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Day 5 of week 7

I knew I was going to be buying both my lunch and dinner out today. I am always fearful that there is nothing on the menu that I can make “paleo” so I tend to pick a dish that looks like it has the lowest ratio of carbs to “paleo” ingredients on the plate, so that I can eat the paleo stuff on the plate and ignore the carbs. I could have done this with the dinner, for example, eaten everything but the fries. Unfortunately, I’m not that disciplined, it appears, because I made a pretty good dent in the fries, even if I didn’t eat them all.

The salad bar should have been easy to do without putting carbs in my salad, but unfortunately, this salad bar didn’t have very many options and I was afraid that I would not feel satisfied with just greens and an egg, so I added the chickpeas and grape leave wraps for more heartiness and the feta cheese for taste. It’s a delicate balancing act. I also know those margaritas I had with dinner were filled with sugar, and even though I considered just getting a shot of tequila without the sweet mixer, I was eating at a table, so that would have been more challenging.

The best I can say about eating out and trying to do it paleo is to do the best you can. It’s not always going to work the way you want it to. And if you order something that has an ingredient that is not paleo in it, don’t be afraid to ask them to leave that off and replace it with another item. For example, what I know I should have done is asked them to replace the fries with a chefs salad or something like that. However, I hadn’t realized when I ordered the dinner that the fries came with it. Otherwise I might have.

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Today’s nutrition:

10:00 hot chocolate with organic sugar and almond milk

1:30 a turkey burger with sun dried tomato, hot sauce and basil; side of salad: tomato, cucumber, avocado, yellow pepper and Boston lettuce; dressing with olive oil, lemon juice and spices.

turkey burger and salad

turkey burger and salad

6:30 (Ate out at Johnny D’s): pork ribs with sweet bbq sauce, mashed potatoes with cheese and asparagus; 4 vodka tonics

I ate out quite a lot this week, for 4 different meals. The only two meals I did pretty good with were the two lunches. The dinners were less Paleo than I would have preferred. I think it’s tough having a social life and eating with friends or family while still trying to do a Paleo diet. I suppose I could have asked the server to modify the food for me. I could say: leave off the rice or potatoes, which I didn’t do. Maybe it’s because I hate to be a bother when it comes to ordering in a restaurant, and I can easily just put those items to the side of the plate if I don’t want them. For today’s dinner I only had a few bites of the potatoes.

I figured also that this week will just be a wash, considering I did not stay 100% Paleo.

Day 2 of week 6

Thoughts about yesterday:

It is quite amazing how different my body feels after I’ve consumed items that are not in the Paleo realm. The sugar and alcohol caused me sleep restlessly, as I expected. I woke up at 3:30 parched. Although that could’ve also been because I forgot to turn on my humidifier in my bedroom. The morning afterwards (Feb 12th), I didn’t feel well in my stomach either, bloated, and hurting (cramps). It went away after I went to the bathroom. All I could think of was getting rid of the food from my body as soon as possible. To cleanse it again. So funny how I have quickly come to think of those foods as poison or garbage. I think it’s knowing how clean I feel on the Paleo diet versus when I’m eating anything and everything.

I am not sorry I ate the foods I did last night. I suppose I could’ve skipped dessert, could’ve skipped the wine, not eaten the crackers and bread. But how often will I really be doing this? I also didn’t want to insult Jacqui, who always puts on a great spread, especially the appetizers. She is French, after all. I think it does take quite a lot of discipline to not give in and eat everything.

Day 7 of week 5

So now that I’ve done this program for 5 weeks, I’m wondering more and more why I don’t just continue doing what I’m doing. Just keep going after the 8 weeks are done. I know how the regimen makes me feel, both in my body and emotionally. I wrote this to my sister yesterday:

At the first of this year, right on January 1st, I made the decision to do something really nice for myself and that was to once and for all eat much healthier and to exercise daily. I had learned about a program that helps you to do that and has proven results. I read all about it and since it was very affordable to sign up, I did and started the “program” on January 6th. It’s for a minimal 8-weeks and you work out daily except on Sunday and you eat only healthy and whole foods, and skip anything with sugar, dairy or wheat in it. You also don’t eat anything in the family of beans or rice. So I’ve been keeping up with it, tracking my progress, and recording my journey. I have done 5 weeks and have 3 more to go, but I’m probably going to keep going after the 8 weeks because it’s become so easy for me to do. I’ve lost 4.5 pounds so far and just feel great.

