Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Shout outs

I spend time each day learning more about this new lifestyle I am living. Here are some of my favorite resources:

Watch this amazing and amusing presentation from the Ancestral Health Symposium
The Food Revolution - AHS 2011 - YouTube

The one that started it all for me:
Primal Blueprint 101 | Mark's Daily Apple

The Farm I am a member of:
Rainbow Ranch Farms 2011

The Farmer's Market I go to:

A founder of Primal eating, Robb Wolf- I am starting to listen to all of his great podcasts:

A couple nice blogs with recipes, some podcasts, and good articles

Find good food near you:

The difference between Paleo and Primal

And some specifically awesome breakdowns that I refer to regularly:
Healthy Oils | Mark's Daily Apple
Top 10 Meat Questions Meet Answers | Mark's Daily Apple
The Definitive Guide to Sugar | Mark's Daily Apple
Is Cheese Unhealthy? | Mark's Daily Apple

My free food tracking tool- easiest to use that I have found

Hatha Yoga
where I take it

Friday, November 18, 2011

FitDay reports

Started a FitDay 11-12 - it has been about a week. Here are two quick reports from it

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


  • Do 15-20 mins of yoga a day. Maybe start with every other day
  • Take the stairs twice a day (from 1st floor to 5th) at least 4 days a week
    • this one is easy
  • Hike, romp, or get an hour of exercise every weekend
    • helps to take others with me
  • Go outside- go to the park and read, take Brutus to the dog park- hang out outside!! (at least once a week)
  • Strength training twice a week- Tues (before yoga) and Thurs
  • For sprints, consider using bike at the gym or run on grass
  • Meditate/pray for at least five minutes every day
  • Do something special once a week- dress up, do a favor, volunteer, help someone, be of service

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cravings, mistakes, sickness, etc

Well it's been an interesting week! I got a pretty strong cold that took me out for a few days. I slept a lot, drank lots of tea, and craved quick, easy, preferably boxed or packaged meals. Not having any in the house, I found myself eating snacks too much- sweet trail mix (primal, home made, but meant as a treat, not a staple), beef jerky, etc. rather than good healthy meals. I craved sugar and comfort. I even convinced my beau to go with me to get some gelato. He had tummy issues and shame (he only really needed the first couple bites, but finished his whole scoop) where my tummy was fine and I wolfed my two scoops down greedily. We have developed different weaknesses- he drinks glasses of whole milk and eats more yogurt than me, while I want sugar. LOTS OF SUGAR :) He likes the occasional potato, and I want my daily chocolate square, date, honey on my yogurt, anything sweet.

I am finally recovered and was even able to cook yesterday. :) We had lettuce wraps with chicken- they came out a bit salty and a bit too lemony, but a good start. I made primal gingersnaps- mostly almond butter, some spices and some crystallized ginger. Not really worth the $10 of crystallized ginger and the sugar/carbs that go with it, but I wanted to try.

We tried banana pancakes, which were delicious, but required some tweaking. I am going to make more of my sweet trail mix, but work very hard on not eating it daily (I do serve them out into serving size ziplocks, as having it in bulk would be a grave mistake for me :P)

We went to the farmer's market and got some great stuff!! I think I may have confused dates with prunes and we tasted a sample and bought 2lbs of medjool dates, which I later discovered have nearly 20 carbs/sugar EACH! These will be my lunch dessert- just one at a time. They are large and rich and easy to savor.

We got fresh cauliflower for the shepard's pie we are going to make to try our first grass-fed beef, as well as fresh carrots and organic peas. We got green onions and the lemon and green lettuce for the lettuce-wraps. We got dried apricots and walnuts (in the shell, yes please!) for the trail mix. We got a dozen eggs, two apples (apple cardamon breakfast turnover recipe!- I got gala apples), 1 pear for smoky pear bites (pears seasoned with cinnamon, a little salt and paprika with a chunk of bacon on top- so delicious!) We got a zucchini for stir fry, and fresh blackberries and blueberries.

