Posted in Challenge Recap, Healthy Eating, Paleo

My Paleo Experience- What I Learned

I spent 21 days on the Paleo Diet.  It was somehow both easier and more challenging than I had expected it to be. Here is an overview of my experience and some of the key discoveries I made by going Paleo.

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The Good… 

  • It was not nearly as limiting as I expected!  I was pleasantly surprised how diverse my grocery cart and meals were every week.
  • My culinary creativity expanded!  I made things I never would think to make in my pre-Paleo diet.  It was exciting to try new things- from snacks like clementines dipped in dark chocolate and almond slices, to vegetables like roasted cabbage and main dishes like sauteed shrimp and pork chops.
  • I felt substantially healthier.

The Bad… 

  • My wallet shrunk more than my waistline.  Eating fresh fruits, vegetables and lean proteins was not cheap!  I found myself spending a lot more money than what I expected.
  • Eating out was not easy.  While eating at home was pretty manageable, eating out anywhere felt like a multi-phased balancing act.  I tried to plan ahead when I knew I would be eating out but reading through menus was a frustrating reminder of all the delicious breads, pastas and other foods I was avoiding.

Overall Challenge Enjoyment: 7/10. I enjoyed the food I ate but it felt limiting to stay perfectly within the paleo guidelines.

Success in Completing Challenge: B. I had a few slips: croutons in my salad, a piece of bread, a sandwich but overall I felt pleased with my commitment.

Likelihood in Continuing Challenge: Moderate (but with some allowances)

 

Posted in 30 Challenges, Getting Started, Healthy Eating, Paleo

Journey to the Paleolithic

Yesterday began my journey into the Paleolithic, and I didn’t even need a time machine. I am referring of course, to the infamous Paleo Diet. If you have somehow never heard of the Paleo Diet, or any of its other nicknames: Paleolithic diet, ancestral diet, or caveman diet allow me to give a very brief introduction. The Paleo Diet is a movement where essentially us modern day humans are to channel our ancestors and their dietary proclivities.  Using ones local grocery store as the grounds for their newly adopted hunter-gatherer lifestyle, they are to shun processed foods of all kinds like packaged sweets, cookies, chips along with bread, pasta, and rice.

Why in the world would anyone do this?  Well, by focusing on only what our ancestral caveman relatives could hunt and gather it emphasizes healthy, unprocessed foods.

In my effort to learn a little more about this, I discovered that there are a lot of inherent benefits.  Weight loss, muscle gain, improved digestion, better sleep are just a few of the health benefits people tout after ‘going paleo’.

The General Practices of the Paleo Diet:

  • Lean protein and meats- good
  • Vegetables- very good
  • Fruits- good
  • Seeds and Nuts- good
  • Sugar- BAD!
  • Legumes- BAD!
  • Grains (pastas, breads, rice)- BAD!
  • Dairy (cheese, butter, milk)- BAD!

I have had some hangups about trying the Paleo Diet, both in terms of I can do it (no bread???) and if it was all really worth it. So in my quest for self-improvement challenges, and my interest to get conditioned for my Swim Around Lido Key (only 6 weeks away!) this seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to test run Paleo.

GETTING STARTED…

To make matters difficult, on a recent trip to Seattle, I rediscovered my love for BREAD. This particular bread experience took place over a plate of linguini and clams in a small restaurant in Ballard, north of downtown Seattle. The bread was a crusty loaf with a delicate sprinkling of sea salt over the top and the homemade butter was something I could have eaten on its own (it was truly that good). I am not going to lie, this was a wonderful, but very poorly timed food experience.  So, I had to overcome  (or at least stave off) my deeply devoted love of bread…

I also discovered, after an initial trip to the grocery store that buying fresh produce and quality protein does not come cheap. I will likely need to pick up some clever recipes to make this a little more friendly on my wallet.

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Before I could start my challenge, I also needed to figure out what was going to work for me.  While the basics of Paleo are all the same, there is some room for interpretation, and I had to ultimately decide what would work for me.

So here are the details of my Paleo Challenge:

  • 21 days of Paleo
  • Focus my diet around proteins, vegetables, fruits and some seeds/nuts
  • No bread, rice, pasta or processed food

Here are my non-Paleo compromises (to keep me sane):

  • Corn– specifically pop corn. It is my one go-to snack. I have to have it. And technically, while most paleo-purists will say that corn is not approved, I will argue that it is still vegetable-ish
  • Salt– again, in true Paleo terms, you aren’t supposed to have sugar OR salt but I have to be able to season my food and I use salt as one of my main kitchen staples
  • Cheese/Breadcrumbs– I am going to allow myself the occasional allowance of cheese to sprinkle onto particularly boring dishes or breadcrumbs to liven up and bind together protein. But again, this will be a periodic exception and by no means a habitual practice.
  • Coffee and Creamer– I am not a regular coffee drinker, but my Sunday mornings are sacred to me. I sleep in, have breakfast with the boyfriend and enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee with creamer. I have decided I am keeping this as a once-a-week treat.
Posted in Challenge Recap, Fitness, Healthy Eating

Challenge Recap- Getting Fit

30 Days has come and gone, which means so has another challenge.  At the beginning of February, I set off on a 30 day challenge to Get Fit.  This included eating well (specifically avoiding junk food) and working out every day.

I definitely had some pitfalls and speed bumps, but overall I feel very pleased with the challenge.  More than anything, I felt a sense of accountability for my actions.  Not eating junk food meant paying a lot more attention to what I was eating.  In the end I wouldn’t even say I really missed the junk food I was avoiding (although I did purchase a box of Raspberry Pop Tarts immediately after the challenge ended).

Overall Challenge Enjoyment: 8/10 Working out and eating well was a lovely change of pace.

Success in Completing Challenge: C+

Likelihood of Continuing Challenge: VERY!

 

Posted in 30 Challenges, Minimalism

Staying Fit and Going Minimal

I am about 19 days into my challenge to Get Fit.  After a few early stumbling blocks, I now feel pretty confident in my progress, not necessarily in terms of weight loss or skinnier mid-section but rather in overall feeling and well being.  I have been working out every day, whether that is weights or swimming or treadmill.  I have also been diligent in not eating junk food.  It’s funny because I don’t really even miss it at this point, so I will consider that a success.

On a separate note, I am a few days into a new challenge this month to ‘go minimal’. I already feel like this challenge (perhaps more than any other challenge I have tried to date) can actually become a lifestyle change.  Already have been able to do an initial purge with about 6 bags of stuff donated to Good Will.

Minimalism is a whole movement. In my interest in going minimal, I did some initial research and found some helpful resources like the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  There is also a website I like about becoming a minimalist.

I will be honest, I like stuff. I have really had to come to terms with that aforementioned love of stuff.  Through this challenge my goal is not to truly adopt the title of ‘minimalist’ but there is an intoxicating pull to minimize and focus on what is most important.  I don’t intend to become one of those fancy people in a stark white, super urban apartment with soft lighting and a single utensil in a drawer.  I am not getting rid of everything so that my life can fit in a bag, but I am eager to simplify.

By minimizing, my larger goal is to reduce clutter and refine my focus. I plan to do this by adopting several of the most popular minimalism techniques and going through every part of my house to determine what I am holding onto unnecessarily. What stuff is important and what stuff is just stuff?