Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Musings: MIA

Doncha love it when people do blog posts about big, huge, drastic, sweeping changes they're doing in some aspect of their lives... then you don't hear from them for 2 weeks?


Yeah, leaves ya wondering if they did a horrible miserable fail and dove head first back into their old ways so deep that it'll take them years to dig out so they're back where they started...

Or (if you're more a more positive thinker than I am ;) you figure they're doing so well with things they are in happy lala land and have no need to be validated or report to others.

Yeah... those are usually the two I come up with as well.

To catch folks up to speed, I decided to embark on the 'Whole 30' plan which follows the paleo model of no grains, no sugar, no dairy, and no legumes, and also removes alcohol from the equation for 30 days... As with most 'elimination' type eating plans, it's designed to remove the major inflammation offenders from the diet to give the body a chance to rest, heal, and get back to healthy. The caveat is to commit completely 100%, no cheating, no 'sliding', nothin...

For me, I went in not planning to do the "whole" 30 days, but closer to 25 days to line up with the parental units visit... but decided to do it to see how it'd make me feel to commit 100% to something. I'm sittin here at day 15 and (because I do need validation and feel the need to report/be accountable to others) I'm happy to report I'm actually closer than the 2nd option than the first.

Here's a little touch base/update on things so far:

What I did:

- Met the change in eating with a good attitude. I looked at it for what it could bring to my life and my health... the fact that people were having great results (hitting personal records, sleeping better, living happier) all were compelling reasons to get to it.

- Looked at what I could have food wise, which is a great variety.

- Was willing to experiment with food. I looooove me my butter, but was willing to find out if I really needed it on some stuff, or if I could find a better alternative to make do during this time.

- Listened to my body. If it was hungry, I ate... if it was full, I stopped. If it was screaming at me to give it sugar, I had a chat with it to figure out what was really going on, and offered something else (usually food in general helped). When it was tired, I put it to bed.

- Ate more fruit! (I'll get to the significance in a bit)

What I didn't do:

- Stress... at least not too much. I will be 100% honest - I followed the plan 100%... for 10 days. Then I went away for the weekend and while I planned well (I packed a cooler with some salads, meat & snacks), there were still opportunities that I encountered when I CHOSE convenience over consistency. Did you get that? I made a choice to go off the eating plan. I didn't slip, no one made me, and I'm living with it. Cheese on the egg, dinner out with family that included a bit of pasta/bread, a piece of toast rather than waiting another hour to get breakfast, a glass of limited ed. beer with my hubby that I hadn't seen in almost a month rather than saying no. There was some GI issues with a couple of the choices, but for the most part no major blips, and went back to the plan at the next opportunity.

- Bemoan/focus on what I couldn't have... yeah, I miss the smidge of honey in my coffee in the morning, or butter on my broccoli, but I'm dealing. (Though out of all the stuff that I thought I'd "miss"... those are the only 2 things that I actually do miss.)

- Count down the days when I'd be done. One of the things I was bouncing around in my brain was if this was something I could live with long term. So instead of waiting till The End, I was counting UP the days that I did stick to the plan... and since I'm a total geek, my inner princesses & I had a lot of fun putting gold stars on my calendar for the days I did 100%. (seriously, you HAVE to make it fun! :)

- Eat enough. Yeah, this was fun... I couldn't figure out why I had no energy, but when I recorded the food for a couple of days it was glaringly obvious, my calories were way too low to support any sort of intense activity... like waking up, or showering, let alone sitting at a desk all day at work.

- Eat enough carbs. This part was extra fun... again, I couldn't figure out why I was feeling like total poo... and we all know I'm all about avoiding the poo. Well, I was already eating at the lower end of the carb range, but take away the morning toast, and add in more fiberously dense, but calorically light veggies, you've got yourself a pretty low carb eating plan. Here's the thing, cutting your carbs in half like that (for me it was going from about 100g to 50 grams) will encourage your body to expel a lot of water, and with it, essential nutrients - sodium, potassium, magnesium to name a few. Those nutrients are electrolytes and if they're low, you're not doing much of anything for long. So hence, more fruit... and bananas (and parsnips, which will made my dad smile. :)! Oooh and the happy, nutrient rich salt (not the regular bleached white stuff, we're talking Pink, Grey and nearly Black stuff... NUM!) Once I got those back in line, all was right and happy with the world again.

What I didn't expect:

- Creativity! This whole experience, short as it's been so far, really got the mental juices flowing. It got me thinking a lot more about the role/relationship with food in my life... and looking at a few other areas that haven't quite gelled yet, but are still niggling around the brain.

