One small step for mankind, one giant ‘hanumanasana’ leap for me

75 Minute Intermediate Class (Focus on Hanumanasana) p2

Friday.

I can’t remember a Friday when I have not had a glass of wine – oh yes I can, during the Primal Junction challenge – but before then I cant remember one I haven’t had a drink much less exercised.

Tonight is my first strong flow. Where the ultimate goal is to reach full splits.

As soon as Kristiarne told us this as we checked in for the class, Nisha and I exchanged a worried glance and raised eyebrows.

It’s the journey, Kristairne reassured us. Don’t worry.

As Nisha said, that’s going to be a long journey for us.

For me, who has only just learnt to touch my toes, whose hips still ache and knees inwardly bend at odd angles, it’s going to be a tough one.

Apparently the journey involves us using two blocks for support, which was fine until the class got so full we had to surrender one of our already claimed blocks to the later comers, or those who were not quick enough to snatch two.

I gave mine to Haydn. Probably a mistake in hindsight given his increased flexibility to begin with and his previous gymnastic experience.

His handstand walking at crossfit today made my attempt at kicking my legs overhead, much less walking, well, laughable. Plus he can sumo squat more than double his weight, so not sure why he needs a block to hold him up.

Anyway, I gave it to him. Odds are it won’t be the fact I am down to only one block that stops me from doing the splits. I have a better chance of splitting something.

I’m in the first row tonight. Nisha has dragged me here kicking and screaming so we can review our posture closer to the mirror. I’m not sure I like it. It’s too close. Especially if the destination is full splits, or as we are told ‘hanumanasana’ (hah-new-mahn-AHS-anna). 

Before attempting this peek pose we were told a story of a monkey-faced king, Rama, of India whose wife, Sita, was abducted by an evil demon king of Sri Lanka, Ravana. Like any good war story a battle followed and according to Wikipedia Rama’s brother was severely injured and his life could only be saved by a magical herb that only grew, alas, on the Himalayas and was an impossible journey given the time required to bring the herb back to save Rama’s brother, Laksamana.  

Enter the story’s hero, Hunuman, who was devoted to Rama and so took it upon himself to take the leap from India to the Himalayas, where unsure what herb to pick, he instead strapped the entire mountain on his back.

“It was the greatest leap ever taken. The speed of Hanuman’s jump pulled blossoms and flowers into the air after him and they fell like little stars on the waving treetops. The animals on the beach had never seen such a thing; they cheered Hanuman, then the air burned from his passage, and red clouds flamed over the sky . . .” (Ramayana, retold by William Buck).

Of course he made it back in time, saved Laksamana, rescued Rama and everyone lived happily ever after.

After I went through the motions, I am sure Laksamana, Rama and Sita were well glad they had someone with Hanuman’s flexibility, leg length and strength on their side instead of my own..

No block was required, because well, there was just no way I was getting anywhere close to leaping over my mat much less over a country or two.

I took a sneaky glance at Hadyn and noticed he was in full splits.

Without his block.

I really wanted to go home and have a glass of wine.

Saturday

I have never spent so much time in front of a mirror as I have since starting yoga.

It’s a bit confronting.

Not so much during the practice, but the time I spend in the room before is defiantly. I find myself staring at my own arms, wondering if they are any closer to Michelle Bridges.

Tonight, when I take a break from the scribble on my page and look up, catching a glance of my seated position, I almost think they do. But then I realize I have taken my glasses off and am probably looking at somebody else.

If anything my arms look a little too wide.

I’m prepping for the triple-header today.

My hips are a little cranky after last nights failed leap attempt. Fair to say the journey to find full splits might be over before it has really begun for me.

Laksamana must have had really long legs.

I’m also still recovering from my eating mishap yesterday when I ransacked cake and forgot my sugar free self.  Maybe that is why my arms look too wide.

Today sees a few familiar faces, a few new ones. I’m back in my regular, almost comforting place waiting for Nisha who I know will want to change to be closer to the front, but with or without glasses I know my arms are not like Michelle Bridges just yet, and after my embarrassing attempt at  ‘hanumanasana’ it’s safer in my corner.

After today’s triple-header I should be back on track to success.

Thank god.

If I continue the daily ritual, with a Thursday double and either a double or triple next Saturday then I should be far enough in front for the final weekend when I will also be away, and actually pass the challenge.

Knowing I would be starving by 11:30 I ate yoghurt with my paleo Primal Junction muesli, and washed it down with a long black before I came.

Not sure it was the best idea to have dairy before yoga, but I’ve been craving it lately and didn’t have time to cook eggs.

I also made a smoothie, spinach, banana, berry and chia seeds, although again I failed by putting it in the freezer and it’s not yet ready to drink.

I’m a little tired, maybe ill have a nap in meditation….

Sunday

I’m back baby! Back on track!!

I’m pretty chuffed with myself for making it back from so far behind.

I might even be ahead!!!

Mind you, I’m paying for it.

My legs are sore, my hips ache, I have a bruise on my butt that I think is from crossfit and hurts every time I rock and roll my way up to seated position, and my shoulders burn through my vinyasa flow.

And I’m exhausted.

It’s my 10th class for the week.

10 classes in 7 days.

Of course there was a Yin through in, and mediation yesterday, but either way that is a lot of airtime, dedication, flexing, stretching and sweating I have left on the mat this week.

So much so I have caught up. Am not a follower but back with the pack, a real challenger.

Thank goodness, if I was putting my hips through this for nothing I would be well pissed.

The mat placement etiquette seems to have been lost a little today. I thought about trying a different position but it’s a little bit creative, not straight lines, all higgledy piggledy and I couldn’t quite find the right area for Nisha and I to set up somewhere new.

Nisha is hung over. She is getting ready to sweat out all the bad boy toxins she consumed last night.

Me, I had one glass of red wine and it was enough to send me to sleep.  I didn’t even make my eyelids stay open for the last ten minutes of Carlton versus Essendon.

See, exhausted.

My body hurts and my entire being was cursing when the alarm went off this morning.

It’s Sunday! Rest Day!! Are you mad woman!!?? Shut that thing off!!!??

 

Sorry scary Stacey, you will have to stop poking me with your pitchfork because I am getting up.

My thought process before class today.

I really had to sumo slam the negative Stacey down, the one who was responsible for me eating cake. She had Friday, she was not having Sunday too!

It’s been a tough week.

Nisha felt like this week one. I am sure others did also. Tired, struggling, a little overwhelmed because maybe this entire challenge thing was taken bit too easily, with a little bit too much self confidence.

Week 1 challengers were all feeling like that while I was away for work, drinking wine, eating steak and sleeping in.

But now it’s my turn.

Maybe some others are feeling like me this week.  Maybe not, maybe everyone else is great as they are already well on their way in week two, and they prepared themselves.

Today Nisha said she defiantly felt stronger than she did before starting the challenge – which is great. She looks stronger, and I know she can touch her toes now. Her leap to the Himalayas was longer than mine, and she thought I was the flexible one.

I just feel like I have lost more sweat than my body weight, and are more tired than I normally am.  My arms are no closer to Michelle Bridges and my thighs area still causing me grief. So much grief I need to visit Lulu this week for some more suitable clothing.

Cleary I am also complaining more than I normally would. Or perhaps I always complain a lot and have not realised it…

Hopefully it’s not just me, that other challenger goers are having a mid mental breakdown too.  That other challengers are surprised at how much they hurt, how much they sweat, how stiff they can be and how tired at the end of a day.

On the positive – I am also surprised at much I like yoga.

How important it is for me to keep my fingers pointed at the roof, that my legs are in the right position. How hard I try to keep my elbows in during forward plank before going through my flow routine. How happy I was when Kacey mentioned I had good alignment in my vinyasa flow.

