Yoga Challenge Revisited

Well, here I am. I got farther with the original yoga challenge than I thought I was going to, but I don’t remember what day I stopped at. I may have to check my Facebook to find out because I logged most of my workouts under #100dayyogachallenge. I didn’t make it to 100. I think that day 100 would have been sometime this week, but this week I simply started over. No hashtags, no counting. I’ve simply been trying to make an effort to get on the mat every day. Except tomorrow. That is my rest day unless I change my mind and just try to stretch out a little.

I’m trying to figure out how to tap into that motivation that I had when I started eating Paleo. I blogged about it a lot on here in order to see how far I had come, but I just did it. Every day I did it. I didn’t whine about how hard it was or about how I didn’t want to cook (ok, maybe I did that). I didn’t focus on how hard it was or how crappy I felt at first. I looked forward to the results. I looked forward to all of the positives that people said would happen and that helped push me beyond the initial icky carb flu and lack of energy so that I could get it done.

I guess I’m in icky carb flu stage with the yoga. And as out of shape as I am, I’m not sure how long that stage is going to last. I have made some changes in my life that might make it easier. I quit my stressful job three weeks ago and found a job that I love that is much less stressful. Still in childcare, so still very much a part of my passion. The lack of stress has made it that much easier to get on the mat in the mornings, because I am more confident that I can push through this tiredness to the end of the day. Before I had to bring my A-game every day to work, and I got no support. I still have to bring my A-game, but I have an amazing support system now that I didn’t have before. It helps a lot, and I can tell that it is helping a lot with my transition into this next phase of my lifestyle.

And maybe that is a difference, too. I always looked at Paleo as my lifestyle, especially after I experienced the benefits. Maybe instead of looking at yoga as a way to get back in shape or get stronger, I need to look at it as part of my lifestyle. Part of how I live my life, because I know that if I don’t do it my life isn’t the same. And it isn’t. When I don’t do my yoga I get cranky and stressed and my muscles feel tight and everyone around me knows that I haven’t done my yoga. When I do it I feel calmer and stronger. Tired, but relaxed. I can take on the world, because I had that little bit of time in the morning to connect with me. Or maybe I can connect with the world better because I have taken time to connect with myself. Maybe that is why I feel less stress and more connection. Either way, the benefits of getting on my mat are greater than what I get when I don’t. It is time for commitment to this next part of my lifestyle.

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100 Day Yoga Challenge – Day 3

Who would have thought that the day after I publicly announce my personal challenge would be the hardest one so far for me? I almost talked myself into staying in bed for an extra 15 minutes. I didn’t, though, and I can honestly say that I am glad that I made myself get up. One of the things that I have always loved about yoga is its ability to make me feel great when I am done. Sometimes it is hard to see that when you are sore and tired and just want to sleep, but that is part of what this challenge is about – kicking myself in the butt so that I can get to this feeling. So here I am, day three done.

In the interest of being totally up-front, I should also mention that I am in the middle of a sugar detox of sorts. I usually steer clear of sugar on a daily basis because it tends to affect my energy and mood, but this time of year I let myself have a little leeway because berries are in season. Well, I found out that my ginger-in-a-tube that I was using in my eggs in the morning had dextrose and fructose in it, and I was using it every day! No wonder my sleep started getting messed up and I started getting crabby during the day. All if that is sorting itself out now as I go through this sugar detox. My sleep is starting to return to the wonderful Paleo sleep that I love, and my mood is starting to stabilize as well. Now that I have that sorted out, I figured it was the perfect time to get into this challenge. I seem to feel more motivated to move when all of my food-oriented stars are aligned.

I guess we will see what tomorrow brings!

Yes, I Have An Allergy

I went to Five Guys for dinner tonight. I love Five Guys. I am so ridiculously strict about what I eat that I won’t get a burger from anywhere, but I can tell that Five Guys doesn’t use fillers in their meat. But I always get my burger lettuce wrapped, and I always tell them that I have an allergy.

I went to a different burger place that was similar to Five Guys back in the winter and ordered a burger without a bun. I didn’t say that I had an allergy. They brought the burger to me with a bun on it, and I took it back. They said that they had gluten-free buns, but I am so strict that I am not going to do the gluten-free. I ordered it with no bun. After waiting forever, they gave me a new burger. After I ate it I was sick as a dog for a week.

Now I ALWAYS say that I have an allergy. And I don’t go back to that other burger place. I had been there several times previously and never had a problem.

On another note, I have decided to start a 100 day challenge. A yoga challenge. I know, I know, every time I post I say something about how I am going to move more and how I need to be more active. Well, I do. I haven’t figured out how to make it work yet. I bought that bike, rode it a couple of times, and it has been sitting on my patio since the weather got hot. I will probably take it out again in the fall, but for now it is holding up my patio railing quite nicely. I figured, though, that I need a goal. I need a measurable goal so that I can track how I am doing. What better goal than to commit do doing some yoga every day for 100 days? I am not specifying what I am doing for the yoga. Usually, even if I didn’t want to do the yoga to begin with, I always end up feeling better and glad that I did it in the middle. I have done two days so far. The interesting thing will be to see how I make it work when school gets back in. Right now my schedule is different so I have time to make it work. I may not have that in a month and a half, but I will work something out, because I want to get through the 100 days. Especially since I am not saying that I have to do any specific poses or anything – I just want to do something for 100 days. If I want to get more experimental or try new things, I can. My first step is to just do it. And that is what I have been doing for the past two days. Tomorrow will be three. Yay, me!