At sprouts we found they have bulk in shell raw nuts for the holiday season for $2.99/lb. Zomg, we bought 3 lbs, but I sent John out for 10 more today- they last well in the freezer and I use them for snacks, trail mix, and I LOVE to crack them! I searched for okra but was unable to locate any- there is an okra recipe I am eager to try- nut crumbs on sliced okra baked in the oven for crunchy delicious bites.

I continue to eat eggs, veggies- mixed greens and usually another veggie with dinner and a salad at lunch, meat- bacon, sausage (home made), chicken, fish etc, and some nuts daily. I have some butter, milk, a little cheese, and some yogurt generally as well. I use bacon fat, olive oil, almond butter, and coconut oil for cooking and baking. We got our cast iron skillet just in time, it is used almost daily.

I find myself yearning for pancakes and cookies and ice creams and making paleo versions- finding what tickles my sweet tooth- my sweet trail mix, dark chocolate, honey on the yogurt, when in reality what I need to focus on is bringing down my sugar consumption to as little as possible. I eliminated sweetener from my tea, put honey on my yogurt perhaps 1 of every 3 servings. I eat some fruit here or there- mostly in cooking. All of this is good. But late at night my tummy- actually my mouth and brain tell me I want more. Pomegranate seeds- little bursts of sweet, nuts, small and crunchy preferred. I keep trying to push tea and carrots instead. It is not an overnight change, I will get there, and I have great support.

I find myself eager to adhere to the "schedule" of recommended Primal exercise Mark laid out in the Primal Fitness E-book, and yet he specifically says how resistant he was to even making a schedule- as everyone is different, and the idea is to change it up, be spontaneous, avoid routine, and keep it fun and exciting. I need to remember that it is ok not to take the stairs when I am just getting over a cold. That it is ok not to strength train twice a week when I am just starting the fitness parts of the primal lifestyle. That if sprints were pretty hard on me- start a little slower- try running up the stairs rather than sprint relays. I am doing this to get away from the nagging- well it is known that to be healthy I have to do this, when was the last time I did this, I ate this so I need to exercise, nag nag nagging at myself. I want to relax and make it a lifestyle, not a regimen.

I am eager to take a walk on Mt Baldy this weekend. I am excited to take the fitness evaluation test to see where I should be starting my strength training (which progressions of squats, push ups, pull ups, etc). I am torn between wanting to count my carbs and just trust myself to follow the guidelines and buy and make good food, make good choices and know that is good enough. If my body isn't responding well, then I can take a closer look (for instance, I almost bought a food scale so I could get the weights of my ingredients to help me get precise counts).

Instead I am keeping an eye on the food I eat regularly that is worst and best for me, and adjusting accordingly.

Anyway, these tend to get so long and rambly, and how do I expect to keep any readers at that rate? :P
Happy Monday!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Quick Summary- what exactly am I doing?

For any readers who aren't familiar with the PB- here is a quick run down of the things I am doing:

  • 1. Eat lots of plants and animals (see food pyramid post)
  • 2. Move frequently at a slow pace (55-75% max heart rate- strive for 3-5 hours a week)
  • 3. Lift Heavy Things (maybe for about 30 mins twice a week)
  • 4. Sprint once in a while (10 mins a week. Run like you are running for your life. Give it your all! Planning on my first session at the beach tomorrow - so that if I fall, the worst consequence will be sand in my mouth :D)
  • 5. Get lots of sleep. (I am good at this - 8-9 hours a night for me!)
  • 6. Play (crawl, roll, jump, climb, giggle- get off your ass and have some fun. Dogs and kids can be good inspiration for this)
  • 7. Get sunlight every day (Already doing better at this by not keeping all of my curtains and blinds closed all the time, but generally try to get it by actually BEING outside - barefoot preferred if possible. I am trying to hike or beach every weekend to get some extended sun and nature time.)
  • 8. Avoid trauma (so important for a clumsy, accident-prone person like me. Be aware of my surroundings. Be smart, but don't avoid all physical obstacles- become adjusted to them! Become agile and develop reflexes (safely) by giving your body some variation! Also no chronic cardio (long sessions of high heart rate exercise)
  • 9. Avoid Poisonous things. (Defining poisonous as something you put in your body that causes death or injury. PB tells us our body does not do well with grains, beans, and potatoes, sugar and all processed foods. Avoid hormones and preservatives. Seek organic, local grown, grass-fed, pastured, etc etc.)
  • 10. Use your mind. (Get stimulated. Get excited, challenged, interested. Learn and expand. Want more!)