- Feeling like cr@p. Seriously, was annoying that I felt like poo so early on when so many people report feeling AH-mazing when they get going... glad I figured out what it was early on.

- The sugar monster that apparently was lurking deep within me. I had blocked out the daily chocolate fix (a hershey kiss here, a mini reeses there, etc...) so when I chose to stop it, I discovered how many times I did reach for the sugar. I could act all better-than-you and say that fruit is all you need, but I won't. Because when the brain is telling you that only processed white stuff will do, belive it. That's what it's been programmed to run on for the last however many years, and it does not like changing to lower octane fuel without a fight. Be prepared. And have dried fruit & nuts handy at all times.

- NOT having as much of an issue with the all-or-nothing thinking. I was really expecting this to be a battle of wills between the Princesses & I, but there really hasn't been much of an issue, much to my happy surprise. When I made once choice early on in the day to not stick to the plan, it didn't open the flood gates to keep on 'messing up'... in fact I think Stevie & Veruca did more to help keep that in check than I did for myself. The inner kiddo's did more parenting than the 'parent' by serving to remind me that it's just meaning that I won't get the full health benefits from sticking to it 100%, but I'm still getting a lot out of it.

So my summation:

The last 15 days has been a serious learning experience, but a positive one, and one I'm looking foward to seeing how the next several days go.

Is it sustainable? Absolutely... and will most likely continue with it to a good degree, but I love butter too much to keep it this restrictive. :)

So how about any of you? Have you committed yourself 100% to any changes? Share your experience!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Musing: And so it begins...

You ever notice how you make a decision to make a change in your life, you make the plan, you feel the love and excitement for what's to come...

Then you then start to feel the bulls eye shaped tattoo appear on your forhead and/or back. It's like every where you turn something pops up that blocks your road, that threatens to derail you, or pull you off course before you even get started.

What is up with that?!

Well, there's 2 reasons:

1) Once you made the decision, you start to become hyperaware of that area of your life.

Things you didn't pay any attention to before - the box of doughnuts on your co-workers desk every. single. friday.; the daily use of you debit/credit card for little things that you didn't need in the first place; the small piles that magically appear around the house that you're trying to clean up - all those things are "suddenly" in sharp focus because that's where your attention is.

2) You really do have a bulls eye shaped tattoo on your forhead/back.

Ok, it's a figurative one, not a literal one, but it's there... It's said that, when you're really committed to something, when you're on the right path to your dreams and goals, the Universe will conspire on your behalf to achieve success.

Sometimes, though, that conspiracy comes in the form of a pop quiz. Those things that come out of nowhere to throw you off course - The surprise lunch for a friend who has great news to share the first week of your "induction phase" eating plan? A test. The chance to go on a once in a life time trip the month you're dedicated to not using your credit cards any more? Sure enough - it's a test. Starting a new ::coughWhole30cough:: eating plan on Valentines day, only to face fancy cupcakes and dark chocolate goodness first thing in the morning? You betcha it's a test.

You can side step the majority of potential tests that can come your way by simply being prepared: Look at the calendar to see if there's any events coming up that could cause you to act in opposition to your goals; practice in your mind how you will act in different situations; most importantly, continually remind yourself of your long term goals, and why it's more important to reach them than it is to have the momentary experience.

Because that's part of the test - planning and preparing for your success.

When life throws something at you that you're not prepared for, you still have a choice in the matter: Decide what IS worth the momentary experience, the temporary detour, and what's not, and if you're ok with the decision you make.

That's also part of the test - learning to live with the concequences of your actions.

Sometimes you'll sail through the tests with flying colors without missing a beat.

Sometimes you'll fall flat on your face. But sailing through doesn't mean you passed, and falling down doesn't mean you failed.

You sometimes can fail by skating through because you didn't really see what was going on.

You pass by picking yourself up one more time.

The only time you really and truly fail is if you missed the lesson of how to do better next time, or you let it stop you completely.

This morning, with working through at least 3 tests before the sun came up, I was rewarded with this gem from Greg Laurie:

The Devil says, "Play and enjoy now... pay later."

God says, "Pay now, and enjoy forever."

Whatcha gonna choose?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Same Stuff, Different Day

Same Stuff, Different Day

There's times when I am amazed at how far I've come in my journey. I see habits that have developed to establish a lifestyle that supports a leaner, healthier, happier, active mind and body. I've learned so much along the way and grown in ways I couldn't have ever imagined.

