Nov 10, 2011
This sweater was destined to be an all-time favorite. I love the pattern - shawl collar to keep my neck warm, just enough cable knitting to be an interesting knit AND interesting to look at. The yarn - Madelinetosh Tosh Merino in the Thunderstorm colorway - is gorgeous. Don't you think the pattern and yarn were meant to be together?
There was just one problem. I began knitting this sweater in February, about 6 weeks before I went Primal. Back when I weighed 175 or 180 pounds. I'm down at 150 now. And I knew the sweater was maybe a little too big, but I was wearing it anyway. I blamed the ill fit of the collar and the way it slipped off my shoulders on a too-tight collar bind-off.
That is, until I got back these photos from the amazing photographer Amy Wilbanks. She took them for me during a family photo shoot, specifically so I could have decent photos for my Ravelry project page. Looking at the photos, I was nothing but dismayed and disappointed. The photos themselves are beautiful, but the sweater? Oh, goodness. So much too big. It's heartbreaking.
It seems there is no choice but to rip this sweater back to the beginning and start over in a smaller size. If it was a less loved pattern, or a less expensive yarn, I might just give it to a friend who's the right size. But I am in love with both pattern and yarn, so a re-knit it will be.
I think I just might wait a while, though. Not too long. Just until I've reached my desired body composition. Just in time for next winter, I hope.
Nov 5, 2011
Today, though, my mixed emotions are for much lesser reasons. I have never been much of a baker - I mean, I can handle some chocolate chip cookies or a pumpkin pie. But Paleo baking - that is, grain-free, low-sugar baking - is a different kettle of fish. I've only attempted a couple of recipes. But I knew I wanted a special cake for this special day (even if Paige doesn't eat much of it).
I turned to Bill and Haley at The Food Lover's Primal Palate. Well, to their blog, at least. I've had success with a few of their recipes, so looked for something appropriate. I knew I'd found it when I saw their German Chocolate Torte. German chocolate is the favorite cake of both my husband and I; in fact, we had a traditional German chocolate cake at our wedding instead of a big white confection. The Paleo version isn't quite the same, but it features the same flavors.
I toasted the coconut...just because I wanted to. No real reason.
I also piped the top with the left-over ganache. Obviously, I shouldn't give up my day job ;-)
The birthday girl is taking a nap, but I'm hopeful she will enjoy her mom's attempt at the perfect first birthday cake.
Nov 2, 2011
Nov 1, 2011
Many of the memories were good ones - of Halloween's from my childhood, of how for three years running I dressed as a hobo, wearing my dad's shirt and using charcoal to give myself a beard, of the freedom of going out with my sister and a pillowcase and roaming the neighborhood after dark. Reminders of a pretty darn good childhood.
Unfortunately, it also reminded me of adulthood and of some of the benefits I've been getting from this Paleo way of eating. It brought back the upset tummies, and the hyper-awareness of my intestines, and the knowledge of where the nearest bathroom is and how long it will take to get there.
It reminded me that I ALWAYS used to feel this way - gassy and bloated and on the verge of diarrhea. Brain fog and shaking hands. It brought back in a very real way my sweet tooth, to the point where I found myself seeking out sugar at the end of every meal.
I'm not going to regret sharing Halloween treats with my son. It is a memory to treasure, him holding out a Snickers and asking if I wanted it. How could I say no?
But it was a great reminder that I enjoy this way of eating, that I need it for my health and my daily well being.
Aug 29, 2011
And to just to make myself feel worse, I had a lot of self-talk regarding the "cheats" I'd been making. My mother-in-law came for a visit, we went out of town...my food choices weren't entirely my own. And even when they were, I made some "bad choices" - I really didn't need to eat 4 spoons of my son's ice cream. And I knew it.
Let the self-hate commence. I was getting ready for a good old-fashioned wallow, a self-induced depression that might "make it OK" to indulge a bit more. I feel like crap, chocolate will make me feel better! I've already had some ice cream; why not add fast food french fries to the mix?
(I really need to write that post on self-talk I've been mulling over.)
But I took a step back and realized my problem was really one of perspective. I'd forgotten how far I'd come, and how much I'd changed. The best way I knew to demonstrate that to myself - and get some love from others, I admit - was to take photos and put together a before-and-after collage.
So here, in all my glory, is me in my underwear. I'd already lost ~7 pounds by the time that first set of photos was taken. I was too impatient to start this way of eating to wait for someone to take pictures of me! As you can see, I still have a ways to go before I look like the gals you see on the CrossFit videos. But, oh baby! Look how far I've come!
