Friday, October 29, 2010

Why?



Why Do I Live the Paleo Lifestyle?

I remember when I did my first round of the Whole30 Program in July, I had a TON of people ask me why in the world I would "put myself through that".

When I say a TON of people, I'm not exaggerating in the slightest. Family, Friends, CoWorkers, Waitresses in Reastaraunts. . . . . No one could understand my motivation.

I tried explaining myself, but most people just shook their heads and said "Well you're crazy, but good luck!" (By the way - when I get called "crazy" from time to time - I take it as a compliment. . . it means I'm different - and I want to be different! Who wants to a carbon copy of everyone else?!?)

At the time, I had a ton of reasons for wanting to "Put myself through it" ranging from health issues to vanity reasons. After about two months of strict Whole30 Compliance, I sat myself back down and re-evaluated the reasons that I have chosen this way of eating. I am one of those people that won't do something unless I understand WHY it is that I'm doing it. In other words, I have to understand the Why? behind the How? before I can fully commit to a decision.

So what are my personal reasons for choosing to stay Paleo?

#1: Prevention of Autoimmune Disease


  • Autoimmune disease runs rampid in my family. It would be easier to list the autoimmune diseases that DON'T run in my family than to try to list the ones that DO. But a short list of the biggies include: Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), Interstitial Cystitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Autonomic Neuropathy, Ulcerative Colitis, and Thyroid Disease. Additionally, adult onset Diabetes and Osteoporosis are also prevalent in my immediate family.
  • I love my family dearly and I hate to see them suffer with the pain that these diseases cause. I would do anything that I could to make it go away for them. Unfortunately, I don't have the power to take their diseases away, but I am going to do everything in my power to prevent the onset of these diseases in my future.
  • The elimination of Grains, Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Nightshades, Legumes, and Artificial Sweetners has been linked to the remission of many auto-immune diseases, and there are a ton of studies out there that suggest that adhering to a diet free of these inflammatory foods can prevent the onset of autoimmune diseases in people that are pre-disposed to them. THIS is the BIGGEST reason that I have chosen to follow the Paleo Diet for life! My health and quality of life is worth a little "inconvenience" when it comes to finding and preparing approved foods!
#2 - I Feel Better!
  • My personal experience has shown me that I feel like a million bucks when I adhere to a strict Paleo Diet. I have all kind of digestive problems that all but dissapear when I'm "strict". My mood in general is better, I have more energy, I sleep better. . .I just plain feel better. MUCH better. So much so that I can't imagine ever going back to feeling like I did before!
  • I honestly didn't think that I was "sick" or that I didn't feel good before. But in comparison to how I feel now, I realize that I was tired, sluggish, and drained most of the time. When you've felt like this for a really, really long time, it just becomes "normal" to you, and you forget what really and truly feeling GOOD feels like!
#3 - I'm Vain!
  • Yep - you heard that right - I'm admitting it. I'm Vain. I look and peform SO MUCH better when my diet is dialed in. . . . and I like that! And you know what? I like it when people notice it too! I love the feeling of squeezing into a pair of jeans that I couldn't get my big toe into 3 months ago. And I don't ever want to experience the feeling of having those jeans get too tight again! I like going to the beach and not worrying about taking off my shorts and exposing my cellulite! I love setting PR's in the gym and watching my strength increase. I love watching the little "turkey neck" that I had under my chin dissapear (no more gobble gobble!!), and watching my abs show up a little more each week. Lastly, I love that for the first time since I was a teenager, I'm 95% acne free.
Well, those are my PERSONAL responses to all of the "Why's". These reasons may or may not motivate you to try or stick with a Paleolithic Diet. I have found that it's not worth doing unless I want to do it and have good, solid reasons to fall back on when I have a moment of weakness and really want a DQ blizzard. . . :)
So if you're considering trying a round of the Whole30, or you're finishing it up and trying to decide if you're going to make this new way of eating a way of life - do yourself a favor and do a little self-reflection. Determine what YOUR reasons are for wanting to eat this way - write them down - and pull them out to remind yourself from time to time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Paleo-ized Chicken Tikka Masala




Chicken Tikka Masala (Paleo-ized Version)

I stumbled across this creation in my kitchen earlier this week, and it turned out REALLY great, so I thought I'd share!

Ingredients:
2 tsp. Paprika
1 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tb Coconut Oil
1.5 lbs Organic Free Range Chicken Breasts, cut into bite size cubes
1 Sweet Onion
2 Tb freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 (14.5 oz) can Organic Diced Tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup Coconut Milk (FULL FAT!)
1/2 Tb Arrowroot powder
Sea Salt to taste


Directions:
  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add chicken, onion, and liemon juice; cook and stir until chicken is no longer pink (about 10 minutes). Add all of the spices except red pepper and cook/stir 1 minutes

  2. Stir in tomatoes and mix well. In a small bowl, stir together coconut milk, arrowroot powder, and salt until smooth. Gradually stir coconut milk mixture into skillet. Stir in Red Pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring frequently.

