Top 10 of 2013!

Another year, another load of recipes.  Probably not as many as I would have liked…but then again I surprised myself with a few of them.  Like this?  No idea it would become a weeknight staple.  Or these cupcakes??  Holy crap.  I’m shocked I came out of my sugar coma like…at all.  Had some real downers, too.  Oh, boy…did I ever.  But of course I just didn’t even bother posting so let’s pretend like they never happened, shall we?  OK.  Good.

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10.  Sweet Potato Muffins.  I realized that the last time they made an appearance was when we lived in Texas.  Kinda warms my little heart when I realize people still go back to some of my oldest posts.

9.  Apple Pie Muffins.  Easily my favorite breakfast item of the year. (I was a little shocked these didn’t even make top 20, though!)

8.  Banana Pancakes.  Banana Pancakes are great.  I mean, that guy wrote a song about them and everything!

7.  Magic Bars.  Gah!  These were dangerous in their simplicity.

6.  (TGI)Paleo Bread 2.0.  Because everyone needs a sandwich now and then.  Am I right or am I right?

5.  Avocado Ranch Dressing.  Is it bad I can’t talk about this without thinking of Homer Simpson hooked up to the ranch dressing hose.

4.  Three Ingredient Hawaiian Pulled Pork.  The beauty is in the simplicity.  And in the fact that I can throw this together in 30 seconds before I leave the house at some ungodly hour.

3.  The BEST Paleo Vanilla Cupcakes.  Because of course they are.

2.  Avocado Brownies.  I used a LOT of avocados this year…

1.  My Absolute Favorite Protein Pancakes.  I love a little controversy.  (“Protein powder is Paleo!”  “No it’s not!”  Fight!  Boo!  Hiss!).  Either way, they were the most read post of the year.  For something posted in October?  Not too shabby!

The One Face Cream I’d Buy Again. And Again.

Like most other women I’ve cycled through dozens of different face creams and washes in my short little life in search of the one that would give me that airbrushed, flawless finish.  OK, well we know that’s not possible…even though I still secretly hope it is…but my skin improved dramatically after I cleaned up my diet and I figured out what foods and habits gave me issues.  Dairy gives me pimples.  Sugar gives me painful breakouts on my face and back.  Alcohol dries me out.  Lack of sleep turns me into an oil slick.  Stress and adrenal fatigue just make me look like I got run over by a truck.  I could go on.

Then I went through the discovery of alternative methods of cleansing and moisturizing.  I’m a HUGE fan of Katie at Wellness Mama and her health and beauty concoctions using stuff you’ve most likely got sitting in the pantry.  Turns out many commercial products not only irritate your skin but they can put some pretty knarly stuff into your system, too.  I won’t get into it, but Katie discusses all of this at length.  Anyhoo…it was there I learned all about the Oil Cleansing Method, which I used for a while before I just started using coconut oil for…everything.  All I do to wash my face now is schmear coconut oil all over and rinse with hot water.  Boom.

I’ve been using coconut oil alone for about 9 months now and couldn’t be happier.  I rarely break out anymore and my skin is smooth and pretty even.  But I got an email from one of my readers asking me to test a bottle of Nerium AD–at first I was like, “Ew…face cream?”  But she insisted it was legit and I did a little digging.  Nerium Oleander is the name of an herb that people have used for quite some time as a folk remedy for everything from ulcers to rabies to heart conditions. Obviously, we figured out it does some great things when applied topically and is also an herbal remedy for acne, age spots, cold sores, and age spots.

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So herbal remedy.  That’s cool.  But what about everything else?  Surprisingly, the ingredients list is clean.  It’s got none of the toxic ingredients that most commercially sold beauty products do–like peroxides, DEA, PEG, Glycols, sunscreen chemicals, etc.–and when I got the bottle in the mail it came with an ingredient breakdown and explanation of what every single thing was and where it came from and why it was in there.  Not too shabby, huh?

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Really not being facetious at all.  You can literally Google everything in here and see that it’s nothing synthetic or weird.  It all just has weird names.  Please trust me here…

I gave the stuff a month-long trial and I can honestly say I have been blown away.  No, I don’t have bad acne and I’m not really old enough to have an issue with wrinkles or age spots, but I do have some uneven coloration (sun damage as a kid) and am prone to puffy eyes and flakiness when I’m under stress.  Actually, stress is a HUGE problem for my skin but we all knew that…thankfully I was also testing this stuff during my first month of pre-med and during a move…so it had its work cut out for it.

So all I had to do was put the stuff on once a day after I took a shower.  I washed my face like normal in the evening and just rinsed with water in the morning.  After a couple of weeks…WEEKS…I could a big difference in the evenness of my skin tone and really noticed that even lack of sleep didn’t provoke puffiness and dryness like it should have…and this month my sleep has been absolute sh*t, OK?  Even around the time of my period, which has ALWAYS been pimple city (especially on my chin and neck), I was clear.  Yeah, f**king crazy.  I could get used to this!

