Packing Paleo

You know it’s serious when you change your flight dietary preferences to gluten free.

I wish, to be honest, there was more than just a drop down. Perhaps a multi select box, or a free text field and that way I could add in the additions. Gluten free also means dairy free, but of course grains, potatoes, and sugar all find their way onto that small plastic wrapped tray of ‘food’.  If there was the option to choose more than one, I could have gone diabetic friendly also, and hoped that I was left with more than a rice flour sugar fuelled cake and a thimble of soy milk.

Ok, so there was more. A few bits of lamb, some sugar filled sauce, a pile of greens and some potatoes that I really wanted to eat. The only thing that stopped me from pushing them onto my white plastic fork was the fact that if I was going to break for the starchy goodness, they were going to be half decent, not microwaved pre-prepared plane potatoes.

There was also a box of sultanas and a tub of two fruits. Both claimed they were natural and healthy, and I think even sported the heart tick approval, but the nutritional panel on the back showed more than just goodness. Lots more. Like sugar more. Like 63.5g of sugar per 100 gram.

Of course its natural sugar, but over 50% of those dried things is a little too much.

I ate the greens, ignored the potatoes, picked my way through the meat, left the gluten free bread, tried to leave the juice behind and eat only the two fruits and succumbed to the coconut gluten free macaroon.

Half way through the four and a half hour flight when I was starving (after the same flight attendant who had previously provided my gluten and dairy free meal offered me cheese and biscuits and a packet of Anzac cookies) I popped a few of those dried grapes into my mouth and was surprised and shocked at how sweet they tasted. Too sweet. I had to stop eating them.

I should have just had the free wine that was offered. At least then I would have forgotten I was starving.

Travelling with such a long list of requirements is hard.

A day trip to Sydney, not so hard. You can pack your full lunch in one bag and not have an issue with excess luggage. You can decline the meal and not risk starvation, and even though the security guards look at you strangely during the bomb check, they keep their mouth closed.

A week trip to Perth, not so easy.

Before my flight like general Sunday afternoons, I spent cooking my week’s worth of meals. An oversized smoothie that I froze and added extra chia seeds in it to help it last the plane ride and beyond. Some chewy mocha balls to ensure snacks during the week were covered. A few pieces of the left over paleo gingerbread and three of my paleo banana and berry muffins. The standard nut trail mix and a few tins of tuna.  I even went so far as to bake a new paleo crust-less sweet potato quiche and while I froze half of it for my return, I took a piece of that too just in case I had to (god forbid) miss breakfast at the hotel one morning.

I know it sounds crazy. It looked slightly odd also.

All these Tupperware containers full of food going through security, getting put in the overhead locker as I was sitting under a bulk head.

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When my stomach was rumbling so badly on the flight, and I took out one of my muffins from the bag overhead, the passenger next to me didn’t know what to think.

Personally I think he was a little jealous. Mine looked much better than his frozen/thawed/sugar preserved cupcake.

I was hoping my muffins would make at least the flight trip, so before I could be tempted by anything else I packed them away and tried to forget about them.

But I am not that strange.  There are others like me who also pack paleo.

Nom Nom Paleo recently called out to her social media following remarking “I may not have time to pack any food for my flight tomorrow….”

She got 56 comments asking for help to determine where she could get paleo friendly food.

I got about 56 odd looks for packing and travelling paleo style.

But despite the strange looks and carting my containers from customer meeting to office, to hotel and beyond, I was glad I had taken the time to do it.

My Perth friends did remark they had supermarkets and organic shops over here (yes even Perth is not that behind, just don’t try to visit one after 9pm) which also helped to fill my stomach paleo style during the day, and let’s just say nights – well I tried as hard as I could… it was the wine that got me in the end.

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) 😉

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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 Challenge Day 25

Thursday. Another day another WOD and MOD and another Oh My! moment. Slight back ache again which I am finding more frustrating than painful, so to ease some of the pressure I headed to my first ever Yoga class at Kula.