Aug 10, 2011
By this point, my energy level was back up. While I am still not one of those people who starts the day rarin' to go, and I still don't have that need to exercise, I felt I had the physical and mental energy to tackle one more rung on this getting-fit ladder.
Those friends I knew who were eating Paleo? They are also all "doing" CrossFit. CrossFit is a pretty interesting fitness regimen. It is used by police and military folk to get in top shape. Which makes it sound really intimidating. And if you go to YouTube and look at any of the CrossFit videos there, you might think CrossFit isn't for you.
But the great thing about CrossFit is it's scalability. The trainers are able to scale the workouts for ANY fitness level, and indeed there are grandmas and pregnant ladies who do CrossFit. It promises to get anyone fit, strong, flexible, defined...it sounded great, in other words.
So I went along with a friend to a free "class" at one of the local facilities. Wow. The warm-up alone was more than I usually did during one of my own workouts. Then the workout...well, it kicked my ass, to put it politely. And it was scaled way back for me! But I loved it!
What I didn't love was the price. CrossFit isn't cheap ($150/month and up). I found that hard to justify when I already belong to a gym that only costs me $20/year. (Let's not talk about how I've only been to that gym 3 times in the 9 months since my daughter was born....)
Part of how i keep my motivation going is to read things all over the web. And in so doing I came across the blog of Mark Sisson, a former marathoner and IronMan competitor who wrote a series of books on ancestral-style lifestyle called "The Primal Blueprint". I really appreciate his philosophy, his writing style, and especially the way his blog posts are full of research-based information.
Sisson's take on exercise, called Primal Fitness, is based on things you can do at home, at parks, or while otherwise out and about. He believes we should not just eat like our Paleolithic ancestors, but move like them, too. Hunter-gatherers did not spend 30 minutes a day lifting rocks and trees to get in shape. They just lived their life - walking everywhere, foraging, occasionally sprinting after game (or away from a predator), and lifting game to carry it home and themselves onto trees or rocks.
I downloaded the free e-booklet (you have to subscribe to his newsletter, but that is no hardship), did my assessment, and started working out the Primal way. My one expense was a doorway pull-up bar, about $30. I love this way of working out. I don't need a sports bra (except for the sprints) or to put on shoes (even for the sprints. Although I bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers after reading Sisson's many posts of the benefits of barefooting.)
I've been doing the bodyweight workouts for a couple of months now. Again, one of the things that's great about this "workout" is it's scalability, only Sisson's labels them progressions. I started off in the most basic progressions for everything except the squat. That meant that instead of toe push-ups, I was doing them against a wall; I use both feet on a stool for supported pull-ups, a low-bench for overhead presses, and am on my knees and hands for planks.
I still really suck at pull-ups, and am not at all sure I am doing them right. But I've noticed a little muscle in my arm that I don't remember being there. I recently progressed to doing overhead presses on the floor (WAY harder!), and am about ready to move to the next progression in push-ups. I am getting stronger, fitter, and I feel it more when I don't get my workout in!
I am slacking on the sprints (once every 6 weeks is not the same as once a week!). I am still interested in Olympic-style lifting (deadlifts, cleans, etc.). I would like to try CrossFit again sometime, when it fits better in our budget. But right now, I'm sticking with moving Primally. It fits my life, my lifestyle, and my mental attitude the best.
Aug 2, 2011
I kept track of my weights on an app on my iPod Touch. What an interesting graph they made! No straight line, this, but a jagged mountain-scape of gains and losses. I suppose I knew weight fluctuates hourly, and depends on so many things. Have you peed? Eaten? Spent time outside in the heat?
What surprised me the most were the odd results when I would "test" my scale. I came to not trust it very much at all. I mean, how could I trust a scale that tells me I gained a pound after going to the toilet?
This is just one of the ways that knowing or tracking ones weight is a useless endeavor. I doubt any of us need a scale to know we are over or under weight. We can see it in the mirror, we can feel it in the fit of our clothes or the way our thighs rub together or how bony our hips or collarbones feel. If we must, we can track progress with weight loss or gain by using a tape measure. That is more accurate, but still doesn't tell the whole story.
I kind of knew this. I mean, I've been different sizes at the same weight before. 20 years ago, when I lived in Australia, there was even a terrific magazine article (which I have not been able to find) showing photos of 20+ "average" women - they were all 140 pounds and 5'4" tall. They all looked different. Some looked fat, some thin, some fit, some sadly out of shape. Yet, if we went solely by the scale, we would think they were all the same.
I was reminded of this in a spectacular way a week or so ago, when I came across this blog post by local trainer Jason Seib. Go on and check it out. Scroll down to that "before and after" photo and take a look at the weights listed. Now think if you are a person who might feel fat at that weight. Take a look at the right-hand photo. Think that woman is fat? Of course not. But the scale might tell her she is.