I feel stronger and leaner and the food is helping to eat less and not feel so full after eating. I have some meat every day, eggs, some fruit and lots of vegetables and a little bit of nuts. For healthy oils I eat fish, olive oil and nuts. I have added a few things in, maybe once a week, of diary (like yogurt) or something like a cookie or piece of pie, but for the most part I’m strictly on this food program. It’s also called the Paleo diet, because it is based on foods that people ate in the paleozoic period, when people were hunters and gatherers. The theory is that after agriculture the health of people declined. They have compared bones of paleozoic people to those of later people and their teeth are healthier, their bones are stronger, they were taller, and there was less infant mortality. The science of human nutrition is still in infancy, but I read several books on this and it appears there is a lot to this paleo healthy diet theory. Many allergies are caused by foods like dairy and grains and when you think about it, our bodies were not made to digest food from farm animals or food grown on farms. We still have the stomachs and organs of our early ancestors and they ate what they could find in the wild. There might even be a correlation to many diseases we have now due to the consumption of grains and dairy.

Well, I shall see if I can maintain this kind of eating but so far I’m really liking it and I don’t miss cheese or sugar or bread as much as I thought I would. I may try to introduce brown rice and whole grains back into my diet later, but I also might not. I want to see how things are with me after the 8 weeks and then decide.

In any case I feel good, both physically and emotionally due to this effort. It is the first time I have really done something this consistent, outside of work. I have tried to eat healthier before and exercise more and just didn’t keep it up because it felt too “hard.” Or I didn’t have the time to cook or I didn’t have the ability to get up early enough to exercise. But I’m very surprised by my change of heart because I have been cooking more and getting up earlier and I just decided this was more important than doing other things and to keep with it, especially as I figured if I didn’t like it after 8 weeks, I could stop. But I’m really liking it and am so glad I started. It’s good feeling like I can do anything if I set my mind to it. Sometimes you need that to break out of your rut, your regular old existence. The last quarter of last year I felt like I had fallen in a rut, I wasn’t really doing anything constructive with myself. I was just passing the time. I now feel re-energized and am so optimistic about the future, about this year, about my life.

I’ve shared my experience with others too, friends, some other family by telling them about it. “How are you?” they ask. “What have you been doing lately?” So I tell them, working out, eating healthy, following a specific program and diet. They are all interested in hearing about my experience.

I haven’t yet shared my blog with them, but maybe I will. After all, I am writing here and publishing it to the public, why not get them to come and let them make comments? It is a rather personal journey but also one I’m happy to share, in case anyone else wants to do it too, or might feel inspired to do something similar. I can undergo a little bit of embarrassment, I suppose, for the revealing photographs. Anyway, no need to feel weird about it, I guess, as it’s not nudity and it’s something I’m quite proud of.

I’m not embarrassed to say that for someone who just turned 45, I care about the way I look but most importantly how I feel about myself. I think it’s that I’ve always felt much younger in my mind than my body’s age. That’s a good thing, they say. I have also been pretty lucky in that I have stayed looking fairly young for my age. Some people are surprised when I do reveal how old I am. It’s therefore not at all something I keep hidden from people. I am my age, why lie about it? Especially if they respond with, “No, really? You look so much younger!”

Day 2 of week 5

I have been so inspired and happy about healthy cooking that I took a look at what new books the library might have on healthy cooking. They had several that I want to check out at some point:

IMG_1216 IMG_1217 IMG_1218

I was thinking about the crepe question and wondering if there’s a way to do Paleo baking. I know cavemen didn’t bake because they didn’t have flour or meal. There is also likely no gluten-free baking that doesn’t contain some kind of other ingredient (like sugar) that you can justify as Paleo. But I think strictness to a diet can go overboard. I know people who eat vegan or whatever the diet may be, and they allow themselves to cheat. I was just thinking that at some point in the future, I’m going to be wanting to bake for myself or for friends and I want it to be as healthy as it can be, and want to steer away from too many of those ingredients that make you feel heavy and bloated.

