Dailies

My Whole30/Sugar Detox Experience

I started my Paleo journey, with what is now referred to as a Whole 30, back on Sept. 27, 2010. Initially, this dietary change was to alleviate the many auto-immune symptoms I was experiencing. Every symptom was gone by the end of week three. That’s the power of Paleo.

Since then I’ve remained Paleo. Some days 100%, most 80%, a few…well, it’s best to not focus on those. It’s been a journey of revelation and experimentation. One of the great benefits I’ve received from following a more ancestral way of eating, aside from reversing my AI, has been weight loss. This has been gradual and steady. This was not why I started Paleo. To be honest, I don’t think I would have the willpower to do it just for weightloss without the benefit of the ugly side effects that grains have on my body. Because my primary goal was restoring my health (and maintaining it) I haven’t really been in a big hurry for the weight to come off. I’ve been content to let it happen in it’s own time. This was a huge switch from the old me who wanted everything last week, and I’ve been pondering the possible reasons for this.

First: being deathly sick, in the literal sense, has a keen way of helping you put things in perspective.

Second: rebounding from being so deathly sick in such a short amount of time simply by changing my diet made me feel so good that, for the first time in my life, my weight was not the most important thing to me.

Third: because I have now comfortably fallen into the habit of eating this way and it is now simply The Way I Eat and I no longer have to think about it, I know that the weight will eventually take care of itself. And with all the added years Paleo will give me, there’s no longer the stress I used to feel to “get there”.

To be honest, I’ve gotten very lazy. Paleo has made it so easy to lose weight that I don’t have to do anything but diet. My exercise regimen has been sporadic and unfocused. Certainly, I know that had I worked out regularly the weight would have come off more rapidly and my body composition changed more dramatically, but as I said, my primary reasons for adopting this diet were to reverse disease.  So what prompted me to do another Whole 30 during the month of July?

Well, I read Adam Farrah’s article 10 Things That Will Make Your Training Better and suddenly everything clicked. Once my every waking moment wasn’t focused on how sick I was and I could begin to dream of better things again, I had a thousand things that I wanted to do and accomplish, but no clear idea of how to go about it. I used Adam’s outline and created my own fitness agenda. I finally had a map to get from where I was to where I wanted to be. I knew that I would have to refine it and update it as time went on because this was new for me. But it was a start.

One of my first goals was to really dial in my nutrition. I wanted to find out what was optimal, not by the text books or by what the experts say, but by my what my own body says. I had recently hit a slippery slope and found myself indulging more than I should on sugary treats so when I decided to do another Whole 30 I opted to go super strict and do a Sugar Detox at the same time. I wanted to test myself to see just how strict I could live and for how long, and for once I wanted to make some measurable progress.

Yesterday was my last day. During the last 30 days I’ve had no sugar, no grains, no dairy, no legumes, and no fruit. The ONLY thing I did that is considered a cheat is weigh myself. I KNOW that the scale is not the only measure of health and fitness. In fact, it is probably the worst measure of it. But it is the easiest way to measure progress during a short period of time. During the last 30 days I have lost 15lbs and a whole size in my pants and tops. BUT that was all in the first two weeks. I made ZERO progress during the last two weeks. Some of this was my fault. On top of Paleo I do Intermittent Fasting regularly. I fast daily a minimum of 16 hours and eat only between the hours of 12pm and 8pm. When I eliminated fruit and potatoes I took my moderate carb intake and cut it to low carb. For the first two weeks this was fine. I was using up my stores and I felt great. I had no issues with energy or cravings at all. Then the third week hit. Every day I was more tired than the day before. By the end of the third week it was all I could do to get out of bed. I realized that I hadn’t replaced the nutrients I had taken out by eliminating those foods. I stopped IFing during the fourth week and was able to make it through, but it was very trying.

So, after all of that. was it worth it? Absolutely. Not only did I make tremendous progress physically, but also mentally. I proved to myself that when I was was cold-hard determined to do something that I could – even when I felt weak. It is easy for others to see how strong you are because they do not have the nearly impossible standards that we set for ourselves. So surprising myself with this accomplishment has been incredibly satisfying.

Would I do it again? Doubtful. Would I do two weeks super clean again? Absolutely. I might even make it a regularly scheduled affair. But another 30 days? I can’t see it happening. Even with knowing what I did wrong in the last two weeks, my body simply does not function well on very low carb and if you don’t have the energy to even get out of bed, you certainly aren’t going to be setting any PRs.

Would I recommend doing either a Whole30 or a Sugar Detox? Without question. I think everybody needs to test themselves every once in a while. You will learn a tremendous amount about both your body and your spirit. And what you’ll discover is that you are far stronger than you think.

