Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 24: Off the Rails

Well. Things seem to have gone a little awry around here. I started out with the best of intentions, but being Paleo(ish) on a budget has proven to be more difficult than I anticipated. Mainly the budget part. And also, the part where I have to cook...a lot.

Things have really gone off the rails since my race a few weekends ago. I haven't run once since then; in fact, my schedule has been so busy that I haven't exercised at all. Before that, I worked my entire schedule around my morning workout. It was also easier to be more motivated about eating the right things all the time when I was "in training." 

So, where does that leave me? I'm not sure. My goals as far as eating healthy and being healthy have not changed, but I am finding that I just don't want to be so militant about it all. I don't want to beat myself up every time I put something "illegal" in my mouth. 

One thing I will continue no matter what is trying to stay gluten-free. As I've mentioned, I've struggled with hypothyroidism since my early teens, but I was very recently diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis which ups the ante a little since it is an autoimmune disease. Funny thing, though, as soon as I got that diagnosis and I had a real, medically sound reason for avoiding gluten...guess what my brain started craving? 

My busy week of morning appointments is coming to an end, so I am going to commit myself to once again devoting my mornings to exercise starting on Monday. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to keep running or take a break from that and enjoy some nice fall hikes. Hopefully getting back into a routine will help other things fall into place.

I must be doing something right, though, because those pants...they could use a belt these days!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Day 17: Feeling Cranky

I don't have much to say today. I am feeling cranky ~ it's been a rough week and I have not been eating right. I'm feeling stressed and having cravings, which I thought I had sailed right past in the beginning. 

The past few days I have been eating a Lara bar for either breakfast or lunch, which really is no better than grabbing something gluten-y and sugar-y. It doesn't do much for my hunger, and it leaves me craving something sweet. I have been reaching for the Lara bars because I just flat out haven't planned well enough for meals or I just haven't felt motivated to actually make anything.

Frustrating. Leading to cranky. And also, feeling like this...

I just have to remind myself that this is a process, and there is a learning curve. I am switching to a very different way of eating, which includes learning skills I do not possess, and doing it all on a budget. This calls for some "chunking," as my daughter's teacher calls it. I'm all about the small steps, so maybe I need to take a small step backward and set a few specific, achievable goals for myself. This is so me...I get all revved up about something and want to do it all at once, yesterday in fact, and perfectly the first time, OF COURSE. But I do know that setting and reaching small goals leads to an avalanche effect, so if I can concentrate on getting a few little things right, I can build on that.

Well, I do feel a little better having worked that out, and rest assured, there are no cookies in the house to tempt me, so I am safe from my inner Cookie Monster!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Day 16: Paleo Pinspiration

Everywhere I go, I am seeing people who use Pinterest for menu planning. I haven't done this yet because (1) when I go on Pinterest I tend to get sucked down a big rabbit hole of All the Cool Things and forget why I was there to begin with, (2) I kind of suck at organizing my pins, so while I may spend hours pinning All the Cool Things, I rarely go back and look at my boards, and (3) I'm lazy?

My meals are planned for the week, but I was surfing around Pinterest this evening and thought I would scout out some new recipes to try, since I have some things in the freezer I have no idea what to do with!

It was tough to narrow down, but these look tasty and manageable for me...

1. Breakfast Sausage ~ Cupcakes OMG
2. Lemon Sage Chicken ~ Enjoying Healthy Foods
3. Secret Liver Burger ~ Humans Are Not Broken (yes, I'm totally trying this on my kids)
4. Pot Roast ~ Cavegirl Cooks
5. Southwestern Frittata ~ Everyday Paleo
6. Cowboy Pie ~ Eat Live Grow Paleo
7. Garlic Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin ~ Multiply Delicious
8. Liver & Onions ~ The Paleo Diet (this looks manageable but I will reserve judgement on the "tasty")

I will work a few of these into next week's plan ~ no promises on the liver, I really have to psych myself up for that one! 

Do you use Pinterest for menu planning? What are your tips for organizing?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Day 15: Menu Planning, Week 3

This is exactly what meal planning looks like in my house...NOT!

This week is really about using what I've got, since the budget is extra tight. Unfortunately, it also means I may have to be a little looser with my Paleo rules ~ be ish(ish), if you will! Fortunately, however, I do have produce that I did not get around to using last week (that's sort of the story of my life), so I will definitely have to be more disciplined about getting in the kitchen and actually cooking! 


Monday: rice pasta with sauce & meatballs
Wednesday: goulash over zucchini
Thursday: mustard chicken thighs with roast vegetables
Friday: pork tenderloin with green beans
Saturday: breakfast for dinner


"Stuff" from the back of the pantry


Eggs & bacon

I have a pot of chicken broth on the stove right now, simmering away and making my house smell delicious, so starting tomorrow I will have that to drink (instead of the hot chocolate leftover from camping that I've been indulging in). I've also trained my 10 year old to make coffee in the morning (actually, she begs me to let her), so I have been having a much healthier version than I had been getting from the corner store! 

