Thursday, January 27, 2011

Another Breakthrough

Yesterday, I was tired all day and really wanted to down some sugar.  I went to Publix to pick up some eggs (I eat eggs like they are going out of style... which brings me to, if anyone local knows where you can get affordable FREE RANGE (not cage free... that's propaganda) eggs from chickens that eat bugs and stuff, PLEASE let me know.  I saw some at Whole Foods, but the price was missing... based on the other eggs, I'm guessing it was $5-6 for a dozen.  Eek.) and back to the original point... the dairy aisle is also the candy aisle... oh man, if I weren't doing paleo, I probably would have bought some Twizzlers or Reeses Pieces or something.  I wanted something sweet bad.  Anyway, didn't do it, chewed a piece of gum instead, went home, had dinner, then made the blueberry "dessert" (jury's out on that one).

Woke up at my usual 6am for CrossFit days and hit the gym.  I feel great this morning, although I tweaked my elbow doing push presses, so that was not fun (I think I've got a knot somewhere in my left trap/delt/or something in that area that is pulling on a tendon that runs from the shoulder/back to the elbow and it is not fun to put weight overhead).  I have a ton of energy right now and will likely sustain it all day.  The days I sleep a little later and don't work out in the morning are my roughest days.  Weird.  So, coming from the ultimate sleeper-inner (seriously, I HATE getting up in the morning), I think I might start getting up at 6 every morning during the week and doing yoga or pilates on my off days... something relatively easy to get in some good stretching and get my blood pumping.  I know I will not want to get out of bed, but I was in such a funk all day yesterday even after a good night's rest.  I can't make it much past 10pm anymore.

So, anyway.  That was my breakthrough yesterday/today.  I'm putting it here for some accountability.  Now, I just need to find some decent yoga/pilates workouts On Demand (and a kick in the butt to get up... I think Matt will gladly handle that), and I'll be golden.

ETA: - this is a good read

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Locking it down into week 3

Today marks the start of week three of the lockdown.  So far, so good.  Save a few tiny (and I do mean tiny) sips of Matt's beer or wine, no cheats.  I feel good, albeit tired.  I feel like my diet is good, so I'm not sure if the sleepiness is just my body adjusting to the lack of sugar or what.  It's actually worse on days I don't work out, oddly enough (today being one of them).  I tore my hand up but good doing Monday's WOD (CrossFit acronym: Workout of the Day), which included a lot of pullups, so I am NOT looking forward to tomorrow's workout consisting of a lot of olympic lifting.  Note to self: wear gloves and not care when people make fun of me... I'll just show them the nice, raw rip right in the middle of my left hand.

Nothing major to report except that living this lifestyle really isn't that hard IF you plan ahead and don't mind cooking.  I'm learning about all kinds of things like coconut flour and almond meal and other ways to make foods that would normally contain grains.  I have not had any "desserts" yet, so that is something I will be doing more research on as far as finding paleo friendly desserts.  I did see one the other day that involved heating blueberries sprinkled with cinnamon, then topping with cold coconut milk (the thick part of the milk... don't shake the can).  Sounds soooo good.  And, I have everything I need to make it, so one of these days, I'll get on that.

Also, one thing that I've really taken away by being on a "restricted" diet is that the beer or wine or cookie or (insert your own vice here) may be tempting and hard to resist, but once you replace it with something good for you or just get over it, you don't care.  If I were to eat a cookie, I wouldn't care five minutes after eating it... the satisfaction would be over and then I might be mad at myself.  Like I said before, I will certainly cheat after the six weeks is up, but I hope I will do so in moderation.  Having a non-paleo dessert once a week isn't going to hurt me, but constantly barraging my body with things it doesn't need will.  Matt and I went out to eat last Thursday night and hit up our local Yoforia after dinner.  Sure, I would have loved to partake, but I didn't even sweat it... I knew it wasn't going to do anything for me after I was done eating it, so I just didn't.

Last night, I made chicken tortilla soup, minus the tortilla, so I thought I'd share the recipe (courtesy of Momma Kath).

