Few more to go…

Ok, it’s been about a week and a half since we got back from our trip and I’ve still got a few pounds to lose.

E.J. was able to drop all of his trip weight within about a week – lucky bastard.  I did everything he did and mine not only came off slower, but are still sticking around.  I think this is what they mean when they say it’s harder for women to lose weight than men.

That being said, I have been running every other day or so without too much trouble, and and I’m happy to no longer feel swollen all over.  My right knee gave me a little grief after my 5k this morning, but I’ll give it an extra day or two before my next run and it will hopefully be good to go.

On the cooking front, this weekend I went the lazy route because I felt like I needed some quality time with my fur baby, Buddy, who really missed us when we were gone on our trip (how can I resist that face?).  I threw some ribs in the smoker which got paired with sweet potato halves in the instant pot.  Then made this Italian Pot Roast in the slow cooker, and one of E.J.s favorites, the Instant Pot Paleo Chicken Tikka Masala paired with caulirice.

Friday will be the big traditional St. Paddy’s Day viewing of The Boondock Saints with Irish Dinner.  I am so glad Sam’s & Costco now carry almond flour for a reasonable price, because I’ve got about 4 loaves of Irish Soda Bread to make Thursday and Friday!

10 lbs, No Regrets

If you haven’t been following along on Paleo Marine’s blog, then you wouldn’t know that my 2 week absence from posting was because of a fabulous trip to Spain.  Spain – the land of hot chocolate & churros, crusty bread, pastries, paella, turrones, sangria, and the list goes on and on.  Interestingly enough, there were actually a lot of Paleo-friendly delicacies we enjoyed while we were there including the sliced Iberian hams, the potato “tortilla” omlettes, suckling pig, duck, steak, etc, but above all, I simply just ate too much of everything.  Yeah, all told the damage was about 10 lbs and a dress size up – but after 2 days of “normal” Paleo eating, things are already getting a little more comfortable.

Could I have done better while travelling?  Absolutely.  But my philosophy on travel (especially overseas) is to take the opportunity to experience as much local cuisine and culture as possible while I have the chance.  While I feel a little guilty about all of the carbs I managed to consume during those 11 days, I most certainly would have felt cheated if I had denied myself the opportunity to taste some of those amazing treats (sometimes twice!).

All in all, my choice to eat a Paleo diet is just that – my chosen “regular” eating method. I’ve been doing it so long now that anything else feels weird, and actually kinda uncomfortable.  I admit to having trouble sleeping, being really bloated, and having intestinal issues as a result of my binge, so honestly I was happy and ready to go back to my “normal” eating patterns upon returning.  I think that’s the beauty of where E.J. and I are now in our Paleo journey.  It’s not really a “thing” anymore – but is instead just “back to normal”.

That’s a pretty amazing thing all in itself…

 

Another one bites the dust…

Alright, I’ll confess – I didn’t make it to day 30.  I got to 25 and between the travel and the stress, I just couldn’t make it the last 5 days.  Part of me is really disappointed – I was hoping I could hold out to the end, but sometimes you just gotta lose a battle to win the war.

I haven’t come off of Paleo, short of a few dishes over the weekend with some dairy in them, but I have reintroduced some honey and maple syrup here and there, and the scale shows it.   I’m determined to learn from my latest Whole30 experience, however, and limit my sugar intake a little better than I did over the holidays.

In other news, I had my best 5k run time ever (beat my Jingle Bell Run time) on Saturday, and am feeling pretty good otherwise.

If you’re still hanging in there for the last few days, I applaud you!  Keep it up!

Whole 30 Week #3

Ok, I thought last week was hard, but I was wrong.  This week was actually the worst – and it really didn’t have as much to do with the diet as it did the job, but that’s when I miss sweets the most.

I mentioned last week that the low energy was getting to me.  That and an an unexpected upward swing on the scale had me ready to chuck the whole thing.  I was tired, grumpy, and just wanted some damn chocolate.

Then finally on Friday morning, I woke up before my alarm with a decent amount of energy.  I had a great run (best one I think in months) and finally felt like I had turned a corner.  The day seemed to be going so well at work too – I had managed to handle the current crises, had a clear plan and a communicated vision to the team… only to get some really bad news at the tail end of the day right before I headed home.  Sigh.

Why did I decide to do a Whole30 during the busiest month of the year?  I must be slightly unhinged.

At least we had some good food this week:

Next week I’ll be travelling for work for a couple of days, so we’ll see how well I’m able to stick to plan.

Is it over yet?  A glass of wine would be the ticket right about now.

