Category Archives: paleo

Cravings: Reality vs. Expectations

It’s been 6 months since I started down this Paleo journey (with an initial Whole 30) and it’s been an interesting journey but pretty positive overall. I thought I’d share my personal experience with cravings:

What I still miss:

  • popcorn, especially at the movies – we skipped the popcorn on the first few movies but we now do allow ourselves a popcorn treat the few times we go. We don’t snack on popcorn at home anymore though.
  • an occasional coke, especially the sweeter “Mexican” coke – I wasn’t a big Coke drinker but man, sometimes I really craved one. I think I’ve only a handful of Cokes since I started (I can count the number of times on one hand)
  • orange juice – this was my favorite drink and I still really miss it. I may re-introduce it occasionally and water it down with sparkling water.
  • chips & queso
  • flavorful drinks – unsweet tea, unsweet coffee and sparking water with fruit essence just gets old
  • doughnuts, especially doughnut holes

What you’d think I miss but don’t really:junk-food

  • milk – unsweetened almond milk has been a good substitute
  • my daily glass of chocolate milk for breakfast – I’ve replaced this with 2 boiled eggs
  • pizza (I’m surprised by this one)
  • rice
  • regular ice cream – because I like the coconut milk based Coconut Bliss ice cream to satiate my occasional cravings
  • cupcakes/pastries – because I can bake paleo versions that are pretty darn yummy
  • bread and other grains – occasionally I find it hard to resist some yummy rolls but so far, I’ve been pretty good
  • chips/salty snacks – we have found great root vegetable chips and plantain chips to replace potato chips & pretzels

What are your cravings and struggles when you eat healthy?

 

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What makes this journey different?

I know I am 0.8 lbs away from 30 so I won’t count it as a milestone yet but I did finally reach the 170s for the first time in a while – I weighed in at today’s official check-in at 179 lb!

I was curious though how long it had been since I had seen the 170s (2008 by the way) so I started digging through the archives of this blog since I actually have had this blog around for a while and keep track of my past attempts at losing weight in now hidden posts. Here’s a quick summary of my past journeys:

  • 2002ish – Lost ~25 lbs, from 160 lbs to 135 lb. I was 28 at the time. Not sure how long it took.shutterstock_85655215
  • 2008 – Lost ~22 lbs , from 182 to 160 lbs. I was 34. This took 7 months.
  • 2012 – Lost ~21 lbs, from 206 (my heaviest at the time) to 184. This was also over 7 months. I was 38.
  • 2016-17 – so far have lost 29.2 lbs, from 208.2 (my heaviest recorded weight) to 179. Again, 7 months. I am now 43.

So here we are, in 2017 and at a current total weight lost of almost 30 lbs over in 7 months (same time frame as 2008 & 2012) and it’s the most weight I’ve lost. Now, some people may get discouraged looking back at my history. Seems like I can consistently lose 20 lbs every few years. But why do I feel like this may be different this time? Well, let’s look at what I was doing the first three times.

I basically followed Weight Watcher rules. I didn’t enroll officially in the program the first time in 2002 but I got some WW books, read up on what to eat and what not to eat and unofficially “counted” my points. In 2008 and 2012 I did sign-up for the mobile app and more clearly “counted” my points, diligently recording everything I ate and drank every single day of those 7 months. Was it miserable? Not really. Was it tedious? Hell yes. So yes, Weight Watchers’ point system does work. But for me, it was not a sustainable model. I can’t live the rest of my life counting points and recording everything I eat. It did help me choose better and healthier options but it still let me treat myself with some bad stuff too easily (for example, if I starve myself most of the day, I’d have enough points for that donut) because technically, nothing is off limits in Weight Watchers as long as you have the points to eat it.