Ok so it might not have been my first. I think I went once or twice way back in my very early 20’s when UDL’s and Strongbows were still the drink of choice. Although I generally revisit the UDL’s during my annual trip to the red center Alice Springs for the National Transport Hall of Fame reunion. It’s that or the ‘good quality’ wine, oh the perks of my job. But again, I digress and all that’s in the pre-primal past now.

Yoga.

I was a little nervous. I’m not that flexible. Even though a friend once described me as someone who looks bendy, I’m not. My hips are crazy tight and my gluteus lacking in strength, which in turn affects my back and causes it to seize a little when I try to push it too much.  Which is how I got myself into the backache situation to begin with.

I have been promising myself a yoga visit for months and never gone. Even when friends went – after my recommendation I might add – I still didn’t make it. Even the complimentary class we get for being CFHE members could not entice me, although I think that was more to do with the fact that despite booking out my time as busy – private appointment – I still kept getting meeting requests during the time.

Not today. I think I actually declined said meeting request and proposed a new time. Don’t’ judge me. I’m at my desk at 7:30am every morning and if I leave before 6 it’s a bonus, so today, for once, clock off was at 4pm.

I put on sweaty and smelly workout clothes from this morning and headed over for my first ever light session.

When I entered the studio, borrowed matt in hand, barefoot and open minded, I had a sudden flashback to me trying aerobics at one stage in my life. I think I lasted two classes. I got over it every time the lycra clad energizer bunny at the front would yell out another call such as the grapevine and everyone in the class would turn perfectly in sync. Everyone except me who would crash into strangers, hop on toes, or just miss the movement completely.

You’ll get it. The nice strangers with the thicker sneakers would smile at me. But I never did. Or maybe I never stuck with it long enough. All that jumping around, bouncing and knee hopping just made me feel like I was a new client of a dance studio who was failing miserably at an audition.  Don’t get me wrong, I can dance, there is a cracking video of me Gangnam styling like Psy himself at a friends wedding, but I dance to my own rhythm and could never find the rhythm of aerobics.

So when I settled into a position on my back, I hoped like crazy I was not going to be the only one who didn’t put my legs in places I was meant to when Kacey called out the next pose.

I had nothing to worry about.

The light yoga class provided a perfect introduction to yoga. And the Yin practice of really just falling into the stretches and holding them rather than pushing yourself or pulling legs over heads, and hands through opposite shoulders (thank goodness) meant I could stretch my not so bendy hips and back in my own time and not have to worry about knowing the next movement.

After my left over slow cooked ribs and salad I then went to practice my new obsession of late – googeling paleo friendly recipes.

Smoothies were my subjects of choice today. After having my own version of coconut iced coffee (ended up blending ingredients and adding a banana, leaving out vanilla and freezing it) I felt MUCH fuller and ate far LESS nuts that I had for the rest of the week. I also realised this was my problem, I had cut out smoothies for a few days, mostly because I kept forgetting to take it to work, but also because I have run out of Kale, and that is why I was getting hungry!! (light bulb Oh My! moment).

Anyway, I was googeling and came across the eatdrinkpaleo website where I got distracted reading The Benefits of Paleo page and then came across this –

Say goodbye to Hangry 

Hangry is a combination of hungry+angry, which is a common symptom for many people suffering from acute or chronic hyperglycemia. This also happens when the blood sugar drops and the person gets a rapid onset of hunger accompanied by irritability, fatigue, disorientation, and a foggy mind. Meals consisting of protein and fat are very satiating. The energy your body gets from fat, protein and some glucose from low GI carbs is released slowly and evenly throughout the day. As a result, the blood sugar levels stay stable and you rarely experience energy drops; hunger develops gradually without the crazy mood swings.

Now those of you who know me have just had your own light bulb / Oh My! moment. This was me!!!!