Hence the reason for looking into healthy alternatives. And there are celiac-disease sufferers who manage to eat some breads and stuff like that. I’m not celiac and I am not doing this at all because I have a disease. I just want to eat healthy, whole foods. Baking gets us into territory that the cave men didn’t know anything about. So just bringing it up as an option is a bit ridiculous. But still. Chocolate cake. Pancakes. Cookies. Those things do call to us every once in a while, and if we’re going to eat them because we absolutely can’t resist, then we must eat the most healthy version of them, in my opinion.

Day 7 of week 4

I really can’t believe it has been 4 weeks and I’m half-way through! I’m so proud of myself, for losing those 4.5 lbs and also for the nutrition and exercising that I’ve been maintaining throughout this entire time. I’m just as enthusiastic about it now as I was in the beginning. In fact, I feel even better about it, because I’ve come this far and because I’m starting to see such great results, and I feel so great too. I like the way clothes are fitting better, I like that less is jiggling around. I just overall feel so much better and it’s also been a good thing for me emotionally.

I saw this video on the woman who did the Julia Childs cooking blog, Julie Powell (the movie “Julie and Julia” is based partly on her blog). When asked why she wanted to do it, she said it was “to do something everyday that was something specifically for me.” It was her way of getting out of her rut, to feel creative, to see if she could do it (a challenge), and to feel good about herself.

That is exactly why I wanted to do this Impossible Abs program. It was to get me out of my rut and to feel I can handle a challenge and succeed. You have to start somewhere, right? I knew I needed to get into better shape, I knew I wasn’t happy about the way my body was getting flabby and fat and I just needed to get going on something to fix it. So I did.

I am so glad I did, and even if I don’t make it to my end goals of lbs and inches off, I will be happy anyway, because I can continue on and keep going and find other ways to help me reach my goals.

One thing I did notice when I went walking yesterday is that my back is still in rough shape. I have always had a weak back, a back that will easy feel sore when I walk or stand for long periods of time. Also especially if I haven’t stretched in a while and then try to do something strenuous. I don’t know what I can do to minimize my back pain. I do the yoga and that helps. Now that I’m doing stretches every morning, I thought I’d feel much better, but in the end, I still am stiff because I sit all day long at work. And my bed is not the best bed either, it’s rather stiff and doesn’t allow my joints to relax, my shoulders and hips are always sore when I wake up. But stretching is the one thing that does help, even if it is mimimally.

If I need to take it easy walking, running, perhaps even biking, I had better find a way to strengthen my back. I was doing the yogalates which is strengthening (Pilates) along with stretching (yoga) for several years up until last December. I just do yoga now and maybe that is my problem. However, now I’m doing the workouts in the IA (Impossible Abs) program. IA does for me what Pilates was doing. It makes me stronger. And I think in the end I will be stronger than I was before. I’m certainly not going to give up until I can do a set of real pull-ups without the pauses or feet touching the ground. It may be worth it for me to go to a gym and to tell them about my back and perhaps there are exercises they can recommend.

All I know is that after Saturday’s walk (and also having lifted some heavy things earlier that morning when I picked up some things from Paul’s old apartment) my back, legs and hips were killing me. I don’t want my back to limit me in being physical, so I have to find a good way to work with this.

Day 3 of week 4

I find it very interesting that there are different stances on the Paleo diet, even among people who acknowledge each other as being helpful resources on nutrition and respected colleagues.

For example, I read “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf and he discusses the huge merits of exercise along with eating healthy, and does not seem as stringent about the rules of eating, just as long as you don’t eat sugar, wheat-based products, dairy and legumes. He gives a few tips on things to avoid, but there’s not much outside of the original rules of the diet that he says to stay away from. I understand where he comes from. He had very negative reactions to living on a vegetarian diet and found that as soon as he stopped eating carbs altogether and gluten, sugar and legumes, and added meat, etc back into his diet he felt much better. He knows how much the diet helps for certain health issues. He is also a health-club owner and so for him it makes sense to promote exercise as just as important as the diet.

The other book I’m reading on Paleo is from Loren Cordain, called “The Paleo Diet.” He wrote his several years, maybe a decade, before Wolf’s. He really focusses on the diet itself and hardly goes into the exercise portion at all, although he does include the advice to exercise along with eating right, but in moderation.