So while I am complaining (a fair bit) I am enjoying this challenge and my introduction to yoga. If I wasn’t I would have thrown in the mat by now and just moved on. Eaten more cake and not thought about it again.

But I really do like it, which means I really do want to succeed at this challenge.

So back to the mat ill go tomorrow. And the next day, and the day after that…

It’s one small step for mankind, one giant ‘hanumanasana’ leap for those of us in the challenge.

It’s not back fat, I just can’t do my dress up. And I thought Yoga was easy…

921178_10200777005442353_1211859909_o

Monday

I’m back at yoga. It’s only Monday, the first Monday I have been, so not sure why I’m saying ‘back’.

My little yellow blocks of achievement haven’t progressed any further down the aisle.  I’m still showing 50 shades of white.

It’s early. Very early. For a 6pm class I left work at 5, quickly changed and came straight here, even though it’s a two minute drive. I remember Kacey saying classes could get busy and I have an embarrassing fear of coming so late I can’t find a place to squeeze in my mat.

I’m paranoid that instead I will hover, recently purchased, fresh still curling at the edges mat in hand, squinting through the dim lights because I forgot my glasses, trying to find a spot to sweat amongst everyone else.

I have always hated being late.

Even so, I was so early I sat in the car for 15 minutes and waited until I saw a few others with yoga mat in hand entering before coming in.  As much as I hate to be late, I also hate being the first one to arrive.

Like a creature of habit I put my mat down in the same place I have practiced the last two days I’ve been here.  Simone, a fellow challenger was taking her usual daily instagram so I left her in peace and instead ventured out back to the main room and took another woeful look of the scoreboard.

It’s so woeful that the moment new people start to arrive I venture back in the room, notebad and pencil in hand and lie on my purple sanctuary, trying not to think of how many make up classes I still have and how few days I have to do it in.  

I’m nervous again.

Not sure why, but I am. Maybe because I don’t have Nisha with me, she did the morning class. Maybe because I am so worried about not filling in my chart and I have always been bad at math and have not worked out how many double, triples and singles I will need to do yet. I think I need to pee again, even though I just did. It’s a nervous pee.

My hips and arms slightly ache from crossfit this morning, and holding my grey-led is slightly painful. The room is so quiet everyone can hear the scratch of my pencil. So much so, I’m conscious of it and move, causing both my knees to crack and send the sound vibrating through the room.

Ooops.

My pants are too big and not the standard lulu lemon edition everyone else has. They make me feel more like a novice. Especially when I only notice they are too big when I feel the top of my undies poking out from the back band and hope I haven’t shown the girl behind me too much of my butt as I bend over my tattered notebook.

Sorry about that if I have.

I need new pants because I am well on my way to crossfit legs. Eg thunder thighs and a small waist.

As the room starts to fill, it gets warmer. I’m already in this morning’s sweaty clothes, which were yesterday’s sweaty clothes, and I’m really hoping I don’t stink this beautiful room out…

Tuesday

Honestly, I thought this entire challenge would be one piece of paleo cake and no biggy.

I mean if I quit sugar and gluten and grain and soy and legumes and god forbid stopped drinking for 36 days then surely this would be a breeze.

Ding dong – wrong again.

How overly self confident I have found myself – a realization the last two challenges have clearly shown me through a rare moment of self awareness.

A bit of stretching, a few deep breaths. Nothing I, a lady with lats and too thick thighs couldn’t handle.

Right?

Wrong!

I’m still sore from yesterday.

I don’t know if it was the snatch or the pull ups at crossfit or the hot yoga from the night before or the ring dips and skin the cat from this morning, but my arms are not quite working the way they are meant to.

I couldn’t do my dress up today.

The bottom zip I finally managed to squeeze up after sucking in, but no amount of stretching or pulling could get my tight right arm into a position where it could effectively button the top of my dress.

And I thought yoga was meant to make you more flexible.

It’s not back fat, I keep trying to tell myself, I just can’t do my dress up.

The only other time I can remember having visible back fat was in my wedding dress. When they make it so tight you need a ruler to push down your flesh into the fold of the dress between your shoulders.

One slight incorrect move and you have a second butt crack in your back.

Then you look back on your wedding photos and realize you are never going to be that size again in your life because you starved yourself for months to fit into a dress you would never wear again.

Oh the society we live in!

(Personally my dress was off the special rack, I ate everything I wanted to and am smaller now so look at those photos and am grateful my back fat is hidden).

But I digress. Back in the work change rooms I gave up trying to reach the button on my dress,  kept my hair down, my jacket on and snuck upstairs to find fellow crossfiter, brain child of ‘confessions of ladies with lats’ and understander of thick thighs, who in sympathy did the button up for me.

And then tonight, another clothing error – I think I have my pants on back to front.

I’m not quite sure. 

This no tag thing lulu has got going on really confuses me at times.

Just like the warrior pose does that I seem to only push into a second after everyone else is steady. My feet slip and slide on my mat, my new, purple, still curling at the edges mat, and as sweat drips off me I struggle to dig my feed into the ground.

I sweat more in yoga that I do in crossfit. Who would have thought?

And now I’m the strange glasses wearing, sweaty feet, pants on backwards large armed and thick thighs girl on the new mat in the corner of a yoga room with a notebook.

If my friends could see me now.

Wednesday

There is a team of us tonight. I’m not longer a loner. Nisha has switched to nights to break it up and two friends from work have also joined. I’m worried their girlish giggles and poses will make me laugh and I have strategically placed my mat right in front of theirs.

It’s hot tonight. Not outside, I mean in the class. I’m slightly worried because l have my long leggings and my sweating has only increased of late, if I was sliding in flow, tonight I will be sprawling.

And there are 28 of us in the room.

I did pack shorts to wear and went to put them on but my recent change in body structure and shape and size has caused them to no longer fit. Too big around the waist, a little too firm on my thighs.

I don’t need falling down shorts as I down my dog in the face of colleagues behind me, so I’ve taken my chances with the long leggings.

My mat is upside down. I’ve only just realized but not entirely sure it matters either. At least my pants are on the right way today.

 I think.

Thursday.

I ran out of work like a crazed maniac to make it here in time.

It was a struggle, I almost didn’t.

Firstly I put on my pants only to discover a very very VPL so had to ransack the spare emergency supply of sports clothing I leave in my locker at work to find new briefs. Only after I had successfully changed this wardrobe malfunction did I notice the singlet I once ran in quite comfortably now struggled over my back and shoulders and given it was going to be hot yoga tonight and it was quite thick, was just not suitable.

Maybe it shrunk in the wash, although given my recent failures at doing back buttons up, I think something more sinister is at play.

Back to the locker for a new top. Rummaging through the bag I find a gem I forgot I even had – loose fitting singlet much lighter weight. Score!

Finally dressed and ready for my two hour make up session, Yin then Hot, I realize on route to the car I had no water bottle with me after skipping crossfit this morning in preparation for a double up session tonight.

Bullocks.

I broke almost all safety regulations as I sprinted back to the car, up three flights of stairs and burst back through the office door. A few startled looks from pricing and my previous marketing colleagues before I jogged through office pods and desks to find my own and grab waiting water bottle, much to the surprise, strange looks and random commentary of my team.

Now if anyone from work is reading this, please replace ‘sprinted/ran/jogged’ with ‘walked briskly’, delete ‘burst’ and insert ‘gently opened’ and rest assured the handrail was held during all three flights of stairs.

Eventually I made it, flustered, only ten minutes early, trying to finish a last minute phone call (not while driving, while stationary in car out front) to my husband regarding his recent high cholesterol diagnosis and arguing with him over the doctor’s advice to quit butter and eggs and eat margarine.