Any cons?  Yeah, Nerium is a little pricey–I’ve just got a big tub of coconut oil now for all my skin needs that lasts for months.  It runs around $90-$100 for an ounce, and that lasted about 6 weeks for me.  Not the most expensive cream I’ve gotten in my life but it’s an investment.  Also, the smell is a little funky…but then again I should note that this isn’t even close to the nastiness of some other stuff I’ve put on myself.  All in all, it’s certainly worth a try and I’ve invested in a second bottle to finish out the summer.

If you feel like shaking up your routine a little bit, you can order some here (it’s even available on Amazon but the prices fluctuate a little more).  Good luck!

Additional Resources:

 

My Competition Prep Log

Hey guys!  So I made a Google spreadsheet with all my weekly meal plans and training for this bikini competition dealio in August.  The link will be available here and over on my other site.

More importantly, this is just an easy way for me to keep track of my personal 80/20 Project…I have my meal plans for the week but list all of my dalliances to the side.  Feel free to shame me.

**Competition Prep Log**

Yeah…that’s it!

The 80/20 Accountability Project

I originally posted on my Facebook page that I’d be doing a May Whole30–which is kinda cheating since my competition prep diet is 100% Paleo (and actually compliant with Whole30 AND 21DSD…score!).  But I also got to thinking.  I’ve had a few cousins get into Paleo lately and complete Whole30′s of their own with great success (read Aukse’s account here).  I’m so proud to have been an inspiration for my family to lead healthier lives just like my friends were an inspiration for me (Jas, I’m talking about you!).

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But any of us who have completed a Whole30, or any kind of “Paleo Challenge” for that matter, faces the inevitable–”What do I do after I’m done??”  Unfortunately, a lot of people will sing the praises of Paleo, touting their weight loss, improved sleep, clearer complexion, better bloodwork, etc.  They will tell everyone they know that “they now eat Paleo,” or “believe in Paleo” but then…will go back to all of their old bad habits anyway.  How do they justify this to skeptical family and friends who have to suffer listening to how great the Paleo diet is while simultaneously diving into the bread basket?

“All in moderation!”…”The 80/20 Principle!”…”You just have to let go sometimes!”

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I’m not perfect and I never claim to be.  No one is.  And if you think the Paleo diet is a total load of poopie, that’s fine, too.  However, what I have an issue with is this “All Talk Syndrome” that seems to fall out from so many introductory Paleo experiences.  (I’m really reminded of this video…genius, pure genius!)  I despise the justification of sh*t food choices with the whole notion of “enjoyment in moderation.”  It’s not moderation if you do it every damn day.  I mean, if that’s what you’re doing, fine, but don’t kid yourself.  When you half-ass the whole thing you’re going to get half-assed results and frankly, blabbing about how great Paleo is when you’ve gained all your weight back after the Whole30 is doing the movement a disservice.  Maybe that’s harsh, but that’s how I feel.  Equate it to someone who tells you that being Vegan changed her life but who you know for a fact eats eggs for breakfast a few times a week and scarfs Oreos daily (believe it or not, they’re Vegan-friendly).

So what’s this 80/20 business?  Quite simply, it’s a way to keep the perfect from being the enemy of the good.  While we KNOW that being 100% Whole30 compliant 100% of the time is probably the best thing for us, it’s not sustainable for most of us and that’s OK.  If nothing else, we risk harming ourselves through performance anxiety…and undue stress is just as bad for you as a crappy diet.  Mark Sisson defines the 80/20 Principle as a practical baseline…it means that 80% of everything you eat needs to be good, whole, healthy food that aligns with the principles of the Paleo diet and whatever you consider to be “Your Paleo.”  It’s a no-nonsense approach that makes it livable .  We can’t be perfect 100% of the time in ANYTHING, so why beat yourself up about it?

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HOWEVER…while 100% compliance is not expected, 100% COMMITMENT is.  Again, I have an issues (HUGE ISSUES) with people who are all like, “Oh, I just live the 80/20 Principle!” when it’s obvious it’s 50/50 at best…or like 10/90.  Or those who think this means they are “allowed” to have 20%of their dietary intake to be complete sh*t and still consider themselves “healthy.”  Yeah, you know who you are.