0042bdd88e05e5347cb12e43ccd8151cSo on this fourth round I’ve changed strategies. Paleo-Dairy is now how I eat and I only call it a diet in the strictest definition of a diet – not a weight loss process but a way of eating. No more points to track. No need to record what I eat. It’s great. It has helped immensely that my husband is eating this way as well (before he was not following Weight Watchers with me). Our pantry and fridge look completely different than they did a year ago and this is a good thing. It’s hard to “cheat” when all you have in the house is compliant and OK to eat. No need to hoard points to have stuff I like since my tastes have changed (and hell, I can still eat all the bacon I want). No need to look at restaurant menus before going out to figure out what I can eat within the number of points I have left for the day. Now I just check to make sure the menu has some options I can make paleo or close to paleo and 99% of them do so it’s not an issue even.

So it may have taken me 15 years but I hope I won’t be re-starting this blog in another 4 years at another 200 lb+ start point. Can I guarantee it? No. I have no idea what is in my future. All I can do is live in the here and now and at this moment, this Paleo-Diary lifestyle is offering me a delicious and satisfying way of losing weight and has helped create a healthier way of eating for me that I hope will last me the rest of my life.

The reality is that each time I’ve gone down the weight loss path, I was always optimistic and cheerful as I lost weight, just as I am now – but why didn’t I maintain it? It will be interesting to see if it was my method, not my motivation. Check back in 4 years. 🙂

Surviving the Holidays and NYC

Happy New Year everyone!

img_2305I’ve been kind of quiet on the weight loss/Paleo stuff because I’ve been busy but we are still following it for the most part. We got off track a bit during the holidays with all the treats that were floating around but it’s a new year and we are back to being stricter once again.

Despite the indulgences I didn’t fare too badly and have actually continued to lose weight week after week in very small amounts except for the 2nd week in December. Granted, the weekly losses are very, very small (0.2 lbs) but the number continues to go down so that’s what counts. Hopefully a re-set will make those weekly losses a little bigger again.

I went a bit crazy last week too as a final ‘hurrah’. It was a girls’ trip to the Big Apple with my best friend and part of the process of introducing her to New York was to also introduce her to some of the classic food like cheesecake and pizza.

The final damage from NYC? A loss of 0.2 lbs. I guess walking over 7 miles a day (one of those days through snow all day) counteracts all the non-Paleo food I ate like a mini scone, bagel bite, Mudslide, Chocolate Martini, various other cocktails, breakfast burrito, New York style pizza, cheesecake, tiramisu, Shake Shack burger and fries (oh, and a delicious Coke) and a daily Starbucks Holiday Spice Flat White (made with almond milk) (hey, it was cold out there!). I think only one breakfast and a couple of dinners were somewhat paleo friendly.

Suffice to say, better choices are in my future but it’s nice to know that I can indulge a bit while on vacation and still come out OK. Between this trip and my Las Vegas trip in the fall it seems that the added activity helps make up for the vacation treats and I don’t mess up my process too badly. The next big test will be our upcoming 10 day trip to Spain next month. We are traveling with our friends and Paleo buds, EJ & Sherry, so at least together as a group we can help each other make better choices.

So here’s to 2017 and continued success!

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25 lbs down and counting…

Sorry I haven’t been posting – I’m so busy during the holiday season!! We had a great Paleo Thanksgiving with Sherry & EJ – Sherry wrote a nice blog post on what we had. Sherry picked the recipes and Kenny made three of them – the cranberry sauce (which was declared the best tasting cranberry sauce he’d ever had), the green bean casserole (the cream of mushroom soup made as a base for the casserole was delicious on its own) and the sweet potato casserole. Everything was delicious and out of 9 adults attending, 6 of us are eating Paleo.

I treated myself to some honey cider but I did skip the Paleo desserts Sherry made. All in all, it was delicious and just as satisfying as any traditional Thanksgiving meal. And even better, I still stayed on track with my weight loss!
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Speaking of weight loss. I had a few weeks of negligible weight loss. I wasn’t getting discouraged but was eager to keep losing weight of course. Due to a crisis at work, the team I am on had to put in some extra hours. The project lead was feeding us but one day it was pizza. I gave in and had 2 slices of pizza – the first I had had since July. I even caved under the stress and had a donut and a kolache. I thought I had doomed my weight loss for the week but I in fact I still lost weight. In fact, I think it helped bump me from the virtual standstill because in the weeks since my transgressions I lost almost 3 lbs. and reached another milestone of mine – losing 25 lbs.

