Thursday, March 29, 2012

The KC Story

I, like Jn, am a basket full of hormone and endocrine mess.
      I have always had a passion for food and nutrition.  When I was a kid I had to try every new food possible.  While friends were noshing on pizza and chicken fingers, I was ordering snails, avocado (which was virtually unknown to our tiny little town), sushi, goat, water buffalo, weird stinky cheeses...anything I could get my hands on.  I distinctly remember my mother trying to figure out where to get leeks and lemongrass and rice noodles in our tiny little farming community when I requested to try Pad Thai for my birthday one year.  And they nearly dis-owned me when I was in middle school and decided that I was going to be vegetarian.  Just as I was so adventurous, so was I also very health conscious from a very early age.  The only problem is that I had only ever been taught a German style meat and potatoes and Stroganoff kind of eating at home and an Italian "eat all the pasta you can grab" extended family.  The only health nuts I knew were vegetarian.
      I was a heavy kid and yo-yo-ed back and forth with my weight despite periods of time where I only ate bread, veggie broth with frozen vegetables, and apples.  I was active and a hiker, biker, and outdoors person, but still put on weight.  I went to college and after 5 years of vegetarianism, started eating meat again and continued to put on weight.
      I was a Biology Major and became obsessed with Nutrition and Health.  I promoted the Whole Grain, Whole Food, Organic balanced lifestyle and still never loved pizza or fried food, fast food didn't tempt me and still gained weight.  I was still active and mountain biked, hiked, did trail construction work, went camping, long walks and snow shoe stints in the woods.  I began to have all kinds of health problems.  I have: 2 herniated disks which like to make my life miserable on and off, PCOS, Hypothyroidism, and all kinds of digestive issues with God only knows what laundry list of items that I have never clearly delineated. I continued to gain weight.
      I got fed up and threw everything I knew about nutrition out the window and tried a few fad diets and some more well recognized ones.  I tried Weight Watchers and actually gained weight while scrupulously following the plan, I tried the Abs Diet on Jn's recommendation.  I stopped gaining weight but did not lose any and continued to feel like crap.  The most success I ever had was with a company called "LA Weightloss" in which I lost weight and gained confidence, but couldn't stick to it as it required buying tons of their chemical based products that got really boring after a while and incredibly expensive.  I went into police academy and ate crap and felt like crap but lost a ton of weight by sheer brute force of hours and days of sweat and stress and lack of sleep.  I went into the hospital twice for my disks.  I tried LA weightloss again and had some small success and reached my lowest weight that I can remember, but stuck with it for less time than before.  I had to have steroid injections for my back and stopped being as active as it became more painful.  I got depressed and gave up.
      Then I got serious with my hubby.  He was a fast food junky.  I had, while being overweight and messed up, eaten "healthy" by most American standards until that point where we got serious; about when I had given up.  I learned the wonder of fast food, the addictive flavors of chemicals, how to choke down pizza when he was craving it even though I hated the stuff.  I put all my weight back on and picked up more problems.  I love the man dearly and while he brought me to a low point food wise, he brought me eventually to my high place health wise.  He introduced me to my Chiropractor. I have had (prior to then) steroid injections, physical therapy, massage therapy, electro-muscular stimulation therapy, sonic therapy...all of the happy drugs you can imagine in the name of fixing my back problems. As a very good biologist, I believed, like most biologists, that chiropractic was bunk. But when you have tried everything and nothing works, sometimes you start trying the "crazy stuff."  A little over 8 months after my first visit at the chiropractor I was feeling pretty good and started working out again.  But I was still gaining weight.  I reached a point where I could no longer make progress while my body was imbalanced both physically and hormonally.  I threw my back out again and this time rather than going to the hospital and taking drugs and shots and ...etc.  I dragged myself screaming (literally) to the chiropractor and was unable to move when I got there.  I was walking again that night.  I'm sold on Chiropractic.