So how do you know if you’re living the 80/20 Principle for real?  Think of it this way…say you eat 3 meals a day.  In a week, that’s 21 meals.  80% of 21 meals is 4.2 meals.  That means that if you have 4.2 non-Paleo meals you’re living 80/20.  What do 4.2 “non-Paleo” meals in a week look like?  OK, so Monday night you get home and have a few bites from a bar of rich, dark chocolate and a single 5-ounce glass of red wine.  That’s one.  Tuesday and Wednesday you’re a good boy or girl, but Thursday your boss takes you to lunch and you grab a fresh, hot roll from the bread basket.  That’s two.  Then figure you might as well put that expense account to use and order a martini.  Three.  Friday night you go out to the bar down the street and grab a couple beers.  That’s four and five.  Then you have a plate of nachos…I’ll be nice and assume you only had a small handful, so we’re up to six.  Saturday you go out to a restaurant with your family and figure it’s time for a “cheat meal” and have a burger and fries with another beer.  Seven, eight, and nine…probably more considering restaurant portions are huge, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.  Sunday you’re totally clean and the cycle continues.  While it’s tough to really break down percentages of your total food intake, when we consider that all of these munchies and drinks are so calorie dense and nutrient poor, it’s astonishing how much space this stuff takes up inside our bodies.  For the purposes of my example, this person might be thinking they’re doing better than 80/20 but in reality, at NINE “cheats” a week, whether you want to count in terms of meals or snacks or whatever, this guy or gal is somewhere around 60/40…and that’s assuming EVERYTHING they eat besides those nine “cheats” is 100% clean and Paleo with no additives, nasty packaging, sugary condiments, nut or seed oils…I could go on forever just on the sh*t we don’t even realize we’re eating.  And worst part is, the choice of “cheats” in this scenario,while common, are all things that even in small doses are permeating your gut and inflaming your system.  I also think I should mention that “Paleo” desserts or gluten-free baked goods or whatever should be included on the Crap List.  Yeah, they’re “better” choices than a beer or gluten bomb, but they’re sure as sh*t not “good for you,” either, so don’t think you can be 100% compliant and eat Paleo brownies every day.

Is this kind of pattern at all familiar?

Paleo is only a template, and everyone needs to know what is and isn’t part of their own “Personal Paleo.”  I, for example, include raw and pastured dairy products (but not milk) but not eat white potatoes or rice in “My Paleo.”  At the moment, even, I’m on the fence about nuts…and I certainly don’t eat roasted or heat-treated nuts or nut butters of any kind.  My non-Paleo “cheats” (I hate that word) are still gluten-free because I’ve realized what gluten and most grains do to my body and I don’t like how I feel the morning after (like, I’d rather take 21 shots of tequila).  I avoid this stuff, though not 100% of the time, because I’ve realized there is almost always a better alternative.  But that’s me.  You need to figure out what’s you.  And you need to own it.

OK, so here’s my 80/20 Challenge for you (and yes, I’m doing it too and so is my husband…whether he likes it or not).  I challenge you to get a notebook or Excel sheet or whatever and record everything you eat for the next month.  Hell, just try it for a week and see what happens.  But you have to record EVERYTHING you put in your mouth.  No counting calories or macros or anything, just do what you would do normally…but write it all down.  Also, on the top of the page, define what you believe to be “Your Paleo.”  For example, on top of my page, I have written “I eat all foods traditionally defined as ‘Paleo’ as well as raw and pastured dairy products and raw natural sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, and palm sugar).”

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For the purposes of this challenge, “Traditional Paleo” equates to the Whole30 guidelines, which is why I note that I eat dairy and certain natural sweetening agents.  Also for the purposes of this challenge, things that are “acceptable treats” like dark chocolate and red wine are NOT Paleo.  “Fringe Foods” like white potatoes, white rice, and dairy products may or may not be “Paleo” to you depending on how you tolerate them.  Make sense?

No worries, I will answer any and all questions about this whole deal.  Just leave a comment or shoot me an email.

Don’t even look back at your log entries till the end of each week, then go back and highlight anything and everything that falls outside the definition of YOUR PALEO.  Don’t worry if it’s not Whole30 or 21DSD-friendly.  This is about YOU.  This is an exercise in self-awareness, so don’t shame yourself into eating only Paleo-compliant stuff just because you have to write it down…I say again: don’t change anything, just record it.

Then do a little math.  How often are you really compliant?  This is why the longer you work on this little experiment, the more accurate it will be.  I’ll show you my and Ross’s diet logs and you can share yours.  Hopefully it will be an eye-opening experience for you.  Are you really 80/20?  Maybe you’re a superstar and have 90/10.  Maybe you’re 70/30, 50/50…or less…and didn’t realize it.  Here’s your chance to know yourself a little bit better and troubleshoot as you see fit.  If you’re 50/50 and can live with that, cool, but at least you’ll know.  Honesty, especially to oneself, is really what matters.

I Gave Up Caffeine

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Yeah, I’m a nut.  But you know what?  My sleep was sucking.  I was anxious.  Shaky.  Irritable.  Tired.  Bitchy.  Mean.  Hungry.  Sore.  Feverish.  I could go on.