Chicken Tortilla Soup
3-4 chicken breast halves, sprinkled liberally w/ cumin and chili powder
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 c (a hand full) fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 can Rotel (this is Matt's addition to the recipe)
6 small flour or corn tortillas, cut into 1" pieces
6-8 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp chili powder
1-1/2 tbsp cumin
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt to taste
garnish with avocado (sour cream and shredded cheese are also good, but I'm not eating those right now)

In a soup pot, saute chicken in a little bit of EVOO over medium-medium high heat long enough to sear both sides.  Reduce heat to low and cover until chicken is cooked through, flipping it about half way through.  When done, remove chicken to cool and increase heat back to medium-medium high.  Add enough EVOO so that you have enoguh liquid to saute onion.  Add onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cilantro and saute for another few minutes.  Add tomatoes with their juice and bring to a boil.  Add chicken broth, chili powder, and cumin and bring to a boil.  Add chicken (which you should shred or dice), bay leaves, cayenne pepper and salt to taste.  Reduce heat to low and cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes.  (If you wanted the non-paleo version, add the tortillas.)  Garnish with avocado (and cheese or sour cream, if you wish).  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Blog Fodder

This morning, the Today Show was full of blog fodder.  I like to share my opinion, in case you haven't noticed.

Case A: "The Tiger Mom"
Some of you may have heard of this Chinese American woman, Amy Chua, who wrote a book titled The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  She and her American husband raise their two daughters according to strict rules, common in the Chinese culture, which is how she was raised.  People are going crazy over this.  Personally, I think... MORE POWER TO YOU!  Amen, sister.  Look, maybe it's totally easy for me to say that, because I don't have kids, but the American society has gotten to a point where coddling our children is the norm.  There are no winners at Field Day, sports teams don't keep score, everyone's a winner, it's okay that you didn't do well at ________ (fill in the blank).  Bull crap, people.  That is not life.  There are winners and losers and things aren't always easy.  Sure, maybe she goes a little overboard on some things (no sleepovers, being one), but I give her kudos for raising her kids with a good work ethic, to know that there are certain areas in which it is not okay to fail (i.e., school and life in general), and to know that she's the  boss.

I don't expect that my kids are going to be the best at everything, but if they are the worst on their soccer team or in their violin class, I don't want them to think they are the best.  They can work harder to improve (and know that they need to) or try something else where they may excel.  I don't want my kids to think that mediocrity is okay in every area of life.  Every single one of us has something that we are good at, and I think part of our roles as parents is to help our children find that thing that they can be proud of.  If they are okay with being the worst on the soccer team because they love to play soccer, then I think that is awesome, and I will encourage the heck out of them. 

I think it also comes down to your children having a level of respect for you.  My mom was by no means the strictest mom in the world, but we learned at a very young age that no meant no.  You would never see any of us having a meltdown in a grocery store, because we couldn't have a piece of candy.  I hated hearing it, but the phrase, "Because I said so," was enough.  It might have gotten a few, "But why"s in response, but no acting out (Mom, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on this).  I also think that it's not too much to ask to expect your children to have basic manners and to not get something until they say please and respond with a thank you.  And, even though my mom had rules that I might not have always agreed with and didn't always let me do what I wanted, get what I wanted, etc., guess what... she's one of my best friends today.  So, proof positive that you don't have to be your kid's best friend for them to love you and have a good relationship in the future.  Plus, you know we all look back now and say, "Thank God we had parents that didn't let us act like little terrors!"

Case B: "Financial Infidelity"
There was a survey done recently that found that a lot of people "cheat" financially on their spouse... they lie about how much they spend, have secret credit cards, secret bank accounts, secret cash stashes, etc.  The so-called "financial expert" said that she didn't think because you get married, you should become one in the state of finances.  Look, I say whatever works for you works for you.  Matt and I share our finances completely, because we trust each other, communicate needs/wants and thankfully, have very similar financial personalities and goals.  But, you should have heard this lady.  Thankfully, there was a voice of reason in the form of a psychologist who rained right down on Miss Financial Expert's parade.  I know people that do not share finances and it works for them.  But, the thing that was killing me about what this lady was saying is it completely negated the need for trust and communication in the relationship.  Whether or not you share finances completely, how can you not talk about what you need and want?  Whether my fun money is in a joint or separate account, I want Matt to know what I'm using it for and why (and vice versa).  However, I will go back to the "similar financial personalities and goals"... we definitely lucked out in that aspect.  We spend similarly, so frankly, I have never made a purchase that "offended" him.  We don't spend above our means or frivously unless we both agree.

