Friday, April 29, 2011


I've been laying low the last couple of weeks, getting caught up at work after being out of town, trying to get myself back on Seattle time (getting up at 6am in Hawaii is 9am in Seattle) and I admit, eating too many nuts. I got back to Crossfit this week and feel SO weak after being gone almost two weeks. The first day back we did 2000m row. I didn't break any records (our trainer said if you haven't done it before, just "survive it". I could have pushed harder but now I know).

Yesterday I swear the warm up was worse than the workout: run 400m (I'm getting better-- I can run it now without stopping, though my lungs still HATE it), then 3 rounds of 15 pushups and 15 medicine ball squat jerks (I think) and then another 400m run. I could not believe how quickly I lost my push-up strength! Two weeks ago I could have done this much more easily. This activity was in partners and my buddy was a guy who told me he's already lost 40 pounds doing crossfit. Afterwards I wished I had asked him if he changed his diet too. He was helpful, encouraging me to get all the way through that second 400m without stopping, even though I wanted to.

Our regular workout was 5x5 banded deadlifts. Except my form on deadlifts has never been awesome and I was out of practice, so I ended up doing the regular kind (banded deadlifts are where you attach the barbell to the ground with giant rubber bands which gives much more resistance at the top. If I had kept with those I definitely would have hurt my back). I did five sets with pretty low weight-- I could have probably done more weight, especially given that this morning only my quads are sore from the warm up-- no soreness from the deadlifts! But my left knee was kind of hurting and my right hip is chronically tight (I'm working on that) so I'm always scared of getting hurt deadlifting. I also was feeling slightly nauseated because I ate too close to class, and a little dizzy, probably because I think my new contact lenses are too strong, (excuses, excuses) so it probably wasn't the best workout ever, but I don't mind easing back in. I started going to class earlier than the one I used to go to and there were a lot of women there who were all so nice to me! I wish I was better at remembering names, but I felt very welcome, which is what I love about my gym!

I'm working on a post for my plan for May: a new month long experiment to fine tune this paleo-liciousness in my life.

Oh! And I am going to see Robb Wolf LIVE! I am so excited! Mr. Wolf himself is doing a seminar in Vancouver, BC on July 9th, which is a mere 3 hour drive and a border crossing away. I can hardly wait. I will of course give a full accounting here after the fact.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

One pan meal

For dinner this evening I made steak, fried yams and kale all in the same pan that I made bacon in this morning. First of all I love this pan. I have the 5 1/2 quart version and love it so much I may eventually get the smaller one as well. Last year for my birthday I got all new pots and pans after my 10 year old non-stick cheapo set from my wedding registry started to peel teflon at alarming rates. My mom had done a lot of research a couple years ago on pots and pans and the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro had great reviews and she loved the one pot she has of this type, so I bought all new pans of this variety and highly recommend them. This particular skillet is really big-- at least 12 inches (maybe 14) about 2 inches high with a stainless lid making it good for just about anything! When I first got it in the mail I was alarmed at how big it is, but I actually use it more than any other pan.

But back to dinner:

The pan had a little residual bacon fat in it (I poured most of it out into a jar), and I cooked the steaks, which I seasoned with salt and pepper in the pan first. (not pictured)

When those were finished, I set them aside to rest (after you cook meat it's good to let it sit quietly for a few minutes-- it initially loses juices and then will suck them back up again). I added a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil to the pan and when it melted I added thinly sliced yams-- turning them after 3-5 minutes (it's easy to burn them!) both of these were over medium heat. When the yams were finished I added a couple cloves of minced garlic to the pan-- stir fast so the garlic doesn't burn!

And then a whole head of de-stemmed and chopped purple kale to the pan along with about a half cup of water to de-glaze the pan (de-glazing is where you add liquid to a hot pan that has yummy goodness also known as fond stuck to the bottom of the pan. The liquid, combined with a gentle scraping with a spatula helps get the tasty bits to mix in with the food and as a bonus, makes the pan easier to clean later). I added a bit of salt to the kale but I learned the hard way last time to taste it first! Since I salted the meat, last time when I cooked greens in the same pan as the meat with no yams between there was still salt in the pan and I over salted the greens. This time it came out perfectly!
The whole process took maybe 20 minutes and now I only have one pan to clean up!

Friday, April 22, 2011

How to become a Paleo Dietitian (and is it worth it?)

On Robb Wolf’s podcast I occasionally hear people write in to ask him where they should go to school to become a dietitian that has a paleo slant. Robb tells them there is no such place and that if they want to become an RD they are going to suffer through a lot of food pyramid nonsense and that they might be better off just taking some biochemistry classes to get a better background. He is not wrong. My experience though, was better than it would have been at most places. Now granted, I am new to paleo, but in the late 90s I read the original Zone Diet books and Barry Sears’ detailed explanation of the biochemistry of what food does in the body is what inspired me to study nutrition. It was the first time I had ever had an interest in science—it lit a fire in me like few things ever have (all this from a commercial diet book!). Throughout the early 2000s I experimented with the Zone, Atkins, Fat Flush (which is actually fairly paleo) and eventually the Weston A. Price foundation. I had a few years experimenting with being a vegan, but even then it was the grain-free variety as described in Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman. Paleo made all of that information make SENSE. It was with this background that I entered Bastyr University, a natural health oriented University that trains Naturopaths, Midwives, Acupuncturists, Herbalists and Nutritionists, located Northeast of Seattle. Obviously the Bastyr curriculum is not teaching a paleo diet--but it does teach a whole food, local food approach that is skeptical of the food pyramid. Bastyr graduates are not afraid of saturated fat or red meat, and even sometimes scan the farmer’s market for lard (my friend spent an entire summer trying to figure out the perfect ratio of lard to butter for a pie crust). It was because of my education at Bastyr that I learned how to do an elimination diet and learned of my allergy to gluten (I already knew about the dairy). I learned about leaky gut (granted, not about Robb Wolf’s assertion that legumes and all grains can lead to it, but I did learn what it is and about the 8 most common food allergies and that I most likely had it). I took whole foods cooking classes, I had four intense quarters of biochemistry, both of the macro and micronutrient variety and maybe even most beneficial—I learned how to read scientific articles critically. This is a skill that is missing from a lot of people in my field—they simply take the conclusions of a scientific article as fact (if they read them at all), without being able to evaluate whether the study was well conducted or biased.