Right now, my little family is pulling up its roots, I’m starting a second career, finishing my Master’s, moving across the country, and navigating the seemingly endless bureaucracy and red tape that stands between me and actually getting mout of the Army.  I’ll never again be called “Captain,” just a plain ol’ “Missus.”  And if everything works out, we can replace that with “Doctor” in a fewwww years ;-)

But I digress.  You’d think that I’d be fine with a caffeine dependence, especially since I’m going back to school.  I’ve been drinking coffee since I was 14 (no, it doesn’t stunt your growth…I’m 5’9″…or maybe I was just supposed to be a giant), and it got me through college and young adult life in general.  People made fun of me because during field problems, I was known to hike through a mile of rainy woods at the crack of dawn to find the nearest checkpoint that had a coffee pot.  Even if it was left over from the day before.  I know.  Ew.  Go more than a few hours without a “fix” and I was either passed out on the couch or jonesing like I used to for a cigarette.  If anything, after I quit smoking it got worse.  My teeth were legit YELLOW and not because I didn’t floss.  I’d try to cut back, and during times of lower stress or on vacation I could get away with 2 or 3 cups a day.

The last year has been a tough one on me for a lot of reasons, both military-related and not (I’ll leave that up to your imagination), and I’ve debated sharing some aspects with you because…well…it’s really personal and some of it is just downright inappropriate.  Besides, there was a side of me that wanted to put on this internet face of perfect health.  I eat Paleo, so I must be perfect.  So, ok, that’s complete BS.  Everyone has issues that they have to work through and no pill or diet or magic wand will fix it.  We’re all unique snowflakes, right?  What I will share with you is that I’ve been on a number of medications lately–and like way too many people out there I was also popping pills routinely to put me to sleep at night.  During periods of low stress, I’d take a break and feel great, but then I’d fall right back down the same sleepless hole.  I got to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore.  The docs wanted to keep trying new stuff, which usually put me out for a not-so-restful-sleep and made me feel like I’d been run over by a truck the next morning.  I was done.  D-O-N-E.

I saw this article by Sarah Ramsden and it got me thinking.  I knew that giving up caffeine would PROBABLY help my sleep, but I wasn’t sold.  Or I was a wussy.  Either way, Sarah got the juices flowing and made me realize that caffeine wasn’t just messing with my sleep.  It was messing with my whole system, or at least making the pre-existing stressors more potent.

So I figured, “What the hell?”  I was tired and desperate.  I’m with it enough to know that there is no magic bullet that will solve ALL my problems, but getting a good night’s sleep was a start.  So I kinda did a scaling back deal, going from 6 or 7 cups a day right down to 2, then a week later to 1, then this past month to none.  I’m not being dramatic at all when I say that it sucked.  It sucked bad.  It still does.  Whoever told me I’d be fine in a week…I want to kick you in the teeth.  It’s bee 2 weeks and I’m still exhausted, though noticeably less foggy in the head than last week.  It is getting better but damn…its rough.  I guess the whole pot a day for 12 years might have something to do with that…All you former smokers out there like me, the best analogy I can give you is that point where your mouth starts twitching and you get that tingling in your chest, your breath gets short, and you start sweating buckets…you’d probably gut a small child for a cigarette, right?  Well take that and add extreme…I mean HORRENDOUS, BONE CHILLING…fatigue and the willingness to lay down in a pile of horse poop if it just means you can get some sleep.  Yup.  That bad.

But!!!  My sleep at night?  AH-mazing.  SO amazing in fact, that I was out a solid 12 to 14 hours for three nights in a row at the beginning.  Granted I was so tired in the morning that even after I was away I laid in bed for a good half hour with the dogs face butting the back of my head so I’d get up and let them out to pee.  For this reason I recommend starting ant major caffeine withdrawal over a holiday weekend.  But, yeah, sleep is great.  No meds.  It’s deep and often dreamless, which is huge for me.  Ambien made me think that violent, psychedelic dream sequences would be part of my life forever…with the occasional morning where I’d wake up naked on the living room floor.  Sorry, just tellin’ it like it is.  Still not perfect, but I’ve been able to nix the extra prescription and let my body heal itself.  I try my best to go to sleep and wake up the same time very day, too, so that I can have a health sleep cycle and that I’ll start feeling energized in the morning instead of hung over.  Am I doneskies with coffee forever?  I mean, it’s so GOOD!  Welp, probably not.  I’d like to think I’ll be healthy enough to indulge again in a few months.  For now, though, I’ll take a decaf.

Why I’ve Been Slacking Lately

So I’ll keep this short and sweet…I know I’ve been slacking lately. My bad.  But I’m about to tell you why.  If you care…which you should because it’s hopefully going to have some great implications for the future of this little blogging venture of mine.

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I’m going to medical school.

