. Each of us chooses what path(s) we’d like to explore or take in life and he even went as far as to connect the fact that we sometimes choose disease. We choose happiness, opportunity, friendship. Sometimes, we choose to let our health slide a bit (or a lot) for the sake of our family or careers, personal goals. In the end, it is our choice and we must own that in order to change or celebrate where we are in life. This is something I often stress in my blogs, it is your CHOICE to focus on healthy eating, complete and whole living. Mark Sisson brought it together for me with the mere fact that he is a living, breathing example of choice. His demeanor was relaxed and welcoming. He was not just calm, he was so chilled out (or seemingly so, good job Mark!) that I felt calm too. With the excitement of the previous panel and new ideas and information still running through my brain, I was immediately soothed by his presence. Deep.
On Sisson’s blog, he answers what his typical day-to-day looks like and it’s a simple one: a mix between business, family and activity. He focuses his activity on PLAY, mentioning in his lecture, if he’s not having fun it’s not something he’s interested in doing. Good call, Mark. Remember, stress plays an integral role in health. No matter how fit you look on the outside, it could be killing you on the inside. Stress, lack of sleep and over training were spoken of often during PaleoFX as a way to burn through your stem cells at a more rapid speed, leading to a shortened lifespan. Which brings us back to CHOICE. You choose to be a Wall Street Millionaire and work your ass off 20 hours a day. That could bring you great personal satisfaction in life. Others choose to over train and hold onto extremely low body fat, compete in fitness and strength or sports arenas and fulfill lifelong dreams. With choice comes consequence, positive and negative. This is all okay. It’s a matter of perspective and personal interest.
Enter dietary choice. When folks visit the Paleo Diet for the first or fifth time, they are sometimes overwhelmed and to that I always say “you’re doing it wrong.” Paleo is not just about food choice but a simpler way of living. If protein and plants is too complicated for one to approach, then choose to do it differently. Plan a pasta night, or include white rice and sweet pots in moderation. Anything is better than a grain focused, sugar heavy diet, in my opinion. I usually urge folks to work their way towards drinking the beloved cup of coffee black, no sugar, no dairy. The fantastic thing is: YOU CAN CHOOSE however you’d like to drink that delicious, warm, mug full of joe. Mark Sisson made a statement that may have floored many in attendance, “I enjoy heavy cream and a little sugar in my coffee.” GASP. Sugar?! He CHOSE sugar?
Now, before everyone runs out and buys a bag of sugar for their morning coffee (UNrefined if you must), remember my first sentence “Life is an experiment.” I usually suggest approaching Paleo by getting back to basics: Protein and plants, water. This allows your body to detox and purge the anti-nutrient dense foods and chemicals in our systems. It allows our taste buds to be re-born and come to taste food again, instead of living in an inflamed state, requiring more and more additives, sugar and salt in your food for ‘taste’. THEN, after several weeks begin your experiment(s) and HAVE FUN with it. Be thoughtful (remember my MovNat experience mentioned in the previous blog?) in your actions and you’ll notice how your body reacts after you eat certain foods. Want cream in your coffee? Choose less processed options: pastured whole milk, heavy cream. Afterwards, be mindful of your body and see if there is a reaction to the dairy. Many of us are allergic and don’t know it. Many of us choose diary anyway because the side effects aren’t that bad and ice cream brings back childhood memories and comforts us. After eating the sun-dried tomato chicken salad provided by Caveman Cuisine on the 2nd day of PaleoFX, although delicious, I was reminded why I stay away from tomatoes. Every piece of food we choose affects our body and how it functions.
PaleoFX was packed full of individuals on a quest for health and fitness, whether because of disease control & prevention or for one’s ego, the reason was not up for debate. There were folks of all shapes and sizes, from many different cultures and religions but all with a similar interest in the food and movement we choose. Sisson emphasized that we are all together to share and learn from one another. We are each vehicles of information and, as I hope I remain true to, we are not here to push ideals on others. Paleo is MY choice, it is not my husband’s. I struggle with allowing my children to eat items full of grain and sugar but I choose compromise and family over control. They are, after all, my husband’s children too.
