CONSIDER LENT: I’m giving up clutter

It’s probably been more than a quarter century since I’ve participated in Lent, but I’m in for this year.  And though I’m late to the punch, I’m hoping you’ll consider joining me.

Seeing the many folks on Wednesday with ash on their foreheads brought me back to childhood.  We were raised Catholic, so I’m well aware that Lent is when you wait a painfully long time for a big basket of sugary rabbit-shaped treats — and also a time to fast, or give something up, for the several weeks leading to Easter.

I keep thinking that this is a great tool to help me stay on track, to recommit to goals I set during the New Year.  So I’ve decided to return to my roots and participate in Lent once again.  I’m going to give up something simple, yet difficult: clutter.

I’m breaking this down into three categories: physical, mental, and organizational.  Perhaps it’s a stretch, but bear with me:

PHYSICAL: I mean the clutter I put into my body that makes it operate sub-optimally.  Primarily alcohol, tobacco, and sugar.  One of my main goals for the year is to be under 10 percent body fat for our Yosemite climbing trip this summer. Right now I’m on day 13 of a ketogenic diet (including at least two fast days a week), and I’m committing now to continuing this through Lent.  Basically I’m shooting for ketosis till Easter, freeing my body from the clutter of toxins and carbs that regularly throw me off track, and I’m cleansing everything out twice a week by fasting.  On my fast days I’ll consume between 0 and 500 calories, no more.

MENTAL: I mean clearing my mind of clutter through a daily meditation. One of my main goals for the year is 5000 minutes of meditation in 2014, and I’m not on pace.  Committing to a daily sit from now to Easter will get me back on track.

ORGANIZATIONAL: I mean fully incorporating the Getting Things Done (GTD) model into my life. One of my main professional goals this year is to exceed expectations at my new job, and that will require me being more organized than I’ve ever been. GTD is a world-famous method to help you clear your mind and focus, and organize all your thoughts, papers, emails, and stuff. In doing so, you Get Things Done. By Easter I’ll re-read the classic Getting Things Done, I’ll connect my emails, computers, and phone to Evernote, and I’ll achieve inbox zero. Cool enough, I’ll be attending a GTD workshop on April 17, right before Easter.

To clarify, these are my Lent goals — from now until April 20:
1. Eat ketogenic every day.
2. Consume no alcohol or tobacco.
3. Fast at least twice a week.
4. Meditate every day.
5. Fully incorporate GTD into my life.

I’ll elaborate more on each of these points soon.  And as this is a work in progress, I’d love to hear any thoughts or suggestions you have.  Of course, it’d be great to have your support.  Even better, join me!  Let me know if you’re interested in doing any or all of these with me for the rest of lent, or even for a few days or a week.  Thanks!

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Happy Darwin Day!

Happy Darwin Day!

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Supercharge your morning coffee while staying paleo/primal

Are you a big coffee drinker?  Are you dreading the fact that you can’t use sugar and cream for your upcoming (or current) paleo challenge?  I have the solution for you, and it’s bulletproof.

A few weeks ago, I did a Google search for a paleo-friendly way to drink coffee without adding sugar or cream (I know I could drink it black, but I don’t like the taste).

The method that stood out called for adding grass-fed butter and coconut oil.  Like most people, I thought it sounded disgusting.  I was intrigued however, so I clicked on one of the links and it led me to the Bullet Proof Executive page created by David Asprey.  He’s a tech investor and entrepreneur (with a huge following) who is big into life/biohacking.  He does try to sell you his coffee and other products, but he lists the recipe for “bulletproof coffee” free on his site.

I’m skeptical of most things, so I did further research about “bulletproof coffee” and it seemed pretty legit, even in the larger paleo community.  Mark Sisson is also a huge fan of both grass-fed butter and coconut oil so I decided to try it out myself.

The next day, I purchased the virgin coconut oil and the Kerrygold unsalted grass-fed butter from Trader Joes, grabbed my blender, and made my own version of bulletproof coffee.  How did it taste?  Fantastic!  How did it make me feel throughout the day?  Amazing!  I’ve done paleo/south beach style diets before, but I’ve never had energy like this.  I’m wide awake at work, I no longer get the mid-afternoon crash, and I have energy until I go to bed.  It’s incredible.

With all of that said, it’s important to remember that I’m going about 95% paleo, so I don’t know if you’d get the same benefits while eating a normal diet.  I usually eat three eggs in the morning, and have my bulletproof coffee about an hour later at work.  For a mid-morning snack I have a few berries or nuts, and I’m usually satiated until lunch.
So what do you need to make your own version of bulletproof coffee?

coffee_001

-A stick of Kerrygold (or the brand of your choice) unsalted grass-fed butter
-Raw virgin coconut oil
-Coffee
-A blender of some sort.  You can get away with a battery operated milk frother.