 

January Reboot: Whole30 #3

Ok folks, it’s Jan 3.  If you’re like me, you got on the scale this morning and cringed.  Clothes are just a bit tighter, energy levels are down, and wouldn’t some maple syrup-drowned paleo waffles be awesome right about now, even though you just finished your healthy breakfast a couple of hours ago??

Time for the proverbial January kick in the ass.

Time to throw away or freeze the paleo goodies (or the ones your friends brought over), and reset.

Time to give the maple syrup, coconut sugar, and local raw honey a rest.

It’s time for another Whole30.

I know, I know – you were pretty good over the holidays – you avoided the egg nog and milk-laden hot cocoa (mostly because you knew what  it would do to your stomach), and you only ate one or two regular cookies at the holiday party – but I bet if you’re like me, the portion sizes kept creeping up, and the Paleo goodies were sitting right there on the counter and then there was the wine…. yeah.  We won’t talk about the wine.

So, what’s done is done, and it’s time to get back into those good habits you had before all of the holiday crazy kicked in.  Back to regular exercise – maybe even adding some new ones, and kicking the sugar dragon’s ass one more time.

Who knows, maybe we’ll find some new favorite recipes we can enjoy all year long.

Who’s with me?

 

Falling off the Wagon Gracefully

This weekend, E.J. and I had short vacation in Nacogdoches, TX where we went zip-lining, hiking, and shopping.  We also fell off the wagon a little bit, which is honestly bound to happen occasionally.  As tough as E.J. is on sticking to his plan, travel (especially for vacation) just requires a little leeway.  What’s interesting though is HOW we choose to go off the rails, now that we’ve been Paleo for over a year.

First, it is done with great care and consideration.  Neither of us mindlessly eats junk anymore. We think about each option and opportunity, and consciously choose when we’re going to eat something off-plan.  Here are a few of the things that go through my mind when I’m making that decision:

  • When was the last time I had this food?  Is there a Paleo analogue that I’ve enjoyed recently?  Am I likely to have the opportunity to have it again in the future?  Local delicacies and special occasions or holidays warrant some extra consideration too.  (i.e. when they buy you a cake for your birthday at work, you eat a small piece of cake.  Period.)
  • When was the last time I had something non-Paleo?  Today?  Last Week?  Last month?  When on vacation, I try not to be bad more than once a day, and even every other day if possible.
  • Am I willing to suffer the intestinal consequences of this choice?  At this point, every time I eat something off the plan, I end up with bloating at a minimum, and in many cases, severe abdominal pain, nausea, and/or gas.  Is the food I want to eat really worth it?

Generally, these internal questions guide me away from the common junk (chips & salsa, pasta, rice, bread, etc) and allow me to only step out of bounds when the occasion truly calls for it.  This weekend, we stayed at a bed and breakfast where the breakfast included biscuits and pancakes.  Was it worth it?  Yes, if for no other reason than because it pleased the grandmotherly lady that ran the place (though they really were delicious), but I certainly suffered for it afterward.  I was glad to be back on-plan today.  I just feel so much better when I stay the course.

Paleo Prep Shortcuts

This weekend marks the beginning of the Fall busy season for E.J. and I.  We have some kind of activity or even scheduled every weekend from now through mid-December, which means it’s going to be tough to find time to do full-on meal prep Sundays.  For E.J and I, meal prepping weekends have been crucial to our success, so how do we find the time to squeeze in 3 or 4 dishes of cooking with all of the other weekend work?   Here are some of my meal prep shortcuts:

  • Instant Pot – If you haven’t yet jumped on the Instant Pot craze, you should definitely look into it.  I use mine every weekend, mostly for making quick vegetable sides (sweet potatoes, beets, etc), but I’ve also cooked a whole chicken and done some stews in it. In less than an hour – this one is a huge time saver and doesn’t use the oven or stove, so it’s great for multitasking.
  • Slow Cooker – If you’re going to be out all day (sporting events, fairs, band performances) the Crock Pot is the way to go.  Chili, pot roast, chicken, pulled pork, lasagna, etc. – this one is great for starting it in the morning (or load the insert the night before and put it in the fridge before starting the cook in the morning) and letting it do the work for you all day.
  • Electric Smoker – Like the slow cooker, low and slow 225 degree smoking is really easy and can be left going all day while you’re out and about.  Brisket, Ribs, and Pork shoulder all need more than 7 hours of smoking time, which is good for set and forget cooking.  Of course, it’s better if you can put a little more wood on it throughout the smoking process, but it still works even if it’s unattended.  Just make sure it’s nice an low heat for safety.
  • Frozen Meals – Sometimes there’s just no time to cook at all, and this is when it’s great to have some frozen meals ready to just thaw, heat and eat.  Soup, chili, sausage, fish, and shrimp are great for this approach, and are also a great way to add some variety in the middle of the week if some of your weekend prep meals are starting to bore you.
  • Ultimate Cheat: Buy it Cooked – this weekend we headed out to Luling, TX for an Intro to Hang Gliding class (it was a blast, I highly recommend it) and decided to just stay the night in San Antonio rather than drive back to Houston.  We knew it would likely be 5 or 6pm by the time we got home, and since we stayed the night, there wasn’t an opportunity to start something in a smoker or slow cooker.  So what’s a Paleo food prepper to do?  BBQ for the win!  Most of the BBQ houses that you buy from out in the country make and season their own meats and don’t put in all of the additives that you get in the grocery store.  Many times just a quick ask of their ingredients in sausage and rubs will tell you if they add sugar or not, and if not, you’re golden.  Make sure you have cash in hand for the best deal, but if you can buy 4-8 lbs of meat and then Instant Pot & oven roast some veggies to go with it, you’re good to go for your whole week.

