Monday, February 25, 2013

Keepin' It Real

I know I've been posting a lot about Paleo and cleaning up your diet, but I want to let you know that although I do think it's good to be strict sometimes, it's also good to splurge!

What I ate today:

  • Breakfast - 2 cups of black coffee, way too many chocolate covered coffee beans that were in the kitchen at work
  • Lunch - Leftover Mexican from last night's dinner out, steak and shrimp with onions peppers and mushrooms covered in a white cream (possibly mayo) based salsa with some carrot sticks that I also dipped in the sauce
  • Dinner - Will be leftovers from Saturday night's dinner out, a crab cake over rice in red curry sauce with carrots

Did I eat 100% Paleo?  Nope!  I had chocolate, cream, bread crumbs in the crab cake, some rice...  But did I make healthier choices than I could have?  I skipped tortillas that are typically a staple in any Mexican meal.  I also avoided the rice and beans that came with my meal.  Why waste stomach space on those when I had plenty of tasty steak, shrimp, and veggies?  I'd also like to note that today is kind of a splurge day in general, because I'm not usually eating restaurant leftovers as the majority of my daily intake!

I am not perfect, nobody is.  I ate froyo twice this past week.  Was that a healthy choice?  Ummmm no (and writing that makes me realize maybe I need to reel it in a bit).  But I believe in the recommendation from Mark's Daily Apple... eat healthy 80% of the time and let loose 20% of the time!  For me, the 80/20 principle means if I'm cooking at home, I'm trying to keep it as Paleo as possible, but if I'm going out for a special occasion and I want something noncompliant I don't feel guilty.

I am not obsessed with every morsel going into my mouth, because I know I eat healthy enough on a regular basis that the 20% is not going to make or break my gut health or my efforts to maintain my weight.  The question you should ask yourself is are you finding an 80/20 balance or are you closer to 50/50 or worse?  Are processed foods and excess sugar a special treat or a regular option?

Do you follow the 80/20 principle or something similar?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Make Your Health a Priority!

Since I finished my Whole21, I not only feel great but the compliments on my weight loss have been nonstop.  Honestly, I still can't stop staring in the mirror thinking wow, look at that tiny waist!  I want to share everything I know with all the people in my life that are struggling with their weight.

But some of them really don't want to hear it.  They "can't live without pasta."  Or they're in denial about their current diets... "I don't eat that much bread now."  Or I think some people get overwhelmed just thinking about the amount of work that would be required for a lifestyle change and they immediately shut down.

But you only get one life!  This is it.  The body you have now is the vessel that takes you through your life.  You can nourish it and live out your days chasing after your grandkids (or maybe even great grandkids!) or you can keep stuffing your face with unhealthy things just because they are convenient or you're addicted to them.

It makes me sad when I think about some of my friends and family and how their weight negatively affects their self esteem.  I also think about how their choices now will affect them in the future.  My grandfather and uncle both died of a heart attack when they were only in their 50s!  Will my other family members follow suit?  Will they be around to see my kids grow up?  Will my friends regret their "beer is awesome and I'm going to die anyway" lifestyles later when they have families of their own?  It breaks my heart to think about these questions!

I want to help everyone because everyone deserves to feel amazing!  Seeing as how a third of the population in our country is overweight, conventional methods of dieting are obviously not working.  So why not try something different?

Don't play the victim, you are in control of your life.  Nobody is forcing you to continue with your unhealthy habits.  It is never too late to make your health a priority!  It's not going to be easy.  Depending on where you're coming from, it might take a long time to change your habits.  But I can guarantee it will be worth it!

