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For three weeks I was strong. Resolute. Uncompromising. I stuck to the Primal basics, meticulously recorded my macro and micro nutrients every day, making sure all the numbers were where they should be. My hard workouts were harder and shorter; my easy workouts were longer and more relaxing.

I was feeling like a rock star. My skin was clearing up, I was feeling tighter, my nails were growing faster.

And then, after three good weeks, I decided to have a third glass of wine on Saturday night. (DID YOU KNOW DRY RED WINE ONLY HAS 2.SOMETHING CARBS/GLASS??? HEAVEN!!!) The first glass of wine I have is always like a sweet reunion with an old friend. No matter how long it’s been, you instantly remember all the things you love about each other, and you savor every moment.

The second glass is more like hanging out with a good friend I see regularly. The time goes by more quickly, it’s more comfortable, and before you know it, it’s over.

The third glass is the second glass’s evil twin. Sure, it looks and smells and tastes exactly like the second, but it is NOT the second glass. It is evil. And it tells me to do evil things.

This particular third glass of wine convinced me that after three solid Primal weeks, I’d earned a bite of the delicious homemade bread I’d made for Jeff the night before. Bread I’d managed to make, smell baking, see sitting on the counter, and still not consume.

So, with the evil Meritage whispering on my shoulder, I had a bite. It was so good, I decided to have another. And then another. And then the loaf was gone somehow.

Immediately, the back of my knees started to itch. Thinking nothing of it, I headed to bed shortly after.

And then on Sunday morning, this is what my ENTIRE BODY, LITERALLY FROM THE TOP OF MY HEAD TO MY TOES, looked like.

I can’t explain to you the misery that ensued that day. The itching was unbearable. I was weak and dizzy and in the foulest of foul moods. Jeff took me to the urgent care clinic (apparently a full-body hive attack is a serious allergic reaction?), where I got some steroids and anti-itch meds.

I’d planned to take Kane hiking for most of the morning on Sunday. That obviously didn’t happen. I’d planned to go for a run on Monday morning. Exercise can worsen hives, so that didn’t happen either. I’d planned to wear pants both of those days, but pants prevented me from scratching constantly, so that didn’t happen, either. The steroids made my temper flare randomly, and I was glad to be in the house alone. You know, with no small children to frighten.

All because of some wheat.

I have an appointment with an allergist on Tuesday morning for the official test to see what caused this, but I know in my gut it was that darned bread. What that will mean for my future, I don’t know. I want more than anything to never feel like that again. But the thought of never having another cupcake or pasta dish in my lifetime, and having to scrutinize ingredient labels, and be “that person” in resturaunts makes me very sad.

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Day 2

It’s the second day of my true attempt at the Primal Challenge, and I’m feeling pretty good. Yesterday was amazing. I ate well and still came in well under my calorie goal for the day. I didn’t sleep great, so I’m not where I could be today, but overall I feel good.

I forgot how great it felt to do something good for yourself.

So anyway, I’m very tired and busy today, and if I hadn’t promised to check in every day, I wouldn’t be posting at all. So all you get is my nutrition and workout update today. 🙂

Breakfast: smoothie with banana slices, Prograde protein, sunflower seed butter, unsweetened cocoa

Lunch: Fassoulia

Dinner: Mahi Mahi with homemade aioli, and a vegetable dish I haven’t decided on yet

Workout(s): morning hour-long walk with Cynder and Kane; evening bootcamp

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I know, I know. I’ve been gone for quite a while. I’d love to tell you that I’ve been absent from my blogger duties because I’ve been climbing Mount Everest or helping save baby elephants in the jungle or teaching inner-city kids how to settle conflicts with nonviolence. But the truth is I’ve been sitting here on my big, round butt doing a whole lot TV watching, junk food eating, senseless arguing, and wallowing in self pity.

I posted over at Bodies and Motivation last week about how I’ve been in a downward, never-ending spiral in my diet and my relationships for a while. Oh sure, I get out of bed and make it to the gym in the morning, and I manage to take care of my day-to-day responsibilities, but in no way am I thriving. In all ways, my life right now is stagnant.