So, anyway.  That's my two cents for what it's worth (approximately, two cents).  Thoughts, comments, opinions?  Do you think I'm crazy (don't answer that)?

Monday, January 24, 2011

I walked into a bar

You know the jokes, "A priest and a rabbi walk into a bar."  Well, I walked into a bar.  Literally.  At CrossFit this morning, I clearly wasn't paying attention, and walked smack into a bar that was moved down low in between the pullup bars.  Hit right in the middle of my forefivehead, and made a nice loud sound for all to hear.  I blame it on it being 6:45am and freezing.  And, I thank God I was blessed with one heckuva skull.  It hurt my pride more than my head.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Most Eligible Bachelor - Atlanta, GA

I am linking up to Kelly's Korner for her "Show Us Your Life - Singles Edition."

Meet Greg.  Greg is 25 and lives in Atlanta.  Before I even go any further, you should know this... I'm Greg's boss.  And, I love him.  And, he's a very good friend.  Weird, but not.  Greg has lots of friends... more friends than probably anyone I know.  He has definitely been in more weddings and invited to more weddings than anyone I know.  That's because everyone likes him.  And for good reason.  He's quite likable.

Facts about Greg:

He'll turn 26 in May.  He graduated from Auburn (I don't hold it against him).  He's from Atlanta.  He currently works in commercial real estate.  He's about 6' and 185 lbs, if I had to guess.  He has brown hair and brown eyes and a beard... and cute dimples.  He's really involved with Young Life at his old high school.  His passion is Jesus.  He's one of the funniest and wittiest people I know.  He has a heart of gold.  He knows how to have fun.  He's generous.  He plays the guitar.  He's 1/2 Greek and 1/2 Irish.

Now for more elaboration:

I honestly cannot say enough about Greg.  He is truly one of the most genuine, kind hearted, funny people I know.  He has a great personality, zest for life, and ridiculous love for our Savior.  He has been a spiritual mentor to me over the almost three years we've worked together.  He currently works in commercial real estate, and it pays the bills, but it is not his passion.  His passion is teaching young folks about Jesus.  Much to my pleasure, he's making his passion his job in June (don't tell our company). ;)  He'll be going to serve with Young Life full time somewhere in Georgia.  I pray somewhere near Atlanta, because he will be "Uncle Greg" to our future kids.  Fact.  I always love when he comes back from Young Life camps and tells me how so many young men in his group accepted Christ.  Besides the fact that that is rad, it's the excitement and passion he has for it.

I talk about Greg a lot at home.  You would think that this would make my husband uncomfortable.  But it doesn't.  Matt has met Greg a few times and thinks he's great.  He said to me after our team's Christmas party, "I understand why you like Greg so much."  He's just that guy.  He's funny as all get out and not above self-depricating humor.  He can talk to anyone.

If you're a single, Christian lady in/near Atlanta and reading this and looking for an awesome guy, leave me a comment with some way to get in touch with you (e-mail address or blog).  Even if it's not a love match, you won't regret meeting him!

ETA: Thank you for all your comments!  I'd say I'm surprised at the number of responses, but I'm really not, because Greg is a catch.  Obviously, Greg can't really start anything with everyone, so I've sent him everything and he's going to contact anyone that catches his eye.  A number of you were not in or near Atlanta, and I'm not sure Greg is up for the long distance thing (especially to start out a relationship), but you never know.

Fat is your friend

Brace yourselves, this is a doozie.

Somehow, I'm all of a sudden a health (Paleo) nut.  But, the more and more and more I read, the  more and more and more convinced I am of this lifestyle's health benefits.  That's not to say I'm not going to cheat when this lockdown is over... oh, I will.  I will also probably regret it, because once your body rids itself of the crap, when you eat it again, you feel sick and then hungover the next day.

But, I digress... that's not what this post is about... this is about fat and how YOUR BODY NEEDS FAT.  That's right, F-A-T, FAT!  That dreaded word that American society has come to believe is what makes you fat.  Errrrrrrr (that's my buzzer sound) - incorrect.  Fat does not make you fat.  Your body needs fat to perform its basic functions.  And, by fat, I don't mean a super sized "value" meal from a fast food chain.  Let's go back to the basics, shall we?

