Monday, October 26, 2015

The Primal Way - A New Way?

My months of debauching and gluttony have caught up with me, as expected. I can only go so long being a vacuum for all things salty, gooey, boozy and delicious before it all catches up with me, especially when I don't work out. Duh, right?! I am not one of those blessed people who can eat whatever and not gain weight, even though I have hateful eyes for the beloved who lives with me and is that way...anywho, debauchery had to stop, sigh...

Along with the feeling that something has been stuck between my boobs and the waistband of every pant I own (yes, even stretchy ones :o ) this time of year is often really hard for me allergy-wise. I typically have to dramatically alter my diet, or even do a cleanse, and habits because my face is constantly oozing, eyes red and itchy, and I sneeze hysterically. A chub-oozing-goo-sneeze-fest = hot mess!

So for the last 3 weeks I have been back in the swing of my regular workout routine of exercising 3-6 times a week. (Really loving right now! Don't know 'em check 'em out!!) I attempt to wake early most mornings of the week to do groggy yoga, although the last few days have been a challenge because the snot-ooze is on another level, and any inversion is like Niagara Falls down my face and all over my mat, so yeah, yoga in the morning hasn't been happening much for me the last few days. That and, I have been exceptionally tired and I am a mess without proper amounts of sleep.

An aside on sleep: We undervalue sleep. It. Is. So. Important. I love sleep, it is the bestest. And when I don't get sleep I am a cranky bitch who wants to eat everything in sight. I own that. When I am sleep deprived I am on a war path, and y'all better watch out, and those who know me and love (yes, even on my war path) will lovingly look at me and tell me to go to bed. If you are anything like me though, you try to do even more when you are tired. Which makes absolutely no sense! Right!? I mean seriously, your body is yelling at you for sleep - hello coffee cravings, hello doughnuts, pancake, bread, anything doughy (ie refined carbs) cravings consuming your every thought – surrender my loves, your body, your sanity, the sanity of your loved ones around you, sleep is the cure-all. And yes, I am even suggesting sleep over getting up early in the AM for yoga. If you are tired. Sleep. You will get more health benefits by catching up on some zzz's than you would by pushing yourself through a yawn-filled, half-assed yoga-sesh at 6 AM.

Food-wise I am trying Primal for a while. (I hate the word diet because it plays mind tricks on everyone, so I just think, "Hey, that sounds interesting, let me try eating like that for a while and see how it makes me feel." - It works I promise you! Don't call it a diet. Call it a curious experiment on you.) Throughout my IIN course we have been introduced to many different types of dietary theories, many I have tried and chronicled. Anyone read my vegan egg obsession post? LOLs! So now onto Primal. Primal is similar to Paleo or the "caveman diet" in some ways and different in others. Primal is a lifestyle concept founded by Mark Sission. I have followed his blog, Mark's Daily Apple, for years. The concept makes sense logically to me - eat the macronutrients our bodies were designed to assimilate properly - protein, fats, lots-o-veggies and minimal carbs. The diet consists of organic or local, or both, meat products, lots of oily fish, eggs, some full-fat dairy, nuts, seeds, lots of veggies, especially greens, avoiding grains, legumes and refined anything, especially carbohydrates, sugars, preservatives, alcohol, and man-engineered food-like-stuff. 

There is also lifestyle recommendations of moving with intent daily, not just hitting the gym for the WOD or pumping iron, as is commonly associated with the muscle bound testosterone-laden paleo-dudes; allowing for down, quiet time, decreasing screen time and having a natural sleep rhythm. If you are interested in learning more, ask me, or pick up Mark's books or check out his blog. (A little aside that mildly deterred me at first: While there is a lot of useful, logical information, just ignore that he clearly comes from a privileged life, where he can make his own schedule and do as he wants in a day, and clearly time and money are of little concern in his life. We are not all so privileged or wealthy or stress free, so try your best, don't expect a miraculous, unrealistic, comparison of a life.)

I am really liking the Primal approach so far. I don't feel deprived at all. Calories are really not a concern on this "diet" because it is encouraged to eat as many fats as you feel comfortable with. And oddly enough I am finding I am actually eating less calories a day than when I was eating grains and carbs - some days almost 400-600 calories less and feeling very satiated. We are talking natural fats here people - avocado, coconut, nuts, olive oil - none of the refined stuff like corn, canola, hydrogenated crap. Fat is not to be feared. We need fat. Our brains are almost entirely made out of fat and it is crucial for the synapses and neurons to fire correctly. Ever since the low-fat craze of the 80s and 90s we have been on an increasing rate of obesity, cognitive issues and unhealthiness. Our bodies need fat. Goods fats, and it actually knows what to do with them. Don't fear fat. I even lost 5 lbs in the first week, not that that is my goal here, just an added perk. Fat does not make you fat!