This dish was slightly ethnic and spicy and just what I was craving on a crisp fall evening. . . I served mine with "Curry Fried F'rice" - an amazing cauliflower recipe by Melissa Joulwan.

Oh, and no - the serving size on the plate did not even cut it. . . I ended up going back for another generous serving of the "Fried F'rice" to sop up more of the yummy Tikka Massala sauce with!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Two Weekends of Fun!



The last two weekends have been full of athletic adventures - and SO much fun!

Saturday, October 9th a bunch of friends and I traveled to Houston to compete in the Oktoberfest Obliteration II CrossFit Competition - What a Blast!

Sunday, October 17th, several of us ran in the Harbor Half Marathon right here in Portland - which ended up being a lot of fun as well!

I've summarized my experiences at both events below:

Oktoberfest Obliteration II

This was CrossFit Competition at it's absolute best. The organizers of this event (CrossFit Champions) did an amazing job of putting it all together. The programming and organization of the entire event couldn't possibly have been any more perfect.

I competed in the Standard Women's Division - I won't spell out all of the details of the WODs (you can check out the link for that), but I have to say that when they were announced, I was THRILLED to find that there were no gymnastics movements! After my initial elation though, I started looking at them a little more closely, and realized that there were HEAVY squat cleans in one of the WODS - I love Oly Lifting - so I had been initially thrilled to see Squat Cleans. . . . but then I realized that they were set at 125 lbs and my current 1RM Front Squat is 130! Ruh Roh.

The good news (for me anyway) was that the heavy Squat Cleans were in the first WOD of the day, so I was able to get that one over with, and then stop worrying about it!

I did the best that I could - there was a little strategy involved with this WOD - I knocked out all of the other required movements (KB Swings and Runs) first before starting my Cleans. I started my Cleans with about 5 minutes remaining . . and tried. . . . and tried. . . . and tried some more to squat clean that weight! After a few failed attempts, I decided to Power Clean it, and then Front Squat it (also acceptable). I power cleaned it without too much trouble several times, but kept failing at the bottom of my Front Squat. When the whistle blew to signal that the allotted time was up, I hadn't completed a single full Squat Clean. And you know what? I was totally okay with it!

Was I frustrated that I had DNF'd a WOD at competition? Sure.

A little embarrassed that I hadn't gotten a single rep of the Cleans? Yep.

But did I walk away knowing that I had given everything that I possibly could have of myself during the WOD? Yes I did - and THAT is why I was A-OKAY with the DNF - there was not a single thing that I could have done differently to change the outcome - and I know with all of my heart that I left it all "on the court". . . so I had no problem walking off the blacktop with my head held high and mentally preparing myeslf for the remaining WODS of the day.

Lesson Learned: I need to continue to focus on building strength, and never, ever, ever skip a squat day! :)

The rest of the day went great - I saw some absolutely amazing performances by good friends and strangers alike and left at the end off the day feeling inspired by those performances. And also motivated to continue to work hard on my own performance!

That's the thing that I love about attending CrossFit Competitions - no matter what level I am at, I will always find inspiration in those competing around and with me. It's just so amazing to watch someone push themselves to their limit, and then keep on pushing. And the look of satisfaction on a person's face when they've finished a WOD and know beyond a doubt that they gave it their all and dug deeper than they realized that they could - that is more inspirational, uplifting, and motivational than words can describe.

Harbor Half Marathon

I found out the weekend of Oktoberfest Obliteration that a fellow CrossFitter and friend of mine was running the Harbor Half Relay marathon the following weekeend, but needed a Relay Race Partner. Let me state for the record here, that I am NOT A RUNNER!! . . however this race did sound like a lot of fun, so I told her that if she was unable to find another partner (who actually WAS a runner!), then I'd run it with her.

I'll be dead honest here - I was initially dreading it and praying that someone else would want to run it . . . but then a few days before the race when I realized that it was probably going to be me, I started to look forward to the challenge of it! I hadn't run more than 3 miles in a single session in at least 2 years (and probably double that). . . so the thought of running 6.5 miles was both terrifying and tempting at the same time. In the end, I decided to use this opportunity to prove to myself that I was capable of more than I thought I was - and that I really could push past the 3 mile mark if I put mind over matter. I didn't want to let my friend down, and I figured if nothing else, that thought would be enough to keep me moving forward.

I have several friends that are runners - and any of you reading this are probably laughing. I realize that 6.5 miles to "a runner" is nothing. It would probably be the equivalent of me squatting 90 lbs . . it takes a little effort, but it's not really "hard". To a "non-runner" though, 6.5 miles is very intimidating! Especially when you throw trekking up the Harbor Bridge into the mix!

Sunday morning 5am rolled around, and I found myself waking up to my alarm actually excited (Suprise!)

My Relay Partner and I met before the race and psyched each other up, and then it was "off to the races" . . . literally!