Now for the bad parts: sometimes you have to memorize things you do not believe in and other things that are horrendously boring (I’m sorry but Food Service Management was the bane of my existence). Particularly if you are going to become a Registered Dietitian, there are things you have to do because the American Dietetic Association says so, particularly doing a 1200 hour internship after you get your degree, which is fiercely competitive to even get into, during which time you will learn all about how to be a hospital dietitian and calculate how much corn syrup and soybean oil based liquid food sick people should be administered, you will probably have to teach a class on the food pyramid (that was not fun—the curriculum told me to tell people that soybean oil is good because it lowers cholesterol. I think I said it really fast so no one heard me). You will spend anywhere from 4-8 weeks learning about how hospital kitchens are run and a couple weeks having your heart broken at WIC educating low income young women about how to use government coupons that are mostly for dairy products and juice how to feed their children. It was a rough year and ultimately I use very little of what I experienced in that year in my job. You then have to take an expensive and scary exam on all of the stuff you wish you weren’t required to know in order to get your credential. The only thing that was really great about my internship (through Washington State University) was that our clinical instructor was a whizz in biochemistry and our lecture portion had a good review of those topics. That instructor also ultimately helped get me my current job, which is in research at the hospital where I did my internship and that made it all worth it, but seriously, it was a torturous year.

Then if you do become an RD and what you want to do is help people with paleo you are going to need to go into private practice, which is no guarantee of making any money, at least for the first five years. This is something I would eventually like to do, but right now I need to work and pay off my student loans and anyway I really like my job—but I don’t see patients on a day to day basis so I’m not really spreading the paleo word. If you think you are going to be able to instruct people in paleo at your average hospital outpatient clinic though I would take pause. You *might* be able to get away with some level of that, but I guarantee you if anyone overseeing your work got wind of you telling people not to eat grain or even worse, that saturated fat is not the devil, you will probably get fired. (The outpatient clinic where I did a rotation was still telling people they could have no more than 2 eggs a week and had a whole wall of cholesterol lowering margarine product examples. One of my friends heard a dietitian tell a patient that if a food was fat-free and cholesterol-free it didn’t matter what it was. Yikes!) Your best bet is to partner with a gym, probably of the crossfit variety to get clients.

Have I scared you off this endeavor? I hope not because there aren’t that many of us out there with this slant and I could use some company! (Note: one of my good friends from my internship is a hard core paleo crossfitter, so other RDs out there do exist—and she was into paleo way before I was!).

In some states (Washington is one) you can also practice as a “Certified Nutritionist” with a Master’s Degree in nutrition, without having to do the RD internship process. I have a couple friends who went this route and it was definitely tempting. If you know you will only ever have a private practice and will only ever live in a state where this is allowed do it. (But know that the Washington State Dietetic Association is pushing hard for licensure, not just certification for RDs, which depending on how the legislation ends up being worded, could cause problems for CNs down the road). Many states only allow you to practice as a licensed dietitian. It’s also very hard to get a job as a CN, thus the need for private practice.

I do really recommend the Bastyr Masters Degree program if you are going to take this on (I didn’t do an undergrad degree there so I can’t speak to that program). You will find a more open-minded, whole foods approach there, even if they are pretty enamored with grains, at least they tend to be on the whole grain, gluten free side of things. You can’t have everything!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nonsense and illogical arguments

I came across this article in the Chicago Tribune this morning about how "nutritionists" hate the paleo diet and was very irritated. The pediatrician in this article first of all was a very poor source of information-- I hope he was just misquoted because he came across a complete idiot. Why they chose to interview a pediatrician about the paleo diet makes no sense anyway-- the article was not about children's nutrition (though paleo, with plenty of carbs from yams and fruit is perfectly healthy for kids). What made me positively irate was this comment: "people who eat grains enriched with folic acid have reduced risk of neural tube defects, including spina bifida. Fortified grains "are cheap and there's no downside," he said." First of all, the only people who need to worry about spina bifida are women who are pregnant or may become pregnant-- you aren't going to suddenly get spina bifida at age 35 because you stopped eating grains-- it is a birth defect. Secondly, vegetables, particularly leafy green ones have SIGNIFICANTLY more folic acid/folate, which is more bioavailable and comes with way more other vitamins and nutrients than grains to which it is added (the government decided to add it to grains because people weren't eating enough vegetables-- let's cut out the middle man and just eat veg!). Third, fortified grains are REFINED carbohydrates-- whole grains are not required to be fortified. Even if you don't buy into the grain elimination aspect of paleo, most people with a clue about nutrition understand that refined carbohydrates are bad for you, and in excess lead to diabetes and likely heart disease. To say there is no downside is outrageous.

As for his other claims, that a teenage boy would not be able to afford this diet-- how many teenage boys buy their own food? And his insistence that dairy is important for everyone also bugs me-- as much as 75% of the population is lactose intolerant, and again, calcium can be obtained from many other foods.

His contention that most Americans are overweight because they overeat is overly simplistic-- if you look into why most Americans are overeating, it is because excessive amounts of refined carbohydrates cause hormonal changes that cause desire for even more carbohydrates. Numerous studies have shown protein is much more satiating then carbs, as is fat. Think about it-- most people can put away a pretty big plate of pasta or bread (ever eaten a whole loaf of bread while waiting for your dinner in a restaurant? I bet you still ate a good bit of your dinner). Then consider how many eggs or how much chicken you could eat in one sitting. WAY fewer calories because the protein/fat in the meat helps your body know when it's full. While everyone has a different tolerance level for carbs, eating a big plate of mainly refined carbohydrates for a meal is going to cause most people to either overeat, or be hungry again in an hour, if not both. (I know if I eat a mostly carb meal I still feel like eating even when I'm stuffed!) So yes, if you restrict calories you will lose weight, but it is a lot EASIER to restrict calories on a low to moderate carb diet than on a high carb diet because you don't get as hungry.