In the end, Choice is the most powerful gift we, as humans, have been given. Food choice, for example, will allow you the pleasures of taste, freedom from disease, a commonality among friends and/or all of the above. It is as simple as a “Thank you” or “No, thank you”. You must certainly use your manners (my mama didn’t raise me otherwise) but also your willpower. Some folks will find it more pleasurable to indulge in the occasional sugary snack then go off their medication for Type II Diabetes, and that’s okay. It’s their CHOICE. See, powerful. Others will find it perfectly acceptable to over train to meet an elite body type despite the potential of shortening their lifespan. CHOICE. After 16 months Paleo, I am just now choosing not to take a nibble of the box-brownies my girls made with their daddy. I have chosen a piece or a bite in the past to be met with stomach pains and a headache. That being said, please don’t try to ‘catch’ me choosing poorly, as people often do. It’s MY choice, after all.
Now that my choices have brought me from 162lbs to 122lbs, I am focusing my choices on reversing possible hormone imbalances, sleep and, of course, PLAY. Thank you for the further inspiration, Mark. My experiment continues with Day 4 of 10 hours of night sleep in a row. My skin is clear and moist, my body feels strong, my head clear.
I love/hate those commercials “Got stubborn belly fat?” uh…yeah! Who doesn’t? Selling a ‘cure’ for something that is a result of the food you eat, without changing the food you eat, will either 1) not work or 2) backfire. Everything we buy between the produce and the dairy sections in the average grocery store has sugar added for taste – yes, even the healthy/organic foods and most of the dairy too. If it’s packaged, it’s usually not very healthy after all. We are taught that food is bland without sugar. So where do you think that layer of stubborn fat comes from, and why it doesn’t go away with regular ‘dieting’ and exersize? Because you’re still filling your body with sugar.
After a year of working out at the Y and watching what I ate through calorie and portion control (and losing a significant amount of weight), I thought I had reached my new ‘thinnest’ and had a handle on the belly fat. While I realize everyone’s post-baby belly is different, I was blessed with a pronounced gut which cut off like a ledge right above the bikini line – not attractive – I thought I was stuck with it as well as the layer of fat that extended straight up over my ribs, my thicker thighs and fat butt because it was genetic. Too much information? We’re all friends here and it is what it is… or it WAS what it WAS.
During my 1st two weeks of going strict Paleo, I lost 2-4 pounds but more amazingly, my stomach was actually flattening and my gut didn’t seem so gut’y! I had cut all sugar from my diet, only eating fresh vegetables, eggs and meat whenever I was hungry. I knew I was going to see more progress as time went on and I did. Of course I also joined CrossFit towards the end of the summer 2011 which helped firm and tone what I got down through diet. CrossFit strengthens your core through complex moves without even trying. Hundreds of sit-ups have never done for me what a random routine of deadlifts, burpees, squats, v-ups, sprints, kipping pull-ups, wall balls (kill me) and the like have done for my ‘stubborn belly fat’. Now my ‘gut’ actually smooths right into the rest of my body, I forget where that ledge once lived and I can see fitness lines that I thought I’d only see in magazines.
Remember, fitness takes time. It isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. My gut a year later is what I was aiming for in the first month, silly woman. Instead of refined sugar, choose alternate sources, when necessary, like honey or dark maple syrups or puree some dates for a sweet punch to a yummy meatball or loaf. Also keep in mind, natural sugars ARE sugar and too much is not a healthy choice. If you’re in a weight-loss frame of mind, cut the fruit out of your diet other then a special treat. Otherwise, keep it to a minimum. Moderation is key and too much of one thing is never going to end well. But most importantly, sink your money into fresh produce and not the gimmick-of-the-day that promises to make you lean and toned – only YOU can make that happen through smart choices and hard work. No really, you can.