      At the Doc.'s office they talk about Paleo all the time.  No grains, no dairy, no legumes, no sugar.  All the things that I thought were so healthy and ate so much of.  All the Kashi and Quinoa, and brown rice, all the yogurt and black beans that were supposed to make me healthy I'm now being told by these Doc.'s, that I've come to trust, are bad for me.  Well, I was wrong about Chiropractic I said to myself, let's read some more about Paleo before brushing it too off as bunk.
      I picked up the book called "The Paleo Solution" by Robb Wolf  and read it preparing to dissect it like all other fad diets as is my personal hobby.  I'm known as the one who when you say you are on the (fill in the blank) diet will tell you all the ways it is unhealthy for you, and sure you'll lose weight for a little while, but you will die earlier in the end.  I found nothing in this book to criticize.  As a scientist, this made SENSE to me.  Here I had been thinking my whole life that I was just not dedicated enough, or had the right idea, but just ate too much, or not enough, or had my ratios wrong, or it was my messed up hormones that was the problem.  My problem, though, it seemed, was a little talked about thing called inflammation.  So simple.
      I was a believer right off the bat, however my cravings are a strong and dangerous thing and I had long ago sold my future to Dunkin Donuts and MacDonalds.  I just couldn't seem to stick with it long enough.  I went through long periods of half heart-ed attempts and mild failures, to just giving up entirely.  My hubby and I even followed paleo for lent once.  We both lost a ton of weight and felt soo much better, but as soon as lent was over, we were off the wagon and feeling crappy again.  I hold that lent in my head as just a taste of what my health could be if I stuck with it for the long haul and without Sundays off and the Monday morning intestines yelling at me very loudly for my lack of stamina.
      In my typical fashion, even though I am not following it myself, I start telling Jn about Paleo and telling her to read the book.  I told her about our lent and how great we felt.  I told her about the science; I pushed again and again.  And she read the book and ran with it and did so much better than my little cheating heart could ever do.  She was my final proof.  This is absolutely the way to go.  I read the Michael Pollen books and became angry at the government and advertising for feeding me health lies for my entire life.  I started seeing lies in everything.  But still I yo-yo.  On and off and on and off and lose 5 gain 10.
      When Jn started mentioning the idea of keeping a blog, my initial reaction was skeptical.  I've started so many blogs before and never kept up with one.  But if I'm being honest, truly honest about what I'm eating publicly:  maybe just maybe that and Jn's scold-face when I fail will keep me on the straight and narrow enough to kick my addictions and finally do this thing that I know so much is right.  So here I am.  Blogging.  Who knew!  I'm a foodie on a journey to health.  A health nut taking a side track.  A cop putting up the donuts and coffee for good.  On April 2 I will join Jn on a full 30 day Paleo trial, but I know in my heart it is not a trial, it will be life.  If I can do 30 days with no days off and no cheating, I will be too healthy to want to ever go back.  Even by yo-yo-ing I can no longer eat cake or donuts without feeling ill.  I know without a doubt I will never be the same.  I just need to step up and make the commitment.  While you don't know me and you have no reason to believe me or trust me, I think you should too.
     I'm starting my journey on a tough note.  While Jn is binging on her travels, I will start my Paleo journey on a business trip. My real no-excuses Paleo day-one will be in three airports, two airplanes and a motel.  The me that yo-yo's would find that as an excuse to postpone the Paleo, but the me that is determined for real life change thinks it's an excellent opportunity to prove to myself that this is doable and possible in all circumstances.
    You should read Robb Wolf's book if you want the whole skinny, but the basics are: no grains, no sugar, no legumes, no dairy.  And yes, soy is a legume.  Eat tons of wholesome organic vegetables, some organic free range, grass fed, all natural, no chemicals, no antibiotics...etc meats, a little fruit, nuts and healthy fats.
    For posterity I should remember all the things that are wrong now:
Obese:  218lbs at 5' 5"
PCOS with all that entails
Major sugar crashes
Frequent Headaches
Painfully unhappy digestive system - especially at the later end of the tract
Difficulty sleeping
Constant back soreness and weakness
Low energy and difficulty focusing without coffee (I gave that up two months ago fairly successfully)
Out of shape and out of breath
Itchy dry flaky skin
Low self esteem