Now to elaborate a bit.

1. My breakfasts are tending to be a hard boiled egg, 3 strips of bacon and perhaps a cup of greek yogurt with almonds and blueberries or a slice of my spinach bread (spinach, basil, garlic, and eggs baked into a loaf - first try was way too spinach-y, but going to try again!) Lunches tend to be fresh deli meat with a bit of cheese, avocado, a nice salad with cabbage and carrots, another egg, perhaps some of my home made Primal trail mix, celery with almond butter, etc. For dinner we usually have a tasty meat/veggie combo- think stir fry or steak and salad. No sugar or honey or sweetener in my tea or yogurt- dessert tends to come from a couple squares of 90% dark chocolate or a cranberry special (sparkling water, splash of cranberry juice and a squirt of lime).

2. I take the stairs up to the 5th floor at least once a day, often twice each day I am at work (4 days a week). I park further away and walk. I try to hike or go to the dog park or take a longer outing each weekend. I walk the dog around the block rather than just around the complex a couple times a week. I also do Hatha Yoga once a week for an hour and a half with meditation. This might qualify as a little of play, a little of strength training, and a bit of move frequently at a slow pace.

3. Once a month I do a 15 gallon water change on my tank which involves taking 6 30lb jugs from the car into the house and pouring 3 of them, mixing the salt, and then siphoning that into the tank. I am just now reading more about PB fitness and other fun ways to do this- I want to learn to use my own body to train- push ups, pull ups and planks. I would like do a strength session twice a week. I like Thursdays because I can do it while I telecommute and listen to a webinar for work.

4. I have not completed a sprint session yet because I am scared. I did fall recently, but I do like to run all out occasionally. I trip over my own feet and shoes, and I am not the most coordinated lady, so I look forward to reminding my body how to do this.

5. Like I said, getting lots of sleep has never been an issue for me- I am lucky about that. In bed asleep by or around 11 every night, generally I get up after 7.

6. I do play with Brutus lots- running around the house and whatnot. I consider sex in this category. Still, it is something I want to get more in- I am hoping having some new Primal friends will aid me in getting ideas, inspiration and partners for play. When I go to the dog park, there is lots more room to play with Brutus, but around other dogs he doesn't usually have much interest in playing with me.

7. I haven't made a lot of progress with this other then the usual going from car to building and building to car. I usually walk Brutus after the sun is down.

8. I am constantly working to be more aware of my surroundings. This is hard to list concrete ways I am working on it. I am trying to train myself not to seek out the clearest, easiest, flattest way to get from point A to point B. I want to learn to enjoy obstacles- bending down, stepping way over, going the long way around, swinging on a pole or branch, hopping over, etc etc.

9. Doing great on this- sugar is the last to let go of, but I am staying in the 50-100 average daily carb intake. I feel full, satisfied, I look forward to eating rather than succumb to an urgent desire for food, and I occasionally skip meals entirely.

10. I am definitely doing this through many methods in my life.

That is a quick look at how I am living Primal today :D

Lifting Heavy Things

Yesterday I tried law #3 of the PB: Lift Heavy things.