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Chicken Pot “Pie”

Makes 4 pies
Please forgive the crappy photos. My phone doesn’t focus. 😦

The prep for this is a bit involved, but it is SO worth it! Please keep in mind that I do not weigh and measure so all of these measurements are approximate.  Feel free to add, substitute, or change it any way you like. 🙂

Filling:

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
1 can peas
1 cup baby carrots sliced
(feel free to use a bag of frozen peas/carrots if you like!)
1 tbsp dried minced onion (fresh would be better, but I used what I had)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp sea salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a crock pot then pour on enough chicken stock just to cover the filling.  Cook for 8 hours.

That was actually the easy part since I was at work.  I came home at lunch to check on it and the delicious aroma was maddening, MADDENING I TELL YOU! 😀

When I arrived home that evening I prepared the “crust”.

“Crust”:

4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
3 tbsp Kerrygold Butter, melted (or your favorite butter/oil)
2 cloves garlic
dash of sea salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until you’ve made a sort of puree or paste.

Take your four small pot pie tins and grease the inside with melted Kerrygold (or your favorite butter/oil) then take enough of the paste to make a thin “crust” and press it into the tin until you’ve lined it completely all the way to the rim.  Once you have these ready set them to the side while you finish your filling.

Put your filling into a large pot on the stove and turn it to a medium heat.  Take a cup of cold water and mix in 2-3 tbsp of Arrowroot powder to make a slurry.  Pour the slurry into your filling and stir until desired thickness.  Remove from heat.  Once your filling is as thick as you want it you’re ready to assemble your “pie”!

Spoon the filling into your “crust”-lined tins, but don’t over-fill!

Once this is complete you take a regular hamburger press and put in enough of your chicken puree/paste to make a thin top for your “pie”.  Make sure you coat both surfaces of the press with butter/oil beforehand for easier removal!  You may need to re-coat between pressings.

Once you have all your tops in place, make a small hole in the middle for venting, drizzle on more butter, and top with cracked pepper.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

These are PHENOMENAL.  And since I’m not a cook or chef or even very knowledgable about food at all I am VERY proud of this effort. 😀  My oldest daughter loved the fact that the “crust” had a real pie “feel” to it.  What I liked was the interesting juxtaposition of the pureed breasts with the juicy thigh chunks.  SO good. 🙂

And tender enough to eat with a plastic fork!

Hopefully, when you’re finished your plate looks like mine. 🙂

This is before I licked it clean. 😀

A few notes:  I haven’t tried to freeze these, but I did take one to work today and warmed it in the microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds and it was wonderful!  I feel certain they would freeze fine.  Also, once you’re finished you actually have plenty of filling left to either eat as a stew or you can opt to make a second round of crust and make more pies!  I’m sure you could also use a regular pie pan and make one large pie, but I don’t know how that would affect the cooking time.

It even has crinklies like a real pot pie!

Play with it, have fun with it, and above all, let me know how it turns out!


Chicken Crust Meatza

One of the first non-paleo foods I wanted to find a way to convert was pizza.  What I found ended up tasting better than any traditional pizza.  I attempted a nut crust which was a huge fail and did not get eaten by myself or my girls.  My second attempt was so good that my kids (and friends!) now beg me to make it.  I’m talking about a MEATZA.  This is a pizza with a meat crust.  I’ve seen these done with ground beef and I have no doubt that they are delicious.  But if I’m using beef as a topping I think it’s a little redundant to use it as a base.  Otherwise you’re just really eating a giant burger!  What I found in my web wanderings was a crust made from pureed chicken.  It sounded kinda gross, but the pic made it look like a real pizza!  I played with the recipe some and here’s what I came up with:

Crust:

2-3 Chicken Breasts (this will depend on how big/thick you want your “crust”)
2-4 Tbsp of your preferred oil (I use a combination of Palm Oil, Coconut Oil, and/or Grass-fed Butter)
3 eggs
Optional: spices (such as Italian), garlic, fresh grated Parmesan to taste

Toppings:

Your choice! I don’t like a lot of tomato sauce on mine so I use a very thin layer along with a few shakes of Italian spices, but feel free to use whatever tomato based sauce you care to use.  I do like a lot of different meats such as grass fed ground beef/sausage, salami, prosciutto (or other ham), bacon, etc.  This doesn’t need veggies, but I do like mushrooms and green peppers so don’t forget to add any veggies you like too!  For the most part I’m dairy-free, but meatza is one of my exceptions. I simply make sure to use good quality, full fat cheeses and raw milk cheese when I can get it.  But it’s pretty much whatever you want to throw on top!  Just make sure that any meat toppings you choose to use are cooked prior to assembling the meatza.

Directions:

While you are cutting up your chicken into smaller pieces, warm your oil so it is liquid.  Place all crust ingredients (along with any options you care to use) in a food processor until you’ve created a “dough”.  Spread this onto a BUTTERED (very important!) pizza pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes. (Check it at 20 minutes if your crust is very thin.) When it is done, take it out of the oven and begin assembling your meatza with whatever toppings you desire.  Put it back in the oven and warm through.