Yep, I’m going to be a real, live medical doctor someday.  It took some soul-searching and a lot of deep breathing to get over the fact that it’s another 8+ years of school, but I’m getting out of the Army and ready to move on with my life.  I’ve been passionate about health and medicine my whole life, and I’m finally getting my chance to (hopefully) do great things in the field.  I have some ideas about what I’d like to do, but I’m told that I should hold my horses till I get through rotations.  No matter what, though, (disclaimer: here’s a cliche) Paleo has been an effective foundation for my own good health over the last couple of years and I want to keep it in my life and would love to be able to recommend it to my patients.  Paleo Physician’s Network, here I come!

So what does this mean for the blog?  Well not too much, too soon.  If anything I’ll be in and out for the next few months as we move back east and I get started with classes this summer.  I’ve been out of school for four years, so, um, yikes.  But I’m hoping this whole med school deal will make me smarter, and I want to be able to start doing my own research and sharing some ideas with you.  What’s more, I’ll be super busy.  And super poor.  So let’s see what I can come up with in my tiny inner city kitchen, shall we?
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OK, I didn’t mean to rant, just wanted to let you know what’s happening.  I was doing so well earlier this year with getting recipes posted every other day, and then I just kinda pooped out.  But don’t worry, there are plans for a bright future here at TGIPaleo, I swear!  If nothing else, we’ll see how articulate I can be when completely sleep deprived.  Yay.  Forgiveness up front if all I end up eating for the next decade is tuna and almond butter packets.  And coffee.  Lots of coffee.

Aukse’s Whole30 Adventure

**Today’s post is courtesy of my smokin’ hot cousin, Aukse–she completed her very first Whole30 the other day and the results more than speak for themselves.  She’s always been a hard-charger at the gym, but finally got bit by the Paleo bug thanks to TGIPaleo.  I’ve kinda been walking around the last few days with my ego inflated like a hot-air balloon, not gonna lie ;-) 

Without further ado, here’s her Whole30 Story, which can also be found on her blog.**

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As of this morning (March 12, 2013), I have officially and successfully completed my very first Whole30 program! The fun began on Sunday, February 10 and extended through Monday, March 11. My motivation for doing this was to get healthier. I feel great which is truly enough to recognize that this journey was worth the effort. Having said that, below is a quick summary of objective data showing the gains achieved in improving my health over the last 30 days.

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Blood Pressure: For the past three years, I have been taking blood pressure medication. Despite losing weight and following a low sodium diet, even when I was at my fittest about 1.5 years ago, it was still necessary to control my blood pressure with medication. Whether measured at the doctor’s office or at home with my own blood pressure monitor, on average, my readings always hovered around 130/85 (with medication).

About a week prior to starting my Whole30 program, despite the 130/85 reading, I made the personal decision to stop taking my blood pressure medication. Naive? Perhaps. Nevertheless, during my doctor’s appointment on Thursday, March 7 (Day 26 of my Whole30 program), I told my doctor about not taking my meds for the past month. She measured my blood pressure and it clocked in at 122/70without medication. I have been medically cleared and no longer have to take blood pressure medication!!!!!!

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Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a fat your body needs to work properly although too much can increase chances of heart disease, stroke, and other problems. Types of cholesterols include:1) HDL or “good” cholesterol (standard range = 40-60 mg/dL with higher numbers better), 2) LDL or “bad” cholesterol (70 – 130 mg/dL with lower numbers better), 3) VLDL or very low density lipoprotein (5-40 mg/dL), and 4) Total Cholesterol which is the value of all the cholesterols mentioned above combined (less than 200 mg/dL).

Prior to the Whole30 program, my Total Cholesterol was consistently above 200 and technically considered high (219-230), however, since my HDL levels have traditionally measured above average (74), my physician wasn’t too concerned (yet). Wish I had more impressive news but my cholesterol results from last Thursday haven’t changed from my baseline. As I continue with the paleo-life as much as possible, I will be very curious to see my results six months from now.

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Triglycerides: Triglyceride is another type of fat that your body makes although it also comes from the food your eat. Leftover calories are turned into triglycerides and stored in fat cells for later use; eating more calories that your body needs may result in high triglyceride levels. Normal levels are less than 150 mg/dL. Prior to Whole30, my levels have been over 100, averaging around 125 mg/dL. Results from last Thursday show levels of 70 mg/dL which is great news since optimal levels for cardiovascular health are 70-100 mg/dL.

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Measurements: My trainer records measurements at six specific levels of the body: 1) shoulders, 2) bust, 3) waist, 4) hips, 5) upper arm, and 6) upper thigh. My measurements were recorded first thing in the morning the day before starting my Whole30 adventure; these same measurments were taken first thing in the morning the day after completing my Whole30 program.