He is much more strict on what to eat and what not to eat. Even for those things that you would think fall into the category of “paleo,” he excludes certain things, such as coconut oil, avocado oil, etc. Now, I think it’s hard to determine which oils Paleo man ate. Fish oils, likely, other oils from animals. But most likely, the only other way they ate oils was through eating nuts and things like avocado. Maybe even flax seeds if they were around. But certainly not olives or olive oils, canola or canola oils, etc. Yet Cordain says to use things like olive oil, walnut oil and canola oil and to avoid coconut oil and avocado oil. I’m not too sure why he makes that distinction. It seems contradictory to the strictness of what we’re assuming Paleo man ate. He says to eat lean meat, not fatty meat.

He says to avoid vinegar and to use lime or lemon juice instead. He says to stay away from potatoes. He says to not use salt or eat bacon.

Now, I suppose you could further restrict your intake of certain foods, but at some point you might feel so restricted that it doesn’t become practical anymore. For example, I haven’t restricted yogurt 100%, but have given it to myself as a treat once a week.

I couldn’t eat food if I didn’t add salt. I just would not enjoy it. I am using very healthy salt right now, Himalayan salt, which is pink in color and I just purchased unprocessed sea salt from the French coast. It’s gray in color and very expensive. I want my food to taste like something and it doesn’t make sense to me to deprive myself of flavor.

Perhaps salt is not the best thing in the world to have in your diet, but all animals need salt, that is what I’ve always heard. Even animals that live out in the wild look for ways to add it to their diet. As for bacon, sure, that’s likely something that Paleo man didn’t have, but they did eat wild pigs, I’m sure. It’s just that bacon has been salted quite a bit and Cordain has apparently reason to believe salt and salted products should be restricted.

Perhaps he is right, and we are consuming too much salt. It is likely a good idea for me to cut back on my salt intake, but for now, that isn’t really what I want to focus on. It is challenging enough not eating anything with sugar or wheat in it. It is difficult to not live on the beans and rice and heavy starches that I have been so used to and which I have always loved. I think we need to make the diet work for ourselves and if that means that for some ingredients you cut back but not entirely restrict intake, then I think you’re already a long way in the right direction.

I talked to some people at work about the Paleo diet, some of them call it the caveman diet. Whatever you call it, it is something people either show a genuine interest in or write it off almost right away. They could never take their kids off their milk, cereals or sweets, some say. Or they could never limit their intake of food to just 8 hours a day like I’m doing. I was interested to learn that my department’s head is on the diet and has been for over a year. She admits she cheats every now and then, but she’s super thin. Others I’ve spoken too are interested to hear how I do by the end of my eight weeks and whether I’ll keep it going. But they really don’t see themselves following it. I’m hoping to be an example for them, making a huge impression on them, even though I am only going for losing 10 pounds, which might not even be noticeable to anyone but me.

I include when talking to people that I feel so much better, less bloated, more clean inside and that the fasting portion of the diet is not as hard as they think it might be. For example, today I wasn’t able to sit down and eat until 1:45 and I was hungry, yes, but not moody or in pain from it, like I would be before if I hadn’t eaten for that long. Now it feels like my body can handle the extra time off food and I silently pat myself on the back that I am able to do so without it really affecting my mood or daily life. While I do have to be aware of what I eat and what a prepare before hand so that I don’t have to cheat out of necessity, I am not finding it a hardship.

To me it’s like a fun puzzle, figuring out how to make the most of the ingredients on the “allowed” list. As there are many types of meat, vegetable and fruits and all kinds of spices and flavors you can add to them, it’s not likely you will run out of ideas. But I copied down some of the meal ideas from the two books mentioned above, that I borrowed from the library. There are also plenty of websites and blogs out there of gluten-free recipes. So I am not too worried.

Day 6 of week 3

Today I did try to do my sprints outside but I could only stand it for 6 minutes. It was very cold, there was still a dusting of snow on the ground and therefore slippery and it was later in the day, so I couldn’t run on the street where there was less snow because of the cars. I also need to buy myself some gear for running in the cold. For example gloves, and a better jacket. I will look online.