So, I am encouraged once again and feel good that the Paleo diet is still working for me. That despite not meal planning like I should be due to the holiday craziness (and eating out more than I should), I am still on track and losing weight at a steady and healthy rate. I have minimal cravings and I am thrilled that I have been able to keep some dairy (mostly cheese) in my diet without adverse effects. I look forward to maybe being in the 170s for our holiday party this weekend and I can’t wait to wear a cute a fitted dress that shows off my 27+ lbs lost! It’s a nice way to start my 43rd year (my birthday is next week).

Health Check

I recently had my annual exam and I asked my doctor to re-do my blood work because I was curious to see if and how my numbers had been affected by the change in diet. This page and this page helped me understand my numbers a bit better. Here they are:

Cholesterol / HDL Ratio (reference range 3.90 – 5.80)
Oct 2016: 3.28
Oct 2015: 5.08

I was within range but on the higher end. It’s nice to see the number drop to the low end of this range.

Cholesterol LVL (reference range <=199 mg/dL)
Oct 2016: 151 mg/dL
Oct 2015: 183 mg/dL

My total cholesterol has always been in an optimal range but it’s nice to see it drop further.

LDL (optimal range <=99 mg/dL) (“bad” cholesterol)
Oct 2016: 84 mg/dL
Oct 2015: 105 mg/dL

My bad cholesterol was just above the optimal range but that has now fallen to within the best acceptable range. Woohoo!

HDL Cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) (optimal range >=61 mg/dL; moderate if it’s between 40-60; at risk below 40; women should have it higher than men at at least 50)
Oct 2016: 46 mg/dL
Oct 2015: 36 mg/dL

My good cholesterol always seems to be too low and out of optimal range. It still is but at least it is going up and getting closer to a better number. Research tells me that the way to raise this number is to stop smoking (I never have), eating better (I now am) and cardio exercise. So I guess I need to work on that 3rd option, huh.

Triglycerides (reference range <=149 mg/dL; high is >200 mg/dL)
Oct 2016: 106 mg/dL
Oct 2015: 211 mg/dL

This number was practically cut in half and I am now in optimal range – yay! I didn’t even realize I had been so high.

VLDL (reference range <30 mg/dL)
Oct 2016: 21
Oct 2015: 42

I had to research this a little. It’s a calculated not measure number but this article says it needs to be under 30. It seems that I was above that number last year but I am now in the optimal range. This is the 3rd number that went from being too high to falling into an optimal range.

In conclusion, ALL of my numbers have improved over the past year. I don’t have definitive proof of course but I think it is safe to say that the weight loss and change in diet I made in the past 4 months were significant factors in helping these numbers improve!

And bonus? Because of Paleo, I’ve eaten more bacon than usual and the numbers are still down – because as it is being shown, current nutritional advice is based on bad science and it’s a myth that food fat makes you fat and raises your cholesterol!

20 lbs down! Woohoo!

keep-calm-i-lost-20-lbsI did it – I hit my 20 lbs down mark – I made it before Halloween (which was my unofficial date in my head) and I am now in the 180s! Yay!