Steps

1.  Throw a spoonful of coconut oil and a pat of butter into your mug (you can use Dave’s amounts on his site for the measurement reference, but I don’t use an exact amount).

2.  Brew your coffee (I use a pour over)

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3.  Pour your coffee into the mug

4.  Blend

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5.  Savor

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This is also great if you’re losing too much weight while doing the paleo diet, and need some extra fats.

Enjoy!

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Have you kicked your Coke habit yet?

I’m not talking about cocaine, but that tasty soft drink which used to contain it.

Back in October, Daily Health Post shared what happens to your body when you drink a Coke. Here is what they reported:

In the first 10 minutes: 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. (100% of your recommended daily intake.) You don’t immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness because phosphoric acid cuts the flavor, allowing you to keep it down.

20 minutes: Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat. (And there’s plenty of that at this particular moment.)

40 minutes: Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate; your blood pressure rises; as a response, your liver dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked, preventing drowsiness.

45 minutes: Your body ups your dopamine production, stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.

> 60 minutes: The phosphoric acid binds calcium, magnesium, and zinc in your lower intestine, providing a further boost in metabolism. This is compounded by high doses of sugar and artificial sweeteners also increasing the urinary excretion of calcium.

> 60 minutes: The caffeine’s diuretic properties come into play. (It makes you have to pee.) It is now assured that you’ll evacuate the bonded calcium, magnesium, and zinc that was headed to your bones as well as sodium, electrolytes, and water.

> 60 minutes: As the rave inside you dies down, you’ll start to have a sugar crash. You may become irritable and/or sluggish. You’ve also now, literally, evacuated all the water that was in the Coke. But not before infusing it with valuable nutrients your body could have used for things like hydrating your system, or building strong bones and teeth.

Scary stuff. Also check out what Antonie posted about sodas back in 2011.

Want to kick your nasty Coke habit? Try a 30 Day Primal Challenge.

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What’s in a label?

I ran across a series of posts about the “ingredients”of natural products. The idea behind it is simple: If our natural foods had ingredients labels, what would they look like?

Here are two products we typically think of as primal:

If you went to the store and picked up a carton of eggs with that long list of unpronounceable ingredients on the label, would you buy them? Probable not if you follow the standard paleo/primal advice of buying things with only pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all.

That great series of infographics linked above shows what is wrong with that conventional wisdom. All foods, whether natural, processed, or genetically modified, are made up of chemicals.  The question is: Are these chemicals helpful or harmful to our health? You probably need a degree in organic chemistry and molecular biology to make sense of those labels above. Yet, these foods are 100% natural and pretty beneficial to our bodies.

I don’t happen to know very much about o-chem or molecular biology, and I don’t expect you to, either. So here is how I sort out what should and shouldn’t eat without reading the Wikipedia entry for every item on a food label: Try it. If it doesn’t help you achieve your goals (feeling well, losing weight, increasing your mental focus), then stop eating it.

Yes, what I just wrote is overly simplistic. It is just a guide, not a hard rule. Use some common sense, because even one dose of arsenic will kill you. If it doesn’t look like food, don’t eat it. If you aren’t sure whether it is poisonous or not, don’t take a chance. If you have allergies, make sure you check the labels for the things you are allergic to.

I know from experience that gluten, oats, excessive sugar, and excessive potatoes make me feel awful, so I avoid those things. But a small amount of rice or potatoes, a drink of whisky, black beans, and cheese are usually fine on my body if I have them in moderation. (If I’m trying to lose weight, it is another story. Going full keto is usually what works the best for me.) My wife, on the other hand, can tolerate potatoes, rice, etc, a lot better than I can. But if she tries to eat as much fat as I usually eat or more than a small handful of almonds every day, she doesn’t feel very well.

TL;DR: Don’t stress out over the ingredients labels. Listen to your body.

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Primal Posting

Primal Posting

Still going strong on day 8. The thing I’ve embraced the most has been getting outdoors. I’ve been running to and from work, getting outside during lunch, and going to outdoor events. Tonight I had a drink (not paleo, but just one) on the waterfront in Long Island City, then I laid in McCarren park with my friend Scott as the sun set, and I’m posting from the park now.

One of my new coworkers is a crossfit and paleo fanatic, so with her influence, I really think the challenge will be a breeze this time around. I’ve been eating right, and being active.

I still haven’t done my measurements and taken pictures…I’ll wait til bobby the voyeur asks to see them ;)

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Whoops!