I took my two 5 gallon jugs of water for topping off my fish tank (30lbs each) and carried them around the house, stopping and squatting, placing them on the ground, standing completely, and then squatting and lifting them again. I made three rounds of the house. Today I feel it in my legs for sure!

I want to be able to do push ups so I used a wok and a decorative heavy skull thing to lay on my back and lift and bring together to strengthen my pecks. It was a great workout and fun and creative. I even tried bench pressing Brutus a little, but he didn't seem to like it too much :P

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What do Primal folks eat?

Mark posted an updated food pyramid! So excited I made it my desktop background :)

Heard back from Rainbow Ranch about volunteering- they have a schedule with openings in December. Placed my first order: 3lbs grass fed ground beef, 3lbs ground pork. Pickup is 10-12 on the first Sat of the month, so I will go get it in December and meet the folks and check out the farm!

I plan on hitting up the Claremont farmer's market on Sunday as well. Today a nice swim is on the agenda. Still scared to full out sprint on anything but grass or sand, so I think I'll wait for the beach for that. Going to get some weights from John, and I have my 30lb water jugs for my fish tank for strength training. Really excited to get into the fitness- learn way to use my body as my own resistance (ie push ups, pull ups, plank etc)

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Diving In

My first step beyond researching was to clean out my pantry. Chips, popcorn, granola bars, cereal, oatmeal, noodles, canned beans and soups, more pasta, flour- all were donated. Next was the freezer- although this has been a slower process- quick and ready to microwave burritos and tamales, fish sticks and mini pizzas. Rice and breaded chicken breasts.

My next step was to identify the food I already know I like that is Primal: meat, fish, chicken, and pork, veggies, veggies and more veggies. Eggs, nuts (thank goodness- I need crunchy things!), berries, cheese, Greek yogurt. Olive oil, honey (extremely moderated, but still necessary!), and tea. Most of all: Bacon.

I then researched recipes and recommendations, found the PB Shopping list and that I can have dark chocolate to help soothe my sweet tooth. I had already transitioned away from coffee, and I am not a regular milk drinker (the consumption of dairy in the PB is flexible- if your body doesn't like it, keep it minimal- I haven't had problems with dairy). I do love milk in my tea, and though I tried half and half instead, I found it way too creamy (plus I like a good solid cup of milk in my tea changing the consistency and temperature). I had already been working on curbing my in-front-of-the-TV desire to snack with grapes and carrots, so now I just try carrots and pomegranates instead. I love raw spinach and mixed greens, so salads are great.

After about 3 weeks now we have really gotten into the transition for our bodies, kitchen, and schedules. I say we in this case because luckily for me, I am not doing this alone. We now consume at least a dozen eggs a week (usually 1 hard boiled a day), plenty of bacon, nuts, and large amounts of salad and greens. We are working on meals that feature other colorful vegetables such as stir fries.

I have found my body feels good- not a massive noticeable difference, but a difference. I feel good, I rest well, and I truly enjoy what I eat. It is satiating, satisfying, and I am not hungry in the same way- instead of the urgent need for something quick and filling, I slowly become appetized for wholesome and quality food.

We try and buy organic animal products, and are looking forward to trying some locally grown grass-fed meat. We get some home grown eggs, and donate our compost/leftovers for the chickens to eat in return. Our fridge is stocked more than our freezer (finally!) and we shop regularly at the deli, the produce, and the meat department. We eat fresh food, mostly prepared at home. The quality of our food is so high we do not need lots of sauce and heavy seasoning to mask the processed taste.

The fitness part of the PB means I park farther away on purpose, take the stairs to the 5th floor where I work daily, take the dog around the block rather than just around the apartment complex, go to my yoga class with vigor and enthusiasm, and try to go hiking weekly if possible. I want to learn to run and jump and go the long way and be flexible and quick and confident on my feet. I want to sprint (but frankly I am scared of falling, so I am going to start on the beach) and work towards push-ups and pull-ups. I want to do planks and lift heavy things and do lunges and strengthening exercises as well. In the PB, there is not need for massive amounts of high intensity workouts- 3-5 hours of 55%-75% heart rate a week, 2 sessions of about 30 minutes of lifting heavy things, and once a week 10 minutes of all out sprinting are the general recommendations.