I ran the second leg . When she passed off to me, I just started at a nice easy pace, and did my best to maintain it. I think this must have been the trick. Before I realized it, I was coming up on the bridge and realized that I'd already covered about 4.5 out of my 6.5 miles! I guess that's when the runner's high kicked in because I just zoned back out and before I realized it was crossing the finish line . . and thinking to myself "Wow - I can't believe I just did that!"

I'll be honest - I don't think either of us gave a second thought as to our placement at the start of the race - My goal was just to run the full 6.5 without slowing to a walk. One foot in front of the other at least at a jog, and I'd be happy. Turns out that we finished in 15th place out the 100 Female Only teams that ran! I was so proud of us! And happy to have a friend that was willing to push me outside of my comfort zone :)

Lesson Learned: Sometimes, just convincing myself that I'm capable of something is enough to make it true! I think that if we could just get our heads out of the way half of the time, we'd be capable of a lot more than we give ourselves credit for!

Oh, and I still don't consider myself "A Runner", but I did have a heck of a good time, mostly due to great company and re-connecting with several friends that I hadn't seen in too long. And who knows? Maybe after my stregnth building cycle is over with, I'll start running just a little more often. . it was suprisingly relaxing to zone out to my I-pod and let my legs just go.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Update on my Paleo Progress



I know I've been neglecting my blog again, so it's time for another update -

I've stayed strict Paleo with very few exceptions since the end of July when I began my Whole30 journey. I found that this kind of nutrition just "works" perfectly for me, and I don't want to mess with a good thing! The only exceptions that I have made:

  • I have made an absolutely "to-die-for" marinara sauce from scratch and used a little bit of red wine in the recipe. I wanted to see if I felt any ill-effects from it, and fortunately I did not - and the sauce was AMAZING!! I served it over some calamari, steamed shrimp, broccoli, and kelp noodles. . YUM! So I'm going to allow myself to use a little wine for cooking from time to time going forward. This isn't going to be a daily thing, but more like a "once=or-twice-a-month" kind of thing. Of course this wouldn't be condoned during a Whole 30 stint, but I'm in "maintenance mode" at this point :)

  • A week or so after cooking with red wine, I decided to have one glass with dinner. I nice medium-rare grass fed steak paired perectly with a glass of Merlot. I had only one glass, and had no desire to go back for a second or third glass - it just served as a great complement to an awesome dinner. Again, I felt no ill-effects that evening or the next day, so I have decided to allow myself the occasional glass of red wine with dinner - but again, this will not be a regular thing - only once every month or so as a special treat.
  • I competed in Oktoberfest Obliteration II at CrossFit Champions this last weekend. I had been perectly strict with no cheats whatsoever other then the wine mentioned above up to this point, so I decided a few weeks ago that I would treat myself to a frozen yogurt after the competition. They have an awesome Frozen Yogurt chain called "FreshBerry" in Houston, and a girlfriend and I swung in after a grueling day of competition. I ordered a regular size yogurt w/ shredded unsweetened coconut as a topping. . . and it was just what the Dr. ordered! My tummy was admittedly a little upset for the rest of the evening - no doubt due to the re-introduction of dairy. As a result I do not plan to indulge in frozen yogurt on a regular basis - maybe just once or twice a year as a special treat. . .

  • Lastly - over the weekend, my hubby baked some sugar cookies. . . they smelled SO GOOD and I managed to resist them all weekend long. . but had a moment of weakness this morning and decided I would have just one. . . Oh My Goodness. . . NEVER AGAIN!!! Gluten is definitely something that I do not have any desire to re-introduce into my diet, even as an occasional treat. My stomach has been screaming at me ALL DAY LONG - I've literally been doubled over in agony several times. Lesson Learned though! And the good news is that I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to eat any more of those darn things, and now fully remember why I cut that stuff out of my diet in the first place!
So since I did a "Whole60" from July 29th - September 29th, with the exception of the Edamame slip-up around day 28. After 60 days of 100% compliance, I've "tested the waters" just a few times (listed above) to see what does and does not affect me negatively. I've found that I can cook with wine occasionally, or have a glass with dinner from time to time but don't plan to make a habit of it - I'll only splurge here occasionally as a special treat byt outside of this I plan to pretty much stick to Whole30 principles for my day-to-day life.


So how has the last 75-ish days of Paleolithic nutrition affected me?

Mentally, I feel clearer and more "in tune" than I have in ages. I'm leaner than I've been in a long time, and my performance has finally started to come back up in the gym. I did have the complicating factor of some thyroid issues that I'm still working to resolve, and this has affected my energy levels, stamina, and recovery ability however I feel like all of these would be even worse than they are if I hadn't jumped back on the "Paleo Wagon" when I did.


I plan to continue to work to build my strength by focusing on the Strength Programming that Coach Wilkes has provided and limiting my MetCon. Once I have built up some more strength, I'll gradually add a little more MetCon back in to my routine.