Remove.
Eat.
Enjoy!

Is your mouth watering yet?


Six Month Paleo Anniversary

If you’ve read my story on Robb Wolf’s site then you’ve heard all of this.  If not…

In the fall of 2009 I got very sick.  On Christmas day 2009 I nearly died.  Over the next few months I had dozens of visits to the hospital, the lab, my PCP, and my GI specialist and all they could tell me was that I was suffering from something auto-immune related.  The only two hard pieces of evidence that I had were the knowledge that my C reactive protein was a 12.04 and my stomach was emptying it’s contents at half the normal rate.  Eventually everyone had washed their hands of me and in March 2010 “handed me off” to a rheumatologist.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t see me for six weeks.  Well, I wasn’t just going to wait around for six weeks while Death loomed over my shoulder.  I had to do something. 

I knew that it was something auto-immune so I started there.  When I had eliminated every AI disease that didn’t fit my symptoms I was left with Celiac.  I was tested and while waiting for the results went wheat free.  Over the three day period as I waited for the results I noticed that I felt…better.  I was surprised when the tests came back negative, but I hadn’t stopped doing my research so I knew that you didn’t have to be intolerant to gluten to be sensitive to it.  My GI doctor (who kindly did the celiac test at my request) suggested that I maintain my wheat-free diet (which was already my plan) and suggested that we re-do the CRP after two weeks.  Within 5 days I came off of all the meds I had been taking to make my stomach work properly (a handful with every meal).  At the ten day mark we redid my CRP and it was down to 8.47.  A month after that it was 6.8. Bingo.

It only took two months for me to realize that wheat wasn’t the only devil in my diet.  I had to eliminate rice and, shortly afterwards, sugar followed suit.  I still had an enormous amount of visible swelling in my lower legs, ankles, and feet, however, so I knew there was more to the picture than I was seeing.

In late summer/early fall of 2010, Robb Wolf’s “The Paleo Solution” was finally available for purchase.  I tore through it and began my Paleo journey on September 27, 2010.  I haven’t looked back. 

Within three weeks my auto-immune symptoms were GONE.  No more gut agony, no more excruciating migraines, no more joint pain.  I was ecstatic.  The big surprise was that I was able to come off of all of my allergy meds at the same time.  BONUS!  The only thing I had to continue taking was my acid reflux meds and considering the amount of damage my gut had endured, I was not surprised. 

Well, here I am six months later.  No more inflammation.  My last CRP was a 0.9.  All meds are history.  The only pills I take now are fish oil, magnesium, Vitamin D3, and potassium.  At the beginning of the year I challenged myself to add Intermittent Fasting to the mix.  Most days I fast between 16 and 24 hours.  I eat when I’m hungry.  For the most part that is only once or twice a day. I’ve lost a total of 66 pounds.

The calorie counters can scream all they want that I’m on a calorie restricted diet and that’s why I’m losing weight, but I know better.  I may have a very low calorie intake, but if you look at the foods that I eat they are DENSE in nutrients and HIGH in satiating fat and protein.  This combination guarantees that I can eat very little, lose weight, and STILL not be hungry. 

When I do get hungry, I eat.  If I get cravings, I give in.  I can listen to my body now and know that it is giving me accurate information because it is no longer confused by the leptin desensitization of grain consumption. I love my Paleo life and I cannot imagine eating any other way again.  I read and I network to fuel my Paleo fire.  I challenge myself to learn more about nutrition and fitness.  There is nothing I will not do to further my health and longevity.  I may not live forever, but living a Paleo life is going ensure that I live as long as I can.  I got lucky on Christmas day, 2009.  I got a second chance at life.  I think I have an obligation to squeeze every second I can out of this life and I plan to savor every moment of it.


Yes, there is a negative to bacon

If you cook it they will come.  Daughters.  Dogs.  They come from everywhere drawn by the irresistible, enticing aroma of this richest of meat products.  And therein lies the negative.  They come.  They eat.  They leave.  And you are alone without any bacon.

"What do you mean that's not for us?"

Generally speaking I can make a 3 lb pack of bacon last the week.  This is because I’m the only one who cooks it and I only cook what I need when I need it.  I thought I would save time by cooking the whole thing today.  I learned two valuable lessons: 

1.  Cooking three pounds of bacon is an invitation to a feast.  The idea of leftovers is ludicrous.
2.  Three pounds of bacon renders three cups of grease. 

The King of cooking oils.

Point number two was actually exciting.  We love our bacon grease here at Paleo Plaza (I just made that up) and there are certain things that are simply BEST in bacon grease:  eggs, brussels sprouts, and plantains come immediately to mind.  (If you’ve never had fried plantains and you want some insider secrets just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.  You’ll wonder how you lived without them!)