I think I've got a good plan for the week, I just need to make sure to take things out of the freezer the night before and set a daily alarm to remind me it's time to start dinner!

What's on your menu for the week? Do you happen to have a really good recipe for liver and onions? It's one thing my mom never forced us to eat growing up, so I've never actually tasted it ~ just scared to try it, much less make it myself!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Day 14: Week 2 Review

I didn't mean to miss two days over the weekend, but I was in West Virginia running a trail race! Actually, I spent most of the weekend driving to and from WV, one night camping, and less than an hour running, but it was worth it ~ race recap to come soon! 

View of the finish from the top of the hill

My plan was to write my weekend posts ahead of time, but if you know me, you are probably not surprised that didn't happen. I am not known as "Last Minute Liz" for nothing ~ I was preparing for my trip up until the moment we walked out the door, which of course was over an hour behind schedule! When we got home last night, all I wanted to do was crawl into my comfy, warm bed and get a good night's sleep.

So, here's how last week looked:

Breakfast: 2 egg muffins, coffee
Lunch: baked potato with onions & cottage cheese
Dinner: chicken wings, zucchini
Snacks: Trader Joe's tomato soup, Lara bar, TJ dark chocolate bars (2), sunflower seed butter, apples
Beverages: milk, orange juice

Breakfast: apple, cheese stick, coffee
Lunch: leftover chicken wings, celery w/cream cheese, Trader Joe's tomato soup
Dinner: scrambled eggs with cheese
Snacks: Justin's chocolate macadamia nut butter, TJ dark chocolate bars (2), sunflower seed butter, apple
Beverages: milk, orange juice 

Breakfast: coffee
Lunch: pumpkin soup, bacon
Dinner: garbanzo bean soup
Snacks: pumpkin spice latte

Breakfast: coffee
Lunch: spaghetti squash with sauce, meatballs
Dinner: roast chicken with potatoes, carrots & onions
Snacks: gummy worms and peanut butter cup poached from the kids, apple, sunflower seed butter, olives
Beverages: milk, orange juice

Breakfast: coffee, leftover chicken & vegetables
Lunch: Lara bar, Clif Mojo bar (waiting forever for an oil change at Walmart)
Dinner: leftover roast vegetables, pumpkin soup
Snacks: olives, sunflower seed butter, apple
Beverages: milk

Breakfast: pumpkin spice latte, Lara bar
Lunch: Bojangles sausage patty, french fries
Dinner: spaghetti with meat sauce, veggies (pre-race dinner included with registration)
Snack: hot chocolate 
(weighed myself in the morning ~ no change)

Breakfast: yogurt with granola (served at TMI before race), coffee
Lunch: hamburger, potato salad, baked beans (served at TMI after race), coffee
Dinner: Wendy's chili (it was a long drive home)
Snacks: Lara bars (2) apple, Justin's chocolate macadamia nut butter
Beverages: milk, hot chocolate

Breakfast: fried eggs (2) and bacon, coffee (homemade!)
Lunch: Progresso clam chowder (today is was more about the budget than the Paleo)
Dinner: rice pasta with sauce, meatballs
Snacks: Lara bar, Justin's chocolate macadamia nut butter
Beverages: milk, hot chocolate

It turned out not to be the best week as far as sticking to the meal plan. I am still having trouble getting myself into the kitchen to cook ~ since I don't have the schedule of a 9-5 job any more, time often gets away from me and suddenly it's dinner time and I've got nothin'. I think I need to try taking one day a week to cook a few meals so they are ready to go. 

This week is going to be interesting ~ like I mentioned, the budget may trump the diet for a few days. I still have a freezer full of good meat to plan around, so we'll see what I come up with tomorrow!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Day 11: I Miss My Naps

This is going to be a quick post, because I am packing up for an overnight camping trip and my very first trail race on Sunday. I am soooo excited, but as usual I have a long list of last minute things I have to do (like laundry).

Naps are wonderful things. I never thought it was quite fair that only those too young to appreciate them are the only ones encouraged to take them! That said, it has been over a week now since I have felt the need to take a nap (despite staying up way past my bedtime to get my 31 days posts up)! 

Prior to that, I was napping every day. Sometimes more than once a day. Sometimes all day. And these weren't "catnaps" which found me renewed and refreshed when I woke up ~ sometimes I could barely open my eyes much less drag myself out of bed. I was kind of a hot mess. A hot, tired, cranky mess. 

That exhaustion and the feeling that I could fall asleep standing up at any moment disappeared within days of starting Paleo. I have had days like today (especially with the dreary weather we've been having), that I want a nap. I long to snuggle under the covers and slip off to dreamland for awhile, but I don't need a nap. Even though my energy dips, I am able to push through and stay awake and productive.