Being stagnant sucks.

For whatever reason, I haven’t had the gumption or the strength or the wherewithal to kick start myself out of this funk. I keep eating junk and undoing my workouts. I keep yelling and Jeff and undoing our relationship. I keep saying bad things to myself and undoing my self confidence. There’s a lot of undoing going on around here.

It’s good timing that Mark Sisson’s annual primal blueprint challenge started yesterday. I need a challenge like this to un-funk me. At this point, saying I’m going to take the primal challenge seems trite. How many times have I made a declaration like this? How many times have I given up on it after a few hours, days, or weeks?

In all my wallowing I’ve managed to do some introspection, and I realized that I was happiest when I was in control of my food intake. Control I clearly do not have right now. I can’t fix all the other crap in my life in a matter of seconds, but I can decide that quickly, “No, I will not eat that. Instead, I will eat this.” And after doing that a few dozen or hundred times, it will get easier. Eventually, it will be control. Fake it till you make it, as my therapist says.

So food, once again, is where I will start to remake myself into a happier, healthier, calmer, more Zen person. And this time, I’m going to be very specific. My primal blueprint challenge is as follows:

  • No grains or refined sugars. Period.
  • Getting 8 solid hours of sleep per night.
  • Keeping my “moderate” alcohol intake truly moderate, i.e., one glass o’ red wine per week. (OUCH)
  • Keeping dairy and natural sugar (like honey) intake to 3 times/week.
  • Taking a 3 pm stretch/yoga break, instead of hitting the cupboards for some sugar.
  • Pushing myself harder during my workouts.

Are there other things I could/should be doing? Sure. But this is where I will start for now.

If I have any readers left after my prolonged absence, I’d love for you to take the challenge with me.

To keep myself honest, I’ll be posting my food and workouts here daily, starting right now.

Breakfast: Smoothie with frozen banana slices, Prograde protein powder, 2 tablespoons sunflower seed butter, 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa, and coconut milk

Lunch: Baked wild salmon, sauteed kale

Snack: 2 hard-boiled eggs

Dinner: Fassoulia (venison, tomato, onion, and green bean stew)

Workout(s): morning 3-mile trail run, sprinting uphill; afternoon 10-minute yoga sesh; evening 45-minute walk

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On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I get up when the clock still starts with 4 in order to make the AM bootcamp session. (Tuesdays and Thursdays mean sleeping until a whopping 5:30 to get to the battlefield to run before anyone else gets there.) Anyway, on MWF, I get home around 6:45 and immediately take Kane and Cynder for a 45-minute walk. I feed them breakfast when we get back to the house, tidy up a bit, and then hop in the shower and get dressed in a frenzy in order to start working at 8. By midmorning, I’ve got an hour and a half of exercise, three hours of work, and 6 hours of awake time behind me. And I’m exhausted.

During this time I often think about how nice it would be to take a nap. To sleep in and skip a workout. To pour some sugary, HFCS-laden cereal and CAFO milk into a bowl three or four times and call it breakfast AND lunch, instead of taking the time to make organic sweet potato hash browns and local, cage-free fried eggs for breakfast. To save my tired and sore legs and not walk the dogs, to keep them penned in the back yard, pining to stretch their magnificent muscles and spend some quality time with me.

How nice it would be to drive through a Dunkin Donuts drive-thru at 7:55 in my pajamas because hey! I work from home and I can, instead of driving to the next town over before most people are awake to do something constructive and healthy and challenging with other people.

How nice it would be to not shower or fix my hair or put on any makeup or get dressed, because realistically the only person I may see today besides Jeff is the mailman. And he’s so terrified of Cynder and Kane he doesn’t dare linger to chit chat.

And that’s when I hear Robert Frost whispering to me that it wouldn’t really be that nice. Because letting yourself down doesn’t feel nice. Sometimes meeting my own needs is exhausting. But it’s always worth it.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

As a side note, to look at these two, you’d swear they were the ones with the sore muscles and packed day.