Back me up here Lizzy, Bec & Primal Junction – please!

My overzealous behavior to get into the room even caused a too quick scan of my Kula tag while Kacey was registering a keen new participant and almost resulted in a computer malfunction.

Opps, sorry about that Kacey.

Slow down Stacey – this is Yin for goodness sakes. A yoga class, not a race!

That’s a voice in my head speaking. But my panting and racing mind from the to do list still on the work table has drowned her out. 

At least today she has left her pitchfork and horns at home, but she does have that scorn on her face and the librarian look my mother sometimes gets just before launching into a lecture.

It can’t be good.

First observation of my second light class – much more men get involved.

Second observation – I’m still on struggle street with challenge classes given there are three others who have all come in for the double header tonight and all three have more colorful representation that I do on that graph.

So thunder thighs, back fat, nervious novice and I thought Yoga was easy….

 Related articles

Glorious & Gluttonous Paleo Gingerbread Cake

IMG_0467

If you read day 29 of my blog you know that during my 30-day primal/paleo challenge I was enticed, seduced and ultimately fell in love with a sweet treat introduced by a friend of mine, paleo gingerbread.

If you haven’t read day 29  – then get on it!

The seduction itself occurred on day 21, but I was too in lust and love with the dessert to bring myself to post about my forbidden love and treachery.

I admit, weeks after I ate that wonderful paleo gingerbread that my ‘almost always’ paleo friend made for me, I thought perhaps I had just imagined the goodness of it given I was in the middle of a tempting feast of sugar (dinner party) and was in day 21 of a 30 day paleo challenge.

So when the challenge finished, and I along with fellow challenges were invited by Primal Junction, to join a celebration, I thought I too would try my hand at making the gingerbread goodness, and see if a) I was a good as cook as my friend and b) if it really was three slice worthy and that good.

So I pulled up the original recipe, and just as my friend did for me that day made a few modifications. The modified list of must have’s is below –

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup coconut nectar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp. organic vanilla extract or vanilla bean (I have used both)
  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder (gluten free)
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Now the recipe we had, said stern words like follow the ingredients exactly, and make sure you do everything just as I have blah blah blah, and while I very much appreciate the author had taken the time to experiment and find a great paleo option for us all, there were adjustments to be made.

For instance the original recipe called for 2/3 cup blackstrap molasses, which we substituted for coconut nectar, and also for maple extract, which we left out completely. The first time I made these I also omitted the baking soda (by mistake) but it didn’t seam to matter and I didn’t have cloves so just added in extra cinnamon. So basically, you can just work through the spices to your taste and don’t get too hung up about it.

And best of all, its very easy to make.

Simply combine the eggs, coconut nectar, coconut oil and vanilla and beat well until its combined.

While your kitchen aid is churning that goodness, combine the rest of the dry ingredients in another bowl and mix with a spoon so it is combined.

While your blades are still churning, add the dry ingredients to the wet slowly, until it is combined and mixed well.

Now the recipe I had also was very particular about cooking this in a glass greased dish, 13×9. I used a metal non-stick square loaf pan that I greased with a coconut oil. On one occasion, because I was scared it wouldn’t come out cleanly; I also used baking paper to line the tin. Again don’t get too hung up about what you cook it in – but it does effect cooking times.

Choose your tin/pan/dish and spread the batter in evenly as best you can.

Bake in your pre-heated oven at 180 degrees and cook for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to about 110 for another 30 minutes.  Personally, my tin takes a little longer at this temperature so keep checking and don’t stress out if you need to keep the oven hot for a little while longer.

I also found this temperature and time often did not darken the cake enough, so would crank up the heat again to get a nice dark colour. You know its cooked inside if your poker/prodder/toothpick comes out clean, so if you do like a darker colour you might like to do the same. Word of caution however, this baby tans quickly so keep your eye on it or your brown will soon turn to black….

Once cooked, let the cake cool enough that you can safety take it out of your pan, but not completely or it might get stuck.

If possible try to let it cool completely before cutting  – more harsh words from the original recipe author – although again the first time I made this I was running late and cut it as steam was rising from it, and it still got rave reviews.

So, back to my original questions.

A)     Was I as good a cook as my friend? – No. Her colour was better, and its always nicer when someone makes it for you.

B)     Was the paleo gingerbread cake as good as I thought it was? Yes. It was snaffled up by most of the challenge celebrators and the recipe was asked for. Even my sugar loving family and Great Baker Gma complemented it the second time I made it for a family dinner.

The only problem with this little puppy is its so easy to make and eat, you will end up doing both WAY too much!

IMG_0459

The Primal Challenge Day 30 – The Finale

Day 30. The final day. I’ve been putting off writing this post for as long as I can. Probably because it is officially the end of the challenge, and I’m not sure I want it to be.

My procrastination has led me to tackle my own version of chewy mocha power balls (no berries, a few extra dates) and a double serving of frosty fruit smash. I then ate half of it and put the rest in the freezer – I’m still worried about Friday’s skin fold test.

I wanted to make the paleo banana bread recipe, but my sister in law did and ate four pieces of it in one day, so I’m a little scared. You know my track record with other backed paleo goods. And nuts.

Lizzy told me today post WOD she felt posting the MODs each night was therapeutic, and she would miss it. I guess I feel the same way about my blog posts.

I started the idea for my first post when the voice in my head that often talks to me seemed to make a little bit of sense. You know that voice that often tells you what you should and shouldn’t do? Well mine often says it in a more colourful way, and sometimes rather than just saying yes or no, entire paragraphs of often useless drivel and one sided conversation ends up swimming in my head.

The beginning of the 30 day challenge  – something so new to me given I had never tried to cut out any food before, let alone multiple food groups – seemed to ignite that voice in my head and send her on a sugar fuelled drive, so much so I had to get it out.

Just as Lizzy did with her MODs, I found the writing therapeutic, and it was a simple way to reignite a very rusty passion and habit for writing.   I never expected others to like it, or to follow or to share it, or to comment. Or that on day 28 a random Crossfit Rookie News website would pick it up (where were you day 1?!).

So I know I don’t want that to be over.

But most of all, I don’t really want the 30 day challenge to be over, because I’m slightly scared of what I will do when it is.

There is still that bottle of wine (or three) in the fridge. Right next to the ciders and the beer and the mixers ready for the gin and vodka. I never normally drink during the week (when I am at home – if I am travelling, out to dinner or just out for drinks of course this rule does not apply) but there is part of me that is worried I might bust out a vodka on the rocks the moment I’m able to.

A few ears still remain of the Easter bunny that was eventually cracked open on Sunday night. I almost want to eat them now in case my husband gets to them first. I have the fear of missing out – a stupid fear – like there are no more Chocolate Easter Bunnies in the world. Like normal rabbits, they seem to be quite effective at multiplying and running around in other peoples gardens when not wanted.

And a few Tim Tams – the original, not those that have tried to catch up with crazy modern times and added more sugar to the already existing overflowing amount. There are a few of them left too.

The wheel of double Brie cheese is almost calling my name from here.

I don’t think I really want to eat these things (well maybe only a little) but once the word ‘challenge’ is removed from this entire clean eating gig, then my mental barrier which has been effectively blocking these nasties from me will be lifted, and maybe then I’ll return to my human self, loosing all superhero self control I had during the last 30 days.

I think that might be scarier than the primal fear I first felt.

So, reflection time. What exactly have a I learned/experienced/felt during these 30 days I hear you ask? Yes I literally hear you ask. Almost every day someone asks me if feel better, have I noticed a difference, has it been worth it.

So here it all is – sugar sweet, sweat and tears…

Lightbulb moments –

#1

I was VERY naïve when it came to some foods and healthy eating. As a 30 something who was actively exercising, and had friends who thought I was already on a very strict eating plan, I was in some way shape or form kidding myself.