I think we are finding our stride with this paleo diet. I meal plan one week but then get lazy the next. It works though because we have found some easy to prepare paleo meals (baked fish, grilled sausages, Instant Pot meals, egg frittatas) so when I don’t meal plan we can whip something together. I’ve figured out what we do eat and what we don’t and with that in mind keep some recipe staples in the pantry and fridge, even if I have not done any meal-planning, I keep these items on hand:

  • sweet potatoes, a variety of onions (pre-chopped and whole), butternut and/or spaghetti squash, plantains, Brussels sprouts or asparagus
  • bacon (sugar-free), sausage, ground beef (grass fed), pork roast, fish filets and chicken (organic if possible)
  • apples (eaten with almond  butter), raspberries and grapes for snacking and lemons for cooking with
  • pre-boiled & peeled eggs for a quick breakfast to-go
  • almond milk
  • eggs
  • cans of flavored sparkling water, cold brew coffee we make ourselves, unsweet tea

I’m cooking more than I ever have in the past and now feel comfortable making meals on my own without Kenny’s help (although we do work together on most recipes). I’m snacking a little less than I used to so that is also good and just not having tempting non-paleo foods in the house makes it easy to stay on track. If I get hungry and Kenny is not around, I can cook up a quick meal of bacon and fried eggs or sausages and a quick side of some sort. For the occasional sweet cravings, we keep a couple of pints of paleo-friendly Coconut Bliss ice cream and we always have some sort of berries on hand to snack on. I’ve limited trying to bake paleo sweets since they may be compliant but they too still have to be eaten in moderation. And one of the bigger changes is that I went from eating out every day at work to bringing my lunch almost every day. Now I only eat out at work about once a week on average and even then, I still eat paleo. It helps that most recipes have more than two servings so most meals we cook for dinner have enough for leftovers for several days after. That means we really only have to cook about 3 major meals a week. We can live the rest of the week off of leftovers, quick small meals and eating out (typically on the weekend when we are out running errands).

So, paleo has become just another part of our daily routine. Is it a little more tedious than lazily eating like we used to? Sure it is but not so tedious and difficult that it was hard to integrate into our current lifestyle once we got into the swing of things. The key to making it work for us I think is having some flexibility and like I said above, finding some quick meals for the inevitable times when we were tired or had a busy week. The food is also tasty and filling and I am enjoying the benefits. I look forward to seeing more results in the future too. I have my annual physical exam next week and I hope my doctor is happily surprised with the weight loss!

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Never say Never

My dear friend Sherry’s recent blog post inspired me to write this post. She talks about the reality that not everything we will eat will be 100% paleo. Her husband EJ also writes about “cheat days” and I liked how he refuses to call them cheat days.  Both of their posts resonated with me because if you get it in your head that you must be 100% compliant, you are doomed to fail. Every bite that passes your lips will most likely not be all compliant and that is perfectly OK.

That being said, this does not give you the leeway to go off course in radical ways. Rather, you can adjust and make the best choices possible. Our trip to Las Vegas proved to me to that I had the tools to do just that. We had some some non-paleo meals (and cocktails) but we did not go completely overboard. We had reasonable portions and made better choices (wine & cider vs. sugar loaded cocktails) that may not have been strictly paleo but aligned with some of the same concepts. If you are sticking on the diet pretty strictly most of the time, you can have these non-paleo treats without major consequence and it helps satiate some cravings.

Let me clarify though: don’t treat these meals as rewards but rather occasional treats. Treating these as rewards is not the right mindset. Eating paleo should not be seen as a chore or punishment, therefore following your paleo lifestyle should not involve a treat-based reward system. Eating paleo should simply be part of your healthier lifestyle and non-compliant meals are just the reality of living in a world that is not all eating paleo like you are.never-say-never-lettering_23-2147522687

Just as you should not call these non-compliant meals “rewards”, I agree with EJ that they should also not be called “cheats”. The term is negative and does not help in your mindset. It sounds like you have lost control but you don’t have to. Like I said above, you can make better choices and mitigate the consequences of the non-compliant meal. Ways to do this include:

  • Make sure the rest of the meal is as compliant as possible and don’t let the entire meal be non-complaint.
  • Think about how rare a treat this is. Is it a unique meal or food you can’t get anywhere else? If not, maybe resist the temptation for another day.
  • Add extra activity (for example, we walk way more than we typically do when we are on vacation).
  • Limit your portions or quantities – have one cookie or glass of wine, not several.
  • Have just a couple of bites or share the dessert/appetizer instead of eating the whole thing.
  • When you go non-compliant, try to follow some paleo rules like eating freshly made food with high quality ingredients you can still pronounce.
  • Avoid back to back non-compliant meals or treats.

