A Learning Experience

I know that it has been a very long time since I have posted anything, but I warned you all that I needed to focus my energy elsewhere. Through this entire time, I have kept my Paleo lifestyle intact. Well, for the most part. I can say that I have not knowingly or willingly eaten something that has not met my exacting specifications, and I have done a super-stellar job of planning through the holidays. Whenever you are in the process of changing or even keeping up a lifestyle change (especially one that goes so heavily against popular culture) it is vitally important to plan.

So the “knowingly or willingly” part of the above statement is crucially important for the learning experience that I have been through this past week, because I apparently ingested some sort of wheat substance at some point about a week ago. I suppose that, since I don’t eat wheat products at all (and am very careful about reading labels) it really took its toll on me. I had definite carb flu symptoms all last weekend, but nothing compared to what I went through this week.

On Monday I was still going through the carb flu. I think it was the last day of it. Tuesday I felt absolutely great, and I thought that I was on the downhill slope. But on Wednesday, my stomach started feeling a little weird. It didn’t last too long on Wednesday, but when I got to work on Thursday and I was in excruciating pain I asked my boss if I could go home early to go to the doctor. By the time I got to the doctor, the pain was gone and I was given some antibiotics for a bladder infection that the doctor couldn’t find. I ate a huge dinner on Thursday night – and promptly spent the entire night in an excruciating pain that I can only compare to child birth.

By that time I’d had enough, and I started doing some research into this pain. I had noticed a pattern – it seemed to show up about two hours after I had eaten a meal. With my trusty internet in hand, I started Googling. And what I found out was amazing.

IBS. Irritable Bowel Syndrome

I had heard of it before, but I’d never known anyone who’d had it or what causes it. But apparently, known catalysts are caffeine; just about any food that is listed on the Paleo “Do Not Eat” list – including wheat, dairy, and legumes; and stress. I had been concerned that stress was a factor in whatever it was going on because I am currently involved in a couple of events that are causing considerable stress. The caffeine made some sense because I had been staying away from coffee since last Saturday because of how I felt – and began to feel better – and began drinking it again on Tuesday. And I already suspected that I had ingested some sort of wheat product at the end of the week because of how I felt during the weekend.

Yesterday I spent the entire day at home recovering from the long, painful night. I made a huge pot of beef bone broth (find out more about this stuff here) and spent all day drinking it and hanging out on the couch. I’ve already had two cups of it this morning and I’m still hanging out on the couch, although I’m not in pain any more.

One thing that I can’t believe about IBS is that there are people who go through this all the time! Doctors don’t have a “cure” for it, so it can just pop up at any time if one of the catalysts is present and the person is sensitive to it. I can’t imagine going through that type of pain all the time. I missed over a day of work because of it. It really reinforces my already strong belief that “cheating” on this “diet” isn’t worth it in the long haul. I have found replacements for just about everything, including candy (roasted sweet potatoes are making a fine substitute for that). And if I can do that, it shouldn’t be hard for others to do it, too.

It also reinforced my belief that, as I go through day after day without coming in contact with wheat, dairy, soy, legumes, and additives, I have created a situation where I am much more sensitive to those things when I do come in contact with them. Usually I can pinpoint the culprit and make a mental note to stay away from it. In this case I can’t. I had gotten some ham steaks from the grocery store that Thursday – even though I read the ingredient list three times in the store, I didn’t catch that they had dextrose until I got home, and I still ate them. By the way, if a meat has an ingredient list, it is probably best to stay away from it. Friday we went to a burger place that I’ve never had a bad reaction to. They made my burger with a bun and I sent it back. I made play dough with wheat flour twice in two weeks, and I usually have a mild reaction to it each time I do it. I try not to make it more than once a month, but I found some really cool play dough activities that I wanted to try for the holidays. It really could have come from any one of those things, so I really have no idea what brought on the IBS symptoms. But I know that I have learned a lot from the experience.