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Today is our 1 year anniversary of when we started our Paleo journey.  E.J. and I have been through a lot of changes this year – not just with the lifestyle changes and weight loss, but also with our careers.  I can honestly say I took some giant leaps out of my comfort zone in the last year, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the result.  I’ve managed to achieve 2 really big goals of mine all in the span of that year, and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish in the next.

Comfort-zone-small

Here are some important life lessons I’ve learned in the last year:

  • Fat doesn’t make me fat – In fact, for me, eating foods with natural fat keep me fuller longer, and makes digestion easier
  • Sugar is not as awesome as I used to think, and I actively choose to avoid it – In the beginning, I wasn’t sure I could actually stop eating sugary foods.  I had such a strong sugar addiction that I had incredibly nasty withdrawal symptoms during my Whole30, and really struggled to find ways to cope with stress that didn’t involve something sweet.  I can say that I still get cravings occasionally today, but I have found that a small paleo treat after dinner every 2 or 3 days is my “sweet” spot as it were.  Anything more than that (like the sugar overload I allowed myself on my birthday this week) and I’m dealing with bloating, shaking, acne, and stomach aches.  So I know my limits, understand the consequences, and feel like I can actively choose when to treat myself, and when I just don’t want to deal with it.  That for me is a breakthrough – I’m in control for the first time in my life.
  • I can maintain a lower weight without exercise – This seems like a simple thing, but to me, it was a huge revelation.  When my job situation changed this summer, my stress-level went through the roof and my schedule changed.  I wasn’t sleeping well on top, so getting up and running in the morning wasn’t happening.  Initially, I was getting a bit depressed, thinking that all of the hard work I had done over the year was going to be wasted, but I didn’t gain the weight back.  In fact I still lost, just much more slowly by just continuing my new eating habits and limiting the sugar.
  • I can go off the rails for special occasions and get back on again – Again, this is something that people often worry about and struggle with.  I’ve certainly fallen “off the wagon” in previous diets which led to scrapping the entire effort.  But at this point, with this effort, I can say that eating sugary foods and breads truly feels like an exception, and I while I don’t regret my choices, I look forward to getting back to “normal” because of how much better I feel.
  • Life is better without junk food – I think I spent the majority of my life so far not really believing that concept.  I believed that junk food was one of life’s great happiness-generators, and that my life was richer because I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  But this is a bit of a lie, or at least a half-truth.  The truth is that while I do miss a few junky foods, I don’t feel like my life is unfulfilled because I’ve removed them from my regular diet.  The way I see it, they’re like an amusement park – fun to visit now and then, but generally less enjoyable and downright ugly to live there long term.  I look and feel so much better than I ever have, and so many of my ailments have cleared up, that I’m not just ok with not eating the junk, but I’m glad I don’t anymore.

I hope some or all of these revelations speak to you in some way, and that you will consider making a change in your life that takes you outside of your comfort zone.  I’m sure glad I did!

Whole 30 Revisited…

After all of the parties and barbecues and fun times this summer, my poor body has been screaming at the amount of sugar I have allowed to creep back into my diet… granted most of it was honey or maple syrup, but even that can add up when it  becomes a regular thing.

To be fair, I have been incredibly stressed with the new job, and when I’m stressed, I have historically turned to junk food.  Fortunately my paleo diet had allowed me to have sugary treats when I felt I most needed them without gaining any weight on the scale, but a couple of weekends of drinking wine, and a couple more of eating sweet potato chips, cheeses, paleo fruit pie, and Paleo Strawberry Lemonade had left me feeling swollen, tired, plagued with some nasty facial acne, and a little bit out of control.  The scale said everything was fine, but my body told me it wasn’t.