My point being, if you’re trying to save yourself some time by frying up a huge batch of bacon early, you’re deluding yourself.  You’ll just have to go back out and buy more bacon.  I suppose you could try frying it when no one else is at home and hiding it in the fridge, but you might just be better off buying two packs of bacon next time.  After all, there’s no such thing as too much bacon!  😉

Take a good look. It won't be here long.


The Most Important Relationship You Will Ever Have

Romantics would say it will be with your significant other.  Parents will say it’s your children.  Those who are religious are certain it’s with a higher power.

They’re all wrong.

The most important relationship you will ever have is the one you are already having – with your body.  It is the one relationship that will last right up until you take your last breath.  And if you stop to think about it you will realize that if you don’t make that relationship work you’ll be taking that last breath sooner than you would like.

I want you to imagine the perfect date.  This will be different for everybody, but for the most part it will involve food and an activity of some kind.  You’ve been waiting for days and you’ve gotten more excited the closer it gets.  Whether it’s a first date or a special occasion you want to look your best.  You spend extra time getting ready and you’ve agonized over the perfect clothes.  When you see your date they take your breath away.  They look amazing and smell intoxicating.  You go to a nice restaurant where the food is good and the conversation even better.  Afterwards you take a long walk, enjoying the evening breeze and holding hands with the one person you want to be with more than anything.  It’s a beautiful thing and it should be what everyone experiences.

But what happens if your date shows up looking slovenly and unkempt, smelling not-so-pleasant, takes you through a drive-thru for dinner while the music is blasting so loud there is no chance for conversation, and then takes you to a movie you don’t want to see? This is not someone you want to be with and you can’t wait to get out of there.

And yet every day this is exactly what we do with our own bodies  We abuse them, neglect them, and treat them with total disregard as if they will simply take care of themselves.  And to a certain degree they will.  Just like a long-suffering wife with a cheating husband.  Your body will take as much as it can.  And then one day – it just can’t take any more.  A woman who has had enough will leave her husband.  And when your body has had enough it will leave too – only it’ll take you with it.

If you want to love your body you’ve got to treat it like you already love it.  Be good to it.  Cherish it.  It’s the only one you will ever have.  Give it fresh, whole, nutritious foods that it evolved eating.  Give it exercise so that it will be strong and beautiful.  Treat it like it is your most prized possession because in truth – it is.  It is the one thing you came into this world with and the one thing you will have until you leave this world.  Just as humans respond to kindness and compassion, so too does your body respond when you are good to it.  But being good to your body does not mean taking it easy.  It means giving it equal doses of pampering and pushing.  Test your body to see what it’s capable of.  It will surprise you and excite you.  Give your body what it wants, needs, and craves – attention.  Just as you spend all that extra time getting ready for the perfect date, spend extra time doing nice things for your body.  I promise it will come back to you tenfold.


“You must choose, but choose wisely…”

There is probably no power more potentially detrimental to the human spirit than that of hopelessness. For where does the human spirit turn when it believes that it has been stripped of it’s power to control it’s own destiny? I have always been taught that built within mankind is an instinct for survival, and yet today everywhere I look our society has turned into one full of victims. So many people allow the negativity to consume them and they spend their lives expressing this victim mentality in one way or another. They become so ingrained in the identity of this helpless soul that they cannot see that they themselves have erected the barrier preventing their escape.
 
And then there are the warriors. These are those individuals who, faced with the same (and often worse) experiences as our “victims”, find themselves fueled by it. This is why I say that hopelessness is potentially detrimental. Some people find themselves engulfed by the darkness and instead of submitting to it, they rail against it. They grit their teeth and steel their resolve and do not stop until they find a way to claw out of the abyss. For these individuals there are no barriers, no chasms, no obstacles – only challenges to be overcome.
 
What makes these individuals different? What creates a warrior and what creates a victim? I’m sure there are a lot of psychological reasons behind it, and it is these excuses that victims use to enable their negative attitudes. The warrior, on the other hand, takes that negative experience and uses it as a building block to become a better and stronger individual. In the end, regardless of what we’ve experienced in life or how much sorrow and strife we’ve suffered, we are still left with a choice: give in or go on.
 
Every day brings it’s challenges. And there are days when I give in to the negativity and have myself a good old-fashioned pity party. We all feel sorry for ourselves at one time or another. It’s human and it’s natural. But if we allow ourselves to stay there in that “poor me” state, we are robbing ourselves of our own potential. Inside every single one of us is a spark of indefinable strength and courage. Feed it. Fuel it. Fan that spark until it fills you with a conflagration of sheer WILL. Then use that power to go out and conquer those things that brought you down. Find your fire.