How do you approach a friend or family member whose health you are concerned about?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

4 Ways to Start Eating Paleo Now

Cutting out things that may currently be a staple in your diet (bread, pasta, cereal, oatmeal, etc.) may seem overwhelming.  I used to eat oatmeal or granola for breakfast, hoagies or sandwiches for lunch, and pasta, potatoes, and rice as a third of my dinner.  But when I found out about Paleo, it seemed so obvious that if I replaced all of the processed carbs I was eating with vegetables that I would be eating healthier.  I felt like my eyes had been opened and was babbling all the new information to Dave until he was sick of listening.  He was a little resistant at first, but he supported my efforts and got on board.  We weren’t very strict, still grabbing hoagies for convenient lunches, enjoying Dave’s mom’s decadent desserts, and oh yeah, there was beer and maybe even some mixed drinks.  But Dave started losing weight, it was falling off him, it really seemed like he was down another pound every day.  He lost 25 lbs over a few months and looked great!  He was a believer.

For some people, it’s best to dive in head first!  The Whole30 is a great way to see quick changes in your body and understand why you would want to eat this way, but it’s also intense and can be intimidating for a beginner.  However, even making small changes in your diet can make a big impact on your health.  Here’s a few tips to help you start out!

1. Replace your rice/pasta/potatoes with another veggie!

I used to eat a meat, a veggie, a starch for dinner just like conventional wisdom told me I should.  An easy step towards eating more Paleo is to replace your starchy side for another vegetable.  A side salad, some roasted cauliflower, grilled asparagus, steamed spinach, even steam in the bag veggies from the freezer.  Get creative with new-to-you veggies, google some recipes or buy a cookbook, bust out of your iceburg salad, plain boiled vegetable rut!

2. Just say no to buns!

Plain grocery store bread, bagels, hamburger buns, etc. don’t really taste good.  A fresh crusty bread from a bakery… ok, that tastes good but the majority of bread products that people shovel into their mouths only taste good because of the sauce, spread, meat, spices, veggies, etc you put on top if it.  So why not just eat more of the good stuff?

  • Order your burger without the bun, you can try a lettuce wrap or just eat it with a fork (easier to load up unlimited toppings of sautéed onions and mushrooms, avocado, lettuce, tomato, pickles… and bacon!)
  • Skip sandwich bread and make a lunch meat roll up!  Lay out two pieces of lunch meat, overlapping the edges of them.  Layer cheese, your condiment of choice, lettuce, tomatoes, whatever you want and roll it up!  I recommend two or three and you can make them all different!
  • Make a lettuce boat!  Skip tortillas and shuttle buffalo chicken into your mouth using a nice piece of romaine lettuce.

3. Get rid of your sugar bomb breakfast!

Breakfast seems to be a frenzy of juice, cereal, oatmeal, granola, and baked goods, but this just leads to a blood sugar rollercoaster and you’re probably hungry before you even make it to lunch.  Loading up on protein and veggies will keep you full and keep you slim.  Make a green smoothie or cook up a veggie omelet.  If you don’t have time in the mornings, make some egg muffins, a frittata, or some hard boiled eggs ahead of time for a quick grab and go breakfast for the week.  Or *gasp* eat dinner leftovers for breakfast.  You can eat anything at any time, so if you’re struggling for breakfast options, make extra at dinner.

4.  Eat whole foods!

Try to eat things that don’t have an ingredient list (meats, veggies, fruits, nuts).  If they do have a list, the fewer the better!  If you can’t pronounce something on that list, then how do you know what it’s doing to your body?!

Hope this helps, let me know if you’re thinking about Paleo and want to know more Smile

Do you have any Paleo eating tips?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Paleo 101 - Blog Round Up

Since I posted about my Whole21, everyone has been asking me for more information about the Paleo Diet.  Honestly, I believe in this lifestyle so much that I want to share the goods with anyone who will listen!  I recently wrote about why grains suck and I intend on writing some more summary posts, but if you're like me and once you get an idea in your head, waiting is like pure torture... here's a few of my favorite Paleo 101 resources to hold you over!

Puddin' can't wait any longer!

If you still haven't read this post, please start here: The Beginners Guide to the Paleo Diet.  It's a really great summary and there are legos!