How many times have I heard ‘oh oh, Stacey is Hungry’ and ‘don’t stand in the way of Stacey and lunchtime’ and the ‘we all know what happens when Stacey doesn’t eat’ and ‘you get so angry when you don’t eat’ and ‘we were talking bout the word Hangry the other day and automatically we all though of you’…

I’m not kidding either.

Now I’m not saying I have hyperglycemia, but I defiantly suffered from Hangry.

I’m known to take in food to meetings that last more than an hour just in case my stomach rumbles and I need to eat something. Hangry is no good in a corporate environment if one wants to get ahead.

I shocked a new employee one day when she was driving us to a function and I was that hungry I took the food out of her child’s mouth. Well not literally, but she was a Mum with a muesli bar in her bag in case her child needed it, and I had run out of mine and was in such an irritable state she gave me hers just to shut me up. Hangry is no good if you need to onside new employees and make a good impression. 

I’m always first in line to the buffet station, and generally pacing if food has not appeared at a work event during the time it said it was meant to. I literally turn into a psychotic bitch who is more than angry and can only be silenced with food. Hangry is no good when you are pushing customers out of the way and jabbing them in the side with your fork so you can get the last potato.

Well Hangry can go and get f*ck*d!

Since my primal challenge, my own Mr Hyde, Hangry hasn’t appeared for a while yet and if he does its not a muesli bar or snickers that will send him away. And it wont be nuts either!

I think this primal challenge and paleo diet has freed me from the curse of Hangry and I feel like a Biggest Looser contestant who just climbed the mountain with all their excess weight in a backpack they can now shrug off.

The trick now, with five days to go, is to keep it off….

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  • Hangry (neenster83.wordpress.com)

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?

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  • Nuts! (knitreadclick.wordpress.com)

The Primal Challenge Day 11

I may have quit sugar (almost) and changed my diet dramatically, but coffee is another thing. My one morning skinny latte, with a sometimes second in the afternoon or after dinner has jumped to two standard long blacks with a sometimes third.

Which has led me to wonder – am I just substituting one addiction for another?

When I start the trail mix as my afternoon snack, I can’t stop stuffing handfuls of it down my throat, leaving the floor under my desk covered in flakes of coconut that has spilled from my hands in the rush to eat it. If I know I have the jug of smoothie in the fridge, one glass is never enough.

I was never this way with food before!

Have I that much of an addictive personality that I need a hit of something to get me through the day? Or am I really still addicted to something I have cut out and my body is searching for it through mouthfuls of everything else?

At this rate, my skin fold test is going to have some very alarming results!

Today I have only had my one morning long black which I sipped while chomping down some poached eggs, bacon and avocado.

Then I had back to back meetings from 12:30 – which was actually a blessing in disguise as otherwise I would have gone for a walk to get another one.

The trail mix was still thrown down my throat like it was my last meal before being executed. 

When the startling realization of my eating habits and new found coffee addiction surfaced, I was a little angry with myself.

As If to prove a point I emptied my filing cabinet (which serves as my work pantry) of my previous unclean snacks. Carmen’s muesli bars, three different types. A bag of banana chips, covered in sugar. A dusty strawberries and cream chupa-chup, another full box of ‘go natural’ muesli bars with a variety of four different types including gluten free, some with dark chocolate, some with nuts, some with fruit – all with sugar.

I loaded everything into a donating box and walked around the rest of my team offering them supplies.

Many were too scared to accept – those who sit near me and have heard my rants around no sugar especially.  Some took one of each and packed them away for later with a smile of thanks.

I left the box on a team members table – the furthest one from me – and felt moderately proud of myself.  Walking back to my desk I took a look over my shoulder and noticed the vultures come out of the woodwork the moment my back was turned and swoop down on the goods.

Good.  Then I could be less tempted.

I say less tempted because in truth, not all unclean items from my ‘pantry’ were donated.

I’m a ‘just in case’ type of person. I always have a pen and notebook in my handbag ‘just in case’. I always carry around some form of food in my bag, muesli bar or apple or nuts ‘just in case’. My home pantry has four tines of canned tomatoes and six of coconut milk ‘just in case’.