When E.J. and I started our diet in September last year, I remember reading about people who would do 2nd and 3rd Whole 30’s or would schedule them annually like checkups, but given the misery I went through the first time, I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to do it again, much less regularly.  Well, here I am, just coming up on our 1 year anniversary (Sept 1), and I actually feel the need to do it again.

So after E.J’s birthday celebration, I went 1 day without sugar, then another… and I didn’t die.  In fact other than being a little more hungry since I wasn’t snacking, I felt way better. So, I told E.J. that second day that I was going to do another Whole 30, and that it was ok if he didn’t want to do it with me – but being E.J. of course he did.  So now we’re on day 6, and the acne has cleared up, my clothes fit better, my fingers don’t feel like sausages anymore, and I just feel normal again.

It’s absolutely amazing how much difference it makes when I eliminate my sugar intake…I can’t quite get my head around it, but I’ll let you know if I have any more insight as we go.

To support us this week, I tried some new recipes, and so far they’ve been really good:

  • Ancho Chile Mexican Meatballs – I did a double-batch of this recipe, and used a mix of pork and beef in the meatballs to give some extra flavor – this one is really yummy, and I will definitely make it again!
  • Buffalo Chicken Casserole – If you love buffalo wings, you will love this one.  I didn’t realize buffalo sauces like Frank’s are naturally Whole 30 compliant, but it is and it makes for some really flavorful dishes… especially when eaten with paleo ranch dressing.
  • Paleo Sausage Sweet Potato Frittata – Sugar-free chorizo makes everything awesome.  In this case, that plus caramelized onions makes for a flavorful lunch or breakfast option.

We also smoked a brisket, slow cooked some sweet potatoes, and Instant-Potted some beets for more options.

I guess the moral of the story for me is to simply listen to my body.  E.J. talks about it a lot on his blog, but I often stop hearing it when life’s stresses are getting to me.  If I’m going to maintain this lifestyle for the rest of my life then I need to learn how to listen, even when the going gets tough… maybe especially then.

Hungarian Paleo

This weekend was Father’s day weekend, and in addition to celebrating E.J. and the awesome dad that he is, we have visitors staying with us from Sweden & The Netherlands, so I decided to partner with our daughter, Gelli, to do a full Hungarian dinner to showcase some of our family traditions.

This is the first time I have actually attempted to make Hungarian food because E.J. is such a great cook, especially when it comes to his family’s recipes. But Gelli has absorbed a lot of the techniques over the years, so I figured she could help me out in some of the more complicated areas.  The real kicker was that I was determined to make the whole thing Paleo compliant and I also had to make sure it was nut-free, because one of our guests has severe nut allergies…. Challenge Accepted.

The menu consisted of:palacsinta

  • Gooseliver pate on toast
  • Escargot
  • Cucumber salad
  • Chicken Paprikás with Nokedli
  • Palacsinta (Hungarian Crepes)

The only total failure of the project was my attempt at a Paleo baguette loaf using cassava flour – although the dough smelled nice and yeasty, it was way to thick and never managed to get fluffy at all and ended up as a solid rock-like substance with a gooey center… which landed with a thud into my trash can.

So to fulfill the requirement for Paleo bread, I ended up just leaving it to the professionals at Fox Hill Kitchens and used some of their bagels I had frozen.  The Gooseliver and Escargot were naturally compliant – I sauteed the snails in butter with garlic and salt.  The cucumber salad is typically made with white vinegar, sugar, and salt, so I added a little honey to the dressing in place of the granulated sugar and it turned out great.

The Chicken Paprikas is actually Paleo to begin with – sauteed onion, pepper, and tomato with salt and paprika, chicken stock & chicken breasts simmered on the stove until done.  The only non-compliant addition was some fully natural sour cream added to the stock to form the sauce.  I served it on the side so it could be added with discretion.

The Nokedli (Hungarian spaetzle-like noodles) actually worked better than I had anticipated.  We used the cassava flour spaetzle recipe on this beef stroganoff from Girl Meets Grassfed and Gelli pressed the noodles through the form into the boiling water using the same method as traditional noodles.

Finally, we crowned the whole meal with grain-free crepes filled with a honey-sweetened strawberry compote and topped with melted Enjoy Life chocolate chips and coconut oil. Gelli is the palacsinta queen, and although the dough didn’t really behave like regular crepes, she did a great job!

All in all, I’m happy with the results, and E.J. was happy to be able to enjoy Hungarian food within the parameters of our diet.