Losing inches and/or losing weight is a relative progression as everyone’s body does it at its own pace. Based on my past progress, on average, I would lose about 3 total inches (sum of all six measurements mentioned above) about every six weeks. For example, my pre-Whole30 measurements taken 30 days ago (February 9, 2013) reflected a loss of 3.75 total inches compared to previous measurements (December 21, 2012); note, the time between these two measurements was longer than usual (eight weeks). Today was a little different in a good way! Comparing my pre-Whole30 measurements (February 9, 2013) to my post-Whole30 measurements (March 12, 2013), in the past 30 days, I have lost an additional 5.75 total inches [shoulders (-1.5″), chest (-0.75″), waist (-1.5″), hips (-1″), thigh (-0.75″), and arms (-0.25″).

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Weight Loss: As mentioned throughout my various posts, the purpose of doing this wasn’t to lose weight; rather, it was to get healthy. Nonetheless, I look at any weight loss as the icing-on-the-cake. For the record, based on my past progress when in the same weight range, on average, I would lose about 3-5 lbs every 6 weeks (yes, even when on Weight Watchers). During my Whole30 program, I never once counted a calorie, approximated a Weight Watcher’s point, measured out a portion, or even worried how often I ate. When I was hungry, I ate and simply stuck to the plan in terms of what foods and ingredients to avoid. Over the course of this 30-day program, I lost 12 pounds.

Why did you decide to do the Whole30 Program?

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About two years ago, I was temporarily put on a  medication that really screwed up my metabolism; despite eating relatively healthy and working out diligently, I gained 35 lbs.  Once I got off the meds in June 2012, I assumed the weight would “fall off”.  Despite busting my ass in the gym, eating healthy, and doing many things to get in shape, nothing was happening.

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Toward the end of October 2012, after many bonked work- outs and several episodes of tears at the gym, my trainer revamp my eating regimen to include necessary amounts of protein in my diet. Finally, my body started to respond and I was able to see a light at the end of a very long tunnel. In an effort to rid my body of any residual meds and toxins, I committed to the Whole30 Program as a much-needed ”body vacation”, whereby the focus was eating nutrient-dense, non-processed foods full of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.  The purpose was to establish a healthier metabolism while maintaining a balanced immune system. I really wanted to re-boot my entire system and to focus on my health (rather than a number on a scale).

Is there anything specific that you miss?

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The only thing that I have occasionally been mourning is that glass (or two) of good, red wine, particularly when I am out to dinner.  (**Note from Camilla: This is how you KNOW we’re related**).  Surprisingly, I don’t miss the cream and sugar in my coffee anymore.  I don’t really crave sweets but that doesn’t mean I am no longer haunted by the “sugar dragon”.  Just this past week while on business in Minneapolis, although I had no problem giving my fries away, when my salad came with an Olive Garden-esque warm, garlic breadstick with a side of butter, it took monumental strength not to cram the breadstick, the butter, and the accompanying plate, for that matter, in my mouth.

How much weight did you hope to lose?

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I did not elect to do this program to lose weight.  The Whole30 program is designed to provide the opportunity for the body to heal by eliminating gut-disrupting, inflammatory ingredients.  The Whole30 program actually discourages getting on the scale so that the focus remains on how you feel without any prejudice offered by a number on a scale.

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Next Steps: Moving forward, I am going to continue to integrate many of the principles of the Whole30 program into my life. I have lots to reflect on but the one thing that I know for sure is that I will NEVER cook my food with chicken broth to save calories from fat. Instead, I will use ghee (clarified butter which is delicious), olive and coconut oil. It makes everything taste so good. Beyond that, I am just going to quietly enjoy my little accomplishment and look forward to tonight when I reintroduce myself to a glass of well-deserved delicious red wine. Thank you to everyone for your support. You made the journey much easier to achieve!

 

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…Because everyone else is doing it.  And it was pretty fun.  God, I spend a lot of time on the couch…

Guest Post: Kristin Jekielek of Paleo Trail!

Today I am very proud to share a little Q&A sesh with Kristin Jekielek, the self-described Paleo Eater Extraordinaire and creator of the Paleo app PaleoGoGo for meal recommendations at over 300 national chain restaurants (US-based). Read on for her story and to learn about her new website Paleo Trail.

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-First, can you tell us about yourself, how you got into Paleo, and anything else that we ought to know about your background?

After stumbling across a several blogs and doing some research for a few months, I started eating Paleo in July 2009. That first month was eye-opening (after I got through the carb flu at least). My energy was up, my mood was better and more consistent, I wasn’t bloated anymore, and I even dropped a couple pounds without trying. Pretty cool stuff!

However, I encountered a couple issues. I was preparing 90% of the food I ate in any given week, cooking only local & grass-fed/pastured animals, local & organic produce, ~50% calories from fats such as grass-fed butter and pastured bacon, and even switched from table salt to sea salt. That’s what I was supposed to do, right? Well, it gave me an iodine deficiency.