As mentioned previously, there are three (yep, just three) food groups that your body needs to function: PROTEIN, CARBOHYDRATES, and FAT.  In review, below are examples of foods that fall into these categories.

PROTEIN: eggs, poultry, beef, pork, fish (basically, lean meats... it's okay for them to have fat, you just don't want to be eating a chunk of fat for dinner... so, maybe stay away from the pork belly most of the time... but it's soooooo good)
CARBS: veggies and fruits.  period.  NO GRAINS OR SUGARS!  (emphasis on green veggies and fruits with lower glycemic loads)
FATS: olives, coconuts, avocados, nuts and seeds (peanuts are not a nut, FYI)

Each meal you eat should contain all three of those food groups.  Nuts and seeds are the easiest ways to get fats, but the first three should be your main sources.  Of course, that includes their oil counterparts.

The usual American definition of carbohydrates includes grains and sugar.  Your body treats both of these the same way... it sends a message to your brain to store fat.  Too little fat in your diet also does the same thing.  Because your body relies on fat (and even cholesterol... gasp) for basic bodily functions, it doesn't like it when it doesn't get enough and therefore holds on to it as a life preserving mechanism (this has a lot to do with insulin, as well, so my version is quite simplified).  If you read the extremely long article I posted a week ago, you'll find that when the US government starting recommending a low fat (therefore, high carb... grain/sugar definition of carb) diet in the early 80s, obesity and the incidence of type-2 diabetes began to skyrocket.  I highly recommend reading at least the first few pages, but really, read the whole thing.  It's good. 

From the article, "With these caveats, one of the few reasonably reliable facts about the obesity epidemic is that it started around the early 1980's. According to Katherine Flegal, an epidemiologist at the National Center for Health Statistics, the percentage of obese Americans stayed relatively constant through the 1960's and 1970's at 13 percent to 14 percent and then shot up by 8 percentage points in the 1980's. By the end of that decade, nearly one in four Americans was obese. That steep rise, which is consistent through all segments of American society and which continued unabated through the 1990's, is the singular feature of the epidemic. Any theory that tries to explain obesity in America has to account for that. Meanwhile, overweight children nearly tripled in number. And for the first time, physicians began diagnosing Type 2 diabetes in adolescents. Type 2 diabetes often accompanies obesity. It used to be called adult-onset diabetes and now, for the obvious reason, is not.

So how did this happen? The orthodox and ubiquitous explanation is that we live in what Kelly Brownell, a Yale psychologist, has called a ''toxic food environment'' of cheap fatty food, large portions, pervasive food advertising and sedentary lives. By this theory, we are at the Pavlovian mercy of the food industry, which spends nearly $10 billion a year advertising unwholesome junk food and fast food. And because these foods, especially fast food, are so filled with fat, they are both irresistible and uniquely fattening. On top of this, so the theory goes, our modern society has successfully eliminated physical activity from our daily lives. We no longer exercise or walk up stairs, nor do our children bike to school or play outside, because they would prefer to play video games and watch television. And because some of us are obviously predisposed to gain weight while others are not, this explanation also has a genetic component -- the thrifty gene. It suggests that storing extra calories as fat was an evolutionary advantage to our Paleolithic ancestors, who had to survive frequent famine. We then inherited these ''thrifty'' genes, despite their liability in today's toxic environment.

This theory makes perfect sense and plays to our puritanical prejudice that fat, fast food and television are innately damaging to our humanity. But there are two catches. First, to buy this logic is to accept that the copious negative reinforcement that accompanies obesity -- both socially and physically -- is easily overcome by the constant bombardment of food advertising and the lure of a supersize bargain meal. And second, as Flegal points out, little data exist to support any of this. Certainly none of it explains what changed so significantly to start the epidemic. Fast-food consumption, for example, continued to grow steadily through the 70's and 80's, but it did not take a sudden leap, as obesity did.

As far as exercise and physical activity go, there are no reliable data before the mid-80's, according to William Dietz, who runs the division of nutrition and physical activity at the Centers for Disease Control; the 1990's data show obesity rates continuing to climb, while exercise activity remained unchanged. This suggests the two have little in common. Dietz also acknowledged that a culture of physical exercise began in the United States in the 70's -- the ''leisure exercise mania,'' as Robert Levy, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, described it in 1981 -- and has continued through the present day."