I don't have much of a problem with the dietitian's point about beans being a good source of fiber and protein, but again you can get plenty of fiber from any other fruit or vegetable and meat is a MUCH more efficient source of protein than beans, which do not contain all of the essential amino acids and for many people are difficult to digest.

Finally, I am irked by the idea that eliminating an entire "food group" is automatically unhealthy. The "food groups" were invented by the USDA, whose primary job is to promote agriculture in the US. Guess what crops we grow a lot of? Grains! Those same dietitians who freak out about eliminating the "grain food group" also tend to applaud people for becoming vegetarians. This seems ironic to me-- we are all going to die if we eliminate grains because they are a food group, but eliminating meat, also a food group, is totally acceptable. Do you know what farmers feed animals when they want to fatten them up quickly? Lots of low fat grains.

There is your rant for the day.

Semi-Paleo Vacation

I'm back! M and I spent a glorious week getting some much needed sunshine, spending two nights on Oahu and 5 on Kauai. Food in restaurants was hit or miss-- I had some fantastic restaurant meals and some pretty inedible ones, fortunately I also was able to cook in Kauai. I bought a huge pack of ground beef, some chicken, eggs and veggies and we ate those for breakfasts and dinners on Kauai, supplemented with lots of papayas, a few chocolate covered and plain macadamia nuts and a little wine. Lunches we mostly ate out, as well as dinner the last day and a couple of times I definitely got "glutenized"-- the last day in particular and I felt pretty bad all the way home. I was glad for a kitchen, but the oven was pretty old and kind of tippy-- everything in the pan would slide to one side! I was happy to get home to my own kitchen and fancy oven. I ate a bit more sugar, and definitely more carbs and fruit then I had been eating the past month, but overall I'd say it was a 80-85% Paleo vacation and that's good enough for me!

Exercise was mainly of the swimming/hiking variety. We took a red eye home and I got zero sleep (I'm bad at sleeping sitting up and we were in a row that didn't recline) so have been like zombies the last couple days. I'm looking forward to getting back to Crossfit tomorrow!

Hawaiian Purple yams-- pretty, but actually not that tasty.

Standard dinner-- burger no bun, yam fries, salad and pineapple
Best dessert ever-- half a papaya filled with diced banana (mango also good) and topped with mac nuts and chocolate mac nuts.

It's still basically winter in Seattle-- makes me wish I was still here:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Paleo Diet: First 30 days

In 30 days of Paleo & Crossfit OnRamp I:

Didn't lose any scale weight at all (I found this surprising). I lost two pounds the first week but it eventually returned (probably water weight/muscle gain?)

Lost 1.25 inches off my waist and 1.5 inches off the dreaded lower tummy poochy area and so my jeans fit way better now. My bicep increased by more than half an inch (!) and my chest went down a half inch (not really a goal, but is of note). My butt is 1/4 of an inch smaller too. All my other measurements stayed the same.

The good: my digestion has slowly but steadily been improving and I definitely have gotten better control of my sugar cravings.

The bad: I felt like crap for at least two weeks and my sleep has been horrible.

Where I go from here: I'm going to keep posting food and recipes, but not necessarily every day. I am going to try eating a bit more carbs, and work on improving my sleep. Next week I have an appointment with my ND to try and figure out what's going on with my hormones and I will try and get her to test my cortisol and see if that's part of the issue.

What I may do is 2 weeks of more carbs and see how that goes and then if that doesn't help in May I will do another 30 days, this time being 100% strict (i.e. no chocolate or nut butter, maybe a break from eggs) and see what that does for me.

I've got a TON of stuff going on this week so I'm probably going to take a blogging break until next week but I'll have lots more to say then. I'm not giving up yet on this plan, just continuing to tweak.

Days 28 & 29: Sleep and No Sleep

So yesterday I was a wreck, having two days in a row of not sleeping well again. Then last night, for whatever reason, I slept 9 hours straight. It's been weeks since I slept through the night without waking up every few hours. Not surprisingly, I feel awesome today!

I made what I thought was an awesome crockpot chicken recipe this weekend, though M. didn't like it-- I think he would have liked it if I had used chicken breasts instead of thighs.

Italian Crockpot Chicken:

3-4 pounds of chicken (breasts/thighs)
1 can diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen's fire roasted)
1/2 cup kalamata olives plus the liquid
1 T dried oregano
1/2 T dried Thyme
1/2 a lemon (stick the whole thing in there)
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chicken broth

Put all of this in the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. The chicken falls apart it's so tender! I served it with sauteed chard.

I had this for lunch yesterday and breakfast this morning, which enough left for breakfast tomorrow.

Last night we had ground beef sauteed with cumin, garlic and chard for dinner, with yam fries. I'm wondering if the carbs in the evening without the hard core workout before it was what helped me sleep. I'm going to try eating more carbs for a couple weeks and see how I do.

No crossfit for a couple days, but I'm doing Pilates this evening since I have a few classes I've already paid for left to use. Tomorrow I'll post a summary of the first 30 days!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Days 26 & 27: Rough Waters

I haven't been feeling very good the last couple of days. Yesterday it was because I didn't get enough sleep-- I woke up several times in the night (likely due to the crazy intense Crossfit workout, the residual issues with my lungs (two days later and I still am coughing a bit) and the late dinner. I was so wrecked all morning and had a bunch of caffeine and felt a bit better. I went out for drinks last night with some old friends, though I only drank a half a glass of wine and then some club soda, but I was out much later than I usually am and didn't get to bed until 1am (thankfully I slept in until 9:45). But today I woke up with a very angry digestive system. I'll spare you the details but let's just say I usually tend toward constipation and the pendullum has swung way too far in the opposite direction. I'm not sure if I gave myself a little food poisoning, or if it was too much caffeine + alcohol and maybe a little too big a dose of magnesium last night. Or it's just hormones as my period came today quite early. I suspect the new dietary and exercise changes caused me not to ovulate at all this month. I'm not excited about it, but it's fine-- I am planning to go see my ND again soon and have some hormone tests to see where I am with all of this. What did I eat? Yesterday was very beefy:

Breakfast and lunch I had the same thing because it was the end of the week and we were out of almost everything. I made patties out of 1 lb of ground beef and ate them with the leftover mashed cauliflower, leftover bacon, and with breakfast there was some avocado which I left out of lunch. Dinner was steak and kale, which sadly turned out too salty because I made the kale in the same pan as the steak and forgot I had salted the meat and added too much salt to the kale without tasting it. Ooops.