I started to supplement iodine and included wild caught ocean fish and seaweed in my diet. I started seeing results immediately – literally the very first day. I don’t want people to see this as a reason to not eat Paleo. Just make sure you’re getting enough iodine when you do! I eat Paleo to this day because of the many benefits I experience.

A couple months later my recovery came to a halt. I was still very fatigued and foggy-brained. My doctor ordered some blood work, and I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune condition. I was prescribed Synthroid and saw some mild improvements.

My journey got worse before it started to get better. I had a stressful office job that I disliked, and I continued going to CrossFit at my normal high intensity. I drove myself into the ground and into Adrenal Fatigue.

I’ve worked with several alternative health practitioners over the past couple years and have seen much success. These practitioners helped me understand that eating a whole foods diet isn’t always enough to find health. We’re all carrying around decades of poor diet and lifestyle choices – the consequences don’t magically evaporate.

As part of my recovery plan, I had to stop working out completely. For many months I didn’t do anything more strenuous than taking a walk. Since December I’ve started yoga, hiking, and light lifting once/week. I need to be very careful about the total load of stress on my body, and right now that means I have to take it easy.

I’m continuing to slowly get back into shape, but I really look forward to the day when I can again CrossFit on a regular basis!

-Where did the idea for Paleo Trail come from?

My inspiration for Paleo Trail started when I began treating my hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and adrenal fatigue. I worked with several alternative health practitioners, and one thing they all had in common was that they all asked me to track my meals. This helped them understand if my eating habits were contributing to my symptoms in any way. This went beyond what you’re eating and into when you’re eating it, the quality of food choices you make, how often are you “cheating”, and what foods are you cheating on most? Eating Paleo was definitely helping me through my health issues, but diet tracking helped me fine tune my eating habits to fully support my particular issues.

I wanted diet tracking to focus on the quality of the food choices I made while also being fast and convenient. That’s why I created Paleo Trail. It lets you track your Paleo diet online in less than 5 minutes a day, without ever counting a calorie.

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-How does it work?

Paleo Trail is different from every other online diet tracker you’ve encountered. Virtually all the online trackers focus on calories & portion sizes. Even paper journals are inconvenient because you have to carry them around with you everywhere. It’s also next to impossible to understand how clean you’ve been eating over time.

Paleo Trail is different because it lets you focus on the quality of the food choices you make. To add a meal, you simply rate the quality of your food choices.

Did you eat only 100% health-promoting foods? Then give yourself a Supreme rating. Was this a cheat meal? Or did it fall somewhere in between? You have complete control over the exact definition of each, regardless of whether you eat dairy, shun nightshades, or load up on carbs.

I believe that the core features offered in a Paleo Trail Free membership are so helpful that everyone should have access to them – which is why they’re free! For example, you’ll have a Paleo Trail Calendar that shows you how clean you’ve been eating lately as part of the Free membership.

If you enjoy using Paleo Trail and wish to support the site, you can upgrade to a Complete membership at any time by visiting your Profile.

-Who should try it?

You should use it if you want to keep track of how clean you’re eating but don’t want to count calories or exact portion sizes. You should use it if you let your body guide your eating habits and you want to keep a food journal online for free – a Paleo Trail Free membership would be perfect for this. You should use it if you want help cleaning up your diet because a Paleo Trail Complete membership shows you where you need to clean up your diet the most.

-What are some of your favorite Paleo dishes?

Ooh, this is such a tough question to answer. My favorite meals are very simple. Things like grilled grass-fed ribeye, mashed cauliflower, or scallops cooked in bacon grease with a balsamic reduction.

My favorite dish overall is probably Chocolate Covered Banana Pancakes. I don’t make them often, but they’re my favorite clean treat. No added sweeteners here! You can find my recipe online: http://fastpaleo.com/chocolate-covered-banana-pancakes/

-Any non-Paleo guilty pleasures?

Hard cider.  I’ve noticed a lot of hard cider brands are printing nutrition information on the labels now, so I look for lower-sugar ciders. I’ll admit to indulging in alcohol in social situations, but I stick to either hard cider or tequila & club these days.

-What would you say to someone skeptical of making the change?

If this is someone who isn’t convinced by the plethora of information and personal success stories out there, then I’d tell them they shouldn’t knock it till they try it. Even if they believe saturated fat causes heart attacks and that eating cholesterol is bad for you, I’d tell them that 1 month of Paleo eating isn’t going to cause irreversible damage. Just give it 30 days of strict eating, and see how you feel after you reintroduce grains, sugars, and seed oils.

You can subscribe to Kristin on Facebook and Instagram to get a peek into her daily food choices and other Paleo adventures.

A (Paleo) Taste of Austin

I suppose I *should* have called this article “A Primal Taste of Austin” since there was quite a bit of cheese consumption involved, but whatever. My blog, my rules.