Finally, never say never. If I had to say “I’ll never eat this”, I’d be pretty discouraged. Now, I don’t say “never” but rather “some day”. This helps me be way more patient and it helps me make better choices knowing that if I stay the course, I can take a paleo-break every now & then. For example, I miss popcorn at the movies but have not given in yet. I will someday though, as a treat. *

* I’ll let you in on a secret – I love candy corn which is the embodiment of everything paleo is not. I have allowed myself ONE piece of candy corn a week through Halloween. And I savor every tiny bite, LOL.

 

 

Maintaining

Hi img_0048everyone! Sorry it’s been a few weeks since my last check in! I am still doing well. I hit a 20 lb weight loss but I don’t want to count it as official yet since I can’t seem to stay at that weight – I keep stubbornly hovering around 189-191 (188 would be 20 lbs). The pic to the left though was taken a couple of weeks ago as I shopped for new exercise pants. I was happy to be able to purchase Large instead of XL!

Either way, I still feel good and am still eating paleo* as much as possible. I don’t meal plan as much as I should be but I’ve been stocking the pantry and fridge with enough paleo staples that we can whip together a good meal without too much issue. All of our meals at home are paleo and I am still bringing my paleo lunch to work 4 times a week most weeks (I try to go out once a week with a co-worker but then I still pick paleo lunch options). I am also still going to my Pilates class twice a week.

This past week I have gone more off-paleo than normal (maybe even more than when we were in Vegas?) because I really didn’t have any options and I was hungry. I had a lady finger and a biscuit at a garden club meeting (we were tasting teas and it was part of the experience) and at a work luncheon yesterday the chicken meal they offered had a risotto side that I ate about 2/3rds of. I also ate the berries off of the dessert with a little bit of whipped cream and some type of syrup. So yea, those have been my worst non-paleo choices and to be honest, I was still moderate about those.

Oh – and does ONE candy corn count too? :O

Despite that – and I know it sounds like I was being nit-picky about those minor transgressions – I know these choices will not derail me. The “bad” choices were pretty darn small when 97% of everything else I am eating is compliant *.

I also wanted to share some of these “quickly whipped together meals” we have had when we didn’t meal plan:

    • sausage with Brussels sprouts & bacon
    • scallops cooked in butter with cauliflower au gratin side dish (non paleo recipe I made with paleo ingredients)
    • spaghetti squash spaghetti using sugar-free compliant bottled pasta sauce & ground beef

I have a bunch of posts sitting in draft mode because I do have lots of thoughts to share so please be patient with me. Upcoming topics will be about paleo shopping at Costco, paleo recipe substitutions, eating out while paleo, thoughts on Pilates, paleo pantry staples, more info on our version of paleo (see note below) and even another recipe or two. I will work on getting them out of draft mode and actually make them published entries!

* I wanted to take a moment here to define our version of paleo: potatoes are allowed but are limited; cheese is also allowed as a garnish but it too is limited and we choose artisanal cheeses while avoiding the more processed cheeses. We use honey and maple syrup. We use store-bought unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I pick a brand that has the least amount of additives) in moderation. We also do still drink alcohol at social occasions but choose red wines and sugar-free ciders if we do decide to drink.

More progress

I’m not quite there yet – but I’m so close to the 180’s!! So close!!! When I do that will be 18 lbs down. My next goal is 20 lbs down by Halloween which should be completely doable. After missing Pilates while I was traveling in Las Vegas and then missing my first class back because I was sick, I am back at it.