Interesting, right?

One of the things that our body craves is Omega 3 Fatty Acids.  Omega 3s come primarily from animal fats and are severely lacking in our food supply with the exception of deep or coldwater fishes.  They are not found in most of our other protein supplies, because our cows, chickens and pigs are fed diets which they aren't meant to eat - grains and corn.  Cows are made to turn grass into Omega 3s, but not grain or corn.  Chickens in the wild eat bugs and stuff, not grain and corn.  So, when you see that advertising on your chicken and eggs that says "vegeterian fed", whipty freakin doo.  This is why it is important to by free range (not cage free, again, have you seen Food Inc?) chickens and grass fed beef.  Although they may still be getting some grains (like cows in the winter in colder climates and chickens are probably still fed grains but can pluck bugs and whatnot from the ground when they want to), they're at least getting some of what they should eat. 

But, since that can often be expensive and hard to find, AND you don't want to consume a ton of fish because of mercury risks, this is where fish oil comes into play.  A good quality fish oil is purified of heavy metals and provides your daily needs of Omega 3s.  Because this is already long enough, I won't go into a ton of detail as to the benefits of Omega 3s (in the form of EPA and DHA)... Dr. Google can tell you all about that, but it helps things like cholesterol, inflammation (arthritis), exzema/other skin issues, hair/nail growth, fetal development, energy and triglyceride levels.  Unless you have a blood clotting disorder, I've been hard pressed to find any real risks (so long as your fish oil is pure).  I found this one yesterday, which I will be purchasing next time.  If you do nothing else, research the benefits of fish oil, talk to your doctor, and start taking it.

My advice - reduce or eliminate grains and sugar from your life and increase protein, fat, and veg/fruit.  Start slow... no grains/sugar at dinner or breakfast or lunch... whatever, and work your way there.  Try it for a short period of time (30 days) and see how you feel.  Watch as your body leans out even while you're consuming fat.  Wait until I'm done with the lockdown, and see my results for yourself.  I'm getting bloodwork done tomorrow morning, and I had bloodwork done in October, so it will be interesting to see if there's any difference after a week and a half.  But, the real kicker will be the results toward the end of February.  You can all throw pie in my face if I don't lose fat and see improvement in triglycerides and cholesterol.  Nine days in, and I'm feeling great.  Of course, the weekend will be the real test again... and I'm going out to eat twice!  But, now I KNOW I can do it... shoot, it's so easy, even a caveman could do it.  Hahahahahaha.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Self Control = A+

I made it through a girls weekend with no meaningful cheats.  I say meaningful, because I did have a tiny sip of Jenn's elderflower gimlet and a tiny sip of her wine, and about 1-2oz of champagne.  Also, I was pretty limited on my food choices for lunch, and there were chickpeas in my Everything Veggie soup from Souper Jenny.  BUT, I took the bread and cheese off my turkey sandwich.  So, let's call it even.  :)  It wasn't easy, and I reeeaaaaaaaallllllllllly wanted a glass of wine (and a cookie), but I made it and I can definitely say that the accomplishment I feel now heavily outweighs the momentary high I would have gotten from the wine or cookies.  This blog may be mostly paleo talk for the next five weeks (almost done with week 1!), so you'll just have to forgive me in advance.

Some things I learned this weekend:
  • San Pellegrino with lemons and limes is the way to go when everyone else has fun cocktails.  I went out and bought a few bottles to have at home, so I can have a sparkly "fun" drink every now and then (besides plain water, black coffee, and tea).
  • Most restaurants, especially nicer ones, are more than willing to accommodate your dietary needs.  I was able to order three delicious paleo friendly small plates from one of my favorite restaurants, Ecco.  They held the cheese in one, and the others were paleo friendly on their own - braised short ribs stuffed in piquillo peppers, grilled octopus with olives, some spicy peppers and some other veggies, and sauteed broccoli with cheese sauce (but obviously, without the cheese).  Sure, the girls' fried goat cheese balls and pizzas looked divine, but whatever.
  • Choose restaurants that have these options... it makes dining out a much more pleasant experience.
  • Pretend you're pregnant when everyone else orders alcohol (save one truly pregnant friend), and it makes you feel a little better.  :)
  • It's super easy to eat breakfast out.  BLT minus the bread with 2 fried eggs and a side of fruit was a delicious breakfast out with friends yesterday morning.
  • I feel good.
I think I can safely say that I'm over my cravings (that was quick), and hopefully, it's all downhill from here.  That's not to say I might not cry if I have to go to a Mexican restaurant and abstain from chips and salsa (a weakness of mine), but otherwise, I'm loving this.