Happy Eating!

The Jn story

I've spent a large portion of my life far less than healthy. I just accepted this as my version of normal and tried to find ways to navigate life as a biochemically challenged human. At one point a very dear friend of mine presented a version of the paleo diet to me. And then she did it again. And again. Basically she drug me to it kicking and screaming by suggesting I try it and prove her wrong. I was convinced it would not work but it was also unlikely to kill me so I was a ruthlessly strict paleo eater for a month. No grains, no legumes, no dairy, and light on starches and super sugary fruits. 

The problem for me was that this paleo diet actually worked. Dramatically. And quickly. I was less tired and I had more energy and better concentration. I lost weight. I stopped losing hair. My insides behaved themselves. I wasn't bloated. I stopped having crazy mood swings and blood sugar spikes and crashes. I stopped having muscle cramps and spasms. Regular headaches and other general muscle and joint pain stopped. My skin cleared up. Slow to heal scars started to disappear. I felt better all around. I was even willing to suggest for the first time in a long time that I might be borderline healthy. 

And then the month long experiment was over and I broke my "fast" with fast food on a road trip. HUGE mistake. And very sick me. So I had to admit that I was wrong. And come to terms with the fact that I needed to make these changes permanent. 

Fast forward a bit. I have been eating roughly paleo sometimes more sometimes less for months. I have learned how to cheat. Learned how to label myself so that other humans will "understand" me. Figured out a handful of pre-packaged, super easy junk food options. Learned which foods make me particularly ill if I fall off the wagon. I've come to a status quo that is convenient and manageable if not fully healthy for me. The problem is that I have no idea if I have settled myself in a place that is cheating too much to make a difference. I don't remember how sick I was but I also suspect that I could feel much better than I feel. 

So I went on a diet vacation. I indulged every craving. I did not plan ahead what I would eat or when. Instead of a little bad here and some mediocre there I had a lot of everything that appealed to me. Bread and cookies and cake and pasta and cheese cheese glorious cheese! Allow me to butter everything and feast on crackers, creamy soups and scones. How about whole milk beverages- cocoa and chai? On my list to consume still before I end this reign of terror on my intestines: Pizza, baleadas mixtas, macaroni and cheese, maybe tortellini and something smothered beyond recognition  in Alfredo sauce. And more pizza. 

Why the train wreck? I was traveling so it was easy. I also have had an ever growing list of things I crave that I wanted to indulge and hopefully get out of my system for a while. I think in this case one week of binge consumption is better than semi-regular indulgences. And I wanted to see if I really felt worse. Maybe the diet didn't matter anymore or maybe I was cheating too much and hadn't realized it? Since I couldn't remember what a garbage body felt like I figured this would be a good reminder of how it used to be and what have been fighting to avoid. And I want to go back to being fully committed to better health.

I decided (before the breakdown) that on April 2 I would go the way of a Whole 30 and started eating everything. It's been equal parts awesome and horrendous. I feel awful and my body is angry. I know this is how I used to feel every day. I can't believe I thought this was ok or normal. For instance, I went over 3 hours between meals and ended up eating a sack of cookies from a vending machine so that I didn't kill a stranger or pass out. Ugh. And all my joints hurt. And the scar on my foot hurts again when I wear the wrong shoes. I am bloated and greasy and tired and itchy. My sleep schedule is beyond a mess. I'm gross and I am ready to be done with this game physically and mentally. I think the funniest thing is that my cravings have shifted to the other end of the spectrum. I want spinach and steak and green beans and cranberries. 

For the time being I will keep eating things that will kill me. And then I will do an about face and I will do my best to keep you informed of how it turns out. I am hoping this will help keep me honest and will remind me in the future what changed and why I shouldn't pass this way again. And I think that by sharing recipes and meal plans for the sake of helping others I will be more likely to keep this up. We will find out. 


Founding Conversations

Tagline: In which we try to match bugdet and business with what know we want to be eating...

We can plop in recipes, stuff reviews etc. and maybe if we go into this with the idea that we are doing it jointly we will be able to space out once in a while and not fee guilty. Instead of full meals, snacks we like, ways I come up with a paleo "dinner" when I am out with friends and running from place to place...confessions of binging on ice cream. 

With entries like:

I spent my morning making food for my future week and by lunchtime had no motivation for now-food. My impromptu meal: An Elk sausage slathered with mustard and a baked potato covered in frozen broccoli and some Parmesan cheese because I felt daring. I made everything in the microwave and doubled it so that when the same lack of motivation comes up tomorrow I won't binge on rice chips (which I may have also done today). Quick and passable but not exactly company worthy.  


I like the idea…let’s talk more after Christmas.

I’m going through and sorting old emails in a slow moment at work (spring break) and I found this.  We should do this really and soon.  Writing about my food may keep me honest and more likely to conform to what my body wants rather than what my hormones want.  For instance: right now, I want a huge pile of carbonara pasta, gooey warm bread with butter and a huge chocolate cannolli with a cappucino.  Knowing that I was going to have to write about it later, I would be more likely to eat what was on the planned menu: Salmon with asparagus, Oranges and Salad and an herbal tea.

Ok. Toss this back on the top of your to-do list. Here's why. 

I am going to do the Whole30 plan for the for real 30 days starting April 2. I am embarking on this journey because I need to revamp (1) and friends who live here want to do something very different with their diets and they are interested in this (2). At any rate it seems like a good place for me to keep myself accountable and to help people figure out what we can and cannot eat and why. Plus all of the other good reasons to do this from before. And I miss you and this will give us a reason to talk at each other if not to each other.