Seriously, read that ^^^ and then read these:

Mark's Daily Apple - I don't remember how I first stumbled upon this website, but I'm so glad I did!  Mark supports a Primal way of living, which is his twist on Paleo plus his views on fitness, getting outside, and fitting some play into your schedule.

Whole9 - This website is the home of the Whole30 program that I followed to obtain my epic results!
  • The Whole30 Program - The Whole30 is a 30 day reset for you body.  You eliminate all the questionable things out of your diet and learn just how great your body can feel without them.  Afterwards you reintroduce things individually to see exactly how they affect you.
  • The Whole30 Timeline - This timeline will help you understand how you're feeling and why!

Holly Would If She Could - I found this blog when I was first thinking about doing the Whole30 and now I'm hooked.  She's sarcastic and straight forward and her blog topics range from recipes to race training to fun Friday links.  If you're thinking about doing a Whole30, her website is a great resource, but even if you aren't I'd still recommend it!

And if you're thinking, blogs are ok but I really want to read a book that covers everythinghere's an amazing round up of Paleo books with some guidelines to help you find which one is right for you!

Well, I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day!  Thank you so much for reading and don't forget to go like my Facebook page!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mental Health Day Required

Yesterday I left my house at 7 am and didn’t get home until 11 pm.  I had a pretty good day, but it ended with a stressful meeting and a 40 minute drive behind someone who had no interest in doing anything close to the speed limit.  I got home feeling drained!  I went to bed but couldn’t really fall asleep.  Fast forward to 2 am, when I woke up thinking about work.  EW!  I woke up with a headache and felt like I hadn’t slept at all.

Mental health day, boom!

I woke up 4 hours after my alarm originally went off and felt refreshed.  I put dinner in the crockpot and laced up my boots.  Puddin’ and I headed out on the trail to enjoy the sun peaking through the trees.

Mountain Trail

The temperature was almost 40 degrees, the trail was empty, and Pandora provided the perfect soundtrack.

VF Trail

I got my heart pumping up the mountain, focused on the peaceful feeling of the woods, and took a couple of extra deep breaths.

Hiking Puddin'

I already feel so rejuvenated.  The rest of my day will be filled with grocery shopping and food prep for the chicken parm dinner I’m making for my sweetie tomorrow (going out for vday is so overrated), cleaning and organizing, and I think I’ll finish with some yoga.  Mental health day success!

Do you ever take mental health days?  How do you fight stress?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Grains, what’s the big deal anyway?

After publishing my fabulous Whole21 results, so many people have been asking me about the Paleo Diet and the Whole30 program!  I’m so excited to share my knowledge with everyone, so I decided to do a series of posts!

Please acknowledge that all of the information I’m presenting can be found on the internet, there are so many Paleo gurus, so feel free to do some research of your own.  Also understand that everyone is different, so question everything, experiment with different foods, and find what fuels your body best!

First of all, if you are seeking a slender, fit physique, grains are not your friend.

As Steve from Nerd Fitness so neatly sums up:

“Grains are composed of carbohydrates, and those carbs are turned into glucose (a type of sugar) in our system to be used for energy and various other tasks to help our body function – any glucose that isn’t used as energy is stored as fat.”

Back in the day, this was an advantage: your body could survive in times of famine using stored fat.  However, now we seldom find ourselves without a steady source of food but the fat continues to be stored by an automatic response in our bodies.  Just to make it clear: it is not fat that gets stored in your fat cells, it’s sugar!

Second, excessive grains cause excessive insulin to be secreted into your body, which can lead to insulin insensitivity, aka diabetes.