Sugar is sugar, regardless if it is in chocolate cake or muesli bars. The entire time I was saying no thanks as others ate over stimulated Picnic bars (my ultimate favorite) or pieces of cake – and silently judging them for it – I was doing the same thing with my Carmen’s muesli, muesli bars, fruit, packaged soup and other no longer –never were – healthy foods.

Here Miss Sugar is no longer center stage. She has been reduced to a mere understudy in her now dirty and ripped tutu and doesn’t seem so attractive anymore.

#2

Sugar is EVERYWHERE.  I mean EVERYWHERE.  Hidden in much of what I had in my pantry and used every night for dinner, and then wondered why neither of us could loose any weight.  In case you think I am exaggerating, here is a list of where Miss Sugar hides, loitering in the curtains waiting for the main star to break her leg so she can take over….

  • Masterfoods dried herbs, including Lemon Pepper, Garlic Pepper Seasoning, Chicken Seasoning, Roast Vegetable Seasoning to name a few.
  • Tomato sauce – all brands
  • Fish sauce – most brands
  • Moist coconut flakes – yeah this little sucker almost had me!
  • All supermarket stocks
  • Premade pasta jars – a regular in my household before this
  • Most pre-packed nut mixes
  • Most ‘mixed fruit’ packages also include extra sugar – why I don’t know.
  • Most things that are ‘flavoured’ are not really natural and the ‘flavour’ is in fact sugar.
  • Most ‘light’ or ‘lite’ options
  • Salad dressings and mustards
  • Some herbs in jars (eg ground ‘fresh’ ginger)
  • Most things in jars eg curry powder, paste etc
  • Tinned foods – especially soup (did I mention this was my lunch most days prior to day 1?)

#3

Dinner can consist of food, real food, and still be satisfying without rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, quinoa, potato as a side option.

This one was hard to accept, because most of the above is – or was – a staple and favourite of mine.

#4

Corn is a grain. Yep I know, seems obvious – but I am blonde remember.

#5

Just because you are going through a learning journey relatively late in life, does not mean others are – so don’t presume their ignorance is as low as yours and preach to them if you want to have friends in the future.

#6

Eggs and smoothies keep you much fuller than sugar muesli and fat free milk for breakfast and you can never have too much bacon.

#7

Expect headaches, maybe a few stomach cramps or joint pains. Maybe that crazy voice in your head will scream at you so violently you want to poke out your own eyeballs with a spoon and swallow them with your hide the greens smoothie, or maybe you will just feel like shit for the first few days. It’s normal, deal with it.

#8

Don’t eat kale stems if you want a normal digestive experience the following day….

#10

Red wine jus – the only sugar coming from the red wine and balsamic vinegar – does not classify as a challenge fail. Paleo gingerbread – verdict is still out.

#11

You might like to ask permission to eat eggs at your desk in the morning before you warm them up in the microwave. Especially if in a communal office.

#12

Some supermarket eggs might look happy but they are not so watch out. Just because they have a smile printed on them, does not mean they are free range or organic, so check the packet carefully. Along with the coconut milk. There are many sneaky tricks talented marketers (like me) do to convince us the food we are buying is good for us, when really it is just crap.

#13

Paleo is not a dirty word – although the spellchecker seems to think it is (red line has been driving me crazy last 30 days).  It is a choice, not a diet, but a lifestyle for sometimes, often, almost always or every now and then. It’s a personal choice, and one that should be respected.

#14

It’s really not that hard. You can just say no. You look on the back of the pack, on the side of the jar, wherever the ingredient list is hidden and check what’s in it. Then you make your choice, and move on.

Hardest parts?

You probably want me to say laying off the booze.

For those that know me, you probably expect me to say laying off the booze (someone did ask for my advice on where to stay somewhere the other day as I would know all the local watering holes….) but really, I don’t think that was it.

Nor was it the often ridiculed, eye rolling, back handed comments and full face slaps I got during the 30 days from people like the pre primal me. Full of spite, bitterness, often a little resentful and mostly just very naïve and unaware.

The preparation was fine, I am an organised person by trade, and even though I love them, the potatoes didn’t even get me in the end.

Hardest part – worrying about not fitting in. By not taking that chip, or sitting on your hands so you don’t eat another olive because they are the only thing you can eat so you have had about 30 already, or not having that wine ‘just to be social’. Perhaps this is my own insecurities leaking through, but not being ‘normal’ or not ‘fitting in’ or being an ‘inconvenience’ and therefore making people unhappy was the hardest part for me, personally.

Oh, and the nuts. Of course, the nuts. That was pretty hard.

Best parts?

Well I have done a PB in both deadlifts and back squats – well above my own body weight – and I’ve improved in many other things too. Although still cant get a handstand….

I have a much bigger and better appreciation for real food. I no longer buy supermarket meat. Yes I used to. I tried to say it was a cost saving method, (please don’t judge me) and now get my vegetables from a market. My eggs are always smiling, where, ill be honest, before they were not.

Many, many new recipes to try at home for dinner and beyond.

My ranting, posting, blogging and talking to others has had an impact somewhere, even if only a few people. But I know of some who have actively made changes and just like I used to get happy feeding them poison, now I get happy by steering them away from it (don’t fear team, I will still bake for you).

Skin fold test aside (Friday people, Friday!) I’m sure there has been a difference in my body even if only on the inside.

The best part?

I did it.

Game set match.

I side kicked that stupid tutu wearing ballerina Miss Sugar and her toe dancing seduction to the no gluten and grain ground with little more than a few eggs. Well a lot more really, but I’m running out of stupid analogies and need to wrap this up.

The point is, the 30-day challenge is over and I’m a little melancholy because I enjoyed discovering more about real food, and I enjoyed writing about it and discovering more about myself.

So a big THANK YOU to everyone who helped or read my ‘boring blog’ along the way – too many to mention – but in particular Bec & Lizzy from Primal Junction, and those who encouraged, supported, and shared the 30 day journey with me, even those not participating formally in the challenge but ate clean ‘almost always’, ‘sometimes’, ‘every now and then’ or ‘most of the time’ (just lay off the banana bread for a bit Heidi) 😉

IMG_0430 IMG_0428 IMG_0429

The Primal Challenge Day 29

I have a confession to make.  Its day 29 and I feel like it is only right, with only one more day until this is officially finished, I need to get something off my chest.

It was over a week ago, and I would like to say it has been playing on my mind. That I have not been able to sleep from the guilt, that I regretted my actions. But in truth, I have been sleeping fine, (excluding the night I was poisoned) and there is no regret (excluding my nut habit).

It was at the girls Christmas party. Day 21. Remember the failed pudding, celebrity heads, the ‘your boring’ remarks and the self righteous ‘I didn’t even find it that hard’ comment.

I didn’t. Not at all.

Because, after the main meal, there was dessert. Fantastic dessert (not my failed pudding that is still hanging in the laundry, hoping it will self cleanse itself into something worth eating) but a range of homemade and store bought sugary goodness.

Ohhh dessert….. Rightly or wrongly, I indulged.

Yes that’s right. When it was all lined up on the table, the fudge, the chocolate, the gingerbread, the cheesecake, the fruit, and the nuts …. I ate something. And it wasn’t just the fruit.

I ate…..

No gluten….

No dairy……

Paleo gingerbread.

My beautiful and very talented ‘most often’ paleo friend with a passion for baking, researched, adapted and ultimately succeeded in bringing the moist, light, and I’ve never loved it so much in my life before, gingerbread before me.

Here friends is the recipe –

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 c. blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. maple extract
  • 3 c. almond flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Knowing I was not yet able to tackle molasses she replaced it with coconut nectar and took out the extracts and used a vanilla bean instead.