Then there's times when I'm dumbfounded by how far I still have to go... almost like I haven't moved from the starting gate at all.

Case in point... earlier this week I was re-re-reintroduced to a web site/blog that, every time I visit it, I think, "They've so got it going on!" I don't agree 100% with all their views, but they've done enough background work and research, that I can respect them, agreeing to disagree.

Part of their site is a challenge to jump in with both feet to change, not only the way you eat for 30 days, and in their hopes, you'll change the way you live your life for the better. They've updated it a few times, honing, expanding, and expounding on some of the finer points, but it's remained the same at the core.

Where I diverge from them is 1) I'm really starting to detest the whole "Paleo" label because, like too many 'named Diets', people get wrapped up in the details (and a lot of times get wrapped up in the Better-Than-You-ness of those details) while missing the spirit of things, which is to figure out what's best for YOUR body and makes YOU healthy, and 2) I don't agree with Cordain who deems dairy & saturated fat of the debil. Whatevs...

After re-re-relooking at the site, the plan, the philosophy, and talking with a friend of mine about it, we decided... we're in! I've stepped up to the line but never completely crossed over.

Anywho, why I'm sharing this is for a couple of reasons, and none of them really have to do with food - I'm always hesitant to share information about what *I* eat because not only are food choices SO personal, and as I reference back to my "H" word post, what's good and happy for me (the meatetarian ;), isn't so good or happy for others.

No... the reason for sharing is purely mental: As in *I* feel mental about it! LOL! I'd just read an article recently about how people never really know the effectiveness of a program - any program, be it fitness, nutrition, financial, business, whatever - if you don't completely comply with it 100%. So many times people read the "rules" and say, "Ok... that's all well and good BUT I don't like/won't do X, and Y," then wonder why they're not getting the results they want. Or someone makes a valid suggestion and it's dismissed completely out of turn without even being considered.

Or worse, you decide you're all in, you're excited, and ready to take on the 'challenge'... then after a few days the compromises/negotiations happen... which is where I'm at.

Seems like my inner princesses, Stevie & Veruca, were on vacation until a couple days after I decided to jump in to this challenge.

Me: "Tralala... no grain, sugar, dairy for the next few weeks... that's ok. Need to give the body a break anyway and will be interesting to see how I feel afterwards."

Them (dropping their bags at the door): "WHAT?! What do you mean no sugar or dairy!??!"

Me: "Welcome back! Missed you girls!"

Stevie: "Whatev! Start talking about this craziness about taking away my cheese!"

Veruca: "And my chocolate!"

Stevie: "Yeah! And the honey and cocoa in our coffee!"

Me: "OK! Calm down, let's talk..."

Them taking turns ganging up on me: "I mean it's not like we have /thaaat/ much of any of those things! Oooh, but we can still have butter, right!?! Cuz that's butter, not dairy. And since we're starting on Monday we better get all the goodies we can right now and and and... "

Me: "Enough! No Mardi Gras talk!!!"

Them: ...

Me: "Thank you! Here's the thing - this is an experiment! It's short term to see how we feel and weren't you just saying we'd like the size 6 jeans to fit a little less snug?"

Stevie (quietly): "yeah."

Me: "And weren't you saying you wish we'd just pick something and stick with it?"

Veruca (pouting): "yes"

Me: "So, this is a way to see if it really does make us feel a lot better... and we'll figure ways around..."

Veruca: "But there's cookies in the freezer!!! what about those?!"

Me: "they'll still be there at the end... and hopefully we'll be in a smaller jean size and feel tons better!"

So the negotiations continued for a while till a truce was achieved. All parties agreed to give 100% to this change... because the potential pay off is pretty cool.

And that's really the crux of it - why we resist, why we negotiate, why we only do half hearted efforts: change.

It's all about change, or rather resisting change. Change is uncomfortable. And change usually means we have to say "no" to something. Change means we have to let go of something.

But here's the other side of that coin: When you let go of something (usually a bad habit), or say "No" (to something that's not good for you in the first place) it opens up the door for something bigger and better. Saying "no" to the fancy-schamancy latte can add up to a down payment for a new car. Giving up a few minutes sleep to go to the gym could mean a better doctor visit and maybe a smaller pair of pants. One small change builds on another and another until you suddenly realize you're not the same person who started, that you're actually achieving those goals instead of bemoaning another unresolved resolution.