I was worried about eating too much meat. I have never been a big meat eater. I occasionally indulge, but for years have subsisted on a mostly vegetarian diet with plenty of whole, gluten free, grains. But Primal is basically vegetarian due to all the greens, seeds and nuts, but with the occasional protein thrown in there. I am finding I am eating a lot of eggs, which is fine, I love eggs with the occasional palm-sized local, farm raised protein portion alongside it. I am not even eating meat everyday.

Another thing I was worried about was pooping. Pooping is a big part of all our lives and I don't know about you, but the quality of my poop directly effects my entire day. I have found when I eat large amounts of meat and dairy everything slows way down. So I was worried that that would be the case on a primal diet. One of the things Mark even mentions is that you won't have to wake up and poop first thing in the morning on a primal diet like you would on a typical grain-filled, high carb diet. This sentence made me anxious. I like that I poop first thing in the morning. I hate pooping at work. And the idea of slower moving, possibly harder to clean up poops at WORK made me really reconsider. I can report this is not the case, at least for me. I am not not pooping in the morning before work. It just isn't as soon as I wake up. I can normally get up pee, make my cup of lemon water, let the dogs out, get their food ready, finish my lemon water and maybe even start yoga before poop time comes. Before it was up and poop. So yes it is a little delayed, but not like my anxious brain originally thought. Phew, no pooping at work.

Interesting poop tidbit - so we went Halloween costume shopping and out to dinner last weekend. Mexican was the choice, and while I didn't go hog wild on the carbs, I did have some. Man that was a mistake! 3.5 weeks into this primal thing, no refined carbs, grains or sugars in sight. My taste-buds were on overload. Everything was too sweet, too salty, too spicy. Not that I have been eating blandly, but ugh, talk about processed. And the next day all I could think about was poop and my digestive tract. I felt like my colon and my intestines were talking to me all day. You know that feeling like you have to poop but you can't - ALL DAY, ugh, it was horrendous. My Mexican meal was SO not worth it.

All in all Primal is an interesting approach, I'm enjoying it more than I anticipated and am feeling healthy, motivated and less lumpy and gluttonous. I am eating better and working out consistently, and yes, pooping well. Someone even mentioned my face looks less puffy the other day, which is a good thing I guess (she too is doing her own paleo/primal experiment, so it was a compliment from her).

Curious? Try it. Don't beat yourself up. Try the 80/20 rule or Mark's 21-day transformation. Test what you think and know, for all you know you might discover something new you like and learn more about yourself.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Info Fiend Find: 6 Types of Stress and How They Effect Weight

Great article!  We all need to identify our stressors and manage them.

October, 2015

The amount of stress and the kinds of stress in your life has a huge impact on what you should eat and also how you should exercise. 

Most people think there is only really one type of stress out there - psychological. Unfortunately in this fast-paced world we are all too well aware of mental and emotional angst and fatigue. But there are actually 6 types of stressors to the human body and mind. 

There is psychological/emotional stress, sleep deprivation stress, inflammation-induced stress, chemical stress, dietary routine and physical stress. That's a lot of stress! Well, there is good news. We can reduce these all through smart choices and clever life hacks.

1. Emotional Stress

Emotional stress corrodes the joy of life. It can flood your body with adrenaline and cortisol, which can reduce your energy levels and sex drive whilst increasing fatigue, depression and anxiety. I've found that Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or "tapping" as it's also known, is a fantastic way to release negative emotions that drag you down. And of course meditation is a must. Studies show that all types of meditation have been associated with blood pressure control, enhancement in insulin resistance and having beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system. Research also shows that emotional distress and elevated cortisol secretion promote abdominal fat while improvements in mindfulness and lowered cortisol levels were associated with reductions in abdominal fat.

2. Sleep Deprivation Stress

Let's be honest....who gets enough sleep these days? It's really difficult to be disciplined and soak up 8 hours per night. But if you have a sleep debt then small stresses at work and at home can seem overwhelming. Life becomes a hard slog mentally and emotionally. Studies also show that lack of sleep makes you eat more, age faster and hold on to fat. So turn off artificial lights an hour before bedtime, light a candle or three, have a bath with lavender, and hide the mobile phone (its ambient light overstimulates your tired brain) and slip into bed by 10/10:30pm.

3. Inflammation-Induced Stress

f you're like most people in the Western world then you're diet is stressing your body out! We're eating far too much high-salt, high-sugar processed foods like white breads and pastas, so-called convenience foods, and those Australian favourites; coffee and alcohol. Try replacing these acidic nasties with whole, clean, organic food and filtered water. Fresh fruits and vegetables and grass-fed meat and eggs will provide sustained energy levels and provide your body with the nutrients it craves. I highly recommend you follow an alkaline eating plan to combat bloating and inflammation while aiding weight loss.

4. Chemical Stress

Reducing your intake of foods that are full of additives, preservatives and numbers is a great start. But many people are unaware of how many chemicals they soak up every day through common things like body care products and make-up. Unless your skin care is natural and certified organic you are marinating in toxic chemicals. It's not uncommon for lipsticks to contain the heavy metal lead. Be aware of the ingredients of what you put in and on your body.