I am having a blast, finally getting through those sugar cravings, and learning about what I am putting in to my body. What is more expensive- many trips for veggies, or a few runs to fill up the freezer with pre-made meals? And if this way is more pricey, isn't my health and happiness worth it? I am interested in volunteering at the farm I am a member of when I go to pick up meat- mucking stalls and doing other excellent exercise. I need to emphasize going barefoot, being in the sun, relaxing outside rather than on the couch, and getting plenty of rest (I do pretty good at that so far).

I feel blessed and happy, and am thrilled to be trying this new way of living.

A summary of my take on the Primal Blueprint (so far)

As I have gotten older, I have explored ways to better myself: hatha yoga, finding a higher power of my understanding and nurturing my spirituality, being more aware of myself and my surroundings, taking advantage of opportunities to try new things, learn, explore, and play. On this journey of self-improvement, I was introduced to The Primal Blueprint. A quote from the creator's blog describes it as, "This is not your latest miracle diet. This is not something you can do for a week or a month and get back to ‘normal’ food. It is something that will redefine the word ‘normal’. The Primal Blueprint will teach you to live life to the fullest - eat real food, use natural body movements to keep you fit and help you really understand what ‘healthy’ and ‘fit’ actually mean."

(For further description of The Primal Blueprint, head on over to Mark's Daily Apple)

This new approach to health, nutrition, diet (meaning what you eat to sustain your body and having nothing to do with weight loss), fitness and life has opened my mind to many misconceptions and flawed wisdom that I was raised with. Although the general idea that the old food pyramid I remember from grade school with the largest part of your daily food coming from grains was outdated and incorrect, many more complex and deep-seated ideas lingered in my understanding of my body.

In effort to live life with more honesty and open-mindedness, I took in the ideas provided and eagerly read about the low fat craze I was raised in, the habitual over-the-counter medicating I was doing, the misunderstanding of my body's signals (ie a fever being the body's defense mechanism to try and burn out a virus). I found myself astounded with the simplicity of these reminders of the human body's ability to take care of itself and nature's ability to sustain it. Stepping away from western society's tendency to manipulate everything to "make it better" paves the way for a  return to the qualities found in natural, unprocessed, un-packaged, raw and organic sustenance.

Clearly there are arguments and science and articles and tests and trials for every approach to nutrition and health. The thing that blows me away is how easy and thoroughly I accepted and believed what was sold to me through marketed, media, etc- ie formula being a comparable replacement for breast milk, boxed, bagged, and highly processed foods being convenient and substantially healthy, etc). The Primal Blueprint has its controversial aspects, but valiant efforts have been made to research and discuss them. The large community of followers have connected through the internet to share their opinions and successes and failures.

The concept of eating natural, organic food is crucial. Purchasing from farmer's markets, local farms, and locally stocked stores and avoiding hormones, preservatives, and chemical additions is not a new one. Whole Foods, hippies, naturalists, and many others have advertised and thrived on this idea. My sister made all of her own baby food for her son from natural and organic produce and meat. The treatment of livestock is addressed with this approach, as well as the nutrition. A simple strategy of short, comprehensible, natural ingredients in foods is a good practice for me and in my opinion.

The nutritional content of food as well as the body's ability to process it are also considered, and this is where the no grains, beans, or potatoes, and as little sugar as possible come in. The PB takes a look at what a human body really needs to thrive and works to eliminate that which does more harm than help. It identifies a way of eating, exercising, and living that encourages happiness, health, and strength.

This is not about portion control, counting calories, breaking down every meal, excessive workouts, or regimens. This is about finding a way to live that makes you feel satisfied and allows you to truly enjoy eating!