I like to have a backup, I hate being left unprepared.

So I kept one of each type of muesli bar in my filing cabinet – two of the gluten free dark chocolate – ‘just in case’.

It’s not the right attitude, I know that. I should have donated them all.

But there is something still in the back of my mind that is not quite convinced I will follow this entire clean eating program after the challenge.

Why?! I hear you ask.

For one, I love corn too much. And rice. And pasta.  And potatoes. And yoghurt.

I know I will introduce some good quality full fat natural dairy back into my diet. The other things, maybe they are what a primary school teacher would classify as a ‘sometimes food’.  I’m not sure yet.

And then of course there is the alcohol.….

Breakfasts are changed forever. The muesli that would keep me high on sugar for an hour tricking me into thinking I was full before the 10am muesli bar or piece of fruit that did the same, will not be an everyday item.

My meats and eggs will always be clean. My oil selection has been expanded to coconut.  I don’t own margarine.

I’ll probably have some red wine jus every now and then.  Pasta is a nice to have, there are many other options for rice, and sometimes as I demonstrated last night with my beef, bacon and tomatoes on roasted eggplant creation – you just don’t need a carb or grain to get you through a meal.

So on day 11, I’m pretty sure I’m a changed woman!

One who is eating well, but addicted to caffeine and an absurd bout of trail mix….

Well almost, I am not quite sure yet. I’m keeping my muesli bars ‘just in case’.1052870_10200525003422460_892511868_o 1064589_10200525004102477_1385939196_o 1071472_10200525004822495_1011020940_o

The Primal Challenge Day 10

Last night I had a slip up. It wasn’t major and it was purely by accident, but it happened.

I was having people over to dinner. A UK colleague, my sister and her boyfriend – who not by choice but by necessity doesn’t eat gluten, fructose and dairy.

No worries! I told him

I’m all over it.

By now I was in day 10, so of course thought I was a professional at this clean eating gig. Dinners were a breeze. The chocolate cake I would not eat was done, the ganache icing not even tempting. Too easy.

Plus I was cooking lamb. And I’m good at lamb. A beautiful lamb shoulder I was going to slow cook with lemon, garlic and oregano. I had done it before to rave reviews so was strutting around the kitchen with an air of confidence I didn’t deserve.

Especially as I forgot to turn the oven down after its preheating cycle and ended up roasting my slow cooked lamb for an hour before realising. Fail.  So my slow cooked meal morphed its way to a roast.

First fail of the night – lets move on.

Vegetables. Lots of them. I did corn for the grain eaters, steamed broccoli and beans, tried kale chips for the first time – delicious! (although my no fructose friend confirmed via google they were on his banned substance list). Potatoes and sweet potatoes, all cooked in coconut oil, which I had finally managed to track down (and to ‘borrow’ a back up jar from my sister-in-law) and covered only with salt and pepper.

But the lamb.

It was always going to be my achilles heel of the night and now it was roasted (not very well) deserved, and needed, a sauce to join him on the plate. At least for the guests that could eat it.

So I quickly made a gravy for those that love it before finding a new, easy to do red wine jus.

Butter, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, beef stock and of course half a cup of dry red wine.

I’d like to carry on about how the smell of it made me want to drink the sauce straight from the fry pan as it lay simmering, but it didn’t. Nothing about the way the butter sizzled in the pan or how the garlic and onion began to caramelize made me want to try it.

I poured it in a gravy jug without a second thought, but happy I had tried something new and piled it and everything else on the dining room table, dinner was served!

Plates were pilled high, wine was poured, bread was buttered.

I left off the corn (oh how I really do miss you) ignored the bread and loaded up on my meat, greens, sweet potato – no standard spud you can not join in, I’m sorry – and those delightfully crispy and salty kale chips.

I was halfway through telling a story and cutting my second bite of lamb when I realised what else I had done.