Amazing….

I ate two pieces. Or it might have been three. Either way it was too many and when I broke off half of another of the delight I begged her to put the rest away before I ate the lot. Thank god she did.

I can still taste the goodness of it now… well no I can’t, but I wish I could.

It literally was the answer to all my clean eating prayers.

Except of course on Sunday I went to Google and found that coconut nectar is still sugar and sugar is still not part of the 30 day challenge…. and so it wasn’t all that clean eating at all.

Fail.

I wrote about it on that Sunday. After I had shut down Google and stomped around the house in disgust and thought about how I could justify the coconut nectar. I even made a trip to the organic shop and purchased some (along with coconut flour, coconut sugar, organic vanilla essence, organic cacao powder and a range of – you guessed it – nuts) to see if by some miracle it had a low sugar content.

I tried to justify it to myself by saying it was like fruit. A banana was 55% sugar, and they are ok (in moderation) so why not coconut nectar?

I tried to justify it to myself by saying I had been clean on everything else in a borderline obsessive-compulsive way, that surely this one slip up (or three, it was three pieces) was ok?

But I couldn’t justify it.

I felt ashamed, and angry and a bit too full of self-pity.  Which is why I deleted my first attempt at a blog post on Sunday that talked about my subsequent failure. I didn’t want to admit it, because I still had over a week to go and if I had already failed then what would stop me from opening the flood gates and letting all the sugar wielding nastiness back in?

Angelic clean Stacey was on the ground and red wearing horned Stacey was holding her down with a pitchfork while she drowned me in fine white sugar.

So, if I’m honest, I failed the challenge. One way or another I fed my sugar addiction and I failed. On day 21.

But I picked myself up.

Even if I was not yet ready to admit it. And I got back on that clean eating bus, brushed off the sugar particles still stuck to my shoulders and went about the rest of the nine days as if they were the first.

I’ve tried almost every MOD Primal Junction has offered, and even some of my own or some from others with a slight twist.

I cleaned my pantry on the weekend and threw out and donated a range of ‘not clean’ jars of sauces and spices.

My pantry at work is (almost) empty of sugar full muesli bars and snacks – although a few of my colleagues are full of them.

I’ve spent hours researching food options and trying to find my own primal and paleo baked recipes to feed my habit of feeding others in a more clean eating way.

I’ve made my clean muesli and kept it in a jar ready for when I can introduce some good full fat Greek yoghurt back into my diet.

My freezer is full of frozen banana’s, my homemade stock- both chicken and beef –  pumpkin soup and some Cannings meat (wanted to get that last discounted order in).

My fridge is full of kale and organic eggs and broccoli and 3 C’s salad and speck paleo bacon and empty of ‘light’ yoghurt and milk (although there is still that double cream full fat brie cheese wrapped up on the top shelf).

My breakfast is either zucchini slice, frittata or bacon & egg muffins and is the envy of the office.

Today I even took home all my nuts from work, not one remains in my filing cabinet. I made another trail mix using more seeds and coconut flakes along with the berries and the nuts. And then I put it all in a tall glass jar, keeping only a small (very small) green container out that I can take to work tomorrow  – my last ditch attempt at curbing my nut snacking.

I’ve even tried to stay off the fruit for the last few days, only having it in smoothies and nothing else.

Although, I did fail on that tonight too when I found a ‘one mug paleo cake’ recipe.  Ingredient list below, I excluded any additional sweeteners or mixes that the website says you can use SURELY that is ok?

  • 1 small ripe banana
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons almond butter (or any nut butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons cacao powder

Side note – quite nice, but a little dense. Can be bitter, and not as good as a oven baked cake. Suggest a few drops of water to keep it moist or less cacao powder based on the size of your banana. But overall a good quick option if you need something extra to keep your mind off the passionfruit gluten free but still full of sugar cake your husband is eating next to you on the couch. 

I have influenced others at work who are also making their own muesli and protein balls. Even a ‘crossfit cult’ believer has been converted. My sister in law lives clean most of the time, and shared a great paleo banana bread recipe with me and a few good chicken curries. I’m taking my husband to paleo places for breakfast (although he still ensures there is bread) and cooking us the same meals at night with no complaints.

I sorted through my wardrobe on Friday and had three bags of clothes I needed to donate, or sell or thrown out. While some were based on fashion changes (what WAS I thinking??) others no longer fit. I had to pack away 10 pairs of pants I had only just purchased at the start of the year as they were too big (couldn’t quite bring myself to throw them out yet just in case).

While most of the weight loss is thanks to an increased exercise regime when I found crossfit (I was already exercising five days a week before I moved to the sport, which gives you some indication of the intensity) it will be interesting to see if any of it is thanks to the Primal Junction, Primal Challenge.

I’ve done all of this in 29 days.

You realize I am still trying to justify the paleo gingerbread?

Either way, it’s an accomplishment.

Like a child in the lead up to Christmas I’m counting down.

Two more sleeps.

I’m not sure why I’m counting down, maybe just to say I’ve done it, that I succeeded (lets look past the red wine jus, the paleo gingerbread and the gravy poison sauce shall we?). Maybe to see if there really has been a difference. Or maybe just because I really would like a glass of wine to celebrate.

IMG_0424 IMG_0426 IMG_0419 IMG_0421

The Primal Challenge Day 28

Last night I was poisoned. I’m not sure if it was deliberate or just a miss communication, but it happened. And I paid for it. All night, and most of the next morning.

My nervousness over going out for dinner seemed to have been warranted, perhaps it was my sixth sense or my third eye or perhaps it was just because we are so close to the end of the challenge I am more worried than normal about things going wrong.

The menu was different. That was the first thing. I had looked and planned and prepared and thought I knew exactly what I would change and what I could keep, but then it was different and my choice wasn’t there and sides I had googled to see what they meant were no longer an option and I was thrown into panic.

A specials menu was put under my nose and when the waiter came to take our orders it was so loud from the other side of the bar I could hardly hear what he was offering. It must have been the same for him because I had to repeat twice that I was no gluten, no dairy, and no grains.

He ran off to check with his superiors in the kitchen, like they all do. And I waited patiently, looking at the menu again. There were two options that from what I could tell would not cause much trouble.

  • Option 1 – beef shin with pumpkin, carrot and black cabbage (aka kale).
  • Option 2 – grass fed Black Angus with potato, salsa verde and something else I had no idea what it was.

There were pros and cons for each.

Option 1 –

Pros – looked like it was relatively straightforward and not much to change. Plus it was something different than the standard steak I had been ordering as the safe option when dining out.  I was assured it was both gluten and diary free.

Cons– when I asked the waiter if it came with a sauce, there was a flicker of uncertainty on his face before he had to run off and check again. When he returned, he said only what the meat is cooked in, its own sauces for braising.

Option 2 –

Pros – it was steak, which means you generally can’t go wrong with a steak. You can tell them how to cook it and what you don’t want on it.

Cons – would have to substitute the potato, put the salsa verde on the side and find out what the last part of the puzzle was. Plus I had steak all the time. ALL the time.

I chose Option 1. I took the risk. The sauce was a worry on my mind, but I again repeated to the waiter no grain, no gluten, no dairy and he assured me that all was good.

I ignored the comments from my fellow dinners as they apologized to the waiter for me being so difficult, told me I should just eat air (did they not remember their own diets and meal plans before they got married?!) and drank my standard mineral water.

There was that buzzing in the back of my head that continued to worry me about my food choice, and at one stage I thought about asking to change to the steak. Something felt wrong. But it was too late, and before I knew it our meals had arrived.

The plate was put in front of me and I straightaway knew I was in trouble.

Two large bits of beef. Great.