Eating Out Paleo

I have to say it: ever since I started the Paleo lifestyle, eating out has not been much fun. I like to eat out as much as the next person, but experience has led me to realize that no matter how straight-forward something sounds on a menu, you really don’t know what you are going to get.

Take Mexican food, for example. There is a Mexican joint that I absolutely love not far from where I work. I have gotten fajitas without cheese, tortillas, sour cream, or half of the other stuff that makes them fajitas many times. Extra guacamole. And then an hour after I have eaten what I thought was a perfectly fine Paleo meal, I have seriously felt like crap.

Or how about instances like today: I took my daughters to a restaurant and found a hamburger steak (hold the gravy), baked onion, and salad with oil and vinegar. I was served the smallest hamburger patty on the planet that had absolutely no flavor. Apparently they only put flavor in the gravy. I’m not sure what kind of vinegar they were serving, either; it looked like it could have been rice vinegar, but I don’t know. When I left that restaurant I felt so dissatisfied that I wasn’t even sure that I had eaten anything.

For me, this lifestyle has been a journey involving flavors, textures, and simplicity. It has been wonderful and eye opening, and realizing that a restaurant’s hamburger steak only has flavor because of the gravy is a bit of a betrayal. Mainly because I took hamburger And made a meatloaf with flavor that would knock your socks off this evening. With flavorful mashed garlic cauliflower and my own baked onions. It was one of the best meals that I’ve had in a while.

Paleo Meatloaf

2 lbs. ground beef
3 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp marjoram
1 onion, minced
1 red pepper, minced
1/2 green pepper, minced
3 c chopped fresh basil
Salt & Pepper
1 egg

Heat your oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and then shape into a loaf in a large (9×13) glass or metal pan. Bake for 1 hour.

“B” Day

Well, yesterday was the day that we were supposed to go to the beach. No, I didn’t totally flip out about food and decide not to go.

On Wednesday, while we were at work, our home was broken into. The thieves didn’t take too much – a couple of laptop computers, a game console, and one of my fiancé’s pistols – but in the grand scheme of things, it was relatively little. Of course, we are mourning what they did take. We are also mourning our feeling of safety.

Wednesday night, after I had found out and had talked to the police, I had to take my youngest and get her something to eat. That is probably the closest that I have come, mentally, to cheating really bad on this diet. My stress level at that moment was so high that I almost didn’t care anymore.

As a teacher, I bad mouth operant conditioning as a way to teach children. For anyone who is not familiar with operant conditioning, it involves using punishments and rewards to achieve a desired behavior. I would have to say that for me, operant conditioning, as well as developing a strong habit of eating right, has played a crucial part in getting me through this weekend (as well as having the most supportive fiancé on the planet). See, when you “cheat” on this diet, there are consequences. Usually there are consequences with any diet – you gain weight. But this is different. You physically experience the consequences of your eating. If I eat sugar, it messes with my digestion and my energy. Grain products make my energy tank so bad that I don’t want to get out of bed for two days. Talk about punishment!

I said that we have been mourning our safety. We decided to take the opportunity of our long weekend to move. Since it is very short notice, I haven’t been able to pack a little here and pack a little there for a few days up until moving day, but starting Thursday night, have just been madly packing like a mad woman. I am so tired and stressed at this point that I can feel myself starting to get sick. But we will get through it all, we will feel safe again, and life will continue on, much better than before.

School is OUT!

Okay, so I have finished up school, and I will be taking some much needed time off. I am hoping to use this time to catch up on some things that I have let slide while I was handling school, and one of those things is my health. I have actually done very well with my eating, considering all of the stress that I have been under, and have lost about five more pounds since the last time I weighed myself. But I need to start working out again and focusing on getting myself into shape.