Grapeseed Oil Is Not Paleo

This has been an interesting week. I have made it my mission to do at least thirty minutes of activity a day so that I can get in better shape. Plus, I am hoping that doing this will get me out of the habit of hibernating during the summer. I used to not care if it was hot out, when I was a kid. Now, I can’t stand to be in the heat. But maybe if I try to be more active, try to get my kids outside more, that will help me get over that. There is a lot we can do outside, and perhaps I need to invest in some tank tops or something. That way I won’t feel as if I am dying every time I try to go outside and do something. Today I took the kids to the park. We played catch and the little one rode her bike. We went for a hike. I attempted to fly a kite but there really wasn’t enough wind. Plus I wasn’t feeling like running around trying to get the kite going. It was pretty warm out there. I don’t complain about the warm when I am taking my class outside to play, but when it is me outside on my time, I guess I’m complaining about it a lot. 

Earlier this week – Thursday, actually – I had a great yoga session. I was very proud of myself. Then on Friday on and off throughout the day my ankle was hurting. I didn’t connect the two until Saturday when I tried to do some more yoga. I tried to go into Upward Dog and I couldn’t do it because of my ankle. I’m not sure if I didn’t rotate my thighs right or if I just put too much pressure on my ankle, but I had to stop because I couldn’t put much pressure on my ankle like that. I tried to do a search about why my ankle would be hurting from doing that, but most of the posts I saw talked about back pain coming from doing Upward Dog wrong, not ankle pain. 

Saturday afternoon saw us at a gathering for my fiancé’s aunt’s 90th birthday party. I was a pretty cool gathering. I made sure that I ate before we went, but I didn’t eat a lot. There was NOTHING Paleo at the event, but since I had eaten I didn’t mind. I don’t get hung up on whether or not there is stuff for me to eat at events because not everyone eats how I do, especially here in the south. But when we left the event I was starving. We went to another the house of another aunt of his, and she had stuff for me to make a salad. She offered me grape seed oil and vinegar, and I gratefully took it. However, I found out pretty quickly that grape seed oil is not Paleo. That stuff was doing a number on my stomach. I looked it up yesterday, and grape seed oil is just as processed as canola and vegetable oil. It was good in a pinch, but I’m not sure I’ll ever try that again.

I don’t have any new recipes right now. I am still trying to get used to having time on my hands, since I’m not in school. It has been nice to be able to get out with the family and do things, and not be so stressed out that I don’t want to do anything. Taking some time out and re-evaluate where I am standing and what I want has been great, and I have come up with some new directions for myself. As far as this goes, Paleo is serving me well. Especially this past week when I have been increasing my vegetable intake and decreasing my protein intake. I have felt great! I think I feel a difference in how my clothes fit, too. 

Eureka! at the Farmer’s Market

So let me tell you how my week went. First, I bought a bike. I’m still super excited about it, but I haven’t really had many chances to ride it yet. Except for today. And the weather was gorgeous. But I didn’t ride. I have been pretty tired today, probably from all of the walking we did when we went to the Biltmore Estate for our vacation trip. It was pretty fun. That house is amazing! Oh, did I say house? I meant mansion! I couldn’t even imagine all of the work it would take to keep up that place if you were living in it.

So since we were out of town, my eating was a little shaky. Usually I stress and stress about it, but this time I didn’t. I have learned by now that I can usually find something to eat almost anywhere that won’t have grains in it – my one big rival. And while I am sensitive to sugar, I can tolerate it better than grains.

I did pretty good. I think the high amount of sugar I ate is probably a contributing factor to why I am so tired today, but in a few days that will be gone. I am planning on getting out and riding tomorrow, since it is my last vacation day, and enjoying some of this beautiful weather. Watch – now that I’ve said that, it will be hot and rainy tomorrow and I won’t be able to go anywhere on my bike. Yes, I know that bikes still work in the rain. I haven’t gotten that gung-ho about it yet.

I made my weekly trip to the farmer’s market today to get some vegetables and eggs. I have been searching for convenient place to get pasture eggs for a while now. What I mean by pasture eggs is that the owners let the chickens run around outside and eat bugs and worms and other things that are healthy for them, rather than keeping them in a building and feeding them grain all day. Now that we have been eating Paleo for some time, we are getting more concerned about the quality of the food that we are eating. I do a lot of shopping at the farmer’s market, and I can’t wait until more vegetables are in season. Right now strawberries are in season, and I have really been enjoying them with a spoonful of cashew butter.