Food today: meat and cauilflower leftovers AGAIN (if this is what made me sick I've definitely been getting a lot of it in!)

Lunch was a yummy salmon salad. I mixed 1 can of salmon with spicy mustard, half an avocado, and some salt and pepper and had it over romaine lettuce and diced carrots with a smidge of olive oil and vinegar.

Dinner: M. wanted Thai food. I usually get Phad Thai, but since I'm avoiding grains I instead opted for a Lemon Coconut chicken dish that was actually just what I needed. It was chicken cooked in coconut milk, I'm guessing with Tumeric due to the color, maybe garlic and probably a bit of sugar or something and served over napa cabbage. It came with rice but I didn't eat it. I can't believe how much more tolerant of coconut I've become-- I never used to like coconut milk based dishes and now I quite like them! I also had a couple squares of 88% dark chocolate. The very low sugar kind leaves me less likely to go crazy on it. Sometimes I even eat the unsweetened kind! Did a few errands today but mostly laying low waiting for my stomach to sort itself out. I took some emergenC with a scoop of L-glutamine and 2 probiotic capsules this afternoon, so hopefully something in that will fix it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 25: Bakin' Bacon, Back on Track

I feel soooooo much better today. I actually felt really awesome all day. I didn't take the Thyroid supplement-- was that causing my cranky pants attitude? Maybe. I didn't have those sucky sugar cravings all day either-- I think it's possible that starting the day with that soup containing beets and carrots might have been what set me off before-- or maybe the chocolate finally wore off. Today I had the tuna "chowder" I made last night for breakfast, and although my officemates probably did not enjoy the re-heated fish smell this morning, it was a very satisfying breakfast. Lunch was beef stir-fry. Dinner was absolutely DELICIOUS.

Bakin' bacon!

I made: scrambled eggs with red pepper and finely chopped greens, bacon, which I baked on a rack in the oven which worked beautifully, and sweet potato "chips" (or round fries as M. insisted they be called). I took a big sweet potato and cut it into very thin rounds (maybe 2-3 mm thick) and baked them on a cookie sheet with lots of olive oil, garlic powder and salt. I cooked the bacon and the potatoes at the same time since my oven has a handy-dandy convection option. SO YUMMY.

Tonight was my last night of OnRamp. I knew when I was driving to the gym with the sun shining that we were going to have to run tonight. After all, it's "free pain Thursday" as our coach always says. While it was sunny it was really cold and my lungs* did NOT enjoy running in the cold air at all-- they HURT almost the whole time and I've been coughing since the workout, but I actually did pretty well and ran with minimal walking for the whole workout, which was:

10 wall ball shots (throw a medicine ball at the wall, catch and squat, repeat)
200 meter run
9 wall ball shots
200 meter run
8 wall ball shots
(you get the picture-- all the way down to 1)

It sucked and was awesome all at the same time. I was bright red like a tomato when we finished (at least I wasn't purple, which sometimes happens when I run). My two buddies were there tonight but they aren't quite done with OnRamp yet. We exchanged phone numbers and agreed to all start going to the 5:30 class together once they finish up. I left feeling really happy with my workout and my new friends.

*a note about my lungs: in 2007 I had bronchitis + the flu for a month. It was the sickest I have ever been in my life. Ever since then whenever I get any sort of sick, including my food allergy reactions, it happens in my lungs. They are wussy. I've had some mild seasonal allergy stuff happening lately, and that compounded with the cold air made my lungs hurt. Also, they are just deconditioned from not doing enough cardio.

Also, strangely this morning I woke up feeling skinny. The scale was actually UP several pounds (retaining water maybe) but a pair of pants that hasn't fit in awhile fit me easily, which means my lower tummy/hips/butt area has gotten smaller. See? This is why we can not trust the scale.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 24: Accidental "Chowder" and I heart Crossfit

Today was just a weird day. I felt weird-- still had that kind of uncomfortable vaguely sugar cravings-y feeling (though I didn't really want anything in particular, I just wanted that feeling to go away). If I had strips for my blood glucose meter it would be interesting to see where my blood sugar was when I felt like that. (I have one because it was free at a conference, not because I am diabetic).

Breakfast: soup, 2 eggs, was still hungry so had 1 cup berries and coconut cream
snack: decaf coffee and coconut milk
Lunch: ground beef and greens-- seasoning was more "taco" style today-- made enough for M and I to have for lunch tomorrow too.
Snack: just felt so off, and had coconut cream mixed with a couple teaspoons of sunflower seed butter
Dinner: I made the pork roast I bought last weekend-- it didn't come out tender enough for shredded pork-- maybe it was the wrong cut of pork or I'm thinking my oven runs hot. We still ate it and it was good, just not shredded. I thought it would last 2 meals for both of us but it was fairly fatty and I got maybe 1 1/3 meals. Maybe lunch on Friday.

The one thing that made that weird feeling go away was Crossfit, which is why I think maybe my blood sugar was high and I burned some off, but I don't know for sure. I'm also wondering if my adaptogen/iodine supplement might be causing my cranky spells so I'm going to skip that tomorrow and see if it's any better.

I accidentally came up with a recipe for dairy free tuna chowder tonight that is really yummy and easy:

Chop and de-stem two heads of cauliflower
Steam until very soft and crumbly (for me this was around 12 minutes)
Put in blender (I used my vitamix-- I don't have a food processor but that would work too)
Following measurements are approximate as I just threw stuff in:
add around 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup coconut cream
1/4 tsp? garlic powder
2 tsp? salt

Blend it all up-- for me this came out runny like thick chowder which wasn't what I was going for (I was trying to make more of a mashed potato consistency) but my plan was to mix it with a can of tuna anyway and it tasted like a yummy clam chowder (caveat: given my dairy allergy I haven't actually had clam chowder in probably 5 years or more). Anyway I'm excited to eat that tomorrow. It made a lot of cauliflower-- I mixed a can of tuna with maybe 1/3 of the cauliflower. I think I have some left over kale chips I might top it with.