I can't promise to throw away my scale. But I can promise to see it, and love it, a little bit less.
Jul 16, 2011
But that is getting harder for me to do. I am finding there are things I want to talk about NOW, posts I need to write NOW, things I need to process NOW.
So today is the day I play catch up with the blog.
Today is day 97 of eating a Paleo/Primal diet. This is the longest - by a month - I've ever stuck with eating in a way that is different from "normal" - different from the way a majority of people in America eat. I haven't been super strict, and I have eaten "off plan" from time to time. But I don't like the way it makes me feel, and it has not once been worth it for more than the instant I am eating the food that isn't good for my body. It's the noticing how my body reacts to food that has made it easy to keep eating this way.
I haven't quite reached the goals I had set for myself. For example, my waist is still above 35 inches, my waist/hip ratio above 0.85, and I can't seem to manage a work out more than once a week for a variety of reasons. But I've gotten rid of 20 pounds and dropped a couple of sizes. My energy is better, my libido about the same, and my temper still needs a LOT of work.
But this is still early days. And things can only get better as I continue to write my own path.
The numbers, day 90:
Weight: 159 pounds
Waist: 94 cm
Hips: 102 cm
W/H ratio: 0.92
BMI: 24.9 (in the "normal" range!)
Jul 7, 2011
The truth is, it does seem a bit boring at first. And hard! But after the first week, it wasn't either.
By getting away from my lipid-phobic ways, I opened my eating up for foods I had either always avoided and hadn't had in a long time. Real bacon! Steak - often! Full-fat hamburgers (organic). The day I found myself eating braised short-ribs for breakfast, I knew I'd really made the transition.
Breakfast: 3 eggs, bell pepper and onions (or other veggies like zucchini) scrambled together in either coconut oil or pastured butter. (that's pastured, not pasteurized...two different things) 3 breakfast sausage links. I might add a quarter of an avocado, some salsa, and/or berries depending on what's in the house.
Lunch: Usually a big-ass salad, using whatever veggies we have in the house. Romaine, spinach, bell pepper, carrots, tomatoes, radishes, green onion. Add some walnut pieces. Top with ~4 oz. of some sort of meat (usually either steak or boneless chicken breast, but sometimes tuna). Homemade dressing of olive oil and balsamic or red wine vinegar. If we're out of salad fixings or I'm rushed for time (i.e. feeling lazy) I might have leftovers.
Dinner: Here's where I can get creative! We used to eat basically two kinds of protein - boneless skinless chicken breasts or ground turkey. Occasionally lentils or other beans. But now we have steak, roast, meatballs, chicken thighs, hamburgers. Indian butter chicken. Beanless chili. Braised short ribs! (OMG those were yummy. Can't wait for the weather to cool so I feel like making them again.). Add in some veggies - braised kale with pancetta. Or mashed cauliflower (instead of potatoes). steamed broccoli and carrots. Anything really, except corn. Corn is not a vegetable!
But that's only three meals, you might say! What about snacks? Aren't we supposed to eat 5-6 small meals a day to keep our metabolism up? Well, that's actually one of the top diet myths, according to LiveScience. Along with "eating fat will make you fat" and "exercise will make you skinny," these are things we've long believed, things the media keeps telling us. But they aren't true!
But I need snacks! you say. If I don't eat every three hours, I get irritable! Or nausteated! Well, guess what? This used to happen to me, too.
On day 6 after making this change, I had plans to go to Costco with a friend. I ate a salad with tuna about 11:30. By the time we got to Costco, I was feeling kind of hungry. Plus, the clock was telling me I hadn't eaten in 4 hours; I "knew" I needed to eat soon or suffer the consequences. So I decided to get a hot dog. But the line was super long. I decided to wait. We shopped for about 90 minutes, and I was carrying my baby the whole time. It was late when we left, so I didn't stop to get one on the way out.
In the end, I went over seven hours without eating. That is the longest I've voluntarily not eaten during waking hours in...over a decade? And I did it without once feeling irritable, shaky or nauseated.
That was a huge revelation for me. I was hungry, yes. Tummy growling, feeling like I should eat something. But having none of those awful symptoms of low blood sugar and low energy? Totally awesome.
Weight: 166.7 pounds
Waist: 97.5 cm
Hips: 105 cm
W/H ratio: 0.93
Jul 1, 2011
- A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
- - Lao Tzu
Weight: 169 pounds
Waist: 96 cm
Hips: 101 cm
W/H ratio: 0.95
Jun 25, 2011
I've been thinking a bit about what made me desire change. What was it about my life that was making me unhappy and discontented? How would I know these changes were working for me? What baselines did I have with which to measure my progress?