To that end, I went to the gym with some friends of mine yesterday. I know, I know – I sang the praises of EPLifeFit and why in the world am I trying to go back to the gym when I have a perfectly good workout program that I can do at home? Well, for starters, I haven’t felt like I am getting a full, well rounded workout from EPLifeFit. Granted, I am a beginner so I need to start slow, but I felt like I was accomplishing more with Body by Science than I did with EPLifeFit. But EPLifeFit was targeting areas that I felt Body by Science wasn’t covering, so….

….I basically combined both workouts when I went to the gym. And boy, am I tired!

One of the things that I found out through doing introductory workouts with CrossFit was that I desperately need to work on my squats. I am finding out that I have no strength in my hamstrings or glutes – I’m willing to bet that there is nothing but fat back there! Just doing a minimal amount of squats per how I was told to do them by my EPLifeFit trainer wears me out, so I know that it is something that I need to concentrate on. I am going to put in the work to get it right, because eventually – when I get in better shape and feel that I can better handle it – I want to give CrossFit another shot.

My eating has been better – I have been concentrating on keeping it clean. Today I made Asian Fried “Rice” – a recipe that I found on Nom Nom Paleo. And speaking of Nom Nom Paleo, this blogger has a new iPad app that is totally awesome and definitely worth your time to check out. I have been telling everyone I know about this app because it is so sharp and so well done, and it has tons of recipes on it, one of which is the Asian Fried “Rice” recipe. Check it out!

Crossfit Workout #3

So I had a breakthrough this evening during my last foundations class: I have been sitting on my butt for so long that I have forgotten how to breathe properly! And I used to be a trumpet player, so this is really mind-boggling for me. I haven’t gotten so far as to pay attention to how I am breathing during the workouts, but after the workout was over today, I did nothing but focus on my breathing. It has helped tremendously! I don’t have a sore throat like I have had after my other workouts, and I feel better now than I have after any of my previous workouts. Just goes to show you how important breathing is, I guess.

So I finished all three of my foundation classes, and it has been determined that I have absolutely no flexibility whatsoever. I can’t even do a squat right! I’ve spoken to two coaches about it, and one gave me some stretches to do and the other gave me a modification to do to practice doing squats correctly. So I will be working on those things, as well as looking forward to my regular classes starting next week!

Paleo Pork Green Chili

So yesterday I wanted to try something new. I found this recipe earlier this week and I knew that I had to try it. The only changes I made were to double the recipe (I have PLENTY of leftovers!) and use slightly more of each spice than is listed (even after I doubled the amount).

This is by far the best chili I think I’ve ever made, even beating out The Best Chili Ever. The pork comes out very tender and the flavor is light enough that you can appreciate the flavors of the peppers that are a part of the recipe. I was a little concerned about the amount of heat that the chili had, so I only put one jalapeno in the chili; I think that in the next batch I will use two, because there is only a hint of heat when I used one pepper for a double recipe.

This will definitely be a fun recipe to tinker around with, and the chili was a great last meal for 2011.

 

Day 7

So day seven went pretty similarly as the rest of the week, except for a huge experiment I tried for dinner. I had been checking out all of the Paleo spaghetti recipes. Now, usually recipes that try their best to not be Paleo (such as Paleo pancakes) get on my nerves. If you are trying to walk away from bad habits, why would you try to incorporate those habits into your new plan? No matter – everyone is different, and everyone does Paleo differently.

For myself, I’ve been pretty strict, to the point where, when I was contemplating Paleo spaghetti recipes, I decided to use shredded chicken rather than ground beef. I have no taste for ground beef any more. Even the thought of it doesn’t appeal to me. That may change in a while when I want a yummy burger (without the bun, of course), but for now I’m staying away from it.

The chicken spaghetti, complete with spaghetti squash, wasn’t a total disaster, but it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever cooked. It definitely needs some tweaking. I will probably try again in a few weeks on that. When I get it right, I’ll post a recipe.

I guess being strict has paid off; I lost ten pounds in the first week. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that.