Snow at Local's Gym!

Now for Crossfit: we had a random snow shower as I was driving to the gym tonight-- highly unusual for April in Seattle. It made a lot of people late for class. At first I was the only one there for OnRamp and J, my trainer said I did not need one on one work and to join the regular WOD class. Fine with me! With only one OnRamp left I'm looking forward to the main class. Our workout was tough but fun: after a warm up we split into teams of three-- I was on a team (team "banana" which was literally the first thing that came to my mind when we had to come up with a team name) with one of the girls I was in onramp with, and another woman who has been doing crossfit for about 6 months but at a different gym. It was her first time at our crossfit-- she looked like I would love to look-- super lean but also with muscle. The workout went something like this:

Person A rows as hard as they can for one minute. They take the number of calories they burned in that minute (generally around 15-20) and subtracts it from 40 to get x. Person B & C do x number of either kettlebell swings or knees to elbows. When they finish, everyone rests one minute and then rotates, so a new person is rowing, swinging, etc. We were done when we got to 100 calories burned on the rower. By the last set when I had to do 30 knees to elbows my hands and forearms were killing-- I've got some good calluses forming though. Then we worked a bit on dips and stretched. It was really fun-- a different dynamic being coached by two women as we were in this class, but it was great having two coaches since in a big class sometimes you don't get much form correction otherwise. I had a really good time.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Days 22 & 23: It's all relative

No pics today-- blogging from M's work computer.

That chocolate/carb overload last weekend was a bad idea. Since then I've been extra hungry, craving sugar and CRANKY. Time to rein things in-- today I had a really stressful day at work, culminating in getting absolutely drenched in a flash hail storm and I took it out on a whole bar of 72% cocoa chocolate, which has a lot more sugar than the TJ's one. I am not going to beat myself up about it, but I don't like feeling that sugar craving feeling all day so that needs to stop. Compared to the amount of sugar I was eating before this experiment it's not that bad, but I would prefer not to eat so much in one sitting. It is not good for me for a whole bunch of reasons. There might be a PMS component to this sudden need for chocolate too.

Crossfit last night was great, though I'm really feeling it today. It was all about calisthenics again: warm up: 3 x 10: pushups, pullups, situps and squats, then we worked on knees to elbows (I got closer!) and kipping swings.

Full workout: 10 minutes of 40 seconds squats, then 20 seconds "dead bug" (an ab thing where you lay on your back with your feet in the air and reach toward your feet trying to have as little of your back on the floor as possible), 40 seconds push ups and repeat with no breaks. Those pushups killed, as my arms were already spent from all the other hanging stuff we already did, but it's my legs that are really feeling it today from all the squats. Afterwards we reviewed thruster and front squat form. I was sad my buddy S hasn't shown up the last few classes and buddy A has graduated to the big kids class (I have two more onramp to go!)

It was funny-- my first week of Onramp there were a few girls that were WAY better than me and now being the most seasoned girl in the class, they were looking at me like I was so strong (one of the girls said something about me being buff-- I told her it was all relative and pointed out some of the hard core awesome chicks in the real WOD class). Excuse me while I rant for a second: What bugs me about a lot of the women in this class (and I am sure I am guilty of this sometimes too, but I try hard not to) is they don't believe they can do things and or they are nervous to fail and so they try to be cutesy or laugh and give up or complain about how hard it is when we just started. This annoys me. Just TRY. TRY HARD. If you fall down, get back up. If it burns and is super uncomfortable then GOOD you are doing it right. If I wanted it to be easy I would have stuck with walking and pilates. I am here to get my ass kicked so that it looks and performs better. Just because you are a girl doesn't mean you have to be weak. The fact you are overweight means you actually have more muscle than a lot of people because you need it to haul that stuff around. So stop complaining and WORK. Of course I say this having had a very different relationship with weight training then many women my age-- I've lifted weights on and off since I was 15 or 16-- half my life, and I've experimented with a lot of different workouts and even took (though didn't finish) a course to become a personal trainer. But I was never an athelete, I am not particularly well coordinated and while I'm not a weakling, I'm not crazy strong. I just TRY and TRY HARD. (see? I told you I'm cranky!) *steps off soap box*

Food yesterday:
breakfast: 2 hard boiled eggs and the soup I made last weekend
lunch: left over lamb, kale and a bit of beef stir-fry
dinner (post workout): made pot roast, broccoli and yams. I think the yams after the workout made me feel good and helped me sleep, but it might have been too much today, given all the sugar cravings (but maybe that was from the chocolate over the weekend). Tomorrow I'll do yams again but not as much.

Today: had a ridiculous soup-tastrophe this morning. I don't know why I chose a tupperware I know to be leaky for transporting soup other than I was really tired and not thinking. I had soup everywhere in my work bag-- not pretty. I mixed it with some left over pot roast and had some coffee mid morning with coconut milk.
Lunch: leftover potroast and somewhat undercooked broccoli. The combination of a stressful day, trying to finish something on a deadline and being at battle with microsoft word + forgetting to take half my digestive enzymes resulted in very poor digestion.
Dinner: eaten at M's desk, as this is our last super long Tuesday where I wait at his office while he plays basketball (yay! last game of the season! It's hard on both of us to stay so late). Also had a giant chocolate bar and a kombucha.