My fiance (Clint) and I watched the documentary Food, Inc. about a month ago, and it was very eye opening. It talked about how different animals are treated when they are raised for food by corporations like Tyson. It also discussed how there really are only a handful of companies that control the vast amounts of brands that we have available to us in the store, and how they are shifting some of their products in order to sell them in the middle of the organic and all-natural food craze that we are finding ourselves in the middle of them. I personally don’t trust them to create anything all natural. Even if something says “all natural” on the label I still read the ingredients, and nine times out of ten there will be something in that item that doesn’t pass my strict standards. After watching the documentary I wasn’t happy with organic eggs or cage-free eggs, because when you think about it, those words could mean anything. The chickens that we saw in the documentary weren’t in cages, but they rarely – if ever – saw sunlight and were so crowded in the buildings that they were in that they couldn’t possibly get any exercise. They were fed grain from who knows where, most of the time treated with antibiotics to keep the chickens from getting sick in their cramped conditions. I know one thing – I don’t want my eggs to be from chickens that are raised like that.

So I was super-excited when I found this woman at the farmer’s market selling pasture-raised eggs, and she has pasture-raised beef and chicken too! And she’s local! Clint and I are very passionate about supporting local businesses, so I am sure that we are going to be doing more business with this woman in the future.

I joined a Paleo-themed group on Facebook this week. The people in this group like to post pictures of what they are eating. I don’t think I could make it posting pictures for this group. Each plate that I see has a little portion of meat, a little portion of vegetables, and a little portion of some sort of fat. I am looking at these pictures thinking “there is no way that I could survive eating that little amount of food!” Maybe that is why I haven’t lost any more weight than I have. I don’t know. I do know that when I took my health class for school we had to track our calories for a week and my calories were spot-on every day without me even trying or tweaking anything. But I look at those pictures and the small amounts of food, and then I look at what I am eating every day and I think, “Am I doing something wrong?” Apparently no one in the Paleo community eats quite as much food as I do. Or at least, the ones on that particular page don’t. And when I make an honest effort to get in the exercise that I should, I get hungrier, which means that I eat even more! I have thought about trying to cut the amount of protein that I am eating down and adding more fat and vegetables, because I am pretty sure that I am eating too much meat. But those pictures make me seriously wonder if I am missing something or if I am doing something wrong.

I want to get back into my yoga more seriously, too. I cut way back when school got hectic, so I haven’t really made any progress. I am looking forward to giving that more of my time this week. I’ll let you know how it goes! Right now I need to go check on the pulled pork that I put in the crock pot this morning!

A New Hobby?

So, school is over. I graduated last Friday with an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. It feels really good to be done, but I think the past few days have been a series of “now what?” moments, where I’m just not sure what happens next. After all, school took up a good deal of my time and energy, and while I am glad that it is over, I know that the empty space where all of that time and energy used to be spent needs to be filled with something. I am not one to sit around that much.

Or am I? I have been looking over my lifestyle, and while I have pretty much conquered the Paleo lifestyle (2+ years and counting!) I haven’t been very active. I lost 50 lbs in the first six months of the Paleo journey and I haven’t lost anything else. I’m horribly out of shape. And I tend to hibernate when the weather gets warm.

Back in December I started doing yoga. It was one of the BEST things I have ever done for myself! I started it for stress relief, because between school and the business that I am trying to get off the ground, I have been a big ball of absolute stress. When the stress from school got really bad and allergy season hit me like a ton of bricks a few weeks ago, I had to stop doing it as regularly as I had been. I don’t think I’ve done anything in about a week now, and it had been a week or so before that. Whenever I get off the mat, I miss it. And every time I step back on the mat I talk about how I shouldn’t have let it take so long before I got on the mat again. Yoga is definitely something that I want to keep doing, for the stress benefits and the health benefits as well. I have seen improvement of my strength and flexibility since I started, and I may have to come up with some sort of schedule so that I will keep doing it more regularly.

I started my spring vacation today, and I stepped out on a big limb. I bought a bike. This is huge for me, because – as I said – I tend to hibernate when the weather gets warm. I don’t think I have voluntarily done anything outdoors that would make me hot and sweaty (get your mind out of the gutter!) in years, so this is a very big leap. Not only that, but I’m pretty sure that I haven’t ridden a bike since I was a teenager. I was anxious about getting a bike the right size since I am incredibly short, but the one that I got is perfect. The guy at the bike shop that we went to was very helpful and helped me pick out a bike that fit me perfectly. I took the bike out when I got home, and had to do a little adjusting, but after taking it back out again later, I felt just like a kid again on that bike. It was great, to feel the wind as I was riding down the road. Bikes have come a long way since I had one, so I have been getting used to changing gears. I have come a long way since I had one, too (not necessarily in a good way) so I have also been getting used to pedaling up hills again. It was fun taking it out and riding around, and the great thing is that we have a bunch of bike trails right near our house – we are in the middle of the biking area of town. I should have no problems finding places to bike.

So this is something that I want to schedule some time for, too. I need to make myself get outdoors more and move around more. It will probably help my overall mood and strength and probably other things, too. And now that school is over, I have more time to blog about it, too!

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.