Sorry I’ve been so fickle on here for the past few months! College life makes it extremely hard to live primally (for me at least), but since I’ve been home and doing 80-20, I’ve felt so much clearer. I’ve lost ~12 pounds since I left school and have completely cut out wheat and alcohol. I’ve kept dairy (as yogurt is a staple of mine). I’ve been running or working in the garden 6/7 days a week and my panic disorder has also benefitted from the dietary and lifestyle changes that living primally brings. I’m going to try to continue posting as the summer goes on!

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If at first you don’t succeed…

Hey all, I started the 30 day challenge a couple years ago, and fizzled out after about 2 weeks. I just started a new job, and had some other recent shifts in my life, so I figure now is a time for a fresh start :) Today was my first day. I ate right all day, and jogged home from work in the rain in my five fingers (Long Island City in Queens to WIlliamsburg in Brooklyn). Tonight I have to take my measurements and take some pictures. I’ll keep you all posted…

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Wedding Prep

I’m getting married two months from today. I’ve been a little lax with my primal lifestyle, so it is time to get my body in shape.

Here is what I am doing:

  • I cleared out my pantry, 100%. No non-primal foods around.
  • Batch-cooking my meals on the weekends so I always have quality primal food around for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so that I don’t fall prey to convenience-eating non-primal food.
  • Daily workouts from Mark Sisson’s 21 Day Total Body Transformation book. I’m not in the habit of structured exercise, so the step-up in the book is fitting. I will just repeat certain exercises for the last 40 days.
  • Cutting out alcohol, except for one drink on the weekends. (I need a little bit of fun, you know?)
  • Taking short breaks during the day to do squats and/or pushups by my desk. Even standing all day doesn’t necessarily keep the blood flowing, so this is my solution.

I’ll be tracking my progress by my pants size, the strength of my arms and legs, and my energy levels.

Here is how my batch-cooking went this weekend. In 3 hours on Sunday, I cooked:

  • Carne asada
  • Grilled chicken
  • Roasted tri-tip
  • Fennel, onion, mushroom, and chicken curry
  • Sauteed kale and rainbow chard
  • I am cooking the rest of the vegetables tomorrow. I had some leftover asparagus, so I ate that today.

I should be set for most, if not all, of the week. Now I have to do the workouts, but I’m thankful that I have an action plan already set up.

How do you get ready for summer?

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30-Day Re-Introduction Challenge: Halfway There

Many of us are at least halfway through the 30-Day Re-Introduction Challenge, and it’s great to hear of everyone’s successes so far. My only slip-up came over the weekend when consuming a lethal amount of cheese at a work party. Every time I am tempted with cheese trays, I immediately become powerless to those delicious chunks of pure joy. While many of us can tolerate dairy, I have learned through experimentation that it gives me unpleasant bouts of fatigue.

While I often long for the days of consuming dairy indiscriminately, I have come to the harsh realization that it is not for me. If after 30 days something still feels out of whack with your well-being, consider an elimination diet of certain foods one at a time until you can pinpoint the problem. You will thank yourself for it in the long run.

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Week One Down: Onto Week Two

Hello, fellow primal dieters! Last week was a difficult time to begin the “30-Day Re-Introduction Challenge.” My journey back to college, among other things, really made my commitment to this new lifestyle (if you can call it that) difficult. However, I powered through, overcame my cravings, and am ready to take on week two! 

Similarly to Chuck, I’ve have really missed bread this past week. The cravings really began to hit me around the third or fourth day, but as long as I kept myself busy and lightly snacked on some fruits and vegetables, I was able to move past my desire for bread. Luckily, I haven’t struggled too much with the cutback on refined sugar. Sure, I’ve had trouble limiting my intake, but I haven’t had any major cravings. 

Now that I’m back at college, I fear it will be harder for me to meet the requirement of 7-8 hours of sleep a night. This month’s challenge will not only test my ability to combat cravings and stay healthy, it will to force me to be more efficient and productive with my schoolwork.  

I know I’m going to have trouble limiting my caffeine intake in the next few weeks (I rely on coffee way too much). Tomorrow, I’m going to go the extra mile and order a Grande instead of a Venti—saying a little money will be nice, too.

Good luck with this week, everyone!  

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Restoring Balance to the Primal Universe

Happy New Year, everyone! There’s nothing like the New Year to get motivated for another year of Primal bliss. So get back on the wagon (or is it off the wagon?) and join us. Getting started is the hardest part. The first few days may feel like death as your body cleanses itself, but it’s smooth sailing after that.