Some squares of roasted pumpkin. Fantastic.

Both resting on a bed of kale. Very happy.

But then, smothering, almost drooling off the entire dish, was the sauce.

And no, not just a sauce, a gravy if you will. A thick, onion based gravy.

This was not merely a meat sauce. This was not even just a stock. This, my friends was a guaranteed to be not on the challenge list of approved substances, sugar full sauce.

The waiter must have seen the worry on my face as he came rushing over straight away.

What’s your concern.

The sauce.

Don’t touch it, ill just double check it has no gluten and dairy.

He was off before I could mention anything about sugar levels and just as quickly rushing back to my side.

Defiantly no gluten and dairy.

Ok, but about sugar.

His eyes narrowed.

What exactly is it you can’t eat or your allergic to?

Um… I’m not meant to be having sugar either…

There was a pause. It was uncomfortable. Not just for me, not just for the waiter but also for my friends at the table and the rest of the diners who were by now obviously staring at us.

Is this a choice?

The once friendly waiter asked.

Um yes.

So you are not going to die if you eat it.

Not yet! I wanted to tell him. Maybe later, when my body is so clogged up with artificial sweeteners my heart cant pump anymore. But instead I shook my head.

No, I won’t die.

Stare down. The waiter versus embarrassed diner.

The waiter won.

 I’ll just scape it off.

And so I did. Full of humiliation, not enjoying one bite of the meal I scraped the sauce off the meat the best I could. I ate the carrots, the pumpkin, the kale and most of my meat.

I had made my choice. It was a failed one, and now I had to live with it.

Sure, I could have sent it back, asked and paid for another meal, made everyone wait for me to get it and most of me desperately wanted to. But the other part of me realised the mistake was mine, and not the poor waiter who took the order and scurried back to and from the kitchen.

I thought I had been clear.

When he took our entrée I said the only thing I could eat were the olives.

When we were offered a free round of drinks I said I was only on the mineral water, and when he asked if I wanted a soft drink instead I said no thanks, I cant have sugar. And when he offered me a pepsi-max instead, I simply smiled and said no thank you, no sugar, even fake sugar.

So why did he think sugar was ok in my meal, that sauce was ok, THICK sauce and how was it thick if no flour had been added to it?

After our semi-embarrassing stare down when taking coffee orders – actually taking my coffee order as the others continued to drink wine – he bought it not only with a chocolate biscuit on the side of the plate, but a small jar full of brown sugar.

I know it was loud in that place, and he had other tables but HAD HE NOT BEEN LISTENING TO ME SAY NO TO SUGAR ALL NIGHT!!!???

I almost forgave him because we sat there so long, talking over wine and mineral water that he finished his shift and clocked off before a bill was paid and a potential tip.

Not that I was planning to give one.

That night I woke up four times. I was restless, uncomfortable and unable to sleep. My stomach flip flopped all night and when my alarm went off at 8:30am rather than springing out of bed like I normally would have, my head throbbed, my mouth was dry and my stomach killing me.

I felt as though I had a hang over.

I had drunk 1.5 litres of mineral water over dinner so there was no way I should have had a thirst, or a headache, but I did.

I hadn’t touched a wine all night, but I was bound to the loo as if I had drunk the bar dry for most of the morning (sorry I know this is too much information but it is required).

I could hardly keep food down, and felt like I hadn’t slept at all.

Even my paleo breakfast at Palate couldn’t pep me up.

I’m not sure if it was just the sugar I know must have been in that gravy/sauce/poison, or if they had put corn flour in it and forgot that it is a grain and still a flour, or if there was something else, but my poor old stomach did not like it.

28 day’s of detox and my stomach can’t handle the slightest hiccup. Or maybe it never did and I just looked past it.  Or maybe I just guilted myself into being sick after not sending my meal back.

Just in case it was the meat, I text my friend who had the same meal, but of course she was fine. No stomach pains, no dehydration, no headache, no need to remain close to the toilet and buy an extra 12 rolls of loo paper from Coles. And she as the one who drank the bottle of wine.

If that gravy means I failed this challenge, then I failed myself and I have well and truly paid the price.  I don’t need anyone else to tell me, my body has said it all.

And if that reaction is just from sugar I know was in that sauce, although quantity unknown, then what will it do when I bust open the container in the fridge that holds a Tim Tam and the ears of an Easter bunny I have been saving for the end of next week? Or the drink I know I am going to have with friends on Friday night as they celebrate end of dry July? Or the yoghurt I am going to introduce next week to go with my clean muesli I had just made? Or the piece of full fat double Brie cheese I can’t wait to remove from the plastic wrap in the fridge and devour, because I cant seem to stop thinking about what I am going to have to eat post this challenge that I probably still shouldn’t have.

Day 28 and when I should be close to celebrating, I’m well and truly panicking.

The Primal Challenge Day 26 & 27

I’m never going Paleo. My exact words not even six months ago when I told a friend I was going to try crossfit. It’s a cult. She told me. I’ve lost another friend to the crossfit cult. Next thing I know, you’ll being going Paleo.

I looked at her, arched my eyebrows the creases in my forehead emphasized and with hands on hips scowled at her. I will never go Paelo. NEVER. I love potato too much, and pasta. And I drink. I could never not drink.  You know me. I told her. I believe everything in moderation, I don’t believe in cutting out foods, especially entire food groups.

Looks like I’m wiping off the remains of a happy smiling healthy egg from my face.

Not that it was planned. If you asked me in March when I eventually did try and join a crossfit gym (Hawthorn East was the second one I tried, the first almost put me off which shows how great the community is we have at CFHE) I would still have told you the same thing. I’m not getting caught up in this cult like mentality and never going paleo.

You know I think crossfit is a cult. Another friend told me at boxing this morning.

I can safely say, the cult like mentality is a myth. You can spend as much or as little time at CFHE as you want to. You can train as hard as you want to, as often as you like. I have seen a few come and go, then return. And there are the regulars too. The morning crew and the night crew come together on Saturday’s or at events such as the Primal Junction Seminar, or this Saturday’s screening of the Crossfit Games. But either way, no matter what group you fall into, each coach will remember your name and welcome you with a smile.

But unlike a cult, they also let you leave. After all, they have lives too – outside of the box.

I think most of my friends have also realised they haven’t ‘lost me’ to crossfit. I still go out, I still do ‘normal’ things. While I have been dry this July, I have still joined in social activities and I try not to talk about clean and jerks with non-crossfit people.

And the paleo….. well on that one I will be happy to eat my words. As long as they are sugar free, cooked with coconut oil and completely free range.

It’s not like I meant it. To be honest, I’m not sure what really drove me to sign up for the challenge to being with. But here I am day 26, and so far not really thinking too much about going back to the way things were before. I’m quite happy being paleo and have embraced it so much I’m meeting my ‘almost always’ paleo friend for brunch tomorrow at a paleo restaurant. I’ve even managed to convince my husband to join (although not sure what he will do when he finds out there will not be any bread on the menu, or tomato sauce to go with his eggs…)

Of course there are things I still miss.

Today when I was getting a coffee before my market shop I eyed off the buttery croissants and salted caramel tart with a little bit of envy.

And talk of potato’s still hits a nerve. Any potatoes. Roasted, mashed, smashed, baked. I love loved them all.

And corn. Steamed corn heaped with butter and salt and pepper. Yes it stuck in your teeth, spat juice in your eye and ran down your chin, but that was half the fun.

And cheese. Soft cheese, hard cheese. It was my favorite, all time snack or pre dinner staple when guests were coming. Not blue cheese, not even expensive smelly well aged cheese. Just cheese.

There will be a day I eat all of those things again. Just not today. Or tomorrow. Or, maybe, even after day 30.