So instead of grieving the potential loss, why not get excited about the potential gain? If you're like me, you'll get even more than you bargained for in bigger and better ways than imagined... though you'll still have your Inner Princesses/Princes to remind you of how things "used to be".

So what are you still holding on to? (I'll give you a hint... it's that thing that you respond, "I would /never/ do that!" ;) What are you ready to let go of for something better?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The "H" Word

Dear Powers That Be,

Hello and good day to you. I hope this missive finds You well and happy.

I am writing you today in hopes that you will consider my petition to become Queen of the Universe... I see many things going awry in this world, and many misguided people and feel that my experience and knowledge base will help me help others so they too can live a peaceful, enlightened, fulfilled lives.

If my petition is granted, I shall make it my first priority in office to banish the use of The "H" Word... Healthy.

Yes, PTB, you read that right... I wish to banish the word "healthy" from the vocabulary of the modern age.

I did not reach that decision lightly, and there were several words, especially in the weight loss world, that were considered. Words like "diet" and "clean", not to mention the range of "named" eating plans... then there were words like "Only" which diminish the positive actions of the person stating it (I /only/ did 15 minutes of X activity... which is a HECK of a lot better than _NO_ minutes.) And there's the whole concept of resolutions that, honestly, I wouldn't know where to begin.

So I decided on tackling what seems to be at the heart of the matter and cause for much confusion: "Healthy" ...

Just as the Eskimo's have elebenty billion words for snow, Healthy has elebenty billion and one different uses, implications, and concepts... it has gotten to the point where, to quote the great philosopher Indigo Montoya, "You keep using that word... I do not think it means what you think it means.

Let me 'esplain:

Plain and simple, the definition of Healthy is this:

1. possessing or enjoying good health or a sound and vigorous mentality: a healthy body; a healthy mind.
2. pertaining to or characteristic of good health, or a sound and vigorous mind: a healthy appearance; healthy attitudes.
3. conducive to good health; healthful: healthy recreations.

So, one could conclude, that possessing or pursing these things, one would be considered "healthy." Rightly so! Possessing a sound and vigorous body and mind /should/ be something to celebrate and chase after with pride and passion.

Sadly, that's where the masses diverge from the path and have taken the word "healthy" and turned it into a judgment, a standard, and almost a 4-letter word, _especially_ in reference to food.

My take: Healthy is in the eye of the beholder, and what promotes vibrant health of the mind and body in one, can destroy it in another.

The word itself is tied to many things that, on the surface, do seem to good for the masses - less processed food, more foods that are closer to their natural state. Move more, sit less. All good ideas in general, but it's the specifics where folks get bogged down.

For example: Some say that a way of eating that is rich in whole grains is the way to go... but to a celiac or someone with serious gluten/grain intolerance issues, that's a one way trip to Loo-ville, or worse, the hospital.

A way of eating higher in carbohydrates is great if you're an endurance athlete, but for a Type 1 Diabetic, or someone with insulin resistance it's a roller coaster ride of sugar highs and lows that can lead to bad, bad places.

For some, building a foundation of eating based on just plant based items may be the key to vitality, but put that salad or veggie dish in front of someone with Crohn's Disease, might as well offer them a plate full of nails.

A plateful of critter protein and minimal carbohydrate accompaniments may do wonders for energy and focus for one, but make another sluggish and want to curl up for a nap.

A recipe could be labeled "healthy" because it swaps out whole wheat flour for all purpose, but still contains over processed grain that's been bleached beyond recognition. Or it could gain that illustrious title because it's reduced the amount of fat, which also reduced the capacity for some of the vitamins contained within to be absorbed.

Sitting in any lunchroom is like putting yourself in a judgmental war zone where you are praised or ridiculed by the amount of vegetable matter on plate.

You see from these few examples, dear PTB, that the rampant misuse and abuse of a positive word needs to be stopped?! I didn't even touch on the confusion that occurs when one tries to identify what is or isn't considered healthy (Milk, for example, the wonderful, vitamin rich elixir which apparently is also of teh debil and must be avoided and consumed at the same time.)

You now see the reason for my petition to become Queen of the Universe so that my Reign of Terror era of help and kindness can begin as soon as possible. So the focus can be taken off of imposing on the masses what is perceived as "healthy", and put back in the hands of the individual to determine what brings about good health _to them_ and empower them to continue on that path.

In closing, I hope that you consider my plea as I am only looking out for myself the mental and physical well being of those around the globe.

I look forward to your quick and positive response, granting my request.

Your most humble servant,