On the menu this week:
  • Finishing off the leftovers of my "spaghetti" and meatballs for lunch (recipe below).
  • Paleo pad thai
  • Pecan crusted catfish and steamed broccoli with lemon
  • Paleo potluck at the gym Friday... not sure yet what I am bringing... thinking of some sort of fish/crab cakes with paleo tartar sauce (basically, homemade mayo with herbs/spices)
Also, there are 40-someodd people participating in the lockdown, and at $20 a piece, the pot is high.  I am determined to win this thing.  Lucky for me, I sandbagged my starting stats (that's my excuse anyway), and I fully plan on getting the max points for the other areas measured (turning in food log, workouts and bloodwork).  I can already tell I've leaned out.  It's amazing what a week of no grains or sugars does to your body.  Now, I'm sure it's water/inflammation, but to see and feel results after a week is encouraging.  I am also ordering my fish oil today and am looking forward to starting that.  I'm going with a pretty high quality liquid fish oil, so it's not cheap ($60 for a month and a half supply), but I don't want to risk putting anything bad into my body and since the fish oil industry is not government regulated (not that that always matters... have you seen Food Inc?), I'm making sure what I buy has been tested against and exceeds other governments' standards.  I'm going with Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega Liquid.  I'm doing a liquid, because according to Robb Wolf's fish oil calculator, I need 6.5 grams of fish oil for my current state of health.  That's about 2 tsps versus 5 pills since this stuff is more concentrated.

Since this entry is long enough, I'll save discussions about fish oil for another day.  In the meantime, Robb Wolf's website is a great place to start learning more about this crazy, makessomuchsense lifestyle.

Paleo "spaghetti" and meatballs
Note: This is a somewhat time consuming meal (about 1.5 hours total), so either prepare it on the weekend, ahead of time, or if you're home from work earlier.  There's a good bit of handsoff time, but would still be tough to pull together during the week.  I can confirm that it reheats well, as I'm going on serving #4 for lunch today.  :)

-1-2 spaghetti squash
-1-1/2 sweet onions, diced and divided
-many cloves of garlic, minced (by hand, garlic presses take a lot of flavor from the garlic, but I'm a garlic snob)
-a few organic carrots, peeled and chopped (adds sweetness w/o using sugar)
-1 small can organic tomato paste
-2 big cans organic San Marzano tomatoes
-1 15 oz can organic tomato sauce
-herbs of choice (parsley, basil and some bouquet garni) for marinara
-about 3 oz prosciutto, diced
-2 lbs grass fed sirloin
-herbs of choice (parsley, basil, red pepper flakes and fennel seeds)
-salt and pepper
-1 egg

Preheat oven to 400.  In a nonstick pan, "saute" diced prosciutto on medium heat until somewhat crisp.  Remove from pan to cool in a mixing bowl (large enough to mix your meatballs).  Add EVOO to pan and saute about 3/4 c onions and several cloves of minced garlic until tender and add to bowl.  Meanwhile, cut spaghetti squash in half, scoop out seeds and junk, drizzle with EVOO, and place cut side down on a jelly roll pan (something with an edge so EVOO doesn't drip out).  This will cook for 40-45 minutes, so I'd put it in the oven once you get everything into your marinara.  In a large pot (enamel cast iron if you have it), saute the remaining onions and garlic and carrots in EVOO on medium heat until tender.  Add tomato paste and mix to thin, then add tomatoes (use kitchen shears to cut into pieces) and tomato sauce.  Add herbs, salt and pepper to taste.  Put squash in oven if you haven't already.  Once marinara begins to bubble, turn heat down to low and cover, stir occasionally.  By this time, your prosciutto, onions and garlic should be cool enough so add your meat, herbs (just eye ball it... I like a little fennel flavor but not a lot, so I used probably 1/2 -3/4 tsp and at least a tablespoon of parsley and basil... probably 1-2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper).  Add your egg as binder, and mix well.  Form into meatballs and place in a baking dish.  This will go in the oven for about 25-35 minutes, depending on size, with your squash.  When the squash is done, you'll use a fork to remove the innards, which will come out like noodles.  Top with your meatballs and sauce, and enjoy a grain and sugar free take on spaghetti and meatballs!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Day 3

