Posted in Crafty, Fitness, Life + Living

Sketching, not sketchy; hotels

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I guess one good thing to come out of the last week is that my muse is back. I’ve been sketching and drawing…and realising just how out of practice I really am. I’ve been enjoying myself, though, and happily sharing my works with others.  Specifically one of my guildies who keeps me supplied with ample music to draw to…

I even brought my sketch book with me to South Dakota, where Jeff and I will be helping my sister’s family move into their new house.  I’d be drawing right now except for the fact that it’s the 5 o’clock hour and Jeff is asleep. The whole room is dark, and I’m writing this from my phone.

It’s actually a shame that I’m up, but it couldn’t be helped. It’s the 3rd or 4th time I’ve been up over the course of the night. This time my back and hips made it too insufferable to go back to sleep, so here I am.

The alarm is set for 6:30am… Then I’ll be able to be productive. Even then I won’t be breaking out the pencils and paper… Oh no.. then I’ll be breaking out the fit deck and getting some stretching in.  I’ll get plenty of exercise today, but I’m hoping I won’t be in pain for most of it.

After that, breakfast is in the 7 o’clock hour, then we’ll head over to my sister’s apartment to drink coffee and wake up with the rest of the crew.  See, we could’ve stayed at my sister’s house–it was an open invitation and they’d make room.. but see, with me in my condition and getting up all night long, I opted for the comfort factor of a hotel.

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I had searched on kayak and booking, as well as other discount sites, but it turned out to be cheaper to just call the hotel and ask for cheapest rates.  The hotel we originally wanted to stay at cost about $200/night…they had raised the prices for some reason compared to online.  Plus, they didn’t have anything smaller than a king suite and we really just wanted a place to rest our heads.  The reservation clerk actually referred me to a sister hotel. They had an efficiency suite, including breakfast, for less than $100/night.  I didn’t expect there to even be a refrigerator, let alone a stove!

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We likely won’t have a chance to use it on this trip, but it’s nice to have the option.

It’d be nice to have the option for a nap later, too, but I don’t see that happening… T^T at least if I get too zonked, we can retreat to the hotel instead of waiting for everyone else to wind down. There’s that, at least.

K. Time to wrap up before diving into the day. Be well!

Posted in Anti-Inflammation, Food, Life + Living, Menu Planning

My Paleo Plate

I realize that the blog entry that I published last night  kind of went off the rails.  There was so much more that I wanted to talk about!  It was late at night, though, and I was probably bouncing back and forth between various web pages an the blog.  Today’s blog post is kind of an extension of that, but it’s much more organized and thought out–I even made an outline for it…  Part of what prompted me to come back and to write about my own experience with going gluten free was a rather harmless post about a trip to costco.

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Who knew there was such a backlash against gluten free?!  I was flabbergasted but this isn’t exactly a friend of mine, and his friends and followers are not my friends and followers, so I decided not to waste any more of my time justifying to them why Gluten Free is a valid lifestyle choice–and that it doesn’t necessarily have to be full blown celiac disease to cause someone to start avoiding gluten and other potentially harmful/hard to digest foods.

As many of you know, I’ve been dealing with chronic back pain for about two years now.  As I type this, there’s what feels like a knot under my right shoulder blade and my whole back feels stiff.  It’s my new normal.  This isn’t even enough to complain about.  When most people toss and turn at night, they do so without really realizing it.  For me, I have to sit all the way up and turn over so that I don’t torque my back trying to just jostle into place.  There are times when I wake up in the middle of the night, or in the wee hours of the morning in back pain and I have no choice but to stay up because there’s no going back to sleep at that point.  If it’s really too early to get up, then, my poor husband, gets woken up because I’m in such pain.  He wakes up when it hurts too bad to breathe right, or when my back pain brings me to tears–and he’ll get up, without complaint, and offer me ice packs or back massages to try to ease the pain.  That will work just enough to take the edge off.  I try to let him go back to sleep and then I generally go out to the couch to sleep so that I don’t have to lay on my back.

Two years of that.

I have tried to find out what’s wrong with my back–I went to a physician, who referred me to physical therapy–I did that for a while before I was referred to Chiropractic.  I’ve been going to the chiropractor at least once/week for the past year and a half.  It has helped tremendously in reducing the severity of the pain and I haven’t had many episodes of spasms since starting chiropractic.  The problem is that I’m still having to see a chiropractor weekly if I want to avoid a build up of pain in my system.  Once, while my chiropractor was out of town for a conference, I had to go about a week and a half, maybe two weeks without an adjustment–and my back locked up so tight and spasmed so much that I gave in and called my physician for muscle relaxers.  I took them once.  I slept the entire night through without tossing and turning–but when I woke up the next morning, my back hurt so bad from being in the same position the whole night that it took almost all of the next day to start feeling normal again.