And wine. I still love wine. And vodka. And gin. And cocktails. And because I’m strong enough to ignore the bottle of white in the door of the drinks fridge, and can walk past a bottle shop without walking in, I know I will drink again, and there will be times when I wont.

And I miss the flexibility. Of eating out mostly. At home its fine, and when I have control of my meals is great and I enjoy it and enjoy cooking something new. But when faced with a menu not that paleo friendly, it can be a challenge.

I miss being able to just order from the menu and not have your friends exchange glances and the waiter roll their eyes to the chef behind the menu when they think you cant see them. I miss going to the football and being able to pack a roll or order a hamburger if I got stuck  – although if Buddy Franklin is going to kick eight and the Hawks demolish the dons, i can live with having to take the extra time to pack my salad.

But back to the ordering out. I’m sure everyone knows what I mean. When they put on a fake smile and raise their eyebrows. Or they look you up and down before looking at the menu to see where you are pointing. Or they just look at you, and know no matter how much tip you are going to leave them, you simply are not worth the trouble.

If that’s the attitude they give me, like the waitress in the Geelong Edge restaurant on Tuesday night, then you get NO tip. I mean its really not that hard to change lentils that would be premade for a salad, to not put the dressing on and don’t cook with butter.

So don’t stare at me like I have two heads, or as if I am an alien from another planet, or as if I have just asked you to wipe my salmon on the bin, spit on it and then serve it to me.

I actually have asked for quite the opposite, for a CLEAN meal.

So let’s hope tonight, when I meet friends for dinner I don’t cop any anti menu change attitude. As the only one not drinking and already slightly stressed after looking at the menu given I’m not sure how I can change much of it, it will be the last straw. Even the steak comes with things I can’t pronounce which makes me worried. If I don’t know what it is, then how will I ask to change it?? And if I do, and they give me attitude, how can I prevent the eye rolling if I am already uneducated by something called chickpea zimino – cant you just say chickpeas with tomatoes and peppers? And if cavolo nero is kale, why cant you just print that!!??

Maybe this is why I said I was never going paleo…

 

The Primal Challange Day 24

I was reminded yesterday that some people eat simply because they like the taste. Sounds obvious enough, but I had forgotten this when I wrote yesterdays’ post, or maybe I just wasn’t clear enough.

Sure I like the taste of lots of food and that’s probably half to the reason I eat. I probably like more than I dislike, and I don’t want to eat something I dislike, but luckily enough I have never been someone who likes the taste so much they couldn’t stop… or so I thought. That was before the nuts.

I mean I could eat a piece of cake and put the rest back and not have to touch it again until the following day or even a few after. I could open a pack of Tim Tam’s and only have one. A bag of lollies could last me for weeks. I still have chocolate bunnies and eggs in my pantry leftover from Easter. When I was a kid I used to hide the treats around my room so I didn’t eat them all at once. It was a practice I put in place because treats were rare in our house growing up. Lolly bags were shared (and between six you don’t get much out of one bag) and when Easter came, or Santa filled a stocking with sweets, I made that supply of sugar last months. Sometimes I would even forget about what I had where and it would go to waste.

Lucky I know. Not everyone is like this. I have friends who cannot stop thinking about that chocolate cake until it’s finished, that open a packet of biscuits and have to eat the entire lot before they can rest, who have to give away Christmas shortbreads because if they are in the house then they will eat them all. They wake up thinking about food and go to sleep dreaming of it.

Shit, I can hear some of you thinking. That’s me.

Maybe that is why, largely, I have found the challenge relatively easy and very fulfilling. Although I am quite mentally strong and fiercely competitive (my blog bagging brother would say it is all in the mind – the same comment he tried to pep his wife up with before their daughter was born. Thank god she had to have a planned cesarean in the end) and once I decide to do something then I don’t like others trying to tell me I can’t do it.

That’s not to say if I was in land of Oompa Loompas and was swimming in Willy Wonka’s chocolate stream I wouldn’t take a sip, bite the nearest flower and chase a strawberry bunny for dinner. I really wanted to try that bubblegum, and the gobstoper and everything else those kids were seduced with into the pit of social gratitude failure.

And if suddenly the world went a little lopsided and I woke up there tomorrow, fiercely orange, wearing strange stripy overalls and half my height, then the challenge would easily be forgotten and my candy mushroom house would be eaten in a flash.

But today, no such luck. I woke up in my normal bed, no golden ticket in my hand and went about my day with boring normality.

Completed the Crossfit Games WOD number three, went to work, showered.  Managed to do up my back zipper dress myself without two colleagues pinning me against the wall and using brute force to get it up (which happened the last time I wore it)– a sign I have lost some of the sugar fat I was carrying. I had my usual morning discussion with a fellow cross fitter on what my latest hang up is (inability to get double unders), warmed up egg & bacon 3.0 muffins, ate muffins, ordered long black, drank long black, tried not to snack on nuts until lunch, warmed up spicy pumpkin soup, ate soup, snacked on nuts, got long black to try and stop snacking on nuts, drunk long black, locked away nuts in filing cabinet to stop snacking on nuts, ate a handful of shredded chicken to try and not taste the nuts, unlocked filing cabinet and ate more nuts, made green tea to try and stop snacking on nuts.  Wished I didn’t have any more nuts, but at the same time planned on when I will go and buy more…

Of course there is some work done throughout all of this.

And the realization that actually, I am one of those people. If I open the lid of that Tupperware container, then I can’t stop until the nuts are finished along with the coconut, the seeds and the goji berries they swim in.

So yes, some people eat because they like the taste of food. My key learning today, is I am one of those people, and my vice is not the chocolate cake, the Tim Tams, the lollies or the sweets. It’s plain old nuts.

How many days to go?

willy-wonka-oompa-loopmas-2012-04-23 willy-wonka-chocolate

  • Nuts! (knitreadclick.wordpress.com)

The Primal Challenge Day 23

As many of us know, some more than others, eating food is often an emotional thing. It can bring comfort during stress or sadness, to those both eating it and those making it, and celebrations often revolve around it.

During exams I used to stock up on energy drinks and packets of lollies and chocolate. All the things I thought I needed to wash down the multiple cups of coffee between studying. In the romantic comedies we love to hate, during the epic post break up scene the lead female is generally pictured tucking into ice cream, or chocolate, eating peanut butter or jelly straight from the jar. How many times have we said we are only eating it because ‘we are having a bad day’? The moment something we want to celebrate happens in our lives, we arrange to go out for dinner, or drinks.

We over eat to compensate for something, we eat the wrong types of food because we are too mentally drained to think about what we should be eating, or we forget to eat because our mind is simply elsewhere.  Or on the flip side, we eat that extra piece of cake because it’s a special occasion, or because we ‘deserve it’ and that extra bottle of champagne is popped because we have worked hard, and now its time to celebrate.

When someone dies, food is often the easiest way people can communicate and show they care. Fridges and freezers are full of home cooked meals, many of which will never get eaten by those left behind to grieve.

What we put into our mouths is often the result of the way we are feeling, and can also impact the way we continue to feel.

Today was an emotional day for my family as we said goodbye to one of our own, and if there was any day I was tempted to break the challenge it was today.

But I didn’t.

I over compensated and packed not only my breakfast, but also those making the four-hour car trip with me. My bacon & egg muffins 3.0 went in one container, my sister’s vegetarian version (3.1) went into another. A (small) container of almonds and macadamia nuts to share with my sister-in-law who has kept dairy but is otherwise desperately trying to eat primal. One green apple for me. A bottle of water for each of us.