Today is day three of the lockdown, and so far, so good.  This weekend is the real test, as two of my best friends are coming in town and we are eating out for a few meals, meaning I will have to really be a pain in the butt for the waitstaff and kitchen.  And, I know there will be lots of wine drinking, and I REALLY WANT SOME WIIIIIIINNNNNEEEEEE!!!!!!!!  I have definitely had some sugar cravings, which I wasn't expecting since I don't really consume a lot of sugar on a normal basis, but being that our body treats grains like sugar, I believe that is the real source of the cravings.

Day 1
B: 2 eggs fried in EVOO, a tangerine
L: turkey cold cuts, celery, guacamole
S: almonds and sunflower seeds (not too many and go for raw or dry roasted)
D: rolled flank steak with spinach, sweet potato "fries" (sliced thinly, cooked in oven w/ EVOO and salt)

Day 2
B: 2 eggs fried in EVOO, homemade turkey sausage (recipe below), blackberries
L: leftover flank steak, kale sauteed w/ EVOO and garlic powder
S: olives (yum)
D: turkey "tacos" using Romaine lettuce intead of tortillas, topped with guac

Day 3
B: 2 eggs fried in EVOO, homemade turkey sausage (recipe below), blackberries
L: turkey cold cuts, celery, guacamole, leftover kale
S: TBD (almonds, celery & guac more than likely)
D: leftover turkey tacos w/ guac

Can you tell I like guacamole? I must say, it's not the same without my Garden of Eatin' blue corn tortilla chips, but at least it's guac and satisfies my need for fat.  Right now, I know I am not eating enough.  I usually get full during my meal, but because I'm really not taking in as much as I should, I feel hungry shortly thereafter.  Or, it's just my body adjusting to the lack of bloat that grains and sugar cause.  I'm not really sure.  I know that compared to the example meal plans offered up to us  by Paleo'ers at the gym, my food intake is lacking.  As far as positive effects, not too much so far though I swear I already look leaner (especially in the stomach).

We'll see how the weekend goes.  The wine is going to be hard to resist, but I can do it.  I think I can... I think I can... I think I can...

Turkey Sausage
1 lb ground turkey (could also use pork)
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp each cumin, black pepper, nutmeg, oregano, red pepper flakes and ground ginger
1-1/2 tsp poultry seasoning (or 1/2 tsp each dried basil, thyme and sage)
1-1/2 tsp sea salt
1 egg, lightly beaten

Form into patties and cook on med heat.

Snow Days

Holy snow and ice, Batman!  It's been quite the uneventful week here, depending on how you look at it.  On Sunday evening, the snow began to fall... and kept falling until we'd accumulated about 4.5-5" at our house smack dab in the middle of Atlanta.  It was quite nice up until late in the day Monday, when the all-day sleet/freezing rain turned the snow into a sheet of ice.  School has been cancelled all week.  I ventured to work on Wednesday afternoon, and made it out of my neighborhood fine.  On the way back, one of the hills was too big of a match for my traction control.  I made it almost to the top, before my tires just kept spinning and spinning on the ice, getting me nowhere.  Thankfully, there were some really nice neighbors walking by that gave me a push (took several attempts) to make it to the turn and flat/downhill roads.  The major roads are clear now, but the neighborhoods are still a mess, especially in shady areas.

around 9pm


around 9pm



Ski vacation?  Nah, just at a neighbor's.
Snowball fetch.

She's slightly less coordinated than her brother.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Food for Thought

Lockdown starts tomorrow, and I'm ready.  In the interest of full disclosure, I weighed 137 (embarassing) and have 31% body fat... more than when I tested last March.  Blame it on the holidays.  Ha.  The good news is part of my weight gain is lean muscle... just not all of it.  Here we go...