And that–is the key.  My back feels better when I use my standing station at work (provided I have the right shoes on that day).  My back feels better when I move.  I talked to my physician about this during last year’s physical.  It was a feminine exam and so I told her about my fears–how am I supposed to start a family with my back this way?  How can I be reliable and take care of an infant if my back hurts so bad that I can’t even breathe?  And do you know what she told me?  She said “Try paleo.”  I disregarded her at the time because I was stuck on oatmeal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and dinner usually involved pasta with mixed veggies and some meat.  I should’ve listened to her back then.

Recently, I came across Nerd Fitness. As I started reading, I started hearing about the benefits of the paleo diet–they’re what you expect from any diet–more energy, better nutrition.. The part that was different, for me, is that it wasn’t specifically designed for weightloss, it was designed for better overall health and well being.  That’s what I need.  I need health and well being.  So, I hopped into the chat rooms in NF.  I talked to a few members there about their experiences with Paleo and I heard about reduced pain, reduced acne, increased energy and stamina.  I decided to give it a try.

Searching online for paleo plans will turn up any number of results.  It quickly became apparent that no one really agrees on what Paleo should really consist of.  Some sites say no eggs, others say no dairy, all of them say no legumes but they don’t all agree on what a legume is.  It’s enough to make your head spin.  Finally, I stumbled upon two very valuable resources.  The first was linked yesterday as the “Beginners guide to the paleo diet” by Steve Kamb.  The other is Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo.  There’s a forward by Robb Wolf (not Stark), and the book dives into the science behind the nutrition.  I’m reading about leaky gut right now, which is where there are foods that are harder for your body to break down and they may ‘leak’ through the gut–they’re seen as potential invaders and it triggers an immune response.  In fact–the majority of the book is explaining the science behind the nutrition in terms that I can understand.  I find myself nodding along and saying ‘that makes sense.’

 

Since I’m not finished reading the book, and because change is very difficult, we’re not 100% paleo in our house.  Both Jeff and I still eat dairy in the form of yogurt and cheese, but we’ve swapped our milk out for coconut milk.  The muffins in the picture above were made with coconut flour and they were so delicious.  I may make them again this weekend.  The pumpkin pancakes in the upper left of the collage have no flour whatsoever and taste like pumpkin french toast.  They’re amazing.  Although Paleo has a list of foods to avoid that includes peanuts, it’s hard to find trail mix that doesn’t have peanuts in it, so we still have the occasional peanut.  We eat a lot of almonds, and I like to eat sunflower seeds.  We do a lot of batch cooking on the weekends in order to prep for the week ahead.  Being on Paleo means that you have to make your own food because the biggest overarching message is to get away from all of the highly processed, genetically modified, unnatural foods.  It’s pretty similar to the Whole Foods diet and the like.  Unfortunately, this means that we’re shopping for freggies every weekend, and stocking up on meat when we can.  Our grocery bill (for 2 people) has been averaging to be around $450-500/month.  I think that there’s a better way to do it, and there are ways to save money,  so I have confidence that this figure will come down once we get some consistency.

The first month that we were successfully paleo for the most part, our grocery bill was over $600 for the month.  I freaked out because “we don’t have that kind of money! This plan isn’t sustainable!’ Then Jeff pulled up the rest of YNAB and showed me that the month prior, we had spent $200+ on restaurants and $200+ on lunch and $100+ on “spending money” that included food.  The month we were successfully paleo?  $90 on lunch, $100 on restaurants.  So, we have the money, we’ve just been using it to buy the convenience food items that are so readily available in our culture.   Going Paleo just means a reallocation of the funds to foods that are worthy of being bought.

My next step in this Paleo adventure is to tackle the elimination diet.  I need to figure out what in my diet is causing the chronic inflammation.  Is it gluten? Legumes? FODMAPS? sugar? Something else?  It’s going to be difficult and there will be a ton of prep work involved, but I think that I can ‘suffer’ for about a month if it means improving my quality of life in the immediate future, and potentially prolonging my life in the long run.

What are your thoughts on the gluten-free craze?  Have you ever heard of paleo before?  Tell me about your experiences.

Posted in Anti-Inflammation, Fitness, Food, Menu Planning

Playing with Paleo

It is so good to be BACK! I’ve been thinking a lot today how I’d like to organize this blog and I started trying to think of alliterations that could lend themselves well to my blog content.  Work Out Wednesday is easy, and Menu Monday.  But how do I fit in all of the other things to talk about?  Well–there’s every other blogger in the blogosphere.. and then there’s me!

I guess the name of my blog gives me a little bit of a scapegoat away from formatting and structure 😉

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with the Paleo plan.  NerdFitness has a fantastic starter’s guide to the paleo diet that I highly suggest you check out.

nerdfitness.com
nerdfitness.com

One of the hardest things about starting a paleo eating plan is ‘wtf do I eat?’  I mean, think about it!  The average American diet (at least, in the midwest) consists of cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and pasta for dinner.  I was honestly stumped! What, besides eggs, could I eat for breakfast?