On the day I told my husband, "Starting next week, I am no longer eating grains or sugars," I was a size 14, weighed 177 pounds and was around 32% body fat (according to my body fat monitor scale, which is perhaps not greatly accurate). Size, weight, body measurements - these are all good solid markers I can track with the tools at hand. But what about other, more subtle markers? How else was I feeling on that day?
I was sluggish. Everything seemed like such an effort! I would laze around all day, then rush to get the dishes done and dinner on the stove at the last minute. Or not, and ask my husband to get take out on the way home. If my son wanted to go out and play, I'd go out with him...and sit in a chair with a book, knitting, or iPod. Or all three. Pregnancy and a newborn were great excuses for a while, but even I was getting tired of hearing them.
I felt foggy. My mind was as sluggish as my body. I think I said, "Huh?" a dozen or more times a day. I would drift off in the middle of things; I think I preferred it, actually. I wasn't writing, I wasn't even reading much. I had no ideas for creative projects when my son wanted to craft. I wanted to do nothing more than sit and watch TV, or cruise FaceBook and play games on my iPod.
I had digestive issues. I've had IBS for 20+ years, thanks in part to a bout of amoebic dysentery when I was 18 or 19. I tried many things to cure it, and about a dozen years ago realized it came down to diet - increasing fiber while decreasing sugar made the "attacks" less frequent and less intense. But they'd never gone away entirely. I thought high-fructose corn syrup was the big culprit until I had ELISA testing 2 years ago, and discovered I reacted highly to cane sugar. So much for the "healthy" substitutes!
I sometimes got the shakes. This would happen a lot when I ate a "healthy" breakfast of steel-cuts oats with brown sugar, 1% milk, and walnuts. Ninety minutes to two hours later, I would start to feel hungry, then ravenous, then I would shake or feel nauseated. I felt that if I didn't eat, and eat NOW, I would surely faint. Or maybe throw-up. Especially during my last pregnancy, this all too often led me straight to the McDonald's drive-thru, and a repeat of the cycle two hours later.
I lied. I would tell people - and myself - that I ate a diet of healthy whole foods, eating only whole grain breads, lots of vegetables, leans meats, etc. In reality, I was eating fast food 3-5 times a week, some days ate no vegetables or only a few baby carrots, and sometimes ate a packet of ding-dongs while grocery shopping. Not that I would tell anyone that; I paid for them, and had the clerk throw away the package.
I didn't need blood work or a scale or even a mirror to tell me that I wasn't healthy. I could feel it each and every day, and I showed it each and every day with my actions and my inactions.
The numbers, day 1:
Weight: 177 pounds
Waist: 104 cm
Hips: 106 cm
W/H ratio: 0.98
May 31, 2011
Wife, mother, friend, writer, knitter, gardener. These are all ways I describe myself, ways that other people might describe me. And they are true, of course they are. But there are so many variations of that truth, so many adjectives that can be used to modify and describe those nouns.
The one adjective that has fit most precisely in front of all of those nouns recently is unhappy. Wait, let me edit that - discontented.
For a while now, I've felt my
unhappiness discontent physically, or to be more accurate I've been unhappy discontented with my physicality. I was sluggish, tired, stiff, achy, slow, and soft. I couldn't keep up with my son or my husband. Last summer, I was pregnant; it was a great excuse to not keep up with an active three-year-old boy, to laze on the couch while he played trains, to rest in the shade while he rode his bike. "Mommy can't." became my most often uttered phrase.
Then I had an unwanted but medically necessary c-section. I was "in recovery." I was sleep deprived. I was often hampered by the infant in my arms, or strapped to my chest. I loved when she fell asleep in my lap not just for the sheer joy of holding a sleeping baby, but because it meant I didn't have to do anything but sit and rock.
These were also great excuses to not turn any of my self-designated labels into verbs. I've described myself as a writer and editor for over a decade, but it has been at least three years since I've written or edited for any reason other than fun. (Yes, fun!) This is yet another year I've failed to mulch or weed my garden. Our household budget is a disaster. My stash of planned and unstarted knitting projects fills two Rubbermaid bins, which are now in the attic because they've languished so long.
But now my post-partum fog has lifted. The person I see is not the person I want to be. Wife, mother, friend, writer, knitter, gardener...those are hard and fast nouns that will always define me. But the adjectives I see now - lazy, fat, tired, slow, neglectful, angry, impatient - are ones I'd like to see left behind.
The path ahead is still unwritten, and it is up to me to choose the words.