We set off early.  The muffins were gone before we had even reached the freeway, so Colac was our first stop for breakfast. I put up with more ridicule from my brother, who this time also thought it hysterical to pile a teaspoon full of white grain sugar and wave it in front of me chanting ‘take your medicine’. I might point out at this stage he is 30 years old. I managed to find a smashed pumpkin with poached eggs and rocket breakfast – hold the feta thank you.

Probably one too many coffees – two long blacks before 10am and another at 2pm. It was the only thing (apart from water) I sought out during the post service gathering. Party pies and packaged hot food was waved before me, white bread sandwiches stacked high on tables were a popular favorite.  I’m sure there were other items but I never went over to the table to see just exactly what was there. I didn’t quite trust myself.

Then the cakes.  Larger than I have ever seen before lamingtons with extra cream in the middle. Lemon slice, caramel slice and my sister-in-laws favourite, jelly slice.

I could see her eyes light up when she saw that red topped sweet being unpacked by the church ladies behind the counter, the jelly glistening in the light, its slight wobble throwing teasing shadows in our direction.

me – Don’t do it.

her – But it’s my favourite.

me – It’s not worth it.

youngest sister pipping in – I’m going to have some

me – Not helping.

I lost sight of her for a moment as my grandmother bought over a stranger who had at one time babysat me when I was two and visiting Warrnambool with my family. No sorry, I didn’t remember I was muttering, eyes searching the crowd for Heidi.

I found her, not one piece of jelly slice in hand. Still I was not confident in her determination, her sweet tooth would give most of the elderly that were around us that day who used to bake for a living a run for their money – and we were in the country so that was saying something.

I bet it’s not even homemade.

I assured her when I eventually made my way through the crowd and was able to take my post as bodyguard once again.

You reckon?

Nope, look at it, its all the same size. Look at the base.

In truth, I wasn’t that sure of its roots. It could have been homemade, I was just looking for excuses.

Ill just go have a look at it.

I kept my eye on her again, but I need not have worried. Again she returned empty handed, and for the next few hours the jelly slice, along with all the other food types on our banned substance list (which was everything available) remained uneaten.

Which meant by the time 3:30 came, we were positively starving.

I shared the nuts, well really she took one handful and I had the rest (we were in separate cars) and when they were gone I downed the green apple. Heidi had told me a recent trick of hers was to eat protein just before the fruit. It would mean the sugar levels in fruit would not just spike your insulin, so you felt fuller, and it would also mean I didn’t binge on nuts as much.

I followed the advice, and I’m not sure if it was because I had run out of nuts or because I had no other food with me and still a three hour drive ahead before we stopped in Geelong for dinner, but I didn’t feel hungry anymore.

On the way to dinner Heidi sent me a text –

My self control today deserves a mention

For sure! By passing the jelly slice in a tough emotional situation… Big mention.

And she did! Not one rule broken today. Not one sweet, not one sandwhich. Not one piece of toast  – even the gluten free toast – at breakfast.

Dinner in Geelong meant more ridicule from my brother. I was ready to eat my arm off but instead ordered crispy skin salmon with the green beans, no butter, and hold the lentils but can I please have a green salad instead no dressing?

The food came and was quickly eaten. I always leave the salad for last and the first forkful revealed it was not naked as I required but fully dressed with what I thought was vinegar and olive oil – but couldn’t be sure.

But I was emotional, and hungry. And so I ate the salad and thought if there was any sugar in that vinegar dressing then too bad. I had made my choice, eat it and be full. Heath (my ridiculing brother) took great delight in taking a photo of me eating said salad and promising to put it on his blog, which was all about failed challenges….

I ignored him (again) and was just thankful I had not spent the entire eight hour car ride up and back today listening to his jeers, jokes and jibes over my eating behavior.

A BIG shout out however to his better half over her refusal of the jelly slice, and an even bigger one to all my family, both here and in Warrnambool as we remember beloved Sandi.

IMG_0404 images

The Primal Challenge Day 21

Apparently I am no fun when I am off the sugar and off the drink. Or so I was told on Saturday night when I refused cocktail after cocktail, champagne, punch, chocolates, cheesecake, gingerbread men and many other loveable naughty’s my Christmas in July offered.

I think I was a bit offended.

Actually I was.

Especially given I had wasted 12 hours on a Christmas pudding that managed to get water into it during the transfer between houses and ruin.  Yeah don’t get me started, epic fail. Its back hanging in my laundry hoping it can be saved but knowing it probably cant be, and who would eat it anyway…

But I digress – Christmas in July with the girls, Saturday night.

I still managed to last until 2am, completely sober and relatively sugar free – I ate some a bit too much fruit and as far as I could tell was still semi engaging in my conversation attempts and interactions. I still leapt to the challenge of Pictionary and Celebrity Heads and laughed over excitedly when those who were tipsy and those who were just blind drunk couldn’t hold the pen or draw a simple image.

No, I didn’t stand on a dining room chair and try to get everyone dancing. Nor did I spill red wine on the floor or dive into the chocolate cheesecake spoon in hand without waiting for it to be cut. Although I was the only one who broke a glass (of mineral water) all night.

But, as I was also told, I was no longer the life of the party. And who was going to play that role now?  I admit neither Pictionary nor Celebrity Heads would have come out on my watch.

Oh the pressure! The guilt! But I had carried the load of over excited behavior for too long and had paid the price with pounding next day headaches, a cramping stomach and often a cheeky next morning (most likely afternoon) spew.

Not tonight!

I picked my way through the meal, skipping the prawns with the Cajun spice, knowing sugar is a hidden ingredient on the list, eating a spoonful of the bruschetta mix without the bread, swallowed a few oysters, ignored the grilled halloumi and the smoked salmon and cream cheese wraps, and waited patiently for the main.

Roast pork with no gravy or apple sauce, steamed greens with almonds, roast chicken without the stuffing and roast vegetables minus the dressing and potatoes. Of course I knew and had to accept the fact that the oil was probably rancid and not the ideal choice for the challenge, but I did have to give a little.

Overall however, it wasn’t even that hard.

Nor was sticking to the mineral water. Not as hard as I thought it would be probably as there were a few others in the sober boat with me thanks to a) Run Melbourne the following day, b) the sacrifices of breast feeding c) knowing with three kids at home it just isn’t worth it the following day and d) a ‘most often’ paleo diet.

The hardest part of the night (apart from trying to guess my celebrity head Nigella Lawson and drawing an image that represented the world ‘gargle’) was accepting the change in my social tag from ‘party starter’ to ‘party pooper’.

And while one friend commended me on my effort, another said a bit of her rice bran oil wouldn’t hurt me, nor would one drink, a few stayed silent and the host pointed at me and slurred how boring I was. Lucky my ‘generally’ paleo friend had my back the entire night. Although she did take a tiny sliver of the chocolate cheesecake when I desperately wanted to and most likely would have if I was not on this challenge, making it that little bit harder.

I did get some great advice however during the meal of many choices by my ‘almost always’ paleo friend. Once you make your own choice, deal with it, own it, and then move on. If you want to eat the vegetables cooked in rice bran oil because you are hungry and there is no other alternative, just do it. If you have been clean eating all week and trained all month and really like the look of the cheesecake, eat it. But don’t go on about it all night. And don’t beat yourself up about it or let others beat you up about it. Make your choice, and live with it.

I think I needed it on day 21.

Not because I am struggling, but because there is not long left and now I’m at the stage of working out what I would keep and what I was add and what I would change of this clean eating plan. And if I want to eat a slice of the chocolate cheesecake that looks amazing (I took a giant piece home for my husband just so I could look at it) once my challenge is up then I can.

But if I want my skin fold tests to be better than when I went in, I need to stop eating the nuts hidden in my draw by the bucket load, stop thinking about what I would add back in my diet, and start thinking about what I still need to cut out.  At least for the next nine days.

IMG_4196

IMG_0389