5. Dietary Routine Stress

Skipping meals, avoiding fats, eating carbs without protein and trying diets which are intense and limiting will cause stress to your metabolism. Eat every four hours to keep your metabolism steady otherwise you will likely struggle with cravings for sugar and caffeine. Eating for your own particular metabolic type is a fantastic way to eliminate cravings, lose weight, increase your energy and speed up your metabolism. The Metabolic Typing work by William Wolcott has been so successful with my clients, allowing them to finally understand whether their body uses mainly protein and good fats as fuel or mainly carbohydrates, and then eating accordingly.

6. Physical Stress

If you have a job which requires manual labour then be extra careful to avoid further stressing your body. Teachers who are on their feet all day or nurses who have to pick up patients should monitor how their body is coping. Exercise is a physical stress, so if you are already overly stressed, working out is just going to add more stress and use up vital nutrients. Scheduling in gentle exercise like walking or gardening to keep the body limber, hot baths at the end of a long day or even regular massages could reduce this exhausting stress.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Privilege of Choice

I was watching a documentary the other day about food and health, naturally, and while the documentary was illuminating and insightful, the lingering thought I have walked away with is, "Wow, I am privileged."

No, this is not going to be a post about how privileged I am in a "rub-it-in-your-face" sort of a way, but in a the sense that I, we are lucky. Stay with me, for a minute.....

Each year I attend the Camden International Film Festival. It is a phenomenal, small town, here in Maine, documentary film festival with films on a wide variety of topics from film makers all over the world. It is an expansive, emotional, heartfelt and a heartbreaking weekend. Where I learn so much and am exposed to so much in such a condensed time frame, that as soon as the festival is over, my butt is aching, my sciatica is screaming at me from all the sitting, I am exhausted and have gas from all the sitting and irregular eating times – all I can think is I can't wait for next year!! #CamdenIFF2016!! But again, the lingering thought I'm having this year, is "Wow, I am lucky. Wow, I am privileged."

This most recent documentary, Way Beyond Weight, which I watched curled up on my couch with my puppies, eating some delicious, now-forgotten, gluten free treat, was about obesity in children around the world, with a primary focus on South American children. So clearly there is privilege there, due to the socioeconomic difference of them and I, but that is not the privilege I am talking about. 

The privilege I noticed is around choice.

I, we, are privileged because we have a choice. We have the resources and financial capacity to have a choice in what we eat. That alone makes use privileged. The fact that we can have conversations about having a gluten intolerance, or preferring to buy organic whenever possible, or farm fresh eggs and free range, grass-fed meat....Holy crap! We are lucky!!

The fact that these are our conversations, that I have the privilege of writing a blog about food in this way, period dot makes me privileged. The fact that you are reading my blog because you too have a gluten or diary intolerance, or are just interested in learning more about food, makes you privileged in this sense. The fact that there is choice rather than eating only what is available to me is what struck me. So many of the children in the documentary didn't have a choice, because their parents didn't have a choice, due to lack of resources and money and wherewithal. These people were eating what was cheap and what tastes good, which food chemists have nailed down to science. These people are addicted to the sugar and fat and sodium and gluten in the cheap packaged foods that are widely available to them in their remote areas, because fresh vegetables and fruits don't travel well, are expensive and don't last long. They have no choice.

It broke my heart to watch these people suffer with billion dollar backed food scientists tricking their very human instinct to need sugar, fat and salt. And they don't have any external references to learn differently or know more. They barely knew what a carbohydrate was. And food labels with more "healthy" terminology actually were believed to be healthier for them. My heart sank.

So back to my sense of privilege or luck or wherewithal, or whatever you want to call it, the fact that us, as Americans, or maybe not even the typical American, but those of use who consciously choice what we eat, the quality, quantity, the source; the fact that we can reject something because of a food allergy is privileged. 

We are darn lucky to know what we know and have the resources to make these decisions. I am by no means trying to draw a line between "them and us" but there is a line created by government and food conglomerates that are preying on the underprivileged and poor around the world. 

My strong will is no better than any of the children in the documentary when it comes to eating potato chips or candy or soda, I am made of the same DNA. My body when given copious amounts of sugar, fat and salt, only wants more. It is designed that way people! It has nothing to do with strong will, that is a losing battle that food science is banking on, and actually it is down right unfair!

So those of us who know the difference, who have a choice, who make conscious buying choices, it is our responsibility to help others understand the battle we are all up against. Regardless of socioeconomic standing, with these billion dollar food science conglomerates intentionally fooling us and feeding our inner cravings that easily turn into monsters, even for the strongest willed of us. It is science and DNA and their bottom line is money and we are the sufferers.

So if you are like me, you are privileged to have a choice and subsequently make such choices, continue to do so! Each of us can be our strongest by consciously choosing where we spend our dollar. But also when given the chance to educate, it is our duty to have a better, healthier human race that is not being fooled and ultimately killed by these perpetual toxins in these packaged foods that are deigned to taste that good.