My face paled, hands flew to my head, knife and fork clattering on the white porcelain plate as they dropped from my fingers, and as my sister put it I ‘did something really girlie I have never seen before’.

Oh shit.

Whether it was the excitement of my own story telling, the comfort and confidence I had taken too far and paraded around the kitchen earlier or my pitchfork holding red devil appearing again and taking over control, I don’t know.

But whatever it was, however I had done it, there on my plate, covering the piece of my already bitten lamb, was a drizzle of that red wine jus.

I continued my girly, incoherent babble for a few moments longer, my colleague looking at me with a wide eyed expression and no doubt wondering if he could silently slip out of this madhouse now and make a run for it (we had only known each other a month), my sister reassuring me it was only a mouthful, her boyfriend staying silent, and my husband declaring I should just ‘scrape it off’.

Instead, horrified and humiliated, I got a clean plate, rescued what vegetables I could and served a few new clean slices of meat, pushing the red wine and butter infested ones with their jus over to my husband.

Then I checked and tripled checked everything on my plate again – just in case.

No sauce, no gravy, no jus, no bread, no butter, no corn, no potato. Mineral water, no wine.

I really didn’t enjoy (apart from the kale chips) the rest of the food. I felt slightly sick over my previous potentially potent forkful.

I will NOT call this a failure.

I refuse to.

Even if it was – which it wasn’t – I’m using that cheesy old saying of ‘I’m still a winner’.

It as one mouthful – small mouthful – and something totally unintentional, purely by mistake.

An accident, not a failure.

And it shook me to the core.

How careful I must still be, how diligent! This clean eating gig of mine was still in rehearsals and it would be days before I made it to the live show and it became a habit not a hindrance.  If this was The Voice I would have just lost the battle round.

Bloody jus. New recipe, first time I had ever made it. I blame the lamb, and the oven, and myself for needing a jus to begin with.

Even hours later, when everyone had left, and I was loading plates with gravy stains and bowls with brownie crumbs and ice-cream drops – none of which were mine – into the dishwasher I was still highly annoyed with myself.

My competitive spirit – the same one that once threatened a team mate to ran faster or I would poke his eye out with a spoon – was annoyed that I had, on some level, failed.

The feeling of failure followed me to bed and left a bitter taste on my not so clean eating tongue.

I’m sure the men at airport security this morning would have been rolling their eyes with laughter as I x-rayed my two bacon and egg muffins, container of macadamias and almonds, my banana and water.

And I’m sure the other lunch goers were rolling their eyes with impatience when I checked if any of the salads had gluten or dairy, and made the poor order taker recite dressing ingredients to me.

And I’m sure she was rolling her eyes in annoyance when in the end I asked if she could make me up a salad with only the vegetables I wanted don’t put on any dressing, was the chicken free range, and can she make it up in front of me so I could see what she put in it.

Today I wasn’t taking any chances.

Because yesterday I had a slight failure   accident.

Lessons learned –

  • Confidence is ok, being cocky is not
  • I make a good red wine jus
  • It takes longer than 10 days to break a lifelong habit
  • Muffins in Tupperware don’t beep through the airport security, but they do capture strange looks and ensure you get called over for an explosives and drug screening

The Primal Challenge Day 7

The rest of Saturday was a disaster. And I don’t use that term lightly. Well actually I do, but this truly was a supersonic shithouse Saturday.

The afternoon wasn’t so bad. I joined my sisters and laughed at my Mum as she modeled plus size clothing for a friends charity event and clothing auction.  She was wearing a size 12, so not really plus size. However when the designer told us that 65% of women were a size 14 and over, and less than 10% of labels designed exclusively for them, I wanted to point out that maybe a few of the 65% could benefit from a healthier, cleaner form of eating and maybe some exercise to broaden their clothing choice.

Not even the full 30 days in and already I am Miss Proud and Predigest, looking down at others.

I know, it was a bitchy thought and I probably only thought it to make myself feel better. I was even a little shocked at how quickly I had become ‘one of those’ people, preaching and looking down at others.