To a person who has spent the better part of her adult life (and the latter part of her teens) suffering from sometimes debilitating depression and fatigue, this is pretty amazing. In fact, it is so radically different from my "normal" that I have seriously questioned whether there is something wrong with me. Is that warped or what?

Naps are not a bad thing by any means; in fact, they have many benefits, such as increased brain function, reduced stress, brightened mood and improved memory, among others. Many cultures around the world regularly take "siestas." In China it is common for employees to put their heads down for a post-lunch nap ~ can you imagine if that were the practice here in the states? 

I like the idea that I can still take a little siesta when I feel like it and that it could actually improve my health. But even better, I like the idea that now I can do so on my terms, and not because of a food related crash.

Here is a great article on how naps affect your brain if you'd like to know more!

So speaking of shut-eye, it is time for me to get some...I have a big weekend ahead of me and I don't want to be tripping over any roots or spraining any ankles because I haven't gotten enough!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Day 10: Carb Flu, Cravings & Brain Fog, Oh My

When you are fueling your body primarily with quick-energy carbohydrates (sugar) and then suddenly eliminate them from your diet, it takes awhile for your body to convert to using mainly fat as an energy source. In the meantime, you go through withdrawal just as if you had given up smoking or caffeine. In the Paleo community, this is "affectionately" known as carb flu. It can, indeed, feel like the flu, with symptoms like body aches, headaches, and fatigue, as well as irritability and strong cravings.

When I went gluten free last August, I experienced some of this ~ not to the degree that I felt like I had the flu, luckily. Mostly I was just super tired and drag-ass all day. Like, falling asleep at my desk and I don't care who sees me kind of tired. Also, maybe a little cranky. I'm sure my kids never even noticed. Not.

This time around I haven't experienced any of that. In fact, I skipped right to feeling All the Energy. All the Time. Maybe it's because I am including more "safe starches" like white potatoes? I'm thrilled to have skipped right over that phase of the transition, because really...

One thing that many people stop experiencing with the elimination of gluten are mental health issues such as brain fog, anxiety and depression. These things have virtually disappeared for me in the last 10 days. To be honest, I attributed it to the change in my thyroid medication (I switched from synthetic, generic levothyroxine to natural Armour brand desiccated thyroid), but then last night I came across something I had written in my journal last year about two weeks after I made the switch to Paleo right after my injury (funny how I can't remember the day I quit smoking three years ago, but the day I nearly broke my ankle six miles into a 12 mile hike with four complete strangers from a meetup group will be forever etched in my brain).
"I've got so much going on in my head right now. It's awesome! I don't think I've felt this buzzing in awhile like I have since I quit eating grains. FASCINATING."
Holy shit! What's fascinating to me now is that I completely forgot about that revelation ~ I guess it was swallowed up in the brain fog that enveloped me once I went back to eating all the carbs not too long after I wrote that (my personal life took some hard knocks in January and I turned to my old friend comfort food to help get me through it). I did connect eating badly with feeling badly physically, but I guess brain fog is like real fog ~ sometimes you can see it better from a distance than when you are in the middle of it.

I also noted at that time that although I wasn't losing weight, and I couldn't exercise at all because of my ankle, I did go down a pant size, so I'm kind of waiting for that to happen again, too!

The most important thing to remember if you are going through carb withdrawal is that it is temporary and you will come out on the other side feeling better than ever. Here are some tips to help get you through:

  • make sure you are getting enough protein for breakfast ~ this will keep you satiated much longer and help reduce cravings
  • if you need to, ease up on your workouts until you are feeling better (in other words, do as I say and not as I do, and cut yourself a break)
  • add some additional starches to your diet ~ sweet potatoes are Paleo-friendly or, if you are "ish" like me, white rice and white potatoes are also considered "safe starches"
  • drink bone broth ~ Mom wasn't kidding when she said chicken soup helped you feel better, just make sure it is good, healthy, preferably homemade stock and not the crap that comes in a red can (or off the grocery store shelf, period)
  • find a community, whether it's reading other blogs, participating in forums, or listening to podcasts ~ it helps to know others are going through it or have survived, as well as helping you stay motivated!
Wow ~ I can't believe we are 10 days into this challenge (and closer to the holidays). I am really enjoying blogging every day, even though I have definitely been staying up way past my bedtime to get a daily post up! I really hope that something I've shared has helped someone out there in some small way!

Oh, and PS...

Yes, I got 'er done. And yes, I realize that it looks like the poor chicken face planted into a dish of vegetables and that I cooked it upside down. I told you I am no Julia Childs ~ just slicing up some vegetables is an accomplishment for me. Don't be like me ~ here are some great instructions for roasting a chicken, just be sure to read past "preheat oven to 450" or at least look at the pictures! Either way, it was tasty, I have leftovers for lunch (barely), and I am going to make some chicken stock tomorrow.