Sunday, March 23, 2014

Finding Nature's Sweetness

Hey everyone!  I'm back for another installment of My Adventures in Transferring to Paleo Eating.  I certainly have new observations to share.  It's kind of fun using myself as a "test subject."

So, how Paleo am I at this point?  I'll say I'm not all the way there yet, and I don't know if I ever will be 100% Paleo.  There is a lot of discussion about certain foods some Paleo eaters say are ok, where others say they aren't.  I'm not going to worry too much on the controversy, and I'm going to focus on what foods make me feel the best and render the best performance in the gym.  What I will say is that I'm most focused on getting rid of grains, beans, seed oils, dairy, alcohol, and sugar. 

I had a really good week.  Food preparation on the weekends takes a lot of time, energy and patience, but it really worked out well, and as the week continued I found that I stopped eating in between meals and ate three meals.  At times, I even found it hard to eat my lunch.  I was surprised at how quickly my appetite diminished as I ate nourishing foods, and even more so, how quickly I became full when eating my meals.

I'm still quite baffled by my appetite changes.  As I sit here blogging, drinking water and noshing on a few dark chocolate banana bites (something to definitely get used to), I wonder why my appetite changed so much, and I'm pretty sure I know why.  The Sweet Potato.

I feel like I need to write a poem on the love I have of the sweet potato.  In years past, I never paid much attention to them.  I ate these lovely delights in pies that my mom made or as yams with a delicious sugary glaze.  I never ate them baked, roasted or as french fries. As a matter of fact, the one time I did have sweet potato fries, I really didn't like them (probably because of the coating on them).  Now, all of a sudden, I can't get enough of them, and I eat a baked sweet potato everyday.  Why?  Because I honestly feel it is nature's true superfood.
When I did my first Whole 30 last year, I found I had a hard time finding items to eat for breakfast besides eggs.  My trainer suggested I eat a sweet potato for breakfast, which I found odd, but I tried it anyway.  I diced some up and roasted them with some ground meat to make turkey hash.  I also baked a few to eat with some ghee (clarified butter), cinnamon and salt.  What I found is that when I ate a baked sweet potato at breakfast combined with a good protein, I didn't eat.  I didn't eat for a very long time.  It kept me so full for so long that I found myself making myself eat lunch just so I could have some fuel for my afternoon workouts, and my workouts were amazing.  So, why did I stop eating them?  I never should have.  They are pure energy and a natural appetite suppressant.  Why?  Well...
  • Sweet potatoes are highly fibrous.  Fiber takes a very long time to digest, and if you combine that with a good protein, which also takes a long time to digest, your body is going to be working overtime to digest that food and transfer it to the nutrients to kick ass all day long. Long digestion = I'm not hungry
  • Sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index, and as a diabetic, that's a bonus for me.  It's a complex carbohydrate so it takes a while to digest, and will not impact blood sugar.  Spikes in blood sugar drive hunger, which is probably why you can feel hungry an hour after eating a pound of pasta. 
I'm sure there are other reasons why sweet potatoes are the bees knee's, but I don't want to bore you to death.  There are many ways to cook them, but I prefer
baking them.  Sure, it can take up to an hour or longer depending on the size, but I could care less. I bake them on the weekends, and keep them in the fridge until I tear into them at breakfast.  Here's why...

Look closely, if you can.  Do you see the clear liquid that's coming out of them?  What is that?  It's natures sweetness! Pure, natural sugar.  When you bake sweet potatoes, you can tell when they are done because your house starts smelling like a candy factory.  The natural sugars bubble out of the potato, and when you let them rest and eat them later, the potato just falls out of the skin.  Add some ghee, cinnamon and salt, and you have the yummiest breakfast treat that will keep you full all morning.  Don't believe me?  I dare you to try it. Eat one with a great protein, and you tell me when you start feeling hungry.  My mom recently did, and she said she didn't get hungry until 2 pm! 

My muscles certainly appreciate them.  I'm still lifting crazy weight and embarrassing people in the gym, which is not my intention, but I am quite flattered by the compliments.  I'm eating to perform. That's why I'm doing this. 

My breakfasts and lunches are prepared for the week.  For lunch this week, I'm trying Avocado Basil Chicken Salad.  It turned out great - very tasty but not really pretty to look at.  I also ate my first paleo snack, dark chocolate covered bananas.  I'm not a chocolate fan so this is a lot for me to handle.  Turns out they are pretty good since the sugar in the banana balances the bitterness of the chocolate, and it's hella bitter (90% cocoa content).  Dark chocolate cocoa level must be 70% or higher for any chocolate desserts.  What's up next? I need to get some raw honey, and maybe I'll make my own Sriracha.  That way I can have spicy mayo!  I'm getting pretty ambitious.  Maybe I'll Get Lucky and find a Paleo jelly belly....  I doubt it! 

Basil Avocado Chicken Salad - all recipes are on my Pinterest Page.

I used 90% Lindt Supreme Dark for these banana bites. They store in the freezer. 
One of my favorite meals - Cracklin' Chicken Thighs and Garlic Mashed Cauliflower. I swear I'm eating mashed potatoes, and I'm not! YUM!

Last, but not least.  Ghee! It's also called clarified butter. It's very expensive in the store, so I bought my own organic butter, and took a stab at removing the milk solid myself.  Turned out beautiful. Very rich in buttery taste. It's a great, shelf stable cooking oil or adding to sweet potatoes and other yummy things. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Forging My Own Path

Well, I broke that New Year's Resolution pretty quick, didn't I?  I said I would try to blog weekly, and I haven't looked at this blog in quite some time.  I'm sorry about that.  Sometimes, I just don't have much to share or talk about.  Rest assured that I haven't stopped doing what I need to do to maintain.  I will say that since January I have been going through quite a bit of self-reflection, and I going to share with you some of my conclusions.