A tip I’ve heard from others is to drink chicken broth if you’re feeling like garbage. The “flu” you may feel in the first few days is often due to having depleted electrolytes, and the chicken broth helps to restore balance.

Another tip is to supplement with a tablespoon or two of coconut oil every day. Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which help to accelerate fat burning (ketosis).

Last but not least, make sure to get plenty of rest and keep the end goal in mind. You will turn into a rare physical specimen with boundless energy. Others will look at you and be able to sense your greatness. You will be the envy of all who cross your path.

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Preparation

Next week starts week 2 of the 30-Day Re-Introduction Challenge. This week, in addition to everything we did last week, we will cut out refined sugar entirely and put away our bottles of cognac.

Depending on how long you’ve been off of primal, the end of this first week may have been rough. You might still be suffering from cravings. If so, preparation will be key to staying on track next week. Even if you aren’t craving bagels every 20 minutes, preparing ahead of time can make staying 100% primal throughout the week much easier. I don’t know about you, but when I am stressed I don’t want to worry about making lunch. It is much easier to take a 5 minute walk to my favorite sandwich place. Luckily I have a plan.

I did my shopping on Saturday and spent part of the afternoon Sunday prepping for next week’s meals:

  • I made Ham and Egg cups for my breakfasts. I also bought coconut kefir to start my day off on the right digestive foot.
  • I made primal BLTs with avocado and homemade paleo roasted red pepper mayo for two lunches (recipe forthcoming).
  • I have quality ham and lettuce wraps ready for two more lunches. (Will probably spread some of that delicious mayo on before I eat them.)
  • I thawed frozen homemade soup for one lunch.
  • Monday I am making London Broil and broccoli for dinner.
  • Tuesday I am meeting a fellow foodie friend (fff) in the city for dinner. I will select something primal off of the menu.
  • Wednesday I am having another friend over for dinner. I’m stuffing a pork tenderloin with chopped apples and making a pecan cashew butter glaze for it. Sides: Asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and spinach creamed with coconut milk. Dessert: Banana pudding made with coconut milk and no added sugar.
  • Thursday I am going to an Indian restaurant with yet another friend. (Good week for socializing!) He isn’t primal, but he prefers low carb meals, so we won’t have naan or rice with the meal.
  • Friday I am having leftovers from Wednesday.
  • Saturday and Sunday I will eat whatever I have left. I am going out of town the 22nd-23rd, so I don’t want to have a bunch of food in the fridge.
  • I have homemade pecan-cashew butter, celery sticks, and cherries for snacks.

All of this took me about 4 hours total to plan, purchase, and prepare ahead of time (breakfast, lunches, and snacks) over the course of the weekend. Speaking from past experience, I am certain it will save me from decision-making headaches and impulse burgers.

Sometimes I even chop all of the veggies I am going to use for my dinners ahead of time, but that was unnecessary this week. Some weeks it is an absolute necessity and a huge time saver. Just like bulk-managing your email, bulk food prep will save you time and toil.

Do you have a plan in place for the week? Let me know in the comments!

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Day 4

Phew. Glad to have powered through the past few days! I was craving diet coke like crazy yesterday afternoon and literally had to text a friend to dissuade me. It worked! I’ve avoided gluten all together. Bread hasn’t appealed to me very much at all. I do miss cereal. I’m doing alright, but I know when I have to eliminate dairy that I’ll run into issues; Milk and yogurt are two of my favorite things. I’ve been drinking a lot of water with lime and also having raw almonds to curb cravings. I feel more awake throughout the last 4 days and I know the trend will continue. Starting as of, well, 5 minutes ago, I am intermittently fasting until 12:30 PM tomorrow (so, roughly 16 hours). This was a very head-clearing part of my experience with the Primal Challenge originally and I’m excited to incorporate it again. Until later..

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Cravings and Coping

Today is day 4 of the 30-Day Re-Introduction Challenge.

The cravings hit me this morning. I was fine Monday-Wednesday, but not today. I want to eat every piece of bread and candy I can find.

But I won’t. I’m being careful to cope with these cravings so I don’t fall off-track.

The first thing I do when a craving hits me especially hard is drink 1/2 glass of water. If after 10 minutes I’m still feeling it, then I have go-to snacks I planned out earlier in the week: Fresh cherries, roasted almonds, or if I am really hungry, a banana. The water is a good first response because it placates me and keeps me hydrated while helping my body flush out the gunk.

Of course, the cravings aren’t at zero and likely won’t be for another week and a half, but I am keeping the gluten dogs at bay by sticking to my plan.

Do you have a plan to deal with cravings so you don’t fall off? Let me know in the comments.

Posted in 30 Day Challenge, Food, Progress!, Water | 6 Comments