I pinched myself for being such a cow and tried to ignore how hungry I was.

During the break, where we were all encouraged to go through piles of op-shop rescued clothing we could purchase for gold coins that would help an African orphanage, I ignored all the homemade cakes on the table and went straight for the carrot and celery sticks.

Now I know I just chastised myself for being a bitch, but slight side comment – if those 14 and above sized women are healthy then good on them, no issue. But I tell you not many of them by-passed the chocolate biscuits and not one piece of orange cake was left standing after the first wave went by… In fact, the only friend’s carrot and celery had was me and even I copped a few elbows as the Grandmothers went after the homemade scones.

That night I was I off to the football. To the biggest rivalry we have each year. To Hawthorn versus Geelong.

For dinner I prepared a chicken breast no crumb completely paleo schnitzel from Cannings, and while my fellow footy goers stuffed theirs between some salad, a piece of cheese and a wholemeal roll, I substituted the roll for a bowl and packed a nice chicken salad.

I kept away from the bar. All night. Even as Geelong scored goal after goal and I pulled my hair out in frustration at our poor kicking and rushed decision-making. When my brother text me to meet him their at half time I declined. Too stressed over the game to discuss it amongst everyone else who held beers.

The worst thing was, even worse than the footy score – so yes it was bad – was the cramping and aching in my legs and hips.

I know I hadn’t stretched enough post boxing, and had really tried in CFHE WOD on Friday to use my hips (something all coaches know I am terrible at) but the pain that was radiating from my pelvis through both legs – the left in particular was worse than Tuesday’s headache and Friday nights sugar withdrawals.

Of course the football did nothing to take my mind off the pain.

I stomped and stretched and stood up and walked during each break – as much out of pain as out of nervous energy, but nothing would shake the ache.

I never even finished my salad.

By the time the final siren sounded and I had walked back to the car, I was almost limping and could barley stand on my left leg thanks to cramp.

And of course to make matters worse, I had just sat through my 11th straight loss to Geelong – which is always painful enough.

By now, I was seriously hoping it was all part of the ‘change’ my body is going through – and no I am not talking late puberty, early menopause or anything else you might be thinking –  but that it is some random side effect of something I am doing right.

Either that or I was being punished by some of the 65% of women who think I am a bitch.

I massaged some tension relief cream into my legs and managed to fall asleep around midnight, and thank god when I awoke a) I had not been attacked by some biscuit eating strange size 18 women, and b) the pain in my legs was gone.

The only downside, last night’s footy result was still well and truly one I could not forget.

So Saturday scared me a little. The pain in my legs and hips scared me, and my ‘too quick to judge’ attitude also scared me.

So Sunday when I again braved eating out for my sister-in-laws birthday and the restaurant served me a piece of whiting the size of my pinkie with a side salad for lunch and tried to charge me $18 for the pleasure of wanting to eat the rest of my hand off for hunger – I said nothing.

I swallowed the fish in two or three mouthfuls and had downed the salad before others had even received their meals.

Really? I waned to ask the Polish waitress as she came over to top up my mineral water. I mean just because I am Paleo doesn’t mean I eat like a bird, and we all know the saying – you don’t make friends with salad.

Instead I smiled and eyed off Nephews pumpkin soup that lay untouched while he threw a two-year old tantrum and wondered if they had added cream or potato to the mix and if not, was he going to eat that?

Maybe the Polish waitress was a size 16 in disguise or something, because nothing this weekend was going right.

For dinner that night I decided to take back control by the only way I knew how – to cook my own meals. Organic free range roast pork with sweet potato and salad. TICK TICK TICK and no need to think about eating my hand or arm or any other body part.

When my sweet tooth kicked in as tinned mangoes and yoghurt was served to everyone around me, I chewed silently on a green apple, and to be honest, was quite happy.

And then, finally, the first weekend of the 30-day challenge was behind me – THANK GOD.

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