For those of you that have been with me since day one on my journey, you know I had two specific goals in mind.  Let me restate those:
  1. Weigh 160 pounds.
  2. Get off of all of my medications
I knew it was easier said than done, and I planned on tracking my calories - creating that all-mighty calorie deficit so I could lose 1.2 pounds a week and get there in three years time.  My first year was highly successful, and I was running way ahead of schedule.  My second year started with me feeling quite smug that I had this covered - no problems.  After the half marathon in May, I got off track.  I got to my lowest weight in May - 210 pounds, and by the end of the year I had gained 40 pounds by doing all sorts of crazy things like binging on pure sugar and nothing else. 

As I began year three (2014), I was despondent.  I was pretty desperate to try anything I could get get that scale going back in the right direction.  I started tracking my calories again, and tracking wasn't working.  I was using MyPlate app on LiveStrong and then I switched to MyFitness Pal to track on that one.  I was closely monitoring my food intake and exercising vigorously.  So, you'd think I'd see some movement on the scale.  I sure did.  I gained a pound.

So over the last two to three weeks, I've been doing some heavy soul searching and talking to my trainer about my goals.  Sometime during the last two years, I've discovered something that I enjoy more than anything else - strength training.  I get such a rush at pushing my body to limits I've never experienced.  I've always wanted to be strong and athletic, and being able to lift heavy things and constantly set "Personal Bests."

Now, considering my new found love, I decided to focus more on fitness goals and not so much on weight goals.  So, keeping that in mind....

Why the %$^# am I still so stuck on that damn scale?!?!?!
I've blogged ad nauseum about me and that damn scale.  I know it's not what I should be focused on, but it's programmed in our heads to rely on that damned contraption to measure our health.  It's the easiest thing to use out there.  Just step on in, and wait for it to mock you and all you've accomplished this week.  Who cares that I beat my cycling time or that I'm deadlifting 235#.  I'm kicking ass on the rowing machine, stringing together 4 swing-snatches with a 50# kettlebell, bench pressing 95# and squatting 100#.  After all that, I look at the scale, and it says I gained a pound so I failed.  Right? I'm kicking out foods with additives and starting to focus on my transition to Paleo eating.  Yet, after eating pure, healthy foods, the scale said I gained a pound, and the scale is always right. 
Now, I know all of you out there are saying, "Oh don't be that way. You've done so much.  Don't worry about what the scale says."  I'm supposed to pay attention to how I feel, and how my clothes feel.  Are my clothes loose?  Yes.  Then don't worry about what the scale says.  Sadly, many of us - including me - say this all the time, but we have a hard time following our own advice.
So, I've decided to forget the scale.  Forget the calorie counting.  (GASP!!) I'm 100% serious this time!!!!!  I'm deleting MyFitness Pal and MyPlate apps from my iPhone. I'm really going to have to find out what's going to work for me.  Considering the large weights I want to lift this year, I really need to focus on clean, healthy eating.  Yes, that does mean eating fat - you know those fats that the food industry is constantly telling us that are so bad for us so eat all these fat free foods loaded with added sugars so they taste good.  In the end, all we are doing is trading one "bad" thing for another.  I don't happen to think fat is the enemy.  You just better chose the right fats, and coconut oil is my new found friend.
I've cracked open my Paleo cook books and have been cooking up a storm these past few weeks. I've even brought my amazing boyfriend (Hi Sweetie!) on board and he's almost lost 30 pounds in three weeks.  Yeah, men suck. They blink and lose weight, while we eat one string bean and gain 4 pounds.
So, clean eating has arrived in my life.  Sweet potatoes!  I missed you.  Eating a sweet potato at breakfast has helped me cut out in between snacking and gives me amazing energy to push hard in the gym.  I've made my own mayo and ketchup, and I do a lot of food prep on the weekends for the work week.  Yes, it's a time and monetary commitment, but I'm willing to do the work.  Hard work, remember?
In the end, what matters most is how I feel, and making sure my doctor continues to give me a thumbs up.  I still hope to have a 1 as the leading number on the scale, but perhaps it will come at a time when I least expect it. If I'm not relying on the scale, who knows when it will come.  Right now, I'm doing what's going to make me and my body Happy
So, let's see what happens this week.  I'm taking my first swimming lesson on Monday so I'm sure I'll have something interesting to report next week.  Wendler week 3 starts tomorrow.  This weekend I'm going to attempt Crackling Chicken and Mashed Cauliflower.  Check out these awesome blogs for more information on Paleo eating and cooking.
The Clothes Make the Girl - the author has two amazing cookbooks that I own. 
Well Fed and Well Fed 2
Nom Nom Paleo - another amazing blog and you have to get her cookbook. It has amazing cartoons drawn by her husband.  Both sites are my go-to for amazing Paleo food.
All the foods I'm cooking are on my Pinterest page if you are interested. 
Check out my Paleo-rific! Board

I've never made ketchup before, and considering how much of a ketchup snob I am, this was a reach for me.

Made out of tomato paste, dried dates, and lots of spices....

Unbelievably delish especially with a side of sweet potato fries.
Krabby Patties were amazing!  My boyfriend assisted in cooking them up. He's the seafood expert in the house.

I get sick of ground meat sometimes so I decided to jazz it up by making some turkey and beef jalapeno meatballs and tossed those in with some basil zoodles with turkey bacon.  You can say this is becoming one of my absolute favs!