Well–anything.  Who says you can’t have a steak at 9am? 😛 Granted, I usually don’t, but that’s the gist of it.  Food is just food.  There aren’t rules around what time of day you can eat the food.  So, I dove in.  I ate a lot of eggs.  I got tired of eggs.  I ate a lot of salads, I got tired of salads.  I ate a lot of bacon, and then I realized I should not eat near as much bacon…

It prompted me to buy a cookbook.  The one that came highest recommended from the Nerds of NerdFitness was Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo.  I’ve made a number of recipes from the book including the broiled salmon, pumpkin pancakes, swirly quiche, chorizo meatballs, and pumpkin cranberry muffins.  We’ve used the seasoning mixtures to spice up the meats we generally use, and eating has been a lot more whole-foods focused.

Now! All that being said, I’m not 100% of the way there 😦  There are still times where I get caught up in the “I don’t feel like it” attitude.  I had nachos tonight, and I’m still eating at the gas station too frequently.  When I did 1 week of about 80% paleo, I dropped 6 pounds.  SIX WHOLE POUNDS!! I also felt more energetic and pretty excited about staying committed.

Then life happened, and stress eating, and convenience.

It’s a lot more effort to plan ahead, cook, and deal with all of the food associated with paleo eating. The dishes in the sink below?  That’s just from cooking breakfast and prepping lunch:

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Now imagine that for 2 people 3x/day, 7 days/week.  Our grocery bill has skyrocketed and our dishwasher never gets a break.  This week (Saturday to next Saturday) my goals are to have 5/7 days 100% paleo (excluding cheese.  I love cheese.  me and cheese have something special going on.)

I’m hoping to drop some weight and feel happier/healthier by the end.  I certainly appreciate you rooting me on! If you know me IRL, kindly refrain from offering me non-paleo food.. if there’s a treat at work, for example, just tell me ‘thanks! you do good work! Have a fantastic day! *high five*”

Cheers to the coming week!

-Megs

Posted in Fitness, Life + Living, Measurements, Strength Training, Weigh Ins/Progress Photos

Team Doge Wow Such Weight loss! Please Vote

I have joined a team challenge at work, and it’s off to such a fun start.  I’m on a team with a group of four women at work and we have dubbed ourselves “Team Doge Wow Such Weight Loss!”  The twelve week challenge kicks off with a mini-challenge to come up with the best team name (check!) and best team “before” photo (check!)

I would love it if you could check out our submission (below) and vote for us on the HealthyWage website (http://www.healthywage.com/leaderboards/team_standings/?team_challenge=80&secondary_filter=1).  This site is just like Diet Bet and Biggest Loser, except you cannot lose more than 1.5% of your weight/week and no more than 16.75% of your weight over the course of the challenge.  I’m really excited to have a team of co-workers to tackle this with.  They’ve been instrumental in my motivation this week 🙂

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[EDIT: added directions –  access the link, and then select “GE HealthAhead’s Lose Weight, Win Big 2014” and “Mini Challenge #1: Best Team Name and Before Photo”]

Posted in College, Emotional Eating, Fitness, Food, Life + Living, Overeating

Wipers up, snow down

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I said this morning that wipers up means snow will be coming down.  It started early afternoon, and never really let up…

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The roads were icy, visibility was reduced… And I had to go to school for class tonight.

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Yeah. Good luck getting anywhere.

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You know what, though? I got there, checked my voicemail, and heard a message saying class was canceled.

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Some days are only good for building snowmen and going to bed early.

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Tonight I’m wearing my warrior shirt to bed. Kind of need a reminder to eat better tomorrow and stop getting so frustrated with work.  I ranted at a friend* at work today about all of my frustrations and it just made me want to cry.  Then, I rushed off to school where I was scheduled for an exam…I was feeling crappy, so what did I have for dinner? A chicken taquito, a corndog, a bag of chips, a handful of dark chocolate, and about half a cup of gelato.  Did it feel good at the time? Absolutely. Does it feel good now? Nope. Can I take it back? Nope! Time to move on.

Tomorrow I’ll be well rested, and I’ll make sure to have healthy snacks with me.

Have a good night!

Posted in Emotional Eating, Food, Life + Living, Weigh Ins/Progress Photos

Sugar Wednesday

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Today was a bit hectic. We stayed up super late last night (1am), so this morning was rough.  I had a sensible breakfast, then pizza, a sensible lunch, (salad and menacotti (sp?), then too much sugar.

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Since things are stupid stressful at work, people keep bringing around doughnuts and treats, and I keep eating them. The scale reflects those decisions…

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