In tracking my temperatures this month I had a couple days when I took melatonin where my morning temps took a bizzare nosedive for two days. Melatonin is a hormone--maybe it messed with my progesterone. It also gave me a hangover until almost 3pm, so I'm done with that stuff! I'm resigned to the fact that pregnancy is not likely to occur soon. Obsessing over diet modifications and crossfit have been a welcome change from thinking about that. If my temps and cycles don't even out in a few months I'll go get some blood tests done but I've decided not to worry about it for now and focus on healing my gut, getting my blood sugar balanced out, and getting in better shape. Hopefully I can lose the Ms. Crankypants attitude soon too!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Days 20 & 21: Mini Treats, carb increase and sleep

The end of this week I was tired and and really not very hungry due to poor sleep. Last night I both upped my magnesium and took a little melatonin (.5mg). I slept a lot better, only waking up once instead of 4 or 5 times. Often Melatonin makes me kind of hung over the next day but I woke up feeling like I'd really slept for the first time in awhile. I've still been tired and cranky today though, perhaps from residual fatigue not being totally caught up, but even more than that I woke up STARVING. I haven't been all that hungry this whole time, given how few carbs I've been eating and I kind of like it. I also slept in and didn't get breakfast in until 11am-- today I've been an eating machine! I've had probably twice the carbs I usually do, and a bit of sugar (in the form of dark chocolate as pictured above-- it's pretty low sugar chocolate, but it has some). I've also kind of gone to town on carrots and sunflower seed butter. I figure I was probably behind on calories and needed to catch up. The extra carbs left me feeling less satiety though-- even when I'm full I still kind of feel like eating, a sensation I don't get when I keep the carbs lower, so I don't think I'll make a habit of this.

Yesterday I ate:
B: leftover ground beef stir-fry
L: 2-3 eggs cooked in coconut oil with salsa, coffee with coconut milk, dark chocolate
S: more leftover ground beef stir-fry
D: baked cod, 1/2 a small yam, broccoli with olive oil


B: Rainbow chicken soup (recipe below), 1 cup frozen berries with coconut milk
S: still hungry, had the last of the ground beef stir-fry and broccoli, then 1 cup carrots and 2 T sunflower seed butter
L: More soup, more carrots and seed butter, dark chocolate
D: planning lamb, which I've never made before-- I don't think I've even ever eaten it before, other than in Indian food with a lot of sauce, with broccoli or greens.

Today worked out to about 100 grams carbs instead of my usual 50 ish. Tomorrow I'm going to try specifically targeting more carbs (yams) after crossfit and see how that goes.

Rainbow Chicken Soup:

8 cups chicken stock + 4 cups water
4 lbs chicken thighs, diced into bite sized pieces
a whole lot of veggies! I used
4 Zucchini, 3 summer squash, 1 head chard, 4 small golden beets (peeled), handful of baby carrots-- all diced (see pic)
1 T Thyme
1/2 T Tarragon
4 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt to taste (probably 3-4 Tablespoons)

I threw all of the above in a giant stockpot and simmered it for an hour or so.

This soup tastes good, but if I made it again I'd alter the ratio of veggies to meat-- there are so many veggies that I'm hungry again an hour after I eat it because I get full on veggies and broth, but only get a couple oz of chicken. I might add extra protein to this as I eat it-- I made a ton of it and was thinking I would eat it for breakfast this week.

I'm trying to shift my perspective to what amount of nutrients makes me FEEL the best and stop thinking so much about losing body fat. I think the body fat thing will happen slowly over time-- I have maybe 10 pounds max to lose, and am likely gaining muscle, so I don't expect to see much scale action. I don't like that hungry/cravings feeling though, so will not continue with the higher carbs all day scenario.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Supplements: What I'm taking and why

I realized despite a pretty decent handful of pills I swallow a day I haven't really mentioned it here. Since I just revamped this yesterday, now seems a good time to talk about it. Pull up a chair-- this might take awhile!

First of all, I discovered on Friday a number of my supplements had rice or corn flour in them. Given that the whole point of this paleo experiment is to completely eliminate grains, taking even the small amount in a couple capsules seems like not the best plan, so I exchanged a few bottles yesterday for brands without flour (thank goodness for liberal return policies!)

First group:

These two have to be refrigerated, so I admit I am not as consistent with taking them because I forget.

Fish oil: Concentrated of Omega 3s, important to combat inflammation and balance the Omega-6s we get from nuts, grain fed meat and polyunsaturated oils-- all of which are pro-inflammatory. I take a 1/2 tablespoon which has around 3g omega-3. Based on this calculator I probably need more, but not only is it expensive but I HATE swallowing it. It doesn't really taste that bad but the texture of swallowing straight oil is absolutely vile. (This is partly a mental aversion because I once got car sick on a bus right after taking some and threw it back up). I usually chase it with some sparkling water or tea to get it out of my mouth. Why not take capsules you say? Because it would take something like 8 or 10 capsules a day to equal the same amount of omega 3 which is expensive. My parents take 1-2 tablespoons a day of this and put in on their oatmeal and don't find it gross at all; I struggle with getting it down. I use either this Pharmax Finest Pure Fish oil brand or Nordic Natural's Pro line, both of which are very concentrated so I can get the most omega 3s for the least amount of oil, but they are practitioner level brands, meaning you can pretty much only either buy them from an ND/Nutritionist who buys it wholesale, or from a store like Pharmaca. (Incidentally, if you live near a Pharmaca, they are a great resource for supplement questions as they have highly trained staff (NDs, Nutritionists, herbalists). I worked at one last summer and learned a lot about supplements from my co-workers. They also have higher quality brands than some of the other supplement stores.) If you don't have access to this, regular Nordic Naturals or Carlson's are also good brands that are more widely accessible. I don't recommend you take Cod Liver oil in large quantities due to the large amount of vitamin A which can be toxic in excess-- stick with the regular fish oil.

Probiotics: I take Pharmax brand for this also. There are other good brands out there (Jarrow is one). I have to be extremely careful about getting one that is not dairy based since I'm so allergic and I've used this one on and off for a long time. When I'm consistent with it I do notice my digestion is better.

Group two: You'll see the first three are NOW brand, largely because they didn't have any grain based ingredients and were inexpensive.