Instead of finishing the sprints today, I will do 8 minutes of jump roping and I will also finish up the rest of the exercises that I didn’t get to yesterday. Tomorrow I will rest. I do think it’s important to have that rest day.

I have been feeling stronger and more flexible. I try to stretch every day and get some yoga moves in, it just makes me feel good and I do it to avoid hurting myself during the workouts. Strange thing is, after I do my stretches in the morning, the spasm in my right buttock feels even worse than before the stretching. I’m not sure what that means. Portia, my yoga instructor, has been helping me with my upper back, shoulders and neck, but I feel just as stiff there not soon after. I don’t know if it’s the way I carry myself or how I sit, but I’m beginning to try to be more conscious of it so that I don’t tense up that area. I’m sure that must be it. I’ve always done it and its tough to prevent it from happening.

When I stretch in the evenings, I am much more flexible. I try to do stretches when I’m at my desk at work too. But sometimes I can sit at my desk at home for hours and forget to get up and stretch. I would love to be much more flexible than I am, also because it would help me with yoga moves.

This week I slacked a bit on getting up and exercising right away, so next week I want to get back on target and exercise early so that I can get the entire workouts in. I also want to stop cheating, because twice this week I ate things I shouldn’t have: a piece of pizza and a chocolate chip cookie.

I have read two books on the Paleo diet. The first one: “The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet” by Robb Wolf. I have another book on the Paleo diet and it had much stricter rules about what to eat: “The Paleo Diet” by Loren Cordain.  On the don’t eat list were things like peanuts (which apparently is a legume, not a nut) and therefore peanut butter is also out. Also on that list are sweet potatoes and regular potatoes. Joel’s list says sweet potatoes are ok and potatoes are ok in moderation. I think I will stick with Joel’s interpretation, as these are still natural, non-processed foods. I also watched a video of a guy following the diet and he does consume milk, but only raw milk. So I’m going to try that too as soon as the 8 weeks are done. I’d love to make my own yogurt from raw milk. This week I stayed away from dairy altogether.

Day 2 of week 3

I did 20 minutes of jump-rope this morning. Instead of timing my jumps, I just jumped until I was tired, rested until I caught my breath and then continued again. So I have no idea how long my jumping sessions were, but all in all, I think I’m getting better. My breaks seem to be a bit shorter.

I skipped the knees to elbows portion because I ran out of time, but I’ll get those done later today. I also have my Thai yoga class after work.

Yesterday I made soup, a curry chicken soup with a bit of potato in it and coconut milk, chicken stock and cilantro. I added both Thai curry paste and regular powdered curry (see the recipe in a later post). It came out really good. There’s nothing like a soup in the winter time.

I am surprised that after two weeks I’m only down 3 pounds, but I also wonder if perhaps I’ve gained some muscle, which wouldn’t be surprising with the added exercise I’m doing. However, I don’t think I’ve done that much strengthening, because the first week I didn’t have the pull-up bar. However, I am still going to cut certain foods out even more to see if there’s a big difference in my weight loss this week. I will cut back on the nuts and the fruits and cut dairy out completely and then see where things stand.

Although I am determined to stick to the plan for the 8 weeks, I am not convinced that I need to be this strict with the diet after the 8 weeks are up. I am thinking of reintroducing some wheat-based and dairy-based foods back into my diet, but in severe moderation. Perhaps only consuming those once a week. Perhaps designate a dairy/wheat day once a week or once every two weeks. Then see if I notice any fluctuation in my weight or how I feel.

I have to say, even though the scale isn’t saying I lost much weight, I feel stronger in my core from the exercises. I do quite a bit of stretching and yoga before doing the workouts and I think that is also helping me, not only to be more flexible but also to prevent myself from getting hurt during the workouts. I do notice an increase in flexibility and also a strengthening in my arms, as I can now pull up higher on the bar and my reps are increasing during my workouts. It’s slow, but definitely progress.

Being in the third week feels great! I am just as determined as ever and I’m still not missing those other foods, nor am I doing any cheating outside the 8 hour window. I’m really trying to be good for these 2 months so that the results will really stand out and I have something to show for those who will follow my blog. I don’t want to let them down nor do I want to let me down.

Countdown

Completion of 8-Week Impossible Abs programMarch 4th, 2013
8 weeks completed!

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