Read this:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Eating Like a Caveman

That is how I usually explain the Paleolithic (Paleo) diet to people.  Basically, it's going back to our roots before agriculture was invented 5,000-10,000 years ago (I know that's a big delta between 5,000 and 10,000 but somewhere in there... I'm not an anthropologist here, though I do love shopping at Anthropologie).  Since I joined CrossFit last March, this is something I've heard about, thought about doing, but just didn't have the gumption to try.  Well, the time has come.  Starting next Wednesday, I am participating in a six week lockdown put on by my gym.  What does this mean?  In short, it means I cannot eat grains, sugar, dairy or legumes (or ALCOHOL).  Honestly, the dairy and alcohol are going to be the toughest aspects of it.  In long, it means I'm probably going to lean out, feel amazing and have better overall health.

The idea and science behind the Paleo lifestyle is that the human body was not created to process a lot of the foods we eat today.  We were made to be hunters and gatherers, so Paleo encourages eating in that manner.  There's also a lot of science that goes into it such as Omega 6 (not as good for you) to Omega 3 (very good for you) fatty acid ratios.  Omega 6 is more prominent in a lot of our protein sources, because these animals are also being fed diets which they are not meant to eat (corn and grain).  Wild animals eat grass, vegetation, bugs and other animals.  You need Omega 3s to balance out all the Omega 6s you get from "dirty" meat.  Most people take a fish oil supplement which contains EPA and DHA (yes, the nutrient now recommended for pregnant woman for fetal brain development) to balance out the Omega 6s.  Robb Wolf has a good fish oil calculator here for how much you should be taking.  I am going to do more research on this, as it is an anti-inflammatory/blood thinner (naturally) and more than you'd get in a standard prenatal vitamin, so I want to make sure it's safe for me to take as much as he recommends (6 grams per day) (and, no I am not pregnant).  The other thing with Paleo is creating a consistent blood sugar level all day long instead of the highs and lows most of us experience from our carb and grain rich diets.

There are three main categories of food: protein, carbohydrates and fats.  Your body thrives on these three things.  Below are examples of foods that fall into each category.  Stop thinking about the fat free fads - it's all a lie.  Your body NEEDS fat... but good quality fats.  In fact, there is such a thing as undereating, and if you've been dieting and exercising and not seeing results, you should get some metabolic testing done (check out FitLab or the BodPod).

chicken, fish, beef, pork, venison, bison, eggs, turkey, etc.

veggies (especially dark greens), fruits (lower glycemic load is better), sweet potatoes (sparingly) - no white potatoes, corn, grains, etc.

avocado, olives, coconut, nuts and seeds (not peanuts - they are a legume)

If you are eating a carb, it should be balanced with a protein and/or fat.  Your big three meals a day should contain all three food groups, with an emphasis placed on veggies as a carb.  An example of a paleo breakfast would be eggs cooked with spinach, broccoli, bell peppers, onions and sausage and topped with avocado.  Throw in a side of berries for good measure.

I won't bore you with all the science, but basically, I believe the fact that high cholesterol causes heart disease is somewhat of a myth.  I have slightly high cholesterol.  I also have extremely low blood pressure, am active and healthy and would be shocked if I had any blockage in any of my arteries.  In fact, there are two different types of LDL cholesterol (the supposedly bad cholesterol), and I'd be willing to bet that I have high good LDL.  I also have very high HDL (probably from my diet already rich in fatty acids like fishes, avocados, olive oils, lean meats, etc).  Triglycerides probably have  more of an effect on heart disease risk, and if you're eating Paleo, it's guaranteed your triglycerides will be where they should.  In any case, I'm getting pre and post blood work done, in addition to the BodPod test (measures body composition - % fat to % lean muscle in addition to other things).

I plan to chronicle this journey on ye ol' blog here, so I will share the ups and downs, test results, recipes, links to good websites, etc. as the time goes on.  This lifestyle definitely requires a lot more thought and preparation as far as meal planning, but from what I can tell, the results are so worth the effort (and I'm not even talking about being thin, though that's certainly a plus).  And, who knows, maybe when it's all over with, I'll move to an 80-90% Paleo lifestyle (what most people do), so I can still have a drink or an unrestricted dinner out every now and then.  I am probably going to go ahead and start on Monday (since I'll be doing meal prep on Sunday), but until then - cheers to some non-Paleo food and drink... I might not see them for a long time... and perhaps, good riddance.