From the left:
Thyroid Energy (NOW brand): I just started taking this about a week ago. Mainly I was looking to supplement iodine, since in many of the Robb Wolf podcasts he says that women who have mild hypothyroid symptoms (which I have had for years) but normal labs can benefit from a RDA dose iodine supplement, as unless you eat a lot of iodized salt or seaweed even a paleo diet can be a bit deficient. My local supplement store didn't have plain iodine. I originally bought another brand supplement that was almost identical to this except it contained an adaptogenic herb called Rhodiola. It was way too stimulating for me and made me shaky and feel horrible (ginseng does that to me too), even at a half dose. This has a different adaptogen called Ashwaganda that is a more calming herb I've had good luck with in the past, as well as a few B vitamins, zinc, L-tyrosine (an amino acid). This seems to have made a dramatic difference in my energy. So much so that I'm wondering if it might be the cause of my recent sleep issues-- I was taking 2 caps twice a day but today I'm just taking it once to see if I sleep better.

B-6 (NOW brand): Up until yesterday I was talking a B-complex instead of the plain B6. I have been taking a large dose-- 100mg a day for the past three months and then I upped it to 150mg this month. A number of sources I've read (including the absolutely wonderful book Taking Charge of your Fertility which I can't recommend enough) suggest that higher dose B6 can help lengthen the luteal phase (basically the number of days between when you ovulate and when your period starts-- generally a symptom of low progesterone or too much estrogen), which is something I have struggled with. I don't really understand the mechanism of this-- I keep meaning to look into it. You CAN overdose this stuff-- over 200mg a day can lead to nerve damage. When I started taking this my luteal phase went from a solid 7 days to 10-11 days (normal is 12-14 days). I bumped it up this month to see if that helps any more, but given that I'm trying to do more with just food & exercise I'm looking to wean off this soon.

Super Enzymes (NOW brand): I started taking these because Robb Wolf recommends them as an inexpensive supplement for digestion. They contain Betaine HCL (basically, the same acid as in your stomach) and some pancreatic enzymes. He says to start with one and increase with each protein and fat meal until you feel a "warm" feeling, then back off by one. Eventually as your digestive tract heals you should need less and less. I'm taking 2-3 per meal and it really seems to help.

Chaste Tree Berry/Vitex (Vitanica brand): My naturopath recommended this back in December to help with my irregular cycles. For several months I was taking a tincture form (which is a liquid suspended in alcohol) but it tasted horrible and I had to mix it with something sweet to get it down. I recently switched to pills since I'm avoiding sugar and it was too gross to keep swallowing it, and a pain to take on a plane. While this hasn't completely solved my cycle issue, I have noticed I get less PMS for the most part, and my skin stays clear during my period. Apparently it can take 3-6 months to have an effect so I'll keep taking it for the time being.

Prenatal (Thorne brand): I honestly am not sure I really need this, and I wasn't taking it when I was taking the B complex. I eat a lot of leafy greens so I probably am getting the folate I need. The recommended dose is 3 caps and I take 2 (Thorne tends to put a ton of every ingredient in their supplements). I figure better safe than sorry. Thorne is another pro-line brand. I also like the more widely available Rainbow light prenatal. When I worked at Pharmaca a lot of pregnant women told me the Rainbow light (which has a one a day version) was the only one they could keep down during morning sickness.

Vitamin D3 (natural factors brand): I think it's pretty widely known at this point that most people are D deficient, especially if you live North of the 45th parallel (which is around San Francisco). Up here in the Pacific Northwest we don't get enough UV from the sun to make vitamin D 8 months out of the year. M in particular has been pretty deficient-- I haven't had my levels tested in awhile but since I supplement more consistently it hasn't been as bad. We both are taking 5000 IU a day-- if we miss a day I give him two to make up. That's the only supplement he takes right now. I think brands of vitamin D are pretty interchangeable-- this was the best priced one at the time I bought it. In the summer I'll probably cut us back to every few days if we are getting consistent sun exposure.

Magnesium (natural calm): I've used this stuff for years-- I switched briefly to a capsule form of Mg and it just wasn't the same. Magnesium is a mild muscle relaxant, is important for cell signaling, and it can help your bowels move if they are like mine and are sluggish (watch out if you tend in the opposite direction!) This brand is effervescent and either lemon or raspberry flavored. Taking it at bed time is relaxing and yummy. Even my guru of the month Robb Wolf is all over this stuff!

That's it now. I admit I have a full spice rack of other supplements that I've taken on and off. When you are steeped in this stuff it can either turn you totally off of it or make you kind of a supplement junky (I obviously, fall into the latter camp). I feel like this is my bare minimum at the moment-- when I go on vacation or do business travel I tend to not take anything except the vitex and when I remember the digestive enzymes. I think it's good to give your body a break from supplements sometimes.

This was like a novella of information! I'm nothing if not through!

Budget Revised

After my anxiety and guilt last week over buying so much conventionally grown meat I took a field trip to Puget Consumer Cooperative (known locally as PCC-- in fact I had to look up what PCC stood for just now). There are I think 9 stores, most of them far away in Seattle and on the East side (I live 20 miles North of the city). A couple years ago one finally opened comparatively closer to my house-- it's far enough (about 10 miles) I don't go there very often, though I always enjoy shopping there. I have another health food oriented store (Central Market) within 3 or 4 miles I go to, but that is also super expensive (I swear I can't get out of there without spending at least $50). We don't have a Whole Foods close to us (though we are getting one soon, Lord help us. I lived within walking distance of one in college and I went there every day!) Anyway, in my mind PCC was up there in expense with Whole Foods and Central as far as price, so it's rare I go there-- produce, while pristine is pretty spendy there. But they do have the best selection of local, pasture raised etc. meat around. Imagine my surprise then, to find that grass fed ground beef was $1 cheaper per pound at PCC then at Trader Joe's, and local instead of from New Zealand! I also found some of the more "roast" oriented cuts of meat to be relatively affordable too-- all within the $5-$6 a pound range (other than one pound of better steak I bought for $10 a pound). My favorite coconut milk was also significantly cheaper ($1.79 a can vs. $2.50 at Fred Meyer).

I purchased the following, all of which is local/grass-fed/pastured etc.:
~ 5 pounds ground beef
1.72 lb lamb shoulder roast
2.24 lb pork shoulder roast
1.05 lb Top sirloin steak (that was the only expensive splurge)
3.55 lb Sirloin tip roast
3.4 lb chicken thighs (these were the only sorta pastured Rosie's kind, but that's all they had)
2 cans of wild caught fish (one salmon one tuna)-- these were way cheaper than at Fred Meyer for the same brand!