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Fasting has been the only part of eating primalishly (SO a word) that I’ve been afraid to try. No grains? OK. No sugar? Who needs it? But MISSING A MEAL? Um, um, um, um,…..

But I’ve been doing this primalish thing for a while now and I’ve only lost a few pounds. I’ve been running like crazy and doing strength training, and the scale should be moving more than it has. In one of my whining sessions at Bodies in Motivation (www.bodiesinmotivation.com), one of my readers sent me a link from Mark’s Daily Apple, which suggested intermittant fasting (IF) once a week.

I’ve been dreading IF like I dread interval running and Pap smears. But last night I did it. (IF, that is.) I had a salad for lunch and some trail mix around 2:30, and that was it until breakfast this morning. Here are my initial thoughts:

  • I kept myself busy last night, which really helped. I took Kane for an extra long walk, did some crafting (pictures to come), and helped my sister write a final paper.
  • The humongous salad I had at lunch definitely helped, too.
  • I didn’t let myself have ANYTHING—not even honey in my tea—for fear of opening the snacking floodgates.
  • When I felt a hunger pang, I told myself that it will go away. I’m not starving. I don’t need to eat. I’ll eat tomorrow.
  • I changed the channel when food commercials came on during the little time I spent watching TV.
  • I was hungry when I went to bed, but not uncomfortably so. I wasn’t hungry at all when I woke up.
  • My workout this morning was rough, but I got through it. I was nowhere near as shaky or lightheaded as I thought I’d be working out that hard without any food.
  • I made it until breakfast at 8:30 without any issues. I ate my omelette, and then resumed my normal eating patterns.
  • My tummy was uber flat this morning.
  • I’ve felt really skinny all day today.
  • The whole experience was actually a lot easier than I expected.

Overall I’m pleasantly surprised at how good I feel. I honestly thought I’d get phsycially ill without eating for that long. Overcoming that mental barrier feels incredible.

Do any of you have experience with primal/primalish IF? What were your first impressions? How often do you do it?

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The evil cupcake ladies came to work today. While everyone else pranced to get their cup-o-goodness, I stayed and looked for a house worked.

This is what I didn’t eat:

Thanks to my neighbor Ivy for letting me photograph her cupcake.

 

This is what I did eat:

A small victory. But go me.

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Jeff and I love food. Like L-O-V-E. We’re both awesome cooks and very competitive, which means each of us is expected to bring our best to the table each time, and it means each of us has an honest and loving critic ready to make suggestions or recommendations when what we present isn’t quite five stars.

But when I cut out a significant “food” group from my diet, our culinary zen was interrupted. Most of his recipes were no longer compatible with my regimen, and he felt like a little lost puppy with no idea how to get home. Or cook me a decent meal that wasn’t full of poison grains.

After he suggested chili a few nights ago with a bright look on his face that said “Yes! I finally thought of something she can eat!,” and I had to tell him that I’d rather not have any beans, we had a little chat. Rather than modifying or turning down everything he makes, I promised to give him a list of foods that I can and cannot eat to help him in meal preparation and shopping. This will of course be an ongoing list, but you gotta start somewhere, right?

Note that I’m not primal in the strictest of senses. I do eat dairy, I’ll let a few legumes slide, and I eat tubers every now and then (SWEET POTATOES, I CAINT QUIT YOU). You may want to run this list by your partner before memorizing it or tattooing it to the back of your hand to make sure s/he doesn’t have any other exceptions.