Nothing much new to report here but did want to share a few recipes I’ve enjoyed making recently…

Luby’s Baked Almondine Fishimg_5650

  • If you are from Texas or live in Texas, you might recognize the name Luby’s. It’s a regional cafeteria chain and if you know me in person, you know my very personal connection to it,. This is a paleo version of one of their more popular fish dishes so I had to try it,
  • This was tastier than I had expected.
  •  I didn’t have sliced almonds so I had to pick out whole almonds from a nut mix I had. I will use almond slices next time. 🙂
  • I used fish that I already had in the freezer which was tilapia. I know this is not the best fish so I have bought arctic cod for my next attempt.
  • The lemon zest gave it great flavor.

Gluten Free Shepherd’s Pie

  • I topped it with sweet potatoes instead of potatoes. It was good but the amount of butter in the original recipe was too much for the sweet potatoes so I will use less next time.
  •  I also added chopped celery (2 stalks) since we had some. I thought it was a great addition.
  • The recipe was not difficult but it took a lot of time – not counting the prep time, sauteing and browning time, it needs 40 minutes to simmer and another 20 minutes in the oven. This was tasty enough to make again but I think I’ll do it on the weekend instead of after work. Buying pre-chopped onions did help a little.

Hopefully next time I report in I’ll be at another milestone! Till then…

I survived Vegas!

We just got back from our first vacation since starting eating paleo and I was a bit worried. We went to Las Vegas and rules were broken several times… The first couple of days were for a work conference and the lunches brought in were not paleo friendly. But, I did the best I could. I resisted the pizza and the mid-day snacks (all sugar heavy candy bars, protein bars, cookies and rice crispies), I took apart the sandwich, burger and hot dog to avoid the bread and buns, I skipped on the pasta salad, and I avoided soda. Breakfast was the only course where I had no issues – I readily enjoyed the scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and fresh fruit.

Once the work aspect was done, I still worked on choosing as best as I could. Here are some of our meals:

  • Had an exceptionally good Parmesan crusted pork loin and crispy Brussels sprouts & potatoes appetizer (malt vinegar aioli dipping sauce was not paleo but was yummy) at the Yard House.
  • Had a great wild mushroom & goat cheese omelet (the mushrooms were cooked in truffle butter) with breakfast potatoes in downtown Vegas at a place called Glutton (with an amazing seasonal watermelon salad)
  • Enjoyed escargot (with a slice of dinner bread), French onion soup, filet mignon and french fries at Mon Ami Gabi
  • Had a yummy bacon appetizer and another great filet mignon with roasted asparagus at HEXX
  • Enjoyed a delicious mushroom soup and grilled salmon at Mercato della Pescheria in The Venetian.
  • I focused on the seafood at Rio’s Carnival World Buffet – but cheated with a taste of some creme brulee & some delicious mango gelato

Alcohol – here is where I just cheated. I chose ciders or wine more often but did give in to a few cocktails like something called a Blue Envy, a margarita from the Flamingo and the Alexxa at HEXX.

Additional cheats – we were hungry so we had a fruit-only smoothie at Jamba Juice and I did pick a couple of chocolates at the Jean Philippe Patisserie in the Aria. But those were bite-sized and were all dark chocolate so I don’t even count them as cheats.

So what was the damage? Believe it not, I actually lost weight! I am 0.4 lbs lighter than when I left on vacation! Woohoo! But how?

Well – we walked. A lot. Like my Apple Watch usually only tracks about 2500 steps for me on a regular day and it tracked between 8500 to as much as over 18,000 steps one day. That is over 3-4 times more activity a day than average. Just walking to the parking garage was about 1/2 a mile. We spent one afternoon at Valley of the Fire State Park, another day visiting Hoover Dam and walking between casinos and up and down the Strip can add up.

So even though we had some cheat meals and we did drink, the extra activity helped ensure that the cheats did not hit me too hard. And I’ve learned that even though I still have to make some good dining choices, the extra activity inherent in vacationing that involves sight-seeing helps keep those cheats off the weight scale.

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