4 cans of coconut milk
some loose rooibos tea
ginger green tea (in bags)

At Trader Joes and Fred Meyer I bought
Several bags of mixed greens and stir fry greens
broccoli crowns and cauliflower
3 bell peppers
1 dark chocolate lover's bar (85% cocoa)-- treat!
7 organic fuji apples
3 bananas
1 lemon

So how did this work out budget wise? My goal is to stay within $125-$150 a week, hopefully at least some of the time keeping to the lower end to allow for expenses like dish soap, toilet paper etc. So let's compare last week's bargain shopper experience with this week's all grass-fed, mostly organic shopping list. I've noticed I'm saving money from pre-paleo because gluten free bread and treats are very expensive. The gluten and dairy free ice cream I like is usually $5 or $6 a pint!

Last week I spent:
Total: $135 (I wrote in my post it was $125 or so but a mid-week run to Fred Meyer for a few things pushed it to this new total). This includes the $14 turkey that was completely inedible, save for some broth. Even 6 hours of simmering did not lessen the toughness of the meat. Lesson learned there.

Breakdown: Total: $135
Meat: $67.03 (around 15 pounds, plus the turkey)
Fruit: $6? (I can't find the receipt for the mid-week apples I bought)
Veg: $30.34
Other: $17.82

This week I spent: $148.73
Meat: $99.57 (17 pounds + 2 cans of canned fish)
Fruit: $5.79
Veg: $24.66
Other (includes avocadoes): $18.71

(Note: other is generally tea, coconut milk, spices, sometimes bread or peanut butter for M.)

So obviously I spent around 50% more for meat. But last week I over-bought vegetables (I may have done that again today-- a lot left from last week are going into the soup). Really if you take out the turkey, I pretty much doubled my meat budget, but overall I stayed (barely) in budget for the week. It is my hope that the meat I bought will last maybe 10 days, but that remains to be seen. I still have 1 pound of the regular extra lean ground beef I bought last week in the freezer, and I'm defrosting the last of my Costco cod for dinner tonight. If I buy a $63 membership to the co-op I can get 5% off on the 15th & 16th of the month, plus another 10% off one other day of the month. If I can clear some freezer space or get a second freezer maybe I could stock up once or twice a month and save some money.

I would need the overall budget $25 or so lower on alternate weeks-- I bought bread and peanut butter for M. at Costco a couple weeks ago and we will run out this week (he eats apples and peanut butter like they are going out of style, and still has the occasional sandwich. Once I get myself dialed in a little more I'll work on adjusting him closer to paleo too).

Today I tried driving 20 miles to the closest year-round farmer's market in the University District, but they just didn't have much produce, given that it's just barely Spring, so another week of Trader Joe's/Fred Meyer produce. I'm contemplating going back to using the CSA we used in the past (Full Circle Farm) but I'm not sure it's worth it right now, since come summer I do plan to visit more farmers markets. I think the fruit bill in particular will be higher in the summer since we eat tons of berries and peaches when they are in season, but this will be tempered by the fact I usually grow greens, tomatoes, raspberries and some herbs in the backyard (assuming we actually get some sun this year-- last year it was a cold summer and my tomatoes never got ripe)-- which come to think of it is the reason I quit the CSA in the first place. Maybe I'll save that for October.

Overall I am thrilled that I was able to get a week or so's worth of meat that I can feel environmentally, ethically, and healthily good about. I'll let you know how long all that meat lasts. If it doesn't last us the week then we are going to have to cut it down to maybe 75% best, 25% less than awesome.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Day 19: Tired & Rainy

This will be brief-- I'm not feeling so good today. I already was sleep deprived yesterday and then last night, probably because of too much caffeine + dinner much too late + x fit = I woke up every two hours and had crazy dreams all night. Despite the fact I could have slept until noon if I wanted to, I woke up for the final time around 8 and couldn't sleep anymore. All day I have been walking around in a haze. I did some errands and a couple ladies in Marshall's were looking at me really funny. It also absolutely poured down rain all day-- April showers and all that, but it made driving all over town in my sleepy stupor extra challenging.

On top of that my digestive system has been really off since that salad at Hard Rock-- maybe there was a little gluten in it? I've had gas pains (sorry if TMI) that were the worst for the two days after, but still some residual even today and everything is moving really really slowly. So much for hoping for the best-- next time I'm going to say I have a life threatening allergy to gluten.

I've had the carcass from the turkey disaster simmering since mid-day. I'm hoping maybe the meat still on it will soften up and I can add the super dry meat already cut off to it and salvage a soup-- we'll see. I don't have any room in the freezer for broth, since I just made chicken broth last week so I'm definitely making soup one way or another tomorrow.

I am very excited about how much better the grocery selection is looking this week: I made a revolutionary discovery! More on that tomorrow.

Today I haven't really been very hungry, probably because I'm so tired.

Breakfast: left over super dry ground beef patty (not the best but didn't want to waste it!) with sauteed veggies and I think the last of the avocado. Coffee (half the real kind, half decaf with a little coconut milk)

Lunch: the other half of yesterday's salmon patty + veggie lunch with extra salsa.

Snack: had a few bites of coconut cream which I mixed with lemon juice and basil-- this for some reason made me very nauseated and has lasted a few hours.

Dinner: still facing nausea, ate a very small portion of the recipe below (which was good).

Ground beef & Greens Stir-Fry:
a small onion chopped small and sauteed until browned in coconut oil
gloves crushed garlic
1.25 pounds grass fed (yay!) beef
1 head of swiss chard, chopped to bite sized pieces
1 head of lacinato kale, de-stemmed and chopped to bite sized pieces
and the end of a bag of shredded cabbage
I threw in some wheat free tamari-- not sure how much just poured some on.

I cooked the beef until mostly done and then added the veggies and put a lid on it to steam for 5 minutes or so and then stirred it a few times.

It came out pretty good-- there was lots left so I'll definitely be having leftovers tomorrow.

More on my shopping excitement tomorrow, and maybe a post on supplements.