No-Nos:

  • Anything with grains in it (wheat, barley, rye, corn, rice). This means no traditional:
    • Pasta
    • Rice
    • Chips
    • Tortillas
    • Bread
  • Refined sugars, as in, it tastes sweet and you didn’t make it from scratch
  • Beans (iffy)
  • Tubers (potatoes and potato-like things)
  • Vegetable oils
  • Anything processed
  • Beer. Sorry guys.
  • Lite or diet food**

Go-Gos:

  • Unprocessed, pastured meat
  • Wild caught fish/seafood
  • Dairy, preferably from pastured animals
  • Eggs (cage free)
  • Seasonal fruits
  • Seasonal veggies
  • Nuts (peanuts are NOT nuts)
  • Nut and olive oils
  • Natural sweeteners, like honey, agave, or stevia—in moderation

That’s it in a nutshell. Nothing from a box, and no grains. How do you shop for this lifestyle? Easy. Follow two basic principles:

  1. Don’t buy anything that has more than 3 – 5 ingredients in it.
  2. Don’t buy anything from the center aisles of the grocery store, except canned tomatoes, oils on the go-go list, nuts, and primal-friendly flours.

So now you’re wondering, “How the hell do I make good meals with all those restrictions? Er, I mean, what can I cook for my partner to support him/her?”

Here are some of my primal substitutions for classic dishes:

  • Italian—use spaghetti squash or kelp noodles in place of pasta
  • Mexican food—Use lettuce leaves in place of tortillas
  • Things that are breaded and fried—Almond flour is AMAZING for breading and frying. Use as you would regular poison white flour.
  • Sweets—Use honey or agave in place of sugar. Remember that they are sweeter than sugar, and also contain a good bit of water. You may need to adjust other ingredients to make up for this moisture.
  • Vegetable oils—Use olive, safflower, almond, or coconut oil, butter, or natural dietary fat instead (Like sulfite-free bacon grease. Yes, I really did just recommend bacon grease for cooking. I’m sure the hypocrite police will be here any minute.)

Once you start playing around with cooking Real Food, you won’t have any trouble cooking amazing meals for you and your primal partner. You’ll find great versatility in combining meats, vegetables, and dairy to make delicious and tantalizing meals. Before long, you’ll think to yourself, “Grains? What grains?” If and when you and your loved one get a hankering for carby goodness, play around with grain-free baking. I’ll admit that I’m a weenie and haven’t been brave enough to attempt such a feat, but I’ll have some recipes coming soon. Promise.

When planning a dish that traditionally consists of grains, beans, tubers, or sugars, ask yourself, “What’s that ingredient’s purpose? Is it necessary to the dish? Can it be replaced by something else?” For example, in Mexican food, tortillas are really just a vessel to get the meat and vegetables in your mouth. You don’t need them; use lettuce leaves instead. Or in the case of vegetable soup, rice or pasta is a filler and serves no purpose in the dish. Cut it out. Once you start to think of recipes as being a sum of their components, you’ll be able to insert different, primal-friendly components in with ease.

For a few of my primal recipes, click the Recipes category to the right. There are also a million primal/paleo cooking blogs out there, so explore and find one you like. Your partner probably has a few s/he favors, so ask for recommendations. Look in the backs of the books s/he’s reading for recipes and tips.

It won’t be easy at first. It’s never easy when you come home to find 80% of your kitchen staples have been thrown in the garbage because your partner has decided to go back in time 50,000 years, yet expects you to skill cook a few nights a week. (Sorry Jeff. Ahem.) But with a little practice and imagination, you’ll find your groove after a few meals. And you, your partner, and your relationship will be healthier for it.

**Guys: If your girlfrienf/wife is concerned with her weight and has adopted a primal lifestyle, you will notice her doing some strange things. She won’t eat any diet food or anything that’s been “reduced” in any way. She will eat LOTS of fat. For my boyfriend, this is/was very strange. For the entire time he’s known me, I’ve opted for the lightest, most reduced fat option available, and to see me dousing brussel sprouts in melted butter or willingly pan-frying fish in bacon grease, it was a bit unsettling. Has she lost her mind? Is it PMS? Does she not care about how she looks anymore? Omg, is she about to put on 20 lbs and have a nervous breakdown? No, no, no, and no. Primal eating means eating lots of natural fat and avoiding sugar at all cost. Keep in mind that from now on, fat=natural=good. “Reduced”=diet food=full of sugar and grains=bad. Or, to put it more simply, fat=skinny and hot; lite=fat and frustrated.

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