First off, I love Austin. If you’ve never been, go. Just go. I was brought here by the military, met my husband here, had my first home here, got married here, and made some the best friends I’ve ever had here. Hell, I found Paleo here. And it just so happens I’ve had some of the best food I’ve ever eaten–in my life–here in Austin, too. Between post-yoga lunches at the flagship Whole Foods, colossal omelets at Magnolias, dinner and a movie at the Alamo, late night runs to the Monument Cafe for chocolate pie, cupcakes at Galaxy, fancy schmancy dates at III Forks…yeah, I belong here.

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We flew down for the long weekend to take care of some personal business, but clearly re-exploring this culinary Mecca was also on the agenda. I wish I could have spent a week or two (or forever) going street by street, sharing all of the glorious food I know and love as well as all of the places I’m sure I missed in the three years I lived here…but alas, I had three days.

In a city full of Tex Mex and food trucks, it might seem a little daunting for we modern Cavefolk, but I don’t think I know of more Paleo-friendly place on Earth…and yes, I’ve been to Boulder.

We got in super late on Thursday night, and after a wee 5 hours of sleep (NOT OK), I had to get up early to make it up to Georgetown tax office. Before that, though, I ran down to The Carillon for breakfast and, more importantly, coffee.20130121-084025.jpg

I had the Tejas Benedict (sans croissant)–poached eggs, a big hunk of ham, Brie, and hollandaise. You could put a good hollandaise on an old shoe and I’d eat it, but this was outstanding. By the end, the Brie had melted into the remaining sauce and I was left with an ooey-gooey layer of awesomeness that I not-so-daintily cleared away with a spoon.

After I was done with…you know, all the paperwork…Ross and I took a walk and popped into Annie’s Cafe and Bar for lunch. I got the Harvest Salad with Salmon, while Ross opted for the non-Paleo (but still gluten free) Pork Pork Enchiladas smothered in Salsa Verde.20130121-084055.jpg

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My salad came with a horseradish vinaigrette that I could have drunk with a straw. The salmon was awesome, too–goat cheese and salmon are one of my favorite combos…um, probably ever.

For dinner we met up with old friends at their house in Round Rock. Jasmine was the one who first introduced me to Paleo three years ago, and they put out an awesome spread–Turkey Soup, Sweet Potato Tots (!!), and…naturally…wine and cheese.20130121-084111.jpg

Saturday morning we all went to Crossfit for a little workout…my quads were pulp afterwards. Brunch was a The Monument Cafe–you know, the origin of my beloved pie? All of their food is locally sourced, with most coming from right out back where they grow all of their own produce and chickens. 20130121-084043.jpg

My plate was a couple of yard eggs, pile of bacon, and broccoli. Ross had pastured pork chops, fruit salad, and broccoli. Oh, and coffee. Lots of coffee.20130121-084137.jpg

Dinner Saturday night was with our friends at Max’s Wine Dive. I actually started my bachelorette party there and I’m told it was a pretty good time ;-) 20130121-084200.jpg

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This menu was admittedly harder to navigate than most, but we settled on the Rabbit Rillette as a starter (SO good), while I opted for the shrimp and grits as an entree (minus the grits, which aren’t Paleo…but if you’re just looking for GF, this would be a great treat). Also had some of their wine on tap, which I found OUTSTANDING.

We said our goodbyes over Irish Coffee at the Driskill–always a favorite. Don’t you fret, Austin, Im job hunting…sooooooo if anyone wants to give me a job over there, my bags are packed :-) 20130121-084843.jpg

The next morning, Ross and I walked off our hangovers decided to get a little exercise and took a stroll down to another of our old haunts.20130121-084222.jpg

I love pretty much everything on their menu, but I needed something fierce this morning. I opted for the Magnolia Omelet (avocado, olives, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and salsa) while Ross got the Popeye (spinach, bacon, ham, mushrooms, onions, and sour cream).20130121-084208.jpg

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Dinner was downtown at a new-to-me place, La Condesa. It’s a quirky, modern take on Mexican classics and I actually changed my order three times before I settled on a huarache with pork belly and tequila poached pears…totally Paleo if you just leave off the corn tortilla, and who needs it when they give you so much delicious meat? You guys know I LOVE my pork belly :-)
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We started with the Cangrejo Tostada (crab, tomato, chipotle mayo, mango, grapefruit…nix the corn chip). Ross had the Borrego, and we also split an order of yucca fries with tomato jam.

On the way back to the hotel, I came to screeching halt outside the Roarking Fork when I noticed the Flourless Chocolate Cake on the window menu–just chocolate, eggs, cream, and sugar. SOLD.20130121-084236.jpg

Again, I wish I would have had more time…but now it’s back to Colorado, my pups, and my day job. Got all my meals prepped for the week last night, but after my little culinary retreat, all this plain roast chicken just isn’t going to cut it :-(

If anyone’s hiring, let me know!!