When we eat too many carbs, insulin comes to the rescue to try and deliver the glucose into your muscles or liver, but when those cells are full, the glucose hangs out in your bloodstream which causes the pancreas to deliver more insulin to try and deal with the toxic situation.  But, excess insulin is also toxic and the excess insulin causes the cells to become insulin resistant.  This is a bad cycle that keeps getting worse as you keep putting bagels, bread, and pasta dinners into your body!  Eventually your pancreas gets too overworked and it cannot produce any more insulin and now you have to inject insulin to survive.  Type 2 diabetes!

Third, grains contain gluten, lectins, and phytic acid – and they suck!

I’m sure you’ve all heard of gluten and the gluten free products popping up.  Gluten causes an inflammatory response in our bodies (which leads to a number of chronic diseases) and over time can cause a number of issues including dermatitis, joint pain, reproductive problems, acid reflux, autoimmune disorders, and Celiac disease.

Have you heard of lectins?  They are natural toxins found in grains that exist to defend against consumption!  Grains don’t want to be consumed, so this is their natural defense.  Lectins prevent our gastrointestinal tract from repairing itself which causes a lot of damage!

Grains also contain phytic acid, which blocks absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc.

Finally, grains do not offer much nutritional value.

People have been taught that grains are a necessary staple in our diet, but they just aren’t.  You can get all of the nutrients found in grains through a balanced diet of meat, veggies, fruit, nuts, and healthy fats without all the negative aspects of grains.  There are carbs in vegetables, sweet potatoes, and fruit and they are totally unprocessed!

Here’s a basic scenario that makes a lot of sense to me.  Think about eating a big basket of bread at a restaurant, it’s high in calories, doesn’t fill you up, and leaves you feeling ready for more food!  What if you ate the same amount of calories in a small piece of steak and a large helping of veggies?  You would feel satiated, full, and without a swollen, bloated tummy.  You can get off the blood sugar rollercoaster (goodbye post lunch crash!) and feel satisfied until your next meal!

Well, this is a TON of information and it’s really just the tip of the iceberg.  I hope this post was enlightening and not extremely overwhelming.  I know that this goes against so many things you’ve been told your entire life, but when I started reading about all this it really just clicked in my head.  Click on those links if you’re looking for some more information from the experts!

Are you interested in the Paleo Diet?  Is there a specific topic you want me to cover?

Monday, February 4, 2013

My Whole21 - Results!

Finally... the results!  Sorry I've kept you all waiting...

Day 1 - Weight 154.0 lbs
Day 21 - Weight 141.6 lbs
Weight Loss = 12.6 lbs!

And how about some before and after pictures?!

Awwwww yeah!  My gut disappeared!  I've always carried a little extra in my stomach and although it's never stopped me from rocking a bikini, I was never a fan of it.  I've been in great shape my whole life, but no matter what I did I couldn't seem to find my abs.  According to Mark's Daily Apple 80 percent of your body composition is determined by diet and let's just say I'm a believer!  The pounds fell off me and I was never hungry.  I ate burgers, steak, fajitas, buffalo chicken... avocados by the bag full.  What a wonderful "diet" :)

But this wasn't all about losing, what did I gain?
- My skin cleared up
- I slept like a baby
- I had tons of energy, no afternoon crash!
- Fruit tasted like candy
- I learned how to cook with spices (instead of just piling on some marinade/cheese/ketchup/etc)
- I tried new recipes
- I learned that I have willpower and I can live without cheese and chocolate!
- I realized that the majority of packaged foods have a ton of crap listed in the ingredients

So I finished 21 days of clean eating... and then I binged on a ton of crappy foods.  Over the past week I've had brownies, muffins, tons of cheese, french fries, Taco Bell, pink lemonade, pizza... ugh.  It makes me bloated just thinking about it!  I can seriously feel my stomach bloat up immediately after I eat processed crap.  It's awful.  I ate two and half slices of pizza one day and I had a deep pain in my stomach all night.

When I eat clean, I just feel so great!  And being forced to go shopping for new pants two sizes smaller than my old ones?  How could I eat any other way?

Have you ever considered giving up processed foods?
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